A couple of years ago, at a beginning of the year in-service session, Kevin Bruggink challenged all of us with a question connected to our core beliefs as educators; Do we believe that all students can learn at high levels? If we do, and I believe we must, then we also have to consider the reality that some students need more time and support to produce high levels of learning. In today’s email, I want to share with you what we are doing to provide our students more time and support from their teachers, so that they all can achieve at high levels. Before I share some of those specifics, I would also like to comment on a question many of you may have after last week’s message about college and career readiness goals. Many of you probably see anything related to the ACT, and even college and career readiness, as being focused on only the college bound portion of our student body. College and career readiness is high level learning for all students. It involves being able to read well and comprehend what we are reading, to understand in deeper and more sophisticated ways, to think along logical process, and to problem solve. These are skills that all of our students need to be successful after high school, not just our college bound. These are the types of skills that allow workers to move beyond entry level jobs and grow in companies. Increasingly, companies such as Johnsonville are using tests like ACT WorkKeys assessment in their interview or advancement processes. All employers want to hire people who have the skills to figure out problems, read and research solutions, and can think well independently and solve problems. Employees who can do those things are better set up for success.
After deviating quite a distance from my major topic in this email, I would like get back to describing what we are doing to meet the needs of many of our students who need extra time and support to learn at high levels. It is simply a reality that some of us need more time and support. For example, I am an avid, but very slow reader. I am the person in the room who if we read a couple page sample before discussing it, everyone is waiting for me to finish reading. That does not have much to do with my ability to learn if I am provided enough time, but if time is too limited I may struggle. This is a reality for many of us in different content areas and it cannot be ignored if we want all of our students to really do well. It is similarly true of teacher support. A little extra time with my teacher can really help because they can break down the part where I am stuck and that helps me understand and move forward.
In an effort to provide more time and support in critical areas such as reading, we offer Strategic Reading, which uses the Read180 program, and students in these classes have the class every day and get tremendous support. The program also has them practicing at their current reading level with resources focused on exactly what they need. To this point, we are very pleased with the progress we are seeing in the learning growth of students in this focused reading class. We also offer “support” classes with Algebra 1 Support, Geometry Support and Chemistry Support. Students who take the support classes are actually scheduled in the regular Algebra 1 class, as well as a second block with their teacher to provide the extra time and support to keep up and fully understand. Support classes are obviously a huge investment in time and support but for many students this allows for high level learning. A smaller investment in providing extra time and support is done with intervention time in the middle of our school day. Students who need an extra 30 minutes of help from their teacher can get that during intervention time at 10:30-11:00 or after school. Our teachers are remarkably willing to take extra time after school to work with students who need extra support. Parents should know that the vast majority of our students could do a much better job of improving their own learning by seeing their teachers at intervention time, and if they still need more help they should see them after school. It is a joy for teachers to help one of their students succeed, but too often, the students who need this extra help resist the extra time it takes from their schedule. This is an area where parents could do a great deal to help their children by communicating with the teachers when your child is struggling and making sure they invest the extra time in intervention and after school. That type of help and partnership from parents to have their student invest extra time with the teacher has consistently proven highly effective.
As always, your questions and comments are welcome at 564-2346 x1001.
Have a great week.