Conscious Vigilance doesn’t sell a pre-packaged product. Rather than limit effectiveness by delivering the same products to each district whether they are urban, rural, or suburban, high-achieving or aspiring to better academics, we bring our experiences, skills, considered opinion, and personality to a district to implement couture interventions and solutions. Conscious Vigilance sits side by side with the educators who have to live and work in the aftermath of a consulting partnership to ensure our recommended actions speak to the specific challenges significant to each school or school district. When you partner with us, every interaction with each district is new.
- Writes imaginative, standards-based, rigorous curriculum products.
- Designs and delivers smart workshops and training programs for teachers and school leaders that leave the classroom changed the morning after.
- Provides intuitive, responsive, strategic coaching for principals and other school leaders.
- Performs school diagnostic reviews of instructional delivery college-ready culture, and aligned systems and support structures.
- Drafts education policy and community engagement plans.
Sample Professional Development
The following are a sample of some of the successful professional development experiences Conscious Vigilance has developed and delivered:
The Classroom Peer Observation System
The Classroom Peer Observation System uses classroom observations conducted by teachers of teachers as a rich data source for determining curriculum and professional development needs and distributing instructional leadership across the faculty. Through a facilitated system that privileges inquiry-based coaching as an essential methodology for professional growth, educators learn to conduct observations of multiple classrooms across academic disciplines and analyze the data collected from those observations to inform their own individual action plans and determine professional development needs for the entire faculty. The system uses peer-analysis to develop self-analysis, an essential component of growing more rigorous classrooms, building teacher capacity and helping to develop teacher-leaders.
Reaching Reluctant Readers: Text and Community
The English/Language Arts Department selects a single text that all students, regardless of grade level, read during a defined time period. The consultant facilitates and guides the department in developing student-centered unit plans that allow students of all abilities to read and interpret a single complex, and challenging text. Project-oriented common assessment measures are developed to ensure that students extend learning opportunities beyond the classroom. While the ELA Department spearheads the initiative, the Reaching Reluctant Readers Initiative is most effective when all departments locate means to substantively participate in the shared instructional opportunity. The consultant facilitates a reading group of faculty, staff, and administrators who read the adopted text; unit plans are then collaboratively developed; finally, the consultant facilitates an evaluation of assessment measures to assist the faculty in reaching conclusions regarding future instructional implications. The work is fully aligned to Common Core State Standards.
Whole School Alignment
Faculty, staff, and administrators develop school, department, and/or classroom improvement plans that delineate specific intervention procedures to meet the greatest needs in augmenting student achievement. Consultants facilitate the development and review of improvement plans to ensure alignment in the daily practices of administrators, faculty, and staff. Improvement plans are developed around a systems-based design and emphasize the following six focus areas: mission, data, leadership, instruction, resources, and professional education. The school or district may opt to first engage consultants in performing an external analysis and report prior to beginning the facilitation process.
Seeking Rigor: Classrooms Observations and the Administrator as Curriculum Coach
This session will demystify academic rigor as a theoretical concept by making concrete multiple ways for school-based administrators (principals, coaches, and department chairpersons) to identify the elements of a rigorous classroom. Participants will examine methods for identifying rigorous content within curriculum materials and observing the presence of rigor in a teacher’s instructional decision points and curriculum delivery practices. Our interactive session will privilege an understanding of the school-based administrator as academic leader and curriculum cognitive coach.
Understanding Rigor for Teachers
This hands-on session encourages teachers to examine when and how they choose to purposefully challenge students to more rigorous levels of classroom engagement. Moving beyond popular misconceptions that equate a higher volume of assignments or a more challenging rubric with increased rigor, teachers are asked to collaboratively design a unit of instruction using complex texts and materials they may not have previously taught with the express intention of raising the level of rigor for an identified student population. Teachers design a unit-plan and objectives, several daily lesson plans, and two or more assessment strategies using Common Core State Standards or other independent measures of appropriate challenge and complexity. The consultants emphasize self- and group-reflection, collaboration, and consensus-building in processing lessons learned by the conclusion of the workshop.
African-American Literature Institutes
English/Language Arts teachers participate in an institute centered on a single major text (e.g. novel, drama, short story collection, poetry anthology, memoir, etc.) authored by an African-American writer. The institute is divided into two halves. The first half runs much like a reading group in which teachers respond critically to the text as readers, discussing characterization, themes, motifs, historical/sociological context, author’s voice, and the overall contribution to the corpus of literature. The consultant summarizes and shares some of the literary criticism that defines the complexity of the text and helps teachers design an instructional focus for it. During the second half, teachers use the substance of their discussion as interpretive readers to design a unit of instruction which asks students to engage the text in a similar, mature fashion. This institute is ideal for teachers who have limited experience with African American literature but wish to diversify curriculum or provide more culturally relevant instruction. The institute may also provide new ideas and initiatives for teachers who have significant experience with African American literature and wish to engage an AP population experiencing increased enrollment of African American students.
Strategic Curriculum Mapping
The facilitator guides teachers, administrators, and coaches through the process of constructing effective curriculum maps that scaffold horizontal and vertical alignment of instruction. Teachers develop a working definition and conversational understanding of a truly standards-based, learning-focused, student-centered classroom and understand the purpose and utility for constructing curriculum maps as a support mechanism to facilitate the maintenance of these effective classrooms.
Focused Classroom Coaching
Consultants provide one-on-one or group coaching that responds to actual classroom teaching. Teachers deepen the quality of their self-assessment in measuring curriculum delivery, implementation of research-based teaching strategies and district initiatives, and the value of their daily assessment techniques through pre- and post-teaching conferences. The consultants use principles of inquiry-based coaching to ensure that educators own the observation process through guided, reflective self-assessment. The consultants focus educators on three essential paradigms for classroom instruction: standards-based, learning-focused, student-centered lesson delivery.
During the first session, administrators, faculty, and staff participate in a simulation activity that examines potential challenges that arise when a school or district chooses to embrace change. Participants use an engaging scenario to understand the potential impact of programmatic decisions made in an educational setting. During the second session, the same collaborative teams apply the discourse that results from the simulation in establishing goals, priorities, or initiatives and a course of action that might achieve each.
Using Data for Informed Instructional Decisions
Faculty, staff, and/or administrators explore means and measures to use various levels of student achievement data to inform instructional practices. Participants review student achievement data at the building level to ensure understanding of data in the aggregate and within grade levels, individual classrooms, or disaggregated groups. In addition, teachers use formative assessment data to design collaborative learning groups.
Differentiated Instruction: Strategic, Practical Applications
Participants learn both the purpose and process for differentiating instruction in heterogeneous classrooms. The consultants guide teachers through an understanding of what differentiation is and what it is not, emphasizing the strategic importance of deciding when and what skills/concepts to target for differentiation. Teachers use appropriate data sources to diagnose student skills and craft appropriate lesson modifications and/or interventions. Participants have an opportunity to immediately apply the principles of differentiation by using their own lesson plans as exemplars.