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Building Collaborative Culture and Shared Ownership of IB-for-All

Teacher: Kristina Danahy
School: Quincy Upper

The Challenge:
One of our school’s core values is bringing International Baccalaureate to all students. In eight years, students have earned three IB diplomas (out of almost 400 total). We looked at why students are not doing well in IB-for-all with quantitative (historical data and surveys) and qualitative (using classroom videos, student self-reflection, student self-assessment, student interviews) lenses. We sought to develop written and visual analysis, extrapolate general findings, and apply for an action grant to create interventions.

What did your team do about it?:
We gathered past Diploma Programme (DP) exam data (2012-2019), SAT scores, student demographics, and class grades to look at correlation, factors, and potential early indicators from the perspective of DP teachers and Student Support Team (SST). We interviewed alumni about their DP experiences. We examined potential dimensions of student engagement via the Teacher Collaborative Co-Lab, including student focus groups. Because we noticed that students with IEPs or 504s were performing as well on IB assessments and were flagged for affective skills on teacher surveys, we started adapting our peer video inquiry process by focusing on inclusion cohorts. In our data gathering and analysis, we realized that we need to work more closely and intentionally with the SST, which already has a process for identifying at-risk students and having teachers be student supporters. As we worked together, we started to modify teacher surveys and student surveys (that are used for tiering and support) so they directly addressed some of the factors we were investigating with the historical DP data. We started using the Data Driven Dialogue protocol to analyze survey data. We also looked at interview transcripts to see if the factors arose in them. Instead of having 30+ teachers videotape classes for the TLF team to look at, we experimented with having a Research and Study Skills cohort reflect on videos of Biology. We created an observation sheet for students to fill out during and after watching video. Students filled out +/- observations on their personal behaviors. The video was paused or fast-forwarded to discuss/record observations and to skip over sections without students. The students shared observations, individually assessed understanding of content and affective skills, and discussed next steps for improvement. Completed sheets (and video transcripts) were collected for analysis by the TLF team.

Impact on Students:
For the classroom video, students reacted very strongly to observing themselves. Initially they needed the teacher to provide much of the observations on their behaviors but as they gained experience in observing themselves (and became more comfortable in doing so) they were able to provide more complex observations without as much teacher prompting. This growth of student voice also started to show in how students expressed themselves in the surveys, interviews, and focus groups. The SST surveys also informed the Student Supporter tiering, the strategies that supporters developed for their supportees, and the inclusion cohort video process. From the inclusion cohort: “I am astonished at how impactful this experience has been for students. I did not expect to see the many immediate improvements in their behaviors and look forward to seeing improved understanding of classroom activities as we continue these weekly observations. I have shared several small moments in the videos that highlight “ah ha” moments students have had when reflecting on the classroom lessons. The improved self-awareness in these students has really been encouraging.”

Teacher Leadership and School Community:
Overall, figuring out how to put the pieces together and communicate with the many people involved was our biggest challenge. We didn’t have designated in-person meeting times carved out for the group, mostly because professional development time on Wednesdays was already reserved for many other purposes. Finding common blocks during the school day proved more difficult than having separate meetings with subgroups. For classroom video, attempting to connect quantitative data to the rubrics, which mainly focused on qualitative data, was a challenge. Creating +/- observations and having leveled descriptors for content and affective skills addressed this challenge somewhat.

What’s Next?
We knew that our school had always had many disparate pieces. We have learned that we need stronger communication and unifying around a common goal. We learned that we have to be clear with staff, students, and families about what the DP experience entails and get student voice/choice incorporated into teaching, student support, and family engagement. We hope to use our learnings to develop our 2020-2021 instructional focus, likely with DataWise so that we can efficiently look at marked exams, MYP criterion marks over time for inclusion cohorts, and changes in incident reports.

Helping Others:
We realized that Snowden (which also offers DP) could benefit from collaborating with us. Given that the superintendent wants to bring IB to more schools, this could also be an opportunity for sharing our learning. Our interviews with 2015 alumni who got the diploma yielded three main findings: having choice affected them in a positive way, support of a cohort of friends helped, and that they learned skills necessary for success in their college classes. Collaborating with other IB schools or candidate schools around these factors could be useful in making IB accessible to the BPS community.