A District Focus on Student Learning Behaviors

This week I had the great opportunity to work with educators in Leander Independent School District (LISD) in Texas.

They held a two day professional development conference (The 19th Annual Continuous Improvement Conference).

It was a great place for me to be presenting backwards planning from student achievement to student behaviors to teacher practices, as the district has adopted a focus on Seven Student Learning Behaviors.

Introducing the conference, the board president said, “The Board and I enthusiastically support your endeavors to build the Seven Student Learning Behaviors among the students you impact every day.”  The superintendent reinforced that. “By cultivating these behaviors within our students this day, you will give them the skills to be life-long learners today, tomorrow, and beyond.”

As you read through the LISD’s Seven Student Learning Behaviors consider how observable these would be in your school setting. Where they are found, what teacher actions promoted them? In schools and classrooms where they are absent, what teacher changes would be needed to initiate the student behaviors?

1. Learning Objective: Students articulate the learning objective/target and find meaning in their learning.
2. Assessment for Learning: Students assess their progress toward achieving the current learning objective/target.
3. Plan for Intervention/Challenge: Students utilize classroom processes created for intervention and/or challenge.
4. High–Yield Strategies: Students understand and use a variety of learning strategies and tools to help them learn.
5. Student Collaboration & Learner Engagement: Students are interacting and engaged in their learning.
6. Data Analysis & Goal Setting: Students set learning goals and track their progress on an ongoing basis.
7. Assessment of Learning: Students produce evidence of their learning aligned with the learning objective/target.

My keynote to the staff reinforced that these student behaviors are aligned with the system’s goals of all students (closing the gap) being college and career ready. Working with school leadership teams, principals, and instructional coaches, I identified that the same learning behaviors were critical for staff’s continuous improvement. Leaders need to create a learning environment for educators that really mirrors the one desired for students.

LISD’s Vision will require a continuously improving learning organization.

LISD’s Vision Students will exit our system with the same passion for and joy in learning they had when they entered, having achieved high academics and built strong character, without economics determining success.

I appreciate the message of “empowered learner” that I find in their work. What do you think?

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2 Responses to “ A District Focus on Student Learning Behaviors ”

  1. Pamela Garcia Says:

    Thank you for sharing these 7 Student Learning Behaviors. I’d love to know more about how this district will implement this. They have already taken the amazing first step of outlining goals with support from Superintendent, principals, instructional coaches and teachers. I wonder if they will have specific structures in place to make this happen in the classroom. Will the students have certain goal-setting and self-assessment forms to fill out? Will there be a gradual implementation of this plan where schools focus on the first few steps one year and then add more once those are in place?
    I feel like school districts can achieve so much more when all the stakeholders follow the same plan of action. As a coach, I feel more effective when there is a common goal with tangible steps for everyone to work on.

  2. Nancy Tarvin Says:

    Pamela, I would like to try and answer your questions. I work for Leander ISD. We started by doing action research in our classrooms to identify what student behaviors we would want to see in a classroom where students were engaged, had ownership of their learning and were achieving at high levels. The campus administrators collected data from their teachers and students and then came together to decide which were the most important student behaviors. The next step was to build a shared vision on each campus regarding the seven student learning behaviors. We did training with the principals on how to build a shared vision, how this was not a one-time event but an on-going process. Being a continuous improvement-focused district, we often use quality tools to move forward. In this case, every campus created a bone diagram to map out a plan to move from the current reality to the shared vision while identifying barriers and drivers along the way. Next came a tool to help identify our current reality in terms of the student learning behaviors in classrooms. We created a form for Learning Walks, which are classroom visits where one talks to the students about the different student learning behaviors. These Learning Walks started with campus administrators but quickly spread to teachers doing Learning Walks in other teachers’ classrooms and some campuses even have started having students do Learning Walks. All the responses are hand recorded and later reviewed by the teachers and rated as to what kind of response – we are looking for “Wow” responses as opposed to “Whoa” responses. The dialogue amongst teachers is critical to improving and enhancing the student learning behaviors in the classroom.

    Students have various ways of goal setting and self assessing. For example, all elementary students have a student data notebook where they track their learning. Many classrooms make use of capacity matrices for this purpose as well. One elementary campus just started piloting an student learning plan where the student identifies the learning target and gives the teacher feedback on where they think they are in understanding that target by color, red means they need help and don’t understand it yet, yellow means they are starting to get it but don’t fully understand it yet, green means they do understand it and blue means they can teach it to a friend. On this same learning plan, the student identifies what they believe are their next steps regarding either intervention or challenge and give the teacher feedback on how engaged they were in their learning (1-5 scale) as well as how much they learning (1-5 scale). We are really working on building this shared vision with the students now as well as the teachers.

    Each campus is moving forward at the pace they feel is appropriate, some focusing on just a few of the seven student learning behaviors at a time and gradually adding on as they see fit. Meanwhile we have on-going professional development and collaboration opportunities for the leadership of each campus in regular (at least twice a month) Administrators’ Meetings. I hope this helps to answer your questions, this is an on-going journey and we have still have much to accomplish.
    Nancy Tarvin, Executive Director of Elementary Curriculum

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Steve Barkley

For the past 30 years, Steve has served as a consultant to school districts, teacher organizations, state departments of education, and colleges and universities nationally and internationally, facilitating the changes necessary for them to reach students and successfully prepare them for the 21st century. Read more…

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