Tuesday, September 10, 2013

LC Rubrics & Teacher Conference Schedule

2013-2014 Teacher Observations & Conference Schedule

Bookmark this post for future reference.  This post contains links to all of the Learning Cultures rubrics and calendars for Kiri, Kelly, & Nicia.

Classroom Social Norms                  Unison Reading                    Learning Conference
Classroom Environment                   Work Time                           Table Share
Writing Share                                   Content Share                       Lesson
Small Group Instruction                  Danielson Indicator Crosswalk Document

Like in years past, we're splitting up the supervision load.  This year's supervision assignments are as follows

Middle School (15 Teachers) - Kelly
6th & 8th Grade Team:  Cindy, Wendy, Pamela, Alison, Joanna, and Tara
7th & 8th Grade Team:  Marsha, Meredith, Adrienne, Sabrina, Val and Phillan
Arts & PE:  Tracy, Nora and Elana

High School (21 Teachers) - Kiri & Nicia
9th Grade Team:   Darby, Damon, Jamie, Martine (Kiri) & Colleen, Marianna, Jen S (Nicia)
10th & 8th Grade Team:  Sarah, Danielle, Elena (Kiri) & Mike St, Rebecca, Sandy (Nicia)
11th & 12th Grade Tm:  Brodie, Ilyana, Hassan, Mike So, Raquel, Noam, Doris, & Kelly (Kiri)

Below are our google calendars.  You can either reference them here (they'll update automatically), or you can add them to your own google calendar.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Launching Learning Cultures - Week I

The First Day of School

Today is the first day of school!  It's an exciting day for our students and our school.  For our girls, many of them are looking forward to reconnecting with old friends, making new relationships, and finding out what is in store for their learning this year.

Of course, the first day brings with it a hefty amount of anxiety and anticipation.  In addition to orienting our girls to course goals for the year, our job is to smooth their transition from summer into school year by helping them understand the parameters of their place in school.

A new understanding of "teacher"

For our incoming and new students, Learning Cultures presents a new definition of learning, and in particular and new kind of teaching.  For many students coming from traditional classrooms, they have gone through school being passive learners.  The transition into an active agent in their development of new concepts and skills is a challenging one.  As their teacher, your job is to provide them with tasks that engage their inquiry, classroom resources that afford them the opportunity to learn, practice and explore, and to gather data from their progress to teach grass roots lessons that target student needs and deficiencies.

As teachers, we are still charged with making sure our girls learn.  We control the environment, the activities, and evaluate progress.  For our students, we are continually pushing them into actively seeking out answers and creating their own questions and learning paths through the standards and objectives of our course topics.  This week, take the opportunity to explicitly teach into these expectations.  Explain how the role of teachers and students shifts in Learning Cultures.  Show them how to empower themselves through their questions, through exploring the resources in your room, and exercising their ability to choose how to make new connections and meaning from the experiences in your class.

Social Responsibility and Social Norms

Learning is a social act.  In order to have a functioning social environment, we need rules that govern our interactions.  In traditional classroom settings, the teacher is the monarch, so government runs explicitly through one person.  Learning Cultures is democratically structured and as such, requires a set of guidelines by which all members of the community agree to abide, a social contract.

This week, as you introduce students to the formats, rules, and ladder of consequences, viewing them through the lens of a democratic learning environment will help students situate the roles of the rules and formats in their understanding of how to learn at UAI.

This week will require explicit mini lessons into social norms, and additionally I'll be speaking to this during assemblies.  With the girls this week, through both practice in the formats and through your mini-lessons, you'll be teaching into the expectations of each student as a member of the learning community.

Independent Work Time

Strong Social Norms, Rich Learning Environment, and Quality Tasks & Assessments are the three stabilizing factors that underscore a successful independent work time.  We rely on a strong Independent Work Time so that we can provide guaranteed learning opportunities in Unison Reading and Learning Conferences for all of our students.  These first two weeks are the foundations of our work this year.  Continual return to the social norms and continual build up of the classroom resources, will empower students to effectively engage in your tasks and perform well on assessments.

Good Luck!

Bottom line, you are charged with an enormously weighty job - of molding the future lives of other people's children.  For the next 10 months, we will be spending over 1/2 of their waking hours with their children - often more than their own families get.  Our job is to make sure that that time is the best quality time spent both social-emotionally and academically.  Our job is also to have fun doing this work!  Good luck UAI and have a wonderful first day!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2013-2014 Goals and Expectations

2013-2014 Goals and Expectations

Essentially, the health of our school and success of our students is measured in three areas: Environment, Progress, and Performance.  Similarly, our goals share the same three domains.

