Sangster Elementary

  1. PLC Story
  2. PLC Practices
  3. Achievement Data
  4. Awards
  5. Resources

 

Below are some of the steps we took as a staff to create our successful PLC culture:

 When I arrived at Sangster Elementary three years ago, we had to answer some questions together as a staff:

                What is our purpose?

                What collective commitments must we make in order to get better?

                What are our targets and timelines?

                How best can we achieve our goals without adding more to our plates?

Next, we established our Mission, Vision and Values and produced a brochure for our families and community.  (See attached)  We have spent time at PTA meetings and Principal coffees explaining PLCs so that parents also understand our collective goals and commitments as a school.

As a staff, we read Getting Started and spent Professional Development days focusing on the big ideas of a PLC. 

We held a two-day training during the summer for our school team leaders to dig deep into the components of a PLC and to build capacity within our school.  Throughout the school year, we hold monthly team leader meetings focused on providing adult learning and having discussions on how to lead teams to focus on student achievement.    We also have monthly staff meetings dedicated to professional learning as an entire staff.

This school year, we created a “Team Leaders PLC Binder” with protocols, resources and tools to help assist teams with their work.  (i.e.: looking at student work, building consensus, building team norms, etc.)  We have posters everywhere in our school building with the four questions, so that students, staff and parents know our focus is on student learning.

For the past two years, we have had an emphasis on collective inquiry.  Every staff member has a copy of the book Getting Started and Learning by Doing.   Teams are encouraged read, learn and grow from each other.   It is ok to be where you are.  It's just not okay to stay there.  Growth is not optional.

Our master schedule provides every team (4-9 teachers) to have at least 1 hour of daily common time together.  At least 2 of the 5 days each week are spent collaborating together as a team.  Some teams spend all 5 days together as a team during their common team time.  Team members hold each other mutually accountable.

Sangster has developed a results-oriented culture.  Teachers analyze data (formative and summative assessments) as a team.  We have gradually shifted our focus from teaching to learning.  Instead of teachers deciding what should be taught through their pacing guides and developing assessments, team are now agreeing on common curriculum focuses, developing assessments and analyzing results together.  We have published an “Annual Report” for the past two years which is posted on our website to highlight our results-oriented culture.  (See attached)

Through our daily 30-minute intervention/enrichment “Falcon Time,” teams are better able to re-teach and/or enrich students based on what they have learned.  Teachers recognize that intentions are good, but it is results that count.  This was a cultural shift for Sangster.

When hiring new teachers over the past three years, we interview as a team with our questions focused on three big ideas of a PLC:  learning, collaborative culture and results.

Lastly, celebration and recognition is important.  Celebration is built into our monthly staff meetings, our weekly staff newsletters and regular recognition of individuals.  Our work is complex and recognition and celebration is an important component of our school culture.

While Sangster still has work to do, we have so much to celebrate!

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Using data more frequently and working collaboratively to analyze and act upon data is the best way to close the achievement gap, particularly with team-developed and team-analyzed common formative assessments.   Sangster teachers use the Learning Loop (Plan, Do, Study, Act) to monitor student learning on a timely basis.  They regularly monitor student learning through formative assessments and summative assessments. As a team, they look at student work together (e.g.: writing samples, math tests, district “Horizon” and DRA assessments, etc.) and determine who may need additional support or which students already understand the learning objectives and need more challenging instruction.  Our school provides a common 30-minute intervention/enrichment time by grade level called “Falcon Time.” A focus on results and monitoring student learning is essential to team effectiveness and continual improvement.

Timely feedback is critical for both students and teachers to promote continuous learning.  Our Assistant Principals provide weekly feedback to teams and teachers on their meeting agendas and quarterly data. Teachers are expected to provide regular and on-going feedback (verbally, written, student conferences, etc.) to their students.  Attention to the results of formative assessments allows for teachers to identify students who need additional time and support to become more proficient.

Teachers and teams at Sangster develop SMARTR (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-Oriented, Time-Bound and Rigorous) goals and some grade levels have students develop their own SMARTR goals to have ownership of their own learning.

Our Response to Intervention (RTI) Core Team meets every other week and assists teachers with strategies about how to help with interventions and learning.  This was a catalyst to enhance both student and adult learning.  When adults are learning together in high-performing teams, student learning is also enhanced.

