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Thursday, May 05, 2016

What Will the 2016-2017 School Year Look Like?

I've always felt that the vision setting and organization of school plans should occur about nine months ahead of implementation. By giving good work lead time, you make good time for apt conversation, debate, communication and preparation.

Just recently an event left to the end of the year without preparation created undue stress and effort when if the issue had been planned ahead of time, then there would have been little time, effort, or emotion wasted.

As I think about this, I am thinking about the 2016-2017 school year. What do we know already, and what will we do?

Curriculum Changes
The big issue here will be MCAS 2.0. How will that be different from the PARCC test we're currently taking, and will that difference mean a change in curriculum content or timelines? The best way to understand this change is to read DESE information as it comes out in the weeks ahead. Then once information is posted, it's important to adjust content efforts and timelines.

With regards to math education, there will be a greater push in my work for what Boaler describes as "floor to ceiling" explorations. I'd like to plan four deep math explorations for the year--explorations that match the standards. The first exploration will be the creation of a grade-level infographic. I'm hoping that this project will help to foster greater team and cultural proficiency since it will give students time to talk about each other, analyze related data, and make presentations.

I'm hoping we can talk more and plan better for struggling math students--those students who are about two years behind the curriculum goals for the grade level. One way to meet the needs of these students is to create a five day a week parallel math RTI program that focuses on building a strong number sense foundation. If we did this, every student would have 1.5 hours of math a day including one hour of differentiated core math and 30 minutes of math skill/practice at their current level of learning.

The STEAM and science efforts continue to take hold and we'll continue to build these engaging learning efforts and resources.

Also, the social competency and learning-to-learn efforts continue too and we'll likely continue to build on these efforts too. I want to look at how I can best embed this learning into its own lessons and experiences as well as embed this learning into the math/STEAM efforts.

Update: Now towards the end of 2016-2017, some of these goals took hold and others did not. There were shifts in curriculum expectations from the district level that affected these shifts.

Evaluation System and ESSA
Our State leadership and other education organizations are beginning to point us in the direction of simplifying and changing the evaluation system as well implementing ESSA efforts. I need to read the ESSA information to understand this well, and I'll work with colleagues and leaders to look at ways that we might simplify the evaluation system so that we still have a positive multi-dimension system, but a system where the time it takes matches its value well. Right now the system seems to take too much time from both leaders and educators and I believe this can be simplified.

The state created an ESSA plan that will impact our work going forward, and our union worked with administration to create a team to review the evaluation system in order to streamline so as to make sure that the efforts are well directed.

Classroom Organization
There's some work to do to get that STEAM Center more organized and there's a bit of money to support this effort.

There were shifts in this area, and the money was specifically targeted in a way that did not impact the development of my work in this area. 

Professional Learning
The main professional learning will relate to understanding my Union role and responsibilities well as I serve as part of my local union. I am also involved in planning and carrying out an ECET2 in Boston with a group of teachers and that will involve considerable learning. Lastly, I want to tighten up and deepen the math teaching/learning efforts. I'm wondering if we could build in more time for math as well. That will depend on the schedule.

We added a bit of time to math teaching, and considered a curriculum switch for next year, but decided not to go that route for a number of reasons. The ECET2 was a terrific learning event as was my work with local and state unions. In addition, professional learning related to cultural proficiency, math teaching, and technology also positively impacted the year. 

Summer work will be integral to good change for 2016-2017 school year. A curriculum and initiative map at the start of the school year would be helpful as well.

Our team curriculum planning efforts were very positive. 

Because teachers have to start teaching on day three, it's important that leadership decisions and plans occur ahead of that effort. That kind of work supports good teaming and good work.