The Whole-Faculty Study Groups Fieldbook: Lessons Learned and Best Practices from Classrooms, Districts, and Schools

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Edited by: Lick W. Dale & Murphy U. Carlene

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Part I: Getting Started

    Part II: Leadership and Sponsorship

    Part III: Study Groups and Learning Communities

    Part IV: Key Success Elements

    Part V: Instructional Strategies

    Part VI: Perspectives for Teachers and Teaching

    Part VII: State and National Initiatives

    Part VIII: An Overview of School Reform

  • For our spouses

    Marilyn K. Lick

    Joseph A. Murphy

    with grateful appreciation for their love, care, patience, support, and encouragement for our efforts on this hook

    Copyright

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    Foreword

    As I begin this task of writing a foreword for a work that has earned my full support for its commitment to quality education and professional development, I share with you that I am a fellow sojourner on the journey focusing on school improvement. Whether you have just begun your journey or are well along the way, you will hopefully find, as I have, that what school improvement should seek, year in and year out, is an understanding of (a) what we need to do to help our students improve their learning and (b) how our systems need to align to serve the needs of teachers.

    Over the past thirty-five years, I served in a number of roles, each with its own perspective of school improvement and the change process. As a teacher, the goal was right in front of me daily in the presence of between twenty-five and thirty-five students. As an assistant principal and principal, school improvement was all around me in the form of working with students and teachers to meet diverse needs and the location of scant resources. As assistant superintendent for instruction, school improvement was centered on the curriculum and policy development. As a superintendent, the goal was in the eyes of every student, parent, teacher, business owner, and community member I met: It was about meeting the needs of individual students and serving the needs of the community. Standards guided us and assessments measured us. At times, school improvement was reduced simply to year-end assessments. However, we know that school improvement is much more. For the professional educator, school improvement is in the process of designing, implementing, assessing, and reflecting and acting on our ever-increasing awareness of what our students need.

    I learned to ask a question of instructional teams and others: “What evidence do we have that this system has the capacity to perform at the level of our expectations?” That question focused on reality and the essential needs. Assessing capacity should be a regular component of data-based decision making. Building capacity is fundamental in the Whole-Faculty Study Group (WFSG) System. The WFSG approach aligns the professional learning needs of teachers with data on the students they teach, and then provides a process to meet the needs of learners. The key to higher performance embodied in the WFSG model is the work of planning, doing, assessing, and reflecting as an ongoing process.

    I have found that there are many distractions to claim the attention of faculty, making it highly challenging to focus and sustain conversations on teaching and learning. Consequently, the WFSG approach embeds the change process in the school plan and supports the faculty and the school in addressing student needs and skill development for success. It means taking precious time to develop our skills to meet identified goals, but it is no longer acceptable to say we are doing the best we can unless we can show how our practice is improving student achievement on a daily basis.

    In my experience, there are few models that successfully promote authentic collaboration among teachers, focus clearly on student data for instructional improvement, and set a higher expectation for success as the WFSG System does. It is a student-centered and a teacher-driven model that refocuses the conversation and culture of the school. Throughout this fieldbook you will have the opportunity to view the model from many different perspectives and experience the WFSG model and general school improvement through the eyes of practitioners at all levels. Here are real-world examples of the model that have the potential to guide the conversation toward core values, effective teaching, and improved student learning.

    Where do you go from here? The choice is yours. Start in any chapter that meets your needs. The experiences shared in this fieldbook will be helpful in improving schools and in your use of the WFSG System. As you will see, successful implementation of this model requires a commitment to people development, collaboration, and improved professional practice. It is not for the faint of heart, but worth every minute. Good luck!

    —HaroldM.Brewer
    Senior Vice President for Programs The Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning, Raleigh, North Carolina

    Preface

    The Whole-Faculty Study Group Fieldbook: Lessons Learned and Best Practices From Classrooms, Districts, and Schools is the natural companion book to the editors’ earlier three books on Whole-Faculty Study Groups: Whole-Faculty Study Groups: A Powerful Way to Change Schools and Enhance Learning (1998), Whole-Faculty Study Groups: Creating Student-Based Professional Development (2001), and Whole-Faculty Study Groups: Creating Professional Learning Communities That Target Student Learning (2005). As Whole-Faculty Study Groups (WFSGs) and their application have been refined since their creation in 1987, many especially effective WFSG initiatives have emerged as excellent real-world examples of WFSG models. In its 31 chapters, The WFSG Fieldbook provides an array of successful WFSG and WFSG-related initiatives, providing a comprehensive collection of relevant and helpful illustrations and models of the WFSG System in action in the field.

