In Dr. Vanzant’s words, “accountability on its face is very simple–you do what you say you will do.” These were the words of Iyanla Vanzant on a recent conference call about the process of accountability.
Teachers are held “accountable” for student growth. They are responsible for teaching what they say they are going to teach. (Of course what they are supposed to teach is dictated by standards and their district’s curriculum documents.) And we know that the measure of their teaching is how much growth students demonstrate. Now, barring all of the arguments about student limitations, a major obstacle to student growth that I have encountered is misaligned lessons.
The teachers I have coached owned the best intentions when they excitedly shared all the activities they planned, yet when asked “what is your goal for the lesson” their goal was either unclear or non-existent. Case in point, a few months ago I coached a team of Middle School ELA teachers. (It was like a speed dating session where I was the one date making my way around the room.) One of the teachers was excited about his activity. Students were going to rewrite Romeo and Juliet in modern-day language. After allowing him to share his 3-day lesson, I objectively asked him to read the standard he was supposed to be addressing. It read:
RL.9.8. Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new.
When he looked up I asked, “how does your activity align with the standard?” He shook his head and responded, “it doesn’t.”
The activity was one he used in the past with an old state standard that had similar language, but was not the same. I honored his activity, recognized that it might work elsewhere and began coaching his thinking through an aligned design process. We used the thinking process outlined in the lesson design decision tree below along with deconstructing the standard because before analyzing, there are content and processes that students must understand. He thought all of this through to design his lesson and ultimately his students experienced success!
It’s a new year and we are moving toward a new level with the Common Core. Because of this, I’m offering my experience and my support in two ways for the month of January.
- The Core Deconstructed Introductory Offer – aligned lessons result in student growth and breaking down the standards is the key. The Core Deconstructed is officially on sale. It’s to the point to save you time on reading and allow you time to gain an intimate understanding of the standards. Get it at iTunes (iPads only for now, but join my VIP List to find out when the eBook is ready for your digital device.)
- Complimentary Personalized Coaching – for the month of January, I am to offering educators 15 minutes of complimentary coaching to address any Common Core question you may have. You pick the time. You pick the topic. Get on my calendar now to take advantage of this offer.
Accountability is simple–teach what you say you will teach.