Friday, November 7, 2014

Reflections on the First Quarter

It has been approaching five months since I officially became the Headmaster at Saipan International School. There have been successes and failures in that time, but luckily more successes. It is good to stop and reflect on what worked and what didn't work.

1. Improvement of Professional Development: Mixed review with this matter. We lost a valuable PD day because of a typhoon, so nature really worked against us on that one. But many of the teachers have taken advantage of a local PD opportunity offered by the public school system for Educational Technology. We are implementing Achieve 3000 and we received some training on the program onsite. The school as become a member of ASCD, so Educational Leadership and the online resources of the website are available to us, which be useful in the future. The books supplied by our membership are starting a small professional library as well. Moving forward, we have a couple of PD days in the second semester and we will make the most out of those opportunities.

2. Improvement of ELL instruction: Achieve 3000 is being used in G3, G6, and in the secondary English courses a bunch. The implementation is still underway, so we will not really see much data until the second semester. ELL students are learning English; I can clearly hear it on campus and see it in their work, which is great. Our Title I program is offering small group instruction for many students. AR scores across the elementary school are up, so there is more data demonstrating that students are learning and improving.

3. Improvement of Technology Integration: After seven years at my last school going through multiple 1:1 rollouts, I have learned one huge thing about technology integration -- the network needs to be reliable. If the network isn't reliable, teachers won't use technology, or at least not creative and innovative ways. The network is now split into teacher and student networks, which means the load is more balanced and provides teachers better access. It was a load of work to get to this point, but we are ready to move forward with this now. In addition, the upgraded the elementary computer lab which was in desperate need of it. Our teachers are beginning to notice the changes with the network and computers. Big steps forward here!

4. Improvement of curriculum, instruction, and assessment: Are you ever really done with this act? Not really. Curriculum, instruction, and assessment are at the heart of what we do as educators and they are continually in need of improvement. Due to the typhoon, we lost a valuable work day that would have given us a chance to move on these items, but instead, we need to begin this work in the second semester. Institutionally, I have decided to implement a curriculum review process similar to what my former school was doing. Every five years, each subject needs a thorough review that includes vertical alignment. With only one teacher per subject, horizontal alignment isn't a big issue, but vertical alignment will need to be seriously looked at by the faculty.