The Gap in the Community

Julie Tambur

Introduction

There are many changes taking place in education these days. With the introduction of Common Core State Standards, Professional Learning Communities, and instructional coaches, teachers and leaders of schools are working closer together than ever before. With the collaboration happening in today's schools, teachers are building a culture of learning for students, focusing on Professional Developments that really enable teachers to do more, and building trust between teachers. There are still many gaps in school communities in which what we really want to happen is not quite happening just yet.

Culture of Learning

My school has embraced a culture of learning through the use of professional learning communities. In these PLCs, teachers work with the instructional coach to analyze data and make curricular decisions about students. The gap I see in this culture is that all teachers have not embraced the change yet, and until the whole faculty is involved, we will not have complete success.

Leadership

Our school is lead by a dynamic principal, and assisted by the assistant principal, and instructional coach. These leaders all work together, with the teachers, to make decisions and provide a direction that is positive for the school and students. The leaders are fostering a culture that is guiding teachers and staff to work together to achieve the school's vision. (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Many, 2010).

Student Achievement

Most of the teachers at my school have a great attitude about student achievement. It is known through out the school that everyone will work their hardest to ensure every student will be successful. In an ideal setting, every teacher would be on track for helping all students to succeed, but there are some teachers who tend to give up on some students, when they could have tried a little harder, or asked for help.

Trust

There is a good level of trust among most of the staff at my school. We have taken on "The Leader in Me" principles in the last few years, and this has helped to foster trust between faculty members. There are still a few teachers who tend to stay in their own classroom, and do not participate as much in PLC meetings.

School's mission-vision

Our school has very solid mission and vision statements that were collaboratively written by the staff. As part of "The Leader in Me," each class comes up with a mission-vision statement every year, as well. The mission-vision statement follows: "We exist to create a safe, rigorous, and responsive learning environment which prepares students to become independent thinkers, life-long learners, good citizens, and contributing members of a global society."

Academic programs

My school follows the Common Core State Standards for California. To implement these state standards, there are various academic programs in place, including the use of technology to assist students in mastering the standards. There is a gifted and talented program in place, which is primarily done through after school activities. There are also ESL programs and Special Education programs to assist those students in need. The programs offered are very rigorous, almost too rigorous. Ideally, I would like to see the pace slow down a bit, so students are able to gain a deeper understanding of fewer topics, than skimming over many topics.

Professional development activities

The professional development activities the faculty participates in at my school take place in different group settings. Some are for the whole faculty, while some are small group, and some may take place in a one on one setting with the instructional coach. The professional developments are usually aimed toward helping teachers with skills that are valuable to the group. I feel like this is a strength at my school.

Conclusion

Most of the faculty at my school is doing a good job of embracing the changes that have come about in the last few years. Although there are still a few teachers that are reluctant to change, most teachers are taking on new responsibilities to change the culture into a culture of learning for the students. Student data is beginning to show that the hard work is paying off.