Every child deserves a champion
Recently we held a daylong training session for ISD 709 teachers. Hundreds gathered in the Denfeld auditorium around 8 a.m., ready for topics ranging from curriculum implementation to a new bullying prohibition policy, in preparation for the new ...
Recently we held a daylong training session for ISD 709 teachers. Hundreds gathered in the Denfeld auditorium around 8 a.m., ready for topics ranging from curriculum implementation to a new bullying prohibition policy, in preparation for the new school year.
ISD 709 administration and the teacher's union worked together to prepare and organize this training day, learning opportunities for teachers play an important role in student achievement.
The planners asked me to kick things off by providing an overview of where we are and where we're going. Fortunately, I had a lot of good things to talk about, most related to goals within our "4-Year Continuous Improvement Plan."
Nearly 100 teachers spent hundreds of hours this summer to fully align math, science, social studies and language arts curriculums to state standards. New social studies materials accompany these updates, along with new science materials for several courses. This year we welcomed 71 new teachers to our district, the most we've had in a long time. The School Board recently adopted the Minnesota School Board Association's model bullying prohibition policy in accordance with new legislative statutes. We'll work with staff, community, parent and student input to further develop this policy in the year ahead.
Recent state test scores show that ISD 709 schools increased overall proficiency rates in math, reading and science and our overall rate of growth outpaces the rest of the state.
School districts focus on how well students of color, students from poverty and students receiving special education services do on state tests. We want all students to be successful. In ISD 709, these groups of students saw increased proficiency, which is good news. However, their growth rates were often outpaced by students who are not of color, not living in poverty and not receiving special education services. So, while student achievement overall is increasing, in some cases the achievement gap increased.
We know from research and firsthand experience that when educators work together strategically, student achievement increases. With that in mind, members of the Duluth Federation of Teachers approved implementation of professional learning communities throughout all of our schools this year. Teachers will have more opportunities to work with their colleagues to improve instruction, share best practices and insure all students are learning everything they need to be successful.
While plans and strategies are important, when it comes to student achievement, it's also about relationships. I ended my presentation to our teachers with a few thoughts from an educator named Rita Pierson. Pierson taught for 40 years and now conducts professional development workshops and seminars.
Says Pierson, "Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be."
These are powerful words. Most of us know a teacher or adult who made a big difference in our lives, who encouraged and inspired us. As we begin a new school year, let's work to be that teacher, that adult, who champions the children in our community, who never gives up on them and who insists each child become the best they can possibly be.