Curriculum Update for April/May 2014

posted May 26, 2014, 8:39 AM by

Manchester Academic Standards/Manchester New Teacher Project/UNH Teacher ESOL Certification

April/May 2014

Manchester Academic Standards Ready for Next Step

The final development session for the Manchester Academic Standards was held on May 14, 2014 and from the team of teachers that developed the body of work a small team has been organized to plan the presentation for the Board of School Committee on June 9. This small team has met a few times to prepare what will be an insightful glimpse into the massive undertaking taken by the district to prepare the document we will use to raise expectations for all students. Many on the development team will be continuing their work as members of the curriculum or assessment work teams and it is assumed that many other teachers would like to join the work. All are welcome! Aside from developing the very best set of standards personalized for Manchester students, teachers who worked on the team experienced tremendous learning and growth in their professional practice. All have found this experience to be some of the best professional development they have had in a very long time.

As for next steps, the teachers are reviewing the curriculum unit planning template that was used last summer when units were developed under the consultation of PCG. A second template has been introduced and the teachers were asked to provide their feedback on it in relation to the original. As a revised template emerges, we will be engaging teachers in a crosswalk activity to see where revisions to the units need to made in terms of alignment, where new units need to be developed, and what new resources will need to be made available to address the revised standards. Our professional development days at the end of the school year have been identified as prime opportunities for the unpacking and crosswalk work to take place. If anything else it will be protected time for teachers to review, understand and unpack the revised standards.

In terms of assessment, the team will begin to develop district-wide benchmark assessments that measure student growth toward achievement of the revised standards. The assessments will also provide a measurement tool to help improve the fidelity with which we align and deliver the intended curriculum. The assessments will be developed using released items and newly-developed items that help students demonstrate mastery of the standards while at the same time informing teacher teams of how they can adjust their instructional strategies to best prepare students.

The timing of this work is still unknown. It is important work and teams of teachers have made it clear that they are anxious to begin it, so planning is in process. Our primary speedbump is the projection of no funding for the summer work, however the professional development experience and credit could be worthwhile for teachers who wish to engage in it. As this comes on the heels of a vote for a bargaining agreement I admit this is not the best time to put out this specific detail, but it is important to have it known.

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Introducing the Manchester New Teacher Project (MNTP)

Given that close to one third of new teachers nationwide leave their position after the first three years ( it is imperative that the school district build and strengthen an induction program that will ultimately extend to high quality professional development for all staff.This summer brings great promise in the shape of the Manchester New Teacher Project, SAU #37’s own version of new teacher orientation. Thanks to MSD teachers Steve Organek, Kim Larkin, Vickie Fournier, and Michelle Miller, ably assisted by PD Director Polly Golden and Exec. Dir. of the Innovation Zone Pat Snow, this team of professionals has been working very hard to develop an orientation program that seeks to answer the question “what tools and knowledge lead one to succeed as a first-year teacher in Manchester?”

The initial work session with the new teacher cohort will be held over a day and a half in August with a day-long district sponsored agenda that provides general information on technology, district culture, human resources, academic standards, etc. The remaining half-day will be spent in new teachers’ respective schools with their administration and teacher leaders providing more local, building-specific information such as classroom keys, IDs, tour, protocols, etc. The idea is to help the new teacher become acquainted with their immediate surroundings more quickly and comfortably so that they can focus more on their instruction in the early weeks.

Teachers in the new teacher cohort will also attend monthly, thematic cohort sessions promoting reflection and discussion among new teachers as well as professional development in special education, English Learners, guidance, use of data, etc. The conversation time taken for these meetings is when new teachers grow the most, and it is included because it is the most powerful form of learning for these adults.

The MNTP is also a great place for veteran teachers to take on a leadership role. We will be seeking one peer mentor per five (5) new teachers in each school to help with the school-based orientation in August, facilitate the monthly cohort sessions, and provide the necessary peer-to-peer support regarding culture and climate issues, among others. There will be minimal compensation for the mentors in the early stages with an eye toward growing stipends for the work.

The MNTP team will be issuing a call for peer mentors in the coming weeks through building principals. Essentially the commitment would be the day and a half in August with the new teachers (some of that time is breakout with the mentors only), attendance at monthly cohort meetings (again with breakout time), and general one-on-one guidance with assigned new teachers.

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Preparing the Mainstream Teacher for ESOL Instruction through Certification

The University of New Hampshire - Manchester is once again looking to host a cohort of teachers interested in becoming certified in ESOL. The program is open to all certified teachers in the Manchester School District teaching at any grade level and in any grade content. The tuition for the certification is grant-funded and will be at no cost to the students, and the program lasts for three terms (fall, spring and summer). There is much more information available by contacting Judy Sharkey, Ph.D., Associate Director of Teacher Education at UNHM, by phone at (603) 641-4121 or email at Click here to access an informational brochure with more information.

UReads of the Week

Making Standards Serve the Student. Education Leadership. February 2012 | Volume 69 | Number 5.

Mentoring and Coaching Models in Education. This information is based on the Connected University course: Using Peer Coaching to Improve Instruction, Classroom Connect, Inc.

Enjoy the holiday weekend!