    The Whole-Faculty Study Group (WFSG) System has spread to school systems across the country, and the implementation and work of study groups has now become a daily occurrence in many schools, districts, and school systems. Because such work is continuous in these schools, the process and its refinement are constantly evolving. What one study group does has the potential to affect other schools that use the WFSG System.

    In addition, as Murphy and other consultants travel from school to school around the country in their consulting role and Lick continues to research the application and theoretical bases for study groups, new ideas are generated that help strengthen the WFSG System. These changes accumulate over time and lead to major adjustments that make the process even more effective. In the eight years since the first WFSG book was written, several hundred schools have implemented the WFSG System. This translates into several thousand individual study groups. From these and continuing groups, new insights into the WFSG approach have created a wealth of new and helpful material.

    If the study group model were a paper-and-pencil design, it might stay in a fixed or rigid state. Because the model continually evolves from how teachers actually work together in schools, it is fluid and readjusts itself. As leaders in schools chronicle the movement of study groups, we examine why some are high-performing groups and others struggle. What we learn is shared with schools already involved in WFSGs and those that are considering or just beginning the process. This fieldbook offers snapshots of numerous successful WFSG initiatives and provides a valuable addition to the literature for keeping schools up-to-date with a broad base of findings on what is working best in the field.

    Need and Purpose

    School reform and school improvement are on the minds of everyone today, including school administrators and teachers, parents and students, those in business and industry, and the general public. The concerns of all of these people and their organizations will not go away easily or quickly; it will require school reform processes and improvements well beyond anything that this nation has ever seen (see Chapter 31). Consequently, effective transformational processes will be essential to successfully reforming and improving schools and transitioning them so that they meet the students’ and the country's future needs.

    The WFSG System, as described in Chapter 1 and discussed in more detail in Whole-Faculty Study Groups: Creating Professional Learning Communities That Target Student Learning (2005), has been shown to be one of the most successful school reform and school improvement processes in the country. When applied properly, it has resulted in extraordinary school and student results.

    The purpose of this fieldbook is to deepen administrators’, teachers’, parents’, students’, and others’ understanding of and ability to use effective school reform and improvement approaches, especially those of the WFSG process, to significantly enhance the potential of their reform and improvement efforts. The many concepts and approaches modeled and illustrated, along with the numerous examples and illustrations, will provide a dramatically enriched collection of new understandings and tools for implementing major and successful school reform and school improvement. There is no other such resource now available in the marketplace. It will be relevant not only to those using the WFSG process, but also to others involved in or preparing for school reform and improvement undertakings.

    In particular, the fieldbook will: (a) demonstrate how critical concepts can be applied in a wide variety of school reform efforts; (b) provide a broad array of relevant strategies, concepts, and activities; (c) help readers bring ideas to life by illustrating how to use and apply them in their “real-world situations”; (d) contain first-hand case studies that highlight the details of how concepts worked for a variety of activities and in different settings; and (e) offer tips, strategies, and lessons learned on a wide range of pertinent circumstances, approaches, processes, problem areas, and concepts and ideas.

    Who Should Read and Use this Fieldbook?

    The primary audience for this book is everyone involved in school reform and school improvement in the country, as well as in other countries. The most natural audiences and potential users of this fieldbook would be all of those who have been involved or are becoming involved with our earlier WFSG books (e.g., school systems and districts, individual schools, administrators, teachers, parents, and their community leaders), and this now represents a sizable proportion of the school and general population. This fieldbook would be a particularly valuable addition to their library and in their WFSG applications now under way.

    In addition, since this fieldbook will provide a wide variety of experiences, examples, and illustrations of concepts and approaches common to most school reform and school improvement efforts, this fieldbook should be especially of value to anyone seriously involved in or interested in other school reform and improvement undertakings. Specifically, this fieldbook will be unique in its approach, broadly understandable, and relevant to those who want to lead, be involved in, or support school improvement and reform movements going on around the country now and in the foreseeable future.

    Organization and Contents

    The fieldbook is organized with chapters conceptually grouped into eight major sections, called Parts, reflecting their commonality and logical placement under the specific section title, and with sequencing of Parts appropriately following in a natural order. The titles of the eight Parts are, in order: Getting Started, Leadership and Sponsorship, Study Groups and Learning Communities, Key Success Elements, Instructional Strategies, Perspectives for Teachers and Teaching, State and National Initiatives, and An Overview of School Reform.

