This year, seven comprehensive middle schools and one K–8 school are using the Problem-Solving Cycle in developing their professional learning communities. Teacher Leaders from these eight schools gather for a Summer Institute and six release days during the school year. During this time together, they build community as Teacher Leaders, think and plan for how to do similar community building in their site departments, and plan to implement the Problem-Solving Cycle with their site colleagues.
The Problem-Solving Cycle is a cycle of three professional development meetings per semester.
During the first, the department solves an upcoming problem from the SFUSD Math Core Curriculum. The Teacher Leaders' students are videotaped doing the problem in class. During the following two meetings, the department analyzes video of the students with a focus first on student thinking, then on instruction. This model supports teams of math teachers to develop a professional learning community and to think about content and instruction using video and student work.
In the previous years, since 2015–2016, a team from Stanford University planned and led, and then supported the SFUSD Math Department to plan and lead the professional development that supports the Teacher Leaders. In the first year of this work, Teacher Leaders from Francisco Middle School and Presidio Middle School piloted the Problem-Solving Cycle in SFUSD, with school participation increasing since then.
Dr. Hilda Borko and her team have described the Problem-Solving Cycle:
The Problem-Solving Cycle (PSC) model of mathematics professional development encourages teachers to become part of a collaborative and supportive learning community. As they participate in the PSC, teachers think deeply about both mathematics content and instruction, and they explore their instructional practices with their colleagues through the use of video and other classroom artifacts. One iteration of the PSC consists of three interconnected professional development workshops, all organized around a rich mathematical task. During Workshop 1, teachers collaboratively solve the mathematical task and develop plans for teaching it to their own students. Shortly after the workshop, the teachers implement the problem with their own students and their lessons are videotaped. In Workshop 2 teachers explore the role they played in implementing the problem. In Workshop 3 teachers critically examine students’ mathematical reasoning.
The Problem-Solving Cycle model provides a structure for mathematics teachers to work together and share a common mathematical and pedagogical experience. Our previous research suggests that it is a promising model for enhancing teachers’ knowledge and supporting changes in classroom practice.
The following schools are currently participating in the Problem-Solving Cycle PD structure:
Read about this project here.
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