2008 - 2009

Detailed web of all the work I am doing this year - click here: 2008 2009 Plans in.pdf

Teacher: Barry Derfel
Year: 2008 - 2009
Goal (student outcome focused): To increase academic success and participation rates for all students.
Means (teacher action focused):
  • Work to eliminate racism, classism, and ableism in the ICSD and community.
  • Document the culture of privilege.
  • Articulate explicit student-outcomes for each initiative I facilitate.
  • Provide research-based staff development which reflects best practices for eliminating the education gap.
  • Infuse transformational pedagogy into all of my work.
Evidence (documentation of student learning and teacher action):
  • Anecdotal records, detailed plans, written articles and papers will reveal the ways in which I have worked to eliminate racism, classism, and ableism in the ICSD and the community.
  • Detailed plans will reveal student outcomes embedded in all initiatives.
  • Action-research results will provide evidence that student academic success and participation rates have increased as a result of my work, and that race, class, and disability have simultaneously decreased as predictors of student success.
-------------------------------------------------------Year-End Evaluation------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Participant Reactions : To what extent did participants like your work? What did they like best? Please provide evidence in the form of quotations and analysis.

“What I liked best about this workshop was…
    • Small group, high levels of interactions focused on brainstorming, problem-solving and genuine student academic and behavioral scenarios with authentic outcomes.
    • Sharing perspectives and experiences.
    • Working with others who have problems /questions about classroom management.
    • Everyone had opportunity to express their beliefs.
    • Barry Derfel is amazing to have helping the Transportation Dept.! He is so great in conducting workshops.
    • How you didn’t pinpoint anyone to stand and speak out. I really liked how today was just kind of laid back and relaxed.
    • Being allowed to express our own feelings.
    • Though-provoking comments and questions.
    • Excellent, open, honest presentation.
    • Great information/resource about topics many people are afraid to address.
    • The sharing. The trust level among us. The honesty.
    • When others shared strategies that worked for them.
    • I felt that I was heard! Thank you.
    • Just want to say thanks for providing me with the first ever talk about diversified instruction that actually admitted that trying to make a separate plan for every student’s needs is impossible and instead gave realistic ideas for improving instruction. Finally, something that made sense!!
    • Further resources – handouts & online literature that’s accessible."

Workshop participants like the opportunity to share their experiences with each other, and to work with each other to probe issues and problem-solve. Creating a safe and open atmosphere supports this. Their comments suggest that my efforts to support transformative pedagogy were valued and effective.

Participant Learning : What did participants learn? Please provide evidence in the form of quotations and analysis.

“This workshop has taught me…
    • Excellent opportunity to digest/discuss JoBeth Allen’s book.
    • That this movement is a grassroots movement.
    • To remember being authentic.
    • How to implement some suggestions when they may seem contrary to ‘the system’.
    • Ways, large and small, to gather family information.
    • That others have similar hopes and experiences.
  • Why it is important to implement affirming classroom and how to create affirming classrooms.
    • About policy #4350. I never heard about it.
    • To deal directly with students and families in an open relationship and admit mistakes/problems to improve myself as a teacher.
    • That the Ithaca Drivers ‘care’ about the issues they face and that they want bus safety taught more in the schools.
    • To pay more attention to the actions of my students.
    • Reinforced the idea that consideration and respect to others powerfully impact the manner in which others will behave.
    • That most people are good and want to do the right thing.
    • A very good explanation of King’s theory. I needed to be reminded.
    • Laws were not changed because of moral kindness but to avoid conflict – to empty jails.
    • That general knowledge can be deepened and refined in thinking about lesson plans for students with even more target-established goal(s).
    • There is hope.
    • Classroom management strategies and ideas.
    • It is not too late to teach a cohesive, consistent behavior management system in my class that is equitable.
    • Specific techniques for if there are discipline issues.
    • The value of ongoing teacher learning.
    • The importance of planning using UbD.
    • Practical methods for creating effective units.
    • That first year teachers have similar issues.
    • Concrete strategies for differentiation.
    • That there are many things a teacher can do to accept/affirm students and their families in the classroom.
The evidence suggests that participants learned (and/or deepened their efficacy in relation to) new strategies, skills, concrete information, and ways of thinking. It also suggests that participants learned that they were others who shared their experiences, and that they are part of a community working towards related ends.

