Friday, January 19, 2018

Growing Our Leaders

I believe in the importance of communicating with members of our school community.  That's one reason I blog every week.  I want you to be informed on important issues facing the division and updated on what's happening in our schools. This year I started a weekly newsletter for school and division leaders.  In my Monday Memo, I cover topics related to our vision and mission, and challenge them to develop benefit all our students.  The following is an excerpt from a recent Monday Memo.  I hope sharing this will give you an idea of how we are continually focused on achieving our mission and vision.

Monday Memo:  Why Culture Change?
We have discussed our vision and the expectation for all of our students to discover, and then use, their unique gifts and talents to become college, career, and life ready. We have also discussed how difficult this change can be in an environment driven by SOL tests. It is difficult for people to understand why we would want to change when we have a fully accredited school division. But when we closely look at the data, are we really fulfilling our vision of preparing all students for college, career, and life?
Our data demonstrates that we have statistically insignificant gains or losses over the last three years. I think you will find similar data in other divisions that are considered “successful”. This occurs when you have a testing system as the end all goal. In this type of system, the same bottom 15 to 20 percent of students get left behind. We do not do this on purpose; it is just an unintended consequence of the expectations.
Our day to day expectations in our classrooms must match our vision. This is not easily accomplished when our students have varied gifts and needs. Differentiated instruction is not something new. It has been and should always be the expectation. Unfortunately drilling the masses for the test in a whole group setting became the norm for far too many years.
Our Growth Mindset & GRIT focus document lay the ground work for changing the culture. It emphasizes that everyone can learn and fulfill their full potential when emphasis is placed on the process of learning.