Glossary of Terms

Accountable Talk: Teachers and students, and students with other students engage in dialogue to understand the meaning of their own perspectives and the perspectives of others in seeking clarity for and with each other.

Assessment: A process that takes place between teachers and students so that students can understand where they are, how they are doing, and where they are going. Assessment can be diagnostic, formative, or summative.

Assessment “for” and “as” learning (Diagnostic): Seamless integration of information about a student’s learning that turns into precise instruction needed in a timely way resulting in multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate the new learning. Assessment that drives instruction is a never-ending cycle in which one informs the other daily; assessment becomes instruction that becomes assessed learning that becomes instruction and so on . . .

Assessment-in-action (Formative): Assessment is also a process that educators use to determine where improvements are needed as a part of a Collaborative Inquiry into learning. Assessment information is used to plan next steps for instruction. Assessment-in-action results in a shift or refinement of learning or teaching strategy as a response to assessment information while instruction or action is underway. Assessment-in-action fuels responsive teaching and learning.

Assessment of learning (Summative): Assessment at the end of a unit of study or a term—through observations, conversations with students, or an examination of products, comparing them against the established Success Criteria.

Authentic learning: Learning that is authentic is related to students’ real-life experiences as well as their context, interests, and their culture. It is situated in processes that are central to more than one subject area while being grounded and explored through real-world applications and problems that have multiple solutions.

Co-labor-ability: The capacity of an individual member of a team from leadership at any level including informal leadership to collaborate with others from the team. Can mean the individual’s capacity to participate in Collaborative Learning or Collaborative Inquiry. Can also mean the group’s collective capacity to collaborate in learning or inquiry.

Co-laborers: Two or more collaborators who are interested in collaborating and working together to address specific issues of improving educational practice.

Co-learners: Two or more collaborators who are interested in learning together and in developing a shared understanding of improved instruction and student learning.

Co-learning stance: A positive attitude or position that someone holds toward learning together with a single focus.

Collaboration: In the service of Collaborative Learning, collaboration is defined as co-laboring, fostering interdependence as collaborators negotiate meaning and relevance together. Collaborators are accountable for their own learning while supporting the learning of others involved in the collaboration.

Collaborative Inquiry: Inquiry involves working with other educators who have common goals, seeking to understand and respond to issues of teaching and learning through the use of a deliberate process. Using student evidence of learning as the basis for the inquiry, those involved in the inquiry seek to solve problems or issues of practice that affect student achievement.

Collaborative Learning: It is focused understanding together with a clear goal in mind, supported by group processes and enabled when needed by facilitation. It is accountable talk grounded in trust, safety, and strong relationships.

Collegiality: Involves the cooperation and trusting relationships that develop among colleagues. Collegiality is an important aspect of the climate of effective schools.

Constructivism: A theory about the nature of knowledge that suggests that knowledge is co-constructed through social and cultural contexts.

Co-teach: Involves two or more educators who organize themselves to teach together as part of a Collaborative Inquiry into students’ learning and thinking.

Co-Teaching Cycle: Also called the 4 Cs Model. Can be a formal or an ongoing, more informal process of co-planning, co-teaching (the planned lesson), co-debriefing (the outcome of the lesson as observed and assessed), and co-reflecting on the meaning of the outcomes prior to continuing the cycle with planning phase.

Descriptive Feedback: Whereas many teachers or leaders may recognize effort with high five’s or a quick pat on the back, Descriptive Feedback is a response to the work done that reflects the effort against the Success Criteria. Descriptive Feedback is timely and specific assessment information that students can apply to move their learning forward.

Descriptive Feedback to students is beneficial when it is clear, timely, and useful information regarding next steps for learning. Descriptive Feedback from leaders to educators is beneficial when it involves clear, timely, and useful information regarding next steps for learning or instruction.

Differentiated instruction: An approach to instruction that aims to maximize each student’s learning by assessing each student’s unique need, designing instruction to match the need, and then assessing the impact of the instruction, thus moving the student’s learning forward. All instruction should be thought of as differentiated instruction. It is most effective in small groups of learners with similar needs. These groups are always flexible and fluid depending on students’ needs that the teacher assesses at any given moment.

FACES: FACES is not an acronym but is capitalized for emphasis. For example, we must have cognitive insights about and make emotional connections to each individual student’s FACE that we teach.

Graphic organizer: A visual framework that helps students write or draw, “chunking” together their ideas or perceptions of a lesson or directions or group notes in order to make processes, concepts, and content more clearly understood.

Growth mindset: A mindset is a self-perception or deep-seated assumptions that people hold about themselves. People with a growth mindset perceive that their most basic abilities can be developed through perseverance and hard work. By contrast, a fixed mindset is one where people believe their basic abilities and talents are fixed and cannot be changed. With a fixed mindset, students (teachers, or leaders) see themselves as smart or not smart; there is rigidity in their self-perception. With a growth mindset, students (teachers, or leaders) see themselves as having the capability and willingness to improve and continue to grow. This term was first documented by Dr. Carol Dweck (1999).

Inquiry approach: An openness to new learning and an interest in solving problems and investigating solutions with others.

Inquiry-based learning: A Collaborative Learning process where students ask questions and determine a focus about real-world problems. Students then investigate and research to find answers together and in the process build shared understandings and knowledge. An important part of inquiry is the process of organizing and analyzing the inquiry’s findings, a time when the teacher provides Descriptive Feedback. Finally the group communicates what has been learned, in a variety of ways, to an authentic audience for Descriptive Feedback and summative assessment. New inquiries emerge.

