Cedarville High School is located in Crawford County, Arkansas, the southern edge of the Ozark National Forest.
When I talked with Claire Pence, Site-based School Improvement Specialist, about her school's successful efforts to improve teaching and student learning outcomes (and how Indistar helped), every word she spoke mattered. This quote sums up how the high school understands and approaches improvement.
"There is no scolding, no scoffing. When someone doesn't know something, there is only encouragement and opportunity to lift up experts who can help."
You can read the full story here. And you will want to. It is full of ideas, practices and even questions that you can implement and ask today.
Here is a sneak peek of what unfolded in our conversation and what you will discover in detail when you read the story.
1. Indicator Selection was Informed by Research + Data.
Upon their designation as a Focus School, the Leadership Team conducted a comprehensive needs assessment of their school. An external auditor examined practices related to curriculum, instruction, culture, climate, and leadership. The results informed the selection of indicators of effective practice, which they would use to assess, create, and monitor tasks within Indistar.
2. Indistar is More than a Tool For Planning + Tracking Indicator Implementation.
While they believed Indistar was intended to manage their improvment efforts, it wasn't long before the leadership and instructional teams discovered that Indistar provided them with much more, including the language, the research, and the space to examine and discuss their own individual practices and understandings, their effectiveness in working together as an entire community, and the expertise and knowledge that each one of them could contribute to the growth and improvement of another.
3. Tasks Should Be Written in the Form of Smart-Goals.
Tasks are actions to achieve and complete, it's where the change happens, as you will read below. Therefore, urges Claire, make them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Relevant, and Time-sensitive.
4. The Tasks is Where Change Happens: Find A Way to Involve Everyone In Their Creation and Execution.
The teaming structure at the high school includes weekly Leadership and Content Team meetings; every other week Grade-level Teams meet. While the Leadership Team took on the responsibility of assessing indicators and creating tasks, they built in a process to receive feedback from the Content Teams whenever a task was created. Find out the impact this practice had on the quality and sustainability of their improvement and the culture of their school.
To learn more about this school and their specific practices to improve, read the full story here.
CALL TO ACTION
We all have a story and we'd love to hear yours. Those who have already worked with me have shared that they were not prepared for the impact that reading their story in writing would have: pride, accomplishment, joy, triumph. No matter how small or how big a story or success or experience--those sharing them and then reading them say that it amplified the resolve and commitment of their teams, of their school, at just the right moment. To get started, email me here (write in Maureen Mirabito) or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can't wait to work with you!