Thursday, August 7, 2008
And so the adventure begins...
School begins on Monday, so in anticipation of the new year, the Leadership Team met today - all day! Principal Susan Phillips chose an "away from school" location so that we would not be interrupted. As we worked we peered out the large windows onto the the peaceful waters of St. Augustine, Florida. We adjourned at lunchtime for a working lunch and then returned to finish up the agenda. So what does a Leadership Team discuss before the first day of a new year? What does a "Planning Meeting" look like?
The agenda included:
Team Development - The Principal presented each member of the Leadership Team with a journal inscribed with a favorite quote (Risk more than others think is safe; Care more than others think is wise; Dream more than others think is practical; and Expect more than others think is possible)and a copy of the book School Leadership That Works by Robert Marzano - a book that was reviewed earlier this summer on this blog. This book comes the closest to describing what we actually do as a Leadership Team and will make good discussion for this group.
Risk - We discussed "the data" at length - which includes our final standings on our state assessment which show a pattern of steady increase over the years! We also talked about our most immediate classroom needs. For instance, with the new reading adoption we now realize that our classroom leveled libraries will not be restocked so Kindergarten and first grade have a desperate need for new book, especially non-fiction books. We also looked at our training needs which certainly center around technology.
Care - Our faculty roster is as stable as it has ever been. Even our new teachers are experienced or returning! We reviewed the Master Calendar, adding grade level dates, Teacher Meeting days, Early Release days and visitors that we will be hosting (yes, they are already calling!)
Dream - Our dreams will be reflected in our School Improvement Plan which each member will review and edit before the next meeting. Our Professional Development Plan will be during Early Release Days and so we thought through the first day. We identified model classrooms for each grade level and subject area and identified the Leadership Team member that would support each group.
Expect - Pacing Guides for Literacy are in flux because of the county's late posting of reading and writing learning schedules for the new year based on the new reading adoption. We spent much of our time trying to decide if we would go with what is "tried and true" for us - developed with experience and collegiality - or if we would jump into a learning schedule that is meant to shore up our neediest county schools. Looking at the primary level overviews that are available seem to show that if we go with the county's plan we would spend as much as a half year in review of skills that the majority of our students mastered in an earlier year. It's a difficult discussion as we try to be a leader and team player in our county but, at the same time, use our experience and success to guide our final decisions. The bottom line is that we have to do what is best for OUR children - I think we all agree on that! As lessons become available and the county continues to provide guidance, I'm sure these discussions will continue at every level. We also discussed roles of each member of the Leadership Team to make sure that we provide a level of support that assures achievement at every level.
All in all, it was a great day. While each of us have responsibilities to get classrooms ready, we also relish the opportunity to take leadership roles in our school. As teachers return next week, we will be super busy and, I'm sure, super tired, but we will be armed with a map, provided today, of our destination. We can't hope for better directions than that!