Leading Collaborative Learning: Leading Collaborative Lear­ning adds the complexity of how individuals within a learning community take on the responsibility of and accountability for facilitation, resource management, mitigating challenges, and supporting the learning of others while being engaged and modeling learning themselves.

Learning Intentions: Could also be termed as Learning Goals or Learning Targets and are taken directly from the curriculum expectations. Learning Goals should be de-constructed for students, that is, students should know what they will be learning. Success Criteria—how does my level of learning measure against predetermined levels—are directly developed from the Learning Goals and are most effective when students co-construct with the teacher.

Learning protocol: A set of guidelines that aim to structure how a meeting, investigation, or inquiry will be organized to make efficient use of learning time.

Learning stance: Having an open disposition to new learning.

Leveled work: Teachers work together to examine student work against an expected learning standard or competency and decide together what level the work represents. The student’s work may be at standard (perhaps a level 3) while a student’s work that is approaching standard may be deemed a level 2. A student’s work that is well beyond standard may be a level 4, and a student working well below standard may be a level 1. Collaborative analysis of student work allows teachers to develop shared understanding of levels of competency. The critical importance of leveling work is the resulting decisions that are made in determining the next steps in scaffolding the instruction and Descriptive Feedback to be given for the student’s learning.

Parity: All parties involved in a collaboration have similar levels of power, such as a voice in decision making.

Peer assessment: Students, as peers, assess each other’s work against co-constructed Success Criteria to give feedback to each other, which inform next steps for learning.

Personalization: Educators seek to tailor the educational environment to meet the needs, strengths, and interests of individual students. Finding ways to give students a sense of ownership of their learning is a goal of personalized learning. It is sometimes called student-­centered learning. The parallel is true for school leaders and teachers as system leaders develop capacity, together, across the system.

Prior knowledge: Represents what students already know at the outset of an inquiry or a lesson. Should be assessed as a part of planning for learning or teaching new information, to allow for differentiation of instruction. No student should be sitting in lessons that they already know how to do.

Project-based learning: Closely aligned to authentic learning, project-based learning is a form of inquiry learning. It is sometimes called “learning by doing.” It involves a focus on learning how to learn and integrating learning content across disciplinary lines as students investigate topic interconnections and the complexities of handling multiple pieces of a sizable project. Project outcomes normally include a focus on real-world issues and sharing the results of the findings with an authentic audience. In contrast to an assignment or a test, projects may run over several weeks and can be threaded throughout a term or semester, with several key pieces to be completed over time. The design of project-based learning integrates multiple learning standards and/or curriculum expectations as well as learning processes and curriculum content.

Reciprocity: Both leaders and followers believe they are receiving mutual benefits for their efforts in a collaboration and therefore are more willing to collaborate than if reciprocity is not evident to either leaders or followers or even within the follower group.

Reflective practice: Thinking about one’s leadership or teaching practice while involved in the practice and as an ongoing habit of mind. Teachers who are reflective practitioners stop and think carefully about next steps for teaching while observing the impact of their lessons on student progress. Donald Schön (1983) saw reflective practice as a foundational characteristic of effective teaching.

Scaffolding: Supported progressive learning during which knowledge is built up. New knowledge is brought into play and is connected with prior knowledge. Learning is layered and manageable as a result. Most often seen when teachers instruct using the Modeled, Shared, Guided, and Independent approach to teaching through the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model (Sharratt & Fullan, 2009, 2012).

Scaffolds: Supports that teachers build into the learning process in order to assist students in meeting learning expectations. Some students require more scaffolds than others. They can also be displayed on classroom walls as prompts or anchor charts to support student learning. Called scaffolds as they point out to the student that “at this level,” you should think about . . .

Self-assessment: Students’ assessment of their own work against teacher and student co-constructed Success Criteria to determine their next steps in their learning.

Success Criteria: Very clear statements of requirement for achieving various assessment levels that are tied directly to Learning Goals (see above) and are developed from (clustered) curriculum expectations. Success Criteria should be visible and available in classrooms so that students can use them as a reference when they are doing their work and against which they can measure progress toward their goals. They are most effective when they are co-constructed by teachers and students.

Teacher Moderation: More appropriately called “collaborative assessment of student work,” a process of teachers working together to collaboratively assess commonly developed performance tasks to ensure consistency of practice across a grade or subject area. Through moderation, teachers work together to share beliefs and practices, enhance their understanding, compare their interpretations of student results, and confirm their judgments about each student’s level of work. See leveled work, above.

Team teaching: Two or more teachers share the planning and instruction of students in a coordinated fashion. An example would be two Grade 6 teachers who plan together, create common assessments, and whose instructional timing and delivery is coordinated within their two classes. It may enable one teacher with greater interest or knowledge in a specific part of the curriculum to teach both sections of the class. A more effective approach is the Co-Teaching Cycle to achieving “Precision-in-Practice” in every classroom.

Theory of Action: In simple terms, a theory of action is an “If/Then” statement. For example, a theory of action may be “if teachers learn collaboratively, then student results will improve.” While it is an explicit description of a sought-after outcome, it requires strategy, action or implementation, monitoring, adjustments and refinements, and is cyclical to be most effective. One inquiry should lead logically into the next.