A quick formative assessment before, during, or after instruction can inform your next steps in planning for your students. Implementing formative assessments allows you to assess where your students are at and plan reteach or enrichment activities as well as determine what level of support is needed moving forward. When you formatively assess students, providing a low-stakes assessment such as an exit slip, think-pair-share, or 3-2-1 summary will engage students and enable them to demonstrate their learning.
It’s been a crazy year for everyone, but during the holiday season, we like to celebrate the great times we had. Social distancing may have limited our ability to gather, but we have a lot to be grateful for!
Vice President, Consultant,
& Media Specialist
We welcomed our second child into our family in May!
Manager of Administrative Services
We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with our grandkids and watching our grandson play football.
Central Office Manager
Top golf was the location for our family to celebrate some special birthdays.
In August, we had a wonderful time at our son and daughter-in-law’s wedding!
We gathered with my siblings and their spouses for a fun evening. I also visited the cute Makelky girls!
President & Consultant
Our family made a trip to Florida in February to celebrate the wedding of our son and his wife!
For a fun activity, try our CLI Crossword puzzle. You may need to explore cliweb.org to find the answers. When you think you have it, submit your answers here for a chance to win a Curriculum Ninja coffee mug and sticker!
To all of our friends in education, we truly hope you have a relaxing holiday season and healthy new year!
Here is How and Why it Works
Similar to meeting the varying needs of students in the classroom, it is also difficult to meet the staff development needs of teachers within a school building or throughout a district. Some teachers are more experienced in the area of technology while others are well versed in classroom management. Why not utilize the individual strengths of staff while providing local professional development? The simple solution is to have resident specialists share their expertise with their peers in a casual, learning environment of his/her classroom.
A starting point for this process is to have each teacher designate his or her professional strengths. Some teachers are naturally more comfortable at presenting in front of others so make sure to ask if they would be willing to share those skills with their peers. Then, have teachers identify some areas where they want to grow. If the instructional coach or professional development leader is already aware of some areas of need, then a checklist can be created in advance so the teacher can complete and return it to the building leader. A Google Form is a quick and convenient way to gather this information.
Once the building leader identifies the top
areas for training, provide the teachers with a list of five to six
topics. Have each teacher identify
his/her top priority in the topic list
with a one, followed by the second choice with a two, etc. This information is used to determine the top four topics. Save those with fewer votes for future professional development. The next step is to ask the willing staff members to provide a mini-lesson over key points of the topic. Some, especially areas of technology, may involve a team teaching atmosphere, so keep in mind there could be more than one teacher comfortable providing instruction in a high priority area. Do not leave out possible leaders. Newer and veteran teachers can provide fresh ideas and best practices for sharing.
Providing the presenters adequate planning time for their mini-lessons is essential, too. Schools have funds set aside for professional development, so use some of this money for a floating sub to cover classes throughout a day, to provide an extra plan time, or draw on after-school hourly pay to compensate the presenters for their preparation work.
As teachers, we have to remember that giving our students too much information at a time can often be overwhelming to our learners. When planning the staff development mini-lessons, twenty-five minutes is just enough of a sample to keep educators’ interest without losing them. Half-days of professional development are ideal for this format. A sample schedule appears below showing how four groups rotate through each session.
There are times when it is necessary to bring in the experts, but sometimes the experts are already there. Not only is this type of staff development cost-effective, but it also provides an opportunity to build support networks across a district. Having a local expert available allows additional support opportunities for reinforcement. Consider the following suggestions for follow-up:
1. In a staff meeting, have teachers share how the implementation of the new information impacted their classrooms.
2. Provide an opportunity for those interested in learning more to observe the presenter using the content, technology, or strategy in action.
3. Designate a question/answer time at the next professional development day for learners to ask further questions of the presenters.
All of these suggestions can help teachers keep new skills fresh. When educators are allowed to assist with the planning, implementation, and follow-up of their professional development opportunities, they will be more likely to use the knowledge and skills to increase student achievement.
Simon Sinek, marketing consultant, and motivational speaker uses a model for “inspirational leadership” where at the center of three circles is the “golden circle;” essentially, the “why.” With his book, Start with Why, Simon Sinek provides examples of how famous leaders communicated their why and were able to have success when others were unable. The principles they used can apply to individuals, small groups, or even conglomerates. For example, a company has a Why, each team in that company has a Why, and every individual on that team has a Why.
The WHY of any organization isn’t about making a profit. Instead, it is the purpose, cause, or overall belief of the group. It is not uncommon for an organization to confuse the WHY with another circle, the HOW or the WHAT. Members of the team may not even know WHY they exist because the focus is on making a product or how to provide a service. But, make no mistake that the WHY is the reason an organization exists. Clearly communicating the WHY is the best chance one has to get all interested parties involved.
The HOW sets an organization apart from others that share similar characteristics. It is a unique twist on a service or product that could provide a step above competitors. Most affiliated with the organization understand the HOW because there is considerable energy there to create the best WHAT possible.
Finally, the WHAT is known by all in the organization. Whether it is a product or service, people naturally look at the end result. In this case, the WHAT is the outer circle.
In all types of work, change must take place to keep up. Providing a strong reason for making a change, and communicating it clearly with staff, will ease much of the pushback from those the change will effect. Providing your “why” will hopefully inspire staff to follow because they will have a purpose.
The WHY of CLI
Identifying the parts of your Golden Circle can
be easier by seeing a relatable example. Refer to the one below showing the
WHY, HOW, and WHAT for Curriculum Leadership Institute.
Finding Your Own Why
Authors David Mead and Peter Docker have published the book Find Your Why to assist organizations in digging deeper to determine the Why. They believe a good Why statement is
- Simple and Clear for understanding and sharing with others.
- Free of Whats but includes the real reason people love the organization.
- Includes a Human Service Component and Impact for Others.
- In Affirmative Language to provide inspiring words.
- Important to Feel Right.
The first step in creating a Why is to fill in the blanks: To _____ so that _____. The first blank should include the contribution intended for others, and the second blank should be the impact as a result of that contribution. It could take a few drafts to find that perfect Why, so have your pencil sharpened and revise until it resonates and feels right! Here is a shortened example from CLI’s Why to get you going. To impact learning for students through professional development so that students receive a quality education.
Why Even Have a Why?
While it may be difficult to determine your Why, it is critical for clarity of a focus and vision. There is a reason
Improvements in teaching and learning can be rather challenging to come by and to maintain over time, and in order to make systemic changes within your district, you need to have all staff on board and prepared to do their part. The graphic below illustrates the relationships between the various working groups throughout the process.
Much like puzzle pieces fit to create a complete design each of these working groups must complete their assigned duties (part of the systematic process) to achieve and maintain results. Evaluate your curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices to determine if your district has each of these pieces in place. If they were in place at one time, are they still actively in place and fully functional?
Throughout our experiences, we have found that these steps and these engaged professionals are critical to accomplishing the foundations of a district aligned curriculum, intentional instruction, and valid, local assessment. Maintaining these quality cornerstones to improve student learning requires systematic attention with engaged professional staff members.