Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Standards-Based Bulletin Boards Focus Walks

Every other Wednesday, as CCE teachers, we enjoy Early Release. Our students are dismissed 75 minutes early so teachers can have a dedicated time to participate in professional development. The pd topics vary, but one thing remains the same--the content is selected by design. Throughout the year, the Leadership Team is gathering qualitative and quantitative Check Spellingdata to make decisions on short-term needs and long-term goals. This information is analyzed and decisions are made for whole group and small group pd topics, much like a teacher would do to prescribe instruction in their own classroom.

So, today our task was to focus walk Standards-Based Bulletin Boards. We decided on this content for several reasons:
1. The End of the Year Survey indicated that teachers would like more feedback on their Standards-Based Bulletin Boards. They pour valuable time and energy into their classroom instruction, gathering of student work, and creation of the board, so specific and constructive feedback to move their work to the next level would be put to good use.

2. The boards allow a window into a teacher's classroom instruction and into students' performance. The quick snapshot breeds collegial conversation about student work and allows teachers to benchmark their own work to the work of their colleagues.

3. Conversations among vertical teams about the standards, tasks, and student work gives teachers the opportunity to see beyond their grade level. They see the span of work produced from Kindergarten through Grade 5 and are able to see the global picture of student performance. The walk also allows teachers to see if we have total alignment K-5 among our subject areas. If there is a gap, it is discussed, analyzed, and solutions brought to the forefront.

Standards-based Bulletin Boards collapse the four walls of the classroom, take student work out of the portfolio crate, and make student performance visible. From a coaching position, days like this are purposeful and powerful, and one I would highly recommend for any school.

If you are in a school were Standards-Based Bulletin Boards are the culture, here are some quick and easy steps to make a day like this happen in your own building:

a) Set up a meeting time of at least one hour.

b) Create a focus walk observation sheet.

c) Walk the hallways--roster in hand--and record the type of board that is up for each teacher.
d) Strategically divide your teachers into small groups. The most effective groups tend to be those that represent multiple grade levels and content areas.
e) Strategically decide which three boards each small group will visit. Boards can be visited more than once, but make sure they are visited at different times.

f) Record the team members names and boards they are to visit on the feedback form. Make copies.

g) Have teachers bring clipboards and pencils with them as they meet, assign one person as the leader of the group, and have them visit the three boards in the order they are listed on the sheet. Each member must fill out a feedback form as they walk.
h) Teachers turn in their feedback forms to the coach as soon as the walk is complete.

i) Coach compiles the data on each board and individually emails each teacher their feedback. (Usually within a couple of days of gathering the forms. Most teachers are eager to hear what their colleagues thought of their board.)

j) Coach keeps a record of which boards were visited so you can provide each teacher with feedback during the next visit if their board was not selected for this visit.

To get a closer look at some of the boards we walked, stay tuned to my next posts.

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