Lisa and I decided with our EL school designer Ken that we would start our journey with EL through work with learning targets, not implementing the signature focus of EL which is learning expeditions. Grade level teams working with learning targets looks and feels like doing the basics but our hope is that it gives grade levels a solid foundation of designing meaningful learning experiences with students and implementing an assessment system that involves students in their learning. Each grade level and our specials teachers were able to work with Ken for a half day of release time. Our plan is to have a half day release day every month for grade levels to work through curriculum and designing learning investigations. So, we got started on this goal. Some teams ran with it further than others, but each team got to wrestle with the work which was mainly our goal for the first few days. Ken will follow up with teams next week on Thursday with shorter meetings during their 45 minute team meeting block to see how the work has progressed. Lisa and I will focus our walkthroughs on learning targets as well. I think it was a relief for the work to begin. There was anxiety present with many on the staff about what were we going to do with Expeditionary Learning and through some purposeful, focused time, we were able to start on the work. We really want the staff to start seeing the work with EL as our school improvement work, not some separate entity but I realize that will take a while.
We have had another new development last week with our students. We held our first school wide morning meeting. We held this meeting with all 45o students on a Friday morning and it combined our work with Responsive Classroom and Expeditionary Learning. We went through the process of a typical morning meeting, first doing the pledge and minute of silence and then doing the greeting, announcements, energizer, sharing, and closing activity. It was truly a special morning for us. I know a school wide assembly is really nothing special and every school has them but to see all of the kids going through the process of the morning meeting, and embracing the aspects with our teachers and staff, was really special. I think it really made me feel how far we had come in the past few years. The agenda for this meeting was developed by Lisa and some teacher leaders and it really worked well. But part of my reflection on it was that two years ago we could not have had this meeting, last year we really were not ready, but finally this year we were. Hopefully it can continue successfully as teams pick up the hosting duties, it will get better most likely, but it really was a special moment for our school.
Lastly, I want to comment on the work of our committees. Committees are new to Greer, at least during my time and we have our committees focused on every academic and cultural aspect of our school. It is messy work, and hard work, but I am starting to see some progress with it, and will update more next week when they meet again.