Last week’s grade-level meeting took place with fourth-grade teachers, the school's principal, and myself. The group came together to make new plans for student instruction based on the just completed Individualized Reading Inventories (IRIs).
To begin the meeting, teachers selected one child in their class who had been on their radar for extra support since the last assessment round. Teachers introduced the children to the team by sharing the first IRI, as well as their conferring notes. Discussion revolved around instructional strategies used, challenges that occurred, and progress made, and ended with sharing the most current IRI as a comparative measure.
Two teachers brought their greatest success story to share with the team and eagerly spoke of the progression of strategies they had taught over the course of the past months. I marveled at the level of engagement among the group. Participants asked questions about everything from how a strategy was introduced to how their colleague knew when to layer on a new strategy. Some even took notes in conferring notebooks when something shared sparked an idea to try with a child in a different classroom.
The other teachers shared students who, even with extra focus, instruction, and practice time, had not made as much progress as hoped. Once again, the group became animated and engaged in a dialogue that stemmed from the questions posed: “Do any of you see something I am missing? Are there other strategies that may be more effective?” People brainstormed ideas, suggested book titles, and even modeled alternative instructional techniques.
Then, based on the current assessment information, each teacher shared students they noticed were not making as much progress as they would have liked or those who seemed to have stalled and needed extra support. Plans for individual student support were discussed. At the end of this portion of the meeting, the principal looked around the group and asked a magic question, “How can I help support these students with you?”
As a team, they decided that each teacher would share their conferring notes with the principal through the Real Time Student Sharing option on the CCPensieve (our online conferring notebook). The principal would then be able to see what had been done in the last conferring session and provide instruction on the same strategy for curricular coherence. They even discussed a plan for the times the principal would come in to the classroom. For some classrooms, the principal placed a meeting on the CCPensieve Calendar, and for others it was agreed that she would come in any time she had available, with the goal of three visits during the week.
I left the meeting still marveling. This principal and these teachers had figured out a plan for partnering together with a focus on supporting student learning. What a strong message. Could there be anything greater than showing a student that we care enough to surround them with people who care about them and their learning? And the message to teachers that says, "You are not in this alone. We will work together."