Fanning the Flames Part 6
During the 2016-17 school year, Copper and Gene are now working in seven schools in some manner or another in our southwest Colorado school district.
There has been a leadership change at the district level which DES has supported in creating We Believes, and providing a blueprint for implementation. The district leadership is taking this year to build capacity in thinking skills, workshop model, and standards-driven education before having clearly defined expectations for schools. The We Believe statements focus on the learner and their learning to guide the district’s work.
The work in our original elementary school is now in its third year of implementation and is progressing nicely. They have implemented personalized mastery strategies at every grade level and in some version in every classroom. Teachers are beginning to adapt the proficiency ladders to meet the needs of their students from kindergarten to 5th grade. The teachers are expanding to second content areas now that they are feeling more comfortable with applying learner-centered tools and strategies. Students’ skills in becoming independent learners have accelerated their application. This school has made good use of PLC and team planning time to leverage the adoption of these practices with newly hired staff.
We are beginning to see improved leading indicators at the school and classroom level that the We Believes are making a difference. These include:
- a reduction of discipline issues by 70%
- students report that they are taking more ownership of their learning
- students are working at their instructional level and accelerate to grade level learning
- students are tracking their own learning on proficiency ladders
- students can report what they know, what are learning, and what they need to know
- adults report student engagement has increased.
As Copper and Gene visit classrooms this year, their focus has been on the learning. More students can report what standard they are learning and how they will show they have learned it. Student agency has improved as they advocate for their own needs whether it’s a mini-lesson from a teacher, time to work with a peer, or working alone at their own pace. Interventionists are pushing into classrooms to provide re-teaching and support to small groups of learners who have gaps in their learning and need extra time and support to accelerate their learning to grade level standards. This has become a major practice to differentiate instruction to students. Classroom teachers are using whole group instruction judiciously in their implementation of the workshop model and learners are using choice boards to keep the rigor of the standard while providing choice in how students demonstrate mastery.
The other schools we support are at various levels of implementation. We support a middle school who has pockets of advanced implementation and in another middle school we are consulting with the principal to help him in his planning to increase achievement in math. We have three elementary schools that are in year two and two elementary schools that are just beginning to understand the power on student- centered practice. Stay tuned for their progress in this blog.