This week, Natalie and I have been in every class at least twice and we were joined yesterday by Dr. Escobedo. Here are the excellent practices we observed and our natural next steps in our work with Salt Creek students.
1. We observed a variety and high quality of productive group work which included student engagement and interaction. It’s great to see evidence that our work of two years ago on productive group work has become a staple of our instructional routines.
2. We observed many examples of strategic partnering and student interaction. We saw example after example of students probing, questioning, and prompting each other to improve writing, vocabulary, and math thinking. Many teachers are taking advantage of the power of peer interactions and strategic partnership that especially benefit language learners.
3. As our focus was engagement there was an activity in Mrs. Hale’s class where students were working with partners on revising their writing which was an outstanding example of engagement that got all of our attention, including Dr. Escobedo. I share this one example to emphasize a larger point since this lesson was the very lesson that 5th grade observed on Monday in Ms. Pembleton’s class. The power of collaboration, peer observation, and the professional learning communities you are building in your grade levels can’t be over emphasized. Continue that awesome work!
Moving forward, here are some logical next steps based on our observations and the Superintendent’s feedback.
1. During whole class direct instruction, keeping every student engaged at all times is a challenge, and we need to develop consistent approaches to that element of the instructional model. This lines up perfectly with our work on engagement and gives us a clear focus on what we can do next in that area.
2. Long Term English Learners (LTEL) performance – These students are English Learners who are hovering around CELDT 3 and/or not proficient on CST. We need to work together to ensure they are getting the instruction and support that will allow them to show a year’s progress. This should be a consistent group who are accounted for in grade level discussions on performance and instructional planning.
3. ILE – In the past, I have left ILE up to each individual teacher discretion, but based on my feedback yesterday, we will need a concrete plan to insure that every student at CELDT 3 and below is getting 20 minutes a day every day. I’m confident that we can come up with a plan that will work.
4. This last one is my observation alone. I’d like to be sure that in Dr. Escobedo’s next visit (Jan? Feb?) he sees the utilization of our Macbooks, iPads and computers, especially if we are working in small group or productive group work activities. We will use a Friday in 3rd quarter to shared best practices in this area and develop new activities.
Overall it’s very satisfying to walk through your rooms and see the fruit of your efforts as our students are clearly enjoying their learning and making strides in so many areas. My hat is off to all of you for your sustained effort and love on behalf of the children of this community.