Meet Chavah Goldman who is leading teachers at her school to improve their teaching practice.
Q: What year did you graduate DeLeT/What cohort and campus are you from?
I was in the 5th cohort on the Brandeis campus.
Q: What is your current position? (Where are you working, what are you doing?)
I teach second grade at Boston’s Jewish Community Day School in Watertown, MA.
Q: Are you doing anything extra outside of your teaching responsibilities?
I facilitate the Lower School rounds and also co-facilitate the Middle School rounds with my colleague Andrea Silton. I also, as a result of a technology PLN that I participated in last year, have been supporting the Lower School teachers with using the app SeeSaw in their classrooms, an online portfolio that encourages students to explain their thinking and to reflect on their work.
Q: We hear you are in facilitating of teacher rounds at your school. Please tell us about this program.
I began the Lower School teacher rounds program with my former supervisor, Sue Stibel, in 2012 as a form of in-school professional development and as a way for teachers to learn from one another. I love facilitating these rounds and I truly believe that my teaching practice has grown as a result of them.
The teacher rounds are designed to help us reflect on our teaching, and to improve our instructional practice through group observations and debriefs. As a group, we come up with a broad but applicable group problem of practice at the beginning of the year. For example, our problem last year was, “What new instructional practices/strategies can we use to make our teaching developmentally appropriate?” Once a month a different teacher hosts the group in his or her classroom, and asks the observers to focus on a specific aspect of the group problem of practice. Before hosting, I meet with the host teacher to create a “host prep form” that is sent to the group before the round takes place. This form serves to provide context for the observers, and also provides a way for the host teacher to reflect on, and document, what steps s/he has already taken towards the group goal. After the round, the group gets together to use a specific protocol to debrief the observation. During this debrief, each participant shares observations, wondering questions, learnings and a commitment on which to work from what they saw.
In between round weeks, we also have a section in which the participating teachers share evidence of the work that we've done around our rounds-inspired commitments. After each teacher shares his or her evidence, we ask each other probing questions, share how it looks (or doesn't) in our own classrooms and raise possible strategies and further questions to think about. I find this process to be helpful in many ways: it holds us accountable for working to improve our practices; it highlights the risks and new practices with which teachers are experimenting; and it gives us an opportunity to hear each others' ideas and get a better sense of what was happening in each classroom.
Over the five years that we have had teacher rounds at JCDS, it has gone through many changes and adjustments. I have been lucky to have great mentors and flexible, open colleagues who have supported me in helping to get rounds to where it is now; it has truly been a group effort! I am very excited to take what I’ve learned over the years and apply it now to beginning and facilitating teacher rounds in the Middle School as well.
Q: What are you reading these days?
I recently read the book Mindsets in the Classroom by Mary Cay Ricci and it inspired me to do a unit with my students around how our brains work and how we have the power to strengthen our own brains. I highly recommend this book!
Q: What do you enjoy most about working at your school?
I love the strong community at JCDS and really appreciate how supportive everyone is of one another. The teachers often go above and beyond to help each other out by sharing ideas about differentiation, collaboratively building curriculum or just serving as a sounding board for one another. I also think that the Jewish ruach at our school is amazing, and I love being part of it!
Q: What are some lessons you learned in DeLeT that have served you well in your teaching career?
I learned so much from DeLeT but I think that the biggest lesson that I took away was about “Backwards Design” lesson planning and about how you start with the goals and assessments and build from there. I still plan my lessons like this and I find it incredibly helpful to always have the Big Ideas and Enduring Understandings right in front of me to remind myself of the ultimate objectives of the content.
Q: What makes you proud to be a DeLeT alum?
I love being a member of a group of educators who strive to meet each child’s individual needs, and to help nourish a strong Jewish community and individual Jewish identities. I also love how committed DeLeT alumni are to growing as teachers and to supporting each other professionally.