Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Third Quarter Wrap Up

     Our emerging new White River Valley SU is now well underway.  There have been many meetings for planing the absorption of Windsor Northwest into Orange Windsor as the State Board mandated. The work of the various committees involved with the transition plans and decisions can be viewed on the OWSU site.  My involvement has been focused on Education Delivery, Technoogy, Leadership and Governance, and reporting to the Transition Board. I have spent much time since August learning about strategic plan development from the ICLE experts.  Consultant Angela Fahey has spent several sessions with the Administrators of our schools, and she and I have poured over the data collected since August, sifting out the major big ideas from the various sources in anticipation of creating a viable strategic plan with the steps outlined to reach the best outcomes for our students.  There is still much more to be done as we prepare for an exciting schooling opportunity for all students.
     Our Professional Development Council (PDC) is very active in the planning steps for our SU professional development opportunities.  I now have a google calendar with opportuniites within the SU as well as workshops and classes outside the SU that align with our goals:  Professional Development Calendar  This calendar includes all the information and forms for registrations.
     We had a successful full day of learning for teachers and interested paraprofessionals on February 29. The morning featured a presentation on de-escalation techniques for teachers, which will help them to deal with some difficult students.  Drs. Ketter and Song led the presentation, sharing stories and techniques as well.  The venue was the Rochester Auditorium, which was a welcome change from bleacher seats in the gym.  The afternoon was spent with grade level or content alike meetings with colleagues.  Last October the groups determined what their focus would be for this day.  Notes were taken to guide our next professional development day.  Our next PDC meeting will debrief the February day and planning for summer workshops/classes.  We already have some in the que with Stern Center instructors leading a variety of targeted reading classes for the span across the needs of all students, including middle and high school students who struggle with the content reading. Additional plans will be on the Professional Development Calendar.
     The Smarter Balanced Test window is now open for the Common Core State Standards grades 3-8 and 11.  There have been a few changes to the process and recommendations for a successful and hopefully less stressful testing exerience for students (and teachers!)
Most of our schools will be testing after the spring vacation.
       We have posted the new positions for the SU office for WRV on SchoolSpring.  I am hoping to begin the interview process after the spring vacation.

Monday, December 21, 2015

2nd Quarter Wrap Up

Once the school year was underway, my job duties included helping substantially with the OWSU central office part of the planning for the upcoming new supervisory union, the White River Valley SU.  This will serve as a summary of  the scope of my work since my Sept post.

September finished my training on the First School observation tools.  I will begin my role in their use in the next school year.  Our consultant, Angela Faherty, from ICLE (International Center for Leadership in Education) spent time with the Administrative Team as we developed our administrative Mission and Vision statements. 

Angela also worked with the Communications Committee to design the October 4 Community Day. I was also involved in the coordination and facilitation of that day with Angela.  The turnout for the day was very encouraging.  Participants were divided into groups facilitated by administrators and board members.  I compiled the comments from the participants as they responded to broad prompts, which will serve to guide our work  toward the educational delivery  in the new SU.  Communication and Education Delivery committee representatives met with Angela and me as we distilled the most salient themes that emerged from the comments.  These will serve as guiding points for our emerging Strategic plan, along with the data we gathered from the first day teacher input, and the WE Surveys from communities, students, and teachers.  Readings on a world class education elements will also inform the plan, as we look to make sure we are providing the students for what they will need for their college and career readiness as they leave our system.

I now have formed a Professional Development Council to guide our shared professional development time and to plan the summer professional development topics.  Members of the council are representatives from our schools and myself.  Our next meeting is Thursday, January 7 at 3:30 here at the SU office.  During this time we will lay out our plans for our February 29 professional development time.  We will set our next meeting date at this meeting.  Next on my list is to form is a Curriculum Council.  I have been working toward the development of each of these since I started my work here.  I am hoping to have a Council in place so that we can do some curriculum work in June.  Access to teacher time for this work is problematic during the school year due to the limited time we have built in to our calendars for this important work.

I have developed a  partnership with Castleton University.  They have been very supportive of granting graduate credits for courses designed for our specific professional development needs.  During my tenure, I have been able to develop and teach the following courses for our SU:  Professional Leaning Communities as Data Teams, Next Generation Science Standards, Best Practices in Instruction: Response to Intervention with Differentiated Instruction,  and this year, Multiple Pathways to Learning: Educational Neuroscience. I have also worked with groups of paraprofessionals to help develop understandings of interventions for struggling learners, providing information of the learning process and some games to solidify skills that must be readily accessible, such as math facts and procedures. Our Multiple Systems of Support Grant also includes Castleton Grad courses and workshops around the development of reading strategies and skills, which I coordinate with Castleton.

I know that the areas of curriculum development, instructional support, and assessment tools is not an area with which most people outside the realm of education may be familiar.

I am always happy to offer further information for the work I do for the SU.

