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Lab Class
Professional Learning Through Collaborative Inquiry and Student Observation



July 2018 | 168 pages | Corwin

School-based, collaborative teacher learning that drives student achievement 

Meaningful growth in teacher practice comes when we invest in teacher-led, inquiry-based collaborative models where teachers get to roll up their sleeves and study what’s really going on in classrooms.  

Lab Class introduces an observation-based professional learning design that helps teachers collaboratively plan, investigate, and develop solutions to a specific problem of practice by observing a host teacher’s classroom through the eyes of students. This book provides instructional leaders and team facilitators with observation protocols that encourage teachers to:

  • Plan collaborative inquiry projects by identifying a focus of the inquiry, combing the research literature, creating norms for observations, and identifying resources needed
  • Observe and analyze student conversations, actions, and products to determine the impact of instructional decisions on students
  • Identify patterns from observations and determine next steps for professional learning

Close the knowing-doing gap by bringing professional learning out of workshops and back where it belongs—in the classroom!                         

"For those looking to empower teachers by bringing the learning of teaching closer to the classroom, this resource will help you achieve your goals."
—Jenni Donohoo, Provincial Literacy Lead, Council of Ontario Directors of Education
Author of Collective Efficacy 


"Lab Class is a professional learning structure to take learning walks to the next level. It provides a process to deepen inquiry and focus teacher observations and learning."
—Ellen S. Perconti, Superintendent
Mary M. Knight School District, WA 


 
PREFACE
 
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
CHAPTER 1: AN OVERVIEW OF LAB CLASS
What Is Lab Class?

 
The Lab Class Model—Step by Step

 
Rationale for Lab Class

 
Goals of Lab Class

 
Considerations for Launching Lab Class

 
Organizational Models of Lab Class

 
 
CHAPTER 2: THE LAUNCH MEETING
Determine an Overall Focus for Lab Class

 
Narrow the Focus

 
Theories of Action

 
Learn to Be Descriptive

 
Lab Class Simulation

 
Select Marker Students

 
Document Student Learning

 
Document Teacher Learning

 
Ethical Considerations When Documenting Student and Teacher Learning

 
Create and Discuss Norms

 
Establish the Schedule for Lab Class

 
Troubleshooting Tips

 
 
CHAPTER 3: ENGAGING IN LAB CLASS
Classroom Observations

 
Analysis of Observations

 
Cluster Observations and Determine Trends

 
Identify Conditions

 
Revisit the Inquiry Question and Theories of Action

 
Determine Next Steps: What Does the Research Say?

 
Proposed Agendas for Lab Class

 
Troubleshooting Tips

 
 
CHAPTER 4: CONSOLIDATION AND CULMINATION OF LAB CLASS
Reflect on the Learning

 
Develop a Communication Plan

 
Proposed Agendas for the Consolidation Meeting

 
 
CHAPTER 5: LAB CLASS EXAMPLES
Lab Class One: Multiple Teachers/One School

 
Lab Class Two: Multiple Teachers/Multiple Schools

 
Lab Class Three: Multiple Schools/One Teacher

 
Conclusion and Discussion

 
 
FINAL THOUGHTS
 
APPENDIX
Template A: Determine a Focus

 
Template B: Develop Your Team’s Inquiry Question

 
Template C: Data Collection for Student Learning

 
Template D: Data Collection for Teacher Reflection and Professional Learning

 
Template E: Teacher Reflection—Sample One

 
Template F: Teacher Reflection—Sample Two

 
Template G: Teacher Reflection—Sample Three

 
Template H: Supports Needed and Next Steps

 
Template I: Final Report Template—Sample One

 
Template J: Final Report Template—Sample Two

 
Template K: Lab Class Feedback—Exit Ticket

 
Template L: Lab Class Feedback—Survey

 
 
REFERENCES
 
INDEX

"Cranston draws on her rich experiences as a professional learning facilitator and presents a compelling case for conducting Lab Classes as a practical and viable approach for realizing positive changes in schools and classrooms. This resource provides everything needed to get started - including examples, templates, and tools for monitoring progress. For those looking to empower teachers by bringing the learning of teaching closer to the classroom, this resource will help you achieve your goals."

Jenni Donohoo, Provincial Literacy Lead, Council of Ontario Directors of Education
Council of Ontario Directors of Education

"Effective professional learning includes personalized, purposeful and precise actions that support educators to leverage their craft to positively impact student learning. Staff developers have come to realize that the most effective educator learning is that which is closest to the classroom … closest to the student.  When educators learn from other educators in a classroom setting during “real time” teaching time with a skilled facilitator it is the ultimate educator learning experience. The Lab Class model provides that ultimate educator learning experience. The author, Lisa Cranston skillfully provides a scaffolded approach that provides the practical steps for educators, and district level support staff to create and sustain a highly effective professional learning model. 

Educators must have agency and ownership of their craft. This is the essence of professionalism. Lab class provides the structure for educators to witness, reflect, discuss and consider their next best step in their educator moves to support student learning. Lab class essentially allows the educator to “live” the teaching and learning experience while also have a safe space to engage in purposeful dialogue with other trusted professionals. I highly recommend districts to consider this model of professional learning if they want to create rich and authentic professional learning experiences for their most valuable resource in supporting students- their educators."

Dr. Clara Howitt, Superintendent of Education, Greater Essex County District School Board
Greater Essex County District School Board

"Lab Class is a must have book for educators seeking to engage in effective, job-embedded, learner focused professional learning that will result in higher levels of learning not only for students, but educators as well."

Chris Bryan, Senior Consultant, Learning Forward
Learning Forward

"Lab Class is a professional learning structure to take learning walks to the next level. It provides a process to deepen inquiry and focus teacher observations and learning."

Ellen S. Perconti, Superintendent, Mary M. Knight School District
Mary M. Knight School District

"Lab Class provided a structured experience that allowed the West Gate educators the opportunity to take control of our learning and that of our students. Our team used qualitative and quantitative data to determine the overall focus of our inquiry. As a team we designed and implemented the instruction, observed marker students as they experienced the learning, and reflected on our joint observations to explore possible next steps for instruction and teacher/student learning. 
As the focus was not on individual practice but on student learning and the conditions that were present to support student growth, our educators gained the confidence to take risks in trying new modes of instruction to observe the effect on student learning. They gathered data about the conditions that existed that fostered the learning. And finally determined strategies to extend the learning. "

Debra Laforet, Principal, Greater Essex County District School Board
Greater Essex County District School Board

"An excellent model for effective, engaging and meaningful professional development.  The Lab Class model embraces what we know to be effective strategies and methodologies in the classroom, and integrates those standards of learning into an exceptional model of professional development.  It only makes sense that the strategies and methods effectively used in the classroom be transferred to methods of professional learning for the adult learner. Lab Class should be the new standard for professional development"

Miriam A. DeCock, Classroom Instructor
Wadena-Deer Creek Public Schools

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ISBN: 9781544327952
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