Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Do the right thing; systematic and program growth and change

As we listen to the news today, we mostly read stories of cheating, hate, violence, crimes, and accidents. We mostly hear the stories of painful, hurtful life events, and less often hear the stories of positivity and good acts. The news, in a sense, teaches us about what not to do and how to steer clear of troubles.

As I think about the many news stories I hear and read, I wonder about how we can better our teaching/learning programs to promote the best of whom we can be rather than perpetuate troubling aspects of life--how can we help our students, their families, and each other live the best possible lives.

First, since we're an elementary school, I do believe that the efforts in place to build a strong foundation of learning skills and abilities is very important. Steadfast educators day in and day out work to help student learn to read, write, understand numbers and other math concepts, and learn about science and social studies topics that build a world view. This is positive, and of course, there is work we can do in each of these areas to strengthen our teaching and students' learning.

Reading and writing instruction will continue to improve if we make sure that we stay faithful to the times we teach these topics and the many ways that educators have learned to teach these subjects well. A first priority for our teaching/learning programs is to make time for this essential study and to continue to improve our ability to teach these subjects well with timely pedagogy, resources, quality literature, and optimal opportunities to write in many ways.

The same is true for math education. Again, we have to stay faithful to our daily schedule of math education with includes multiple methods of teaching and learning math well. Educators have to continue to build their proficiency for teaching the subject and find time to come together to share ideas and promote the best of what we know and do. Further we have to build mathematical thinking and activity throughout the curriculum because when people can use math accurately to analyze, understand, and create, they are more likely to promote positive change and growth. A lack of accurate mathematical understanding often stands in the way of good work and understanding.

Social studies education in our state is meeting new standards. For a while, social studies has taken a back seat in schools and this has been harmful with regard to students' ability to understand the world past, present, and into the future with breadth and depth. Our system is beginning to look at how we might deepen social studies' education at the elementary level in ways that matter. This is a positive direction, a direction that will hopefully embrace cultural proficiency as an essential element of this work.

Our science learning and teaching has grown exponentially. Students love this study and both students and teachers are developing a greater ability to think and act with scientific understanding, process, and knowledge.

Our abilities to integrate social emotional learning strategies and knowledge has grown too, and the goal is to integrate this teaching/learning into the daily program in ways that gives students the tools and understanding they need to get along well with one another and live good lives.

Systematically we can develop our efforts by streamlining the routine tasks and efforts we engage in so we have more time and energy for the deeper, more meaningful work we do.

As I think of this focus, I am thinking about the process our grade level will use to continue to promote and develop a dynamic grade-level program. We'll likely do the following:

  1. Assess what we do that works well, and what can be improved.
  2. Prioritize our efforts and needed learning/development efforts
  3. Revisit and revise the yearly curriculum map
  4. Create a positive weekly routine
  5. Identify professional learning goals and supports
  6. Plan specific events, acquire needed materials, and prepare for the teaching ahead
  7. Meet regularly to review, revise as needed to meet the teaching/learning goals
Teaching well is a process of reviewing and revising efforts and actions to better what we do with and for the students, families, and colleagues we serve. Onward.