What Have You Resolved to STOP Doing?
Every year, we make resolutions for the new year about things we plan to do, and many of us have failed at these resolutions only a few weeks or months into the new year. This year, I’m planning on resolving to STOP DOING things that have become bad habits. If we think about this, most of us know that there are at least a few things we should eliminate from our professional list of ineffective behaviors.
For example, are you giving formative assessments in your classroom that you don’t have time to respond to? This is a waste of instructional time. Formative assessments are meant to guide instruction, so resolve to use the results to plan the next few days. To get me started thinking about this topic in more depth, I recently challenged a high-performing team I was working with to develop a similar list including some of their own resolutions or some they have stopped doing in the past. Here are their ideas:
- Stop teaching topics that don’t align to your current essential standards. Some teams have curriculum that they’ve used for years but that no longer is aligned to the standards they are to guarantee. They need to eliminate this content to make time for the most important standards.
- Stop using multiple choice questions to assess rigorous learning targets. When assessing rigor, it’s important for the team to be able to see students’ thinking in the answers to their assessment questions. That doesn’t happen with multiple choice questions.
- Stop using intervention time to support content that is NOT on the essential standards list. This time is precious and should be used to support student learning on the most critical learning.
- Stop responding as individuals rather than as a collaborative team when students need help. Sometimes, to save time, individual teachers will respond to their common formative questions in their own classrooms. However, the value of having different ideas and viewpoints makes the collaborative response far more effective.
- Stop considering “peer tutoring” as a way to enrich students who can benefit from challenge. If we know that the student has learned an essential standard, there is no benefit to that student in teaching it to a peer. When Marzano (Marzano, et. al., 2001) talks about “reciprocal teaching” he is talking about teaching something while the student is still in the process of learning it.
- Stop using assessment and response with your “bubble kids” differently than with other kids. The idea of identifying students on the bubble comes from a failed strategy that suggested we could raise our school/district test scores by focusing on students who were close to proficiency. The inference was that some students were too far away from proficiency and would take away all of the resources we had. ALL students should be included in our systematic responses—some students will get additional help, some will get more practice, and some will get enrichment.
- Stop forgetting to re-assess after we’ve given students extra time and support on essential standards. When we guarantee that all students will have learned essential standards, we must have evidence that this is so.
- Stop allowing assessment to be something we do TO kids, rather than something we do WITH them. Hattie’s list of effect sizes (Hattie, 2012) has student involvement in assessment as the most powerful strategy teachers can use. Make sure students know what the targets are for their learning, that they know where they are currently on the proficiency scale, and that they know what their role is in moving toward proficiency.
Has your collaborative team created a new year’s resolution for what you will STOP doing? Take some time this January to reflect on your best practices as well as the things that are not moving student learning forward in your school.
Hattie, J. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers. New York, NY: Routledge.
Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-based Strategies for increasing Student Achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.