Learning and Growing as a School

Early Dismissal Days

(12:40 Dismissal – Lunch will be served)
Wednesday, November 18 – K-8
Tuesday, December 1 – K-12
Wednesday, December 9 – K-8

Thanksgiving Break

Wednesday, November 25 –12:00 Dismissal
Thursday, Nov. 26 & Friday, Nov. 27 – NO SCHOOL

Learning and Growing as a School

I have long believed that an effective school must be learning and growing as an organization. During the first week of November, prior to the rush of parent conferences, progress reports, and report cards, we had a series of meetings that demonstrate Lawrence teachers’ and parents’ commitment to a norm of continuous improvement.

  • School Council Discusses Challenge:  In our second meeting of the year, teachers and parents reviewed the notes from last June’s parent focus group on what it means to be challenged and then engaged in our own conversation about the meaning of challenge. When parents talk about challenge, they really seem to mean being engaged in learning.   It was noted that ALL students need to feel challenged, regardless of their level of performance.  The School Council will continue this conversation this year and begin to shape recommendations for how to enhance the way we challenge students.   P.S.  If you want to hear about plans to revamp the ECS (Enrichment and Challenge) program, come meet Matt Rosenthal, the new ECS Coordinators on Friday, December 4 at 8:15 in the Lawrence Library.
  • Faculty Meeting on Making Thinking Visible:  Teachers participated in a preliminary session with Jessica Ross, a consultant from Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero. Jessica will do four days of on-site work with teachers on making thinking visible and promoting a culture of thinking in the classroom, part of our ongoing work to cultivate habits of mind at Lawrence.
  • Faculty Planning Team Maps out the Year:  This advisory group of teachers worked with Laura Horst and me to finalize plans for our biweekly faculty meetings for the remainder of the year. We use this precious time for our school improvement work on habits of mind, technology and collaborative planning.
  • Literacy Team:  This group of teachers led by Literacy Coach Dianne Muendel meets monthly and plays a leadership role in promoting best practice in literacy instruction and identifying needs for meaningful professional development.  The team updated its purpose for this year and also discussed some new ways to engage families in literacy learning. Watch for additional details on the latter.
  • Math Data Meetings:  Teachers in grades 1-5 met during common planning time with the math specialists to review data from our local math assessment (as well as last year’s MCAS data in grades 3-5).   Math Specialists Laura Koplow and Katy McGraw prepared data summaries that highlighted collective areas of strength and areas of weakness to help us plan areas we need to focus more attention this year.   In addition, teams reviewed the performance of individual students and developed plans for differentiating instruction for students based on need.

This work in early November helps us map out our school improvement efforts for the remainder of the school year. It is important to note that all of this work, with the exception of a one hour School Council meeting, took place outside of scheduled teaching time.  Our teachers work hard in their classrooms –and they also contribute to our learning and growth as a school. This work demonstrates how we, in the words of one of Brookline’s new goals,  “foster dynamic professional learning communities that inspire inquiry, reflection, collaboration, and innovation, and use data to improve teaching, advance student learning, and refine the programs and practices of the Public Schools of Brookline.” 

I, for one, feel privileged to work with faculty and parents who bring this commitment to learning and growth.

Rick Rogers

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