Last week, I had a great experience.
Our department has been working hard to both raise our standards and better support students.
One thing we have recognized is that we need more vertical alignment.
I don't mean we have a list of objectives somewhere that are aligned.
I mean, we have all developed a true understanding of each level.
We have talked about what it means to be ready for AP.
Or what qualifies a student for support courses.
That kind of alignment is not superficial.
It is not easy.
It does not come naturally.
This morning, we did it anyway.
One goal was to create some metric of what a student in an advanced course should be able to do independently before entering the course.
Then we looked at samples of work that represented those skills.
Those work samples were eye opening and super helpful.
Another goal was to determine how those expectations shift as students progress towards graduation.
We also wanted to determine more distinct descriptors for students who genuinely need support to succeed.
It was a powerful conversation.
Initially, we worked with the grade levels we currently teach.
Then we moved so we were talking across levels.
It gave us an opportunity to really examine our assumptions, mental models, and expectations.
That hour flew by.
I don't if everyone else enjoyed the conversation as much as I did.
I'm kind of a PD nerd.
I do know that almost everyone was clearly and actively engaged.
There were some insightful questions raised about grading practices and teaching strategies.
It just felt like we were all thinking. Thinking deeply and purposely together about how to improve ourselves to serve all students better.
Those are the conversations I usually only seem to have at conferences.
Those energizing, inspiring, creative conversations.
The ones that keep up going and make us feel like professionals trusted to do our jobs.
Sadly, that sense of being a trusted professional is hard to find as a teacher.
Opportunities to talk like this, with a group of colleagues I like and respect, is such a very good thing.