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On Time! On Task! On a Mission!, Example 2

On Time! On Task! On a Mission!, Example 2

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Published by: Torontoist on Jan 22, 2013
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07/10/2013

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44/ On Time! On Task! On a Mission!

SEPTEMBER 10
In my mailbox today are the minutes from one of the grade team meet-
ings. The focus is academic and on the students-exactly what we want. It
is the first year since I have been here that we have been able to provide
meeting time on teachers' timetables. Ifwe are going to be a truly collabo-
rative culture this kind of opportunity to plan and share is imperative.
Teachers at Lawrence are expected to work together to alter the curricu-
lum and pedagogy within subjects, such as infusing both an anti-
racist perspective. They are expected to make connections-Between sub-
jects, such as integrating academic and vocational education. The kind of
collaboration I am speaking about goes beyond providing advice and
feedback to one another.
I believe that teachers who work together see significant improvements in
student achievement, behaviour and attitudes. Students can sense program
coherence and consistency of expectations, and their improved behaviour
and achievement are a reflection of this. Teacher collaboration also breaks
the isolation of the classroom, leads to increased feelings of effectiveness
and satisfaction, and creates "a more elaborate and exciting notion of
. teaching" (Popkewitz and Myrdal 1991: 35). For new teachers, this
collegiality saves them from the sink or swim, trial and error ordeal. For
experienced teachers, collegiality prevents end of the year burnout and
stimulates enthusiasm.
In our experience, teachers who work closely together become more
adaptable and self-reliant. When working together, they have the energy,
organizational skills and resources to attempt innovations that may ex-
haust an individual teacher. A collaborative environment fosters continu-
ous learning by the teachers and this enhances their effectiveness in the
classroom.
The establishment of a leadership team and the involvement of staff in
school improvement initiatives vastly increases the collaborative, cooperative,
collegial efforts in the school. The leadership team itself represents an
opportunity for teachers to work together in a decision-making capacity as
they work to move the school through the improvement process. We meet
regularly to collect and share data on the school and develop ways the rest of
the staff could work together to focus on school improvement. Teachers are
directly involved in leading the improvement effort.
The morning gets off to an emotional start when Trent, a grade 7
student, and his mother come into my office. Trent and his mother are
both crying. They are both very upset. This is probably the third or fourth
time they have come in to talk. Last year I drew up a plan to check and see
how he was doing at home that called for weekly communication with his
parents.
The difficult part is that the issues are non-school issues. At school
Trent is a keen and eager student, who is almost always polite and
If it is Educationally Sound /45
Some of the commonly asked questions a.round school improve-
ment at Lawrence Heights . ..
What data do we use to. monitor school improvement?
We analy?:e two types of data, both of which are crucial to our
improvement: "what" data and "why" data.
"What" data .is the information that describes current and past
levels of student performance such as attendance, EOAO testing,
Project 8, and suspensions. "What" data are usually quantitative
and helpusto identify our focus areas and the goals and objec-
tives of our school plan.
"Why"data is· information that identifies possible reasons for
achievement being at its currerit level, such as scheduling and use
of time in the school. This kind of djita can be. qualitative and
anecdotal.
How are we using data to improve student achievement?
Summative assessment data (such aSEQAO and Project 8) are
used to develop measurable goals and objectives in school im-
provement plans. Such data help our school to set targets that drive
school plans and demonstrate progress in student achievement. Re-
sults are analyzed carefully by staff and teams of teachers to identify
short- and long-term student achievement trends and curriculum de-
velopment implications.
Formative assessment data are used to identify what students
already know and to help focus instruction on then.eeded
skills to improve .individual student achievement. Sources of forma-
tive assessment include journals, conferences with stu-
dents and student observations. This type of assessment helps
teachers answer the following questions with more precision:
• What do students know and what do they need to learn.next?
• To what extent have students acquired the taught outcomes .and
indicators of success?
Formative data also identify students who need specific assistance
and those who are ready for increased enrichment opportunities.
Npte: The.Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAo)isanarm's
length agency of the Governmentof Ontario responsible f(Jr increasing
accountability and contributing to enhanced quality education in Ontario.
ProjectS is our own in·house grade S assessment that models the EOAO,
which is for grades 3, 6, 9 and 10.

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