2018-09-12 / News

LCS conducts instructional observation

Principals, administration visit Turrill Elementary
810-452-2601 • npguliese@mihomepaper.com

Lynch Elementary School Principal Aneta Lawrence (right) observes while Turrill Elementary School teacher Nikki Badyrka utilizes group instructional time during class. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese Lynch Elementary School Principal Aneta Lawrence (right) observes while Turrill Elementary School teacher Nikki Badyrka utilizes group instructional time during class. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese LAPEER — The days of the isolated schoolmarm are over.

Administrators with Lapeer Community Schools, including each building’s principal as well as Superintendent Matt Wandrie and administrative staff, spent Monday performing observational instructional rounds at Turrill Elementary School.

The cohort of admins broke into four teams to make the rounds throughout the school, visiting and observing each of the school’s teachers in search of examples of the state-mandated 10 Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy, — or, 10 classroom habits employed by educators to promote healthy literacy education.

Turrill was the first facility to be host to instructional observation, but it won’t be the last. Throughout the year, each of the district’s schools are scheduled to invite the administrators for observation, and it’s a practice that, to date, Lapeer Community Schools is leading the way among county districts.

“It’s simply designed for teachers and administrators to observe the classrooms,” said Wandrie. “We focus on those highly essential practices, and seeing them happening at various grade levels.” Each team of administrators kept notes as they observed each teacher in action, documenting when the teacher employed one of the 10 essential practices, which include read-alouds of age-appropriate books, small group and individual instruction, phonological activities, efforts to build vocabulary, researchaligned writing instruction and collaboration with students’ families to promote literacy.

Following observational rounds, administrators reconvened to share findings, including which of the essential practices the building succeeded with, and which might need attention. “It’s all about increasing performance of our students,” Wandrie said. According to Wandrie, identifying areas in instructional improvement is as much a desire of the teachers themselves as it is an administrative directive. Two weeks prior to the administrative visit, Turrill teachers themselves did their own version of observational rounds, peeking in on each other’s classrooms, across grade levels. “These are things the teachers want to improve on,” he said. “And by doing this we see a holistic view of the district. If it’s good teaching, it’s good teaching.”

According to Turrill Elementary School Principal Bob Downey, being the first building host to observational rounds was a source of a “little bit of nervousness” but overall, it’s an excellent opportunity to continually improve. “The teachers being able to experience it among themselves first helped a lot,” he said. “The 10 essential practices exist in every classroom, every day and the goal is we’ll have a better collective understanding of those essential practices.”

Because each observational team didn’t see the same subjects or grade levels, it provided opportunity during the debrief to share a variety of experiences, all in the hope of increasing literacy education among Lapeer Community Schools. “The debrief is the most important part,” said Downey.

According to Downey, when his teachers did their own observational rounds, the debrief involved each participant labeling a poster of the 10 essential practices with a sticky note, and before long it was easy to visually understand which practices the school was adept at, and which needed attention. “We looked at all the charts and we’re able to see building-level themes and from that develop a building professional development plan,” said Downey. “What steps do we take now to develop those areas, and take pride in what areas we do well.”

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