Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Learning about Your School

As a new Principal at a school you want to collect as much information as you can from a number of people including the Principal leaving the school, Vice Principal, OA, Staff, School Council Members, Students, Families etc. 

Below are a variety of ways that you can go about collecting information.

School House Activity 
1. Staff  work in small groups through this activity to represent through words and pictures the school climate.

Recreate the simple one room school house on chart paper or create your own graphic of the school.

Identify the six areas of that school as per the instructions below:

Foundation - the 4 most important underlying beliefs / ideas / values that the school is built on.
Walls - the 2 or 3 visible characteristics of the school that are supported by the foundation beliefs.
Front Door - something that the school does to make all people feel welcome, especially families who have children with special needs.
Windows - some of the activities or events that take place in the school that promote equity and inclusion
Roof - 1 or 2 large projects at the school that touch on or cover several aspects of the school and what it values.
Bell - one thing that draws attention to the school from the outside.

Take this same activity and use it to understand the learners in your building. You can have staff work in pairs or groups and choose one learner to depict. This could be a way to illustrate your most vulnerable students so that all staff can understand the learner.

Identify five areas of the student as per the instructions below:

Head: What is the student's voice? How does the student describe him/herself as a learner.
Eyes/Ears/Mouth: What are the sensory needs you have noticed?
Heart - What are the family circumstances that could be affecting his/her learning?
Legs - What physical challenges are in the way of his/her learning?
Arms - What behaviours are in the way of his/her learning?

Placement Activity for staff to share information about the school staff, students and community. Comments can be both positive or negative. On a large chart paper have staff put the name of the school in the middle and then separate the page into three areas. Ask staff to tell you what they think you should know about each category as a new administrator to the building.

Staff are given Post it Notes to reflect on the PD they have attended or been apart of in the past 2-3 years that have moved their practice forward in each of the three areas: Math, Guided Instruction and Classroom Management.  You could use any columns that you wish depending on board and school priorities. Alternatively you could use an exit ticket asking staff what questions or further learning do they still want in one of the three areas?

Send home a parent survey
Now this one does kill a lot of trees if you have to do a paper copy so if you have a community that will be able to fill out a google form electronically that would be an excellent way to save paper and easier to collate your results.

Dear  Parents and Guardians:

 Last year, my first year at MWPS I conducted a survey of parents/guardians about their views of the school. The response was amazing!! I used the information that was gathered to help inform our school improvement plan and to focus the energies of various groups including the School Council. I would really appreciate you taking the time once again to complete the survey. Please send a paper copy of the survey to the office with your child by September 8th. Thank you! 

 Name(s) of your children who attend our school ___________________________________________ 

1) What is great about ___ Public School? (Feel free to be specific.) _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________

2) Name one thing you would love to see happen at ___ Public School. Is there anything you would like to do to help support this change? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

3) Is there anything else you would like me to know? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Student Interviews:

Pick a few questions to ask all students in the school. Set up a time and a place and ask one teacher at time to send students down to speak with you. You could do this in the front hall of the school. As the student returns to class another student is sent down. Start with two kids so your not waiting. For older students you could use a google form again but that takes away from meeting the students. I never was able to use this strategy in our school as we had 580 students and it was a busy place.

Sample Question: What do you love about our school? 

Start/Stop/Continue - this is a classic form used at the end of the school year to determine what has been going this year, what needs to stop and what staff would like to start to have happen in the school. 

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