(1) Learning Environment Goal:  By (a) increasing team function & collaboration, (b) focusing feedback (both peer and supervisory) on research-based rubrics, and emphasizing improvement on the Classroom Environment and Social Norms rubrics, all categories of the LES will increase.

Increase parent, teacher and student satisfaction on Learning Environment Survey by 40% in each category.

(2)  Student Progress Goal:  By increasing opportunities for assessment and analysis of student performance on assessment, students will make more informed choices in Work Time and have higher quality Conferences.  Thus, course passing rates will rise.

For both high school and middle school, at least 80% of all students will pass each individual course.  
For both high school and middle school, at least 80% of students in the lowest third and/or with IEPs will pass each individual course.

(3)  Student Performance Goal:  With continued focus and development on core LC formats (Unison Reading, Conferences, and Work Time), we will increase average NYS Middle School and Regents exam scores  (scaled) and overall course passing rates.

In the middle school, UAI's performance on the common core state math and English exams was in line with the rest of the state.  As we adjust to the higher demands of the common core, we will continue to use Learning Cultures as our primary vehicle for alignment.   Our goal for 2014 is to have a minimum 30% increase in average exam scores and overall proficiency rates on both the NYS Math and English tests.

In the high school, Regents performance continues to improve across the board.  We did not meet our goal of reaching the 80% overall pass rate, but we continue to improve.  Like with the middle school, our goal for 2014 is to have a minimum 30% increase in average exam scores and overall proficiency rates.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Welcome Back to the 2013-2014 School Year

Welcome to the 2013-2014 School Year!

We have successfully completed our first full year of school-wide Learning Cultures implementation.  All classes 6-12 fully implemented the following formats:  The Lesson, The Learning Conference, and Independent Work Time.  All classes grade 6-9 plus high school English, Social Studies, Math, and 11th grade science implemented the model fully.  It was an immense undertaking, but we finished the year with a deeper understanding of the model, and ready to build and improve upon our work to launch our 2nd full year.

We'll be going over more data in detail next week when everyone is together (and I've finished analysis of the high school data from summer school), but to give you sneak peak, below is our middle school performance.

Our Results

Middle School Exam Results

There are many, many things to be said about the New York State Common Core results for the middle school exams.  That is another blog post.  Suffice it to say, I found utility in the data in looking how we compared to our peers.

In ELA, our students out-performed all other Learning Cultures schools in the UA network and we also outperformed the New York City Averages in all middle school grades.  If you've been following the
 Common Core Results Statewide, you'll know this also means we outperformed all of the other large urban districts in New York.   In addition, our students were either the top or 2nd to the top performers of all  UA schools.

In Math, we again out-performed all other UA Learning Cultures schools (except for 8th grade math).  Our performance relative to the City was not nearly as strong as our students' ELA performance.  However, given that ELA classes are entering the 3rd year of Learning Cultures and Math is entering it's 2nd (like the ELA classes of last year) coupled with a targeted coaching focus around math this year, we're predicting increased gains this year.

High School Exam and Graduation Results

Four Year High School Progress Report Comparison
2009-2010 was the inaugural year of our high school which began with the Class of 2013 as our first group of 9th graders.  Using that year's data points as baseline, the color coding below allows you to see high school growth (red being bad and green being good)

For the last two years, UAI high school has demonstrated strong growth in student progress (credit accumulation & regents passing).  This year, our Learning Environment Survey showed improvement after two years of negative growth.  

2012-2013 UAI Regents Performance Comparison 
Looking at last year's student performance on Regents exams (inclusive of all testing months - January, June & August), there is no doubt that our efforts in the classrooms this year was evident in the success of our students.  This past year in all but two subjects, average Regents score and overall passing increased.  In English and US History, the percent of students achieving scores of 85 or higher (the mastery level on the Regents exam) nearly doubled!

With Learning Cultures in entering its 3rd year in literacy and it's second year in all other subjects, we look forward to continuing this growth!

School Quality Review

Our overall school quality review was a well-earned Proficient with the following strengths, needs and goals.  From Final Quality Review Report:

The school uses the Learning Cultures (LC) curriculum that is aligned to the Common Core and New York State learning standards and engages students in rigorous academic tasks to promote college and career readiness.

To have an outside evaluator come in and assess all of the work and effort our team put into establishing Learning Cultures school-wide last year, coupled with measurable achievements in state tests and student progress, we are clearly making strides in the right direction!

Teacher Evaluation

Teacher Evaluation

Your MoSL Committee will be formally presenting and providing some answers to questions first thing on Tuesday morning.  In the mean time, please use this blog as a reference and resource as you deepen your understanding of this new process.

