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The Doyon School Succession of Goals, Objectives, and Action Plans
One of the best ways to have the elements of the improvement plan come alive for you is to review in
more detail the succession of goals and objectives as they happened at the Doyon School. It was a
remarkably systematic restructuring of the school’s educational systems.
Using the process we described herein, and focusing only on a couple of goals at a time, the Doyon
School reviewed its goals and objectives annually with a major review and revision every two years.
Once a goal or an objective became an integrated part of regular operations it was dropped from the
improvement planning queue and a new goal or objective was selected in its place.
What follows is a list and explanation of some of the major goals accomplished in the fourteen years
following the inception of the process.
(Ken) The following is not intended to be an all-inclusive list but it will provide you with a good example
of what we were able to accomplish through implementation of a consensus-driven, focused
improvement process.
Working Values: (1995-1996)
As was noted in the Chapter Two section “How Working Values Came to the Doyon School,” I had
reached the conclusion that broad improvement initiatives would have a difficult time succeeding where
positive professional relationships were strained by fear, jealousy, or self-serving priorities. We
definitely had some of that at Doyon in the early 90’s. Before we as a staff could enthusiastically
embrace a collaborative improvement initiative, I believed we first had to come together as a positive
working team. The journey of reaching consensus on our own set of working values helped us to
identify, reflect on, and in some cases to share the personal characteristics and inclinations that we held
in common which had led us to choose teaching as a profession. Our discussions also assisted us in
collectively identifying and articulating the interpersonal dynamics that would be most welcomed in our
workplace.
As I write this in 2011, the set of Doyon Working Values agreed upon during the 1995-1996 school year
continues to be a key document at the school and an ongoing expression of the staff’s aspirations for
themselves and for each other.
Consistency: (1996-2010)
In the fall of 1996, as we engaged in the first of our faculty goal brainstorming exercises, of all the
possible subjects and all the endless lists of instructional topics the staff could have identified as worthy
of our focused attention, one overriding (and unforeseen, at least by me) concept received the absolute
highest numbers and broadest faculty support—“Consistency.” After an open and free discussion
process, the faculty felt that there was too much variation in curriculum between classrooms at the
same grade level, and too little continuity in programs between grades. Teachers pointed out the
following:
Since each grade constructs the foundation upon which the next grade is built, it is important for all
children to move on to the next grade having had a similar core educational program.
pg. 2
Since our K-5 program was a multi-year process, it made sense for our year-to-year programs to have
continuity both in curriculum and instructional resources, so time spent adapting to new programs could
be kept to a minimum and so educational accomplishment could be maximized—i.e., if we were all
pulling the wagon in the same direction we would end up further down the educational road at the end
as opposed to each of us tugging students in our own “favorite” direction. You can recognize that this
thinking was the polar opposite of the mindset (i.e., “close your classroom door and do it your way”)
that prevailed at the time of my prior abortive attempt to create a reading committee some three years
before. I alone didn’t turn this about, it was the result of deep, open, respectful discussions centered on
the heart of why we had entered the educational field, and what we believed would be best for the
children in our care.
The emergence of “Consistency” as an overarching goal was momentous for a number of reasons. First,
it lent legitimacy to what was to become an ongoing sequential process of examining different areas of
our curriculum (the order decided by the faculty) through the lens of consistency. Secondly, it
represented an implicit commitment on each teacher’s part to pass on to the following year’s teachers,
children who had been taught using the consensus-identified program and/or methods. In a sense it was
a commitment to “unselfishness,”—i.e., “I will make the commitment to deliver to next year’s teacher a
class of students who have been taught this program, etc.”
The focus on consistency represented a most powerful shift: the relinquishing of a school run by a
loose conglomeration of individual goals in favor of a school run by group collaboration—it was a
move from a “self-centered” perspective to a “student-serving” focus.
