We Show Up

We Show Up

Being in education is hard.  It’s physically, emotionally, and yes even spiritually draining.  Being an educator is more than just showing up at work to do a job. Every one of us knows that.  We work hours well past what our contracts say. We put in more of our own money than probably any other career.  And we cry, laugh, get upset, have our hearts broken, smile, and pray over these kids on a daily basis.

 

And that can wear on you.  It can make getting out of bed some days really tough.  It can cause you to doubt your impact. It can take a toll.

So why do we stay in a field that drains us? Why do we continue showing up day after day when it often feels like we’re doing nothing except for spinning our wheels and getting more added to our already overflowing plates?

We do it because of those tiny bodies. Those children who show up every day with no other expectation than, “I hope my teacher is here today”.

We show up for that little girl who comes to school smiling because she knows it’s the only place she’s going to get a hug.

 

We show up for that child whose only 2 meals a day are the ones they get for breakfast and lunch (and the extra food someone may send home with them).

 

We show up for the little boy who knows he has to get an education so he can earn a living to help support those he loves.

 

We show up for that 4th grader who is told how worthless and stupid she is, at home every day.  How she shows up knowing that teacher will tell her how worthy and loved she is.

 

We show up to see the lightbulb moment when a child finally gets a concept they’ve been struggling with for weeks.

 

We show up because we know we have that little one who runs into school with yet another story to share from the magical book they’re reading.

 

We show up because we have colleagues who are fighting what feels like insurmountable battles, and we’re the only person they have in their life they can confide in and count on.

 

We show up because we’re educators.  That’s just who we are. And that’s what makes us different.

 

As I sit here knowing this month is National Principal Month, I’m reminded of the work that all educators do.  That titles are just that, a “title” and nothing more. So today I say thank you. Thank you each and every member of our educational family for showing up..

Read more here: toddnesloney.com/blog

Systematic and Productive PLCs: A Coach’s Perspective

Systematic and Productive PLCs: A Coach’s Perspective

Schools join forces to create a unified system. Our bodies are made of complex systems working together to keep us alive. A system of planets quite literally makes the world go ‘round. But when it comes to school improvement and the frameworks defining a proactive MTSS, where might our greatest resources be rooted? Systems .

While common language stands as a paramount implication of effectiveness, it is imperative that educators do more than just “talk the talk.” Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) have been put in place to give schools, administrators, and teams of teachers direction in their improvement efforts. Without the appropriate direction, PLCs often become aimless trials of “hoping something works.”

Developing a system for PLCs is a priority for coaching teachers and building capacity within schools. A sequential model creates a drive for effective instruction and a deeper understanding of the WHY behind “What’s next?” The repetition of conversations focus on work that drives teachers forward; an organized PLC model eliminates superfluous tasks and aligns a focus for steadfast growth. Teachers reap the benefits of a devised plan for core instruction layered with high-yield intervention strategies, and coaches alleviate the hardship of being the sole transmitter of knowledge. The PLC model, instead, develops teacher leaders, encouraging the sharing of individual expertise.

So, what does this PLC model look like? The model is implemented as a four-week rotation, giving attention to each priority focus at least once each month.

Weekly focusPurpose and topics of interest
Week 1: Unpacking
content standards
Teachers dig deep into the expectations of their content standards, better
developing an understanding of what students should know and be able to do.
Teachers connect strategies, best practices, instructional tasks, and assessment to
the demands of the standards.
Week 2: Monitoring
student progress
Teachers use instructional data and common formative assessments to
determine the effectiveness and impact of their core instruction. Teachers
determine the grade level needs for supplemental, Tier 2 supports and
intervention.
Week 3: Targeted
professional development
Teachers link classroom practices to the overall goals of total school
improvement through the School Improvement Plan. Teachers connect
strengthened core and intervention practices to the school’s achievement,
actively participating in professional development opportunities
Week 4: MTSS through
RtI:Stored!
Teachers analyze triangulated instructional data to determine the effectiveness of
Tier 2 supports and interventions. Teachers determine students who are in need
of more intensive supports, documenting students’ outcomes of intervention.

While the PLC model reflects a natural sequence and progression of conversation, school and grade level needs may demand out-of-sequence rotations. PLCs are given the autonomy of changing the order of the model, as needed, with an understanding that all PLC focuses are implemented within the month. Using predetermined weekly agenda templates after intentionally training teachers on the purpose of the PLC model enables teachers to gain a deepening respect for their collaborative efforts for school improvement.

Creating a PLC model becomes a lifesaver for the coach or PLC facilitator, giving purpose to the work-at-hand. Such purpose not only drives weekly collaboration but a joint effort for total school improvement. Susan Bird, a coaching colleague, cleverly tags PLCs at her school as productive learning communities.

