Notes from the Principal's Desk: September 26, 2017
Last week, I took some time to speak about what one avenue of our professional development process will look like this year. Today, I would like to revisit that conversation and explore the topic in a little bit more detail.
This year, faculty will be examining how to best use data to inform our instructional practices. In practice, this means faculty uses standardized test scores, tests, quizzes, homework and classwork to provide the foundation of information to determine where the students are excelling and in which areas we need to spend more time providing instructional support to the students.
For example, in English Language Arts, by discovering our students perform very well in conventions of writing and written expression, but are not meeting our expectations in reading comprehension and vocabulary, we can refine instruction to provide more support in reading and vocabulary. We do this in each content area by class and individually for each student, allowing faculty to design individualized instruction to meet each child's needs. In Math, teachers use the same data points as well as pre & post assessments to evaluate mastery in math computation, problem solving and concepts. By finding any gaps, teachers vary their instructional methods so all students are being pushed appropriately and are met with success.
We also know students in Kindergarten through fifth grade learn differently than students in middle school. This is one of the strengths of a K-8 institution: the ability of primary and intermediate faculty to build the foundation within the students to prepare for a unique middle school experience before heading off to high school. Middle school students have 4 needs in order to be engaged in their education:
- First, the instruction must be developmentally responsive by using the student's interests, skills and needs as the basis for making instructional decisions.
- Instruction must also be challenging, and educators must recognize that every student can learn while maintaining high expectations.
- Third, middle school students must be empowered with the knowledge and skills they need to take control of their education, what we often refer to as self-advocacy.
- Finally, middle school education must be equitable: equitable in the sense that every student understands their right to learn and to be provided with relevant and challenging learning opportunities.
On October 11th, we have an 11:45am dismissal, so that faculty can delve into these realms of professional development. Most of us will spend the afternoon examining student data and working together to plan relevant and interesting instruction for our students. A small group of faculty will spend the day off-campus, examining how we can continue to best meet the needs of our students. These half days are imperative for us so we can examine our practices and be sure that we are continuing to meet the needs of our students.
Lastly, the highest compliment you can pay us is the referral of your family and friends on an educational journey at our school. The trust and confidence that you place in us each day means a great deal. In appreciation of that trust and confidence, and in partnership with the Archdiocese of Baltimore, we are excited to announce the Cathedral Referral Program and the Catholic Schools Welcome Grant. Please refer to the website and tomorrow's bulletin to learn more about these programs.
Have a great rest of the week!