As July is headed towards August and now to September, parents are purchasing new clothes with hopes of new successes for their children come the first day of school. Educators are holding onto the last few weeks packing in beach time while reading the newest book with hopes of sparking innovation and practices that can be implemented.
However, there is another group working as well — the 12 month staff. Those are the individuals who work in administration or the ones who are off, but never quite got the memo it is summer vacation. I fall into that category every few years.
Being at school, I have viewed scores from our state assessment on the internal LMS prior to its upcoming release. I’ll admit, the scores were above the state average, but lower than I had hoped — my expectations are always much higher. As I broke down each student’s score as a whole and by strands, I am proud of the growth of this special group of students. I have taught students in poverty my entire career, but this year I made a point to do things differently to combat the challenges thanks to some wisdom from Principal Salome Thomas-El.
Every Child Deserves Someone to be Crazy About Them
Call me old school and conservative, but I miss the traditional home (i.e., mom, dad, and children). I think it works. The reality was my students were not coming from that environment and didn’t always have two people who were crazy about loving them and ensuring their success. Therefore, my team needed to change its mindset to be the group of people who would do anything for their student.
We needed to know the data on state testing, but understand our intention was not to make great test takers. Our intention was to nurture and blossom young minds. We needed to measure what matters most.
Focus on the right Target
We created a bullseye target this summer. The center is the state assessment, but the surrounding circle is much different than in past years. One of the circles is community values. We often speak of what a kid needs after graduating from our local school. We needs our graduates to be confident about their community, have a passion to take care of their home, and love the history that made it home. One of our service learning projects supported beautification of our school — one of the main social hubs of the community. We planted trees, cleaned up trash, and redesigned the images posted around the school to promote a safe learning environment.
Another target is school values. No where in the curriculum does it say get students to love chapter books, but we want individuals who are passionate readers, who love reading. That’s not measured on our state assessment. Developing empathy for social justice through literature is not listed either, but it’s a value that our school community feels is important.
Growing up is tough in a world where someone is not constantly crazy about your success. Educators cannot limit themselves to data points for educational growth. This school year measure the whole child and truly focus on a growth mindset for them personally, socially, and emoitionally.