We are also preparing our data teams for our first round of STAR 360 assessment,   and looking forward to our use of the Professional Development Day on October 29.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

These past 3 days ( Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) were spent in a wonderful class in support of our First School grant implementation, which has a research base from the University of North Carolina and a focus on literacy PK-3.  The classes were quite rigorous as we data collectors were trained in the use of the EduSnap Classroom Observation  Measure, an application that records what is seen in one minute increments of randomly selected students in the areas of Activity Settings, Content Areas, Student Learning Approaches, Teaching Approaches, Activity Settings, Content Areas, Student Learning Approaches, and Teaching Approaches.  Children spend on average 72,000 minutes in a school year; this tool gives us a look at that.  Data is gathered from the observation of student engagement and the components of the areas observed.  The result is data that presents the complex experiences in a classroom.   The purpose is to provide teachers with a lens through which to consider what is shown about the delivery of educational opportunities in their classroom.   The intent is to promote inquiry and reflection to inform professional development to improve the quality of learning experiences for students.  This upcoming week I will take 8 different coding tests to determine reliability as a recorder. After that step, I will be authorized to collect data for EduSnap.
A data collector hired by the Agency of Education will collect base line data.  I will be collecting data after that, and will be sharing this with the classroom teachers observed.  The aim of the EduSnap is to encourage a mindset of continuous improvement, constant reflection, and effort toward an improved practice.  Schools involved in this study are Chelsea, Tunbridge, and their common preK at Orange County Parent Child Center.
We are also preparing our data teams for our first round of STAR 360 assessment, the very important  October 4 Community Day, and looking forward to our use of the Professional Development Day on October 29.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The last 2 weeks have been very busy ones in the emerging new supervisory union.
We have a new name decided by vote of the Transition Board!   Next year we will be the White River Valley Supervisory Union officially.  The administrators have decided to begin to use this name as we talk about our combined efforts to bring equity of high quality educational opportunities that are highly engaging, leading to achievement at a high levels.

Teachers came back officially on August 24, with 2 professional days in their buildings, with students arriving the 26th for their first 3 days of school.  Several of the schools used a portion of the first teacher days to provide training for teachers on our relatively new SU wide testing, Renaissance Star 360, which we piloted last year at Chelsea, Tunbridge, and South Royalton.  We will test all students at the beginning and ending of the school year, as well as at mid-point for baseline data in the areas of reading and mathematics.  Students who are below proficient will be tested every 2 weeks to monitor their progress toward proficiency in these 2 crucial areas.  Star provides focused targeted information for identifying the areas of need and the means to then remediate those needs. The program also has a component called Renaissance U that has tutorials for the teachers around the testing and the interpretation of data reports.  Our focus will be on data teams at the different grade clusters, with all teachers discussing the students they teach and interpreting the data from Star assessments.  The test is administered in roughly 30 minutes in grades K-10, with targeted testing in grades 11 and 12 as needed.  

This past Monday we gathered all teachers at South Royalton for SU wide professional development.  So much has happened over the past year as we move forward to meet our vision for our new SU.  We wanted to make sure that our faculty has this information so that we can all move forward together.  The administrative team for the emerging SU planned the day’s agenda together, with some of the administrators leading break out informational sessions.  Dr. Angela Faherty, from the International Center for Leadership in Education,  presented a summary of the work this consulting firm has done with the communities and administration.  She shared results from the surveys, reviewed implications from Act 46, and shared the goals and elements for the strategic plan that is to be developed after our community forum on the afternoon of October 4.  The day’s comments indicate that the sessions were well received and teachers are looking forward to the next professional development day in late October.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

8.16.15 First School and professional learning

This past week has been very busy and filled with new learning for my colleagues and myself.  We attended a First School Summer Institute, led by 4 researchers from the University of North Carolina.  We applied for and were chosen as one of 5 sites for this work in the state of Vermont; we are project #23 for this work across the United States.  The UNC team will continue their work with us over the next 2 years, with 3 coaching sessions each year, 4 independent data collections from classroom observations, another meeting of all participants in November, and another institute next summer. 
A K-3 team from Chelsea, Tunbridge schools, along with their principals, joined with our public preK Orange County Child Parent Center for 4 days of classroom culture and teaching changes to support early learning for our students.  The focus was on building strong relationships, and making learning relevant and rigorous.  Work sessions were from 9 am to 4 pm, with a session that included an extended day's work.  We learned about forming relationships in the classroom based on teaching children to problem solve and learn behavior lessons that are independent of any external reward.  
We also explored how to make the connections with students so that lessons could be focused on relevance for their leaning, and the opportunity to develop rigorous learning opportunities for them.
All participants participated with an open mind and came away with some fresh ideas for the education of pK-3 students.  On our final day, we coalesced as a team and crafted an action plan with specific action steps.  Additional education will continue in the next several weeks; sessions will include specific instructional measures for the teachers and for me as an "assessor" and observer in the classrooms.  I am very excited about this work!  I believe it is a great opportunity for us to turn good programs into exemplary programs.  We will continue to meet together as the year progresses.

On Friday it was a great pleasure for me to lead the orientation for teachers new to OWSU.  What a fantastic group of 21 we have!  The largest turnovers were at Chelsea and South Royalton, no real surprise as these are our 2 largest schools. We have a very interesting mix of talented teachers; I am sure they will bring terrific opportunities to learn for their students and colleagues.  I look forward to further work with them and to visit their classrooms to see them in action.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

This is my first blog.  I hope to keep all interested in the Supervisory Union's progress toward building a new Supervisory Union, with our neighboring schools from Bethel, Rochester, and Stockbridge joining us.  I am open to suggestions as I go along, and certainly will do my best to answer questions that you may have.


The 2015-16 school year has begun already.  Soon teachers will return and students will follow shortly after.  Much preparation has taken place over the summer, with many board and board committee meetings as we proceed with planning to welcome Windsor Northwest Schools in 2016-17 to the then newly formed supervisory union of White River Valley SU.  These are exciting times, with much hope to create a unique and vibrant system that truly supports and achieves the delivery of 21st century learning opportunities for all students.  My hope with this blog is to provide ongoing information of progress and to share the new ideas that are bubbling up and the work that is in progress to reach our goals.

We have merged our central office, and have moved to a larger facility with more space to accommodate all of us.  The business side of the office has merged, with Donna Benoit as Business Manager; the Special Education support has also merged, with Deb Matthews as the SPED Director for both SU's.  We have been very busy and are forming new professional relationships with each other.