Using Success Analysis to put the focus on student learning

Guest post by Melissa Brooks-Yip

Teacher success should mean student learning.   My instructional coordination work with a group of cross content secondary teachers the last six years has shown me that when classroom practitioners talk about success in the classroom, the talk often centers around how well a lecture was delivered by the teacher, what the Google Slides looked like, what book was read, or how students submitted work digitally.  The excitement around lesson plans, and sharing them with colleagues is largely based on what the
teachers did and how they felt about the lesson, but not on what the students learned.

After what felt like unproductive discussions on instruction that showed no instructional change, teacher or student growth, or student learning, particularly around disciplinary literacies, I wondered how the Success Analysis Protocol might help our group analyze a success in teaching as it relates to student learning. Would it help us to define success in teaching as student learning, and should these be one and the same?  

Knowing the teachers in this group enjoyed sharing lesson plans with each other, and talking about their teaching, I felt putting them in small groups to write and talk about their own identified success would be a productive start.   After allowing the protocol to do its work through time to write, present, clarify and summarize, we highlighted the themes of success across the triads. Success themes of collaboration, scaffolding, student choice, argument, and inquiry came up in discussion. I then added to the protocol by posing the question,

When this successful experience was happening, what were the students doing? What was the evidence of student learning?”  

The group was silent at first in their thinking, then, after sharing in triads again, the themes of student engagement, discussion, being prepared, and a high-quality final product came up.  While not detailed down to specific student learnings, teachers were revealing their observations of students’ actions during the reported successful experience. I felt this was a step in the right direction to get the focus turned toward students and their learning.   

The Success Analysis protocol served to not only highlight teacher-identified successes, giving them agency in talking about their craft, but started us on a path to talk about student learning and how we know that this is truly our only evidence of how success in the classroom is defined.

Guest post by 
Melissa Brooks-Yip, an NSRF National Facilitator.  Melissa has served in public education for 19 years as a teacher, literacy coach, college instructor, and is currently the Coordinator of Instruction at Washtenaw Intermediate School District in Ann Arbor, MI.   She uses CFG protocols in her work with fellow educators to lift and share their collective expertise in order to facilitate productive learning together.

What did you think of this post? Login to the website and comment below, especially if you’ve used the Success Analysis Protocol, and tell us how it impacted your practice or your students.