Meadowlark Elementary

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

Thirteen years ago, Meadowlark Elementary made a conscious choice to shift from pockets of great individual teaching to a dynamic group of teachers and faculty working collaboratively to change the way students learn within our school. We began with a group of teacher leaders from our school attending a PLC institute in Seattle, Washington. Inspired after the conference, we sat as a group on the floor of the airport terminal as we waited to board our plane and worked out a plan on a napkin that would ultimately change education in our community.

Meadowlark Elementary School operates under a shared leadership philosophy. We started our journey by defining our fundamental school purpose. Together, as a collaborative staff, we began to develop a mission statement that truly represented our beliefs, and this statement still rings true today. The Meadowlark mission is “Creating Lifelong Learners…Respecting Diversity…Fostering Community.”

After establishing purpose, we turned to logistics. In order to truly be able to collaborate and work together on common goals, our schedules had to be changed to create common work time. The school structure consists of grade level teams that include both certified and classified staff ranging from classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, and student teachers to counselors and the principal. The instructional coach facilitates collaborative team meetings on a weekly basis. The primary focus of all team meetings is student learning. Minutes from each meeting, along with documents such as formative assessments and rubrics, are kept in an organized digital binder for easy reference. This system allows the principal and other instructional leaders to monitor implementation and to support staff in their endeavor of meeting the expectations of our school community.

In a shared leadership environment it is very important that staff view themselves as a team. Each staff member is asked to lead team meetings and share data and successful teaching strategies. Staff constantly focus on becoming a great team. Our definition is simple: a great team is a group of individuals who refuse to let each other down. The staff and community of Meadowlark School truly believe this. We take responsibility for our students’ learning and hold each other accountable by sharing data and creating shared goals. While operating under this leadership philosophy, Meadowlark Elementary School has made tremendous gains in student learning as evidenced by state and local assessments.

Today, we have one formal collaborative team meeting for each grade level each week, along with common planning time for grade level teams on the other four days of the week. Meadowlark’s commitment to the PLC at work process led to impressive results. Our state assessment data went from 22% proficiency to 96% proficiency in a span of a couple of years. Meadowlark also earned National Blue Ribbon status, as well as status as a model PLC school. Our professional culture has grown around the PLC philosophy and framework for thirteen years, making it difficult to imagine Meadowlark Elementary School without its focus on learning, collaboration, and results. We are proud to have been the first model PLC school in Wyoming, and our commitment to the work continues so we can ensure high levels of learning for all of our students.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

In an effort to answer question two in the PLC process, “How will we know if students are learning?”, the teachers and other members of the grade level teams have worked together to create proficiency scales and common formative assessments in the areas of reading and mathematics. The grade level teams are continually developing and refining common formative assessments surrounding the standards. When our PLC journey first began, we primarily focused on the content area of writing but as a school; we have now began the process of developing common formative assessments in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. The creation of common formative assessments has directed our professional dialogue to organically create deeper understanding of the standards, along with a better knowledge of what we expect students to learn, how we measure such learning, and how we monitor student progress. Our assessments and our assessment practices continue to change and improve at Meadowlark. As we continue to build our professional capacity, we continue to build better, more effective assessments that provide us information on student learning.

Building high quality and informative assessments are only valuable if the data is being analyzed and used to inform instruction. Meadowlark Elementary has systems in place to guarantee teams time to collect and analyze data. Our school utilizes common data sheets to enter pre and post test scores, as well as longer term summative district and state assessment data. Through this collection and analyzation, grade level teams are able to discuss and plan strategic instruction for specific student needs. Within the weekly PLC meetings, teams have data discussions utilizing data analysis protocol and future focus for intervention and enrichment.

 

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

Question three in the PLC process, “How will we respond when some students don’t learn?”, is a question that drives our team meeting discussions. We have systems in place to create equitable learning opportunities for each student in our building. All students receive quality first-round instruction within the classroom on a particular learning target. Then students are given a quick common assessment to help identify their current mastery of learning target. Utilizing the data from common formative assessments, the teachers and paraprofessionals work together to develop strategic, research based instruction for the standard assessed. We are intentional and targeted about our intervention and enrichment groups. This assessment data is also used to break students into intervention and enrichment (I/E) groups for additional support or extension through a second round of instruction. Our schedule allows for a 30 minute I/E period for each student, four days of the week. Each member of the grade level teams takes a small group of students during I/E and provides instruction based on a recent common formative assessment. Meadowlark Elementary utilizes this cycle of learning that ensures instruction consisting of intervention on a skill students are struggling with, or enrichment on a skill they have mastered.

