Time to Think While the District is on Break

I love Spring Break. Not for the reasons you’re probably guessing.  I’m not on a beautiful beach somewhere relaxing in the sun. But I am working quietly in my office with the sun streaming through the windows.  It’s wonderful to have the time to think, to analyze, to work virtually uninterrupted.

I’m hopeful that this Spring break returns our teachers and students to us relaxed and rejuvenated. We will have one week with our students before NYS testing in ELA and Math 3-8 begins so we’ll be focused on reinforcing the learning from September through March and testing tips to best prepare our students. Please make sure your children are getting a good night’s rest each night upon return from break and coming to school with after a good breakfast.

This break has been a wonderful time to catch up on projects and to analyze data. It’s a time to research even more about the changes from the New York State Education Department. I’m confident we have a good handle on the teacher evaluation process, including next year’s implementation of Teachscape, a wonderful technology and training tool to help us learn more and improve on the Danielson 2011 rubric. We have a plan in place for the principal evaluation process, utilizing the Learner-Center Initiatives (LCI) MPPR Multidimensional Principal Performance Rubric. This focuses largely on reflection, goal setting and feedback. Both of these evaluative methods should lead all of us to focused, analytical thinking about our work.

Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) about which I’ve written previously are falling into place. I’m still not sure that I’m convinced this piece will make a difference in student learning, at least not proportional to the amount of work needed to implement, but thanks to my friends Theresa Gray at Erie 2 BOCES and Tiffany Giannicchi at Catt/Alle BOCES, I’m at least beginning to see the direction here. I’ve seriously needed SLO AIS :-)— or remediation in this initiative.

I’m also thinking a lot about our upcoming NYS assessments, our work toward improvement here and the work we’ve done through our iReady interim assessments and data analysis. I’m hopeful that increasing the rigor of our work with students and intentionally teaching the common core curriculum will improve our results. I’m concerned about what the assessments will bring in these transitional years to full implementation. Will it look like the tests from previous years? Will our students be better prepared because of the iReady work? Are the changes from NYSED impacting individual teacher practices yet? So much change at once leaves  for much opportunity and also for much uncertainty.

At the end of the day I can say that we have worked very hard as an admin team, a School BOE and a faculty to learn and implement all of the pieces to this changing puzzle. I’m cautiously optimistic that our hard work will pay off.  Let’s finish strong Randolph, we’ve got much work to do upon your return but as always, we’re all in it together. If anyone can do it and do it well, it’s us.

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