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Instruction

Overview:
The quality of instruction is the single most important factor in students’ achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations. Instruction is responsive to student needs, deliberate in its design and delivery, and grounded in the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations. Instruction is supported by research in best practices. Teachers are reflective and collaborative about their instructional strategies and collaborative with their colleagues to improve student learning.

Indicators:

Indicator 1:  Teachers’ instructional practices are continuously examined to ensure consistency with the school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations. 

What to Look for:

  • teachers are clearly familiar with the school’s beliefs about learning and often reference them when making decision about which instructional strategies to employ 
  • teaching practices in all classes consistently and overtly support the core values and beliefs about learning (e.g., if the school has identified independent learning and active engagement, then all teachers use practices which engage students and cause students to be able to work without direct teacher instruction and they would be acting as coaches) 
  • teachers might engage in peer observation and reflection in order to examine their practices against the school’s 21st century learning expectations as well as the school’s beliefs about learning 
  • teaching practices would be regularly examined against the school’s learning expectations in order to ensure teachers are modeling the expectations for students (e.g., use of technology, collaboration, reflection)

Indicator 2: Teachers’ instructional practices support the achievement of the school’s 21st century learning expectations by:
  • personalizing instruction
  • engaging students in cross-disciplinary learning
  • engaging students as active and self-directed learners
  • emphasizing inquiry, problem-solving, and higher order thinking
  • applying knowledge and skills to authentic tasks
  • engaging students in self-assessment and reflection
  • integrating technology.
What to Look for:

    §         personalizing instruction

§         teachers meet regularly with individuals or small groups of students to address individual learning needs

§         teachers select and employ the appropriate instructional approaches to address various learning styles

§         teachers call home to talk with parents/families to enlist support

§         teachers show respect, positive rapport in day-to-day conversations with students

§         teachers act as advisors/mentors (See Standard 5, Indicator 3)

 

·         engaging students in cross disciplinary learning

§         students are involved in thematic studies that helps them study topics that transcend more than one content area and make connections across the content areas

§         teachers regularly help students to see how a given topic/lesson extends across the content areas

§         school-wide instruction is planned around a theme

§         see Standard 2:  Curriculum for related topics

 

·         engaging students as active and self-directed learners

§         students take on an active role in learning and are not sitting passively at their desks

§         students are engaged in hand’s-on, project-based learning and discovery lessons

§         teachers are actively facilitating lessons and acting as coaches by asking students to do independent research, work in cooperative groups, apply knowledge to real-world

 

·         emphasizing inquiry, problem solving, and higher order thinking

§         teachers focus students on key themes, concepts, and essential questions

§         teachers spend sufficient time on a unit/theme/topic/essential question to allow students to understand the concepts or information in depth

§         teachers emphasize skills that extend beyond acquisition of knowledge and skills on Bloom’s Taxonomy

§         teachers regularly ask students to apply knowledge, to analyze what t hey have learned, to synthesize concepts, to compare/contrast, and to evaluate

 

·         applying knowledge and skills to authentic tasks

§         teachers ask students to write for audiences beyond the classroom

§         teachers ask students to share portfolios with parents and critical friends

§         teachers ask students to engage in meaningful project work that leads to formal presentations, often involving audiences beyond the school

§         students participate in internships and school-to-career opportunities

 

·         engaging students in self-assessment and reflection

§         teachers routinely ask students to reflect on their work and to self-critique (e.g., through the use of portfolios and with the application of rubrics)

§         teachers clarify for students that assessment is part of the learning process, not simply an evaluation at the end of an activity, relating assessment to the school’s core values, if applicable

§         teachers routinely and regularly ask students to reflect on their own work, to write about how they would make improvements or changes, to critique their own work as well as their peers

 

·         integrating technology

§         teachers use appropriate technology to enhance instruction

§         all teachers have had professional development which provides them with knowledge to employ technology as a means of involving students in inquiry, problem-solving, and higher-order thinking

§         all teachers are expected to use technology to enhance learning

§         teachers routinely involve students in using appropriate technology to extend learning (e.g., students know how to use presentation software such as PowerPoint; they would be seen using presentation software  to draw conclusions about what their discovery process taught them and to illustrate the newly-drawn concepts to classmates) 


Indicator 3:  Teachers adjust their instructional practices to meet the needs of each student by:
  • using formative assessment, especially during instructional time
  • strategically differentiating
  • purposefully organizing group learning activities
  • providing additional support and alternative strategies within the regular classroom.

