When I reflect on what the school year might look like this fall, like all administrators I am filled with a certain amount of uncertainty maneuvering through the COVID-19 pandemic as well as our commitment to focus on equity and diversity. Most of us are spending our time this summer planning for the education of our students. While we make plans for the fall, we also need to be prepared for the trauma our kids have experienced, the behaviors we may encounter, the need for students to hear their voice and express themselves, and develop a plan to be able to respond to a new normal and the increasing needs of all of our students. (more…)
Thanks to our incredible staff and administrative team, I am fortunate to work at a school that has very few discipline problems. Because of this, I am able to focus on classroom instruction, assessments, and professional development. I pride myself on being a strong instructional leader, and one of my main goals is to help all students, regardless of their background, experience academic success. How can school leaders ensure academic success for all of their students? At Sixth Ward Middle School in Thibodaux, LA, we have made great strides in reaching this goal through a laser focus on three important factors: (more…)
At Lakeland Union High School, our absenteeism rates used to be substantially higher than state averages. Year after year, someone—usually an assistant principal or dean of students—was always working hard on addressing our truancy cases. Despite our efforts, nothing we did dramatically affected the number of students habitually missing school. To break this cyclical pattern, our administrative team decided to take a different approach to curb attendance problems. (more…)
Guest post by Clint Williams
Every day at Skyridge Middle School ends with an hour we call FLEX. Parents and students always ask, “What is FLEX?” My answer to that question often starts with a chuckle as I think about the best way to answer it. Essentially, FLEX is flexible time built into our schedule that allows us to meet the needs of our students.
During the last seven years, the FLEX program has morphed from a completely exploratory hour to an intervention period. (more…)
At Tefft Middle School, we have a motto: Moving all students forward, whatever it takes… together. This motto has been our driving force in how we approach student learning and success.
Moving All Students
Tefft serves a diverse population of students. We strive to make all of our students feel comfortable in our building, to think of it as a second home. It is our goal to ensure that all of our students grow during their time with us, no matter their ethnicity, language, special needs, or income.
Whatever It Takes
Strategic supports, interventions, and initiatives help us to meet the needs of every student.
Data transparency is one thing had has contributed to our great success. Student data journals let the students analyze scores of school, district, state, and national assessments, decide what they did well and what can be improved, and make goals for that improvement. Their data means something to them and becomes more than just numbers to take home.
When students bring their families to school for student-led conferences, they demonstrate ownership over their work by creating portfolios to share with their parents. Parents hear about their children’s progress right from their mouths, and students feel accountable for their own progress. Parents are able to ask questions and help their children set goals.
In addition to these two initiatives, we also have common learning targets and academic vocabulary, which hold students to high standards and provide them with continuity of learning. Daily intervention classes, which utilize software for those students who are below grade level in math or reading, provide additional practice in the skills students need to grow. Common assessments in each class provide us—and students—with data to help set goals and drive instruction.
Grade-level teams share the same students and therefore provide close relationships and a feeling of family within the school. Department teams ensure continuity of content and push each other to improve student performance. Professional learning communities at faculty meetings allow staff to discuss issues from all points of view and analyze student data. Our parent-teacher group provides parents the opportunity to share ideas about their children’s education.
Taking on challenges and initiating change based on our data helps us continually strive for success.
Tefft Middle School will be one of 22 schools featured at the Breaking Ranks School Showcase at Ignite 2014. The Tefft team will be presenting Harnessing the Power of Transparency and Data to Create and Sustain a Culture of Accountability on Thursday, February 6th. For more on Tefft Middle School, check out the article published in the May 2010 issue of Principal Leadership.