Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ready. Fire. Aim.

My school is embarking on a transformation as we attempt to introduce "Response to Intervention" strategies at out school. This means that we will be implementing a system of interventions based on formative assessment in our classrooms. Every week, teachers will run tutorials to re-teach or enrich the student learning experience. Any student in the correct grade can attend a tutorial. Some students will be placed in specific tutorials based on their individual needs. For language arts, these tutorials might mean a reading skill lesson or writing effective literary paragraphs. In math, this could involve practice of a basic skill or advanced problem solving. A science tutorial might work on concept vocabulary or even redo a failed lab experiment. 

The problem that we are having as a staff is that few of us feel like we are ready. It seems like there's so much more work to do before students could begin our interventions. We have been meeting early in the morning before school in order to identify essential outcomes. Next we finalized the scope and sequence of each of our courses. We still need to develop formative assessments and interventions for all of those essential outcomes. In addition, we also need to decide which tutorials we want to run, and when. We will start our first tutorials in September-October 2014. 

I had a recent PD session where Kurtis Hewson provided the phrase: Ready Fire Aim. He told us that this phrase meant that we should begin running our interventions before we necessarily have them perfected. The advantage of this is that students will gain some additional skills and knowledge - rather than none - and we can modify as we go. The disadvantage is that our tutorials will not be as polished as our regular classroom lessons. We have a very high-caliber staff, so the idea of hastily assembled tutorials makes us apprehensive. Despite this, I agree with Kurtis. I really believe in the "Collaborative Response" model. Working with my colleagues to develop materials which supplement my classroom lessons seems like a PD home run. We need to set a firm date and Fire.  At this point, we aren't exactly sure what tutorials will look like, so careful "aiming" probably won't make them any more effective. If we wait until we are 100% prepared, we run the risk of planning tutorials which don't end up meeting the needs of our students. We won't know exactly what we need until we get started. Hence, Ready Fire Aim