This fall, Vulcan Productions and Education Development Center (http://www.edc.org/) are rolling out a new, free, web-based professional development toolkit for educators: Success at the Core (http://www.successatthecore.com/). The toolkit, created and pilot tested in Washington State, is designed to help school leadership teams and teachers elevate classroom instruction to improve student outcomes.
Success at the Core is job-embedded professional learning for educators. It includes two sets of materials: seven modules to help leadership teams develop a shared vision of quality instruction and advocate for it in their schools (on topics including using data effectively and common formative assessments) and 24 practical strategies teachers can use in the classroom. It also includes 47 documentary-style videos - featuring footage from six Washington State middle schools - to show what quality instruction looks like and how effective leadership teams operate.
The toolkit was pilot tested in 11 schools and one school district in Washington during the 2009/2010 school year. According to an independent evaluation of the pilot by Inverness Research, a national research organization, pilot schools reported growth in leadership capacity, improved professional culture, stronger instructional focus, and increased student engagement. Learn more about the toolkit at http://www.successatthecore.com/.
Success at the Core - Stories of Use
This vignette comes from Kenny Renner-Singer, principal of Icicle River Middle School in Leavenworth, Washington. As you read it, consider how Kenny has scaffolded effective use of SaC at his school. View this Success Story video for more on Icicle River's experience with SaC.
I work in a small rural district that has very limited funds for professional development. So, access to Success at the Core's high-quality, free materials - which can be embedded right away into what we're already working on - has been huge. My school has used Success at the Core in two different ways: to facilitate our building leadership team's work and as professional development for teachers.
The work of our building leadership team has shifted in the last few years. In the past, the team was really focused on administrative issues. I wanted to focus our team time on teaching and learning. Success at the Core's Leadership Development modules helped move us forward in that work.
We used the Using Data Effectively module and had some good discussion about data walls and how we use data to inform instruction. After exploring the module, team members shared module content with their grade-level and department teams. We then discussed data as a whole school. In one staff meeting, teachers shared what they're doing with assessment data and how it's informing their instruction.
I've also introduced my staff to the Teacher Development strategies. These strategies allow teachers to reflect on and think about quality teaching and learning. The materials provide clear examples that teachers can see, talk about, reflect on, and then, embed in their own work. Research tells us that when teachers see and reflect on quality teaching and learning, it can change practice.
One newer teacher on my staff watched all of the Teacher Development strategy videos. This transformed her practice and was an incredible professional development experience. When I was doing an observation of her, she used a differentiation strategy that she learned from the "Guided Groups" video. It was just brilliant!
I've shared with other principals that Success at the Core can be used as springboard to look at teaching and learning. I suggest that they look at the materials and think about how they can imbed them in the work they are doing. The materials are high quality. They're smart. And they're well done.
Kenny Renner-Singer, Principal
Icicle River Middle School