As you know, last spring, New York State enacted a law that governs how all public school teachers in the state are to be evaluated.  You can learn more details form the DOE's slide show on Teacher Evaluation.  In short, there are three components of a teacher's evaluation.

  • 20% Local Measures, assessments selected from a state approved list by a committee of teachers at the school.
  • 20% State Measures, assessments selected from a state approved list by the principals.  To see both state and local selections, please open up the MoSL documents found in this folder to view the selections.
  • 60% Observation Data, these are administrator observations on the teacher efficacy in 22 indicators on the Danielson rubric.
    - At UAI, we will use the Learning Cultures format rubrics to evaluate efficacy on the Danielson indicators.

The MoSL Committee

At UAI, the MoSL (Measures of Student Learning) Committee consists of 8 members.  Four were selected by the UFT chapter [Pamela, Adrienne, Damon, and Jen S.] and 4 members were selected by the principals [Tara, Wendy, Meredith, and Mike Som.]. Kelly, Nicia, and I also sat with the committee.  This summer, the committee was charged with selecting the local measures for each teacher at the school.

The HEDI labels (Highly effective; Effective; Developing; and Ineffective) replace the old Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory teacher ratings.  With the three different measures (State, Local, and Observations), there are 40 different possible combinations for final ratings.

4=Highly Effective; 3 = Effective; 2= Developing; 1= Ineffective

Observation Choices

With this new system, teachers have the choice of how their evaluative observations take shape.  The options articulate the minimum necessary.  The options described below only pertain to evaluation observations.  When you review the rubrics, you'll notice five main components in each rubric:

  1. Low-inference observations.  These will be the factual, low-inference data points observed during the observation.
  2. Format Indicators and Progress Feedback (e.g. Needs Immediate Improvement, Making Progress, and Proficient)
  3. Strengths, Needs and Recommendations.  This are will be the immediate feedback sent to you via email, and we'll follow up on these notes with discussions and goal setting during face-to-face conferences.
  4. Format Evaluation.  All classroom observations will provide you with a holistic evaluation of the format observed.  This is an informal evaluation only and designed for use as both formative and interim assessment.
  5. Danielson Evaluation.  The final component of each rubric is the Danielson Evaluation.  ONLY official observations will have this portion completed.   In this new system of evaluation, you have two options for how and when this portion of the rubric gets filled out.

Option 1: AT LEAST 1 Formal & 3 Informal Observations

  • Within the first 20 days of school, a pre-observation meeting (which can be the Initial Conference) takes place.  
  • Within this same time period but after the pre-observation conference a full period observation takes place.  All Learning Cultures formats will be evaluated and rubrics completed with Danielson indicators
  • By the end of the first 20 days of school, post-observation conferences with teachers are completed.
  • Throughout the rest of the year, at least 3, unannounced information observations  (See Option 2 below for specifications on these visits) 

Option 2:  AT LEAST  6 Informal Observations

  • Some visits will be announced and some will be unannounced
  • All visits will be for at least 15 minutes
  • There is no limit on the number of Informal Observations but each teacher will receive at minimum 6.
  • Can be videotaped with teachers permission
  • No pre/post conference required, but feedback is mandatory in some form (Email, teacher conference, rubric feedback, etc.) after each visit.
  • Observation Reports (aka Rubrics completed with Danielson Indicators) provided to teachers and cc'ed to file within 90 days of visit.

Feedback and Support

Getting feedback and sharing best practices with colleagues and peers is an essential component for successful observation evaluations.  Prior to any evaluative visit, you will want to have your peers and/or our lead teachers visit your classrooms to provide insight and suggestions.  Additionally, we will be providing you with formative evaluations on key format (Social Norms, Classroom Environment, Unison Reading, and Conferences) by the end of September to help you establish benchmark goals of the year.  Together with both colleague and supervisor feedback, we will all strive to improve our practice and continue our professional growth.

Grade Teams have already begun to meet and plan around supporting one another using the Social Norms Rubric to structure feedback).  Grade teams began meeting this past week to establish team norms and to begin setting grade-based expectations around the universal ladder of consequences and grade-wide social norms.

Subject Teams also began to meet to support one another on establishing a quality Classroom Environment that will support Work Time activities.  Like the Grade Teams, Subject teams will also engage in classroom inter-visitation to provide team members with feedback and support.

Soon the Professional Development Committee will re-launch for the year and both embedded and external PD opportunities will also serve to support and nurture teacher growth and performance. 

In Short...

The State and the DOE have enacted many overwhelming changes.  However, provided that we continue to pull together and support one another we will continue to improve our school and provide our students with a high quality educational experience at UAI!