A number of years ago, I had the good fortune to teach a cohort of practicing educators in a Masters in Curriculum program. As a part of this program, teachers were required to complete a culminating project which included action research in their classroom. At the time, action research was a pretty novel concept and many of the teachers were a little intimidated by the thought of doing this kind of research with their students.
As the instructor, I wanted to make sure that the research they conducted was both well done and that the conclusions drawn were meaningful. Read more
“How did the simple act of identifying strengths first in your students’ writing make you feel today?”
This was the question I posed to the eight teachers sitting around the table, after our fourth grade professional learning community (PLC) team had spent half an hour analyzing (not scoring) student writing artifacts. Read more
Here we are again. Back-to-school season! For some students, this a highly anticipated time of year. Who are my new teachers? Will I know anyone in my class? When is recess? Where will I sit in the cafeteria? How will I remember my locker combination?
I absolutely love the rejuvenation and anticipation of a new school year. But I’ll admit. My geeky “director of research, assessment, and accountability” self also has a bit of sporty spice side. Fall brings out that sporty spice with the anticipation of another favorite season: football. Yup, pigskin. Love it. Plan my Sundays around it. And because I also have the common ailment known as “everything-always-connects-back-to-education,” I started making some connections with my current conversations at work as I was watching a preseason game this year. This connection hit me with a force as strong as a 300-pound tackle sacking a quarterback.
Teachers are playmakers. Read more
Along with the change of seasons from winter to spring comes the anticipation of new growth—it may be seen in the budding of leaves or blooming of early flowers. But for many educators, when the calendar pages arrive at spring, it signals a different type of anticipation. Instead of “Ahh, spring!” the reaction is “Agghh! Spring!” The final stretch of the race is here, what some educators call “crunch time.” We might hear worried statements such as “We still have so much to teach before the end of the year”, “My kids aren’t ready for testing”, or “I can’t get everything done.” In our “busy-ness” and haste, we might not notice the many forms of new growth taking place right before us. Maybe we aren’t taking the time to “smell the roses.” Read more
“I can see why I should probably do this assessing all the time! You really learn a lot about your kids!”
The words of this teacher, new to the profession and new to reading instruction, were music to my ears. Our collaborative time together had been initiated because deadlines were looming on the reading assessment required by both our district and our provincial government. However, I had asserted that we were actually learning about it because it was essential for reading instruction and great for students. The young teacher initially seemed skeptical so, after practicing a diagnostic assessment with two of her first grade students, when she came to see the true value of the assessment to inform her instruction immediately, I knew we had made a breakthrough. Read more
It’s that time again. We are four weeks into a new year; a time for renewal, an opportunity to refresh and rejuvenate, and a sense of hope to reinvigorate a part of your personal or professional well-being. You may have been among the estimated 40% of people who set a New Year’s resolution. Surprisingly enough, when it comes to keeping those resolutions, one-quarter of us will have fallen victim to abandoning our resolution within the first week of January, and nearly 75% of us will have slipped away from our resolution within the first month. Read more
I have long asserted that one of my favorite things about working in education is the ability to experience a new beginning and a consistent end to each academic year. In the span of one year, we have the privilege of traveling alongside groups of students as they experience new content, new contexts, and new relationships each year. We structure environments that support learning over time and we have the opportunity to capture and celebrate each moment of growth through purposeful observations, conversations, and performance tasks. Read more
Confident, excited teachers make for confident and excited students. Jim Knight (2007), an expert on instructional coaching, suggests, “When people talk about learning, the experience should be exciting, energizing, and empowering” (p. ix). Assessment has the potential to generate all three of these conditions when designed and used in the service of learning. Read more
By now the process of analyzing and unpacking standards is familiar to most educators. In this era of standards-based instruction, unpacking standards to identify specific learning targets and underpinnings, then organizing those targets and underpinnings into a purposeful learning progression is almost ubiquitous. Read more
As an instructional coach, I have the fortunate opportunity to work with a wide variety of teachers and in various classrooms and content areas. Recently, I worked with a sixth grade science teacher to create and implement a classroom experience that required students to use their problem solving and critical thinking skills. Read more