As I analyzed a host of scores, the opportunity gap showed it's challenging face.
How do we help students who don't have the same opportunities as other students for success? What really works?
This year we've tried many efforts including the following:
- flexible grouping, RTI
- a focus on teamwork, community building
- outreach to families and students
- a student-centered approach to daily learning
- a variety of program supports including more staffing, differentiated programs, choice. . . .
- efforts to develop greater cultural proficiency throughout the program
- lots of field studies
In general students are happy. Behavior is good. The data demonstrates growth. Families are involved.
Yet, I'm still not satisfied. I think we can do better. Here are a few of my ideas for betterment, please let me know if you have more to offer.
- Include a one-three day orientation for high needs students and students distanced from the mainstream of school outreach. Include the following items at the orientation:
- Honest conversation with students and families about what we can do to support students' academic, social, emotional, and physical health success and happiness.
- Introduction to the school program including supplies, routines, and expectations.
- Engaging activities that help us get to know one another and begin to form strong relationships.
- Linking families and students to valuable recreational and arts programs that most children in our school enjoy on a regular basis.
- Explicitly introducing home study routines and expectations. While there are a lot of debates about homework, I still see the difference that children who study regularly demonstrate versus students who don't practice regularly.
- Gaining good communication/transportation avenues and protocols with each family including best times to call, phone numbers, text numbers, email or call? . . . .communication is often difficult with high needs families.
- Making every effort to "Decenter yourself, and center the children." as Jose Vilson suggests. Building the curriculum around students' interests, questions, ways of learning.
- Bridging the opportunity gap by making sure that every child has the supplies needed for success including technology, WIFI, and other needed materials.
- Analyzing our current programs to see where success occurred and where it did not occur--refining and revising programs with that in mind.
- Beginning an orientation process for all new students at our school to get to know who they are and what they need upfront. Making sure that these students get the kind of services they require right away. Re-looking at the intake process for new students to make sure we don't miss important information that might make them more successful at school.'
- Thinking about restructuring our mentor program to be a high needs-mentor program, where students have an in-school mentor to check in with regularly during the school day.