Making efforts daily to increase learning growth is the goal of every educator. As we walk by classrooms, visit a Zoom classroom or watch an online performance of the band learning is visible when teachers have strategies in place to enhance the classroom to meet the needs of all students.
Every school has a curriculum in place with units and pacing guides to support teachers. As the principal of an at risk school it was important for me to not only be an instructional leader, but also a leader who supported staff to take risks and to be innovative in their approaches. However, we needed to work collaboratively in order to narrow a focus to understand the gaps we had in our curriculum. Our students were not mastering the standards they were being assessed on to achieve. This was a reflection on our curriculum, practices and strategies. What can we do better to serve our children?
Instructional objectives guide instruction. Learning targets guide learning. As a teacher planning lessons you need your objectives to guide your instruction, but the learning target is important for the students to understand. When the learning target is posted, clear, and explained so students understand what they are to do; learning will take place.
We were able to partner with a company Evans Newton Incorporated located in Scottsdale , Arizona. At the time we did a program called Target Teach to address our language arts needs. It was very successful for us and helped us turn around our school. A lot of work was done! I will break down a few steps each week, but I want to add that we also included our students as we progressed in our improvement process. My philosophy is: Education is something we do with children, not to them. I strongly believe in student lead conferences so please keep that in mind as I introduce this next piece.
So as a review first:
Instructional objectives guide instruction so this is for the teacher.
Learning targets guide the learning so this is for the student.
Assessments, observations, and interactions in the classroom provide evidence of the students learning so the teacher can record their growth. This process helps in feeding students forward in their learning process. Keeping in line with the philosophy of students being in charge of their learning STEP is next. STEP (Students Tracking Educational Progress) is what is needed as students create a portfolio of their work to monitor, set goals, and indicate the growth they achieve. This helps each student take charge of their own learning and opportunities to discuss with others how they are doing on their educational journey.
STEP will utilize the framework of the learning target. As the lesson progresses through the unit, the student will use time to complete a reflection piece, a goal page, what I need help with page and what I would like to learn more about. Many teachers already utilize the I can statements which fits perfectly. Students taking ownership in their learning and talking about it reinforces the learning.
If you are interested in learning more about learning targets I recommend the book Learning Targets you can find at ASCD http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Learning-Targets.aspx