When leading a Lead Evaluator Training or Principal Evaluator Training or Teacher Training session I repeatedly ask this one question: Raise your hand if you’ve ever done this before? Invariably, no one raises their hand. No one in the room has ever been through the Student Learning Objective (SLO) setting process. No one in the room has ever been through beginning-of-the-year meetings. No one in the room has done these things before, nor has anyone else in the state done this before. It’s new!
As is the case with anything new, it will take some time before we get the hang of it. As a result, we’re all a little unsure of ourselves as we go through the SLO-setting process for the first time. I’ve haven’t heard so many references to Goldilocks since my children were very young. The trick with the SLOs is to set targets that are just right – not too high and not too low. We know how important it is that the SLO targets are set in a way that reflects high expectations, but we don’t want to overdo it because the stakes in the new APPR are so high. Because it is the first time we’re doing this and because the stakes are so high for teachers there is a natural tendency, perhaps, to set targets that are a little on the low side. That’s when Goldilocks enters the story. The trick is to set targets that are… just right.
Raise your hand if you have ever done this before (no hands raised). In order to set targets that are just right, this first time, it’s taking longer than it will [we hope] in the future. We’re looking at historical data to make sure we’re in the ballpark when we set targets. We’re working with 3rd party test vendors to understand how we can interpret data. We’re sharing examples with each other. We’re asking lots and lots of questions. Most importantly, I think, is that we’re talking to each other. Leadership teams within districts are talking with each other and leaders are talking between districts. Administrators and teacher association leaders are talking about this too. Of all the SLO-setting strategies we’re employing, it’s these discussions that are the best chance we have to get it right. Why? Because we’ve never done this before!
As we wrap-up the SLO-setting process and move into the heart of the school year it will continue to be important to keep up the discussions. We really are all in this together – and the expertise will have to come from within to proceed with the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) process. It’s our first time through it, don’t you know.
Raise your hand if you have ever done this before (no hands raised).