Reading Into Excellence

The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, it will be those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. ~Alvin Toffler

Reflecting on Week 34

As we move to finalize our Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) for Benton for next year, my research into the areas we have chosen to focus brought me to two scholarly works that changed my thinking years ago when I first was introduced to them.  The first is with systems change.  When we as a school focus on what needs to be accomplished to reach excellence on our journey, questions arise when CHANGE is proposed to the system – in this case, how we offer “school” to our students.  This RSA Animation from Sir Ken Robinson about Changing Education Paradigms continues to challenge me as to why we must never cease to embrace change in our organization.  As the world changes, we must adapt for it.  It is not only our professional obligation to prepare students for the changing world, but our lively hood demands it.  The changes we are considering — from CAMP reorganization to creating strong interventions to help our students successfully navigate our courses — though not nearly as universal as what Sir Robinson are certainly creating significant change to our organization.  At least we hope it does change our outcomes in a significantly positive direction.  Identifying the need for change, implementing change, sustaining change in order for our students at Benton High School to continue to grow in their excellence is one area that I feel defines us as a staff and as an organization.  We have grown literate in what it means to be a 21st Century learner – we are not afraid to learn, unlearn, and relearn.

The second area that I feel we have achieved significant growth in is that of building teacher leaders.  Dr. Michael Fullan states in The Change Leader that, “Also crucial to sustained improvement is the effective succession of leaders. Leadership succession is more likely if there are many leaders at many levels. Organizations must set their sights on continual improvement at all levels, and for that they must nurture, cultivate, and appoint successive leaders who are moving in a sustained direction.”

Growing leaders in our building is a priority for me.  It takes building voice and reflection in a staff.  It takes maturity for decision-making and understanding the power of consensus. It especially takes putting the goals of the unit over the goals of the “silos.”  But most of all, growing leaders takes time.  In that time, as we change from directive, top-down decision-making of old, we must grow capacity for innovation, input, and ownership.  Building the climate of leadership is what will improve our grades, learning and results.  Fullan shares that, “Literacy and mathematics improvements are only the beginning. To ensure deeper learning – to encourage problem solving and thinking skills and to develop and nurture highly motivated and engaged learners, for example – requires mobilizing the energy and capacities of teachers.”  Please take time to watch and read the two links.  I think you will agree; your leadership will make all the difference in our school.

Week 35 – A Look Ahead

We host our 8th graders from Spring Garden Middle School on Tuesday.  It will be an exciting day for our incoming freshmen.  The only teachers who will be working with the 8th graders during the day are those who are assigned to them next year.  That information will be delivered after school (2:45 in Room 104) at the day visit meeting.  On Tuesday night, our staff will host parents at the 8th Grade Parent Orientation.  Any staff member who teaches or could possibly teach freshmen or have a freshman CAMP next year is expected to attend this event.   Show time is 5:45 p.m. in Springer Gym.

This week we start EOC Testing.  Starting on Wednesday, April 25th through May 4th, our building will begin ASSESSMENT PROTOCOLS.  No classes should be using YouTube or streaming video without requesting permission.  Please monitor and prohibit students from streaming music.  We do not want to compromise bandwidth access during testing.  No students should be given passes during classes unless they are emergencies.  Students are not allowed to use cell phones during testing at all.  Testing rooms must be sanitized and signs will be posted showing testing rooms.  Please advise students of these protocols.

More than anything, I can never thank each of you enough for what you do for our school and for our students and parents each day.  Unless you work in this profession, you will never understand the nature of what is expected each day.  Please know, your administrative team is proud to lead and serve you each day.

~Excellence is a journey, not a destination.~

All images are available in CC from Flickr:  “Rectangular” by jronaldlee; “Lego Family” by the great 8; “Lego old skool desktop wallpaper” by Tinker*Tailor loves Lalka

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