Weekly Coaching Communication

Make it a great day -- every day!

28 September - 02 October 2015

On the Standards Front . . .

With a new initiative, like Standards-Based Grading (SBG), beliefs and values are challenged amidst change. As educators, we have to re-evaluate not only what is important to us, but our purpose for why we do what do in our classrooms and with our students.

In Cathy Vatterott's Rethinking Grading, an ASCD sponsored book, learning is redefined and restructured. Grading is repurposed through standards of skills in which students do not offer their knowledge but an application of what they know. Grading is transformed into a process rather than a permanent or punitive measure in the "gotcha game." Vatterott (2015) offers a comparison of traditional practices and SBG practices, presenting the paradigm shift in learning and grading.



  • Low-level rote knowledge vs. Higher-order thinking skills
  • Knowing and understanding vs. Applying, analyzing, synthesizing
  • Learning defined by what students know vs. Learning defined by what students can do with what they know
  • Evidence of learning is repeating back vs. Evidence of learning is using skills in new situations
  • Rigor is coverage vs. Rigor is complexity
  • Whole class instruction, same homework, same test vs. Differentiation to enable mastery
  • Fixed time to learn / achievement varies vs. Varied time to learn / achievement fixed
  • One-shot learning vs. Learning is a process
  • Teach - test - move on vs. Teach - check - apply learning - feedback - teach - etc.
  • Learning is error-free; mistakes are punished vs. Learning is difficult and can be frustrating but achievable
  • Students are judged with grades while learning vs. Mistakes are part of the learning process
  • Failure is judgment and a validation of ability vs. Failure or struggle is good BUT with support



  • Teacher has locus of control vs. Student has locus of control
  • Points = form of control vs. Individual Learning Progress = form of control
  • Everything counts = "gotcha game," grades punish behaviors vs. Only learning counts -- feedback directs learning, work habits and behavior are graded separately
  • Grading during learning vs. Feedback during learning; practice is used to check for understanding
  • Grades are permanent vs. "Grading in pencil" -- Current level of proficiency replaces old level

Reflect on these pairings and your perspective of where they fit in your values and purposes. Change is not easy, but it is more difficult if we do not have a solid foundation of understanding of what we are changing and where those changes fit in our scheme of student learning and grading.

Please feel free to share your insights in the comments or to contact me for a conversation -- I'm eager to learn your perspectives and work with you through this change to SBG.

Quick Clicks

Disclaimer: Per a request that generated from our Data Team meetings on Monday, I am showcasing several rubric makers. This is not a review, as I have very little experience with these, and so would appreciate feedback on how well they worked and in which classes. Feel free to add to the comments or email me with your experiences.

Quote of the Week

“What gets measured (and clearly defined) does get done.” ~ Mike Schmoker

Mike Schmoker is an author of educational reform to improve teaching and student learning. Although I am not well versed in his books or philosophy, his idea about data could not be more accurate in capturing the professional learning we did on Monday and the results of the Instructional Coaching 1-30 Days survey.

The collaboration and learning I witnessed from the high school staff on Monday is invigorating and promising for the direction we are headed with standards based grading. Data Team Leaders took the reins and guided their colleagues through a complex and, at times, arduous process of discussing standards, looking at data, and piecing together strategies to improve student learning. Some groups ventured through an entire cycle and others delved deep into pre-assessments and rubrics. No matter the pace or end point, student learning was improved because difficult work was done.

On a personal note, I would like to thank you for your honest, realistic responses on the Instructional Coaching 1-30 Days survey. The data and information gathered from your perceptions measures the service that I am trying to provide to you as a staff. Without your candid feedback, I would not have measures for areas in which I "glow" (for meeting goals) and areas in which I need to "grow" and get more done. As a staff, you have shown great patience with me in this new position, whether it be the logistics of rosters or volunteering your time to work with me trying out a new tool or log. What you have measured and defined for my growth, I am working diligently to get done.

Each day, as I work with you in your classrooms and discuss your practices or observe your work, I am awed and humbled to serve a staff who puts aside their own personal preferences and opinions with teaching to be deliberate in doing what is best for their students and colleagues. You are all #ROCKSTARS #spp #nobetterplacetoteach

Coaching Schedule -- see Google Calendar for specific "Busy" times **schedule subject to change**


Monday, 28 September -- Class Color (ORANGE) Day
  • Serve Teachers & Students
  • Research & Resources

Tuesday, 29 September -- Twin Day

  • PL Planning Meeting 9:00 AM -- Libolt, Popenhagen, & Erikka Vosmek
  • Serve Teachers & Students
  • Research & Resources
  • Social Thinking MTG -- McNeill, Popenhagen, & Melissa Grennan

Wednesday, 30 September -- Theme Day

  • Serve Teachers & Students
  • Research & Resources

Thursday, 01 October -- American Day -- EARLY OUT

  • Serve Teachers & Students
  • Research & Resources
  • EO -- Building Meeting

Friday, 02 October -- Black & Gold Day

  • 7:30 Principal/IC Meeting -- Libolt & Popenhagen
  • Serve Teachers & Students
  • Afternoon IC Team meeting (Site TBD)

Contact Information

Instructional Coach

Center Point - Urbana CSD