It’s the Friday before a long weekend and there are no students on campus, just the teachers, administrators, and staff. Today is a professional learning day, and we’re taking this moment to review and make meaning of the data we’ve collected over the last several months. We’re looking at every grade level starting with kindergarten through 12th grade. Since the beginning of the school year I have emphasized our focus on learning, collaboration and evidence. How well are we impacting learning in the classroom? What evidence do we have and how do we make sense of it? Are we responding correctly to the evidence we’re amassing? Today our teachers are taking a deep dive into the learning results from the last five years. Their assignment is to figure out the story the data tells, and then build a coherent response that is actionable in the classroom.
Looking at learning data collected in your classroom is a very revealing process that is not always comfortable. What is clear is that we have room for improvement, but how do we improve? Where do we set the bar? One of our board members suggested that we should have a minimum standard. What would that minimum standard be? 1200 on the SAT? In my last letter I asked what schools we should use to compare ASFM? We’re looking at our data now, but in order to assess our overall performance should we compare our data to private schools in the U.S.? Europe? Asia? Locally? Today we’re even looking at how our students have done at Tec. How should ASFM students compare to other Tec students? What is our profile? The Strategic Planning Process (SPP) is about asking hard questions and then endeavoring to find the answer. I would like to hear more from you. Among the topics getting the most attention in the Nest is what do we really mean by Open Minds versus Open Minded? Are we “open minded”? Are there topics we should NOT teach? On Wednesday of this week I was asked by both a parent and student when I was going to build a gender neutral bathroom...hmmm, tomorrow? Post your thoughts: https://miro.com/app/board/o9J_loSeghw=/
I want you to take this quiz where you have to choose between four different descriptions of schools: Excellence Academy, Opportunity School, Thrive Academy, The Aspire School. Read descriptions of the four schools, and then take the quiz. Undoubtedly you will want to blend the schools, but you can’t--you have to choose one. What do you value? I will tell you that I value learning, and I believe we should set high standards, demanding more from our students. The world is a complicated place, and it is very competitive. Did you know that there are more honor level students in India than there are total students in the U.S.? Thomas Friedman’s famous book, The World is Flat, has many fun facts like that. I believe our students want us to ask more of them and that if asked, they will deliver. We honor our students by setting high expectations.
On other topics, there is really nothing to report about COVID. Essentially, COVID is under control. We will be PCR testing everybody next week and then we will move to a new paradigm of testing a random sample of 50% of the community. I explained this in my last letter. Our COVID team is second to none. The only request they have is to tell you that we’ve been discovering dog hair in the test tubes and that corrupts the sample forcing a retest. Leave the cute furballs at home, and bring a stuffed animal instead.
The Parent Association’s Trunk of Treat festival in the elementary school parking lot was a huge success. Until I saw the Regio version of Halloween, I thought my town of Concord, MA had a pretty amped up version, but there’s no comparison. In a head to head Halloween decoration competition, Regios beat my Concordians by a mile! The MUN haunted house--terrifying! I received an avalanche of praise for the events, and the ASFM Instagram channel nearly collapsed from all the attention this event drew. Well done, team! Did you all see the Elementary School Day of the Dead altar? Incredible.
Other noteworthy events on campus this week include the Eagle of the Month ceremony. Lots of winners! Again, I find that the common denominator is that all of the awardees seek to support, enhance and participate actively in the ASFM community. Community matters.
Have a great holiday weekend. Stay safe, make good choices, and we look forward to seeing you next week.