In my first two years as the Jewell principal we focused on curriculum adoptions and student formative and summative assessment protocols. We adopted a variety of new reading and math curricula as well as a new social sciences adoption, and including a high school and middle school science adoptions. Working closely with our Educational Service District we evaluate our formative assessment processes and developed a district wide initiative to improve our skills in differentiated instruction. With the ESD’s help Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) became our school improvement model.
In our K-8 classrooms we implemented the model of assessment that I developed at Pringle Elementary and linked it with the Oregon standards in language arts and mathematics to ensure our daily lessons focused on standards acquisition. In this model we looked at timelines related to summative state testing and integrated formative opportunities into our assessment calendar. This allowed our multiage classrooms to develop standards based assessments that students could access based on their skill level not their chronological age. With this approach we made extensive gains in student performance on both local and state measures.
We also held extensive training in instructional practice and linked those trainings opportunities to teacher evaluation plans, well before Oregon went to SB90 as part of the ESEA wavier. We had different evaluation protocols for teachers with differing time in the field. At Jewell we were able to individualize evaluation through a generous staff development budget in our contracts.
Our students’ success had its roots in our small size and our teachers’ efforts to adjust instruction and assessment practices when developing multi-aged learning programs with new curriculum adoptions. Small schools have to be creative and Jewell had the resources and the willingness to reflect on our practices. We were successful in moving to multi-age classrooms because of our commitment to putting student’s first, a willingness to look outside of our past practices as new resources and new class configurations made our changes necessary.
There are four things that Jewell brought out in my leadership skills:
- Developing Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design framework really helped me visualize backward planning, or planning with the end in mind as some refer to this instructional approach.