We are forever grateful to Debra Crouch for having the desire, passion, and vision to bring her literacy work to a small school district in very rural Louisiana simply because we were willing and ready to do the work. Following a basal for years had crippled us but Debra had the confidence in us and the stick-with-it-ness to get us back on our feet as confident educators equipped now to design strong literacy instruction. Along with that, our teachers’ use of dialogic processes will ensure that all students make deep meaning of complex grade level texts from a variety of genres and perspectives to conquer whatever literacy standards come along in the future.
Professional Development and Learning Possibilities
Professional development with Debra always involves thinking through decisions about learning and teaching. From conceptual to practical—from supporting teachers to examine their beliefs about learning to determining on what page we might stop for a turn-and-talk for students—Debra supports educators to bring the theoretical to life.
Debra works with schools and districts to create a professional development plan that makes sense for the teaching staff, building on the professional learning experiences that have already occurred. This work involves classroom teachers and those in leadership positions—administrators, coaches, and teacher leaders. Some possible formats include:
These experiences bring the teachers, coaches, and principals out of the classroom to study literacy practices and explore the knowledge base that underlies these practices. If these sessions are on-site, we may co-plan and observe lesson demonstrations with students. If we don’t have access to work with children, we use lessons on video to study practice. In either setting, the teaching decisions that were made before, during, and after the lesson, the reasons why they were made, and the next steps based on the student learning become explicit.
Studying practice together:
In these sessions, sometimes called lesson study, the majority of time is spent slowing down the process of planning a lesson to examine the decisions made along the way. This is the thinking that makes successful instruction more likely to occur—from text choice and lesson introduction to determining the best place to pause for student collaboration. After planning, Debra, or the teachers themselves, may teach the lesson so others can observe the lesson we co-planned to see if our decisions indeed led to student success. This is followed by a debrief of the lesson and debrief of the planning process itself.
Being invited to coach speaks to trust and commitment. While not the beginning of professional development, it often becomes part of the professional learning experiences for Debra and those she supports. This experience offers educators the opportunity to further understand themselves as intentional and meaningful practitioners alongside a nurturing collaborator.