The narrative included in the module uses some terms with which readers may not be familiar. Below are definitions for the terms that are likely to be unfamiliar.

Cognitive anthropology: One social science method for studying human culture; cognitive anthropologists look for patterns in how people in a particular cultural group make meaning from their experiences. 

Cognitive coaching: A structured approach through which one professional provides support to another professional. With this form of professional support, one person (the coach) uses probing questions to help another person (the coachee) reflect on his or her practice. Changes in practice result from self-reflection, not from advice provided by the coach. 

Constructivism: A theory of knowledge that views people not primarily as recipients, but rather as creators of knowledge. Constructivism focuses on how people generate meaning from the interaction between their prior ideas and their new experiences, including their observation of and dialog with other people. 

Critical friends groups: A professional learning community in which professionals take turns discussing issues related to their practice and receiving feedback from colleagues.

Differentiation: The practice of creating various instructional methods to teach the same content to students whose learning characteristics predispose them to learn best through different types of materials and/or activities.

Interdisciplinary teaming: Collaborative planning and sometimes collaborative teaching that involves two or more teachers with expertise in different subject areas. The aim of interdisciplinary teaming is to develop and deliver rich lessons that show students the connections between different academic disciplines. 

Japanese lesson study: An approach used by teams of teachers who first collaborate to develop a lesson and then conduct action research to test the lesson’s effectiveness and refine the lesson in ways that improve its effectiveness.

Organizational culture: This term refers to the norms, behaviors, and values that determine how people within a particular organization function within that organization and make sense of what goes on there. The term “school culture” is often used to make reference to the organizational culture of a school.

Peer coaching: A structured approach through which one professional provides support to another professional. With this form of professional support, one person (the coach) observes the practice of another person (the coachee) and provides feedback based on agreed-upon evaluation questions or criteria.

Systems theory: This general set of ideas about how systems function has been applied widely within a variety of disciplines such as computer science, biology, and organizational sociology. It describes mechanisms through which systems ensure their survival by maintaining equilibrium, making adaptations, and interacting with other systems. Applications of systems theory to education tend to treat schools as open systems. A relatively new branch of systems theory, dynamic systems theory, helps practitioners understand change and take strategic action to promote the sorts of changes they hope to accomplish. 


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