Holyoke mindset pledge evolves at elementary
Visible learning strategies have been a key focus in Holyoke School District this school year through professional development that staff members are participating in. Elementary principal Kyle Stumpf and JR/SR high principal Susan Ortner highlighted visible learning success reports at the Feb. 27 school board meeting.
Stumpf cited the characteristics that the elementary school staff is looking at through the acronym LEARNERS. And evolving from that, he recited the Holyoke Dragon Mindset Pledge, which received rave reviews from the board.
At 8:15 a.m. each morning, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited over the P.A. system, and Stumpf said they’re now also saying the Holyoke Dragon Mindset Pledge. Starting with sixth-graders, and moving through the grade levels to kindergartners, students will have the chance to lead the pledge in the mornings.
It’s the intent to work with students to learn the pledge, one line at a time. The kids are excited about it, and that’s what is making a difference.
Stumpf said there are growth mindset posters around the school with visible success criteria. Other visuals with characteristic traits are lining the hallways, and teachers are seeing success with the visible learning strategy being used in their classrooms.
The LEARNERS acronym learning guide focuses on characteristics of visible learners, as follows:
—Learn from mistakes.
—Evaluate work based on success criteria.
—Ask questions and accept challenges.
—Receive and respond to feedback.
—Never give up.
—Reach goals. (Set, achieve, record and celebrate goals. And repeat).
—State what I am learning.
At Holyoke JR/SR High, feedback is the topic that staff members have chosen to focus on as it relates to the visible learning development and how it will impact student achievement.
Ortner said the staff has opted to observe each other to obtain feedback from watching colleagues rather than starting with students. The process will help the staff better prepare for the types of feedback to give to students starting next fall.
Staff members were honest about the fact that they would be more apt to go see a fellow staff member that they had a relationship with, but that wouldn’t necessarily provide the best feedback.
As a result, Ortner alphabetically assigned observation sessions for the peer feedback. Two observations were scheduled for each class period — one in the first 20 minutes of the class and the second in the last 20 minutes. This allowed for observation of bell-to-bell instruction.
The third series of observations was conducted last week. Ortner shared comments from the first reflection sheet and said she was pleased with responses and how the staff is embracing the visible learning spectrum.
One observation cited that answers aren’t just given to students, but they’re made to think their way through a problem. A teacher being observed reflected, “I give more varied feedback than I thought.”
And it was noted that as an observer, a teacher has the opportunity to see how others do things to carry over to their own teaching.
Further work individually and collectively will push the visible learning strategies forward.
2018-19 calendar options reviewed
Three school calendar options for 2018-19 (all with five-day weeks) were reviewed at last week’s meeting. Final approval of a calendar was on the agenda for the March 6 board meeting and will be reported in next week’s Enterprise.
Option No. 1 is the closest to the current year calendar, noted Superintendent John McCleary. It cites staff inservice days Aug. 13-15, with the first day of school for students Thursday, Aug. 16.
The last day of school for students would be a half day Friday, May 24, 2019.
Option No. 2 is basically the same as No. 1, except it adds two more inservice days (Aug. 9-10) to the beginning of the year. Both options No. 1 and No. 2 incorporate 172 student-teacher contact days during the year.
McCleary said at the Feb. 27 meeting that his recommendation would be for Option No. 2.
The third calendar option moves the beginning of the school year back a week, with students starting classes Thursday, Aug. 23, and staff inservices set for Aug. 16, 17, 20, 21 and 22. The end date would remain the same for a total of 167 days of student-teacher contact.
Budget parameters presented
Parameters for the 2018-19 budget were shared by McCleary at last week’s meeting. The balanced budget will be built using a student count of 595.
Other highlights include:
—Fund steps, fund the increased Public Employees Retirement Association employer contribution and cover the cost of health insurance for the employee (not increasing the out-of-pocket costs for employees on the district-covered plan). Personnel expenditures are the top priority.
—Fund new salary schedule and provide a step contingent on what funding projections will look like.
—Continue the 1:1 device program within the technology budget and update computer labs.
—Make junior high restructuring a priority to find and fund two new positions, if possible. McCleary said lots of discussion is still going on with regard to this topic.
—Maintain a modified learning intervention program through the Academic Opportunity Center.
—Continue with capital projects on a Tier II level of master facility plan and ongoing adjustments for future improvements and updates.
—Set a goal for a gradual and safe process to replenish district reserves.
—Make staffing issues address prior needs and junior high support, including all components such as English Language Learners and special needs populations.
—Continue to upgrade instructional materials based on curriculum development and organization.
In other business at the Feb. 27 meeting, the Re-1J board:
—Approved Kyle Stumpf as elementary school principal for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.
—Hired Charlene Kleve as a long-term substitute for JR/SR high ESL teacher Allie Balog’s maternity leave.
—Held a one-and-a-half-hour executive session at the close of the meeting to discuss personnel matters.
—Discussed options for a superintendent search process and timelines for the selection of finalists and interviews for the JR/SR high principal position at a work session preceding the regular board meeting.
—Heard from a district patron about concerns around student safety as a result of the recent shootings. He was pleased to hear the district has a safety plan and does lockdown drills.
—Heard from board member Dennis Herman that he looks for lots of collaboration coming from career tech-ed programs as graduation requirements are addressed starting with the Class of 2021.
—Acknowledged the gift of polo shirts for the sixth-grade Brain Bowl team from Stacy and Tawney Rueter and Tyrell Brownfield with Colorado Livestock Carriers out of Holly.