Scanning is an important part of our learning community. We listen to our voices—student voice, parent voice, and staff voice—generate questions to guide our learning.
Our scanning started last year, and the teacher voices led us to begin to develop questions around making learning more authentic to increase individual student ownership.
To do this, the Curricular Leaders worked with the District's Instructional Leadership Team to generate a list of 40+ questions. Our plan was to have students identify the questions that resonated most with them.
Once the students gave us the first set of results, we questioned our process for collecting the data. We had asked students, in groups, to use stickers to indicate which 5 questions resonated with them the most. This is a very common strategy that we use to build consensus. This time, however, we questioned our approach; we worried that students were influenced by the choices of their peers. We invited a second set of students, and asked them to indicate, in private, the questions that they connected most with. We then took the questions with the most consensus, and reframed them for one-on-one conversations with our Teacher Curricular Leaders and a diverse group of students.
Developing our Hunches
How did we contribute to this? After designing, and refining the questions, our used stduent groups to vette the questions we wanted to ask. That stduents feedback led to a series of question (below) that teachers used to interview a broad range of stduents from grades 7-9, individually and in small groups.
The questions asked were as follows:
Q. "What would it take to make it feel safer to take risks?"
Q. "What frustrates you the most?"
Q. "Where do you like having choice?"
Q. "How present are you in class?"
Q. "Do you feel you have opportunities to grow?"
Q. "What distracts you?"
We have a strong culture of learning at Glenrosa Middle School. Our staff are intentionally collaborative, and there is active development towards building and maintaining a growth mindset for all learners. We asked the District's Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) to join us in this journey, and to help us frame our own, unique, culture of learning. Over the past few years, we have worked on developing inquiry questions and used backwards design to develop inquiry projects. We have modeled instructional rounds as a method of focused, non-judgmental observation and reflection of our pedagogy, and used the recent work out of Harvard University to make our thinking more visible.
When we started our inquiry into student learning, our goal was to help students become more responsible for their own learning by offering them:
- more voice and choice
- the safety to challenge themselves and to take risks
- engaging lessons that connected with the students on a personal level
The questions that we asked, and the work staff did with the data, validated our desire to contiue to develop a culture of deeper learning in our learning community.
To support our students on this journey, we continue to provide robust, topical and relevant lessons through our Mentorship program.
To support our staff on this journey, we continue to support collaborative work on our 5 early release days. We also work with the ILT and our Curricular Leaders to reflect upon our practice and pedagogy, to improve our instructional strategies to support learning, and to measure our own individual growth and development by making our learning visible.
As we continued to scan our school community, listening to the voices of our students, parents and staff, we have come up with what we believe the pillars of our school are:
- Learning and Assessment
Next year, our Curricular Leaders will work with staff and lead Spirals of Inquiry into these three GMS "big rocks".