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Sunday, April 09, 2017

What Matters in Education?

How often do you and your colleagues discuss what matters in education. When you discuss the areas below, how do you strategically review the current status and look for ways to improve the work you do?

Family-School Connection
What efforts truly develop the family-school connection, and what more can you do? Usually this work is an add-on to the typical requirements in a school, and I wonder if we thought together about the real time this takes and how it is done if we would do an even better job. It's good to learn about this topic via a variety of family members and school personnel in order to get a broad view.

As I've mentioned earlier, we put aside significant time for this, but I think with rising class sizes and the great potential that exists with home-school connection, we need to think about this more. There are ways to restructure our home-school connection by utilizing more staff and creating advisories where one educator is assigned to a number of families and students, and this educator acts as the home-school liaison. Another way to think about this is to use the existing structure, but carve out more meaningful time for face-to-face communication that significantly develops home-school connections and the potential that exists for parents and teachers to work together to serve each child. 

The Learning Environment
How do educators create the learning environment and what learning environment attributes contribute to dynamic learning and teaching?

I want to think about this with colleagues prior to ordering materials--I have some ideas related to this, but want to hear what my colleagues have to say. One idea I've had for a long time, but still have not fostered is making the playground more learner-friendly by including math signage and play structures. that supports math learning on the playground. I would also like to see a shade spot on our playground where children can play quietly in the shade during hot, sunny or rainy, misty days.

The Schedule
How is the schedule created? Is there enough time for significant learning experiences? Is there time for student choice and voice? Is the use of time maximized when it comes to successful teaching and learning?

As a learning team, I want us to think more carefully about how we use time. We've done a good job with this, and I think we may even be able to improve this more. 

What lesson structures and parts create dynamic learning? How do you know that? What does this look like?

My main focus in this area right now is how I employ SEL within a lesson. This has made for powerful teaching, and I want to formalize this more. 

Cultural Proficiency
Is your learning environment welcoming to students from all different family types, cultures, races, genders, religion, class, and other variation? How do you assess the variation in your school and curriculum efforts? In what ways do you develop your curriculum to help all students feel welcomed and develop a broad and accepting view of cultural/personal diversity and value?

Our team has done some significant work in this area, and I'd like to continue what we can do here.

What are the roles of staff in your school community? Are roles well defined and utilized to teach students well? Could some roles be revised in order to serve children and the educational community better?

I believe our school community will do a better job with a holistic, inclusive re-look at roles. Currently I think we're trying to do all the old-teaching and all the new-teaching which is impossible. I believe we are at a point where we have to look carefully at priorities as we develop worthy holistic, engaging, and empowering educational programs for children. 

Professional Learning
Is the professional learning in your environment well directed? Do people share what they learn with others in an effort to uplift the whole community? How is professional learning supported?

I continue to believe that we have to institute a greater process of share with regard to professional learning. It's impossible for any one educator to learn all the valuable information out there, and by instituting avenues of positive share we can grow the knowledge and practice of all.  I also think we have to be strategic as a team about where and how we invest in professional learning, and that begins with a conversation. 

Valued Effort
Are the efforts expected worthy and forward moving, or are some efforts done because they were always done that way? How and when do you audit and revise effort to better what you can do as a learning community?

I think we have to work as teams and as an entire school community to weed our effort garden. I believe that some of our efforts are superficial and have little depth and strength related to student development, and other less supported activities are actually more important. We need to discuss this as teams and a community and look carefully at this. Our current mostly hierarchical leadership system, I believe, prevents good inclusive growth in this area. 

Are you asking too much of yourself or your learning community? Are some educators experiencing fatigue more due to the expectations of their roles versus other roles? Does fatigue play a role with regard to potential lost in your learning/teaching community?

I believe that role inequity, lack of information share and distributive leadership models, and a need for collective discussion and prioritization is leading to a fatigue factor that impacts what we do. I think better, more inclusive leadership models and greater share would actually help us to prioritize as a teaching/learning team and save time, thus creating more energy and less fatigue. Lack of information share, voice, and choice leads to greater fatigue and less impactful teaching and learning. 

Integration with Other Organizations
Is your school community maximizing the integration with other education-related organizations, and utilizing their expertise and outreach to help you educate and serve students?

As a system we need to continue to develop our relationships with other organizations in order to serve our students well. These relationships should be explicit and understood by all so that all stakeholders can make use of what these organizations can bring to teaching/learning success. 

There's much to think about as we think about all of the elements above in an effort to improve our teaching and learning efforts. I will think more on these attributes in the days to come as I work to improve what I can do alone and as part of the teaching/learning team.