Sometimes it seems as though clear blue skies, popsicles, and lazy days at the beach are for others. Teachers who have just settled into the alternate routine of summer are being pulled back into the past school year as prelimiinary data on student achievement from spring state testing becomes available.
For those who have given their heart and soul to the progress of kids over the course of the 2012-2013 school year, it all comes down to the new state report card. The data is not yet "clean" but the close read has begun. Last night I was part of a group text conversation with teachers who were pondering what went right and what went wrong. They spoke of how they expected that progress would be greater for the students who worked so hard. They are considering the level of expected scores with the next generation of assessments. What will the mandates and rules look like next year? These teachers are seeking to find the treasure in the data, but are walking a fine line between the recent Lexus "Pursuit of Perfection" approach and the addition of one more personal chapter in the ongoing series "Why do we do this work anyway?"
Nevertheless, WHEN WE ARE READY to Seek the Treasure found in test scores, we need to look unflinchingly at our data, find the part with which to be restlessly dissatisfied, and confine our urgency to improve to our professional selves, without inflicting undue stress on our person. The key phrase is "What's Next?" This phrase honors but does not rest on what has come before. This phrase allows for the natural human state of imperfection while not making excuses for inaction.
Once we have identified the need for improvement, it is time to think about instructional practices.
Do we foster a Growth MIndset (Dweck) How much reading are students doing? How much writing? What do we understand about reading and writing processes? Are we incorporating 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity? Are we providing opportunities for mastery, autonomy, and relevance? Is technology being used in transformative ways?
What is our process for becoming more expert?