Sunday, October 25, 2015

On the Road to Proficiency-Based and Personalized Learning

The following is taken from the draft of my November parent newsletter article. 

Our Facebook page is awash in orange from Unity Day and our classrooms are full of student-centered learning. While we will never stop giving the culture of the school tons of attention, we are spending lots of time on increasing student voice and choice in service of greater engagement in their learning. You will hear more about various efforts such as increased reading stamina through allowing students to choose where and what they read, Personalized Learning Time that has begun to hone in on students' needs, and explicit instruction in how to manage a group discussion without letting anyone dominate. The independent skills and personalized habits of mind that we teach now will help our students for years as they navigate a proficiency-based graduation system in high school.

I am proud of the first few steps Wolcott Elementary School has taken towards implementing a Proficiency-Based and Personalized Learning program for students. So many of the pieces have been in place for years. So much is so familiar to the staff. We are now putting it all together. Over the coming months, I will certainly write more about our journey.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Proud PBIS Principal

The following is a short note that I shared with the staff at Wolcott Elementary School. 

I am so proud to be the principal of Wolcott Elementary School.  
It is clear to me that in the last year or so, we have come together to make our school better for those students who struggle the most.  
At the PBIS Leadership Forum, on Friday, I was able to share all of the work that you have done these last couple of years. It is a story of a staff that has made many systematic shifts at the universal level and beyond. More importantly, ours is a story of a staff whose thinking about struggling kids is changing in fantastic ways. I rarely hear complaints about behavior anymore; instead, I hear questions about why the behavior exists, and I hear adults reflecting on how they can do something different to meet the students’ needs. I’ve repeated several times in the last week the comment that came my way last year from an anonymous teacher: it seems like we only focus on behavior at WES. I now respond to that: we needed to, and it worked. 
Now, we still spend time on behavior, but it is not our main focus. I am proud that we are once again in a place to focus on things like reading, writing, and math. 
I am proud to be the principal of Wolcott Elementary School.

Note: please see the brief slide deck from a brief presentation at the Vermont PBIS Leadership Forum.