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West Clermont Words

West Clermont Words: Achievement and Opportunity


by Natasha L. Adams

This blog entry is the fifth in a six-part series that focuses on the district’s strategic plan.

One of the four themes in our strategic plan is to grow academic achievement and educational opportunities. Six words with such big implications!

In order to accomplish this, we must continue providing each learner with a strong foundation in core academic skills that include literacy, numeracy, and technology. This foundation is the springboard to every step that occurs thereafter; each step is focused on building our collective capacity to provide an instructional framework with strategies, enrichments, and interventions so all students have opportunities for learning through differentiated content, processes, and products.

What does this mean? What does this look like?

Rather than the quiet, “all eyes on the teacher” classrooms that we might remember from our childhoods, our classrooms are now a buzz of activity and interaction where students are working in pairs and groups to help each other learn while the teacher moves around the room working with individual students and groups to provide in the moment support for students to achieve the day’s learning objective. Our teachers actively use several sources of information about each student to help determine what learning activities will allow each individual student to be most successful. Our teachers also focus on facilitating each student’s engagement in different learning activities in the same classroom, thus maximizing the learning experience and retention of each learner.

To grow in the areas of literacy, numeracy, and technology, our classrooms are making a concerted effort to shift from a focus on factual recall and procedural-based learning to an emphasis on developing great questions, activating higher-level critical thinking, and problem-solving. Traditional learning activities shift to more authentic multi-disciplinary work connected to each student’s world. Instead of reading a textbook and answering questions about erosion, students study aerial photographs of the high school construction project to develop an argument on whether or not the construction company adequately prevented erosion (which they did!). Technology-rich materials will increasingly replace traditional materials to more effectively engage students; we want to meet our learners where they are and where the future will be.

We are also establishing success criteria and milestone data to help clearly communicate learning progress to our learners, educators, and families at every grade level. Additionally, we are determined to work hard to shift our teaching environments from a more isolated practice to a more collaborative practice so that we can learn together, have deep discussions about student work and become more precise in the implementation of our new learning strategies.

Changing the factory model of education takes a strong willingness to move outside of our comfort zone and support one another. Growing as administrators, teachers, and support staff through professional learning and job-embedded coaching will be an essential component of this change effort.

As we improve our practices to make a bigger impact, these shifts challenge us to change the ways in which we have traditionally worked in our classrooms. This takes courage, perseverance, and a collaborative culture to learn from what is and is not effective, and I am proud of our staff embracing this change.

In order to grow academic achievement, close the achievement gap, and open up doors to further educational opportunities, we must evolve as a school system. It’s important we are open and honest about this process of change and the outcomes we produce and that we clearly communicate why we are shifting our practice. Having a growth mindset, willingness to continuously improve and reflect on our practice is an essential part of growth as a school district. Another key component is feedback, and I am committed to providing opportunities for input from all of our stakeholders. After all, together as one community, we LEARN. LEAD. SUCCEED.

Have feedback on what you’ve read?  Let us know!

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