Teacher Collaboration at DAA

photo (47) If you've been following our blog, you already know that Detroit Achievement Academy is an amazing place for kids to learn and for teachers and staff to work! From daily examples of our Habits of Character in classrooms and hallways, to our new library filled with books, to field work excursions to places the Detroit Zoo and the Franklin Cider Mill, there's always a buzz of energy and excitement about learning at DAA.

To add to the list of why we're so lucky...there is also so much teacher learning happening at DAA! Mrs. Brophy wrote about our August training in her blog post here. In addition to our extensive professional development before the school year even started, we have weekly sessions that focus on various knowledge, skills, and mindsets teachers need to make a lasting, positive impact on the lives and educational trajectories of our students. Early in the year, we focused on purposeful planning for our students' maximum learning. We created units and lesson plans based on the Common Core standards and aligned them to our overall mission of creating a path to high achievement for our students and our goal of having every student on grade level by the end of the year. Next, we zeroed in on our assessments to ensure that we are measure our progress toward this goal. We were trained on a wide range of assessments for the primary grades to ensure that students' growth is measured in multiple ways, and that we can celebrate this progress along the way! Then, we worked to integrate our expeditions to give our students the holistic and engaging education that they deserve.

We are also constantly learning from one another through development sessions and collaborative planning. In the month of February, we've started a cycle of peer observation where we are able to observe another team member in action. Before our observations, we create goals and inquiry questions so that our partner is able collect evidence of where they see proof that students are living our vision at DAA. For example, my amazing partner, Ms. Johnson, helped me to answer the questions, "What evidence do you see of student accessing and engaging with rigorous literature in a real and meaningful way? To what extent do you see students driving their own learning toward being second grade ready?" Ms. Johnson observed a mini-lesson, looked for evidence around the room on the walls and organization systems, and spoke with students during independent centers to determine whether or not my first graders are on the road to building the determination, drive, and skills needed to be successful in second grade and beyond. It takes a lot of bravery and vulnerability to hold a mirror up to our teaching practice on a daily basis, and I feel so fortunate to work in a place where learning and growing with trust and camaraderie is such a focus.

Each week, we revisit our larger goals, plans, and data for the year to ensure that we are putting our students on the path of success so that they are prepared to lead productive, happy adult lives. I love our open-door policy and the culture of feedback we are building at our school so that we are always working to improve for our students!