This week, the LEAD team met, and the agenda was to reflect on how we are doing in terms of our process of aligning curriculum and assessment and exploring Standards Based Grading. We met in divisional groups, and as I was working with EFA, I didn’t have a good sense about what was happening in the room as a whole. So, in order to write this blog post, I asked Chris to share the results from the Exit Slips with me, and my takeaways were profound. I hope that as you read this, you feel encouraged, wherever you are in this journey.
First off, WE HAVE DONE SO MUCH WORK IN THE LAST YEAR. I know you all KNOW that because you are TIRED. But, it is important to recognize that fact. This semester, our teaching staff has banded together in the face of internal change, in the face of a politically uncertain times for both us professionally and many of our students personally, and on top of that, we have worked our butts off! We are very close to meeting some goals that sounded absurdly impossible to meet just 4 short months ago. I hope that as you wrap up your classes this week, you feel PROUD of what you have done this semester. I hope that as you enter your grades (due next Tuesday by 8am! Shameless plug!), you pause over each student’s name and reflect on how your hard work and dedication this semester to improving our professional practice has positively affected each one on your roster.
Secondly, one of Chris’ questions on the exit slip was something like, where do you think the building will be in terms of this process at the end of this year/beginning of next year. I would say, although I have not actually crunched the numbers, that 90% of responses said something like, that is so hard to say because everyone is at such a different point of the process. It feels like we are all over the place. I, too, said something like that. However, when I read through the responses of what has been accomplished this semester, we are actually not that divergent in our journeys. At this point, pretty much every PLC:
- Has a scope and sequence that outlines the deliverance of both content and essential skills. These are being edited as people go, which is great! But they exist! We can feel united in that!
- Has essentials skills that they have identified and are teaching in their classes! We can feel united in that!
- Has leveled assessments to measure student progress on these essential skills! We can feel united in that! MOREOVER, (can you tell one of the essential skills I have been teaching this year was using transitions in writing?!) I was LUCKY ENOUGH to have the job of editing the layout of the school wide essential skills test we are going to take as teams on Institute Day. Want to know something cool? SO MANY of our assessments are even starting to LOOK the same! I think as we have been sharing our progress on the LEAD team, we have become more alike than we realize! It was actually SO COOL to see tests in Science, English, and CTE all LOOK the same!
- Is starting to explore what Standards Based Grading means for their entire course, and not just on the essential skill assessments. Yes, SBG may look a little bit different in each course, but we can feel united in the fact that we are all exploring, creating, inventing, and figuring it out. We are in good shape as we start the second half of the school year.
As I was watching clips from the confirmation hearing for our possible new secretary of education, I was kind of feeling down and out about being a teacher. And then I took a deep breath, came to work, watched some awesome student debates on lowering prescription drug costs and the requiring vaccinations, and sat down and read the responses from the LEAD team Exit Slip. You know what? I am not afraid of school choice. We have an amazing staff doing amazing things here. I am not afraid of being held accountable for student learning. Our students are rising to the challenges set before them every day, despite whatever stereotypes our society is projecting onto them based on their SES, race, or ethnicity. And I am definitely not afraid of grizzly bears, cause I live in the suburbs of Chicago.
If you are feeling tired, or burned out, or down and out this week, I hope this blog post helped to shift your perspective a bit. Great job, everyone. Thanks for reading!