Monday, June 25, 2012

Change comes from the Top Down and Bottom Up

In this terrific and timely ASCD Express article, Partnerships that Improve Education, Phillip Jason Caposey reminds us that the success of any initiative depends upon teacher buy-in. As he puts it, "True school improvement only occurs when the goals of the individuals involved match the goals of the organization."

Caposey points out that many educators feel that new initiatives like the Common Core are being done to them. In response, he advocates for an implementation approach centered on collaboration between teachers and administrators. And he points out that "Collaboration is a learned skill that needs to be taught for education partnerships to work." Caposey suggests using the norms below to build greater collaboration:
  • Common purpose and objectives for meetings must be established and articulated.
  • All conversations must relate to the common purpose.
  • Data and research must be valued above belief or judgment statements.
  • Keep disagreements at a professional level, not a personal one.
  • Once consensus is achieved, all must support the decisions. 
How is your district achieving greater collaboration? 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Finding Common Ground

There's a straightforward way to help teachers and district leaders see the connections between the System of Educator Evaluation and the Common Core State Standards-- it's to lead collaborative discussions among educators that directly address the issue. A high-quality  discussion will produce connections between the SEE and CCSS in the areas of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. By engaging in this conversation, teachers will gain a strong conceptual understanding of the connections, and the list of connections will be unique to the district and aligned with the district's mission and needs.

Once a district defines the connections between these two initiatives, it can begin to develop a shared understanding of what the connections will look like in practice. This shared understanding can be built through discussion and collaborative viewing of instructional video clips.

This approach increases the chances of actually transforming instructional practices to align with the shifts defined by the Common Core.

How might this approach apply to your school or district? Has your school tried something that is similar?