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Raising Awareness May Take Time, but it's Time Worth Taking

When teachers in the Greece Central School District finished scoring the 3-8 English Language Arts assessments this April, an “extra credit” assignment was waiting. Traditionally, teachers are released when the scoring is complete, but this year they stayed to learn about the Next Generation Learning Standards and the timeline outlined by the New York State Next Generation ELA and Mathematics Learning Standards Implementation Roadmap.

Working with its professional development partner Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES, Greece instructional leaders developed a Google Classroom lesson to address Phase 1: Raise Awareness. Teachers were led through activities that provided for dialogue with colleagues across the district about the impact on instruction and then created documents to demonstrate their understanding. Utilizing technology, Greece was able to review documents called out in the NYS Roadmap and discuss the implications of the Lifelong Practices of Readers and Writers. 

“The process actually calmed people because they realized the Next Generation standards are streamlined and provide greater clarity,” Pettifer said.

The lessons walked teachers through the revised learning standards and included exercises focused on ensuring the educators understood the shifts and the implementation timeline. Teachers were given the time to read and discuss the Preface to the New Standards and Introduction to the Next Generation ELA Standards documents.  “Introductory documents are often skipped. By providing teachers with time to dig into these foundational documents, we were able to gain a better understanding of what teachers felt our next steps should be as a district,” said Suzanne Pettifer, K-12 Director of Reading at Greece Central. 

“We saw it as a natural fit,” said Pettifer. “With increased demands on teacher time and a state-wide substitute teacher shortage, you have to find creative ways to make sure teachers are ready for what’s next.”

As the largest suburban school district in Monroe County, Greece Central serves a diverse population of about 10,500 learners in 17 schools. As Greece teachers dug into the Next Generation standards, what stuck out was that they apply to all kids – including special education students and English language learners. Raising awareness reinforced that the revised standards align with the direction the district is already moving – an important realization for teachers suffering from “initiative fatigue”.

“The process actually calmed people because they realized the Next Generation standards are streamlined and provide greater clarity,” Pettifer said.

Another clear takeaway was the importance of understanding strengths and weaknesses within your learning community. Pairing the standards review with the assessment scoring enabled teachers to reflect on growth areas. Pettifer said teachers in Greece clearly identified writing as an area of focus. Based on that realization, the district has already begun conversations with BOCES in order to provide professional development and resources for teachers around writing instruction.

Greece Central is well poised to move on to Phase 2, Capacity Building, with the help of Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES and the support of their teachers.

For more information, contact Greece Central School District K-12 Director of Reading Suzanne Pettifer at suzanne.pettifer@greececsd.org; or Monroe-2 Orleans BOCES Coordinator of Curriculum, Instruction,and Professional Development Stephanie Smyka at ssmyka@monroe2boces.org

The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the New York State Board of Regents, the New York State Education Department, or its staff.

NYSED does not endorse or promote any products, services, or websites mentioned in these articles.