Thursday, January 19, 2017

What do we want To BE

SDE.jpgWhat do you want To Be? Most of us have a To Do List, but how many of us have To Be Lists? I learned about a To Be List from a colleague last school year.  The idea is that we create a list of what we want To Be first.  This list then determines our To Do lists.  We focus our actions and our time on doing things that align with our values and what we want To Be.

This idea of a To Be list resonates with me.  I like the focus on what's most important both daily and long-term. I want To Be Supportive- of my staff, my personal children at home, and others that are part of my life.  I need to make sure my time is not taken up with so many To Do’s that I miss opportunities to be supportive to those around me.  It occurred to me that this idea of a To Be list can go beyond a personal list.  We are using it to focus the work of our elementary school.  What type of school do we want To Be?

During the 2015-2016 school, my first as principal at my current building, we were encouraged to consider what it meant to be an innovative elementary school.  What type of school do we want To Be?  We decided that we want To Be a school that personalizes learning for all students.  That means allowing students voice and choice in their learning, as well as allowing students to move through their learning at their own pace.  We determined that in order to truly personalize learning for students we needed To Be more flexible.  We found that our schedules and organization by chronological grade levels can prevent us at times from allowing students to grow. Some students are ready for additional concepts while others need more time where they are at.  Developmentally we all grow at different rates.  Why not allow students the time they need to progress and learn?  Students are not at a certain place just because they are all 9 years old.

So this  2016-2017 school year instead of organizing our schedules- lunch, recess, special area classes, etc- around grade levels, we decided to organize ourselves by vertical grade level teams- a K and 1st grade Learning Community, and three 2nd thru 5th grade Learning Communities.  These Learning Communities teach subject areas at the same time.  Eventually we hope to be able to view our communities as a group of four teachers teaching one hundred students, rather than by specific grade levels.  Students being able to grow at their own pace, receiving personalized instruction along the way.

We are already becoming what we want To Be this school year.  Our Learning Communities are sharing children to explore common interests, to work on projects, for intervention and extensions in content areas, and even to lead school-wide assemblies.  Relationships with multiple teachers, and a variety of students are being built every day.  

We believe in the power of relationships.  This is another thing we discovered we want To Be- in relationship with each other.  Remember a favorite teacher?  What was it about them that you remember fondly?  Most likely it had something to do with your relationship with them.  One of our district’s tag lines is Power of the Team.  We want To Be in relationship with one another as we teach, learn, and grow.

We have begun our journey as Learning Communities- To Be in relationship with one another as we personalize learning for all students.  Follow us and see where we go next.