Montview Elementary School,
NOTE: If you have not already read the "Design and Implementation" section, selecting that from the menu before reading further will provide a context for the replication details below.
The Montview school community has a shared vision that includes a "no excuse" culture.
Professional development at Montview is linked and aligned with respect to several types of systems and dimensions. Individual professional growth goals for teachers are nested within school goals, school goals within district goals, and district goals within state requirements and model standards. Professional learning occurs in relationship to a cycle of data-based assessment, planning, and action. Central to all decisions is a set of shared beliefs that places students at the center of all decisions and that focuses on teachers deepening their understanding as well as developing their skills to support student learning.
At the level of classroom practice, teachers' skills are polished and extended through weekly coaching sessions with a teacher-leader. These sessions are based on the content of teachers' action plans, which they develop through their analysis of various forms of student data. On a quarterly basis, each teacher discusses the progress of his/her students in the areas of literacy and mathematics with a leadership team comprised of an administrator, the teacher-leader who is the presenting teacher's coach, and the team of specialists who support students in the teacher's class.
Montview uses a model of site-based shared decision-making. Teachers are integral to all planning and decisions. For example, professional development has included work by groups of teachers to develop school policy in the areas of reading, writing, spelling, and handwriting. (Math policy is currently being addressed.) The policy that teachers have developed in each area includes a continuum of student performance standard that teachers use to assess both student progress and their own professional learning needs.
With the development and implementation of a mission and belief system, Montview has been highly successful in:
The Literacy Learning Network became the school's partner, and with their help Montview adopted a model that parallels the literacy instruction and staff development in New Zealand. At that time New Zealand had the highest literacy rate in the world with demographics similar to Colorado. The staff development component focused on developing understandings in literacy based on the research of Marie Clay, Margaret Mooney, Richard Allington, Brian Cambourne, Don Holloway, and Lev Vygotsky.
The following belief statements were developed collaboratively among staff during our first year of school wide implementation:
All teachers at Montview are assigned a teacher-leader, or coach, who helps build their literacy and math practices. This is accomplished by weekly observation and feedback sessions by the teacher-leader based on an action plan written by each certified staff member and administrator toward his/her own professional development goals. All staff spend 30 minutes a week in conference with their coach, polishing and perfecting their diagnostic skills and matching student needs with precise resources and approaches. The instructional approach requires a lot from its teachers. They are coached to create classrooms where children are actively engaged in their own learning and where literacy and math are looked forward to even more than recess. In addition to the weekly coaching, teachers average six hours of planning time a week. This is possible because an educational assistant is hired to relieve staff for coaching so that their planning time is not sacrificed.
Technology has been essential to instruction. Each classroom has been equipped with three computers, funded through the District and PTO. A printer is provided for every three classrooms. One specialist instructs all students in the use of technology and assists students and teachers in integrating technology into classroom instruction for constructing and publishing writing pieces, math investigations, and practicing and maintaining old and new learning.
Building a Community of Learners
Site Visit Documentation
Montview Elementary School's success was recorded based on a site visit conducted by the National Awards Program for Model Professional Development in 1997:
|There is clear evidence of the infrastructure, content, and process components of professional development.||District mentoring and professional development opportunities support site efforts. District supports site-based decision-making. School is engaged in becoming a professional development school. District supports administrators in learning about the change process.|
|The professional development goals are part of a long-term school improvement plan.||Three-year action plan links instruction to professional development goals and outcomes. Data are continually reviewed to refine and adjust the plan and activities.|
|Professional development is integral to the school culture and promotes continuous inquiry and improvement.||Math teachers are currently engaging colleagues in dialogue around the elements of balanced math practice. Teachers feel renewed by their learning opportunities.|
|The specific content, instructional strategies, and learning activities are designed to reach the professional development goals.||Instructional professional development materials focus on literacy goals and individual action plans. Dialogues and coaching are linked to professional development goals.|
|There are processes for documenting and monitoring the alignment of school improvement plans, professional development activities, teacher and student outcomes.||Each teacher creates a body of evidence for each student in math and literature. Teachers review these bodies of evidence in quarterly meetings with the leadership team.|
|Organizational structures support the implementation of professional development activities on the individual, collegial, and organizational levels.||Time for individual planning and professional development is built in to the teacher's day.|
|The professional development design includes a comprehensive evaluation.||School commissioned one comprehensive evaluation and is in the process of arranging for another. Quarterly reviews of all students' progress are used to gauge the effectiveness of the professional development activities.|
|The data collected are used to make appropriate programmatic adjustments to professional development.||Quarterly conferences often result in topics for subsequent group dialogue sessions. Results from quarterly reviews are used by teacher leaders to plan professional development activities.|
|The lessons learned are useful for other schools or districts.||Staff participate regularly as presenters in professional development conferences.|
Costs and Funding
Administrators, through a shared decision-making process with parents and staff, have adopted new methods for allocating the District and Title I budgets. Teacher leaders are funded through Title I. Instead of having teachers remediate students, teacher leaders have become instructional experts who coach teachers to in-depth understandings, which in turn drive their classroom practices, improving learning of all students. Teachers have pooled all instructional resources into a shared resource room, where materials are checked out as needed instead of being left in classrooms unused, or duplicated. Human resources such as specialists, paraprofessionals and special education staff are assigned to individual classrooms based on the number of high risk students in each room as opposed to giving each classroom the same amount of specialist of paraprofessional support.
By restructuring their use of Title I funds, the school is able to mobilize and implement resources to support teaching and learning. Title I money pays for educational assistants, who relieve teachers for participation in coaching sessions, so that teachers' planning time is not sacrificed; these assistants have regular opportunities for professional learning so that they can actively support student learning. Resource teachers in specialty areas (e.g., music, art, technology) both allow for the provision of planning time for teachers and reinforce instructional goals; for example, the technology teacher's work with students is linked to development of literacy skills.
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