At the meeting when this occurred an unusual thing happened. I actually envisioned in my mind’s eye
the word consistency lit up and hovering over the group like a neon sign. I had to control myself because
the corner we had just turned was so exciting; a development for which I foresaw huge potential
benefits. With this new mindset, I thought we might over time review and assess our programs in every
subject area holding them up to the standard of “consistency.” It felt like I had just hit the lottery. I was
super excited, but I said nothing. The group was on its way towards embracing the consistency concept
and I didn’t want to interrupt or even to show how enthused I was, because it could have affected the
dynamic by calling attention to me. I wanted it to be what it was—the faculty’s idea of what was best for
kids—but inside I was jumping for joy.
Fourteen years later, at my first faculty holiday party after retiring, the staff was still discussing
consistency. When I asked how the new literacy assessment program was going—the response was,
“everyone is on board.” From 1996 to the present 2011-12 school year, every Doyon School
Improvement Plan included the following “helicopter” academic goal: “To develop, implement, and
assess a high quality curriculum that is consistent across the grades and aligned with the Massachusetts
State Frameworks”
Running a school is a team sport. Each teacher preps for next year’s teachers; the quality of the
product—the graduate—is a team achievement.
A note on “Consistency”: with very low levels of consistency (similar to low levels of “alignment”) the
educational program is scattershot and decisions are made by individual educators in a happenstance
manner. There is no way of determining the nature of the educational end-product; i.e., it becomes
pg. 3
impossible to anticipate what students will know or be able to do at the end. But if very low consistency
is counterproductive, the same can be said for the other end of the spectrum.
Lock-step, predetermined, scripted curricula hobble the educational process by completely removing
the teachers’ discretionary sense of what is important to teach.
Even teachers who follow the scripted lesson notes in a teacher’s manual can teach with a sincerity and
a vigor that effectively encourages students to invest, if they believe that the program they are teaching
is a good one, worth their time to teach, and worthy of the students’ time to learn. But if something is
just shoved into a teacher’s hands and they are told “all teachers are to teach this,” they may go through
the motions but the percentage of students who will be meaningfully engaged will be minimal (and
behavioral and attitudinal problems will be on the rise!). Teachers need to attain some degree of “felt-
need” in the importance and worth of what they are teaching; without that, they are in the position of
trying to convince students to invest energy in material they don’t quite believe in themselves—and
students can sense that.
Teachers who have been told by administrators to “just teach it,” may well feel justified in pivoting
and commanding students to “just learn it.” But kids require felt-need too—they need to understand
the relevance and value of what is being taught—otherwise why learn it? If teachers aren’t inspired,
how can we expect them to inspire their students?
A teacher’s lack of interest in what they are teaching is sure to lead to low levels of intrinsic interest and
effort on the part of students. Systems seeking to address a lack of coherence or test-score
underachievement in their educational programs by dictating precisely what every teacher in every
classroom will be teaching on any given day (in effect making the program “teacher-proof”) are certain
to discover after an unfortunate amount of painfully wasted time, that this type of disenfranchisement
of teachers further weakens the very programs they were trying to strengthen.
Even in systems that allow for a degree of site-based teacher input in program decisions—not all
teachers will feel enthralled about every program they are teaching; but in understanding the nature of
consensus and having participated in the process themselves, they are far more likely to be supportive
than if a decision were simply imposed on them. We believe that educator input and involvement in
curricular and instructional program decisions, in tandem with efforts to increase consistency and
continuity, will increase teachers’ enthusiasm and energy in the implementation of programs, which in
turn will increase student motivation, attentiveness and achievement.
We would expect that in most classes most of the time—say 85% of the time for arguments’ sake (but
there is no set number really)—teachers will be implementing the core curriculum reflective of the
professional agreements and consensus the staff, with the principal’s support, has reached. That will
provide sufficient consistency to reap the rewards inherent in a common, coherent, and predicable
instructional program building cumulatively year-to-year. Note that we are reserving 15% of the time for
“something else”—that “something else” is for individual teachers to share with students their unique
individual interests, talents, skills, background, knowledge, and/or experiences if they are inclined to do
so. In most cases even odd areas of expertise can be interwoven with some aspect of the curriculum;
e.g., a study of patchwork quilting could be included as part of a colonial history unit, or an examination
of samples of sand a teacher had collected from all over the world could be introduced in a rocks and
minerals unit. I was always fascinated by the purposeful “drowning” of entire small towns along the
Swift River in central Massachusetts during the construction of the huge Quabbin Reservoir in the
pg. 4
1930’s, and I developed a lesson on the topic which I taught as part of the grade three Massachusetts
geography curriculum. The point is simply to provide some time for the students to receive the special
personal individual gifts each teacher has to offer. Teacher’s eyes glow when they have an opportunity
to share a skill or a true interest, and students’ levels of attentiveness invariably rise in response not
only to the topic but also to the uncommon opportunity for an insight into their teacher’s persona.
