This past week has allowed a peek into what our teachers are doing with students to set academic goals. In addition to our standing district beliefs, vision, mission, and goals, Fort Madison Community School District has identified the following goal for the 2022-2023 school year: “By May 2023, FMCSD will improve ELA and Math proficiency by at least 10% as measured by the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP).” As teachers are taking on the challenge and contributing to meeting this goal, they are approaching it with a can-do attitude.
In one of our 7/8 ELA classrooms, Ms. C. is simply using water bottles marked with increments of 10 percent. As groups of students reach a 10% increment toward proficiency on a priority standard, she fills the bottle up to that marker. In this way, everybody – students and teacher – are working collaboratively as a community to reach the overall goal of 100% proficient on each priority standard by the end of the 22-23 school year.
In much the same way, 1st grade teacher Ms. R. is posting a bulletin board with the very same idea: she and her students will mark progress toward meeting priority standards by 10% increments. Think of the power of both of these approaches to goal setting: they are realistic, attainable, measurable, visible, and a truly a group effort, which preserves individual identities. It reminds me of EL Education’s Crew approach. Very exciting!
In a kindergarten classroom, Ms. L. invited two coaches to work through some ideas about how to set goals with her kindergarten students. Her goal is for students to keep track of their own progress toward meeting proficiency with priority standards. In addition, she will work toward assisting students with articulating their progress (and the importance of those goals) to parents and other stakeholders. I can’t tell you how amazing it was to do the true work of instructional coaching: sitting down, side by side, working through possibilities for goal setting. This is what instructional coaching is about: coaches don’t come to the table with all of the answers, but rather with a willingness to learn and problem-solve right alongside our colleagues. Jan Hasbrouck & Daryl Michel outline this process beautifully in their 2022 book, Student-Focused Coaching.
Speaking of that collaborative process, I was invited into Ms. R.’s classroom to review data from EL Education’s Benchmark assessments. Ms. R. has a pretty good handle on how to administer and analyze those assessments, but she invited me in to assist our colleague, Interventionist, Ms. M., in understanding how to interpret and analyze the results of those assessments. Talk about building a collaborative culture! And talk about forever learners: both Ms. R. and Ms. M. are forever seeking to learn and understand in the spirit of serving their students and to maximize student learning.
I look forward to engaging in the same process with two new second grade teachers this week. Both reached out for some help in understand some teaching practices associated with the EL Education curriculum. These two teachers are approaching their new teaching position as learners, right alongside their students. How can high levels of learning not occur with these mindsets in place???
These educators, and many, many others, are embodying what John Hattie describes in his landmark book, Visible Learning. In chapter 3 of this book, under the heading, “Visible teaching,” Hattie says, “It is critical that the teaching and the learning are visible. There is no deep secret called ‘teaching and learning’: teaching and learning are visible in the classrooms of the successful teachers and students, teaching and learning are visible in the passion displayed by the teacher and learner when successful learning and teaching occurs, and teaching and learning requires much skill and knowledge by both teacher and student.”
It’s so easy to maintain clarity and gratitude when opportunities to work with amazing educators keep popping up. It’s so easy to persevere through the challenges that persist when the people we work with continue to embrace innovation and collaboration as we problem-solve. May the 2022-2023 school year be filled with more of the same for all of us!