Reforming Schools through Solution-Driven Advocacy


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  • School climate is a learning climate and, as such, needs to be one that is conducive and appropriate to the needs of the students and teachers who work within it. Our project’s genesis lies in this fundamental principle. Our journey is tracked through the process of initiating community and parental awareness of a problem that our school faced, fighting resistance and inertia, making key connections, researching ways and means, convincing school board members to make life-changing decisions, and finally, experiencing euphoria through tears when success was met. Our final project is in the form of a presentation. But the real story will be read in the walls of our new expansion, a by-product of the efforts of three teachers and the supporters that led to its creation.
  • Building Leadership Team and teachers claim building design is too small to house students based on enrollment numbersK-5 building became K-8Specialists rooms became classroomsThis is what our school was designed to look like
  • Two portables are added to house 6th grade overflow (prior to district transitioning all K-5 buildings to K-8)
  • Our building with the portables which are approximately 25 feet from the main building.Our 7th and 8th grade students are currently housed there.
  • Poor Wi-fi connection slow to non-existent on a daily basis - Teachers attended Joint Curriculum meeting of December 3, 2012 to request the consideration of a computer lab to help alleviate problems and were promised assistanceTeachers are teaching from carts and do not have planning time in their roomsNeighborhood displeasure with presence of portables
  • Building Representative and two teachers on the Building Leadership Team have taken it upon themselves to inform the staff, students, and fellow teachers of pressing issues affecting student achievement, based upon surveys and other collected data. These three have formed a school climate committee. District Chief Business Manager is invited to January parent meeting to discuss issues facing our school and upcoming additionSchool Climate Committee creates informational binders to present to Board members, Superintendent, and principal which included concerns pertaining to the decision making process regarding our expansionSurveys are handed out to parents, students, and staffAttendanceTeachers attend several meetings and encourage parent group to take a standOur three teachers seek assistance from our Board of Education members by delivering binders of information/data that they compiled
  • Temporary portables need to go – increase community approval Intermediate students deserve a place to call their ownSpecialists need to have their own room to inspire learning in their students Working and effective computer system
  • The entire school community (teachers, students, parents) need to provide input on school climate/environmentTeachers need to become school climate coaches in order to procure a more conducive learning environment for students and staff
  • 2007 and 2008 in transition building while new building is built2009 move into K-5 building (2 portables are added)2010 district leaders redistrict (we maintain student numbers and continue to grow)2011 K-5 becomes K-8 … Although many students transferred to neighboring TPS schools (which were built with middle school amenities) our numbers were still growing.2012 Enrollment is at maximum capacity and overflowing
  • Attendance drop at 5th Grade is due to students leaving for a local performing arts school. This performing arts school offers a wide array of programs of which, sadly, we are unable to offer in our building because we have specialists on carts and have very limited resources.
  • School Climate Committee meets with previous architect, Chief Business Manager, and Finance Chairperson to present the vision deemed necessary to improve our school climate School Climate Committee recruited parental assistance in our request before the February School Board meetingSchool Climate Committee attends School Board meeting along with parents and students.
  • 6 additional classroomsMusic and Art back in their classroomsAccess to Computer LabIntermediate students have a space of their own
  • 6 additional classroomsMusic and Art back in their classroomsAccess to Computer LabIntermediate students have a space of their own
  • Reforming Schools through Solution-Driven Advocacy

    1. 1. S Reforming Schools through Solution-Driven Advocacy By Therese Gordon & Kristin Haney, Arlington School, Toledo, Ohio Toledo Federation of Teachers Local 250
    2. 2. Fundamental questions S What role does student climate play in student learning? S How can teachers successfully wage school reform efforts? S How can teachers sustain those efforts?
    3. 3. Arlington School Built for K-5, “transformed” into K-8
    4. 4. Broken promises S School board: S 6th grade to be kept temporarily, then convert school to K-5 S Building expansion to be added within a year of its opening
    5. 5. Reality
    6. 6. Reality S Issues affecting the learning environment S Overcrowding S Poor, unreliable, and/or obsolete technology S No rooms/space for art & music teachers S Lack of student discipline & motivation S Parental/community dissatisfaction
    7. 7. “A teacher’s working conditions are a student’s learning conditions.” – Mary Catheryn Ricker, President, St. Paul, MN Federation of Teachers
    8. 8. Exterior conditions
    9. 9. Interior conditions
    10. 10. The campaign begins Grassroots committee formed by three teachers to fight for change Pictured (from left to right): • Cindy Vogel • Therese Gordon (Building Rep) • Kristin Haney
    11. 11. The campaign begins S Pushed Joint Curriculum Committee for improved technology S Created informational binders filled w/ survey data and research on how school climate, classroom space, & parent-teacher relationships affect student motivation & performance; distributed to administration, superintendent, & each school board member
    12. 12. The campaign begins S Reached out to parents, community to mobilize & voice concerns S Held flurries of meetings with committee, parents, community members S Presented before the TPS School Board S Testimony from students & parents S Board approved 4 additional classroom; committee kept fighting for 6
    13. 13. Solutions S Ways to improve the school climate/environment: S Eliminate portables S Create intermediate experience S Restore specialists’ classrooms S Modernize technology
    14. 14. “A school culture that supports learning includes a building arranged through reflection of students needs and their educational accomplishments, with its administrators, teachers, students, and parents participating in the decision making.” - Best Practice Briefs, December 2004 #31
    15. 15. Survey results (random sample, 7 parents, 14 students, 13 teachers)
    16. 16. Attendance comparisons
    17. 17. Projected attendance (2013- 2014)
    18. 18. The campaign heats up S School climate committee S Brought in experts, TPS officials; attended school board meetings S Committee mobilized parents & students to brave the harsh NW Ohio weather to voice their concerns before the school board about the 4-room
    19. 19. Success S Board members were visibly moved by the testimony, spoke to students’ eloquence & presence, & thanked committee for distributing the informational binders S Teachers’ informational binders, supported by student & parent testimony, convinced TPS School Board to approve 6 brand new classrooms, restrooms, & related space at Arlington
    20. 20. Success S Vote on community’s request: unanimously in favor S Results: music & art teachers back in their classrooms, enhanced student access to computer lab, new space of their own for intermediate students
    21. 21. A final challenge S Initial success compromised by projected completion date of September 2013 – possibly negatively impacting students S Committee fought for expedited process – closed library early for classroom use, relocated resource teacher, brought 7th & 8th grade students into building 3 weeks early to allow for earlier construction date
    22. 22. Transformation
    23. 23. Transformation
    24. 24. Change is possible
    25. 25. Acknowledgments S TFT Teacher Leaders Program Facilitation – Lynn Smith S Photography – Emily Gordon, Paula Gladieux, Leona Stivers S Proofing – Daniel Gordon S Community Organizing – Arlington Bengals Association, students, & staff; Matthew Sutter S Testimony – Kelly & Hailey McConnaughy, Katie Behrens S Architecture – Munger & Munger S Construction – Lathrop S Improvement Approval – Toledo Public Schools Board of Education