This is the kind of school you want...
You know it almost the moment you walk through the door. It's obvious in the way adults and students interact, in the quality of teaching throughout the building, in the seamless flow of leadership from administration to parents to staff to community members. An energy and excitement is present in the hard work, long hours, and challenging conversations. This is the kind of place where they do more than just walk the talk; they breathe it. This is the kind of school you want your own child to attend.
The entry above comes from an Association of Supervision and Curriculum and Develoment e-publication, The Whole Child, published on March 11, 2010.
It is also a passage used by a faculty member from the University of St. Thomas to describe her experience, and that of 12 aspiring teachers, who spent a day working with teachers and staff at Northpoint Elementary School earlier this week. She went on to write that the, "child-centered focus building wide is so genuine. It was a special opportunity for our candidates."
This experience isn't unique to Northpoint Elementary School, the child-centered focus she writes about is evident throughout the district, and it makes me so proud of my colleagues throughout the district each time I walk through our schools and as I listen to them describe their work.
Earlier this week I read to a class at Woodcrest Elementary School, and then spent some time dropping in classrooms and talking with students and staff. I watched students engaged in personalized instruction, critical thinking, and substantive conversation. I listened to a diverse group of seven and eight year olds engaged in conversation about a book they had read with no teacher direction needed - for six minutes. One student, who I thought was not fully engaged, said to the group after five minutes, "You guys made me think about what I thought. I think I changed my mind now because..."
That type of higher level thinking is something that will not, cannot, be measured on the MCA-IIs this spring. The state tests are important, but they are only one test on one day. The type of thinking and communication skills, the creativity and critical thinking, that our teachers are developing among students is essential as they grow up and move into a future that really cannot be predicted.
That doesn't happen in a lot of places. It is happening in classrooms throughout our district. It is happening because we have principals, teachers, and staff who are learners, staff who learn together to ensure that students learn. It isn't easy work. They each have a million tasks.
Yet, this morning, a day when our students are not at school but staff is, each and every one of our principals and teachers are learning together.What are they doing? They are planning for continued improvement of assessment and reporting of student progress; integrating technology in instruction to more deeply engage students; reviewing assessment results and making plans to reach school, classroom, and individual student learning goals; authentic instruction and substantive conversation; watching videos of one another teach and providing feedback; and they are taking advantage of some much needed time to complete grades and get ready for next trimester.
An energy and excitement is present in the hard work, long hours, and challenging conversations. This is the kind of place where they do more than just walk the talk; they breathe it.
Have a great weekend!