Welcome to 2019. I’m so excited to know that students are back in our schools under our care. There is nothing like walking the hallways of a school and seeing teachers and students hard at work. When a student finally understands complex subject matter, a feeling of confidence consumes the student, and the teacher is rewarded with a sense of accomplishment. This is the reason educators come to work every day, to get that one moment when the lightbulb comes on in a student’s mind. There is nothing like that feeling. I have a feeling that 2019 is going to be a terrific year for Covington Independent Public Schools. I can sense it - the handwriting is on the wall.
With the new year, it is a great time to remind ourselves of our fundamental purpose for why we do what we do - educate students. Student learning is our number one purpose for existence. We discussed this on Opening Day the past six years. Can you believe we have been on this journey for six years now?
In the book, Learning by Doing (2010) the authors remind us of what Confucius observed more than 2500 years ago. Confucius states, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Most educators acknowledge that our deepest insights and understandings come from action, followed by reflection and the search for improvement.
Let’s reflect on our guiding principles.
High Expectations for ALL (Focus on Learning) – Learning is our fundamental purpose. When a school or district functions as a Professional Learning Community, everyone within the organization embraces the idea of high levels of learning for ALL - its students and themselves.
Student Centered Culture of Collaboration – In a student-centered environment, all decisions are made on the premise of what is best for students. Adult convenience is secondary. Collaboration is a “systematic process in which stakeholders work together interdependently in order to impact classroom practices in ways that will lead to better results for their students, for their teams, and for their schools.” (Dufours 2010)
Commitment to Continuous Improvement – In organizations like ours, the goal is not simply to learn a new strategy, but instead to create conditions for perpetual learning. Innovation and experimentation are viewed as the norm rather than the exception.
Finally, earlier this week I attended a workshop on Collective Efficacy. We also touched on this topic during Opening Day as well. Collective Efficacy is our confidence in our ability to promote student learning. John Hattie, author of Visible Learning, identified Collective Efficacy to have the highest effect size (1.57) on student learning of 250 influences on student achievement. Influences that have (.40) effect size is equivalent to a normal year’s growth. In other words, our beliefs in our abilities to educate our students can produce a little over three times the amount of student academic growth than a normal year’s growth. I’m confident that we can make a difference in our students’ academic growth regardless of the baggage they bring to school. I hope you are as well. Let’s have a terrific second half of the year.