Greg Pilewski | September 2014

STEAM Leadership: Supporting your Arts Teachers with SLOs

As classroom teachers and principals continue to implement Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) or Student Growth Goals (SGGs) this year, one thing is certain is that this process is causing a deeper instructional conversation while improving the problem-solving skills of both teachers and principals. Ultimately, the process is leading to richer instructional insights, which leads to changes in human performance, which leads to improvement, which leads to narrowing gaps in student learning.

Every leader has “blind spots” and it’s impossible to know everything about every content area that you supervise.  However, in supporting your Arts teachers with implementing SLOs/SGGs look at your upcoming conferences as an opportunity for mini-professional development in learning more about the standards arts teachers teach and how they are integrating their standards with the common core standards to create a dynamic experience for children to close gaps in their learning.  Seek to gain further insights into the rich instructional conversations Arts teachers are having with their colleagues around data literacy, the alignment of standards, instructional strategies, and assessments, while transferring their practices from professional learning in the classroom.

Arts teachers bring a different perspective to the instructional conversation and offer a different point-of-view on the importance of creativity/innovation, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication that is critical for 21st century learning.  As you reflect on your upcoming SLOs/SGGs conferences with Arts teachers keep in mind some of these collaborative questions to drive your instructional conversation to a deeper level as you review and approve SLOs/SGGs in the Arts.

Objective Summary Statement:

  • How does your arts goal support our efforts to improve student learning at our school?
  • How does your arts goal support our school improvement plan?

Data Review, Baseline Evidence, and Rationale:

  • What sources of arts data did you use to determine your SLO/SGG?
  • How reliable are the arts data sources you analyzed and what is the historical context?
  • Tell me about the collaborative conversations you had with your colleagues about the arts data sources you used? What were the big ideas that you took away from those conversations?
  • What student learning problem emerged from your analysis and insights?
  • Have others in our school identified the same problem?
  • Why is this a significant problem to focus on?

Student Population:

  • How did you select the student group for your SLO/SGG?
  • Tell me about the collaborative conversations you had with your colleagues prior to selecting this student group?
  • How does your data support the selection of this student group?
  • How will the selection of this student group align with the achievement gaps identified in our school improvement plan?

Learning Content:

  • Why is the targeted critical content important?
  • What impact will the targeted content knowledge and skills have on future learning for your students? What is the cognitive demand of the critical content?
  • Tell me about the collaborative conversation you had with your colleagues regarding the selection of the critical content? Describe your vertical content knowledge and skills conversation? What stuck out?
  • Is the critical content you identified a concern with other colleagues?
  • Tell me about the collaborative conversation you had with your colleagues about the critical content?

Instructional Interval:

  • Tell me about how you decided when to begin this SLO/SGG?
  • Tell me about how you decided on the completion date?
  • Do you think this instructional interval is long enough to measure adequate growth?
  • Do you think you will be able to collect enough data during this interval?
  • Tell me about the relationship between the instructional interval and any district or school assessment timelines?


  • How did you determine the range for student growth?
  • Tell me about the connection between your target and our school improvement plan goals?
  • How many of the identified, focused students would meet the expected range without additional support?
  • How did the size of the identified student group impact your decision in determining the range for the target?

Evidence of Growth:

  • What evidence of student learning will you collect to determine growth?
  • How do you plan to check for understanding as student progress through the instructional internal you identified?
  • How reliable is your evidence of growth?
  • Tell me about how you aligned the assessment, the critical content, and your collection of student learning evidence?
  • Tell me about how you plan to collaborate with your colleagues to check for progress during the identified instructional interval?


  • What instructional strategies are you planning to implement that will impact the intended critical content you identified?
  • Why did you identify these instructional strategies and not others to impact the critical content?
  • Tell me how you aligned the standards, instructional strategies, and assessment for this SLO/SGG?
  • Tell me about the collaborative dialogue you have had about the identification of these instructional strategies?

Teacher Professional Development and Support:

  • What professional knowledge and skills do you need to successfully implement your SLO/SGG?
  • How do you plan to develop your knowledge and skills and what methods of professional learning work best for you?
  • Is there a specific type of support you need to develop your knowledge and skills?
  • What do I need to know about your content area that would help me better support you during this process?

What challenges are you experiencing with supporting your Arts teachers with writing SLOs/SGGs?

How is this process improving arts instruction and collaboration in your school or district?

What successes are you experiencing with supporting your Arts teachers with writing SLOs/SGGs?


About the Author

Greg is a former Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and has nearly twenty years of classroom, school-based and district-level leadership experience in five different public school systems. He has a passion for teaching and learning and a commitment to supporting school-level and system-level leaders with integrated and innovative resources. Not only is Greg an accomplished leader and speaker, he’s also an avid tinkerer in his workshop where he enjoys making projects around his historic home for his lovely wife and two Labrador retrievers. You can catch Greg’s insights right here each and every Thursday and contact him directly at: [email protected]