Organization Impact : What are the impacts of your work on the organization? Please provide analysis.
The problem of race, class, disability, and place of residence as predictors of student success persists. However, capacity to address the problem has increased as a result of the actions I have taken. An analysis of the recent history of professional development in the Ithaca City School District shows that district-wide professional development has been consistently moving towards integration, differentiation, and alignment for equity and excellence. A detailed summary of this analysis is provided in the following paper: A Proposal to Shift Personnel in the Professional Development Office to Maintain Momentum for Equity and Excellence in the ICSD: http://www.icsd.k12.ny.us/legacy/district/staffdev/bderfel/DerfelEDUC672Paper2%20Final.pdf

Some highlights of the impact of my work include:
Working with two outside facilitators and the Instructional Specialist for Educational Equity, I helped the Equity Mentors engage in multiple staff development processes to build their own capacity to promote equity and excellence at the building level. For example, they used protocols from the National School Reform Foundation (NSRF) to read and discuss text, examine student work, and engage in problem-solving. They also used large group discussions, individual reflections, and collaborative problem-solving strategies to both deepen their own understandings and increase their skills at facilitating this work with colleagues. As my clarity about the problem and professional development has increased, I have become a more effective coordinator of the equity mentor program.

Another one of the significant impacts of my work on the Ithaca City School District can be seen in the budget development process that has just finished. In early February, the superintendent proposed eliminating the Director of Staff Development position, and contracting out a staff development coordinator at 60% time from our regional BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services). While this proposal was designed to reduce costs as part of a district-wide effort to trim the budget, it also threatened to dramatically reduce the capacity of professional development. Working with my colleagues in the Staff Development Office, community members, educators, and families, I helped promote other solutions to the problem of cutting costs in professional development.

A third comprehensive way to see how my professional development work has impacted the district is to look at the ICSD Equity Website (http://www.icsd.k12.ny.us/legacy/district/staffdev/bderfel/). Within the site, professional learning artifacts and details can be found in the PDF of my 2009 – 2010 goals, action steps, and evaluation, on the See What’s Happening in Your Building page, and in the articles available on the resources page. Together, these documents and web pages reveal that my efforts to eliminate race, class, disability, and place of residence as predictors of student success in the ICSD have promoted significant professional learning that has impacted the district.

Participant Change: What did participants do as a result of your work? Please provide examples and analysis.

“Beginning with the MLK group last summer, the lens has altered how I see most things. Particularly the work we did with the principals – that was powerful. It got the administrators thinking along the ‘vision’ line – like ‘what would it look like if…?’”
“We had an amazing staff meeting using the ‘Three Levels of Text’ protocol and the ’20 Critical Things I Will Do to Be a More Equitable Educator.”

“On superintendent’s day we focused on creating community and issues related to that. Staff discussion included feedback from participants that is not usually heard, including feedback from ESP staff about how they experience the school community, including the way other staff communicates with them.”

“My work as an equity mentor informs the work we do in our classroom on stereotypes as part of the fourth grade curriculum. I believe that having equity issues more present in school does the same for other teachers in terms of how they think about their classrooms and students.”
“I got my first class parent information note home, based on your idea from a year ago workshop.”
“We have decided to hold a community dinner at Stewart Park for all of our global II students and their families.”
“The Ithaca Youth Bureau created a document “Ways to affirm and include everyone at the Youth Bureau,” which incorporated language and ideas shared by me at one of the Undoing Racism sessions.”
“Because of the anti-racism work I have been doing through the ICSD, and reading books suggested by some trusted friends, I have acquired a whole new realm of language skills.”

“As a result of all the training I have had I feel so much more comfortable talking about race with students. Yesterday I had a group of African American students in my office discussing race and racism and I pulled out my Young, Gifted, and Black to discuss some of the topics with them.”

