How are We Doing?

That’s the continuous improvement starter question that produces discoveries and concerns that create possibilities for growth. It’s an element of coaching, professional learning communities, leadership and teaching. I was recently part of two programs where participants received a focus to help examine “How are we doing?”

The Florida and the Islands Regional Comprehensive Center is leading a project for Florida schools titled Secondary School Redesign Initiative (SSRI). I was a presenter at their workshop held at the University of South Florida: Sustaining Redesign: How to Keep the Music Playing.
I facilitated teams who were exploring the following areas:
1) Core Academics– Core academic learning in English/Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science
2) Stretch Learning– Demonstration of rigorous and relevant learning beyond minimum competency.
3) Student Engagement-The extent to which students are motivated to learn, have a sense of belonging and have supportive relationships
4) Personal Skill Development– Measure of personal, social, service and leadership skills and demonstration of positive behaviors and attitudes.

Wow! Lots of meat there for an individual teacher, department, PLC, leadership team, or entire faculty to examine “How are we doing?”.

SSRI Newsletter contains reports from several of the participating high school and middle schools in the project.

My second opportunity was when I presented at the New Jersey Education Association’s (NJEA) Teaching and Learning Symposium, Transforming New Jersey’s Schools for the 21st Century. My presentation was Teacher Collaboration and Student Achievement.

I was able to attend the keynote, “The Global Classroom”, presented by Dr Shari Albright from the Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning. Dr. Albright drew our attention to the realization that when our students graduate they will be selling and buying from other counties, working for international companies, managing employees from other cultures and countries, collaborating with people from around the world in joint ventures, competing with people around the world for jobs and markets and tackling global problems such as climate change, disease, and disaster recovery.(The Center for International Understanding)

“How are we doing?” providing our students:
-knowledge of other world religions, cultures, and international /global issues
-skills in communicating in languages other than English, working in cross- cultural environments, and using information from different sources around the world.
-values of respect and concern for other cultures and peoples.

Here is an elementary school that will help move you to the question, “What could we be doing?”

John Stanford International School (JSIS) is a kindergarten through fifth grade public, bilingual immersion school in Seattle, Washington, with approximately 400 students; 41 percent of the student body is white, 29 percent Hispanic, 22 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, and eight percent other. Opened in the fall of 2000, JSIS students spend half their day studying math, science, culture and literacy in their chosen world language, either Japanese or Spanish, while the other half of the day is spent learning reading, writing and social studies in English. International content appears across all curricular areas.
Click here to see teachers and students in action.

As I write this blog, I am:
-on a flight to Dubai to work with international schools in that region
-planning a graduate class with my wife who will be teaching in Cairo in two weeks
-designing a coaching training that will bring a group of teacher educators from Aruba to Kansas and Florida to attend a coaching conference and then work side by side with coaches in US schools to sharpen their coaching skills, and…
-announcing the national release in Turkey of a Performance Learning Systems’ designed website- that supports Turkish teachers who have completed training co-designed with Performance Learning Systems materials and trainers. (Take a look. It is in Turkish. Click the button and switch to English.) Click here for press release.

We really do have to keep asking, “How are we doing?”

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