West Branch Community School District’s
Vision: A Future Focused Community of Learners
Mission: Preparing Students to Live and Learn with Passion and Purpose
Destination: All Students are Career and College Ready
(Adopted, 2014, SIAC)
W.B.C.S.D. Core Values and Beliefs
- We believe our students need global, project-based, technology enriched, personalized learning experiences.
- We believe our students deserve effective, rigorous, facilitative teaching and leadership opportunities.
- We believe our students and staff deserve safe, world-class learning facilities to enhance our chances of living out the District’s Vision, Mission and Destination goals.
- We believe in safe, healthy, non-threatening learning environments where all students and staff feel connected, cared for and supported. (Adopted, 2014, SIAC)
WBCSD’s 2017 – 2020 Strategic Intent
(Theme) The Educational Challenges require Future Focused Solutions: Continuous Improvements that Support Transforming the Teaching and Learning Practices.
- To fulfill the district’s vision, mission and destination goals through purposeful the enactment of our core values and beliefs.
What and How?
- Enhancing our Teaching and Learning Environments
- Physical Environments: Facilities re-investments that support great teaching, learning and programming
Goal: Facilities improvements through the articulated, planned use of PPEL and SAVE funding streams.
Goal: Pass bond referendum to meet Facilities Advisory Committee and Board of Education goals based community and stakeholder input processes.
- Internal Environments: Developing a Culture of Coaching, Collaboration and Instructional Leadership
Goals: Continue to enhance, expect and support instructional coach interactions for all teachers.
Goals: TLC Administrative Support professional development (2-year)
Goals: Develop and implement organizational culture enhancement action plans with improved culture input processes and results-oriented “success celebrations.”
- External Environments: Enhancing Parental and Community Partnerships
Goals: Develop and Implement culture enhancement action plans with routine culture input surveys and success celebrations and highlights.
Goals: Improve grading communications (feedback) and P/T conference participation and meaning
Goals: Improve community and business connections to schools through J-Term support, facilities use and involvement, internships and “beyond the school walls” experiences.
- High-Impact Teaching Strategies tied to staff identified “Non-Negotiables for Great Teaching”
- Focus on District Strategic Plan Goal #1: Effective Teaching and Learning
Goals: 1.1 Implement a comprehensive, rigorous, intellectually challenging curriculum aligned with Iowa/Common Core through best practices School Improvement Implementation
– Through the use of Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) and embedded MTSS processes
– Through the use of Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) process to support great teaching and improve learning outcomes.
– Through the use of (1:1) Technology to Deepen and Enhance Learning Opportunities
– Through the use of Standards-Based Grading (SBG) and Competency-Based Education (CBE) strategies that focus on “the learning.”
– Through the use of Personalized Learning (PL) strategies through the use of technology to give students more control over their education experience. Blended learning involves leveraging the Internet to afford each student a more personalized learning experience, meaning increased student control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of his or her learning,”
– Through the use of research-based Anti-Bullying and Social Emotional Learning support processes
- Professional conversations to define the tenets and expectations for “great teaching” in the West Branch Community School District.
- Build a holistic understanding of instructional design as a core teaching skill.
- Apply an understanding of the district “non-negotiable creed” to lesson planning and/or curriculum development processes.
- Evaluate (as part of BLT work) practices and identify ways to improve approaches to designing instruction. The work should pay special attention to the balance between direct, guided and facilitative pedagogy.
- Develop common, consistent, measured and monitored SBG approaches and practices designed to enhance the effectiveness of student learning.
- Utilize and put into action the recommendations of the West Branch SBG Input Summit Committee.
- From Hattie’s and Wiggin’s work regarding high impact strategies, ASCD research has identified (8) common “school culture” factors found in high performing schools (April 2016):
- The belief that all students can succeed at high levels
- High expectations for students, teachers and administrators
- Collaborative decision making
- Teachers accept their role in student success or failure
- Strategic assignment of staff with an eye on results
- Regular teacher-parent communication (feedback, feedback, feedback)
- Caring staff and faculty
- Dedication to diversity and equity
- Fostering “student voice” and “student-centered” philosophy
- Message: “Take ownership of your future, engage in your learning!”
Goals: Enhance our staff’s capacity to “empower learners to learn any time, any place, and at any pace, both in school and beyond,”
Goals: Implement effective “J-Term” and “Genius Hour” processes and all programs that support personalizing the learning experiences complete with feedback and presentation of learning features.
For clarity, for me, the concepts of personalized learning (PL) or competency-based education (CBE) do not simply allow students to simply “picking a path” or “pace” on their own. They need professional guidance. That is why we have professional teachers and support staff and your roles are critical to their success! The students will need your guidance and will look for your feedback and professional support. The challenge is to guide students around their interests.
There is an old saying in education, “Interest drives emotion and emotion drive learning.” We must establish the conditions that allow students to deepen their learning as connect to important concepts curricular concepts and standards of knowledge. Of course, technology is simply a tool available to support this work. It is great to be a one-to-one (1:1) district as long as we are constantly improving our instruction around the tools and data available to us. Direct instruction, physical involvement and embedded job-professional mentoring experiences are often even more beneficial.
I am thrilled that we are implementing a “J-Term” for the 17-18 school years. It should be a vehicle to accelerate our transformational work. The established days should not be the only time we allow personalized, project-based work. I hope J-Term evolves into a “final sharing process” for students who have been involved in project-based, learning portfolio experiences topics for some time before J-Term begins. I have confidence in our planning team’s ability to avoid “activities trap” that could evolve. Naturally, the J-Term should provide us with an authentic ways to engage parents, community and regional businesses and experts.
So, we call these processes “personalized” or “transformational.” In the end, they are simply required teaching strategies for our times.
Thank s for all that you do for students and families!