FPI Up and Helping
In a district of over 50,000 students spanning 140 native languages how can you work toward delivering classroom instruction that is tailored to the needs of each and every student? One way is the Formative Practices Institute (FPI) for district teachers.
FPI is a professional development series facilitated by the Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction Department of the Seattle Public School District. Initiated during the 2015-16 school year, it was designed to support teams of teachers as they work collaboratively to develop a shared understanding of learning expectations, to create common assessments of student learning and to collectively plan their teaching to address learning gaps. The ultimate goal is to close opportunity gaps through responsive core instruction.
“What we want to do in our classrooms is to tailor instruction to the needs of every single learner, no matter where they’re at,” said Emily Veling, an FPI participant from Genesee Hill Elementary School. “And our goal as educators is to give kids the teaching and strategies they need specifically, so that they can grow in their own way.”
Last year, teachers from approximately 20 Seattle schools participated and this year over 40 schools are represented. In October, over 100 teachers came to the John Stanford Center to participate in the first of four sessions being offered this year. FPI provides 24 hours of professional learning and collaboration time to teachers with one track for Math and another for English Language Arts.
The Formative Practices Institute has been instrumental in establishing the foundation for strong, equitable core instruction across Seattle Public Schools. The Institute is anchored to four guiding questions:
• What do we want students to learn?
• How will we know if they’ve learned it?
• What will we do if they didn’t learn?
• What will we do if they’ve already learned it?
The work outlined by these four guiding questions provides the cornerstone for gap-closing instructional practice and strategic system-building to ensure that all students have access to high expectations, standards-based learning opportunities, and instructional supports for successful learning and achievement.
“Teaching is all about learning; it’s not about the teacher,” said Ann Walrath, a teacher at Dearborn Park Elementary School. “It’s about the students and where they’re going, their journey…that’s really important because if you don’t pay attention to what your students’ needs are, you’re not actually teaching them, you’re just saying these are things you have to do…”