    The contents include the key elements in WFSG and change processes and their implementation, along with a large number of real-world examples and illustrative cases. The fieldbook is written so that it can serve as a textbook, a detailed reference book, or a stand-alone guide for many effective conceptual initiations and implementations, and successful completion of the WFSG approach to staff development and major improvements in schools.

    Part I. For those who want to gain a better perspective on school improvement in general or develop an overview sense of the WFSG System, the three chapters in this section provide: (a) a detailed introduction to study groups and effective faculty and school development for using them; (b) an explicit application of WFSGs in a typical school; and (c) an overarching perspective on the pivotal role professional development standards play in school improvement.

    Part II. The three chapters in this section illustrate authentic leadership and sponsorship situations, one relating to principals as leaders and sponsors, one with the school district as sponsor, and one with union collaboration to strengthen leadership and sponsorship. These chapters: (a) focus on practices of principals who help their teachers and WFSGs experience success, while enhancing the principals’ effectiveness as instructional leaders; (b) unfold an implementation sequence that began centered on student learning, moved to process alignment at all levels, and continued with district-level support for quality implementation and an uncompromising expectation for results; and (c) describe given circumstances and how schools and the union can partner in future relationships to enhance progressive change efforts for significant school improvement.

    Part III. This section contains three chapters that discuss (a) research on the effectiveness of study groups and learning communities in school improvement and (b) examples of special types of study groups, i.e., student and principal study groups, and their applications.

    Part IV. This section contains six chapters that give important insights into the key issues affecting school improvement. In particular, these chapters: (a) provide a comprehensive rubric for understanding and generating professional learning communities; (b) show how to build commitment for effective study groups and create and sustain learning communities; (c) use study groups and the WFSG process to bring about necessary and meaningful changes in the school culture; and (d) discuss in detail the process of data-based decision making and its application to enhance student achievement.

    Part V This section contains five chapters devoted to illustrating the successful application of instructional strategies in the WFSG process for improving student achievement in the classroom. The chapters in this section: (a) cover primary, elementary, middle, and high schools; (b) focus on such things as: strategies and activities, application of ideas in “real life,” first-hand case studies, implementation of the WFSG System, action plans, rubric development, gap closing, data-based decision making, creation of quality teaching, lesson development, instructional troubleshooting, examination of student work, peer observation and mentoring, effective and ineffective lesson sharing, current literature, and action research; (c) contain several content areas, including reading, mathematics, English Arts, and languages; and (d) have among their success factors: a consistent and supportive administrative team, strong instructional leadership from within, a belief that study groups work, a decision to bring in “expert voices” for writing instruction and sound practices, use of data to drive instructional decisions, a commitment by all faculty members to make a difference in the life of a child, a study group intent on content “that matters” and an instructional focus.

    Part VI. This section contains five chapters that offer perceptive stories relating to teachers and teaching. In particular, these chapters: (a) tell how meaningful professional learning for teachers is required for effective student learning; (b) explain how changing teachers’ beliefs about students and learning can positively impact student learning; (c) recount a teacher's first-hand point of view of the transition and journey toward achieving school success; (d) describe team efforts of a principal and instructional specialist in planning and implementing school improvement that led to true collaboration, different learning styles, opposing viewpoints, and clashing personalities, all uniting together at one school for the purpose of improving teaching and learning and student achievement; and (e) introduce teacher evaluation into a model of sustained teacher collaboration that integrates expectations for self-directed professional growth and elements of shared instructional leadership, empowering both processes and providing a consistent and cohesive focus for increasing student achievement.

    Part VII. This section contains four chapters that deal with state and national initiatives. These chapters: (a) unfold the story of how Louisiana and educators throughout the state are implementing in 170 schools, through their Learning-Intensive Networking Communities for Success (LINCS), an effective multidimensional professional development process to support improved teacher and student performance; (b) tell how Georgia, in cooperation with business and nonprofit organizations in the state, created the Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement, providing unique approaches to leadership development, policy influence, and research and development that are positively affecting systematic changes with long-term implications for student success; (c) relate insight into the roles and responsibilities of the Georgia Department of Education and the significant potential they have to influence proper school development; the critical ingredient being statewide dialogue followed by true, meaningful, long-term collaboration with and among all education stakeholders, particularly schools, unifying ideas to ignite and sustain the required change to perpetuate far-reaching, future-oriented school improvement; and (d) describe the National Whole-Faculty Study Group Center, whose mission is “to ensure student achievement through the authentic application of the WFSG System in schools worldwide,” accomplished through people, programs, products, and resources.

