How I Know: Austin ISD Focuses on Social Emotional Learning

“Wise feedback is delivered with love, clarity and a belief that the student’s performance will improve.” –  Dr. Lisa Goodnow, Associate Superintendent of Academics and SEL in Austin ISD

Learning science research, such as that articulated in Turnaround for Children’s recently released a report, Key Findings and Implications of the Science of Learning and Development, underscores that most human development is rooted in relationships.

Applying that finding on a daily basis, the Austin ISD team emphasizes the importance of relationships as a common thread that helps the district integrate efforts around two of their key focus areas: formative assessment practice and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). AISD is part of a three district collaborative project: How I Know: Designing Meaningful Formative Assessment Practice. #HowIKnow was created in an effort to improve and impact formative assessment practice for teachers and students. Even prior to joining the project, AISD had been emphasizing the connections between formative assessment and Social Emotional Learning, and they are now advancing these ideas – – and their formative assessment practice – – even further through a focused professional development process.

Describing the role of relationships within formative assessment, Dr. Lisa Goodnow, Associate Superintendent of Academics and SEL in Austin ISD, asserts that “A prerequisite for formative assessment is a classroom culture of trust and respect. Building on learning science (including the work of David Yeager from UT Austin), we are intent on ensuring that our teachers build relationships and deliver feedback wisely.”

It is clear that SEL skills are important to formative assessment practice. Austin has dedicated significant energy to SEL development, with district leaders participating in a fellowship program and also focusing on the development of their own SEL wheel (shared below). Further strengthening Austin’s commitment is the fact that SEL contributes directly to academic learning. The purposes of SEL in AISD is, in short, to:

“Enable students to develop in safe, inclusive, culturally responsive, academically engaging, and equitable learning environments that cultivate self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Development of these five SEL competencies will also contribute to students’ self-identity, agency, cultural consciousness, and academic tenacity.”

 

 

Further, with the goal of formative assessment practice to advance and inform learning processes, AISD has also connected design thinking processes. Austin ISD established an Innovation Design team and charged the group with developing an assessment philosophy that will inform how the district can align practices to support student engagement, teachers as designers, and the work with formative assessment.

How I Know in Austin

The Austin Independent School District (Texas) serves a city that is known for being a hub of ideas and innovation, and that tops the nation’s rankings of the best communities to live in. Austin ISD educates approximately 83,000 students and embraces 130 diverse school communities in one of the fastest-growing, ever-changing metroplexes in the country.

According to Associate Superintendent Dr. Lisa Goodnow, “In Austin ISD, we are reinventing the urban education experience by driving innovation in teaching and learning. We are shifting practices to support our goal for all teachers to become designers of engaging, student-centric teaching and learning that embeds formative assessment practice at the core of instruction.”

AISD is part of a three district collaborative project: How I Know: Designing Meaningful Formative Assessment Practice. #HowIKnow was created in an effort to improve and impact formative assessment practice for teachers and students in three pilot districts (Dallas Independent School District, Austin Independent School District and Tulsa Public Schools).

These districts will identify, scale and share successful approaches for designing formative assessment practice in classrooms. Their learning and strategies will be shared through the How I Know Website.

This blog was originally published on www.GettingSmart.com.