This year, the district implemented a plan to move our schools from great to greater; this plan is called our Strategic Blueprint and helps us focus our work in three goal areas:
• Building learning capacity
• Building learning environments
• Building human capital.
Created by a committee of more than 50 community members, this plan is the district’s promise to our students, staff and greater community. It is a promise to ensure our schools are providing the best possible experience for every child. The Pleasantdale Board of Education approved this plan in March, and the administration and teachers have already been hard at work to complete this year’s action steps.
We are proud of the work we have begun and look forward to the meaningful impact these changes and initiatives will have on our students. Below are a few of the action steps completed and programs implemented as a result of our Strategic Blueprint.
• Flexible learning spaces: Teachers at both of our schools have been experimenting with new seating arrangements and work-friendly furniture. This includes allowing students to use standing desks or low tables – seating that allows children options to best meet their needs. These seating changes give students greater autonomy in the classroom and allow for more focused work.
• Device refresh cycle: Beginning last spring, the district began upgrading the technology used by students and teachers in the classroom. The goal is to provide our teachers with current technology that allows them to best meet the needs of students. These new devices foster an increase in valuable collaboration and help to maximize efficient use of class time.
• Professional development: The district understands the need to have a well-trained and high-functioning staff. Therefore, we have begun the process of implementing a coaching model for professional development. This teachers-teaching-teachers model allows our staff to learn from one another and have critical conversations about student learning and best instruction. Through our partnership with Northwestern University, teachers at both schools will be trained in an instructional coaching model by coaching expert Jim Knight.
• Building a growth mindset: The district has begun providing teachers with training to enhance a growth mindset within our students, staff and greater community. Those with a growth mindset believe mistakes are opportunities to learn and we actually become smarter through these mistakes. We have planned parent presentations on growth mindset, study groups with teachers, and classroom experiences that focus on this concept for our students.
These are just a few of the ways we are advancing the district through our Strategic Blueprint and moving our district forward. We are fortunate in Pleasantdale to have a visionary Board of Education and to have the support to put this amazing vision into action. We look forward to keeping the community updated on our progress as we continue to implement our plan.
Dave Palzet is superintendent of Pleasantdale School District 107.