About the author:
Lynn Plummer is the elementary curriculum lead for Stanly County Schools in Albemarle, North Carolina. With experience as an elementary teacher, curriculum coach, and district MTSS coordinator, he takes great pride in supporting schools’ growth and improvement. By utilizing the PLC model on both the school and district levels, Plummer has led teams of teachers in building internal capacity and strengthening core instruction and supplemental intervention supports.

Tips for Using a Systematic Data and Documentation Platform to Accurately Analyze Student Data

Tips for Using a Systematic Data and Documentation Platform to Accurately Analyze Student Data

At i-LEADR, Inc., our online data and documentation platform, RtI: Stored! streamlines the process of collecting, analyzing, and storing student data as part of an MTSS & RtI framework. However, the effectiveness of our platform is only as effective as its use, so we recommend the following tips for using it strategically and successfully:

Tips for Using a Systematic Data and Documentation Platform to Accurately Analyze Student Data

  • Check the adequacy of the data—While using documentation software, educators should ask whether appropriate screening measures were used to determine a student’s level of success with reading and mathematics. They should also determine if the screening measure aligns with the learning expectations for that year, and if any scoring was verified.
  • Plan adjustments—If large numbers of students are performing in the risk range, educators should analyze the adequacy of the core instruction. After certain adjustments have been made, the screening should be repeated to identify the effect of the adjustments.
  • Manage individual interventions—Before using individual data to make decisions about a personalized intervention, educators should investigate the effectiveness of the intervention for the group. Educators should also ask whether the intervention was implemented to fidelity, and if the intervention was adjusted accordingly to match student progress.
  • Use data to allocate instructional resources—If implementation steps are well-defined for classrooms and the school as a whole, and the platform allows educators to track the effects of interventions, any data can be used as a basis for providing additional resources in the classroom, small groups, or to individual students.
MTSS: A Closer Look at the Universal Screening Process

MTSS: A Closer Look at the Universal Screening Process

The screening process is a significant foundational element of any MTSS framework, and more specifically, universal screening is the process of consistently analyzing every student’s performance at certain points during the academic year. Universal screening helps identify students who are doing well with the core instruction and those who may require supplemental intervention and support.

MTSS experts recommend three screening periods

Most MTSS experts recommend three screening periods during the school year, in the fall, winter, and spring. These screening periods are recommended because many students can experience performance success or failure at a changing rate throughout the course of the year. For example, a student who needs additional support at the start of the year may no longer need additional resources come winter. Comparatively, a student who is on track at the beginning of the year may fall behind towards the end.

Any screening process should utilize tools that provide evidence-based information surrounding mathematics, reading, and behavior. The strategies used should provide data that predicts future outcomes, so teachers can maximize their resources and instructional time.

As part of the MTSS screening process, educators should also use normed benchmarks for the screening results by which they can determine students’ risk. These normed references can help educators quickly and easily determine if a student is staying on track or is at risk.

The MTSS Framework and the Role of Problem Solving

The MTSS Framework and the Role of Problem Solving

The MTSS framework is a series of evidence-based practices implemented across a system of learning to meet the varying needs of all students. Broader than a problem-solving process alone, it establishes a foundation of support focused on professional development, leadership, and empowering teachers to effectively assess and instruct. The MTSS process also consists of four essential problem-solving steps, which include:

MTSS framework is a series of evidence-based practices

1.  Defining the problem—The first step of MTSS involves determining the areas in which core instruction needs to be adjusted to meet the needs of at least 80% of the population. After core is analyzed and strengthened, PLCs (professional learning communities) should identify which students have gaps beyond what is being addressed in core instruction.  PLCs involved should determine what gaps exist and the services in which they have resources to provide.  It’s important early on to address any issues involving poor attendance, behavior, or other health barriers.

2.  Analyzing the data—MTSS is driven by data, so after defining the problem, data should be reviewed to solidify the cause. This cause could be a gap in certain domains of learning or a specific skill deficit. All relevant information and data should be gathered to determine any barriers that could inhibit progress towards the goal.

3.  Implementing an intervention plan—After identifying the issue and analyzing all relevant data, an intervention plan appropriate for the student’s unique needs should be designed and implemented. These interventions should be evidence-based and implemented to fidelity.

4.  Evaluating the intervention—It is critical that educators spend time with the intervention effectiveness evaluation. Educators should consider whether the intervention was successful and if the student responded effectively to the strategic or intensive instruction. If data showcases adequate progress of the group (tier 2) or individual (tier 3), the intervention can continue, but if the data does not indicate success, the PLC should carefully problem solve why desired results were not achieved.

This is a cyclical process that continues over a period of time until educators have created a system of support that positively impacts the students’ level of needs.