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August 4, 2011
by: Dollie Cromwell, Journalist

National School Reform Faculty

Five representatives from The Etude Group of charter schools recently attended Critical Friends Group Training in Bloomington, Ind.

Those in attendance from Sheboygan included: Leah Eilmus, a member of The Etude Group; Ted Hamm, administrator at The Mosaic School and IDEAS Academy; John Pena, music instructor at Mosaic and IDEAS; Helen Timm, fourth-grade teacher at the Elementary School for the Arts and Academics; and Tad Phippen Wente, creative writing instructor at Mosaic and IDEAS.

They were among 16 educators from as far away as Alaska and Greece who participated in the July 11-15 training.

The presenter for the training was Michele Mattoon, director of the National School Reform Faculty at the Harmony Education Center in Bloomington. This was the first time for the Sheboygan group to attend CFG training, and the participants are now certified Critical Friends Coaches.

Critical Friends Groups generally consist of six to 12 educators who meet regularly for a sustained and focused period of time to work and learn together, according to the NSRF. The educators observe one another and offer feedback on a regular basis.

Administrators and teacher-leaders in the schools work as facilitative leaders to ensure good habits in colleagues by routine use of NSRF practices and tools in staff meetings, planning sessions, grade-level meetings, department meetings and professional development sessions.

Critical Friends Groups will be started at ESAA, Mosaic and IDEAS to allow teachers to develop collegial relationships, encourage reflective practices and rethink leadership – all in support of increased student achievement.

“We will lead Critical Friends Groups at all our schools for the staff and use the protocols with the Governing Board and our Parent Advisory Groups,” Eilmus said. 

For more information about CFGs, please go to www.nsrfharmony.org.

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