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Sunday, October 08, 2017

Looking Specifically at MA Education Criteria

I reviewed the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's new draft rubric for the evaluation system. I combined a number of points and highlighted the most important criteria with respect to developing my teaching/learning practice. I will specifically revisit the rubric once again as I prepare for the November 4th MTA's New Teacher Conference "Reflect for Success" presentation. During that presentation, new teachers will have the opportunity to unpack the rubric with a large number of reflection strategies as one way to reflect on and develop their teaching/learning professional practice.

In the meantime, after I determined the main criteria that relates to my teaching/learning goals, I wrote what we are doing and will continue to do to meet these evaluation goals--goals I value. In the future, I want to return to this list so that when I am reflecting on, developing, and sharing teaching/learning efforts, I am focused on the criteria and language below. I bolded areas that I want to pay particular attention to in the days ahead.

Unit Design and Implementation

Model optimal learning and teach well with the following attributes
Prior to each unit of study, I review standards, past practice, research and materials related to the unit of study. I then organize all the materials including standards, vocabulary, learning activities, and assessments online. As I do this, I'll make sure to utilize the attributes from the rubric noted below:
  • subject matter knowledge (review and research the material to teach)
  • student engagement (think about who your students are and what interests/attracts them)
  • learning experience that enable students to acquire, synthesize, and apply knowledge (introduce the acquire, synthesize, and apply cycle to students and use in every discipline)
  • subject-specific skills (take the time to teach and practice these skills)
  • vocabulary (use multiple ways to teach/review/apply vocabulary)
  • make and assess evidence-based claims and arguments (provide opportunities for academic debate, presentation, questioning and response)
Know students' developmental stage
Last year a colleague purchased developmental check-lists for each grade level. I'll reference that check-list as I plan the following efforts:
  • differentiate and enrich learning in age-appropriate ways
  • provide opportunities for student to problem-solve, make responsible decisions, and progress towards intended outcomes. Regularly ask the following questions:
    • How will you solve that problem?
    • Is this a responsible decision? or How can you make a responsible decision here?
    • What is your goal or intended outcome? How will you progress towards your intended outcome?
Design standards-based units
Again as I focus on unit design, I'll forward the following efforts:
  • well-structured lessons, generally use 5-10 minute thought-provoking introduction, engaging activity, clean-up, reflect
  • challenging and measurable outcomes. Engage students with the question, "How will you know when you've reached that goal, learned that material, moved ahead?"
  • focus on engagement, pacing, sequence, resources, grouping, purposeful questioning, strategic use of technology, digital media, authentic contexts, and standards-based efforts. Essentially choreograph blended lessons that result in optimal meaningful, engaging learning. 

Assess regularly using a variety of informal and formal assessments
I will continue to use a variety of assessments in the following ways. I want to think with my team about how we strengthen the feedback loops related to these assessments.
  • determine progress toward intended outcomes. Be explicit about intended outcomes, and work with students to determining learning paths to those outcomes. 
  • uses findings to adjust practice and make instructional decisions in real-time
  • identify/implement appropriate modification, differentiation and enhancements
  • use assessments as a focus of regular team data and assessment meetings
  • support regular feedback loops with students and families to support constructive conversation about student performance, progress, and improvement.
Image Reference
Promote expectations for quality learning
Primarily through the use of unit teaching and  showcase portfolio work, we will forward the following efforts:
  • encourage and promote optimal work, perseverance, effort. Demonstrate the value of these criteria through stories, statistics, examples. 
  • promote high expectations. Be explicit--show students what high-level learning looks and sounds like. 
  • share models of high-quality work with students, be explicit about expectations
  • use inclusive practices such as tiered supports, scaffolded instruction, structured opportunities for every child to meet or exceed state/system expectations and standards. Find ways to make every child successful.

Create an equitable, welcoming, safe, and productive learning environment
Preparation and execution of unit teaching/learning, daily activities, and special events I will promote the following with colleagues:
  • establish rituals, routines, and proactive responses to create a physically and intellectually safe learning environment. When incidents occur that obstruct this goal, be explicit in your language by saying, "When you_____, you make this environment intellectually or physically unsafe."
  • encourage students to take academic risks and play an active role on their own and with others to promote an optimal learning environment
  • reinforce students' relationship and communication skills by providing opportunities for students to learn in groups with diverse peers using meaningful academic discourse. Use words lists and anchor charts to support academic discourse. Show examples of academic discourse via video. Let students videotape their own academic conversations and then analyze their efforts. 
  • encourage students to seek out their peers as resources
  • consistently support all students to identify strengths, interests, and needs. Use showcase portfolio reflection sheets to support this goal. 
  • lead students to set and pursue learning goals, ask for help when needed, take academic risks, exercise self management, challenge themselves, monitor their own progress. Again make this a regular part of the showcase portfolio process. 
  • lead students to respect and affirm their own and others' differences
  • share, explore, and initiate dialogue about differences and similarities related to background, identity, language, strengths, and challenges
  • engage students in conversation and conflict resolution when needed related to conflicts or misunderstandings about differences. Stop and make the time for this. 
Engage families in the learning process
Parent conferences, progress reports, regular newsletters, classroom websites, classroom conversations/activities, and special events provide opportunities for the teaching team to do the following:
  • use a variety of strategies to encourage meaningful participation in the classroom or school community
  • communicate to families learning/behavioral expectations
  • update families on curriculum and successful learning strategies throughout the year
  • consistently seek feedback from families and utilize that to revise, enrich, and develop teaching/learning programs.
  • understand and appreciate different families' home language, culture, and values. Find ways to bring families together in ways that support student learning in optimal ways. 
Daily reading and writing support these efforts. With colleagues, I want to work more to design a way to meaningfully measure impact of the many efforts we engage in. 
  • regularly reflect on the effectiveness of lessons, units, student interactions on your own and with colleagues, utilize the outcome of that reflection to better teaching/learning
  • propose and monitor measurable goals that elevate student/educator teaching/learning practices
Professional Learning
Regular research, reading, study, collegial meetings support the following activities:
  • seek out and apply ideas for improvement to build expertise, improve student learning, promote better leadership, and differentiate
  • co-lead peer collaboration to develop units, well-structured lessons, and proactive interventions. 
  • contribute relevant ideas and expertise to grade-level, school, and system school improvement
  • develop strategies and actions alone and with colleagues to contribute to the productive behavior of all students at the school.