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Sunday, June 07, 2015

Take Students' Needs Seriously: Strategic Planning

The Teaching and Learning Conference call by David J. Johns, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, to strategically plan for student needs rings in my ears as I look forward to the teaching/learning year ahead. To know each child with depth and care is essential when it comes to teaching each child well.

At the start of the year, in the school system where I teach, we have a student information exchange with last year's teachers and the new year's teachers. The teachers essentially share the main points of each child's education journey to date. We also meet with parents at the start of the year to set goals and learn about each child. The information we gather supports our efforts to think strategically about how to teach and serve each child well throughout the year. It is well worth this time in order to give every child's program a strategic review and to create a dynamic teaching/learning plan for each child. Then as the year moves forward, we add to that review with important details and efforts.

What does a strategic review include?

I am beginning to think more about this, and if you have checklists or blog posts about the topic, I would be interested in reading that information.

As I imagine the strategic review, I think of the following areas of consideration:
  • What makes this child happy?
  • What challenges this child?
  • Where does this child excel with regard to the learning program?
  • Where is this child challenged with regard to the learning program?
  • How does this child distinguish himself/herself as a learner?
  • Does this child enjoy the friendship of many, a few, or any?
  • Does this child need extra support with regard to basic needs including proper clothing for school, good nutrition, at-home academic help, and timeliness and attendance at school events.
  • Does this child profit from an early morning mentoring or daily preview?
  • What kind of teacher response empowers this child?
  • What kinds of lessons engage and strengthen this child's learning?
  • What has outreach to the family been like? What helps the family connect to school events and learning?
  • What was included in the child's past academic program including specialist teachers, programming, supports, and enrichment? 
It might be a good idea to work with colleagues on the kinds of questions we ask and information we share during the transition meetings. Now that education has changed quite a bit, this might be a good area to revisit prior to the start of the year in order to strategically plan for and teach every child well in the new year.