Friday, December 19, 2014

A Reader Asks... Another Formative Observation Question

A LYS campus instructional leader asks the following question:

SC,

I forgot to ask you to weigh in on the other question that we are arguing about.

Can we use the data we collect on the quick walk-thru’s for a teacher’s summative evaluation?

SC Response
I’m glad you asked that question.  Let be very clear with my response.

The use of short-term formative observation data for summative purposes is not only inappropriate, it borders on management malpractice.

The purpose of short-term formative observation data is to purposefully improve practice over time. That is it. 

If formative observation data is used correctly, then when the summative observation takes place, the teacher is in a position to demonstrate new skills and a higher instructional ceiling.

There are only two caveats: 

If I visit a classroom for a formative observation and it is a train wreck, quit observing and help the teacher get the class back on track. Everyone is entitled to an out of the blue, bad three minutes.  Fix it and move on.

If I see a pattern of poor practice and the teacher is not responding to cues and coaching, I have to have a conversation with that teacher.  I have to tell them I have concerns and that I am taking them off the formative system.  I will tell them when I am coming back to observe for a longer period of time and what I expect to see.  If I see what I expect, I let the teacher know and tell her that she is back on the formative system.  If I don’t see what I expect, I let the teacher know and we move to more direct and prescriptive interventions.  I don’t snipe, I communicate.

It is the difference between leadership and management.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Reader Asks... A Formative Observation Question

A campus instructional leader asks the following question:

SC,
There has been some debate in our district on what to do with formative observation data. We are leaving it up to you to provide some clarity.

What are the pros and cons of letting the teachers see their individual walk-thru data sheet?  

SC Response
Good question.  What really drives the answer to this question is the length of the observation.  A good rule of thumb is after 30 to 40 minutes of observation, the teacher and an observer/coach should have a discussion about what was observed and what areas of practice, if improved, would provide the biggest bang for the buck. 

On a practical level, this means after a single 30-minute or longer observation, there should be a conversation.  After two to three, fifteen-minute observations, there should be a conversation.

Now I know that the debate you are having concerns 3-5 minute walk-thru observations.  With the these observations, the rule of thumb is to conduct 15 to 20 individual observations and then have a conversation with the teacher.  But why?

With an objective observation protocol, the observer could be tracking up to 60 elements of effective pedagogy. With even the best lesson, in a short time window, most of those elements will not be observed.  That is not wrong, it is expected.  After all, there are some elements of exceptional pedagogy that are observed less than 5% of the time. We must recognize that a single 3-5 minute observation is a random wisp of time.  Which means that on its own, it has little meaning.

Which also means that not only is there no need to share the results of a single quick walk-thru, but to do so is often counter-productive. 

Instead, communicate with your teachers.  Let them know that it take 15 to 20 observations to reveal a pattern of practice, and that is the feedback that is worth their attention and time.  Then make sure that there are enough walk-thru’s that are conducted daily to create enough volume so that teachers can meet with their coach at least once every 6 weeks to review the pattern of practice that is occurring in their room.  

Anything less is either misinformed and/or lazy practice.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Reader Asks... The 13 Question Final Exam

A LYS campus instructional leader calls me out.

SC,

A 13-question final better than what we already have?  Empty boast or the real deal?

SC Response
My goals with a comprehensive final are to:

1. Assess student mastery of the content.

2. Determine if the scope of the content was covered.

3. Determine which concepts we, as a content team, teach effectively

4. Determine which concepts we, as a content team, do not teach effectively.

To do this I need to have questions that assess the critical elements of the content, and I most likely want to have multiple questions for those elements.  Which means that for a given course, I will have between 25 to 50 questions that I want to ask.  And you can ask all of those questions.

You just don’t have to ask each one to every student.

Take your question bank, ensure that the questions for each element are of similar difficulty and then make multiple versions of the test.  If I had a 30-question bank, I would create three different 10-question tests.  The student would get his individual score, and I would aggregate the item results of the three tests for my instructional planning data.

Now I said a 13-question test.  We all agree that multiple choice tests aren’t the best way to assess student learning.  So I would have 3 essay questions that allow students to truly demonstrate the depth of their knowledge of the material.  And I would weigh the final, 75% essay, 25% multiple choice.

With this format, a 90 minute, 13-question final will provide the richest and deepest sample of student and instructional data you have ever possessed.

The real questions are, “Do you want it?”

Or, “Is doing the same old thing and not knowing, better?” 