    Part VIII. School improvement and reform are both “significant local, state, and national issues” and “truly global issues.” What happens in this global arena will become a critical part of the foundation for the long-term future growth and development of each member-nation in the world community. The chapter in this section discusses both sides of “school improvement and reform” issues and then tries to illuminate the positive and negative factors and circumstances for us for today and tomorrow, as we attempt to prepare our people and country for the long-term future.

    As a final editors’ comment, the chapters in this fieldbook have been written by thirty-five different people and offer a comprehensive content and wide variety of perspectives. Consequently, we have tried to keep the “voice” of the authors in each of the chapters so as to capture their essence as if they were talking directly to you, the reader.

    Acknowledgments

    We acknowledge all of the members of the faculties and administrations who have implemented, sustained, and advanced the various elements of the Whole-Faculty Study Group System since its initiation in 1987. These people, individually and collectively, are silent heroes in the school-improvement movement across the nation. We continue to marvel at the richness of learning going on in their schools as a result of the committed leadership, effective work, and deepened understanding, persistence, and creative successes of these dedicated professionals.

    We acknowledge, with great appreciation and respect, the thirty-five authors of the chapters in this fieldbook. Each of them, even under the stresses of complex employment responsibilities and demanding professional obligations, has been a committed partner in this fieldbook effort. They have created especially perceptive insights into critical aspects of nationally important school-improvement initiatives and unfolded in their chapters interesting, relevant, penetrating, and valuable professional stories for their readers to see, feel, understand, and use. Our authors have been the heroes in this fieldbook story.

    We acknowledge our editors at Corwin Press, Rachel Livsey and Phyllis Cappello, for their strong initial encouragement for us to take on this fieldbook project and for their unwavering support during its development. Their wisdom and advice along the way proved to be both helpful and enlightening.

    The contributions of the following reviewers are gratefully acknowledged:

    Allan Alson

    Superintendent Evanston Township High School Evanston, IL

    James Kelleher

    Assistant Superintendent Scituate Public Schools Scituate, MA

    Charles F. Adamchik, Jr.

    Corporate Director of Curriculum Learning Sciences International Blairsville, PA

    About the Contributors

    Lynn K. Baber has been an independent consultant for six years, during which she conducted staff development on Learning Styles and Teaching Styles, Communication Skills-Effective Writing Skills and Reading Strategies, Designing and Implementing Curricula for businesses and education, Team Building and Whole-Faculty Study Groups, and, in association with the National WFSG Center, launched and supported schools using the WFSG approach to school improvement, including ATLAS Community Schools and High Schools That Work. She worked in the Richmond County (Georgia) public schools, as a classroom teacher for seventeen years and an Instructional Technology Specialist for three years, providing support to elementary, middle, and high schools on the integration of technology with instruction and curriculum.

    Gwendolyn Baggett is the Assistant Principal of the Richard R. Wright Elementary School, North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to 2005, she was a teacher, Small Learning Community Coordinator, and Assistant Principal of the Eugene Washington Rhodes Middle School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She, with Robin Cooper, developed Student Study Groups, mirroring the WFSG process. As a graduate of Temple University (BA), Antioch University (MED), and Cheyney University (Administrative Certificate), and an ordained Minister, she also served as the Site Director and Academic Coach for Freedom Schools, National Children's Defense Fund. Her passion is that “Every Child Can Learn and Will Learn” when we CARE!

    Charlotte Ann Buisson is a professional educator who has devoted 30 years of her life to teaching and learning. As a classroom teacher, she learned the value of student portfolios and dedicated her teaching to finding ways to motivate students to become lifelong readers and writers. She holds National Board Certification in Early Adolescent English Language Arts, has been an educational consultant at the state and national levels for more than twelve years, and currently serves Louisiana as a Regional Coordinator for the Learning-Intensive Networking Communities for Success, a statewide program where she teaches model lessons and facilitates Whole-Faculty Study Groups in fifteen schools.

    Karl H. Clauset is a Whole-Faculty Study Group Consultant with the National WFSG Center. Since 1999 he has helped many schools launch and implement WFSGs. He also assists district offices to align and support reform efforts in schools. Previously, he worked in standards-based reform and international education development at the Education Development Center, was on the faculty at the Boston University School of Education, and served as an elected school board member for six years. His dissertation, on effective schooling, received the 1983 ASCD Outstanding Dissertation Award. Earlier, he taught in secondary schools in Philadelphia, Indonesia, Zambia, and Tanzania.

    Robin P. Cooper is the Principal of Leslie Pinckney Hill, a large elementary school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has served as a sixth- to eighth-grade teacher, administrative assistant, assistant principal, union representative, and project director for Children's Defense Fund. Recently, she was the 2005 recipient of the prestigious Dr. Ruth Wright Hayre Outstanding Achievement Award for her work in urban education. Currently, she is in doctoral studies in Saint Joseph's University. An avid believer that students must be challenged, she won local and national acclaim with her creation of student study groups, a program that focuses on student leadership, teachers, administrator transformational leadership, and Whole-Faculty Study Groups.

    Angela S. Dillon has been the principal of Samuel E. Hubbard Elementary School, a six-year Title I School of Distinction, since 2000. She began her teaching career in 1981 and moved to the field of administration as an instructional assistant principal in 1994. She is the mother of two children, ages thirty-one and twenty, and lives in Forsyth, Georgia, with her husband of thirty-four years.

    Beverly A. Gross is a third-grade teacher in Emporia, Kansas. She started her teaching career in St. Mary's, Georgia, in 2001 at Crooked River Elementary School. It was at Crooked River Elementary that she became a member of the original Focus Team for Whole-Faculty Study Groups in the fall of 2003. She has attended many different trainings and conferences for WFSGs. Since her move to Emporia, she has been a liaison for WFSGs and assisted the local professional development team and high school in the implementation of WFSGs.

    Gale Hulme is an educator with twenty-nine years of experience, including high school English teacher, department chair, director of leadership development, executive director of organizational advancement, assistant superintendent of instructional services, and executive director of professional development. She has served with distinction on professional organizations, such as the National Staff Development Council's Board of Trustees (2002–2005), and was honored with the UCEA Excellence in Educational Leadership Award (2005). As Program Director for Georgia's Leadership Institute for School Improvement, she leads GLISI's systemic initiatives, including Leadership Preparation Performance Coaching (LPPC) and its core training offerings, Base Camp and Leadership Summit.

    Terri L. Jenkins is an educational consultant working with schools and school systems providing guidance and staff development in Whole-Faculty Study Groups as well as a variety of instructional areas. She has worked with Carlene Murphy since 1988 and was a member of the first Study Groups formed in Richmond County seventeen years ago. A teacher for fourteen years, she amassed experience at all levels of K-12 education. She served an additional two years as an Instructional Technology Specialist for the Richmond County Schools in Augusta, Georgia. She holds a master's degree in Administration and Supervision and is currently a doctoral student at the University of South Carolina.

    Steve Keyes has been staff development coordinator at Destrehan High School for the past nine years. Prior to that, he was a Spanish teacher at the same school. He has presented on many topics in several states and foreign countries.

    Anita Kissinger has served as the staff development director for Springfield (Missouri) Public Schools since 2000. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Missouri State University and a graduate of the National Staff Development Council's Academy XIV. During her service as staff development director, the professional learning programs for teachers and leaders in Springfield Public Schools have been featured in NSDC publications (Results and The Learning Principal). She is an experienced facilitator and presents locally, regionally, and nationally.

    Andrew E. Koenigs is Associate Superintendent for Academic Affairs at Andover Public Schools, Andover, Kansas. He earned his undergraduate teaching degree from Kansas State University and his master's and doctoral degrees in Educational Leadership from Wichita State University. His doctoral dissertation, The Affects of Whole-Faculty Study Groups on Individuals and Organizations, evaluated a districtwide implementation of Whole-Faculty Study Groups. In August 2007, he will begin his nineteenth year in education. He taught high school mathematics, served as a high school building administrator, and has eight years of experience in Curriculum and Instruction at the district level.

    J. Patrick Mahon is a retired educator with thirty-seven years of educational experience. He served as a high school principal for twenty-three years, taught school law as a part-time assistant professor at the University of Georgia and Georgia State University, and was a Site Developer for ATLAS Communities from 2001–2005, where he worked with schools implementing Whole-Faculty Study Groups as part of the ATLAS process. He has published over twenty professional journal articles and the book, School Law for Busy Administrators (2005), by the Education Law Association. The Georgia Association of Educational Leaders presented him with its Outstanding Educator Award in 1991.

