Presentation on theme: "Fuller Middle School A Commonwealth Compass Exemplary School Getting Equipped for the Journey: Retooling Our School For Success."— Presentation transcript:
Fuller Middle School A Commonwealth Compass Exemplary School Getting Equipped for the Journey: Retooling Our School For Success
It’s easy to feel lost in it all…. Frameworks District level demands MCAS scores School practices and established culture Student apathy and fear Student drop outs Reading problems No common mission Lack of prior knowledge among student population Parent rejection and concern State benchmarks for success Lots of fad learning packages Controversy over value of MCAS Transient student population Cultural differences in student, parent, and teaching body High rate of teacher and administrator turn over
Beginning the journey…. We were given the coordinates, but not told the road to take to get there. Coordinates that guided Fuller to improvement: State Curriculum Frameworks District/School Mandates MCAS Benchmarks established for individual schools
Planning Our Route 1. Checked Our Coordinates 2. Communicated and Coordinated Lay out district, state, school “musts” in terms of alignment State: Subject Area frameworks and MCAS benchmarks District: Created a middle-level task force to guide instructional decision-making that had bite School: School departments coordinated instruction via curriculum mapping and frameworks Community: Demanded consistency and quality of programming for students SO **Our School Council goals were set in response to scores, state demands, and community requests. We needed direction to find our destination
Publishing Our Itinerary Publishing the School’s 3 Improvement Goals (Coordinates) After planning, we stated goals and direction everywhere so everyone in the school community knew the direction in which we were headed: Parent Press NewsletterLocal Papers Increased Parent MeetingsWebsite Annual reportPTO & School Council Meetings
Choosing Key Navigators A Dynamic Language Arts Department Head/Veteran Teacher Key Teachers and Guidance Staff with communication and technology knowledge relative to effectively networking with families 2 Literacy Specialists Supportive Principal
Complementary Goals: Key Supports for Reform Setting 5 school council goals, accompanied by concrete benchmarks and activities was manageable, reasonable and achievable by end of 3-yr cycle. Each of these 3 goals in particular supported and related to the others to provide maximum improvement in the overall school community climate, in the student success rate and in staff collegiality Study Skills Goal Reading/Writing Goal Communication Goal
Finding a Road In: Which Goals First? The Study Skills Goal Why begin with a study skills goal when we wanted to improve writing? --All teachers could own it --All teachers were doing some form of teaching it on own --Writing and reading achievement and other and progress relative to various areas of MCAS achievement could grow out of it --All teachers could be equal experts in it; study skill acquisition is no one’s specific “subject area” --had a reflection component built in that demanded every teacher do writing with students, thus driving the need for writing training for all teachers.
Finding a Road In: Which Goals First? The Communication Goal Goal: Strengthen the partnership between parents and the Fuller Middle School Building Infrastructure / Technology Face to Face Meetings Reaching to the Home... Publications Working Together Recognition
What These “Roads” Did For MORALE Study Skills & Staff: Communication & Families People were invested Everyone had a stake and a role to play No one could dispute the importance of focus on study skills and communication Many teachers were already teaching study skills and were communicating regularly with parents Our job became aligning and systematizing our work AND THIS WORK PRIMED US FOR FURTHER REFORM IN READING AND WRITING INSTRUCTION! These “roads” toward our ultimate goal of improving our successes in writing were like taking a more “scenic route” rather than a detour toward productive, tough reform for most Fuller community members.
Taking Inventory: Frequent Pit-stops With morale primed (and confidence, buy-in, and clear coordinates to guide us), we could stop and reflect to take inventory regarding our readiness to attempt to work on our writing and reading goals: Reflective Questioning: What isn’t covered by the Study Skills Program? Which departments need additional writing and reading training? What does each department bring to “the trip” of writing and reading improvement for students? Do the new teachers we’re hiring have the training/expertise we’re looking for? Who is ready to train and who needs training? Are our ESL/Bilingual and SPED classes sharing our curriculum? Processes? Common language for improvement? What do departments need to get training and provide materials? What does every teacher need to know vs. what does a language arts teacher need to know in terms of teaching writing and reading successfully?
Our internal inventory led us to…. Develop our “teaching travel packs” for the year: It was packed for us (driven by study skills, writing and reading goals) But we all carried one (everyone was responsible for creating better writers and readers) Some people needed more training and support in order to use the tools of the “backpack” Everyone could comfortably carry it throughout the year (it didn’t restrict anyone’s regular classroom movements/instruction)
In Our “Backpacks” Maps: MCAS benchmarks School goals Tools: Study skills handbook Writing & Reading training when needed Departmental support PTO mini-grant $ Grants given by principal Middle School Team Structures put in place by our school district A developing ethic of alignment, sharing, systematizing.
A Never-Ending Cycle of Improvement Pit/Rest Stops Connection- Making Inventory Ongoing Process: While we were learning, tweaking, revising, and taking inventory, we had to keep checking our progress against our end destination. We also had to keep reminding ourselves of the importance of the trip— redefining our travel style and partners along the way.
Connection-Making: How We Met New Travel Partners Parent Partnerships: Fuller Family Nights Parents in classrooms Increased attendance at Parent Nights Increased volunteerism Parent grant writers Donations from parents/parents’ businesses Fundraising More Bilingual/ESL parent attendance at school-sponsored events Business Partnerships: Wellesley College, Northeastern University, Mass Bay Community College, Bank North, TJX, Borders Books, Framingham Coalition Against Drugs and Alcohol, Framingham Union Hospital, Mobil Gas Community Partnerships: Adult Evening ESL/Bilingual Classes Veterans GroupsSenior Center
Rest-Stops: Use them when you can! Summer workshops Term by term departmental, school, and district- wide curriculum mapping sessions to align with framework and district goals Professional days Portfolio reflections with students Team meetings: LASW (Looking At Student Work Sessions)
Travel Tips: Avoiding Potential Potholes Know your population’s challenges Know your resources Get a big picture Align resources to serve multiple purposes Principal must map the big picture, control resources and overall vision Principal must reject district/state practices that hinder school goals Teachers and parents must find a way to comfortably buy in to initiatives Thus, programs must offer multiple avenues in to support it (not “my way or the highway kind of reform”) One person/set of people cannot carry the burden of any part of initiative Programs and practices must be internally self-sustaining Parents must understand school reform work early and be partners often Look to copy effective structures—don’t reinvent the wheel! (we’re copying ourselves now relative to a reading and math initiative) The cycle of taking inventory is endless—don’t expect an end point
Where Is Fuller Going Now? Repeating the cycle relative to --math initiative --reading initiative --re-starting writing initiative Creating systems of assessment and data collection Using data collection and analysis to drive results Teacher turnover requires new trainings/re-trainings Enlisting more people to carry the burden of reform Energy and teacher empowerment higher than ever Teacher professional development council formed Trainings more advanced; Writing Handbook created Scores continuing to rise Family satisfaction with Fuller’s performance at all-time “feel good” high
Reaching Our Destination : The Journey Has Just Begun For improvement cycle (1997-2002) scores have consistently risen Increasing number of students (including those in ESL/Bilingual and SPED classes) moved from Warning toward Proficient category Faculty is committed to total school reform Resources in school and district are regularly channeled for use to achieve goals Systems of regular improvement and mechanisms to drive future improvement are in place or constantly developing Tools previously used in reforms are being adapted to fit the school as it runs today— evolution of our work