In keeping with the car analogy used in PART 1 of our discussion about the Lower School’s journey, we recently had four outside experts come in and take a good hard look under the hood of our car to examine the impact of our past and present experiences, and provide recommendations for what is needed to successfully continue on our journey in this complex and interdependent world.

 

These professionals spent two days observing in classrooms, meeting with faculty members, talking with students, and collaborating with the leadership team to answer the following essential questions:

 

  • Direction: What is the vision for the Lower School in the next five years related to the areas of curriculum and instruction, scheduling, and staffing models?

 

  • Alignment: What are the roles, resources, systems and structures needed to achieve this vision for Lower School?

 

  • Commitment: How do we effectively involve all constituents to establish and sustain the ownership, responsibility, and positive energy needed to achieve this vision for the Lower School?

 

The visiting team presented a summary of their commendations and recommendations to the entire Lower School faculty at the conclusion of the two days, and provided a detailed written report that is currently being reviewed to determine priorities moving forward.

The commendation from the visiting team that made us most proud was about our students.  They commented several times about the character of our students, and they shared how much they enjoyed interacting with them. It was clear to the team, from the questions our students asked and answered, to the way they confidently collaborated with adults and other children throughout the day, that we truly were blessed to work with very talented and well-rounded students.

 

Division-wide commendations:

 

  • The learning environment and atmosphere is safe, open, comfortable, and enjoyable

  • Learning spaces and facility promote flexible, personalized, and collaborative opportunities

  • The talented staff and faculty is open to ideas on growth and development

  • Leadership provides professional development options and infrastructure that position Ravenscroft to succeed in future of learning environments

  • Internal and external resources are well above industry standards for educational equity and excellence

  • Citizen Leader framework provides a focus on self, others, and global impact necessary to prepare kids for college and career

  • Technology infrastructure in place to support multiple time and talent configurations

  • Previous professional development in English Language Arts is evident in instruction and learning

  • Teacher initiated implementation of math workshop provides great potential for differentiation

Division-wide recommendations:

 

  • Clear standards, outcomes, measures, and supports must be identified and communicated that respond to now, next, and future requirements for all stakeholders

  • Manage and balance the preservation of what historically works alongside of what research says about more effective models for teaching and learning

  • Incorporate interests and talents of faculty and students into decisions about scheduling and routines that focus on student achievement and leadership, taking advantage of the physical environment, the flexibility available to private educational institutions, and a highly motivated staff

  • Create a comprehensive, aligned, integrated, and tiered professional development model that includes a focus on people, process, and technology tools to leverage time and talent configurations in a model that allows teachers to learn, practice, and develop agility with future ready models

  • Provide on-going training in the meaningful use of technology: level of cognitive demand, real world applications, collaborations with peers, adults, and experts

  • Design innovative prototyping structures, processes, and cycles as opposed to pilots needed to enact next level change

 

In addition to the division-wide commendations and recommendations, they also provided specific commendations and recommendations for the three areas of focus: math curriculum and instruction, differentiation and advanced learners, and the use of time and talent.

 

So what happens next?

 

The Lower School faculty is currently reviewing the detailed visitation report, and during our last division meeting, we will be deciding our top three priorities to focus on moving forward.

 

Two action items already in place to address some of the recommendations are:

 

1. A group of faculty members will be working this summer on a grant that will allow them time to review the math curriculum in the Lower School and strategically plan for ways to improve and enhance an already successful program.

 

2. A task force is being created to review the schedule and explore some of the innovative suggestions provided to our school community.

 

We appreciated all the parents who provided feedback during this process and will continue to reflect on everything that was shared so we can improve the overall Lower School experience for all our students and parents.

Citizen Leaders change their world when they are visionary, strategic, resourceful, adaptive, and reflective-– this process has allowed us to model and grow in these competencies and position us for success on the road ahead.

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