Day 126 (of 184) mindful school goals
The last day before spring break was a key time that reaffirmed in my mind the validity of the school goals that we are working on at @sorrento83. Now I have been fortunate enough to have a teacher on staff who has been pulled away from the classroom for district work representing our school district union at various school growth plan conversations (I know it is odd to talk about the benefit of being out of the classroom; I’ll reflect on that later) – with the key benefit being that we get to hear what other schools are doing as we’ll…
Now in all fairness, my view on school goals is heavily influenced by Dr Andy Hargreaves – I had the chance to hear from him (and even chat with him during a lunch break: still a professional highlight and pivot moment in my career who. He is the one who confirmed that I had been at my school -that had undergone significant cultural change for the good)-one year too long….) and his message/challenge was for ‘us’ to stop setting school goals on improving reading/writing/numeracy/social responsibility as ‘we’ as Canadian schools were already leading the globe in these areas. Instead we were encouraged to focus on different areas: fine arts were a key area he emphasized and in hindsight an easy entry point for some of us: music, dance, visual arts et al are areas we typically don’t spend enough time on. His comments got me thinking and since then, I have encouraged the school communities I am part of to narrow their goals and make them meaningful.
Last year we started to look at purposely introducing technology into the learning community – which was done by putting iPads into teachers hands and supplementing a six-pack for student use and enabling byod methodologies. Now our community is much more comfortable using tech (and bravely making declarations that ‘other tech’ such as smart boards are ‘so 4 years ago’ mainly because we are focused on mobile technology and smart boards are most effective when installed – and installed boards mean the classroom faces one direction … But I digress … That has allowed us to change our school goal this year (now and upcoming) to be on using eportfolios to communicate student learning (instead of report cards reporting student achievement) and having students see their learning journey via these eportfolios. Using tech to support a significant cultural shift and difficult mind shift.
Secondly we started looking at the amount of anxiety i saw in the school (being the new guy) and quickly focused our school on helping student self-regulate (the more catch-all for anti-anxiety support) including bringing in a variety of fidgets chewlery et al and incorporating ‘mindful breathing breaks’ into our school routine twice a day – something we get phenomenal commentary on by guests visiting our school. Again the mind shift has been significant and our teachers personal inquiries led us to finding alignment in having a new school hola around physical literacy – with amazing support from our local health liaison expert from Interior health! This is a goal we could not take on ‘by ourselves’.
It’s not like we are ignoring the traditional ‘school goals’ of reading/writing/numeracy/social responsibility – if anything our goals are making us focus on them even more! By having samples of student work in their eportfolios we are needing to do a better job about communicating things like our provincial ‘performance standards’. By focusing on physical literacy and anxiety awareness, out classrooms are being much more socially responsible.
But best of all, instead of focusing on data collection devices, our conversations are focused on individual earnings. We are being even more mindful about being the best learning community that we can be. It hasn’t always been easy, but it sure has been worth it!