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Building teacher capacity at DCIS at Ford

We’re proud of the good work going on in our partner schools, and our contributions to it. ANet Colorado coach Meredith Stolte admires the thoughtful and proactive approach to teacher development at Denver Center for International Studies at Ford Elementary School.

“The entire leadership team at DCIS at Ford is reflective about what steps they can take to create meaningful learning opportunities for teachers so there is an impact on students. In each of our interactions, they’re excited to share the gains they are making; and they come with a list of questions and suggestions to inform our planning together.”

“The energy of the staff is infectious. I look forward to every visit!”

Empowering teachers with knowledge and responsibility

With an eye to building teacher capacity, the administrative team at DCIS at Ford is focusing teacher learning for 2015–16 year on deepening educators’ understanding of standards and what it will take for every student to master grade level content. Assistant Principal Amanda Stewart shared insights about the work and what they hope to accomplish by the end of this year.

Week to week, we were not seeing changes in instruction based on our feedback. It took a ton of time, but we were not seeing major impact in practice. So we changed our approach.
— Assistant Principal Amanda Stewart
Assistant Principal Amanda Stewart

Why did you decide to make adjustments to the teaching and learning cycle this year?

It all started because we were reviewing lesson plans and providing feedback, but, week to week, we were not seeing changes in instruction based on our feedback. We reevaluated that system, because it took a ton of time, and teachers were making adjustments to plans, but we were not seeing major impact in practice.

What is rigor in math?

So we changed our approach. (Here's the slide deck that introduced the new approach.) We started by addressing misconceptions in plans with regard to the level of rigor demanded by the standards. We used time in data teams for teachers to better understand the parts of the standard: “How do I build student knowledge and skill to independently demonstrate grade level demands of the standard? What parts of the standard do students need to know and do by the end of the lesson? How will my text selection inform what I should teach?” See a video of a second-grade data meeting.

Teachers then wrote exemplars, and this step created an opportunity for feedback and a chance to consider what is expected and what students are capable of. By making these adjustments, I could see that teachers were starting to push student thinking in a new way.

What is one goal you want to achieve by the end of the year?

I would like to distribute the leadership so teachers are owning the process. For DDI, teachers are able to go through the DDI agenda/protocol and teachers are holding their own expectations and holding one another accountable.

My role would be to push the facilitator of the team meeting to analyze the data to identify possible gaps and think through possible solutions, so this lead teacher can push other teachers in their thinking.

Harness the power of data and standards with free resources from our Lessons from the Field here!

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