Hopeful School’s shift to Exemplary
Instead of simply telling her teachers show up at a mandated training, the principal took steps prior to the training to prepare her teachers for making the most of the training in order to meet their school goals. She reviewed the workshop’s learning goals and agenda, discussing how this training will give them the strategies they need to achieve their goals. Next, she set the expectations with her staff based on what they were going to learn.
Then, the principal attended the workshop with her teachers. During the workshop, she actively participated in the activities to ensure that she has the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct walkthroughs and monitor each teacher’s implementation effectively. This also allowed the principal to answer any implementation questions such as, “Are we really supposed to do that?”, “How are we supposed to do that?” and “When are we supposed to do that?” during the workshop.
Immediately following their training on Acceleration, the principal of Hopeful School established collaborative planning times, reminded teachers of the instructional focus goals, set timeline dates that correspond with the growth benchmarks for implementation expectations, and developed Look Fors and Ask Abouts with teacher input. Several teachers were not in attendance during the training, so the principal also utilized correpsonding online courses to ensure that the few teachers that missed the workshop received the same information and training.
During the first 6-8 weeks of implementation, the principal and leadership team conducted walkthroughs and 5x5s as a means of providing support to teachers and determining areas of need for continued professional learning. This high level of initial support helped them move their implementation from basic knowledge to the highest quality strategic use. Additionally, every time the principal met with a teacher or team (passing in the halls, in her office, etc), she would ask them for specific details about how they used Acceleration in their last lesson or specifically how they were going to use it in their next lesson, ensuring teachers that the instructional goals are a primary school-wide focus.
During collaborative planning times, classroom teachers and Acceleration support teachers met in grade level teams to plan for the next 2-4 weeks of lessons. Classroom teachers used Acceleration strategies with all of their students, with remediation strategies distributed throughout their lessons as needed for some students. Acceleration support teachers used Acceleration strategies 1-3 days in advance of classroom lessons with students the classroom teachers identified as struggling or may struggle with the concepts and content of upcoming lessons. They didn’t pre-teach (which would be boring and unsuccessful), and instead they used specific Acceleration strategies.
In addition, faculty meetings, when held, were changed from business meetings to meetings that focused on quality of implementation and strategies for supporting each other and their students. Teachers shared their experiences and strategies in order to help all get better.
The principal disregarded data and reviewed student subgroup information with instructional teams. Grade level administrators facilitated planning days to provide teacher support, resources for teacher success, and to gauge teacher capacity to move to the next steps of implementation. Teacher leaders also participated in walkthroughs.
This collaborative planning and implementation support from the principal continued for the first 6-8 weeks of implementation. At the end of the 6-8 weeks, reflection meetings were held to change the instruction focus goals from Guided Practice to Expected Practice. The expectation was set that the teachers will be Monitored for Quality, instead of simply attempting the strategies they learned.
During the next 3-4 weeks of implementation, the principal and leadership team continued to conduct walkthroughs and 5×5′s, but they started using implementation rubrics to ensure that teachers were implementing the Acceleration strategies with quality. Additional support through e-learning, coaches, and plc meetings was provided to teachers as needed. I
At the end of this implementation period, the principal and teacher leaders, based on the implementation plan created immediately after the workshop, changed the monitoring from Increasing Quality to Implementing with Quality Consistently. At this point forward, teachers would be held fully accountable for consistent, pervasive, and quality use of the strategies they learned in the training. Monitoring of the instructional focus goals was now a part of the evaluation process.
In exemplary schools, continuous improvement of implementation of an initiative is ongoing, and by following an exemplary implementation framework, Hopeful School has been continuously improving, even after reaching their goals. As soon as test data was available, teacher and administrative teams reviewed the data, discussed what worked and what didn’t work, and reviewed/revised the implementation plan. Lesson plans were often revisited for alignment with areas of need identified in test data as well as the grade level expectations set by their standards.