Working in Vertical Teams
We received an inquiry regarding how vertical teams would work together in a professional learning community. Here are some ideas.
Each team should work with teachers at the grade levels above and below it to explore the following questions:
- What knowledge, skills, and dispositions do we want our students to acquire as a result of this course or grade level? This question is answered in part by clarifying with teachers in the grade level above what they consider the skills and knowledge students must have as they enter their grade level.
- How do we know our students have acquired the intended knowledge and skills? What assessments can the two teams create together to monitor student learning as they make the transition from one course or grade level to the next? For example, if the sixth grade team has identified certain math skills as essential for students to master prior to entering sixth grade, then the fifth and sixth grade teams should work together to create assessments that provide evidence of student proficiency. Both teams should examine that evidence and discuss ways to strengthen the results.
- What evidence can the receiving team gather about student learning that could be helpful to the sending team? Precise and specific feedback is far more effective than generalities. The statement "These kids don’t know how to write" is not helpful. "Forty percent of the students struggle with making transitions between paragraphs" could be very helpful to a team focusing its efforts on ways to benefit students.