Wednesday, April 2, 2014

5 Year Plans- Alignment is the Key

The past few months, thanks to Middle States reaccreditation, I have been immersed in creating 5 Year plans for the school both in curriculum revision and professional development.  At first, I found this process incredibly daunting and unbelievably time consuming.  I also wondered whether it was even feasible given the fact that so much can change in a school in 5 years that cannot be planned for.  I always remembered the famous Biblical phrase, "Man plans and G-d laughs."  While I still find exceptional value to the notion of man's finite wisdom amidst changing and uncontrollable external forces, in creating a pretty comprehensive plan for MDYHS's PD and curricular revisions, I've grown to find long term planning valuable nonetheless, if nothing more for goal reflection.

While unquestionable a key part of both our PD plan and our curricular revision will be implementation of the new common core standards to prepare both teachers and students for the common core exams being implemented by the state, it is not the essential component of either plan.  Instead, both are firmly rooted in the school mission and strategically aligned with the school's Middle States objectives.  A key part of both plans included measurable data to ensure and measure frequently whether or not we are accomplishing our goals.  Just as we measure our teachers' and students' performance to help them develop and maximize their potential, so too we need to constantly measure the performance of any initiatives.

I've spoke a lot before about the importance of creating systems and templates to accurately assess performance and benchmark progress, this is also absolutely crucial in school wide goal planning.  Below, I am attaching a blank template I used. Professional Development Goals Template  You will note that this template forces the goal setters to align all goals within the greater school mission and Middle States goals for the entire school.   It also requires documentation of appropriate "owners" of each aspect and measurements used.  It's not perfect, but I've found it useful in ensuring a purpose behind each goal and working to ensure its manifestation and success long term.  In reality, this template can be used for both curricular alignment goals and PD goals forming one document.  Once you decide what your curricular revision goals are, you can then plan the PD necessary and the people who need to be involved.  You can also measure its success.  Aside from ensuring less redundancy, it also streamlines the process and enables for everyone in the school to see the "Why" behind any changes occurring.  This buy in is perhaps the most vital aspect of ensuring long term success.

Now I am off to revamp the skills rubrics for all grades and all levels to realign the Bloom's Taxonomy skills with the new common core.  My hope is to create 70 objectives for each classroom teacher to have once this is complete so they can utilize those objectives as possible objectives for 70 lessons to ensure compliance with the skills needed to be taught.  It will also enable teachers who will now be adapting to block scheduling to better be able to teach what they might normally teach in 4-5 times a week they met in the longer 2-3 times they will meet.  More templates and tips to follow!  Will share info on this when that project is complete.