These can be memorable moments in the classroom and we wouldn’t want to become so dogmatic
about “consistency” so as to disallow them.
Reading Decoding: (1997-1999)
The faculty determined that the most important area to examine for consistency and continuity was our
basic reading program. Multiple approaches were being used throughout the primary grades and these
different programs introduced the phonemes in different sequences and used different terms in
reference to them. A volunteer team of teachers from different grades representing both regular and
special education was formed. Their objectives for the 1997-1998 school year were the following: a) to
“go out” (i.e., read the research, visit other schools, go to conferences, etc.) and identify two or three of
what appear to be the most effective reading programs currently in use, b) to pilot several of the most
promising, while sharing experiences with colleagues, and c) to bring the best that emerge to a full
faculty meeting in March or April (1998) to see if we could reach consensus regarding adopting one
single “optimal” approach as our default reading instructional program.
This first major substantive academic goal was going to be a crucial test of the whole improvement
process. In the end, we knew that no matter what program was chosen, many, if not most teachers
were going to have to “let go,” and change how they taught reading—and some of them had been at it
for quite a while. The committee was cognizant of the importance of involving as many staff as possible,
including those not on the committee itself, in helping to review and pilot programs and in attending
onsite visits. As the year progressed, and as the approaches being considered winnowed down, the
committee involved ever broadening numbers of instructional staff in their explorations. I remember
the committee chairperson inviting me to accompany the committee and additional staff to a school to
observe their use of a particular approach—she had a twinkle in her eye and said “you might want to
come to this one.” I knew this was to be the committee’s second visit to this school, so I sensed it was
important for me to attend. The host school was exceedingly gracious as 15 of us invaded their domain
and their classrooms. It was a very positive visit and we left with a possible “vision” of what the future
might look like for our school. ( This, by the way, was an excellent example of the quality management
concept of “benchmarking”: studying outstanding practitioners in an area of interest for possible
adaptation of their practices to your own working environment.)
The broad involvement of so many teachers in the various school visits and classroom pilot
experiences during the year helped to minimize the “knowledge gap” between the team and the rest
of the staff. When we came together for the team’s summary report and recommendations, we were
a well-informed group.
Because the team had not worked in isolation, but instead reached out to involve others and regularly
communicated with colleagues, when we got to the decision making faculty meeting we were able to
reach consensus without a vote. While the program we chose isn’t really the point, we will include that
kind of information as part of this review of our goal projects. In this case, the staff consensus was to
adopt a program called “Project Read” developed by the Language Circle out of Bloomington,
Minnesota. The faculty also unanimously supported revising the school schedule to provide a minimum
pg. 5
of two uninterrupted teaching hours for primary grade reading instruction—no small accomplishment
since everyone’s schedule had to change.
During the 1998-1999 school year we provided 36 hours of in-service training in Project Read Phonology
and Story Form. We repeated that training in abbreviated form over the years for new staff. This is still
the foundation reading program in use at the school.
Excitement for Learning: (1997-2001)
The staff wanted to balance the focus on improving core academic operations as described above with a
similar collaborative effort in support of positive school climate and culture. The broad objective of this
Excitement for Learning initiative was to design school-wide motivational programs that celebrated
learning, with a special focus on literacy. Highlights included a “Million Minutes of Reading,” campaign, a
“Reading Marathon,” and our first “Odyssey of the Mind” team.
