PD: Reading and Assessment – Learning Together – feedback progress

We met yesterday to discuss next steps in our work and learning on reporting progress, learning, and growth.  Our lesson plan (agenda) had to differentiated for different groups of faculty.

I am working to be better at differentiation for the 90+ faculty.  I was more successful yesterday, but I still have lots of room for growth.  The plan differentiated for our teachers of 3s and Pre-K, teachers of K-4th grade, teachers of Specials, and teachers of 5th-6th grade.  I failed to have a formal differentiated plan for our Learning Team and our Media Team.  Fortunately, the Learning Team was proactive and submitted a lesson plan for themselves. <awesome!>

At 12:30, Dawn Pile (@DawnPile), our Early Elementary Division Head of School, reminded us that progress report for our youngest learner was revamped just a couple of years ago. These teacher-learners used the rest of the meeting to learn more together about supporting and building e-portfolios for our 3s and Pre-K children.  Rhonda Mitchell (@rgmteach), our Personalized Learning Specialist, highlighted work already being done and outlined a workflow strategy to record this work into the children’s MyLearning portfolios. It was awesome!  A real mashup of PD, sharing ideas, and strategies.  The questions were immediate and specific.  How do I… What app should I use… Will you help me… It could not have been better for these teachers. The feedback was great.  Here are a few comments that stood out for me:

Rhonda helped me to understand the many different ways I can use Evernote besides posting pictures and videos previously taken. Very useful!!

Rhonda generated ideas to get us moving on the My Learning notebooks. she also helped us with ways to move photos and videos into notebooks.

I have never used Evernote and need all the information I can get.  Also, the timing of this meeting was perfect.  It will jumpstart us to begin document our students progress.

At 3:30, Maryellen Berry (@fastwalker10), our Upper Elementary Division Head of School, Dawn, and I reviewed the work and ideation from last year and discussed the results from the latest faculty feedback.  We talked about the request from faculty to have a mashup of the ideas from our ideation.  Since the group was so big and so diverse, we then transitioned into three small groups.  Maryellen and Dawn met with Specials teachers; Rhonda facilitated the K-4th grade session, and I worked with the 5th and 6th grade teams.  I was very encouraged at our progress as the meetings concluded, but what would the feedback say?

I liked that it felt like our feedback and suggestions were listened to and acted upon. (This is a really bad sentence but I don’t know how to word it better.) I liked having a discussion of what it might look like.

I was able to see the different perspectives of progress reports and assessments from my fellow colleagues, which I really enjoyed!  We are all different and have different, unique, and important ways to see our children and communicate with families.

Honestly– I thought that it was a little silly for us to write about a student today.  BUT….. I CHANGED MY MIND COMPLETELY!!!  It was so useful to hash out the sticky parts of this BEFORE we are sitting at our computers actually writing them in October.

This applies directly to our work every day and then in progress report writing however, we would have liked to have Dawn in here to discuss with us and to clarify.  We would like to have an EED meeting with K and 1st to show examples.  We are eager to move forward with this new format and just want to make sure we are all on the same page!

As a community, we have grown in our ability and willingness to offer feedback.  I am encouraged and grateful to have every sentence of feedback that offers support, asks questions, and expresses concerns.

As is my practice, the entire set of comments and feedback was shared with our community via email.  It is shown below. Is there a particular comment that resonates with you?


  1. “The questions were immediate and specific. How do I… What app should I use… Will you help me…”

    I love it that your teachers had so many questions! It’s a great measure of an activity when the questions are, as you noted, both immediate and specific. Of course, some conversations require more individual thinking time and the questions may come later, but when teachers (and students!) have these types of questions, you know you really reached them. Sounds like a great PD session.


  2. Thanks Maggie! Our summer reading theme was the art of questioning. I really appreciate that our community starts by asking questions. Thanks for your reflection and comments. I agree that some conversations require more individual thinking time and more questions will come later. My goal is to start ongoing conversations where questions are the norm.


  3. I have very much enjoyed reading through this segment as I remember what it was like when we rewrote progress reports many years ago. I have always been one that truly believes the more information we can provide parents, the better, and I always pushed teachers to stretch and give as much as they can. A couple thoughts continue to emerge for me:
    1) One challenge is the fear or anxiety that teachers feel with what is expected of them, their desire to please and do well, and their stress at the amount of time that it takes to do this right. How might we as leaders mitigate these emotions, recognizing that they will be there no matter what the expectation (good teachers stress about doing a great job!)
    2) I keep coming back to the level of importance that we (schools, parents) place on formal progress reports. Why do we? How many times should we communicate with parents formally? Does it matter whether it is a formal or informal method to share a child’s progress with parents (and children themselves)?
    3) How might we leverage technology today to blur the lines of formal and informal communication of a child’s progress? Wouldn’t it be more valuable to have an ongoing stream of feedback, not only to parents but also to students? What does it matter to have the year broken down into two, three, four “marking” periods, especially in an elementary school? If the goal is to share a child’s progress (which doesn’t happen in neat parcels), how might we design a more fluid system in which parents get more while teachers do not have to pause in all they do to sink an inordinate amount of time and energy into writing reports?


    • Thank you, Angél, for adding to my thinking and questioning. I really appreciate your questions to help move thinking forward. We’ve taken steps this week to work on the anxiety teacher-learners feel. Maryellen, Dawn and I met and drafted to a sample comment section for progress reports to communicate with more detail our current expectations. We’ve also encouraged our teacher-learners to invite us to a team meeting to answer any questions.

      We definitely want ongoing feedback for every learner. We know we have a system in place that offers our families many layers of feedback and assessment. Progress reports are just one of the many facets of our system of reporting learning and growth.

      I have ideas on how we might leverage technology to blur the lines of formal and informal communication. We are working on a next step of our journey in how we report progress.

      Keep those good questions coming!


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