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We find the posting of standards and objectives meaningless in most classrooms. You must look much deeper if you coach faculty and staff on the delivery of teaching aligned to standards used in school.
Students need to understand what success looks like and reflect on their growth towards grade level expectations. Teachers should open class with a brief description of where the class has been and where they are going.
Learners should articulate how the learning objectives fit in long term unit goals.
Beyond noting how teachers set the context of learning you must also observe practice. In order to coach for standards based teaching you must provide teachers with the tips they need to make the instructional shifts required in your school's standards. The lessons they deliver should reflect the rigor embedded in the standards.
In English Language Arts, for example, you need move beyond posting an objective and look for the quality of texts, the task, and the questions educators use. The you need to apply these tasks to ensure ALL students make progress to towards the targeted learning goals.
Quality of Text
Literacy involves the act of decoding and encoding meaning on the world through a growing wealth of agency and knowledge.
We ignore lexile levels. Okay, that's a little strong. At ReVIEW we just favor everyone reading texts of choice on their own and sharing in challenging texts together. In fact in the classrooms we observe lexile levels have lead to a lowering of expectations with many classrooms using digital tools to "find the correctly leveled text" which results in many students reading far below grade level. Lower grade levels equate "guided reading or reader's workshop" with "just right instructional texts." Instead look for the qualitative elements (if teachers control the text being used) of the choice.
More importantly look for lessons that require the use of multiple texts. Even in the youngest grades high quality lessons either use or draw upon linkages to multiple texts.
Text Based Analysis
Standards based teaching in the language arts classroom requires students to pay attention to specific structures, concepts, and evidence. When observing teachers look for evidence that the tasks require students to frequently return to a text to build an answer. Make sure success on the task requires evidence from the text.
The tasks should also help students build academic vocabulary. Look for the ways teachers incorporate syntax and new words into the tasks they create. They need to support students in their word study.
Educators should also sequence their tasks to support comprehension. A scaffold should exist that requires students to dive deeper and deeper into the text and society.
Text Based Discussion
Whether you are discussing a dance, a movie, a website, or a classic novel standards based lessons in English language arts revolve around text based discussions.
As an evaluator you should observe for discourse patterns. Is the teacher talking more than the students. How many follow up questions to educators ask? Do students challenge, critique, and build off each other?
The questions teachers ask should require students to cite evidence from the class. In classes taught by great teachers students use evidence from the text to challenge each other.
You should also look to see if the discussions require students to integrate academic vocabulary. Word study means nothing if you never apply new knowledge and syntax.
We need to ensure every student can read and discuss the text required in standards based learning.
Involving All Students
Effective teachers provide all students a chance to demonstrate their knowledge growth. Too often teachers do not turn to content when differentiation. Look for educators who know the next grade level band up and down on any given standards. Do they use the actual knowledge and skills required to meet the needs of all students or simply assign more or less work.
In a classroom with effective teachers students show persistence in continuing to return to the text when engaging in the learning materials.
Students will also build on the work of other's while also demonstrating independence on the task. This type of "strategy exchange" is a key look for when supporting educators and classrooms.
How We Can Help
Everyone needs to work together. We find Addressing the literacy needs of today's youth too important an issue to tackle alone. As a school administrator you can observe and coach your staff on specific "look-fors" that lead to growth.