Topic: Instructional Agility


Comments: 4

Take Time to Smell the Roses

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


Comments: 1

The Unbreakable Bond: Assessment and Instruction

“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


A Resolution to Keep: Sustainable Systems of Assessment

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


Running Out of Time

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


The Road to Achievement and Confidence

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


Repacking Standards

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


Zeroing the scale

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



Comments: 5

A first look at Standards-Based Learning

I have the honor of teaching at a laboratory school and working with many pre-service teachers as they move through their teacher training programs. The mission of our school is to act as a model for educational methods and theory in support of the preparation of future educators. Many of the pre-service teachers that come through my classroom, as well as many of us, went through school with very traditional assessment practices and a traditional mindset when it comes to education, assessment, and grading. Read more


Comments: 1

Do Your Grading Rules Frustrate Achievement?

One of my favorite books is Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. For those who haven’t read it, Gladwell writes of the untold stories of success. Rather than telling the stereotypical story of super intelligence or unabashed ambition, Gladwell argues that the true story of success can found by spending more time looking around those who have succeeded; their family circumstances, where they were born, and even their birth date.   Read more