Slice of Life: One Test Too Many

(Slice of Life is a month-long writing challenge to write every day in March, with a focus on the small moments. It is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. This year, I’m going to pop in and out, but not write daily slices, as I did for the past ten years of Slice of Life. You write, too.)

There are days when there is nothing worse than the knowledge of an upcoming meeting. It sometimes means making sub plans, traveling, disrupting the flow of the day, harboring doubt about the reality of something tangible happening.

Yesterday, I am pleased to report, was not one of those days, as a group of elementary reading specialists and a few sixth grade classroom teachers (like myself) gathered with colleagues from our regional middle school to find some common ground on reading data that will help them to better understand incoming students (the ones we have in our classrooms right now).

The idea of the meeting began with our middle school colleagues asking that we administer a new reading assessment two times before the end of the year with our sixth graders, so they could collate data as they think about classes and programs and interventions. The challenge is that each of our elementary schools already does reading assessments, but not all the same ones. For example, we do both Benchmark Reading and have started using Fastbridge aReading. Others do others, although Benchmark is a common thread among some of us.

The school principal expertly running the meeting pushed back a bit on the idea of adding yet another reading assessment, urging the middle school colleagues to consider using what we already have. As the cordial discussion ensued, I found myself thinking: we need more meeting like this in our sprawling school district (five Prek-6 sending schools across a large geographic area, and one massive 7-12 regional middle/high school).

More meetings? What am I? Crazy?

But the conversations were insightful and the solutions were collaborative. We began to map out an action plan forward that will give our colleagues what they need for better understanding incoming students without burdening us, and more important, without adding yet another reading assessment to our students’ lives. An email update from the principal in my bin this morning pulled all of the ideas together into a thoughtful analysis.

When a gathering like yesterday’s is productive, and the focus remains on what is best for our students — all of our students — it’s hard not to walk away without thinking: this is how we make progress — together, in collaboration.

Peace (meet, the act),

  1. As usual, Kevin, most of us share your perspective on meetings that often ask us to ponder, “How we can change the course of our classroom to meet some obscure objective or someone’s idea to notch a new hole in their own career belt. When a day of meeting is collaborative alone, that is success in my book. When you have a collaborative outcome, it is certainly a WIN for students and learninjg.

  2. Productive faculty meetings do sometimes sound like an oxymoron; glad you experienced an exception. Perhaps a note to all those involved, with a link to this post, might be in order so that it happens again?

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