Learning While Leading Meeting 2 Recap!

We have wrapped up our second cohort 1 meetings of the Learning While Leading (LWL) program with each of our regional groups. Our 27 participant schools are really hitting the ground running! Throughout the LWL program, schools meet as a regional cohort four times to receive professional learning and the opportunity to collaborate to devise plans and improve equity for English learners. At this meeting, schools continued to build intra-cohort relationships by learning about each other’s context, dug into data to develop hypotheses about school culture and English learner instruction, and began to learn how to concretely address barriers to English learner success at school.

Improvement planning

Our Ensemble staff introduced an approach to English learner improvement planning that is grounded in the data-based needs of English learners. Each school brought data from a variety of sources (empathy interviews, classroom walkthroughs, student surveys, academic assessments). School teams used the Ensemble approach to analyze the data and generate hypotheses about the key barriers to equity at the school. Teams discussed hypotheses related to problems with the experience of English learners and their sense of belonging and inclusion in school and hypotheses related to the academic experience of English learners.

Schools then received data reports from our Ensemble team that showed the school’s academic achievement compared to schools across the state. Teams examined their hypotheses through the lens of the achievement data and asked the following questions:

  • Does your quantitative data validate your hypothesis?
  • Is the problem you identified truly a problem?
  • Is the problem you identified unique to English learners, or is it a problem for all students?
  • Is the problem you identified the most pressing issue according to your data?

Using this approach to improvement planning, all of our Cohort 1 schools have strong initial drafts of the improvement plans that they will begin to implement in fall 2019.


Professional Learning

As schools identified barriers to an inclusive school culture and strong instruction for English learners, many participants wondered, “What are we going to do about this?” Ensemble staff and participants engaged in two professional learning sections throughout the day to learn specific strategies to implement at school sites.

Guided by research from John Hattie and Zaretta Hammond, our Ensemble staff shared concrete approaches to address challenges with culture and other “below the green line” challenges that English learners face. Specifically, we discussed facing implicit bias, the warm-demander teacher approach, and how to approach these challenging conversations with other staff members. Furthermore, participants dug into the practice of establishing language objectives using methods from Common Core Standards for Diverse Classrooms.  Participants have incorporated these new strategies into their English learner improvement plans.

The Learning While Leading program is supported by a Supporting Effective Educator Development grant (SEED) from the US Department of Education. If your school or organization is interested in participating in a future cohort, please reach out to Elise Darwish, Ensemble CEO.

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