The Five FIP Fingers of Thanks

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As Thanksgiving weekend comes to an end, I can’t help but be reminded of when my mom first taught me how to draw a turkey.  I bet you have made one yourself—you open your hand and trace your fingers.  You then draw a beak at the thumb section and color in the remaining fingers to look like feathers. This familiar activity is but one happy memory that I have of a holiday designed to remind us to give thanks for our blessings. In this blog I want to do just that—this year, my hand-drawn turkey has five fingers of thanks:

1)   My first thanks goes to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). Without the foresight to support teacher practice through FIP, more than 1,100 LEAs in this state would not have access to FIP modules. Through RttT funds, ODE provided FIP module access for all Ohio educators—including higher education faculty. These tools have been designed to support the implementation of Ohio's New Learning Standards and boost teacher effectiveness. The Ohio Department of Education has been an excellent steward of this work. I want to give a special shout out to Virginia Ressa, who has been a leader, a thinker, a doer, and a learner. As a result, Ohio is becoming a national beacon for the effective delivery of high quality classroom assessment and instruction tools and services.

2. Ohio's FIP Specialists have worked tirelessly to support FIP Your School Implementation. These thirteen educators have gone above and beyond to share statewide what formative instructional practices are all about. They have supported district and building-level facilitators so that FIP can be embedded into teacher team work. They regularly come to the aid of LEAs who ask for help in launching FIP Your School and have made the important connections between FIP and OIP, RTI, OTES, OPES—if not the rest of the alphabet.  The FIP Specialists can connect you with others who are making headway and will keep you apprised of new tools and training opportunities.

3. FIP Facilitators and school leaders are making FIP Your School a reality. There isn’t a day that goes by when I am not hearing about building or district-led FIP stories. Just this week, I learned about the FIP squads in Reynoldsburg and the FIP learning collaboratives in Southeast Ohio.  School leaders proudly share with me that they are a ‘FIP School’ and they want me to know just how many staff have started using FIP.  I anticipate reading the amazing insights that FIP facilitators share each week on this blog site. Thank you for those who are expending precious time and energy to lead this work and for contributing to this blog.

4)  FIP Your School continues to be an ambitious mission-driven project.  It has taken a creative team of talented individuals to create the FIP modules, tools, and communications. Scores of Battelle for Kids staff have touched this work—our tech team, our project management team, our communications and design staff, and our content developers have collaborated with teachers to make FIP come alive. We are now working with ODE to showcase strong examples of FIP in Action. These new modules are intended to expand upon your foundational knowledge of FIP by seeing how teachers and students at various grades integrate these practices as they implement Ohio’s New Learning Standards. What better way to ‘unpack’ the standards than to get inside the minds of students and teachers as they work together to own the learning? My thanks also goes to the work of the BFK FIP Team and, in particular,Whitney Eubanks for her expert communications leadership and to Sandy Shedenhelm and Francis Rogers who are unequivocally the 'Master-of-FIP Gurus'.

5)      Finally, I want to thank Ohio’s teachers who have taken on the auspicious challenge of school--and yes, classroom--reform in the face of such a negative political climate. Change, while inevitable, is never easy; but is made even harder when the expectations are accelerated, complex, and even threatening.  Despite this, teachers across Ohio are learning more about FIP through the modules, their peers and their leaders. In a recent survey of over 1,000 teachers in the southeast region, over 95% of the respondents indicated that they saw the value of FIP for increasing student achievement.  These are the teachers who are working hard to integrate FIP into their daily routine.  This takes time, commitment, and most importantly, the courage to replace or deepen existing practices. A special thanks goes to Kate Kennedy.  Kate is walking the talk—but she is also ‘talking the walk.’ As our resident teacher FIP blogger, Kate is allowing us to peer into her classroom.

To Kate and the many, many other educators who are, as I say, FIPPING, thank you. Happy Thanksgiving!