To successfully integrate Elevate into the improvement work of your school or district, it is important to make clear connections between how you are using Elevate and the broader priorities for improvement that have been communicated to teachers and leaders. When educators can clearly explain how what they’re learning through Elevate is helping them to reach high-level goals, they are more likely to have initial and sustained investment in using Elevate to improve students’ experiences.
☝These same steps could be applied to grade level teams, departments, or other organized groups of educators in your school/district community.
Clearly share school/district priority areas with teachers prior to introducing Elevate.
Make connections between Elevate learning conditions and/or focal groups and school/district priority areas.
Take some time to document these connections from leadership’s perspective.
Introduce Elevate to teachers and facilitate a conversation where teachers make connections between the learning conditions and/or the use of focal groups and school/district priorities.
Invite teachers to make predictions about the learning conditions that they are doing well on and the ones that they think will be areas for improvement.
Emphasize that Elevate is a tool for improvement, and will not be used in any evaluations of teachers or the school. Elevate is intended to give teachers timely feedback that they can use to make adjustments to their practice and monitor the resulting changes over time. They are not designed to evaluate educators. It would be invalid to evaluate teachers based on students’ impressions because students enter the classroom with mindsets and expectations that have been shaped by their prior experiences.
Focus on the learning conditions and/or focal groups that teachers agreed were most connected to school/district priorities.
Look closely at the measures under each learning condition and/or focal group results to identify areas for celebration and areas for improvement.
Set a clear goal for improvement connected to your school/district priorities.
Create structures for teachers to collaborate as they try out new strategies and schedule additional cycles of Elevate to monitor progress towards the goal.
Use school/district wide communications or meetings to give participating teachers the opportunity to share their learnings and invite others to join.
If possible, provide teachers who actively participate in Communities of Practice with professional learning credit (e.g., salary points or continuing education credits).
K-8 school in an urban city in New York state that has been identified as a “Targeted Support and Improvement” school by the state.
Attendance has been a challenge.
The school has consistently scored low on climate surveys administered to teachers, students, and parents.
State test scores have grown at lower rates than the rest of the district.
A new school leadership team was installed at the school with a mandate to improve conditions at the school.
Creating a welcoming and affirming environment, informed by New York’s Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework.
Improving outcomes for Black boys.
*The name of this school has been changed.
The most obvious connection between the learning conditions and their school priority was the Classroom Community learning condition. The three measures under this learning condition aligned directly with the work they’d been doing to create a welcoming and affirming environment. They also saw connections between Teaching Caring and Affirming Identities. Immediately the school leaders felt that Elevate would not be just another thing, but a concrete tool to help their teachers to get regular feedback from their students on their school priorities and a way to know whether all of the hard work they’d be putting in was actually making a difference for the people who mattered most, their students.
When the school leaders shared Elevate with their teachers they decided to begin with the 8th grade team who had demonstrated a strong commitment to the school priorities. The leaders emphasized the great work that the teachers had already been doing to create a welcoming and affirming environment and shared that they have a tool to support them in those efforts. As they shared more about Elevate, they made a public & written commitment for how they would and wouldn't use the data collected, specifically emphasizing it’s non-evaluative nature. They then shared the learning conditions and asked the teachers to make connections between the learning conditions and the school’s priorities. The teachers identified the same connections between the school’s priorities and the learning conditions as the school leaders, and even identified a few additional connections. They were also pleasantly surprised to hear that they’d be able to specifically monitor the experience of Black boys since they had made a school-wide commitment to improving outcomes for this group of students. The teachers agreed that they’d administer the survey and use their results to decide on one or two learning conditions to focus on improving.
This led them to expand their understanding of their school’s priority and to come up with ideas for ways that they could improve relationships between students. They set a goal of improving on the Classroom Community learning condition by 15 percentage points by the end of the year and made a plan for adjustments that they’d make to their instructional practice. They agreed to try out these adjustments and meet again in two weeks to share how they were going. They’d administer the survey every 6 weeks to see if the changes that they were making were indeed causing students to feel a great sense of Classroom Community.