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February 22
Friday Focus: Creating a Community Within the School
I had the opportunity to visit Ms. Thomas' science class today, and of course anytime I get to hang out with a class I tend to stay longer than planned. Today was no exception.
While I could devote today's post to the impressive way Ms. Thomas integrated formative assessment and mastery learning with what her kiddos did today, I'll save that for a future post and instead share what I observed today in terms of the 7th grade community at Timberview. Folks, this is something to be celebrated.
Our 7th grade community (grade level/team/teams) has evolved during the time Timberview has been open. That's not to say the environment was ever "bad." It has just been impresive to watch the culture grow.
Student expectations for conduct are clear and respectfully articulated verbally and in writing. Students know what the common processes and prompts are, from passing between classes to getting quiet for announcements during lunches...and the students respond very well.
Teacher collaboration is abundant and apparent. Look at the English Language Arts lesson plans, and you'll see that they readily share their plans with one another. That may not mean they execute the plans in exactly the same way, but the collaborative planning is happening. I've been told that our Coach Robeson and Ms. Thomas spend most of their Sunday afternoons together planning, and I very regularly see the science classes from both teams combined for engaging learning experiences. It is also quite common to see Mrs. Shropshire and Mrs. Morrison combine their classes to facilitate unique student experiences.
Use of learning spaces is fluid in the 7th grade team areas. Teachers talk with one another to share spaces, and kids transition from one place to another seamlessly. The environment is both comfortable and efficient, and learning is happening throughout the 7th grade floor.
A sense of family is clearly evident on the 7th grade floor. Students interact courteously with one another and with teachers. Laughter, conversation, and smiles are present and make the setting very pleasant. The teachers have a strong sense of family as well, and they often spend time with one another outside of work in addition to at work...and we are pretty sure it's because they really like one another!
Teachers are visible during class transitions. They interact with kids in the hall and collaboration spaces. They greet kids at classroom doors. They are mobile and present for kids, and student behavior is orderly and appropriate as a result.
Please know that the characteristics I've described are present on our other grade levels as well. Each of our teams has a unique culture that brings about a positive school climate for kids. However, the time I spent in 7th grade today impacted and inspired me.
I'm proud of the conditions our 7th grade community has created for student learning.


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