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Readers Write... The Doing / Understanding Gap - Part 1

For the 12/10/14 post, The Doing  / Understanding Gap,” a number of LYS district and campus leaders responded with comments. Here are just a few of them:

SC,
A message that every instructional leader needs to hear. Well done.

SC,
Sometimes I wish there was a "like" button on the daily LYS email. We were just talking about this with our Leadership Team.

SC,
For people who think redundant training, they should look at military life (after basic training).  It is drill, drill, drill, train, train, train... Until the brain, muscles and actions are one.  I did drills and training so much I dreamed about it in my sleep. It became not just second nature, but rather our nature.  And that was the point.

SC Response
The Typical Campus
3 years ago we had an in-service training on Program ABC.

2 years ago we had an in-service training on Program MNO.

Last year we an had in-service training on Program STU.

This summer we had training on Program XYZ.

What’s next?

The Atypical Campus
3 years ago we had embedded training on Program ABC.

2 years ago we had extended embedded training on Program ABC.

Last year we extended embedded training, with local adjustments, on Program ABC

This year, we have internal staff leading embedded training on program ABC.

We are getting really close to really getting good at it.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Monday, December 15, 2014

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of December 7, 2014

A number of you in the LYS Nation are now Twitter users.  If you haven’t done so yet, we want you to join us.  To let you see what you are missing, here are the Top 10 LYS Tweets from the week of December 7, 2014.

1. Reading out loud, one student at a time, is about as good as having a track team share a treadmill for practice. One works, twenty-eight watch? YUCK! (By @DrMattParker)

2. Punishing irresponsibility doesn't teach a student how to be responsible. (By @BrettHancock)

3. Implementation relies on clear expectations. Expectations need to be inspected. Inspection requires a commitment. (By @vhsaldana)

4. I've found there is no "magic formula" for success. Stay humble, hungry and outwork everyone (or try to at least). (By @TheRock)

5. We need to keep three items in place: Making the most of our learning environment; Purposeful targeted instruction: Follow through with support. (By @genevie79cr)

6. Today's Quote:  “A library is a place where we learn what teachers were afraid to teach us.” (By @DrRichAllen)

7. What we learn today doesn't make yesterday wrong. It makes tomorrow better. (By @Jeff_Zoul)

8. How often do students suffer through, “Guess what’s on the teacher's mind?” It’s disingenuous and dishonest. (By @willkimbley)

9. To the high school players frustrated with their playing time, Marcus Mariota didn't start a game until his Senior year. Let that sink in. (By @coachjjohnson1)

10. Excited to share that The Fundamental 5 (Cain & Laird) has now sold over 69,000 copies! Thank you, LYS Nation!! (By @LYSNation)

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Friday, December 12, 2014

An Assistant Principal Asks... Lesson Frame Clarification - The Close

A LYS Assistant Principal asks the following:

SC,

I have had some great conversations about Lesson Frames with my Teachers. Should the closing task be a separate task from the main activity of the lesson?

SC Response
Great question. Don’t think, “task.” Think, “proof of learning.”

The Close (which occurs at the end of the lesson) is when the teacher provides all students the opportunity to articulate in their own words (usually a quick talk or quick write) the key understanding or take away from the lesson.  It is the “close” of the main lesson, not an add on.

In the teaching of a concept, the students will do stuff and things (listen, read, talk, write, etc.).  The purpose of the stuff and things is to facilitate the learning of the concept.  The Close ensures that the student have extracted the actual instructional intent from the stuff and things that they did.

I hope this helps you and your team.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Reader Writes... But I Want a Full Benchmark - Part 1

In response to the 12/9/2014 post, I Want a Full Benchmark,” a LYS Curriculum Director writes:

SC,

Thank you for the excellent information / explanations in your recent benchmark posts. Your posts support what we are trying to implement in our district. It’s good to have some backup ammunition when on the front lines, fighting the good fight.

SC Response
I have the utmost respect for those of you in the Curriculum Department.  It is the least understood and appreciated position in education.  I have yet to meet a teacher or principal that has told me, “You know, I really like our scope and sequence.  Those curriculum people really have it going on.”

Instead, it is more along the lines of, “Right when we get everything figured out, those *$#&% curriculum people go and change everything.”

So even though your own people may not realize it, thank you for working everyday to provide the tools teachers need to have the opportunity to make a real and lasting impact with their students.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool)
  • Upcoming Presentations: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook