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The ABPC Blog

Our 2022-23 PCN Guiding Text: Questioning for Formative Feedback

ABPC is excited to announce that the guiding text for this year’s Powerful Conversations Network will be Jackie Acree Walsh’s Questioning for Formative Feedback: Meaningful Dialogue to Improve Learning. Please join us for a highly engaging year of networked learning as we dive deep into Jackie’s immense knowledge of this subject and gain new skills and strategies to increase learning for Alabama students.

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Cathy’s Goodbye: “Round and Round in the Circle Game”

As she retires from her leadership role, Cathy Gassenheimer recounts highlights from ABPC’s first two decades of professional learning and network building and shares her four most important lessons learned. “I am eternally grateful for all those who have made this journey so rewarding,” she writes. “The list is long, and I hope I have the opportunity to thank many of you in person as we all continue to travel on the carousel of time.”

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One Last Standing Ovation for the Cathy and Jackie Show

Baldwin County principal Dr. Robbie Smith pays tribute to the work of ABPC’s Cathy Gassenheimer and senior consultant Jackie Walsh during 20+ years of designing and facilitating professional learning for the Powerful Conversations Network, the Key Leaders Network and the Instructional Partners Network. The retiring pair have often worked in the shadows, writes Smith, “but their influence on instruction in Alabama is beyond compare.”

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Tuscaloosa County: How Our Instructional Partners Encourage Teachers to Video Themselves

When Tuscaloosa County sent their secondary coaches to our Instructional Partners Network retreats this year, they took part in an important discussion: How do we convince teachers to video their own teaching as a way to strengthen instructional practices? In this helpful article, five TCSS school-based partners describe their individual video coaching strategies – all rooted in Jim Knight’s Impact Cycle.

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We Have Promises to Keep to Our Students in the Middle Grades

What promises do we need to make and keep so that our young adolescents will truly believe they belong in our classrooms and will be safe and cared for there? Education leaders Dr. Laurie Barron and Patti Kinney (authors of the anchor book for our new middle grades PD pilot) break down the promises they believe will have the most impact: Relationships, Safety, Consistency, and Instruction.

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How Our ‘Walkthrough’ Norms Are Helping Us Transition to ATOT

Teachers at Etowah High School are used to having visitors in their classrooms. In fact, writes Principal Nate Ayers, they like it when school colleagues and visiting educators come to observe effective practices and talk freely with students. This school norm, long in the making, “has now begun to help us in a different way as we make the shift to the Alabama Teacher Observation Tool,” Ayers says.

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A Strategy for Teaching Students to Work Effectively in Groups

This small group strategy shared by high school teacher Cheyanne Freitas gives secondary students explicit feedback on group interactions and helps promote participation and effective collaboration. Cathy Gassenheimer offers a summary and points readers to an Edutopia article where they can find all the details. Included: Links to tips for middle and elementary small grouping.

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Helping Our Students Discover the Skill of Self-Regulation

What school counselor Cortney McKinney learned during her year in the Powerful Conversations Network exploring relationship, responsibility and regulation “was a wake-up call for me,” she writes. The professional learning experience was “a call to action and a vessel in which I was able to navigate uncharted waters by talking to teachers about trauma-informed education.” Learn what her school is doing now.

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Instructional Partners Network: The Next Generation!

Dr. Robbie Smith, Principal of Orange Beach Middle/High School in Baldwin County, shares a decade-long perspective on the work of Alabama’s Instructional Partners Network. IPN, she says, “is the type of training you want all your coaches and teacher leaders to experience. The networking and conversations that happen here do not happen anywhere else. It is an opportunity with one focus and one outcome – improvement.”

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5 Tips to Get Kids Reading Novels When They Say They Won’t

Creating lessons accessible to readers who resist novels and other long texts can enhance the learning experience for everyone – including those who read the whole book. Cathy Gassenheimer shares ideas from high school interdisciplinary teacher Ileana Sherry on designing literacy instruction with the “extreme user” in center focus. Extra resources included!

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