Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Does Your Work Line Up With System-Wide Goals?

I'm always looking for energy and inspiration to move the teaching and learning forward.

This morning, I turned to the language of our system-wide goals to see how the classroom efforts are matching up.

Health and Wellness: A focus on physical fitness and healthy relationships
The counselor offered her expertise to help us grow our team skills and collaboration. A small team of students will work with her first, and then we'll build that work out to the whole class.

A class reorganization to better support teamwork, and a continual focus on our "learning to learn" mindsets and behaviors also help in this regard.

Regular class meetings to develop our class culture, and frequent service learning efforts contribute to this goal too.

Students have lots of time to play, a healthy food culture, and a comfortable, relaxed dress code which supports lots of healthy play and activity.

As the teacher, I have to model these efforts too with time and attention.

Creation of smart goals, a professional portfolio, an action plan, and rational propel these efforts forward. Also, collection of student data, analysis, response, reflection, and share develops this work. The focus on "deep teaching" supports these efforts as well.

Our system-wide evaluation system has been streamlined which has made the evaluation structure more user-friendly. A time line for the system is in place as well which helps educators to prepare. The professional response we get related to walk-ins are informative and inspiring with respect to moving our work forward.

Response to Intervention (RTI)
The key components of this district wide initiative include teacher collaboration, sharing of best practices, differentiated instruction, and the use of data to inform instruction.

To date, our professional learning community has made significant progress in this regard. During PLC time we've used formal and informal student data to promote our learning efforts. We've also collaborated by sharing our questions, best practices, and differentiation strategies.

During RTI, we've pooled our resources to best teach all students with online and offline strategies.

I look forward to our continued efforts in this regard as we follow math protocols, continue to collect and assess data formally and informally, and integrate a large variety of strategies to best teach all students.

With specific attention to upcoming PARCC tests, we've lined up our teaching/learning efforts with the CCSS standards and we're giving students lots of practice with PARCC-like learning/teaching tools such as Khan Academy.

Our system has put aside time each week during school hours for every teaching/learning team to meet in this regard. This time is valuable with respect to our student-focused collaboration and efforts. The system has also formalized this process by providing timelines of formal data review and protocols for RTI. This effort has grown over the past few years.

Equipped with a large array of tech tools and software, our students generally use tech as a support for all learning.

Students use tech tools like Khan Academy, TenMarks, Symphony Math, and That Quiz to learn and practice skill. They also use tools such as iMovie, WeVideo, Google apps, and KidPix to create content to lead and share their learning.

Further they turn to the Internet often to research and inform their learning in guided ways.

Our websites, online home study links, and shared docs support students learning.

We are increasingly using technology to differentiate and respond to individual students' needs related to academic growth and development. We also have a great infrastructure which supports this effort. Further, educators' websites help to inform families and each other about the ongoing teaching/learning efforts and information.

Deeper Learning 
A focus on well-designed project-base learning in all content areas is deepening the learning students are able to do with a focus on content and process (learning to learn skills).

Professional Learning
Educators continue to support each other by sharing professional learning information related to conferences, research, books, social media, and more. Educators in our school are taking part in a large array of events, and the more those educators share their learning and experiences, the more we all learn.

Our upcoming "instructional rounds" event and the current choice of a question to focus on have fostered greater discussion and focus on student learning.

Future Steps
As I reflect on the system-wide goals and our team efforts, it's clear that we're on a path that lines up with the system-wide goals.

The key now is to stay the path and also look for ways to develop what we do.  With respect to my own work, I identify the following actions:

  • Clean the garage and bring in more play materials. I have a garage full of equipment that my own children have outgrown. 
  • Take advantage of the counselor's offer to share her expertise with students and me with regard to team building skills and competencies.
  • Continue to foster learning to learn skills and mindsets.
  • Create a teaching/learning environment that's welcoming and supports team.
  • Continue to work with team to find ways to collaborate so that everyone's voice and ideas are heard and shared.
  • Look for efficient, targeted ways to share so that we make progress at our meetings.
  • Continue to collect and analyze formal and informal data so that our efforts are targeted toward engaging academic growth for every child.
  • Respond to evaluator's comments, questions, and suggestions.
  • Regularly stop to reflect, review goals, and update records.
  • Keep a collection of student work to reflect upon and share with evaluator when needed.
  • Continue to research and try out new tools.
  • Become more familiar with the tools we have and continue to use with greater depth.
  • Become skilled at utilizing online reports to foster apt teaching, learning, and differentiation.
Deeper Learning and Professional Learning
  • Continue the focus on deeper teaching including reflection, analysis, trying new ideas, designing learning with colleagues and students, and promoting more project base learning in science and math.