What to Look for:

Teachers adjust their instructional practices to meet the needs of each student by:

§         Using formative assessment, especially during instructional time

§         teachers regularly assess each student’s learning throughout the lesson by employing a variety of assessments (e.g.,” write out the steps you have used so far to complete this problem”; “share with your partner the next steps you will take to do this lab and be prepared to share the steps with the whole class”)

§         teachers make clear to students that the purpose of these assessments is improvement, not a final “grade”

§         feedback is specific and immediate to help students improve

 

·         strategically differentiating

§         teachers regularly analyze formative assessments and other information collected about individual students and devise and employ instructional strategies to specifically help individual students learn the concept/skills

 

·         purposefully organizing group learning activities

§         teachers plan group learning activities designed to engage students in in-depth learning and to assist students in collaborating

 

·         providing additional support and alternative strategies within the regular classroom

§         teachers provide extra-help sessions for students who need additional time to learn

§         teachers pair strategically pair students for maximum learning


Indicator 4:  Teachers, individually and collaboratively, improve their instructional practices by:
  • using student achievement data from a variety of formative and summative assessments
  • examining student work
  • using feedback from a variety of sources, including students, other teachers, supervisors, and parents
  • examining current research
  • engaging in professional discourse focused on instructional practice.
What to Look for:

·         using student achievement data from a variety of formative and summative assessments

§         teachers have regular, formal time to meet to review assessment data through professional learning communities, critical friends’ groups, faculty/department meeting time purposefully designed for the review of assessments

§         teachers examine local assessment data -- including assessments which employ the school-wide rubrics, common-assessment data, individual teacher assessment data – and modify their teaching practices based on what they have learned from this examination of data

 

·         examining student work

§         teachers regularly meet within their content area and across content areas to look at student work, e.g., writing samples, projects, etc.

 

·         using feedback from a variety of sources, including students, other teachers, supervisors, and parents

§         teachers regularly gather feedback from parents and make adjustments in their instruction, if appropriate

§         teachers regularly gather feedback from students and make adjustments in their instruction, if appropriate

§         department meetings regularly devote time for teachers to share and discuss instructional improvement 

§         the use of feedback is accepted as an important part of instructional improvement and it permeates the culture of the school

 

·                     examining current research

§         the entire faculty reads a journal article, or a book on current research and best practices and engages in discussion

§         the school's professional library provides books, journals, links to websites, on teaching pedagogy

§         teachers have formal time for the review and discussion of research and best practices

§         decisions in the school are reflective of this review of current research

·                     engaging in professional discourse focused on instructional practice

      • teachers have formal time to discuss research and best practices related to instruction
      • school leadership communicates an expectation that improving instruction is important and professional discourse contributes to that improvement

Indicator 5:  Teachers, as adult learners and reflective practitioners, maintain expertise in their content area and in content-specific instructional practices
 

What to Look for:

·         Teachers regularly read content-specific literature designed to help them use strategies specific to their subject

·         Teachers regularly reflect on their reading of current literature and best practices, their conversations with colleagues, feedback provided by administrators, parents, and students

·         Teachers attend conferences and programs to improve their learning

·         Teachers maintain journals or portfolios which evidence their own work and self-reflection



R AT I N G   G U I D E 
Instruction

A rating of DEFICIENT is appropriate if any of the following exist:  
  • ƒ Instructional practices on the whole are not consistent with the school’s core values, beliefs, and 21st century learning expectations 
  • ƒ Instructional strategies on the whole fail significantly and broadly to personalize instruction;  engage students in cross-disciplinary learning; engage students as active and self-directed learners; emphasize inquiry, problem-solving, and higher order thinking; provide opportunities for the authentic application of knowledge and skills; engage students in self-assessment and reflection; and integrate technology 
  •  The school’s level of adherence to Indicator 5 in Standard 7, Community Resources for Learning, fails to sufficiently support instructional practices       
A rating of LIMITED is appropriate if teachers at least, minimally, employ instructional strategies that are consistent with the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations; at least, minimally, employ instructional strategies that personalize instruction, engage students in cross-disciplinary learning, engage students as active and self-directed learners, emphasize inquiry, problem-solving, and higher order thinking, provide opportunities for the authentic application of knowledge and skills, engage students in self-assessment and reflection, and integrate technology; and at least, minimally, maintain expertise in their content area and in content-specific instructional practices; but fail to: 
  • ƒ use formative assessment, especially during instructional time 
  • strategically differentiate 
  • purposefully organize group learning activities 
  • provide additional support and alternative strategies within the regular classroom 
A rating of ACCEPTABLE is appropriate if teachers: employ instructional strategies that, on the whole,are aligned with the school’s core values, beliefs, and learning expectations; employ instructional strategies that, 
  • on the whole, personalize instruction, engage students in cross-disciplinary learning, engage students as active and self-directed learners, emphasize inquiry, problem-solving, and higher order thinking, apply knowledge and skills to authentic tasks, engage students in self-assessment and reflection, and integrate technology; and on the whole, maintain expertise in their content area and in content-specific instructional practices       ƒ 
  • generally, use formative assessment, especially during instructional time, strategically differentiate, purposefully organize group learning activities, and provide additional support and alternative strategies within the regular classroom  

A rating of EXEMPLARY is appropriate when the descriptors in the ACCEPTABLE rating are met on a consistent level and:  
  • ƒ teachers, individually and collaboratively, improve their instructional practices by: using student achievement data from a variety of formative and summative assessments; examining student work; using feedback from a variety of sources, including students, other teachers, supervisors, and parents; examining current research; and engaging in professional discourse focused on instructional practice 
  • ƒ teachers maintain expertise in their content area and in content-specific instructional practices  
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