Everyone Needs to Join Hands for a Purpose:
Meet the Clarendon Lions
By: Meghan Ables, 2016 Arkansas Teacher of the Year
Teachers at Clarendon Elementary are joining hands to make sure every student grows and succeeds. New leadership is bringing new curriculum and programs in an attempt to raise the bar of expectation and increase student achievement. Teachers from all disciplines and grade levels are opening their doors to help each other. I have no doubt that because these teachers are joining hands, together they will reach their goals.
All elementary schools have a rotation of activities for students that include art, library, physical education, and more. At Clarendon Elementary, the students won’t begin these rotations until the afternoon. The reason for these late-in-the-day activities is because those teachers are spending their mornings supporting and co-teaching with the classroom teachers. Together, they are providing extra support for students and working to improve student success. The PE teacher is helping to teach literacy. The art teacher is assisting with small group instruction. The librarian is helping with RTI. They have joined hands for a purpose. (I must mention that this new art teacher is doing an outstanding job of incorporating STEM into her lessons!!)
Teachers from all levels are traveling across the campus. Teachers at the elementary school are going over to visit classrooms and observe at the high school. Teachers at the high school are going over to visit classrooms and observe at the elementary schools. Teachers are going in to see a variety of procedures, teaching methods, levels of engagement, and more. What a learning process! Teachers can learn so much by walking into other classrooms. At the end of the observation process, teachers will reflect on what they learn, and hopefully, make changes to increase achievement in their own classrooms.
The district fully supports student and teacher growth through PLCs. Twice a month, the district has an early dismissal for teachers to collaborate, plan, and assess data. The first Monday and Wednesday of every month is reserved time for teachers. I love that the community supports this policy so that students can have an individualized plan for their learning. This time can improve differentiation, strategies, and cross-curricular collaboration. More districts should consider this process for their teachers and students.
The 5th and 6th grade students join hands with their teachers to lead their parent -teacher conferences. Portfolios are maintained and students are taught to reflect on their learning. During parent-teacher conference, the students can show and explain their growth with evidence from their portfolios. Students can discuss their areas of weakness based on self-evaluation. Because students are doing this, they will be more prepared to self-evaluate in the future. This is a skill that makes a life-long impact.
Around ten teachers will be training through the Arkansas Leadership Academy this year. This training helps teachers to find a focus for growth, develop a plan to achieve their goals, and develop leadership skills that can be passed to their colleagues. Through my training in the Leadership Academy, I have found tons of resources, grown my professional network, and gained skills to help me create and lead positive change. This training will be extremely beneficial to these teachers.
I believe that this small school is maximizing its resources. With a focus on teacher morale and higher expectations, this district is on the right track to bring a dramatic change in student achievement. These teachers know the value of teamwork; therefore, they have joined hands to make these necessary changes. Together, they are learning new programs, touring each campus, training to lead, and preparing to grow exponentially. These Lions are roaring, and it won’t be long before we can hear them across the state.
On a side note…..thinking about how these teachers have joined hands made me reflect on our nation. I hope that all of us can put our differences aside and join hands to make sure our kids and their kids will have hope for a fabulous future. Let’s work together to teach strong moral and ethical character. Let’s teach acceptance. Let’s teach charity and selflessness. No matter who leads us, we can impact the hearts of our future leaders.