“Our initial statement: Our students’ differences: overlook them or focus on them? Questions: If we treat all our students the same, do those who are not in the majority—economically, culturally, racially, or in terms of abilities/disabilities—feel invisible? How do we acknowledge a student’s identity(ies) without making him or her feel singled out? When (if ever) is it OK to highlight a student’s identity(ies) in class?
We read three articles reflecting on the above, although those same questions help to guide our work in a global manner. Articles read included On Spotlighting and Ignoring Racial Group Members in the Classroom, by Dorinda J. Carter, I Don’t see Color, Kids Are Just Kids, by Tanisha Davis-Doss, and The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Education Other People’s Children, by Lisa D. Delpit. We tended to focus on the Delpit article as it resonated with us the most.”
“Hi Barry, thanks for the gentle nudge! We did the equity challenge in the guidance and administration meeting this morning. We read through the pamphlet and talked about one thing we are already doing (connecting students with the Learning Web for jobs) as well as things we are going to focus on for the next week prior to spring break. As a group we came up with:
    • Agree to listen and build relationships with staff, parents and students
    • Don't judge others
    • Always be truthful
    • Talk to kids about what is happening in the community
    • Allow others to have different ideas that my not agree with yours and we came up with one of our own: "Respecting yourself and respecting your body”
The evidence suggests that participants changed the way they think, tried out new practices, and changed some of the ways in which they structure their work. In addition, the evidence also suggests that the impact of these changes reached beyond the participants in my trainings and extended to their colleagues, students, and their students’ families.

Student Learning: What impact did your work have on student learning? Please provide examples, if possible, and analysis.

“Personally, two examples come to mind. One, I got very useful feedback from a couple of parents when I sent home the “Hopes and Dreams for the Remainder of the Year” feedback form. This helped me focus differently on the work I was doing with particular students. In my classroom we also started a “buddy program” to educate classmates and provide support to a student with a disability. It wasn’t that serving as an equity mentor made this work possible, but it did help me concentrate more effectively on the needs of particular students. In the same way, my work as an equity mentor informs the work we do in our classroom on stereotypes as part of the fourth grade curriculum.”
A teacher sent home the "hopes and dreams" challenge. Many families responded by asking that she give students more time for writing in class. As a result, the teacher began doing more with writing workshop. Since then, students have been writing lots of fiction, and their style has been clearly influenced by the teacher's most recent read-aloud of one of the "Series of Unfortunate Events" books. The teacher said that all of the students' stories have been pretty fantastical, and she then recounted a few examples. Without really thinking much about it, the teacher told me about one student’s story in which someone from DSS comes to the house to help the family deal with a crisis that has arisen.
An ESP educator used completed the Equity Challenge for Two Weeks (5/18/09 – 6/5/09). “I make a practice out of speaking to each child (by name) in the cafeteria! If we have time we talk about their evening, what they like, what kinds of things their family does; learn about religion, foods, and holidays. I find it helps some of the children start their day.”

“Hi Barry. I’m a first grade teacher at (I taught K last year), and I really try to constantly incorporate this kind of affi rming language. Last week, a conversation about where we live came up; I mentioned that people live in all different kinds of homes, sometimes in more than one home, and that I live in an apartment. A usually quiet and reserved boy in my class piped up ‘I live in an apartment too!’ and his eyes lit up. It was really nice to see.
“Teachers are using literature (with assistance from the FC librarian) to generate discussions about race.”
“The 4 th grade classes have been reading biographies which have led to discussions about race.”
“Thank YOU. _ felt like a real panelist, and even told me that there was water for her and a microphone. I think these are great chances for our kids.”
“Hi Barry, I'm attaching some photos of our welcome back to school dinner when families and children filled out hopes and dreams for school display in the front hallway.” (http://www.icsd.k12.ny.us/legacy/district/staffdev/bderfel/equity%20mentors%20current.htm - Scroll down to Northeast Elementary School.)
“A middle school English teacher taught a new unit this year, Race, Class, & Gender, and she worked with me to gather materials and think the unit through.”

The second Hopes and Dreams example shows evidence that our work is having some of the intended impact on students that I had hoped it would. Specifically, this shows evidence of how a challenge of the week provided a way for families to impact classroom practice. As the teacher used the input to inform her practice, this eventually prompted a student to engage in writing that meaningfully and appropriately incorporated aspects of her home/family life (this particular student has had a number of significant and positive interactions with DSS this year). This aspect of her identity was not "added in" to her work or "forced into" her work. It flowed in naturally, because she was given the opportunity and support necessary to do so.

In general, the evidence suggests that my work has had a far greater (and more measurable) impact on student learning than I had anticipated. Most significantly, I think the fact that I explicitly asked participants to note and report on student impact is what allowed me to be able to document student learning impact.

Source: Thomas R. Guskey, Evaluating professional development, 2000, Corwin Press