Last week I had the privilege of participating in a five-day training from the National School Reform Faculty on how to coach “Critical Friends Groups“. The training is designed to provide coaches with skills for forming professional learning communities of educators who are committed to improving their practice through collaborative learning. The National School Reform Faculty website says the purpose of Critical Friends Groups is to:
- Create a professional learning community
- Make teaching practice explicit and public by “talking about teaching”
- Help people involved in schools to work collaboratively in democratic, reflective communities (Bambino)
- Establish a foundation for sustained professional development based on a spirit of inquiry (Silva)
- Provide a context to understand our work with students, our relationships with peers, and our thoughts, assumptions, and beliefs about teaching and learning
- Help educators help each other turn theories into practice and standards into actual student learning
- Improve teaching and learning
After completing the training I am hopeful that the Conserve School teaching staff will embrace the Critical Friends Group philosophy and techniques to the benefit of our students. I look forward to joining them in that journey.
I look forward to using the protocols and activities we learned beyond the confines of Critical Friends Groups. They can be used to assist with decision-making and planning. As I went through the training I noted that some of the best workshops that I have participated in the past used these same techniques. I appreciate the way our trainer, Michele Mattoon, taught us those techniques in such a simple and straightforward way and I am grateful to Assistant Head of School Mary Anna Thornton for suggesting this training.
Head of School