Last week I wrote about the first phase of academic rigor is that of setting the standard. To be clear we teach standard mastery using various curricular tools. These tools may include, but not be limited to, prescribed math and literacy, science and social studies. These tools vary in their ability to reach each student, but that’s where our incredible staff comes in. You all work hard to collaborate and align the standards with the tools you have been provided. This alignment between the tools and standards is the critical component of teaching and learning.
This week let’s look into what phase two of rigor involves. Phase two is where educators identify methods of supporting rigorous achievement. What exactly does that mean? Well it means that not only is maintaining a high standard essential, but excellent teachers make sure that they are supporting each and every student to move progressively toward the desired level of achievement. Educators must consistently ensure that no matter what the content, skill or standard that is being covered, that they provide the requisite materials using the required instructional pedagogy. There are a variety of signs that signal a healthy and supportive classroom environment for student progress.
A healthy and supportive environment will demonstrate evidence that all lessons are systematically scaffolded from one to the next. The scaffolds will reflect the various needs of students that may fluctuate from lesson to lesson or content to content. This requires that materials are consistently organized to clearly provide instructions and demonstrate the task being completed. These can either be imbedded into the materials or introduced simultaneously. In addition, intervention tasks or instructions have to be utilized regularly to ensure that no student is left behind. These intervention tasks should be aligned to the final outcome and accessible in the moment.
A healthy and supportive classroom will also demonstrate evidence that teachers are supporting students through small groups or even one on one. Teachers are constantly moving throughout the room to gauge where students are and provide essential, in the moment, support throughout the academic day. Additionally, this environment reflects regular communication with families regarding the academic goals. This communication may include emails, phone calls, weekly/monthly bulletins, a syllabus, etc. As a parent, I know I want the best for Joel, but can’t support him if I don’t know what he’s expected to learn and what support he needs (shout out RHS teachers for doing a tremendous job communicating with me as needed).
A healthy and supportive environment will demonstrate evidence that students know exactly where to locate and access essential learning tools. This may mean that learning tools are color-coded or organized in various areas. Teachers reinforce that there are tools available and where they may be found. Learning tools should also be interactive, such as white boards. Finally, content is made relevant and relatable to student background and interests. Content that is culturally relevant is critical to student interest in learning
Next week I’ll write about validation of student achievement. As always, thank you for your tremendous commitment to Every Student, Every Day.
Have a great weekend.
Adam Taylor, Superintendent