Kenneth J. Leighty •
Southmoreland Middle School • Alverton, Pennsylvania
Southmoreland Middle School
The true meaning of success!
I have been teaching in the same school for over 10 years. I always "thought" I was a good teacher, sometimes even feeling I was a great teacher. I worked hard, took a lot of work home, stayed after almost everyday. Then the idea of starting a PLC in my school came to us. I thought, " why do we need this, aren't we successful?" Boy did I get a wake up call. The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment started and we saw that only 39% of our students were proficient or advanced in mathematics. I was failing as a teacher! How could this be since I was working so hard? What was the problem?
Finally, we got the PLC ball rolling and so many doors opened up to me as a teacher. Were my students learning? How could I tell that they were learning? What would I do if they weren't learning? What would I do for the students who were learning? So many things helped me FOCUS on learning, not on my teaching.
I believe that not only have I become a focused teacher, but have found that teaching is less stressful because of our supportive team. I can go to any team member (or anyone in the school) and comfortably ask anything that I am struggling to accomplish. I am happy to report that 6 years later my school (and my students) are at 80% proficient and advanced (and actually almost 60% advanced). I would highly recommend looking at what you are doing and seeing what changes need to be made to improve student learning in your school.
One final thought, "what would you see a school doing, if their fundamental purpose was to ensure that ALL students learn?