Every year the Board of Directors and I go through a process of identifying goals. The board establishes goals for themselves, while I focus on my leadership goals. Similarly, our teachers are in the process of identifying instructional and team goals, while administrative staff are identifying relevant goals for their work. This goal setting keeps us accountable for the commitment we are making to uphold the overall mission, vision, and values of Fayerweather Street School.
I want to share with you several process goals that have been launched this year that include defining a robust teacher evaluation, support, and professional learning process, and reviewing the way we teach math at FSS. Both these important endeavors will improve meaningful learning for FSS students. Early release Fridays are times that we will dig into much of this work.
Assistant Head of School, Micheal Bowler, is leading a team of teachers who are identifying an evaluation process that will include peer observation, peer and administrative feedback, support, and opportunities for professional learning. Our intention is to implement this new process by the 2022-2023 school year. Sharon, Micheal, and I are facilitating the math review process in collaboration with all who teach math. The process includes reviewing what we are currently doing by observing teachers’ math instruction, analyzing student performance and work, and looking at formative and summative assessment data. The next steps will be to read and review best practices, research how students best access math learning, and ultimately piloting a new math program.
Dr. Polina Sabinin, a math professor at Bridgewater State University, is the consultant working with us and guiding the math review process. Dr. Sabinin instructs teachers on how to teach math in K-12 schools. On Friday, September 29, Dr. Sabinin spent the day observing some of our math instruction. In the afternoon, she met with practically the entire staff to take us through a reflection process that included questions such as, what is working well? Where are opportunities for growth and learning? What have we heard from our parents regarding the way we teach math at FSS? Dr. Sabinin also asked us to identify what we want students to experience, as well as our overall non-negotiables in math teaching.
Below is a summary of the big themes that teachers identified:
Value exploration, fun, and creativity
Self-awareness, student voice, and choice
Increasing metacognitive skills and critical thinking
Increasing accessibility; everyone can learn math
Core competencies; varied and broad concepts; depth and breadth
Real-world application; context for problem-solving; relevance
Collaboration and communication
Valuing mistakes and making learning visible
Equitable; students feel represented in the world of mathematics
Emphasizing process over product
Math concepts and ideas are connected
Teachers find many ways to assess math learning
Dr. Sabinin will be working with us throughout the year, as she will be observing teachers, providing feedback, and sharing research on best practices, with the ultimate goal of improving our math instruction and students' opportunities for expanding their excitement and learning in mathematics. Parents, we will continue to share with you where we are in the process and where we will go next with our new learning. These initiatives are essential for our present and future growth as a school.