Sunday, June 15, 2014

What's the Teaching Target and Why?

As I reviewed end of the year scores, I thought about how important it is to keep the overall teaching/learning targets alive from the start of the year to the end. I suggest that this be a short list--the kind of list teachers, family members, students, and leaders can refer to and remember easily.

At the start of the year, teachers need to understand well what the most important teaching targets are, and then those targets need to be the focus of time, discussion, problem solving, encouragement, share, revision, assessment, and celebration throughout the year.

Along with the targets need to come the meaningful rationale and action that matches those targets, and I suggest that these targets and rationale are created and shared with educators, family members, and students at the start of the year so everyone knows what the priorities are.

As I look ahead to my fifth grade charge, I imagine the short list will look something like this.
  1. Optimal mindsets, actions, dispositions, and routines for learning
  2. A school program that engages, empowers, and educates students well.
  3. Students will learn to fluently apply, explain, and problem solve with all all grade-level math standards using numbers, words, images, diagrams, and models. 
  4. Students will learn, apply, and explain the identified science standards with words, numbers, images, diagrams, and models. 
  5. Students will learn, review, practice, and apply reading comprehension strategies related to the class read alouds with discussion and STEAM Inspiration journal written responses. 
The scores the State will judge me on include the Math MCAS and Math GMADE growth scores. These are the DDMs (District Determined Measures) for my grade level.

What are the priority areas of your curriculum responsibilities?  How can you embed those priorities into meaningful, 21st century teaching that promotes character, citizenship, collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking skills? Will you only focus on short term goals, or will you also focus on more holistic goals that support long term learning success (are short term and long term goals often the same)?

How will you keep the grade-wide goals alive in positive ways--ways a whole team can embrace with strength and understanding?  How can we encourage one another towards these goals with positive collaboration rather than competition in this high stakes testing age?  In what ways can coaches, leaders, and colleagues empower teaching teams to meet the goals with strength, confidence, and care?

It's a good idea to know the scores and numbers you'll be judged on from the first days of the school year as that will help you to meet those goals in ways that benefit students in holistic ways as the year progresses. How do you determine your teaching goals at the start of the year? How do you keep the goals and process alive in positive, proactive ways?  How do you analyze those goals at the end of the year so that you are inspired to do better, learn more, and continue successful practices?

The transition to all this data can be daunting and defeating for educators and students alike, however if we embrace this process well with students' best interests in mind and optimal collaboration, there is a chance that this can be a positive movement.  What do you think?