Priorities

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Priorities & Norms

Jamie Vollmer wrote a book called Schools Cannot Do It Alone. A few community members may remember participating in a related book study with me a few years ago. One of the main premises of Vollmer’s book was understanding, respecting, and working on the valuable relationship that exists between communities and their schools. I believe strongly in this relationship and welcome any feedback about where you feel this relationship can continuously grow. There is a valuable a two-way communication stream that must be maintained between school and community in which we are in a constant cycle of listening and sharing. With this two-way flow of information in mind, it is important that school share openly with our community about our goals, what is working, and what we are continuing to work on to stretch ourselves. It means that we talk openly about all areas of school and take input from our community. We must continuously strive to be transparent about the care and upkeep of facilities, school finances, academic programming, and the focus of this update – the work we do together when we are not with students. We call this professional development, but what we mean is that we use this time to focus our energy on growing professionally for the benefit of our students and our profession.

During professional development, we worked toward clear and aligned plans. With clarity and alignment, we increase our success rate. We strive to be focused during the valuable time we have together by establishing priorities and setting norms for our professional behaviors. We believe so much in the power of identifying priorities and holding ourselves to the prioritized work, that this year we asked our school board to support our work by making the priorities part of the district goals. The point is to be clear with ourselves about the work to be done and to be transparent with our community about what we are investing precious time in when we dismiss students early each Wednesday.

Our priorities for the 2015-2016 school year are:

  1. Clarity around what we want all students to learn and what each student should know and be able to do as a result of each unit, grade level, and/or course
  2. Utilize building level and individual action plans with predetermined checkpoints for District Student Achievement Goals
  3. Relevant, ongoing learning that is innovative, collaborative, and connected to the surrounding world through any and all life experiences
  4. Ensure that students know we care that they are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged people

To achieve these priories, the board set these goals:

Annual Goal 2.1   To create clarity around what we want all students to learn and what each student should know and be able to do as a result of each unit, grade level, and/or course, this year, all content areas will complete a clear articulation of essential standards by grade levels or course.

Annual Goal 2.2    In order to fully support building level and individual action plans that include predetermined checkpoints for District Student Achievement Goals, we will write individual career development plans focused on teacher learning and individual professional growth that include clear linkage to and individual ownership of district student achievement goals.

Annual Goal 2.3    Each building will write a SMART goal to address the priority placed upon relevant, ongoing learning that is innovative, collaborative, and connected to the surrounding world through any and all life experiences.

Annual Goal 2.4    Each building will write a SMART goal to address the priority of ensuring that students know we care that they are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged people.

To do this work together, we hold ourselves to specific norms. We say that: to be our best in our work together…

  • We will resist admiring problems and engage in resolutions.
  • We will encourage the asking and raising of tough questions.
  • We will take responsibility for identifying what is troubling us and for sharing it with the appropriate person.
  • We will respond to criticism with curiosity.
  • We will listen for the quiet voice, reach out to those who don’t speak quickly in groups, and monitor our personal airtime.

We tell our community these things as partners. We of course ask for your support, but this means that we also ask you to ask us questions, expect us to give you updates, and challenge our thinking. Because as Jamie Vollmer wrote, schools cannot do it alone.

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About Dani Trimble

Superintendent of Schools Alburnett School District
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