David Coleman’s mock lesson relevant to King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail offers initial perspective about what instruction with the Common Core might look like.

It also raises some important questions, which many of the teachers that I am working with raised throughout our unit design sessions this fall.

The teachers that I am working with are eager to know what the six instructional shifts will look like in their classrooms with their students. Some are a bit uncertain about how all of this might play out. They know that their first attempts to shift in any of these ways might be less than successful. They know that they need time to research and test new strategies, watch how they influence kids and learning, and then plan next steps. For these teachers, it’s not just about getting the shifts done. It’s about knowing what it means to do this work well, reflecting on practice, and continually improving based on what is learned.

It’s very difficult to do this kind of work alone and do it well.

Teachers need colleagues to collaborate with. They are asking for varied perspectives, insight, and a lot of feedback.

For this reason, many of the people that I began working with this fall will be spending the winter and spring testing the units they designed in their classrooms and inviting others to observe, provide feedback, and coach them.

There are a variety of a collegial learning protocols and processes that could support this work, and it will look a bit different in each school I am working in, I know.

Right now, I’m considering some form of lesson study, though.

I’ll share the details and specifics as I go here, but if you have resources to recommend or know anyone who might be willing to share their experiences with lesson study with me, please let me know.




  1. If we take a good look at why Lesson Study, UbD, or PLC’s haven’t worked, we get closer to a solution. These models, all designed to give teachers the capacity to shift, often fail because the time and resources required to the engine of shifting (improving) simply isn’t there. Teachers, motivation, and focus flame out.

    Building the capacity to shift in the “hours” we have available is the key. In brief times together, teachers need to the skills and knowledge to plan, teach, and evaluate results in brief cycles.

    Call me and I’ll be happy to share ideas. You can also see my site.

  2. Hi Preston–
    Thanks for reaching out. I agree with you. Other problems emerge when you consider the design of the system as a whole. Beyond time and resources, over the years I’ve found that other issues impede the sustainability of models like these, which hold so much promise. In my efforts to explore this further and learn more, I became a fellow of Communities for Learning: Leading Lasting Change. What I’ve discovered through my work with this organization has led to profound changes in how I facilitate these experiences inside of schools and how I engage in my own learning and work. If systems thinking is a particular interest of yours, I’d highly recommend. About to stop by your place. Thanks for sharing!

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