Through the years as our priority goals evolved, the faculty kept the model of adopting simultaneous
academic and climate/culture/character goals as dual concurrent initiatives in each year’s school
improvement plan.
Primary Grammar/ Composition/Assessment/Handwriting: (1999-2003)
With a professional agreement in place regarding reading decoding, the faculty’s next area of priority
was to bring consistency and continuity to the teaching and assessment of grammar and writing. Using
the same type of exploratory committee, (referred to as the “Literacy Team,”) a proposal to adopt the
program “Framing Your Thoughts,” also published by the Language Circle, was similarly researched,
piloted, presented and approved. Teachers of language arts received 24 hours of in-service training in
that program as well as a half-day training in using the “Report Form” (the Language Circle approach to
teaching children how to organize non-fiction compositions). Teachers in grades 2-5 also received
training in preparing and using “rubrics” and “quality indicators” to assess student composition, and for
the first time, every student in those grades was asked to respond to a school-wide writing prompt,
(scored by teachers using the rubrics) both in the fall and in the spring.
At the staff’s request, and to support consistency in our teaching of handwriting, our occupational
therapists worked with staff in examining and piloting handwriting programs: the study groups
recommended using the Zaner Bloser program at K-2, and Benbow Handwriting at grades 3-5. In
addition, teachers requested and we were able to obtain the Write Source reference materials published
by Houghton Mifflin. Again, it is worth emphasizing that these were initiatives proposed by faculty study
groups (or “teams” or “committees” whatever you want to call them) and then, after discussion, by
consensus of the whole faculty.
Character Counts: (1999-2009)
The primary objective of the Character Counts initiative was (and still is) to promote positive character
traits while building and sustaining a cooperative learning environment. Highlights over the years
included: a) “Responsive Classroom” training for all faculty, b) implementation of the “Six Pillars of
Character” program (developed by the Josephson Institute of Ethics), c) work with Joe and Nels in the
area of Emotional Intelligence and implementation of a school wide program to help students monitor
and be more in control of impulsive behaviors (we called it the STOP program, an acronym for “Stop,
pg. 6
Think, Options, Proceed), d) school wide use of the “Second Step” empathy building program (published
by the non-profit Committee for Children based in Seattle), and e) instituting a Student Leadership Team
(SLT), a concept we borrowed from the elementary school across town, the Winthrop School. Students
in grades four and five volunteered to take on helpful projects around the building (often helping in
primary grade classrooms) and had the option to also join the “Early Act” service program sponsored by
the local Rotary. To participate they were required to fill out a job application and had to interview with
the principal. Each student was paired with a volunteer adult mentor and a weekly 30 minute block of
time was provided for the student to do their job during the school day (with the student contributing
15 of those minutes by missing a recess and the other 15 minutes taken during class time with approval
of the homeroom teacher). To remain on the “SLT” students had to maintain a clean disciplinary record,
model appropriate behavior, and be up to date with their assignments. During the first year of the SLT
program, 2000-2001, fifty students, (about a third of our fourth and fifth graders), participated with half
a dozen adult mentors volunteering; by 2008-2009,that figure had risen to 120 students (80% of grades
four and five) with sixteen adult mentors participating.
Math Matters: (2001-2005)
In the mid-1990’s we adopted the program Everyday Math developed by the University of Chicago and
endorsed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The instructional philosophy of the
program was in alignment with the Massachusetts curriculum “frameworks” and the Massachusetts
Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) but our test scores were not up to where we felt they
should be. The goal for the Math Matters team was to examine our math program and recommend
adjustments or changes that might boost achievement and hence improve our student’s ability to do
well on the assessments. In the end, we made the following observations and accommodations: 1) we
discovered that most classes were not completing their full grade level program because of schedule
and time constraints which left a gap between where they stopped at year’s end, and where the
following year’s program began. To address this we increased the time allotted to math, standardizing a
daily 75 minutes for all classes grades one through five; 2) we provided two days of training to faculty in
implementation of a new edition of the Everyday Math program; 3) we began specifically teaching
students how to approach open-ended math questions, which were a key portion of the state
assessments, and 4) we examined how we could best use all available personnel to lower math
instructional group size. Our combined “Advanced” and “Proficient” scores in grade four math (the top
two MCAS test categories) rose steadily as the cumulative effect of these changes took hold, moving
from 33% in the spring of 2000, to 69% by 2008.