    Michael Murphy is the Director of the Institute for Excellence in Urban Education. Earlier, he was Director of Product Research and Development Art, Westmark Systems; Executive Director of the Principal Assessment and Action Center, a collaborative of the Region 10 Educational Service Center, Dallas Independent School District, and Dallas Institute for Urban Leadership; Executive Lecturer, University of North Texas; and Director of Programs, National Staff Development Council. He has extensive experience in school districts in Texas as a teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent; lectured and facilitated strategic planning and professional development seminars; and published numerous journal articles and contributed to several educational books.

    Julie J. Nall started her career as a fourth-grade teacher at Park Elementary School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is now a curriculum writer/trainer for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. Earlier, she spent six years as a LINCS (Learning-Intensive Networking Communities for Success) Regional Coordinator for the Louisiana Department of Education, where she supported more than thirty schools in five school districts in implementing the WFSG System; modeled standards-based, technology-rich lessons; and provided coaching on research-based instructional practices proven successful with poor, low performing children, all empowering teachers to improve student achievement with components enduring in the school culture. She has been an Instructor for the Louisiana State University/LaSIP partnership (Mathematics Project) for the past seven years.

    Deb Page began her career as a high school English teacher in Georgia, eventually transitioning to HR/Training with a passion to help adults succeed in their careers. She has managed broad-based curriculums, led business improvement projects, implemented a corporate university, served as a Senior Vice President for Citigroup, been recognized in several national magazines, and founded Willing Learner, Inc. In 2002 she became the first Executive Director of Georgia's Leadership Institute for School Improvement (GLISI). In this role, she leverages her more-than twenty years of experience to lead research/evaluation, policy influence, and performance-based training for educational leaders, research, and evaluation to support student achievement.

    Sherman H. Parker is a retired Superintendent of Schools at Lake George Central in New York state. Since retiring, he has worked as a Site Developer for ATLAS Communities, consulting in a number of schools in the Albany, New York, area.

    Xochitl Perez Castillo is a Special Education Bilingual-Spanish teacher at the John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Boston and a Research Associate for the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN) of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA) Locals. She earned her Ph.D. in Social Sciences and Comparative Education from UCLA. She currently serves as a Faculty Representative on the Boston Teachers Union; is a candidate for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; and has been a delegate to the Conventions of the American Federation of Teachers, the Coordinator of the Supporting and Sustaining Teachers Project, University of Washington; and on the TURN/Broad Foundation's “Improving Student Achievement Through Labor-Management Collaboration” initiative.

    Jill Potts is the Principal of the Coal Mountain Elementary School in Forsyth County, Georgia. She has been a teacher, an assistant principal, and a principal in Forsyth County since 1993. She received a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of South Florida, a master's degree in Early Childhood Education and an Education Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University, and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Instructional Leadership at the University of Alabama.

    Stephen M. Preston is Director of Professional Learning in the Georgia Department of Education. He has served in the Department of Education (DOE) for over thirty years, primarily in leadership and teacher development; he led the Research and Evaluation Division, managed the Research and Development Utilization Program, and led the DOE in its strategic planning process under two state superintendents. He received the Distinguished Staff Developer Award from the Georgia Staff Development Council in 2003. Earlier, he was a teacher and a middle and high school principal for a total of nearly forty-two years of experience. Beyond his primary DOE role, he has taught in a public school or college for thirty-eight years.

    Ann Proctor entered her career in education in 1971 as a Health and Physical Education teacher. Twenty-one years later, she became Superintendent of Schools in Camden County, Georgia. On her journey to becoming superintendent, she served in several administrative capacities at the elementary, middle, and high school levels; and she worked as a Director of Special Education, an Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, and a Deputy Superintendent. As Superintendent, she focuses on improving student achievement through the use of the WFSG System and data, collaborative decision making, and open communication.

    Kim Reynolds-Manglitz has a master's degree in Middle School Education from the University of Georgia and taught middle school science and language arts for six years before becoming a gifted collaborator and working for several years with sixth- through eighth-grade teachers to incorporate gifted strategies into classroom teaching. She is currently the Instructional Lead Teacher at Clarke Middle School.

    Teri Roberts is a dedicated educator who is highly knowledgeable in the elementary mathematics curriculum. Standards-based lesson planning with constructed-response assessments is her area of expertise. She is skilled in helping administrators and teachers grow professionally. Students are the focus of all of her well-planned lessons and professional developments. Therefore, analyzing student work is her passion. She is an accomplished mentor in the Whole-Faculty Study Group Process in twenty-eight Louisiana schools. She has presented at the local, regional, state, and national levels.

