The Academic Leadership Year – The July Period (Part Six)
If leadership has done adequate pre-planning and provided teachers with time to collect and organize their data by the end of July, teachers can begin intentionally developing course, unit, and lesson plans that are designed to move their students towards learner and performer competencies that are required for proficient performance. This is the beginning of the movement into the Rhythm of the Learner Year approach to developing learners and performers. Lesson planning needs to be driven by the need to have critical reading in content areas, critical and creative thinking, effective written and oral communication strands in the year’s curriculum, as well as the content, task, and assessment expectations included in the state standards. These define the course outcomes for all students expected by the state. The Ed Directions coaches use the tools below to help teachers think beyond content coverage as they develop course, unit, and lesson plans.
Major content areas
Assessment types included on assessment
Thinking, reading, and writing expectations embedded
When teachers complete this task, the Ed Directions coach will ask them to design a final exam that will indicate that their students are proficient in learning the subject matter and performing the tasks required. In most cases when teachers are attempting this for the first time, they will abandon and redo their final exam model multiple times over the course of the year. What is important though, is that they are thinking in terms of defining the outcomes in ways that can be assessed and quantified.
At Ed Directions, we use a similar process to plan units. We use the tool below to develop the unit expectations.
Specific concepts that are critical
Tasks that will be taught or used in assessment
Monitoring activities to check for learning and understanding
Types of questions to be included on the assessment
Here again, the Ed Directions coaches will ask the teachers to write the unit test and then design the lesson sequence that will enable all students to learn the specific concepts, master the task objectives, and pass the unit exam. This ensures that units are outcome based and not content based and allows teachers and academic leaders to compare the concepts and tasks taught and tested with the total course objectives to ensure that all course objectives are addressed in and appropriate fashion.
Following this method to lesson planning, the coaches use the tool below to help teachers pre-plan a sequence of lessons in which all students master critical concepts and competencies. It is important to note that this is pre-planning because to do actual planning beyond the course design and the establishment of unit expectations, requires that teachers assess the students that they have in class and build a pattern of teacher work and student work that will move the students from where they are to where they are expected to be by the end of the lesson or unit or course.
As teachers plan their actual units, they will need to consider the starting point for each individual student in class and develop teacher work and student work that will enable all the students in that class to master the content and competency goals for the lesson and the unit. A simplified version of the lesson planning tool used by the Ed Directions coaches is below.
Unit: Lesson #: Title:
Test questions related to this lesson:
If the Ed Directions coaches have access to teachers in a timely fashion, they will ask the teachers as a grade level or discipline group to design the final exam for each assessed area, identify the units that would be included in the course, and develop the end-of-unit tests. This gives the teachers enough time to develop the sequence of student and teacher work for the first few units and to design their formative and summative data management plans.
Now to the bottom line. If at least some of this work has been done in a timely fashion and there is time left in the summer before the students arrive, is possible for academic leaders to do a targeted self-assessment and revise their school improvement plan as needed. Ed Directions uses audits to monitor school systems (buses, food service, building maintenance, curriculum, policies, etc.) to make sure that all systems will enable the students and teachers to do the work that needs to be done for students to become competent and confident performers. The Ed Directions coaches also have tools for auditing course, unit, and lesson planning models, testing procedures and formats, PLC procedures and priorities, professional development offerings and impact, etc.
At Ed Directions, we have found that when schools develop school improvement plans quickly using state score reports, school plans tend to be accidental and adult- or systems-focused. In the Ed Directions approach, when expected student outcomes are the focus, schools will need to review any existing school improvement plans to assess the likelihood that they will enable the school to make all students successful learners and performers by providing a learning environment that will enable all students in a school to be successful. If the school review indicates that they are confident they can move all students, school leaders who want to be effective academic leaders will revise the plan to better meet the needs of students.
2. The quantification of the red flag report including goal setting and prioritizing for this year.
3. An identification of the students to be tested this year and potential barriers to their success.
4. An assessment of students by individual teachers, identifying total and accountability group membership for each class.
5. An assessment of possible barriers to success in each class.
6. A rethinking of curriculum in terms of student outcomes for courses, units, and lessons.
7. The keys to Ed Directions’ Rhythm of the Learner Year include identifying outcomes, determining where the students are in terms of those outcomes (current status), determining the rigor and complexity of the student work that will be needed for all students to achieve those outcomes, and then building the systems, policies, professional development preparation, and data management systems that will be needed to ensure success for all.