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School District No. 34

School District No. 34
Abbotsford, B.C., Canada

Dr. Robin Arden

Superintendent Of Schools
School District No. 34 (Abbotsford)
2790 Tims Street
Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 4M7

March 23, 2000

Dear Spencer:

The Abbotsford School District has been recognized over the last decade for having a strong staff development program. Many of North America's top educators have made one-day presentations or given three to five day workshops. Some of the most noteworthy include: Art Costa, Carol Cummings, Covey Institute, Rita Dunn, Rick Dufour, William Glasser, Stephanie Hirsch, Michael Fullan, Roger Johnson, Spencer and Laurie Kagan, Dennis Sparks, Thomas Sergiovanni, and Roger Taylor. All of the afore-mentioned speakers had a significant impact and played an important role in the growth of leadership and staff development for Abbotsford teachers and administrators.

If one looks at successful implementation of an innovation or strategy into the classroom, the week after the presentation, Kagan's Cooperative Learning Structures has had the most immediate and lasting effect. I base this statement on Bruce Joyce's (1984) research on Theory Demonstration Practice Follow-up and Coaching. His research demonstrates that when an innovation or strategy is presented by an expert without any follow up or coaching, the chances of this innovation being implemented into the classroom is only 5 - 15%. If there is follow up training, there is a greater than 80% chance of implementation into the classroom.

In Abbotsford, after Spencer Kagan's two-day initial training for teachers and administrators in Cooperative Learning Structures, there was an observable district-wide implementation of some of the cooperative learning structures into the classroom. Observers found that, at the elementary school level, there was a greater than 50% implementation rate in the two weeks following the training, without any further coaching or follow up. I firmly believe that the teachers saw his structures as very teacher-friendly, and that students were intrigued by these new strategies and, as a result, found learning to be fun and safe!

Laurie Kagan presented a three-day workshop on Cooperative Learning Structures for Rick Hansen Secondary School in September of the year the school opened. As part of the action research for my Doctoral dissertation at Nova Southeastern University, I studied the effect of an expert training of a new innovation on a high school staff that was supported by coaches trained in cooperative learning and monthly follow up. Observations of theory into classroom practice by coaches indicated an implementation rate above 80%. This training was provided for a brand new high school in the first part of September, to teachers and administrators, the majority new to each other. I found the implementation rate at the high school level to be a very significant factor in my research.

As Superintendent of Schools and an adjunct professor for Nova Southeastern University in the area of staff development, I can unequivocally recommend Spencer Kagan's Cooperative Learning Structures to any school district as a sound investment for their students' academic achievement and growth in social responsibility. I believe that if all schools in North America taught elements of cooperative learning as a social responsibility goal, and followed up this theory on the playground so that the elements of cooperative learning became a habit of character ethics, schools in North America would have fewer discipline problems and there would be a significant decrease in violent behaviour amongst students.



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