Welcome to Core Connections, a blog by Success at the Core. You'll find stories of best practices, inspiring experiences, and effective strategies related to leadership development, classroom instruction, and student engagement.

We're Aiming for the Super Bowl

I have been a huge Seattle Seahawks fan for as long as I can remember. For most of my 36 years, this has meant suffering through one disappointing season after another. Often, I felt like the only ‘Hawk fan on Earth!

Now that the Seahawks have become the darlings of the National Football League, fans are coming out of the woodwork! One reason so many fans identify with the Seahawks is clearly their winning record. I think it’s more than that, though. Many people clearly identify with the particular brand of teamwork that the “Boys in Blue” show, especially on defense.

A perfect example of this came in Seattle’s 23-0 shutout of the host New York Giants on December 15. Near the end of the game, the Giants were driving and threatening to prevent being held scoreless at home. New York’s scoring bid was thwarted when Seattle’s brilliant defensive back, Richard Sherman, leapt high into the air to bat away a potential touchdown pass. Rather than knock the ball down, Sherman tipped it high into the air knowing that his “colleague,” Earl Thomas was positioned to collect the shutout-preserving interception.

This type of teamwork is exactly what a high functioning Professional Learning Community (PLC) provides its members. To enhance our collegial teamwork, my science PLC has implemented common formative assessments. Creating these assessments was relatively easy but we needed a clear process for reviewing them together effectively and efficiently.

After we struggled for several weeks, I realized that Success at the Core’s Common Formative Assessments module could help us get unstuck. Prior to casino our weekly PLC meeting, I previewed the module to ensure it would work for our specific group. Based on the teachers’ conversations in the videos and the forms they used, I created this form for our team.

As our group went through the module we discussed the benefits of common formative assessments and uses for teachers. We observed the teachers in the videos digging into CFAs and getting incredibly valuable information about their students. Next, we saw them using that information to guide future instruction. This gave us a model for our group to emulate.

The module helped us see the value of common formative assessments and how they could help improve instruction. Immediately after completing the module, we dove right in to the results of our assessment. We discussed students’ level of understanding and identified gaps and misconceptions in their knowledge. Next, we collaboratively planned methods to fill gaps and fix misconceptions. This experience clearly highlighted the value of common formative assessments and Success at the Core was critical to our growth.

Our PLC stands poised to take teamwork to the next level, much as the Seattle Seahawks have done this season. As I root for my beloved ‘Hawks to break through for their first Super Bowl victory, I’m rooting for our PLC to score some big victories in student learning this year. Without a doubt, teamwork is the key to accomplishing these goals.


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4 Responses to We're Aiming for the Super Bowl

  1. Corrie Freiwaldt says:

    I really LOVE how you related PD to teachers like teachers relate content to their students. Great connection!

  2. Beth Ashley says:

    The form you created is really helpful to guide PLC discussion around student work. Forms and protocols that get to the heart of student learning keep PLC discussions focused and spur rich dialogue about addressing gaps in understanding and skill development.

    • Tyler Rice says:

      As you touched on, Beth, the form was really created to support and reinforce the protocol. This made it easy to keep our discussion on track and productive!

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