Thursday, August 15, 2013

Seeing The Forest Through The Trees - My Vision for 2013-2014

There is a small section of woods behind my office.  From a distance, it seems like a healthy woods. If you stop and listen for a moment, you can hear a red-shouldered hawk screaming, angry crows and the wind blowing through the leaves.  Once you start to walk the trail that winds through this woods, you begin to notice oak trees that are dying, invasive plants, muddy areas that seem impassable.  You lose sight of the beauty of the woods as a whole. It is easy to believe that the woods may not survive much longer.  But now look again, through a different lens, and you begin to notice a few carefully protected seedlings, fox tracks, and native plants growing in a newly cleared patch of floor.

Now lets take this lesson and apply it to education in Ohio right now.  So many educators, legislators and concerned citizens have stopped seeing the big picture or the positive changes that are beginning to impact the learning opportunities we are giving our children.  Misinformation, misunderstandings and misinterpretation have spread through teachers lounges, board rooms and community centers casting doubt on the validity of the changes that need to occur in education. The path forward to 2014-2015 is no longer clearly defined.

I believe that the vision of a more rigorous education for all students, with equitable access to resources, quality teachers, and opportunities for learning both within and beyond a traditional classroom is still there, if we would only look for it.  I see it in teams of teachers collaborating on engaging units that align to the new standards. I see it in districts who are making difficult decisions and taking small steps toward improving the technology access for their students.I see it in school board members who take an active role in the work of the district.  I see it in PTA meetings that focus on planning support activities for a school. I see it in the work being done to build assessments locally and at the state level that will give students new opportunities to show what they know. I see it in students who are excited about meeting their new teacher or going to a new building. I see it in teams of teachers planning accommodations to help diverse learners be successful.  I see it in teachers who are already back in their classrooms making sure that they are ready for students in the first weeks of school. I see it in the faces of parent volunteers working in our schools.

Here is my vision for 2013-2014
To support a collaborative learning environment where teachers, administrators, parents and community members work together toward the common goal of helping all of our students grow as learners.

I will support this through communication - sharing information with all stakeholders, sharing updates on policy changes, strengthening connections within our district, helping teachers make connections to all of the initiatives going on simultaneously right now - formative assessment, OTES, the new standards, new assessments...

I will support this through resources - providing time for collaboration, collecting and sharing relevant materials, providing training in the use of technology tools, supporting research based instructional strategies that positively impact student learning,  supporting  building and teacher teams in their work around the new standards, providing support and access to a wide range of assessment tools.

I will support this through the collection of evidence - data to help make decisions about learning opportunities, data to help evaluate past learning and to guide future instruction, data to demonstrate growth in our student and our teachers.

2013-2014 is an important school year.  It is a crossroads year for education in our state and in our district. A year that, if we all can commit to working together, will result in our district "growing" as a supportive, successful learning environment.

This year marks my 25th year in education - and I am excited to be spending it with the staff and students of the Bay Village City Schools.

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