Rachel S. Corbin

Reuben Johnson Elementary School
McKinney, Texas

Best Practices

1) McKinney ISD is currently working through the five levels of becoming a Marzano high-reliability district. Through this framework, each school in the district is demonstrating how various best practices all work together in operating an educational institution, implementing effective instruction, and instilling appropriate accountability standards to empower schools in achieving high standards. In an effort to best exemplify our efforts to attain High Reliability Schools (HRS) Level II status, Effective Teaching in Every Classroom, McKinney ISD developed the Model of Instruction (MOI) which outlines the best practices that should be observed in the planning of instruction, teaching of instruction, and in the classroom learning environment. The MOI defines specific indicators to be observable in planning, such as differentiation and formative assessments, and in instruction, such as accommodations and small group instruction, while also distinguishing key elements of a positive and conducive learning environment, such as positive behavior supports and clear and established procedures. To ensure our school’s alignment with the MOI, I collaborate with my leadership team to communicate clear expectations of lesson plans with our staff, delineating the components that would best prepare teachers for efficient and effective instruction, such as clear time-frames to support pacing and small group instructional plans that align with recent assessment data. Our leadership team works together to provide ongoing weekly feedback on lesson plans – we recognize when plans are well-versed and provide reinforcement for when plans need significant support. We then also work together to complete ongoing weekly walk-throughs of every teacher in the building, rotating the grade level and department teams in a cycle. so that every leadership team member is able to observe every staff member at some point through the cycle. As we are observing effectiveness of lesson implementation, we highlight when expected MOI strategies are observed in teachings while also alerting teachers of when opportunities of effective teaching strategies are missed. We also present the quantity of times each of the MOI instructional strategies are observed on campus in our weekly newsletter within a bar graph. This element helps our staff to recognize what effective best practice is utilized the most and challenges them to find opportunities to implement the best practices utilized the least. In order to build capacity, we also afford some of our professional development opportunities to include ideas and information about strategies utilized the least. To date this year, our leadership team has performed close to 250 walk-throughs. The practice has elevated the level of intentionality of instruction for our teachers. as they are more cognizant of how well they are executing their plans and recognizing how effective their planning is.

2) As our leadership team continues to build our knowledge of analyzing accountability data, we concluded how our biggest deficits in accountability lied within our student growth data, across all content areas and within all student sub-populations. Therefore, our biggest gains to be attained truly are embedded, not in our student achievement, but in the demonstrated year’s growth of our students. Thus, over the past couple years, I have collaborated with our leadership team to communicate and develop our staff knowledge about student growth data and its vital impact on accountability. Through some of our own development, I recruited Jennifer Hood from Region 10, to present and reinforce our staff focus on student growth. Given this initiative for teachers to focus on growth, I also strategically helped all teachers to better understand the TTESS process by identifying an opportunity to align their professional goals and student learning objective (SLO) with student growth. Required to have one of their professional goals to be a focus from our district model of instruction in which teachers identified an instructional strategy (i.e. formative assessment or targeted small group instruction) that they could improve their craft on, teachers then constructed their criteria for success based on percentage of students who met their year’s growth goal. For several of these teachers. this set criteria yielded a possible SLO goal as well. Most teachers determined their criteria success for the year. while also estimating what their middle-of-the-year goal should be so that they could better monitor their own road to success. Many teachers also included a professional goal in which they improved their facilitation of students monitoring their own growth. Teachers created various systems for students to review their own data, reflect on their performance, and set individual goals for next steps. Lastly, the spirit of goal-setting was fostered throughout the campus, as every classroom was charged to also review classroom data as a team. Teachers assisted students in identifying class strengths and areas of need, and then as a team, students determined and posted classroom goals in their room. As students move throughout the year and take periodic formative assessments, they will cycle through the process – celebrating remarkable successes and adjusting to accommodate identified needs.