Branching Minds is excited to partner with The Jed Foundation (JED) to bring essential resources to high school classrooms through the Branching Minds Support Library. Informed by direct research with high school students about what they need as they graduate, these new support cards offer concrete tips, tools, and resources on a comprehensive range of topics geared toward helping students manage the transition out of high school. Carefully curated and evidence-based, these resources provide teachers and students with accessible and actionable advice to aid in this critical — and often difficult — transition.
As a professional development consultant for Branching Minds, I work with teachers and administrators from all over the country. I frequently get asked how progress monitoring should look at the middle school and high school levels.
One of the most challenging parts of my work as a High School Administrator was coaching my teachers and staff on the importance of making decisions based on assessment data. During my initial one-on-one meetings with my teachers and staff, I would ask them, “What assessment data are you using to drive your decision-making and instruction to meet the needs of your students? Most times, I would get a blank stare, or as my nephew says, I would hear crickets. Other times I would receive a response like this: “I did not need a test to tell me; I just know my students.”
In education, I know what keeps me awake at night.
I would imagine that each professional in their chosen career, when asked, could identify the thing that keeps them up at night. For the day trader, it might be an unexpected stock market crash. The comedian could lie awake in fear of an empty auditorium. Restless nights may come to the dentist who lays awake thinking of drilling the wrong tooth, or the professional athlete who misses the field goal to miss the playoffs.
One of my favorite memories as an artistic and creative child was when the “art lady” came on Fridays to my 4th-grade class. She would introduce a project, and we got to pull out those crayons and paints we stored in our desks. We learned to do “stained glass” with tissue paper, draw pumpkins, and learn what to do when we made mistakes.
As a former MTSS coordinator, I always anxiously awaited universal screener results. I wanted to know every single student who needed support and interventions. Optimistically, I believed that once all students on my high school campus had been identified as needing additional support, we, as a school community, would quickly begin creating interventions and support plans to ensure all of our students were successful.
I am the first to admit that I didn’t even know how to get my students more intense help for many years. As a new 7th Grade ELA teacher, I just thought I was failing as a teacher. As I gained experience and training, specifically in English as a Second language, I learned how to make my instruction more accessible and to identify those students that needed help beyond core instruction. In many ways, I remained at a loss for how to provide the intervention they needed.
We all enjoy the collegial swapping of stories from our early days of teaching and chatting about the teaching memories we have collected over the years. This dialogue of shared experiences is extremely valuable as it can provide some laughs, illustrate how far we have come, and remind us that we are not alone, especially as we continue to learn new skills or take on new initiatives.
Every year I head to my doctor's appointment for my annual check-up. This year, I thought about all the screeners that the doctor used to determine my overall health, as well as the conversation we had in her office as we sat at the table reviewing my results.