 

2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.

Sangster’s “Falcon Time” is a designated common 30-minute daily intervention time to provide additional support and/or enrichment to students.  Teachers differentiate learning throughout the day, but this specific common time also provides teachers an opportunity to switch students to better re-teach or enrich a specific skills based on strengths.

This school year we had an emphasis to strengthen our Response to Intervention (RTI) initiatives. It was a catalyst to enhance both student and adult learning.  By working collaboratively and learning together rather than in isolation with various perspectives of teachers (upper grade, lower grade, special education resource, reading specialist, guidance counselor, administrator, etc.) we created a systematic process to address student learning challenges. Our RTI efforts also fostered conversations about trainings/professional development needed in specific areas in our school so that we can better meet student needs. For example, we trained more teachers in LETRs, Do The Math, and Fundations to provide more interventions with Tier I instruction.  Establishing our Response to Intervention (RTI) Core Team shifted the responsibility from the special education resource teachers to the entire staff with teams taking ownership for their student’s learning.

3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.

High-performing teams are groups of people who have collective efficacy and are highly focused on their goals which achieve high results.  High-performing teams outperform all other similar teams and expectations.  Our high-performing teams at Sangster are mutually accountable to one another for achieving collective goals.  In order to have a high-performing team, you must build trust. And in order to build trust, you must provide training in collaboration skills, consensus building and conflict resolution.  As mentioned previously, hiring the right people and providing the training are essential to building high-performing and collaborative teams. 

At Sangster, we interview new teachers as a team with our questions focused on three big ideas of a PLC:  learning, collaborative culture and results.  We have also invested time learning about each other’s strengths and developing team norms.  A group of teachers does not become a team until we must rely on each other to accomplish a goal that none could achieve individually.

Over the summer, we trained our team leaders on the following topics so they could help with the momentum and facilitation of building high-performing teams who are interdependent with common goals:

Big Ideas of PLC and Change Process

Leadership and Influence

PLC meetings with Agenda and Norms

PLC Leaders Expectations and Questions

Conflict Resolution

Mission / Vision / Values/ Goals

Learning Loop and Data

Our highest-performing grade level teams are the ones who seek feedback, care about each other, have an organizational awareness of our school goals and mission, have mutual accountability, and celebrate their successes.

 

SANGSTER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT DATA

 

SCHOOLWIDE: PERCENT OF STUDENTS MEETING/EXCEEDING PFOCIFIENCY

Standards of Learning (SOL) State Testing over 3 years

Subject Area

2013–2014
Sangster/State

2014–2015
Sangster/State

2015–2016
Sangster/State

English

All students:

Special Education:

Gap Group 2 (Black):

Gap Group 3 (Hispanic):

Math

All students:

Special Education:

Gap Group 2 (Black):

Gap Group 3 (Hispanic):

 

 

91/74

63/43

87/59

85/65

 

93/74

65/43

86/60

97/67

 

 

93/79

69/45

83/65

97/71

 

94/79

70/48

887/67

96/73

 

95/80

70/46

93/66

96/71

 

96/80

74/49

83/67

94/72

GRADE 3: PERCENT OF STUDENTS MEETING/EXCEEDING PROFICIENCY

Subject Area

2013–2014
Sangster/State

2014–2015
Sangster/State

2015–2016
Sangster/State

English

Math

 

90/69

94/67

93/75

95/74

94/76

97/77

GRADE 4: PERCENT OF STUDENTS MEETING/EXCEEDING PROFICIENCY

Subject Area

2013–2014
Sangster/State

2014–2015
Sangster/State

2015–2016
Sangster/State

English

Math

87/70

90/80

94/77

96/84

93/77

92/83

GRADE 5: PERCENT OF STUDENTS MEETING/EXCEEDING PROFICIENCY

Subject Area

2013–2014
Sangster/State

2014–2015
Sangster/State

2015–2016
Sangster/State

English

Math

90/73

85/73

91/79

75/79

98/81

92/79

 

Awards include:

Virginia Index of Performance (VIP) Award from the Virginia state Board of Education 2014-15 and 2015-2016.

Sangster is ranked in the top 4% of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and Virginia public schools.

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