As an academic, it’s all too easy to rely on words alone when trying to support schools: feedback, reports, emails, and so on. When recently working with school leadership in Manhattan, however, I found that I had to complement my verbal observations and suggestions (which comprised an 8-page exit report) with a conceptual visualization as well. The visual, shown below, captures many of the moving parts I observed in my time at the school. I employ Mike Schmoker’s advice to focus on curriculum, literacy, and instruction and tried to mine the school for resources they already had at their disposal, like classroom routines such as Do Nows and instructional activities from Making Thinking Visible. I also plugged in customized instruments, like using this engagement tracker. Visualizing problems and solutions is, in my experience, always worth the time and effort.
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