Teachers have a lot to juggle: state standards, district expectations, literacy assessments, reading and writing workshop, STEM, social studies, RTI, and math. I haven’t included the unwritten titles of counselor, manager, and child advocate. Who said teaching was easy??
I offer my support in helping teachers make sense of all things curriculum and assessments. I am always working with teachers to make sense of our state standards. Last year, my teachers experienced a lot of changes with our curriculum. We had new state standards, a new STEM curriculum, new word study curriculum, and new reading curriculum. Lots of changes and unknowns which can make for uncertainty.
My support for assessments looks different. It depends on the teacher’s needs. With novice teachers, I provide heavy support. I will assess a few of the students while the teacher watches. Then, we review and analyze the data together. If we are looking at a reading benchmark or BEAR assessment, we will analyze the miscues and commonalities. Then, we identify a student’s strengths and next steps. A student’s goals are then determined.
When I work with veteran teachers, my assessment support is usually geared towards lending an extra pair of eyes. Most of the times veteran teachers have assessed a student and they have a particular question regarding the data. So, we will muddle through the data and work together to make meaning of the data together.
The goal is for teachers to understand that assessments drive our instruction. Hopefully, you work in a school and district where you are encouraged to adjust your instruction based on your assessment data. Our teachers are encouraged to use their data to push their students forward or to re-teach a skill.
Last year our state adopted new academic standards, it was very important for teachers to become familiar with our new state standards first. The grade-level teams and I met one day during the summer to compare our old standards PASS (Priority Academic Student Skills), to our new standards, OAS (Oklahoma Academic Standards). Our primary goal was to compare and contrast the standards for each subject. We looked for gaps between the two set of standards. It was important for teachers to see which standards would need extra support for their students. One discussion that we had was that some gaps may take two to three years before they would be able to see students acquire those standards (or skills).
Curriculum support is constant. Our goal is to understand the curriculum together. I provide opportunities for grade levels to come together and find commonality in what the standards mean and what the curriculum is asking teachers to teach so students can learn. We meet once before each unit (this is for each subject). I provide the guiding questions and then I allow for the teachers to plan together. I try not to get in the way too much while the teachers plan their units. I act as a facilitator and provide my support when needed.
Recently, I met with our grade level teams and reviewed our sequence of units for reading and writing. We also worked on a sequence of units for our STEM curriculum and our social studies curriculum. I wanted our teachers to see the big picture first, then move towards the more specific units. We will revisit our calendar around the end of the first nine weeks to make sure we are being responsive to our students and their needs.
My greatest advice for any person who assists teachers with assessments and curriculum is to be responsive to your teachers. Jennifer Allen reminds us:
Take the time to work with them so that they can discover the power of assessments and instruction. We can provide them with opportunities to look through the data and talk about their insights with colleagues and support them as they work to glean new knowledge…support and listen to their thinking and help them hone their skills by modeling and sharing our own insights throughout the process.
I don’t see myself better than a teacher. I am apart of this of journey with our teachers. So, I am a learner too. I am sure you feel the same way as well. Take the time to find meaning together. Enjoy the process!