Saturday, February 23, 2008

It Matters To Each One

Thursday during regularly scheduled Teacher Meetings, Principal Phillips met with each teacher. The purpose was for Principal Phillips, the guidance councilor, and intermediate RTI representative to hear about the progress of all at-risk students.

The grade level of teachers each took a seat at the conference table with their data notebooks in hand, and the principal asked about individual students one by one using her retention list and progress monitoring plans. The teachers shared student’s diagnostic growth, implemented interventions and safety nets, and the successes and weaknesses of each student. Many times during the conversation teachers from across the table would chime in and suggest other interventions the teacher had not yet tried. This collegial dialogue was not laden with excuses rather informative and upbeat. The teachers were thankful that their principal was interested in hearing about their hard work with students that at times offered significant challenges, and were grateful for additional suggestions when they had exhausted their own strategies.

The principal was taking notes and creating lists of students who needed a motivation boost, who needed a parent phone call, who needed a “talking to,” who needed additional interventions. All of this in an effort to have the entire school, as a community, embrace each struggling student to ensure their success.
The process reminded me of the starfish analogy--You’ve heard it.

A grandfather and grandson are walking on the beach and, every so often, the young man leans over, picks up a starfish and throws it into the ocean. "Why are you doing that," the grandfather asks. "There are far too many starfish on the
beach and you can't save them all. What difference does it make?" "It matters to that one," the youngster responds as he bends over to pick up another
You see, the majority of our students are succeeding. In fact, we are in the 90% range in almost all subject areas for students achieving their grade level standards. However, with a school of almost 1,200 students, even having 10% of our students at-risk still leaves about 120 students we haven't yet saved. 120 stranded on the beach waiting for the right intervention, the right "youngester" to come along and throw them back into the ocean. As a school community, we are going to continue walking the beach, continue reaching out and helping the stranded make it back into the water. We embrace this as our moral obligation.

1 comment:

dayle said...

These grade level conversations where we discuss individual childen are such a hallmark of what we believe about children. It would be hard to work here if you didn't really believe that every child can learn. I love your analogy to the starfish story, because that is so how it is! dayle