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06. Unanswered Questions and Conversations

As you examine the documents on the first morning of the visit,  questions will occur to you and your indicator team partner(s). Examples of these questions might include:

  • We see minutes and agendas from the Professional Development Committee from last year. Has it continued to meet this year and what has been the focus? Are the professional development agendas linked to district goals?

  • A social studies teacher in the Middle School has included an outstanding unit on the effects of global warming. Is the unit taught across the grade level? How systematic is this practice?

  • High school science teachers consider labs to be performance-based assessments. Do the lab requirements align with the Tri-State indicator's expectations?

We recommend that your indicator group keep a running record of these questions on a note pad to share with the team during the periodic "pulse-taking" conversations that occur throughout the first two days of the visit.

At the mid-point and end points  in your review of the documentary evidence, the team co-leaders will gather the group for conversations designed to take the pulse of the team and to collect the questions for the interview sessions on the first afternoon and the second day of the visit.

The co-leaders will facilitate these conversations by asking three questions:

  • What do we know about the district and its program in E/LA (or math, or science) so far?

  • What do we need to know about the district and its program (i.e., what are our unanswered questions)? and

  • What do we think about what we know (i.e., how do we evaluate what we are seeing)?

Often the co-leaders will post flip-chart pages to capture responses to the second question. They will create lists of questions for elementary school teachers and administrators, middle school teachers and administrators, and high school teachers and administrators. There may also be pages of questions for parents and students at the various levels. 

The co-leaders will pull the group together again over a working lunch, posing the same three questions each time. Through this process the work of individual indicator teams is added to the collective knowledge of the team.

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