Saturday, October 28, 2017

Gratitude List: Resources That Make a Difference in Schools

As a critical thinker, I stop now and then to write a gratitude list of all that our school and school system has for which I'm grateful for--the resources and attributes that give us conditions for excellence.

Family and Community Support and Engagement
The community is supportive of, and engaged in, the success of students and the school.

One-to-One Technology
Our students have access to a tech device all day, every school day. We also let students without tech at home borrow a device to bring home. At the high school and middle school level, every child has a tech device for home use and school use. We have many additional desk-tops, iPads, and other tech devices available.

Academic Software
We have a number of subscriptions to a variety of academic software subscriptions (Of course I'd like more and better, but we're fortunate to have what we have).

Specialist Subjects
Every student, every week learns in the grade-level classrooms as well as in physical education, the tech lab, library, music room, instrumental lessons, and art.

Field Studies, Special Events, and Expert Visitors
We have regular scheduling of all of these special events--events which broaden students' experiences and perspectives.

High Quality Educators and Staff
Our teaching staff meets the criteria for high quality preparation, and our teaching assistants generally far exceed the minimum requirements for teaching assistants--they are well educated women and men who bring substantial experience to our school.

Good Facilities and Playgrounds
We have a sensational playground and an adequate facility. Though older, the facility mostly meets our needs for good teaching/learning.

Continually Evolving Curriculum
The curriculum continues to evolve. Current efforts to build STEAM teaching has resulted in meaningful and engaging hands-on exploration and study. New purchase of FOSS kits for science is bringing a high-level hands-on science program. Continued efforts to uplift math and literacy teaching similarly are lifting those curriculum areas. Increasing levels and quality of teacher voice, choice, and leadership as well as family/student voice, choice, and leadership continues to elevate this work.

Cutting-Edge State/Union Efforts
The Massachusetts' state/union efforts to uplift educators and education for every child are translating into better and better commitment and effort. These groups, though sometimes at odds with each other, are both doing a lot to create a solid education for all Massachusetts' students.

Multiple Organizations that Contribute to and Support Education
All around us organizations willing and ready to uplift education for every student exist. The more we reach out and work with these organizations, the better we will get.

Increasing Servant/Distributive Leadership Attitude
I notice an increasing servant/distributive leadership model at play where I work at all levels. This takes time and effort, but it is beginning to occur more which meets current organizational and leadership research.

Resources to Support Professional Learning
Typically in our system we receive funding to support our attendance and participation in professional learning events. We also have some targeted and meaningful professional events on site.

Materials for Teaching
We can choose the materials we need for teaching and do receive funding for a good percentage of those materials. There are some restrictions and processes that I believe can better support us in this regard, but when I talk to teachers in others systems, we have a much greater ability to choose what we need to teach than others.

Good Staffing Numbers
We have significant time-on-task teachers and assistants that work with children daily. Many schools do not have the staff numbers they need to service students well. Again, I'd like to see some re-directing of some of these services to provide students with even greater support, but I know that are numbers are good whereas some schools have a real dearth of teaching/teaching-assistant support for learners.

Of course there's much to do to increase our capacity both individually and collectively, but I would be remiss not to mention all the great attributes we currently have in place. I'm sure there's even more than I've listed too.