Principal, Edmondson Heights Elementary
As we think about the transformation of teaching and learning, it is important to stop and celebrate the wins. At this point in our journey, we have taken time to acknowledge our work related to enhancing the learning environment so that it is more student-centered. During the first quarter of school, we focused on the physical space of the learning environment, specifically in looking at providing students with different types of spaces for learning, instructional resources, and evidence of student learning around the room. Our teachers have embraced the idea of creating environments that support student learning and have relentlessly demonstrate growth during the first 8 weeks of the school year.
In terms of the physical space, we started off the year by designing spaces that reflect student choice and flexibility for teaching and learning. It was a big deal for our students to be able to have a say in where they worked around the room. Pairing this work with our work developing content knowledge for Common Core Standards in reading and math has allowed for us to design student-centered learning spaces that deliberately support rigorous learning outcomes. We have been able to enhance the physical space in terms of providing visual resources that support student’s independent thinking and learning. When one walks in our classrooms now, they would see evidence of anchor charts and resources that contain teacher and student input. These visual resources serve as evidence that our teachers are using the curriculum with fidelity which allows for our students to have access to complex texts.
Also, one would also see evidence of small group instruction. Focusing on the physical space has allowed for us to discuss the ways that we are providing small group instruction each day to our students. The idea of space has set the stage for talking about small group areas as well as areas around the room (for students not meeting in the group) to engage in purposeful independent learning or application of skills. The space allows for our students to have choice and flexibility in where and how they work independently.
Our teachers have expressed an interest in supporting each other at this stage by providing feedback and celebrating each other’s work. In response, we have implemented instructional walk-throughs during grade level meetings. The purpose of the walk-throughs is for our teachers to visit the classrooms of their colleagues to collect evidence in how the physical space supports student-centered learning. We use the Learner-Centered Professional Development Tool to identify look-fors and set a purpose for the type of evidence that is being collected. The top part of the tool is folded back, so that the focus is on the physical space and what the students are doing. This practice supports the idea that Team Edmondson Heights is committed to walking the walk of being a professional learning community.
As a member of Team Edmondson Heights Elementary, I am very proud and honored to work with learners that are committed to professional growth. Each day, our teachers are demonstrating that they are learning and applying knowledge to enhance the physical space of our classroom environments to support all of our learners. Quarter One has been a great chapter in our journey and we are very excited to see our momentum continue into Quarter Two!