Lynni Nordheim, Teacher
Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School
Ms. Nordheim teaches fourth grade at Orchard Gardens.
Ms. Nordheim gave SERP two interviews about aspects of internal coherence from her perspective. The first interview was prior to the administration on the ICAP survey at Orchard Gardens. The second interview is near the close of the school year.
Ms. Nordheim suggests that a school that exhibits a high level of internal coherence would be a school that is focused on learning. There would also be common instructional strategies and this would be reflected in the lessons plans, students work posted, classrooms and through speaking with the students.Ms. Nordheim speaks about the challenges involved in building internal coherence in a school. She suggests that the historical teaching environment where teachers work independently and alone, can make the practice of collaboration required to develop internal coherence, difficult. A way to overcome these challenges is to have leaders who empower their staff, but also hold them accountable for the outcome.Ms. Nordheim suggests that the difference between a private and a public teaching practice is the difference between “me and we”. The desire to help children as a whole leads to a desire to be open with one’s practice to refine approaches to gain the greatest impact.In describing the difference between and school administrator and an instructional leader, Ms. Nordheim suggests that an instructional leader is someone who motivates you to go above and beyond what you normally would do and also gives you the skills to achieve that goal.In reflecting on why is it that having talented individual teachers is not sufficient for schools to make great strides, Ms. Nordheim suggests that to change the culture of a school it requires talented teachers and a collective goal that recognizes a common vision of student success.Ms. Nordheim suggests that the teacher to student relationship is crucial. There must also be trust among colleagues and with the school leadership, so that teachers feel confident in the benefits of sharing and collaboration.When asked about the link between a teacher’s being public with her practice and the associated benefits to students, Ms. Nordheim speaks about her past experiences collaborating with other teachers.Ms. Nordheim suggest that information from the Internal Coherence survey can help leaders become more effective because it will help leaders get a better picture of the staff mindset and help create common goals moving forward.
Ms. Nordheim speaks on her experiences during the past school year. She found that this year has been the most challenging in her career. She speaks of her experiences transitioning to a new state and a new school. Despite the difficulties, there has been a lot of impressive student growth. She plans to learn more of the cultural background of her current students and is working on ways to improve her teaching in the coming year.How have you benefited from the team structure at this school and what could be done to improve it? Ms. Nordheim has found it very helpful to have time to speak with colleagues about instruction and to learn through collaboration. She hopes that her colleagues can further explore which data is most relevant to use to help students learn. She feels that it would be helpful if leadership in her school would provide more clarification in terms of the overall educational mission. She praises the leadership for allowing teachers some flexibility in how they use the curriculum to be meet their students’ needs.Ms. Nordheim speaks of the challenges between management/discipline and leadership that the school administration has faced in this first year. She suggests that it might be helpful if school administrators find ways to allow more time to communicate with teachers about the school’s goals and ho the teachers can meet those goals.Ms. Nordheim feels that currently the relationship between teachers and their colleagues is strong, but it will still take some time for the relationship between the teachers and administration to become stronger.What are the challenges around creating a culture of accountability? Nordheim suggests that it can be challenging to balance the needs of her students and her team, with the needs of the school administration.
The Internal Coherence Assessment and Protocol was developed by a team consisting of Richard Elmore, Michelle Forman, Elizabeth Leisy Stosich, and Candice Bocala.
Strategic Education Research Partnership
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