One of our goals for the Teaching and Learning Department last year was to work with our staff to make significant strides towards increasing curriculum documentation. This goal stemmed from our WASC visit the previous year, as it was determined that developing and documenting curriculum and making our curriculum more accessible were both areas of growth. Our school has had Atlas for a number of years, but we really wanted to increase our amount of documented curriculum in order to leave a better legacy of teacher work.
In order to achieve our goal, we started by designing a survey for our staff to find out why they had been so resistant to using Atlas in the past. One of the key findings was that our current unit template was not working for our staff. Another finding was that our staff was having difficulty seeing the benefit of doing it because Google Documents was working adequately as a documentation tool. Our approach to mapping at this time was to encourage the use of Atlas, but we had no systematic approach in place for Atlas or Google.
One of my personal leadership beliefs is that, as much as possible, I want to involve staff in the process. Working with our Teacher Leader Collaborative (made up of our leadership team and our K-12 grade level and department leads), we collected feedback from their teams and then redesigned our Atlas template to make it more user friendly. Staff felt that there were too many boxes to fill out, and that some of the information was redundant.
To ensure that all voices were heard, these teacher leaders continuously shared this work with their grade level and department teams to gather feedback as the templates were revised and improved. In the end, Atlas was able to take our suggestions and create a very user-friendly template. This new version was more streamlined, with a more logical flow for our staff.
See the before and after!
Building on the Hard Work of Teachers
The Proof is in the Analytics
One of the “big wins” for our Teaching and Learning Department was to explain the why. Yes, curriculum documentation is important, but why Atlas? Atlas provides a centralized place to house the foundation for a school. But even more powerful are the analytics that can be run in Atlas. These tools are where Atlas does what Google cannot.
Our teaching and learning department took on the role of teaching our staff regarding what could be done with Atlas beyond just documenting curriculum. PD sessions were held, and we made a point to sit with department and grade level teams to demonstrate these key features in Atlas. Atlas has many types of analyses and reports that can be run which are beneficial. For example, a middle school science teacher wanted to know if there was a way to look at which standards are being taught for NGSS across the middle school. Well, there was an analysis for that. Someone else wanted to know if all of the standards were being assessed in a particular course. Well, there was an analysis for that too.
A shift in mindset has taken place within our school. Teachers in department and grade level meetings have Atlas open along with their Google Docs to update them simultaneously, and teachers have booked meetings with the Teaching and Learning Department to learn about analytics with the purpose of gathering data to drive assessment and instruction.
How have you revitalized your school’s mapping initiative? Share your story with us at [email protected]!