To drive our I/E process, we have developed some unwavering beliefs. The students needing the most intensive intervention are put into the smallest groups and work with the teachers who are most qualified to teach the concepts they have yet to learn. In this way, we ensure the most at-risk students are given the best opportunity to be successful. Meadowlark staff also believes that we need to meet the needs of every learner. This sometimes means moving beyond the grade level standard to enrich students, or taking extended time to ensure learning in the at-risk population.

Through reflection on our school wide data, we also recognize that students may need more levels of support beyond core instruction and our I/E process. Following the I/E cycle, we administer an additional short, common assessment to help re-assess student learning. This allows us to measure growth, reevaluate teaching, and determine if our learning goals were attained. We also have in place a third level of intervention with a specialist teacher for students who have still not learned the objective from classroom instruction and the intervention small groups. Therefore, we also run flexible booster groups at each grade level where any student needing more support can receive it in a timely and intentional manner. We recognize that in order to accelerate learning students may need extra support and intervention in order to learn at high levels. In this way, we are utilizing each and every staff member to make sure the needs of all students are being met. This cycle of continuous learning and reflection allows us to grow as professionals, as well as see sustained growth in our student population.

 

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

Ongoing, embedded professional development is a key component to continuous improvement for staff and students at Meadowlark Elementary. Each week, our staff meets for one hour after school for professional development on a topic determined by our school data as an area of need. For example, our data has recently shown our students are advanced at word attack skills and strategies and can decode with high accuracy. However, the at-risk students in our school do not show the same level of consistency of answering and responding to reading comprehension questions. Due to analyzing our district summative reading data, we determined a need to better learn about and improve our teaching practices in the area of reading comprehension. Utilizing this common thread, our weekly professional development has revolved around best practices of teaching and developing a deeper understanding of reading comprehension through professional texts, staff presentations, and coaching.

Meadowlark has embraced the idea of continual improvement and learning as a staff. We are utilizing our one-way glass to model small group lessons and debrief and discuss patterns we are seeing in particular students. We are also using this discussion as a means for professional development as we learn from each other’s expertise and ideas. This year we have also embraced the idea of peer coaching and coaching cycles through our instructional coach. Through this coaching, our initial instruction and classroom management in all classrooms is improving and becoming stronger with each interaction and coaching cycle.

Meadowlark staff also participates in whole school, as well as team level, professional book studies. Last spring, as a whole staff, we read the book Heart by Tim Kanold. Within our team meetings and professional development, we also discuss other articles and reading assignments in a continuous effort to always be learning ourselves.

In an effort for all faculty to be a part of the PLC process, our specialists meet once a week to hold their own PLC meeting. In these meetings the physical education teacher, the music teacher, the art teacher, the librarian and the counselor meet with the principal and the instructional coach to discuss areas of social and emotional development within the school. The specialist PLC has taken on a goal of 6 different character development themes to teach consistently throughout each of the six months remaining this school year. The current theme is acceptance and each of the teachers is planning and working together to roll out lessons on acceptance within their particular content area.

 In an effort to collaborate on all levels of faculty, we have also instituted a monthly PLC meeting for our paraprofessionals. At these monthly meetings we are building capacity through professional text discussions, ongoing training and professional development in behavior management, running records and other content specific areas. The paraprofessional PLC has allowed all of our staff an opportunity to be heard and to have a team to offer support, encouragement and guidance.

 

Achievement Data Files

  • National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence 2012

  • National Model PLC Year 2013

  • Exceeding Expectations in ALL areas of the Wyoming Accountability Model - 2017 & 2018

  • Rated #12 Best Public Elementary School in the State of Wyoming by Niche! 2018

  • Addrienne Sims - 2018 Wyoming Teacher of the Year finalist

Top