Principal, Rodgers Forge Elementary
June is always a very busy of time of year, as we close out the current school year and prepare for the new year that awaits us. During the month of June grade levels met to discuss grouping decisions for the upcoming year, conversations were clearly focused on organizing students in an environment where they would be grouped with other students that would promote their own learning and thinking. Teachers discussed what break-out groups would look like in classrooms and who their independent and dependent workers were. These considerations and discussions are most important as we are transitioning more to a “student-centered” environment. We are shifting to create an environment that facilitates students using the technology available to them to inquire and research their own interests. Moving into the 2014-2015 school year we will continue with our commitment to heterogeneous homerooms allowing for flexible student groups. Last year was our first year with this model, where teachers taught all subjects during the day (the exception is math in the intermediate grades). Teachers are excited about moving into year 2, learning and expanding on multiple small group opportunities for their students.
I have worked hard this year to create an environment for my teachers where they are free to fail and take risks. (A big reason they were willing to take on the Lighthouse challenge.) As I met with each teacher for their “End of the Year” evaluation conference, teachers shared how they are excited, scared, yet ready for the challenge that awaits them in 2014-2015 because of this “risk-free” environment. Morale continues to be one of my top priorities for my staff. They reflected on the time and freedom they had for collaboration during the school year to tackle the challenges (especially with English/LA curriculum). I will continue to give teachers this time for collaboration in the upcoming school year; however more attention will be given to differentiated professional development for my staff, as they are all ending the school year in very different places, in regards to technology and creating a more “student-centered” learning environment.
During the Lighthouse meetings our staff engaged in professional development and conversations surrounding the continued need for blended learning opportunities, with more attention to “what” the learning environment for our students will look like. Over the summer months we will look at furniture choices that may promote more of an environment for student collaboration.
I had a lot of “take-aways” from both the ISTE convention and the Lighthouse meetings and look forward to meeting with my TLC over the month of July to plan out PD for our teachers and our parents. We have an obligation to share with our parents the role the device will play in their child’s education and how it will allow students an educational program in which they are learning in part through on-line delivery of content and instruction, but where they control time, pace, and their learning path. Technology will be used to enhance and support what students need to know and will be able to accomplish in a “student-centered” learning environment.