Featured Resource: Understanding the Mastery Principle

Raylene Olinger

Each month the innovation coaches feature one resource found in our PD Market.  We believe that the ideas in these resources are widely applicable, address the Teacher Quality Standards, and most importantly have the potential to benefit the students in our classrooms.  The SEED Team has been brainstorming ways that these resources could be used in a variety of ways. This month’s Featured Resource is, “Introduction: Understanding the Mastery Principle”.  This introductory book chapter by Robyn Jackson helps to provide a framework for what rigor is, and also for what rigor is not. This article is being featured for use in several ways:

As part of a personal learning experience, the article could be read and the response questions addressed.  The classroom application portion of the response prompts application of and reflection about the learning in your classroom.  Additionally, the author provides reflection questions throughout as well as some application parts at the end of the article.  Recertification credit can be earned by completing the response/reflection portion in the SEED PAK.  

As part of a small group or PLC, teachers could begin with a discussion around current perceptions of rigor.  As the article is read in the group, discussion could be held about how the article challenges the thinking of the group. As the group reads about and discusses the myths around rigor, discussion could center around the ways the myths, as stated by the author, hold any implications for the practices or cultures of school, grade level, department (whatever group configuration is appropriate).  

As part of a whole staff discussion, the discussion could follow the flow of the small group discussion, beginning with the individual perceptions of rigor.  The discussion centering around ways that the article challenges or enhances thinking around rigor, and whether or not any of the myths resonate with teachers could offer next steps in terms of staff practice. Teachers could discuss and commit to small changes in their practice as a result of the reading which could be revisited in future gathering times.


As always, we are looking for ways to better meet the needs of teachers and administrators in individual learning, small group or PLCs, and in whole staff contexts.  If you use this resource and can offer any feedback please comment below.



Terri Fiorelli's picture
Terri Fiorelli
It is essential that teachers learn the difference between learning a concept and mastering a concept. Students are notorious at learning for the test and then forgetting what they have learned and cannot apply the concept in other situations when asked to do so.