It's a great year to be a SUPER Titan!
Another year has rolled around, and we are SUPER excited to have another opportunity to spend the year learning!
We have worked all summer to plan and prepare our schedules and materials to make this our best year, yet! There are several initiatives we are continuing this year including our focus on writing and reading. In addition, our math and science teams have great things planned, and you will see more attention given to building character and celebrating the children's accomplishments.
Effective Schools research (Lezotte) confirms there are six areas of focus in effective schools. The six areas are:
1. A culture conducive to learning - Our goal is to become a model Conscious Discipline school. The philosophy and practices of Conscious Discipline focus on teaching children to engage in kind and thoughtful actions and words, build relationships with their class and school family, learn strategies to regulate their reactions when things do not go as planned, and value their contribution to keeping our school family safe. If you hear your child "noticing" kind thoughtful things, you will know they are learning to focus on the positive.
What we are doing at school: We are Modeling and Noticing good choices and celebrating accomplishments.
What you can do at home: Model "noticing" at home, and tell your child how proud you are of them every day.
2. A climate of high expectations - We know children will rise to our level of expectation, so if we "set the bar" too low, they will reach it and no more. We will set the bar high at Highland. We know if we provide the right support, the children will reach the "high bar."
What we are doing at school: We are striving to provide the right balance of pressure and support setting up the opportunity for the children to see what they can accomplish with the right amount of effort and tenacity.
What you can do at home: Reinforce the fact that effort and attitude are everything, and anything can be accomplished if we have these two things right.
3. A focus on effective instruction - Even though we are adults now, we commit to continually improve. Our mindset is, no matter how good we think we are, we can always get better! Highland staff are committed to working and learning together every day. We hold Teacher Learning Team meetings every week to review data and study effective practices to continually improve our capacity to be expert teachers.
What we are doing at school: We are working daily to study what the educational research tells us is effective and implementing best practices in the classroom.
What you can do at home: Commit to reviewing your child's take-home work with them and asking questions about their learning. Commit, also, to keeping in close contact with the teacher who will provide recommendations for at-home learning support.
4. A clear and focused mission - Last school year, the entire HES team collaborated over our mission and vision and created this vision...Highland Elementary is a school community that celebrates diversity, commits to academic excellence, and promotes a positive learning environment. This year, we will build on the vision to establish a mission and core values. We desire your input on the development of both.
What we are doing at school: We are evaluating every new idea and initiative on the basis of whether or not it "fits" our vision.
What you can do at home: We want your feedback and input in shaping our mission and core values.
5. Opportunity to learn and time on task: Effective schools allocate sufficient time for teaching and learning, and our school schedule provides that time. More than allowing time, we have to make the most of the time allotted utilizing effective practices and ensuring our content and strategies have maximum impact on student learning.
What we are doing at school: We are studying, analyzing data, researching the most effective strategies, and holding conversations about what is working, what is not, and strategizing solutions as needed.
What you can do at home: Have your child at school on time and all day every day. Five minutes may not seem like much when a child is tardy or checked out early, but multiply five minutes by 180 school days, and we have lost 15 hours of teaching and learning time over the course of a year.
6. Frequent monitoring of student data: Our goal is to have enough testing to provide us with an intermittent idea of student growth but not so much that we are over testing resulting in invalid data. We will continue balancing formal and informal assessment to be sure we are targeting our teaching to the areas of greatest need for each student.
What we are doing at school: We are selecting the right mix of types of assessments to provide us with strong actionable data, and we are reviewing and planning from that data.
What you can do at home: Contact your child's teacher several times in a grading period to ask how you can support the content being taught in the classroom. Question your child about their assignments and what they have learned. If they say "nothing," be persistent asking probing questions to convey high levels of interest in your child's work.
We will continue our writing initiative as a model writing school, focus on improving our learning strategies for mathematics, and increase our science and technology focus. In addition, we plan more celebrations of student academic and character accomplishments and opportunities to participate in extension groups like book clubs, show choir, and honor society.
We love what we do and we are very thankful for all of our children. They represent tremendous opportunity to grow our future generation! Thank you so much for entrusting them to our care!
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.
Every child, every day, whatever it takes!
Dr. Paula Tharp, Principal
Highland Elementary School
Madison County Schools