Lenses on Learning (LOL) is a 30 contact-hour leadership
development course that teaches participants to make observations
for learning in standards-based mathematics classrooms. Designed by the
Education Development Center (EDC) in Newton, MA, LOL classes are
conducted in accordance with EDC’s training protocol and in conjunction
with its national study of Lenses on Learning. During project Year 5,
administrators from partner districts and seven project Facilitators
completed the course. To date, 127 school
administrators and project personnel have received the Lenses on
Learning professional development through NC-PIMS.
Lenses on Learning class: Cumberland County-January 10, 2007
In Year 5, the school district partners Columbus, Cumberland and Onslow enrolled 64 of their K-8 principals and assistant principals and additional instructional staff to the 30-hour Lenses course conducted by EDC-trained NC-PIMS Facilitators and Principals. The districts supported the effort by providing facilities and professional duty time for the year-long course.
During August and September 2007, Brunswick principals also completed the course. Lenses on Learning was selected to support the leadership goal of NC-PIMS because it encourages instructional leaders, during classroom observations, to focus on mathematical thinking and reasoning; posing problems; problem solving; and discourse that enhance and extend students’ mathematical knowledge. By focusing teachers’ attention on the thinking and reasoning of students, teachers must consider: (1) their own mathematical content knowledge; (2) the tools they use to represent the mathematics; and (3) the effectiveness of instructional tasks in advancing students’ mathematical content knowledge and ability to apply it.
Participants in the Lenses on Learning course spend time engaged in: (1) thinking about and “doing” mathematics; (2) observing students engaged in the same mathematical task; and (3) making observation notes about the: (a) mathematical content knowledge of students and teachers; (b) students’ learning as related to the teachers’ instructional decisions; and (c) quality of the classroom’s intellectual community. They also document how the teacher facilitates the intellectual community by setting the tone, supporting students, and intervening to maintain a focus on mathematics.
Principals and school administrators who have participated in Lenses on Learning sessions express an understanding of, and commitment to, standards-based instruction and the value of the course for affirming different ways to approach the same problem. As one elementary principal stated, “My way of doing math has never been valued before participating in the course. When I return to my school, I will observe to see if teachers value students’ ways of learning mathematics as a way to address the diverse students in the class.” Survey results from the participants continue to indicate an overwhelmingly positive response to the relevancy of the course and the impact that is anticipated on principals’ practices in observing the mathematics lessons of their teachers.
Participating principals see the value of observing for learning rather than just observing for teacher behaviors. They report that the Lenses on Learning experience has changed their postconferences from a focus on “what’s right and what’s wrong” to important discussions about what mathematical learning occurred for the teacher and the students. They express belief that these discussions will help principals understand how to support learning for the teacher and the students and how to improve teaching and learning. The principals document ways to integrate this approach into the existing and required evaluation procedures. They also articulate ways Lenses on Learning principles and practices can facilitate the achievement of school improvement goals.
For more information on the Lenses on Learning program, please visit the EDC website.