The Houston A+ Challenge Summer Institute XII will take place July 30-31, 2008, at the University of Houston, Hilton Hotel. With the focusing question "How do we deepen and sustain learning?", this year's Institute will feature keynote speaker Douglas Reeves, author of "The Learning Leader". Three hundred teachers, administrators, parents, and community members will gather to learn from breakout sessions, learning communities, and books as well as the keynote address.
Over the years, we have found that individuals alone - teachers, administrators, parents, community members, and students - can impact schools and districts only so far. Leadership teams acting as professional learning communities are the key to deepening and sustaining the reforms for the long haul.
A hallmark of the Summer Institute is the learning communities, composed of about 25 participants each. Facilitated by teams of new and experienced Critical Friends Group coaches, the home groups give each participant a taste of the power and effectiveness of being part of a professional learning community. School teams will also have time during the learning community time to make plans for applying their learning to serve their own students.
As of this writing, about 20 spaces remain. You can find out more and register a team from your workplace at http://www.houstonaplus.org/rssi/learn.html
School teams that attend the Houston A+ Challenge Summer Institute will get to work together to plan for their own school's future. Even if you are not going to the Institute, however, you can use the Future Protocol with colleagues to envision what the future would look like in the very best-case scenario.
The goals of the Future Protocol are:
- To expand and clarify the vision of what a group or individual is really trying to accomplish.
- To identify opportunities and avenues for focused improvement.
- To guide purposeful actions and reduce wasted efforts.
To facilitate this protocol, make sure that people use their imaginations and remind them to speak in the correct tense. Also, it's helpful to recruit somebody else to scribe the conversation so you can concentrate on facilitating.
Dear Donna: I heard that there was some serious controversy at the NSRF National Facilitators Meeting that was held in Tampa, Florida, on May 2-3, 2008. Will this affect the CFG work that we do in Houston?
--CLASSROOM TEACHER AND CFG COACH
Dear Coach: The Houston A+ Challenge is a Center of Activity for the National School Reform Faculty (NSRF). The NSRF national office provides many important services that help us provide quality training and support for CFG coaches. For example, the national office maintains the NSRF website which makes dozens of protocols and readings easily available for all of us. They also publish the journal Connections three times a year, and they organize the annual Winter Meeting, which brings together hundreds of CFG coaches from across the nation.
I attended the Facilitators Meeting on May 2 and 3. Controversies emerged about communications and the governance structure of NSRF as well as how well the organization is living up to its mission statement, which is "to foster educational and social equity by empowering all people involved with schools to work collaboratively in reflective democratic communities that create and support powerful learning experiences for everyone."
No matter what changes may occur at the national level, you can count on the Houston A+ Challenge to continue to train and support CFG coaches in this region.
If you have questions for Dear Donna, send them to CFGCoach@houstonaplus.org. Donna Reid is a Houston-based National CFG Facilitator and a consultant with Houston A+ Challenge.