On Target November
Curriculum Corner November 2018
  • Alphabet Soup Recipe for Public School Leaders  


    As public educators, we have been besieged by well-meaning initiatives aimed at school improvement in recent years. Each of these carries its own acronym. While it can be easy to respond with initiative lag, the Lumberton District has found a way to mix these catchphrases into a coherent recipe for Alphabet Soup. The recipe might actually produce positive results for student outcomes.


    Alpha Soup Recipe for Alphabet Soup (from the kitchen of Lumberton Superintendent, Joe Langowski)

     Total Time: 12 months

     Serves: 10 servings in Lumberton

     Nutrition Facts: Builds instructional capacity in differentiated instruction


    Warning: May cause increases in student achievement and reduction in achievement gaps



    1 – District Goal

    1 – DEAC

    4 – SCIPs

    7 – PDPs

    7 – SGOs

    2 – Stack Audits

    1 – Cohort in NJPEPL Collaborative



    1. Gather instructional strengths and opportunities through walkthroughs, formal observations, DEAC and discussion in Administrative Council during 2017-18 school year.
    2. Blend findings into a district goal for 2018-19 school year.
    3. Simmer a resolution over low heat and have it approved at public Board of Education Meeting
      1. Goal #1 - Lumberton Township School District will continue to develop collective abilities in differentiated instruction.
        1. District administrators will continue their focus on differentiation in walkthroughs and peer observations.
        2. District administrators will complete two stack audits in administrative council.
        3. Observation feedback will be provided in a consistent manner
          1. The DEAC will receive summary feedback about differentiation at one meeting.
    1. Marinate over this week’s “special” NJ DOE Broadcast announcing the opportunity to join the NJ Principal Evaluation for Professional Learning (NJPEPL). Share with administrative team and request feedback.
    2. Knead the NJPEPL tool into the District’s plans for the 2018-19 school year. Have the Board of Education approve the new tool. Join the NJPEPL collaborative. Attend initial meeting in Trenton. Become familiar with NJPEPL tools and Wallace Foundation research. Encourage administrators to use the NJPEPL process for development of PDPs.
    3. Dredge the focus for PDP into administrative SGO (Student Growth Objective) development.
    4. Fold the differentiation initiative into the initial DEAC agenda. Show proposed walkthrough spreadsheet for data collection of differentiation to DEAC.
    5. Steep the SCIP (School Improvement Panel) agendas with walkthrough data collected and disseminate through faculty meetings or teacher leaders.
    6. Drizzle in Stack Audits two times during administrative counsel agendas (described in detail below).
    7. Combine all ingredients over low heat in stock pot. Mix in encouragement and feedback at a 6:1 ratio (see Harvard article below). Season to taste. Serve with a cinnamon crunch bagel, the official nosh of the Lumberton administrative team.


    Makes 10 servings.


    Stack Audit (see article below):


    Purpose: To build administrative capacity for writing up observations.


    Each school leader brings a printed observation to an administrative council meeting. Administrators are paired at random. We trade observations, jotting down feedback and suggestions. The facilitator can determine when the conversation wanes. We focus on the proper mapping of non-judgmental evidence to the proper standard and indicator. We then discuss our findings and ideas to see if there are any trends in our observation data.


    Note: The stack audit works well for teams with high levels of trust. In the absence of trust, the Superintendent can hold individual stack audit sessions with each school leader. I am so proud of our team as they have grown so much in this area in recent years.


    Interested school leaders can contact Joe Langowski at @LumbertonSuper or  at jlangowski@lumberton.k12.nj.us for additional information.



    NJPEPL Portal https://www.state.nj.us/education/AchieveNJ/principal/pl/


    Harvard Article https://hbr.org/2013/03/the-ideal-praise-to-criticism


    Stack Audit Article by Doug Lemov http://teachlikeachampion.com/blog/stack-audit-bad-name-big-value/