All children can learn when their environment is safe, welcoming, and conducive to acquiring knowledge. Creating this positive learning environment requires educators to utilize effective communication, strong classroom management, parental involvement, academic rigor, high expectations for all, collaboration and collegiality, acceptance of change, and accountability.
All students can learn at higher levels when expected. This position must be consistently articulated and modeled from the principal, teachers, parents and support staff. A school climate that is collaborative and focused on results will ensure that all students learn. Educators need to be committed to frequent and ongoing assessment of student performance that focuses on student learning. Assessment methods should be varied and aligned to instructional practices applied in the classroom. Teachers need to work collaboratively to analyze assessment results and develop strategies for improvement based on the assessment data. When instruction is based on assessment, teachers and students will have a clear image of what students need to know, understand, and be able to do at the end of each unit of instruction.
Change in education must be systemic, sustainable, and effective as measured by increased learning for all students and adults. I believe that for sustainable, effective change to become imbedded in our practice, school leaders must develop a vision that values and utilizes shared leadership. We need to involve all teachers, administrators, parents, and the community in the change process. Finding new solutions to new problems requires a shared sense of urgency, a common vision, and a deeper level of active engagement. Teachers need to feel valued as part of the solution to the problem, more than merely an agent of change for acceptance to occur. If our goal is to improve student achievement, then teachers, staff, parents, and the community must share the problem and solution with the understanding that they are accountable to its success. They must be committed to the shared vision for change.
The education of our students requires educators to synthesize many components. When we unify our efforts around a strong vision, sound educational practices, professionalism, and an environment of collaboration and collegiality, we create an environment for meaningful learning. This positive learning environment embraces the concept that schools are for students and achievement.