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Sunday, October 02, 2016

Level Two: Open to Honest Critique; Willingness to Improve

Our school was rated Level 2 by the state and that doesn't sit well with me. Of course, like teachers everywhere, I want to be rated similar to our peer schools in the district and elsewhere at Level 1. What happened?

I looked at the data with multiple angles and culled a large number of new, redesigned, and elevated efforts that my colleagues and I might employ to help our school reach a Level 1 status.

Honestly to make the progress will take good honest analysis, critique, and effort from all educators in the school. The big questions are the following:
  • Are we maximizing the talents, skill, and time of our terrific staff?
  • Are we employing "robust instruction" for all students?
  • Do we make significant time for meaningful time-on-task for student learning?
  • Are we maximizing the use of the best online and offline tools to teach well?
  • Since we're a Title One school, are we using those funds in strategic, beneficial ways?
Now as I write about this, I must note that we are a privileged school. Our students generally come to us well-loved, enthusiastic, and happy. The teachers stay for years and commit considerable time to professional learning and development. The school administrators are dedicated to each and every one of the students. 

Further, our school district went through significant redistricting which may have affected our ratings and we could have possibly asked the state to recalibrate our baseline. I'm not exactly sure about how this works, but I estimate that this plays a small role in the overall rating. 

In all, I think our school can rally around this publicly known truth and look for ways to make gains. I've created a list of changes for my own teaching, changes culled from deep data analysis, analysis of my own work, a review of the expectations, and from connecting to teachers in the other schools about what they did to elevate scores.

I believe scores can reveal trends and help us to look deeply at the work we do. I am committed to helping students achieve good scores in ways that elevate self esteem, develop meaningful academic achievement and enrich a love of learning. I do believe we can do both especially in a well supported school system like the one I teach in. Let's see what we can do. Onward.