Key Action I.2

Establish the vision

What is the goal?

The goal of this key action is to prepare the Selection Team and Review Committee to understand the standards and develop a shared vision of effective instruction for each relevant subject for all students.

Why this key action is important

Interviews with early implementers were clear and conclusive: to make a difference in student learning, materials selection and implementation has to start and end with a vision of great instruction for students. From the start, everyone involved needs to center on that aspiration. Otherwise, this process will become an exercise in compliance. Early implementers that launched into rubric development without first developing a common understanding of the expectations for students and vision of instruction saw competing visions pulling in different directions during selection and/or implementation. This is the key action that differentiated selection success among early implementers.

Explanation of language

We use the term expectations for students interchangeably with standards. These terms refer to the stated expectations for student performance for that year. We also reference sample test items, meaning sample items from your state assessment or similar state assessments. We use the terms content area and subject interchangeably to refer to the discipline of focus (math, ELA, etc.). We use the term vision of instructional excellence to describe a statement of the essential elements of effective instruction for that content area, informed by content-specific pedagogical practices. We use the term walkthrough tool to describe an observation guide that can be used on an informal, regular basis to reflect on the content fundamentals in the vision. We use the phrase core beliefs to describe the foundational principles about student learning that will guide and support selection and implementation.


guiding questions

notes & resources

  • 1.
    What are our desired outcomes for this training?
  • 2.
    What are the key activities we want to prioritize?
  • Educators bring a variety of experiences and perspectives to this work. Establishing a common foundation and viewpoint of the subject area prior to selection gives everyone a common starting point.
  • This training should feel like school – doing problems and tasks together as a group. This should not be about “breaking down the standards,” but rather seeing what the standards look like in action.
  • Go to the resource Standards Training Guidance and Examples to see key elements of standards training, key content pedagogy for each subject, and PowerPoints and materials.
  • 3.
    Who will lead this training?
  • 4.
    If we are doing it in-house, how many facilitators do we need?
  • Whoever facilitates this training needs to know the standards and content discipline deeply, and also be effective at designing and facilitating adult learning.
  • Generally, your options are: – Leverage someone in your system – Find someone in a neighboring system – Ask for help from the state or regional support centers – Find an independent consultant or PD provider that can come to you – Send your team to a conference
  • 5.
    How much time do we need?
  • 6.
    Where and when will it take place?
  • 7.
    What materials will we need?
  • 8.
    What do participants need to do in advance?
  • 9.
    What feedback do we want to get from participants?
  • 1.
    What is the vision of instructional excellence for this subject that we want to anchor our work?
  • 2.
    What would we want to see in instruction in every lesson?
  • 3.
    What would we want to see in instruction in every unit?
  • A vision is most concretely articulated as a walkthrough tool – what would we want to see in the enacted daily instruction in this subject? Some aspects of the vision may feel like they live at the unit (not daily) level. The Vision Statements and Tools resource includes sample vision statements.
  • Some early implementers took the Selection Team and Review Committee to observe classrooms or watch videos of a lesson to look for evidence of the vision and standards in action. These experiences often revealed differences of opinion that helped refine the vision and key needs for the materials.
  • 4.
    What are the core beliefs that will be the foundation for our work?
  • 5.
    How do we anticipate that these core beliefs will be challenged? How will we handle it if/when they are?
  • Changing materials often accompanies a fundamental shift in expectations for students. Naming your agreements about core beliefs (i.e. that all students are capable of high-level work) can create a touchstone you can return to throughout the process. The resource Core Beliefs gives you a starting point.
  • For early implementers, this was the first place that questions about whether students would be able to do the work came up. See the resource Key Messages for Maintaining High Expectations for Students for research and talking points that you can use in these conversations.

Mini Workbook for This Key Action

Download Workbook I.2