Build It Together

 

What do you know now that you wish you had known then?

Improvement and change comes when we build it together through deeper conversations, shared understandings, and continued reflection, even if administration changes.

Things Started

Over my thirty-one years of teaching at the same small rural school, I’ve worked with many different superintendents, each of whom accepted their challenge and forged ahead with goals for our school. We’ve started many endeavors, such as:

Those are just a few, and how many did we develop into functioning aspects of our whole school program to help our students?

Some Continued

Success for All was implemented for years, but our school is so small that the implementation could not be fully realized and we eventually dropped it.

A+Vision enabled the entire staff in 1990 [?] to participate in a vision and a mission statement under which everything else would emanate. Each year we revisited the mission statement, and we have each year accepted its mission:

[The staff will] enable a student to become a thinking, caring, productive person using high academic standards in a positive learning environment.

It’s a great way to reflect on one’s teaching philosophy and pedagogy, which I did each year.

Some Fizzled

One problem with implementation is turnover in administration, each having a vision of his/her own. Another was loss of grant money, so the focus fizzled. And the other of course is time– finding the professional development time to have those deeper discussions that reflect on teaching and learning with student work and that share how what we do in each classroom affects student learning.

In our small school, different philosophies and pedagogies existed and the conversations and sharing that helps build relationships and understandings did not always occur, especially with changes in administration or issues with grants. Implementing any one of the above which contradicts certain pedagogies prevents full implementation throughout the school.

Awakened Insights

Recently, the school board, staff, and superintendent with a new principal/instructional coach focused the staff: What’s important for kids?

Not that we hadn’t done that before — but this was saying to the staff– which should we continue, no matter what? Emphasis: WE. And the focus became engaged learning, ACES/Resilience, PAX — all of which focuses on the student as a whole child who needs support in both academic and emotional needs in ways that allow them independence, control, and voice in their lives.

What do you know now that you wish you had known then?

I know now that teachers need more voice in what happens at their school for their kids. Isolation must be a thing of the past. Teachers know what’s needed — without a battery of tests– because they look into the eyes of their students and see both their potential and their pain. We don’t need to be perfect, but we do need to reflect on and continue those strategies, programs, and actions that help kids become the potential they have within. And we need to plan and develop and revise them in conversation with each other.

I would now have been more adamant about continuing those programs and the dialogue among staff that best benefit our students.

Improvement and change comes when we build it together through deeper conversations, shared understandings, and continued reflection, even if administration changes.

Because, if we build it together, it will continue, and we’ll create a continuously consistent climate and programs that best meet the needs of our students.

I wonder if community colleges and universities have similar issues?


Image Sources, by Sheri

Perfection/Reflection

A Students Bill of Rights 

 

 

Other Resource

A Student’s Bill of Rights by Brandon Busteed Education Director of Gallup

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