I am in the final stages of signing off on our school plan. After much data collection, data interpretation and dialogue with staff and parents about what it all means and what we need to do next, I wonder if we are really creating a solid plan for school improvement, or if we are restricting ourselves to one narrow view of sets of student evidence that may limit our scope and creativity to build an instructional environment that fosters, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, invention, and connection.
Our school goal is to improve student learning in numeracy. We arrived at this goal after a year of consultation with parents, teachers and examination of student performance in numeracy at our school. We are now in our third year of our implementation and we have made gains in many areas of our plan, but we are struggling with achieving some of our performance targets in relation to our objectives.
Our structures to support student learning in numeracy are solid. We have bi-weekly collaboration meetings allowing teachers to share best practice, interventions they are trying, and plan next steps in teaching and learning. Differentiated instruction and on-going formative assessment practices are major focuses in our work at the school. We are members of the district numeracy project, and we work closely with our district numeracy consultant who supports us in our work. We are also participants in our District’s Innovative Learning Design project and we are using Ipads and creation apps to allow students to be the creators of their own content in many curriculum subjects.
The roadblock, for me, is the actual format and appearance of the plan. It is a plain word document that presents the following information:
- School Context
- School Goal and objectives
- Rationale for goal and objectives
- Data sources
- Data interpretation
- Performance targets
- Strategies to support
- Structures to support
It works as a plan and provides a framework to work from, but it does not feel alive. Is this plan living and breathing in our classrooms everyday? I would like something more vibrant, something aesthetically appealing, where teachers and students feel drawn to it and refer to it in their daily work. I know my teachers are doing the work, but they are not referring to the document on an on-going basis. How do I make the plan more like the SD mantra every student, every chance, every day? I do not want our plan to be the task I check off as complete on my to do list. I want students to understand it and be a part of it, after all it is all about them. The plan is something I write as a principal, but it is developed with input from teachers and parents. So, here is the work I have to do: I need to make this document relevant, personalized, collaborative and connected for students, with a foundation in creativity, critical thinking, and innovation where we collect useful student evidence that demonstrates real learning, not just numbers and percentages from assessments that I am not sure teachers are entirely clear about the administration and marking procedures. I want a balance of quantitative and qualitative data that documents the full and rich story of learning at Sullivan Elementary.