The best teachers know they don't know

Carol Ann Tomlinson says:

Excellent teachers never fall prey to the belief that they are good enough. The best teachers I have known are humbled by how much more they need to learn. They don't add to the chorus of voices chiming, "I already do that."
High-quality educators are determined and often voracious learners. They seek daily to understand their content more fully, to probe the mystery of the young lives before them more deeply, and to extend their pedagogical reach beyond yesterday's boundaries. They know that the parameters of their own lives are extended every time they extend possibilities in students' lives.
These teachers seek out the best professional development opportunities. They read about education. When a district or school fails to support their learning meaningfully, they become their own professional developers.
This is what excites me about leading staff development and interacting with teachers across the district.  When a recent snow day forced our upcoming all-district staff development day to be replaced by a student day, one teacher approached me to voice her frustration.  She was looking forward to our staff development agenda.  This teacher knows she has more to learn.

A few months ago, I suggested that educators, like students do not always know/realize what is in their best immediate interests and I still believe this to be true.  The best teachers know they don't know.  They look for opportunities to learn more about what they don't know.

I'm not 100% sure what this looks like in practice, but one thing we are trying to do in my district is use feedback loops to plan future staff development.  By asking teachers to answer a short digital survey after a staff development day or afternoon, our district leadership team can examine the responses and look for themes that arise during our planning.  Results are shared with the entire staff and these themes are articulated at the next in-service to make connections between learning experiences.  It's a work in progress, but we believe it is creating a more focused staff development environment where fewer people are asking "why" and more educators, like the one mentioned earlier, are instead chomping at the bit to learn more.

What are other buildings/districts doing to systematically make staff development viewed as a continuous process rather than an isolated event?  

What role should administrators play in teacher collaboration?

Chris Canter posted a great question over at ASCD Inservice related to the role of administrators visiting collaborating teachers:

My role is primarily as observer when I attend such meetings. While I have the ability to offer input, I am so thrilled with the teacher leadership and ownership displayed at such meetings that I rarely share my thoughts or input, unless asked. This is truly a valuable learning experience for me. What I find myself asking is, "What do teachers need of me in order to better collaborate and go about their work?" I often have the ability to serve as a liaison between the teams and school administrators, and offer answers to questions and procedural support.
My desire is to offer key supports, without interfering with teacher work, but also, not becoming so hands-off that teachers do not feel supported. I am wondering what other administrators do to support their teachers in such a collaborative environment. Do you attend every meeting or just a few? What role do you play in the meetings you attend? What do teachers require most of you in this capacity?

As a new district administrator, my goal for this year is to visit 100% of the classrooms (at just past the halfway point, I've visited ~30%, not doing so well!) and 50% of the collaborative learning teams.  When visiting a classroom, I stay somewhere between three and thirty minutes.  When appropriate, I follow up with a verbal conversation or a note summarizing what I saw or would like to know more about.  When I visit a collaborative learning team comprised of teachers who share students or a content area, I try to read the digital notes ahead of time, sit back and observe for the first half of the meeting and when appropriate, chime in with questions and suggestions.

Teachers, realizing that your administrators may be coming to the meeting cold or lukewarm compared to you and your colleagues, what do you most want from them when they visit your collaborative learning team?

I'd like to hear thoughts from the other direction, too.  Building and district administrators, what role do you typically play when visiting collaborative learning teams?  

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.  

the Four T-Men of the Curricular Apocalypse

...a term coined by my current grad class professor

Time, Textbooks, Tradition and Tests
I see the standards-based grading philosophy moving away from a few of these (time and tradition), but wonder if our little grassroots movement is missing the boat on textbooks and tests.  

I should have not written about "us" and instead made reference to "me" and my past experience in the classroom, speaking with other teachers at conferences/workshops and blogging here in this space.  Making the move to standards-based grading helped me address time and tradition, but I never got to the point where it moved me noticeably away from textbooks and tests.  Russ brings up a good point in the comments below.  In what areas, if any, has the change to standards-based grading philosophy helped you move away from these four T's?