April #ilchal Twitter Chat: Goal-Setting


Our next Instructional Leadership Challenge Twitter chat is Monday, April 27 at 9pm EST.

We’ll be talking about goal-setting. We can only know if we’re hitting our targets if we have targets, and having clear goals to direct our improvement efforts is critical for staying on track.

But how can you manage the process of setting all the types of goals we have in our schools?

Add your voice to the discussion—join the next #ilchal Twitter chat:

Date: Monday, April 27, 2015

Time: 9:00 p.m. Eastern (6:00 p.m. Pacific/7pm Mountain/8pm Central)


Twitter, #ilchal

Topic: Goal-Setting

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The #ilchal Twitter chat is hosted by Justin Baeder and Jillian Lubow, creators of the Instructional Leadership Challenge

Whether you’re a Twitter chat devotee or you’re just getting started on social media, this is a great chance to connect with your peers and have an honest, engaged discussion about your challenges and triumphs in pursuit of true instructional leadership.

See you there!

Future Dates

(Usually the Last Monday of each month):

  • Monday, May 25, 2015
  • Monday, June 29, 2015
  • About the 21-Day Instructional Leadership Challenge

    The 21-Day Instructional Leadership Challenge has helped more than 3,000 school administrators in 50 countries become stronger instructional leaders.

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    Is Your To-Do List Too Long?

    The best to-do lists are short, and make it really clear what to focus on next.

    As an instructional leader, you have so much you could be working on that you must prioritize. Not everything is going to get done, so we need to make sure the right work gets done.

    Your electronic to-do list should hold everything that you need to work on, so you can sort and prioritize it. Nothing should be left hiding in email or on sticky notes—it all needs to go in one place.

    But that’s a lot of information to put on one list—so much that it’s usually overwhelming.

    When your list is overflowing and overwhelming, how can you possibly prioritize?

    The research—which you can read about in Barry Schwartz’ book The Paradox of Choice—shows that when we have too many choices, we get overwhelmed.

    And when we’re overwhelmed, we choose poorly, or not at all. We walk away and do something else.

    When you walk away from your to-do list—your dashboard for deciding what to work on—guess what happens to your productivity? Guess what happens to your plans for what you wanted to accomplish for the week?

    Down the drain.

    We need ways to keep our to-do lists short, and that’s what I’ll be sharing in a free webinar next Wednesday, April 15:

    The Action Path: Streamlining Your Work To Increase Your Impact
Wednesday, April 15 @ 11am Central / 12pm Eastern

    In this webinar, you’ll learn how you can simplify and streamline the many tasks you face each day—making it easier to stay organized and effective as an instructional leader.

    We’ll explore:

    • How to get exactly the right tasks on your electronic to-do list, so it’s always accurate and uncluttered
    • How to develop high-performance habits for handling miscellaneous tasks and interruptions on the spot, with no need for follow-up
    • Our 3-part model for being an effective, efficient, consistent instructional leader
    • How heuristics—simple rules—can put more of your routine work on autopilot, so you can focus on the big picture
    • How to set up your to-do list so it’s a concise, useful guide to taking action

    Click here for more information or to register

    Why Assessment Literacy Matters


    Hardly a day goes by without someone complaining that we do too much testing in US schools.

    While the federal requirements for testing only total about 17 days in students’ entire K-12 career, the actual amount of testing students experience varies greatly from place to place.

    In some schools, it’s more than 17 days per year.

    I’m convinced that one reason we over-test is that we don’t know what information we really need, or even what we already have, so we err on the side of collecting too much data.

    Do you really need PARCC, the ITBS, the MAP, RTI screeners, and end-of-course exams? Maybe, but probably not.

    But we can’t make good decisions about testing—and avoid over-testing—without broad and deep assessment literacy among our staff.

    Understanding What Each Test Tells Us

    First, I’m convinced that we need to get a clear understanding of what each of our assessments actually tells us. If we don’t know, why are we wasting instructional time and money on it?

    Does a test tell us:

    • How a student compares to the general population of students in the same grade?
    • How well a student has mastered the content of a particular course?
    • How a teacher or school compares to others whose students take the same test?
    • Whether a student is exhibiting a discrepancy between their cognitive ability and their academic performance?

    Most tests are used for multiple purposes…some of which may be a poor fit for their design.

    The better we understand the assessments we give, the more we can make appropriate use of the data they produce.

    Eliminating Gaps and Redundancies

    Second, once we understand the type of information each assessment provides, we can look for gaps and pointless overlap between assessments.

    Are we getting too much information about students’ cognitive skills, and not enough about their academic knowledge? Are we getting too much data about their math performance, but not enough about vocabulary?

    Every array of tests is going to have some degree of overlap, and only by drastically over-testing could we eliminate all gaps.

    The more we clearly understand our assessments and what they tell us, the better we can make judicious decisions about which tests to keep and which to scrap.

    Turning Data Into Decisions

    When scores come to us, they’re not information. They’re data, which must be interpreted and placed into context to become useful information (see my interview with Scott Genzer on Principal Center Radio for more on this topic).

    I think one reason we’re seeing a massive educator backlash against standardized testing in the US is that we’ve allowed tests to be used for making decisions that they aren’t suited to.

    Should math scores really be used to evaluate a PE teacher? Should we use cognitive ability tests to identify students in need of additional content-area instruction? Of course not, but we’ve seen it, and it makes us wary of just about any testing that falls outside of our control.

    Taking Control

    Bad testing policies don’t stand much chance against well-informed, articulate educators who know their students and their assessments.

    If we want to ensure that our students aren’t over-tested, and that we get the information we need for instructional decision-making, professional growth, and all the other necessary purposes, we need to increase our assessment literacy.

    You probably have great resources in your school and district to help with this, and if you have a recommended resource, I’d appreciate if you could leave a comment below.

    If you’re interested in increasing assessment literacy at your school, I’d like to invite you to take a look at Successful Assessment 101, a professional development kit produced by our colleagues at Illinois ASCD.

    Over the course of 4 sessions, this low-cost kit takes you through the process of examining all of the assessments you give, so everyone is clear on their purpose, design, and appropriate use.

    Learn more about Successful Assessment 101 »