Our SOCSD Extended Leadership Team – which includes approximately 50 teachers and administrators from all of our schools – along with several parents and community members, met to review the findings from the School Quality Survey. We formed five focus groups to discuss the strengths, challenges, and opportunities that were communicated to us via the survey. Next, we formulated goals in order to begin the process of addressing the near and long term needs of our students and how to ensure the success of our learners. Here is what we know as a result of our review of the survey data coupled with a review of relevant scholarship in the area of student learning (Richardson, 2016):
- We know that true learning is a function of students’ personal interest in whatever is being learned. Students should feel safe in a climate that is supportive and allows them to feel free to make mistakes.
- We know that true learning is not served by constraining time, separating out subjects, or limiting exposure to topics based upon age-group placements. Learning can occur at home, during the summer, after-school. For example – the SOCSD Summer STEAM Camp is a very different approach to a traditional classroom. There are no scheduled periods and students are free to ask questions that are meaningful to them.
- We know that much of what students “learn” in school is soon forgotten. Passing a test is not the same as learning. Our instructional staff should be trained to mentor our students and inspire them to be passionate about whatever it is that they aspire to learn.
- We know that deep and powerful learning that occurs outside of school often looks nothing like what happens in a “traditional” classroom (e.g., how do students learn Minecraft?). We can better leverage community partnerships to promote learning beyond the classroom / school day.
- We know that grades and assessments define our kids in ways that are counterproductive, if not harmful. Again, passing a test is not the same as learning.
- We know that not all kids learn the same things in the same way on the same day. What truly matters is a student’s innate desire to learn more. Engagement strategies (for our students, staff, families, and community members) should promote a desire to learn more.
Given what we know, as listed above, our Leadership Team will develop strategies that support classroom instruction, teacher training/development, community engagement, school climate, and direct resources towards student success. This framework will identify our annual objectives and create a vision for what we want our schools to look like.
Richardson, W. (2016). Freedom to Learn. Solution Tree Press: Bloomington, IN