Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Summer To-Do List

Did this school year go fast for anyone else, or was it just me? My first year in this position has been incredibly exciting and challenging, and I've seen lots of great stuff happening. For example, this year we have seen the advent of a uniform curriculum mapping process, the increased use of data to inform instruction, further implementation of disciplinary literacy strategies across the curriculum, and the increased use of electronic tools to increase student engagement in relevant, meaningful tasks.

The work done this year by faculty and administration has convinced me that the district is at a tipping point. That is, conditions are right for some big-time paradigm shifts in teaching and learning; things are going to get really cool, really fast.

So, I've worked out a to-do list for this summer,
not that anyone really cares what I've got going on once school lets out. However, I hope that if I choose to occupy my time wisely, you'll all be able to do your jobs more effectively next year.

1. Data Site Update

The data site unveiled in January is meant to be a living document, constantly updated and utilized to make programmatic decisions. This summer, I will revisit that site and update it to include 2010/2011 data.

2. Plan the Implementation of Performance Plus: Curriculum Mapping, Data Analysis, and Online Assessment.
Performance Plus is the system that we will implement next year during our institute days in October and January. In September, we will train department leaders (chairs and resource teachers) in the use of Performance Tracker, an assessment data analysis tool to replace Mastery Manager. A significant portion of the October institute day will be devoted to teaching the entire faculty how to use this system. We also have a product to create and score assessments online, and I will learn more about this system over the summer.

In November, we will train department leaders in the use of Curriculum Connector, the oft-mentioned curriculum mapping tool. Faculty will learn how to use this system at the January institute day. Mapping will continue during first semester, but we will begin to transfer that information into Curriculum Connector in January.

This suite of tools was selected because of their power and ease of use, but also because they are connected to eSchool. I know there will be a learning curve and we will encounter unexpected challenges along the way, but having one system connecting curriculum maps, data analysis, and assessment will be a great asset.

3. Determine the Protocols for Inservice Time

Department chairs and administration have been discussing the use of Wednesday Inservice time, and I think there is a sense that this time can be utilized better. I will be working on general expectations and guidelines for how inservice time should be structured, and how curriculum mapping and data analysis using Performance Plus (see above) will fit into the equation.

In order for us to grow as a Professional Learning Community, that time needs to devoted to curriculum teams analyzing student work and collaborating on ways to improve instruction and (most importantly) student achievement. In contrast, less time should be devoted to transmission of information. We have other ways to make departmental announcements.

4. Help Develop the Special Education Website
We will develop an electronic area for all things Special Education at Leyden. This site will include items like the purpose and structure of IEP meetings, roles of participants, and the method by which we schedule and offer accommodations to students. Furthermore, we will post an FAQ document based on the comments submitted during the "Special Education at Leyden" webinar in April.

5. Streamline District Communication Processes

We have experimented with different electronic systems such as Blackboard, Google Documents, Google Sites, and various wikis and nings. Individual departments and committees have experimented with some of these tools, and all of them have different strengths and limitations. As a result, we have more information available to us electronically at all times. However, it's all over the place. This summer, I would like to streamline how meeting minutes and department activities are collected and accessed by all of us.

6. Finish the "Plan on a Page"
The School Improvement Team has been working on a document that concisely articulates our student achievement goals, and our priorities for achieving them in the following areas: curriculum, instruction, assessment, communication, parent involvement, student behavior, and supports for struggling students. I had hoped to make this "Plan on a Page" public by the end of this year, but I need some more time over the summer to get it right. I will have it ready at the start of the 2011/2012 school year.

7. And last, but not least, I plan to do plenty of this:

There's more on my list (school-related, anyway), but that's enough. Again, I hope that gives you an idea of what you can expect for next year. Have a great summer!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mr. Storaasli,

    I really like your blog. I appreciate your perspective as an administrator with student interests still at heart.

    In your post, you said, "...the increased use of data to inform instruction..." As a New York City teacher, that statement scares me.

    Bloomberg's education policies seem to revolve around data and data-driven decision-making. As you probably know, NY state still forces students to sit for state exams that determine if a student will graduate. Everything is about numbers and hitting a number. And that's cool (to a point): I have an analytic background and I use complex spreadsheets to inform my instruction. Numbers often do tell a story that can be overlooked.

    What scares me about this new "data craze" (and ultimately turning education into a corporate-style entity) is creating, finding, and looking at data for the sake of creating, finding, and looking at data. Often times, NYC teachers are forced to dive for data within their classrooms, schools and districts only to find out their administrators actually have no follow-through with what that data means or how it should be used. "What do YOU think it means?" is a great evasion question they use.

    How do you convey the importance of looking at the data you want your teachers to look at? What about the data you say to look at makes it more important than the data teachers have already are/been looking at? I'm not criticizing, I legitimately want to know how you answer these questions from your teachers.

    As a former teacher yourself, I'm sure you experienced administrators coming in year after year with the "newest" thing to solve a school's problems, with you secretly thinking, "Oh brother, what pointless thing are we going to do next?"

    Enjoy the summer!