2016 update on #TheirFuture

2016 update on #TheirFuture

After several months of work on the #TheirFuture initiative, District administrators updated Board of Education members during a September 2016 board meeting. The information from that presentation follows:

#TheirFuture Process

More than 2,250 faculty, staff, parents, students and community members responded about the future direction of Warwick Valley Central School District with three main areas of focus:

Summary of Key Findings

  1. How learning takes place
  2. A district-wide culture of learning, growth and enjoyment
  3. Tuning “what we learn” to the real world

How Learning Takes Place

  • Hands-on
  • Experiential
  • Project work revolving around big themes and group collaboration
  • Fewer tests
  • Real-world conditions
  • In and with the greater community

A District-wide Culture of Learning, Growth and Enjoyment

  • Build mutual trust amongst teachers, site administrators, and the district office
  • Develop more opportunities for collaboration amongst educators
  • Educate parents and students about the need to take deeper responsibility for the importance of school, and coming prepared each day to learn
  • Support teachers who are passionate in their work and engaging in their relationships with students and welcoming of student participation
  • Create an expectation that teachers will constantly continue to grow
  • Strive for school to be engaging, enjoyable and exciting for students

Tuning “What We Learn” to the Real World

  • Academic achievement is important – but not the only important job of schools
  • Government-mandated academic standards should not dominate the guidelines of learning
  • Expand the range of learning opportunities and a greater choice in what students study
  • School should also focus on learning skills in five areas relevant to lifelong success and happiness after high school:
    1. Interpersonal skills
    2. Intrinsic motivation to learn
    3. Life skills
    4. Critical thinking and problem-solving
    5. Safety and wellness

Next Steps: North Star

  • Input received from our students, parents, teachers and community members will be used to construct an all-District “North Star” vision statement to guide the District over the foreseeable future in terms of designing and implementing changes to the practice of education.

Next Steps: Focus on the Three Core ElementsCreating alternative seating areas for students allows students to choose seating that makes reading more comfortable for them.

  • Curriculum – teachers will work toward mapping and implementing a rich curriculum for every course
  • Instruction – emphasis on consistently delivering highly-effective instruction so all children are intellectually engaged
  • Literacy – committed to elementary literacy effort through writing and reading workshops

Piloting/Design Teams

  • Relatively small number of innovative practices:
    1. Curriculum Team Leaders (Curriculum)
    2. Learning Walks (Instructional)
    3. Writing Workshops & Fountas and Pinnell Training (Literacy)

Professional Development Plan

  • Focused – Curriculum, Instruction, Literacy
  • Ongoing – not a snapshot
  • Internal Capacity – Distributed Leadership, Teacher Leaders
  • Outside Consultants – e.g., Patty Vitale-Reilly, Greg Duncan, Jan Lutterbein

photo of teachers working together to brainstorm about the North Star

Professional Development

  • Coherent Curriculum
    • Mapping
    • Learning targets
    • Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation (CELF)
    • Performance tasks
    • Technology infusion
  • Effective Instruction
    • Learning walks
    • Special Education – Consultant Model
    • Social Studies work
  • Authentic Literacy
    • Writer’s Workshop – Major
    • Fountas and Pinnell Training – Major
    • Switch to A-F levels in Foreign Language – Minor
    • Exposure to Readers Workshop, Leveled Libraries – Minor