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Best Practices From Savannah Schools #1

Hello School Leaders,

In the spirit of increasing cross-district collaboration, here’s a round up of some BEST PRACTICES I’m seeing at each school I have the pleasure to support.

game-changer

Empowering Teachers As Learners

STEM and Islands have been using very successful teacher-led Ideas Exchange PD model for the past several years. This year Savannah Arts and Oglethorpe are giving it a go with high teacher approval. Jenkins is implementing a “lunch and learn” demo style PD which is getting great praise. Beach coaches are producing a knock-out blog post for their teachers highlighting a teacher of the month and star instructional strategies.

Empowering Students To Take Ownership of Their Learning

 
Beach and Savannah High math team, with support from Coach Lydia Taylor, and a Savannah Arts social studies teacher, Michael Johnson, have rolled up their sleeves to shift conversations from kids “completing assignments” to kids “demonstrating skills”. To do this, they’ve enlisted students to track their own standards-based progress. This is hard work for teachers as designers of learning, but it gives students a road map to developing important life skills. Check out some of these first iterations on this process below.

Other teachers at Oglethorpe, STEM and Jenkins are moving full steam ahead with student-centered learning by “Gamifiying” their curriculum, which students have reported they enjoy because they, “know what they have to do in order to get an A”. Check out Daniel Kamykowski’s gamified curriculum below.

Instructional Technology is exploring badges to support self-directed.

Coming Soon! 
Power Teacher Pro, which some schools will be piloting this year, allows teachers to create a standards-based grade book.  Standards-based grading is a great conversation to start with staff now because it will be a shift for many.

Increasing Cross-District Collaboration

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be creating cross-district PLC “Groups” in Office 365 and inviting our teachers to share resources/ ideas with others in the district teaching the same course. Myers, Oglethorpe and Ellis kicked off this collaboration with a very successful face-2-face Ideas Exchange last month after school. “Groups” expands our ability to collaborate 24/7. I would love an opportunity to show those who are interested, how it works. If you have a date and time in mind, please let me know.

 

Developing Our Teacher Leaders

I have identified teachers across the district who have demonstrated higher than average student growth using the growth model on EOC courses. I’ll be asking these folks to share their strategies and resources with others in our course groups. What I’ve noticed so far is that both teachers with traditional “stick to the book” style and those who have deeply embraced student-centered teaching are able to demonstrate high growth. From this we can infer, when it comes to test prep, no one style is king. Let’s celebrate our teachers diverse styles and talents that they bring to the table.doors

Opening Our Doors

After 8 years of working with leaders, staff and students in 13 of Savannah’s public schools, I’ve found each school has it’s own “personality” with unique challenges and strengths to bring to the table. My hat is off to those of you who have opened your doors to share lessons learned (the good and the bad), resources, and teacher/ leader knowledge with our larger community of educators. This year STEM, and possibly a couple of other schools I’ve spoken to, will be hosting a leadership school tour of their campus and classrooms. This is a great way to “shop” for ideas you can adapt for your school and I hope you will have a chance to attend.

In another brave act of opening our doors, our very own Megan Heberle, Science teacher at Islands HS has “taken over” the GaDOE Instagram account for the whole week! Check it out. Reflective teachers are usually effective teachers.