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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Getting back at it!

Monday we start orientation for our new staff.  Wednesday is our general meetings for all staff and then two work days for everyone to get ready for the new school year.  Its a busy time and exciting.  2015-16 will be a transformative year in which we begin a teacher leadership program that will change how we professionally develop our staff.  It is hoped that this program will energize our efforts at continuous improvement and help us develop our growth mindset.

Individuals with a growth mindset believe that "that success is based on learning, persistence and hard work."while others with a fixed mindset believe "that success (and failure) is due to innate ability, (or lack thereof)."   (Keith Heggart, Edutopia)  We need to believe in a growth mindset for our students,  pigeon-holing them into skill groups and limiting their learning based on a fixed intelligence model would be the greatest mistake an educator can make.  Likewise for the skill sets of educators.  Teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries, custodians, cooks, drivers;  all of us have the ability to grow and learn.  Thats the mission of teacher leadership positions, to collaborate and help EVERYONE grow in their knowledge and skills so that we can help our students grow to their highest potential.

North Fayette has been and Valley will soon be serving a population where 50% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch.  This threshold means most of our families are just getting by financially, they are struggling to make ends meet and to have hope for a better future.  We are the gatekeepers of that better future.  Opportunities for learning with a growth mindset can increase student achievement and thus enhance future success.  We all need to have this growth mindset.

Teacher Leadership is for everyone.  The most important goal is for greater student achievement.  I like the way Leanna Harris (@leannaharris22) of our most recent teacher leadership training put it:
"Coaching lives in the gap between where kids are now and where they need to be."
The vision of our teacher leadership program is Making best practices our common practices” through having highly effective teachers in front of every student every day.  We have highly effective teachers. Are they highly effective, using best practices, every day? Probably not, and its not wholly their burden. As W. Edwards Deming synthesized from his work on improving the operations of huge corporations, "95% of all problems are the system not the people." The teacher leadership program, is designed to be a system that supports teacher collaboration in order to "Make best practices our common practices."

When we do that, PLC teams become more meaningful, student data is used more effectively, students are more engaged, and the gap between where students are and where they need to be is closed. I can't wait to get started on this new journey for NFV!