Lisa Brenneman, Keota Jr/Sr High School Principal, writes about the school’s working relationship with Great Prairie AEA to implement positive change in the school.
Keota Jr/Sr High School has made some noticeable changes this year. These changes are having a positive effect on motivation, how kids learn and overall positive culture throughout the building.
We began by developing a data team structure during the 2011-2012 school year. A team of lead teachers was identified and worked with Lisa Brenneman, 7-12 Principal, Cory Johnson, then Great Prairie AEA School Psychologist and now School Improvement Specialist, and Sharma Parlett, Great Prairie AEA Regional Director to read and discuss Leaders Make It Happen. As our team read the book, we began to apply the Data Team principles and developed a plan for implementation of Instructional and Building level teams. In June 2012, we used Teacher Quality funds to hold a two day retreat for our building leadership team. During this time, we used a variety of data sources to identify areas of focus as well as individual student needs; we also used this time to finalize our plan for Instructional Data Teams which included the creation of 9th Period.
When classes began in August 2012, we implemented our Data Team structure. Instructional Teams (Language Arts/Social Studies, Science/Math, and Building Culture and Climate) began to meet on a regular basis, approximately twice per month during 9th period. Our Building Leadership team also met as part of this cycle. Using our 9th Period structure, our teams were able to begin their meetings at 3:00 (during the regular school day) and end at 4:00 while students were assigned to teachers whose teams were not meeting. During 2012-2013 our entire staff also received the Data Team training provided by Great Prairie AEA’s Cory Johnson and Jennifer Adams.
The focus of 9th period is not only to provide collaboration time for teachers but also support for students academically on an individual basis. During this time students have access to all their teachers except on days the teacher’s team is collaborating.
Students are required to stay with teachers that have requested them and if they don’t stay they are truant. The requests change on a daily basis and mean the student needs re-teaching, has missing work, has discipline referrals or needs individual attention from a teacher to improve attitude or level of respect shown to others.
The goal is to feed a positive culture. The positive is that all students “in good standing” earn privileges. The junior high students go to the gym for recreation/socialization and high school students may choose to leave or socialize/study with peers. Each student hangs a calendar inside their locker that tells them each day what is going on and what their options are.
One day a month all students participate in teambuilding activities. Again, this is designed to improve the culture and relationships between students as well as between students and teachers. All students participate in building activities no matter what level of standing they are in.
Through the data team structure the teachers identified last period absences for school activities as one of the building issues that needed to be addressed. The creation of 9th period also solved this problem because in the past they would miss an entire class period.
Flexibility, planning and organization have been the key to the success of our data teams and 9th period. As a staff, we are always looking for new ways to maximize learning and take full advantage of the time we have with students and teachers at school.