    Michael L. Rothman is cofounder of the Project for School Innovation (PSI), a nonprofit organization that uses school-to-school faculty study groups to help educators share their successes and drive school change. Under his leadership, as Executive Director from 2000 to 2005, PSI involved more than 250 educators in peer-learning networks through which they published fifteen books, produced seven videos, and developed more than 100 workshops to share their effective practices with educators everywhere. He holds a B.A. from Brown University and a M.P.P. from Harvard University, and served as a Jane Addams Fellow at Indiana University.

    Kenneth Sherman has been Principal at Clarke Middle School in Athens, Georgia, since 1996. He is a native New Yorker and worked in the New York City Public Schools for ten years before moving to Athens in 1991. He earned a master's degree in English and American Literature from New York University in 1986, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Georgia in 1997. He is married to Dr. Sherrie Gibney-Sherman, Associate Superintendent in the Jefferson (Georgia) City Schools system, and they share three children, Mollie, Alexandra, and Kellen.

    Danette R. Smith is a school counselor for Paulding County Schools in Dallas, Georgia. Over the years, her dedication to student learning and awareness of the school environment's influence upon learning led to career decisions resulting in the completion of an Ed.D. in School Improvement from the University of West Georgia. Her dissertation research focused on professional learning communities and study groups as a means of generating learning communities. Currently, she is a middle school counselor fulfilling her dream of making a difference in the lives of those she serves.

    Lisa S. Smith is a former elementary school principal, assistant principal, media specialist, and high school English teacher. Under her leadership, her school implemented Whole-Faculty Study Groups, resulting in vast improvements being made in student achievement, attendance, and parental involvement. She also has been involved in comprehensive school improvement efforts as part of the Georgia Governor's Office of Education Accountability and the Office of Student Achievement Standards and Grading committees. She is currently a school improvement consultant with a Georgia Regional Education Service Agency and serves on the Regional Support Team for the School Improvement Division, Georgia Department of Education.

    Beverly S. Strickland is currently the Curriculum Director for Camden County Schools in Georgia. She has served the Camden County Schools as a classroom teacher, instructional lead teacher, assistant principal, and principal of St. Marys Elementary School. While at St. Marys Elementary School, she introduced her faculty to the Whole-Faculty Study Group System; the faculty embraced the concept and continued the work. She also authored materials for a chapter in the WFSG book by Murphy and Lick (2005).

    Adam Urbanski is president of the Rochester (New York) Teachers Association and a Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers. A former high school teacher and college professor, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and is an active proponent of change in education. He is the director of the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN) aimed at creating a new vision of teachers’ unions that supports needed changes in education, and has served as a trustee of the National Center for Education and the Economy, as a Senior Associate to the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, and on the Federal Department of Education Board of Directors of the Fund for Improvement and Reform of Schools and Teaching.

    Ronald D. Walker is the Associate Director of ATLAS Communities. He shares responsibility with the Director for leadership and management of ATLAS activities and staff and for outreach, marketing, and fundraising and development efforts; oversees the delivery of services to selected districts; identifies and negotiates strategic alliances; and has primary responsibility for the development and management of the annual Principals’ Institute. He is the recipient of the Black Educators Award for Professional Service in Education (1995) and the Liberating Vision Award, presented by the National Council of Negro Women (Greater Boston), and a Harvard University Gates Fellowship for senior-level education-change coaches.

    Emily Weiskopf is currently teaching fifth grade at her children's neighborhood school in Jacksonville, Florida, and, as a former teacher, academic coach, and district instructional specialist and an experienced staff developer in whole-school improvement, is consulting for the National WFSG Center, ATLAS Communities, and the Springfield (Missouri) Public Schools. In an earlier position in the Springfield Public Schools in 2001–2004, she was instrumental in districtwide implementation of WFSGs, helping with the formation of WFSGs for Principals, which focused on current practice and new innovative approaches to coaching teachers, and reflected on instructional leadership and overseeing the development and implementation of School Improvement Plans.

    Marcia R. Whitney is currently fulfilling her career goal as a professional development specialist as the Coordinator for School Development for the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES in upstate New York. With more than thirty years devoted to the educational profession, she has held positions as an art teacher, special education teacher, educational and special education administrator, consultant, supervisor of student teachers for the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, and Site Developer for ATLAS Communities. Throughout these years of service, empowering teachers, students, and administrators through teaching, example, and leadership has remained her focus and guiding force.

    Jeff Zoul is Principal of Otwell Middle School in Forsyth County, Georgia. He holds degrees from The University of Massachusetts, Troy State University, and The University of Southern Mississippi. He began his career in 1982 as a first-grade teacher, taught at the middle school and high school levels prior to serving as a school administrator, and has extensive experience in working with Whole-Faculty Study Groups. His educational passions include school climate and culture, classroom management, learning communities, and teacher morale.

