Whitney L Johnson •
W.E.Cherry Elementary • Orange Park, FL
W.E. Cherry Elementary
W.E. Cherry is, no doubt, and anomaly, located in Orange Park, FL in the heart of Clay County which backs up to what has been deemed the most dangerous school district in the state. Our geographical location lends us to be a mini-melting pot of diversity. However, we have purposed at our school that we would not be the statistical norm, and now reside in the top 10% of all Title 1 schools in the state of Florida while carrying a 100% poverty rate.
This success is derived from the dynamic group of teachers that make up our “team.” Now when speaking of teams, which is the foundation of the PLC, the term is often loosely thrown around to mean a group of people coming together to collaborate for a common purpose. Notwithstanding, our team could be better defined by the great Vince Lombardi:
Individual commitment to a group effort-that is what makes
a team work, a society work, and a civilization work.
Our “team” works together to perpetuate academic and social-emotional success for all students. This mind-set fosters the idea that we are “battle-buddies,” as they say in the military, and when we are in a “foxhole,” we work as a unit to pull them out or hunker down with them.
To achieve this momentous success, our teachers plan on their horizontal and their vertice (no pun intended). Teachers vertically look at data to assess, what has been and still needs to be done while at the same time collaborating in their content areas to distinguish, the best practices using data-driven analyses to increase student growth. Norms and goals are set for each PLC to define our purpose, as time is like gold in education. From here our teachers and staff PLC with preparedness, positivity, and a precociousness that sets the stage for our school’s overall success.
HFP(High Performance Formula) for Student Achievement
John Hattie states that, “It is not sufficient to stand up front and look and behold the great multitude from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, waxing lyrical about one’s subject, and crying out that there is knowledge to be learnt, salvation for those who listen and repeat after me, and it will finish on the hour.” This idea seems to be the “silver bullet” for the PLC. However, in agreeance with Hattie, we have gone PLC rogue, because we know there is no such magic in the “Land of PLC.” So, this leads us to create the most effective teams possible that will inevitably produce the most student growth possible. As with students, interest based learning seems highly effective, so we take this idea and implore interest based teaching. We understand that each teacher has an area of expertise where they feel as though they have mastered their craft, their “sweet spot” so to say. We place them accordingly, because when teachers are happy and content, students perform. Again once our teams are assembled, they plan vertically and horizontally (content area) while taking turns showcasing their most effective strategies for content which is the “unicorn zone.” We offer our teams flexibility based on the needs of their students’ individual data ID, and take ownership of the end goal which is student achievement.
Data is like a yearly planner, you write in it, placing all of your thoughts and information in it, making sure to use your neatest handwriting, and then you place it on your desk… and the coffee cups and dust begin to accumulate in the land of the lost. Data must not be allowed to collect dust, it is alive and needs to be parsed and poured over finding trends throughout. There should never be a moment to guess where you will be standing at the end of the year.
Our school understands this importance and greets it with urgency and an excitement as it roles in. On a micro level, our teachers use a quarterly grade sheet which allows them a constant stream of data to look at within the PLC. On a macro level, our leadership looks at all forms of formative and summative data both past and present and places it carefully on out data wall, which is made up of some sheet metal and magnets…after all we are a Title 1 school. Our AP is a data beast and our principal a data master. Together, teacher and admin continually converse on the issue looking at students progression levels: deficiencies, mastery, and predictive. Numbers are the fuel that powers our school, and the PLC is the catalyst to relay this information in a timely manner. “We must remember that theories come and go, but fundamental data remains the same.” Mark Leaky
We Need an Intervention
Our intervention system is a direct result of our data analyses conducted within the PLC. Scheduling and lab times are adjusted accordingly. If data reflects that a group of students require more intensive instruction, then our Title 1 teachers swoop down in a savior type scenario and offer the help needed to get students back on track for success. Title 1 teachers are assigned by grade level and work directly with teachers within the PLC. When looking at data, we focus on our item test specs and break the information down to the strand. Title 1 teachers work cohesively with teachers to make sure student need is identified and addressed. Interventions vary by subject. For example in Math we focus on the Piagetian principle that focuses on understanding the students level on a more individualistic scale and differentiating and tailoring lesson presentation and execution to fit the student. In essence, our interventions often correlate with John Hattie’s synthesis of meta-analyses which fall above a standard deviation level of 0.5. Needless to say “An ounce of intervention is worth a pound of cure.”