Learning Communities: A Conversation with Cindy Couchman (Sticky Standards Episode #15)

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Learning Communities: A Conversation with Cindy Couchman

This podcast explores Learning Forward’s Professional Learning Standard LEARNING COMMUNITIES.  Our guest today is Cindy Couchman, high school math teacher, Kansas Teacher of the Year in 2009, National Board Certified Teacher and the recipient of many other honors.  Cindy is a constant learner, and my friend! 

Cindy, and her high school math team, began implementing a professional learning community using the Rick DuFour model.  (What do you want the students to learn?  How are you teaching it? How will you know they learn it?  What do you do differently if they didn’t learn it?)  From the beginning, they have used DATA.  Data has been the foundation of their work.  As Cindy shared, “We became a LEARNING community by knowing each other, then trust is built.  First the structure then caring about each other – a cheerleader for each other.  We push each other and that makes us all better.  Success breeds success!”

Data Driven Dialogue.  Cindy’s team looks through the lens of a data driven dialogue when analyzing data.  They use Bruce Wellman’s book, Data Driven Dialogue.  Their first success was using the “learning design” of Lesson Study+Data.  It was powerful for the entire team.  What happened when they used data to design their professional learning?   Improved student learning!  Celebration!   Trust the process!!  Teams evolve over time. The team is now looking at the bigger picture of instruction, grading practices, and technology.

We ALL Teach Seniors – Collective Responsibility.  This team truly believes and LIVES that sense of collective responsibility, they are never isolated.  They model the 3Rs – relationships, rigor, and relevance.

Recently, Cindy has been exploring non-cognitive skills: time management, resiliency, creativity, flexibility/adaptability, self-concept, and ethics  ….  check out her thinking!!

Great leaders are lead learners.  Professional Learning is critical.  Relationships are crucial. 

Great leaders are servant leaders.  The time is NOW!  We all make a difference.

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