    About the Editors

    Dale W. Lick is a past president of Georgia Southern University, University of Maine, and Florida State University and is presently a university professor in the Learning Systems Institute at Florida State University. He teaches in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and works on educational and organizational projects involving the Whole-Faculty Study Group System, school reform, school improvement, enhancement of student learning, transformational leadership, change creation, leading and managing change, learning teams, learning organizations, distance learning, new learning systems (e.g., the HyLighter Learning, Assessment and Collaborative Document Preparation System), strategic planning, and visioning.

    Included in over fifty national and international biographical listings, he is the author or coauthor of six books, more than ninety professional articles and proceedings, and 285 original newspaper columns. Two of his recent books are New Directions in Mentoring: Creating a Culture of Synergy (with Carol A. Mullen, 1999), and Whole-Faculty Study Groups: Creating Professional Learning Communities That Target Student Learning (with Carlene U. Murphy; Corwin Press, 2005).

    Carlene U. Murphy is founder and director of the National WFSG Center and the principal developer of the Whole-Faculty Study Groups® system of professional development. In August 2007, she will begin her fiftieth year of work in public schools. She began her teaching career in 1957 as a fourth-grade teacher in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia, and retired from the district in 1993 as its Director of Staff Development. During her fifteen years as the district's chief staff developer, the district received many accolades, including Richmond County receiving the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Professional Development from the American Association of School Administrators and Georgia's Outstanding Staff Development Program Award for two consecutive years. She was awarded the National Staff Development Council's Contributions to Staff Development Award and served as the National Staff Development Council's chairperson of the annual national conference in Atlanta in 1986, president in 1988, and board member from 1984 to 1990.

    Since retiring from the Richmond County Schools, she has worked with schools throughout the United States implementing Whole-Faculty Study Groups. She and her colleagues established the National WFSG Center in 2002, sponsoring annual National WFSG Conferences and WFSG Institutes and providing technical assistance to schools. She has written extensively about her work in Educational Leadership and Journal of Staff Development.

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    Action Research-Related Resources

    Resources that have proved to be especially helpful to the work of study groups in the areas of action research, assessment and rubrics, Japanese Lesson Study, Looking at Student Data, and Looking at Student Work include the sources below.

    Action Research
    Glanz, J. (1999, Summer). Action research. Journal of Staff Development, 20(3).
    Sagor, R. (2000). Guiding school improvement with action research. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
    Sagor, R. (2004). The action research guidebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
    Assessment and Rubrics

    Exemplars: K-12 standards-based performance assessment. (n.d.). Available online at http://www.exemplars.com

    Goodrich Andrade, H. (2000). Using rubrics to promote thinking and learning. Educational Leadership, 57(5), 13–18.
    Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Available online at http://www.ascd.org/portal/site/ascd/menuitem.a4dbd0f2c4f9b94cdeb3ffdb62108a0c/
    Japanese Lesson Study
    Lewis, C. (2002). Lesson study: A handbook of teacher-led instructional change. Philadelphia: Research for Better Schools.
    Richardson, J. (2004, February/March). Lesson study: Teachers learn how to improve instruction tools for schools. Alexandria, VA: National Staff Development Council. Retrieved March 10, 2006, from http://www.nsdc.org/library/publications/tools/tools2-04rich.cfm
    Lesson Study Research Group, (n.d.). Available online at Teachers College, Columbia University, Web site: http://www.tc.edu/lessonstudy/whatislessonstudy.html
    Looking at Student Data
    Bernhardt, V.L. (1998). Data analysis for comprehensive schoolwide improvement. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.
    Schmoker, M. (1999). Results: The key to continuous school improvement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
    Looking at Student Work

    Web site for looking at student work developed by an association of educators and supported by the Harmony School Education Center: http://www.lasw.org

    Allen, D., & Blythe, T. (2003). A facilitator's book of questions: Resources for looking together at student and teacher work. New York: Teachers College Press.
    Blythe, T., Allan, D., & Powell, B.S. (1999). Looking together at student work. New York: Teachers College Press.
    Langer, G.M., Colton, A.B., & Goff, L.S. (2003). Collaborative analysis of student work: Improving teaching and learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
    McDonald, J.P., Mohr, N., Dichter, A., & McDonald, E.C. (2003). The power of protocols: An educator's guide to better practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

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