By Jennifer Schutte
On February 7 & 8 our elementary school was involved in an Intensive Site Visit in the area of reading. The specific groups of people that met and collaborated included a Statewide School Improvement Team from the Department of Education, Local Education Association Members, and Postville’s Differentiated Accountability team. The members of Postville’s DA team are Tim Dugger, Ryan Zurbriggen, Jennifer Schutte, Danielle Rose, Mary Guese, LaRae Schutte, Linda Monroe, Jennifer Harman, and RJ Olsen. This visit replaced the previous 5 year site visit that all schools are required to participate in. This process is based on the Iowa Professional Development Model by using collaborative Inquiry questions and is informed by healthy indicators of data.
Through the Intensive Site Visit we discussed how to use a research based protocol that has proven to positively impact student learning. The Statewide School Improvement Team will continue to support us by communicating with our DA team monthly.
Several celebrations were discussed through the site visit process. Our Newcomer classroom and expanding our ESL staff has proven to have a great impact on student learning for ALL students. We have implemented Lexia as a reading intervention program for K-8. We have expanded our data discussions, considering multiple data points and sources. Our Differentiated Accountability team uses graphic organizers and color-coding to facilitate understanding of information and communicating with others. Professional Learning Communities have become a way of life, not an initiative or process. We have a strong core team that is committed, open and honest in discussions. We focus on the “why” when making decisions. Our Title team created a database that centralizes all data for efficient and effective use and access for all teachers. Through our TLC grant we have increased our leadership capacity within the school.
As we move forward, our team will prioritize our efforts considering what action step will have the greatest impact on student learning. We will be identifying skills that are missing or need to be strengthened within our core instruction. We will clearly define the role of each teacher in this school improvement process and the importance of a common language and expectations. We will trust each other and honor the process.