We also discovered that time allotted per subject can have a striking cumulative impact on learning,
both positive and negative. When we began to look into why our students appeared to be
underperforming on the mathematics state assessment, I asked all teachers grades 1-5 to do a quick
calculation as to how many instructional minutes they were devoting to each major subject area in a
typical week. We discovered that there was a wide disparity in the minutes devoted to math, with the
average across all grades being about 60 minutes per day. There was also a great deal of discrepancy not
only between grade levels, but also among teachers at the same grade level. In every case, only the
teachers who taught more than the average were actually completing the whole year’s worth of study.
We tried prioritizing units, but even then we still calculated that we needed more than 60 minutes per
day to teach the “essential” topics—so as I mentioned above, we built in a 75 minute math period into
each class’ schedule. As it turned out, those 15 extra minutes were similar to contributing to a math
“401K”—it wasn’t such a big change so as to be “painful” for any one teacher, but over time it made a
difference. In the fall after the first full year of implementation of the new schedule, teachers began to
pg. 7
report that students were arriving in their classes with what appeared to be more solid math skills. After
two years of implementation, at a fall faculty meeting a teacher in one of our upper grades made the
comment that there was no doubt that as a group, students were coming to her with stronger skills than
she had ever seen before, and the spring test scores confirmed that impression. Over the next several
years test scores kept rising and then leveled out but remained high. We were very pleased. Upon
reflection, we shouldn’t have been that surprised. Without knowing that the numbers would come out
this way, our additional 15 minutes per day beginning in grade one had added up to almost a full year’s
worth of additional math instruction by the time grade four students took the spring testing. We made a
seemingly small change, but over time it had a very significant positive impact.
One more thought on test scores—they are an outcome of the strength and focus of instructional
programs—they are indicators, not a primary goal. We don’t want to “teach to them,” but given the
current emphasis on accountability they can’t be ignored. To the extent there is congruence between
what the test measures and what we consider important to teach, it is easier to reconcile life with them.
The real cognitive dissonance occurs when the test assesses that which we consider to be a
comparatively irrelevant learning objective; then we are left juggling ethical issues involving the political
implications of poor test scores and empathy for our students, (whose academic record and learning
self-esteem are both at risk if they do poorly) vs. our own sense of “free will” as professional educators.
Perhaps the best advice I ever received on this issue came from Dick Thompson, retired Superintendent
of the Ipswich Public Schools. He recommended a “balanced” approach. He suggested we take steps to
raise student performance to a “respectable” and “acceptable level,” declare victory, and move on to
broader educational goals as opposed to making ever higher scores our ongoing priority objective.
Balanced Literacy, Reading Comprehension and Literacy Assessment: (2003-2007)
This was a joint effort with our “sister” school across town. Neither school had updated its reading text
for many years. We felt we needed to research what was available while also becoming more familiar
with emerging trends such as the growing “balanced literacy” movement, use of new literacy
assessments (e.g., “running records”) and the role that early instruction in phonemic awareness could
play in building primary reading foundation skills. As an outcome of this goal, we began piloting several
new literacy assessments, including the Pre-Literacy Skills Screening (PLSS, published by PRO-ED) in
kindergarten, and the Phonemic Awareness Skills Screening (PASS, also published by PRO-ED) in grade
one. Other grades piloted the Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GRADE, published
by Pearson), the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA, also published by Pearson) and the Dynamic
Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS, published by the University of Oregon).
After a great deal of research, attendance at several national conferences, etc., the Reading
Comprehension Study Group recommended that we not purchase a new basal (!) and that we instead
take the following steps: 1) continue using Project Read as our phonics decoding program, 2) keep the
existing basal as a convenient reading anthology while also upgrading classroom libraries, and 3) begin
an extensive joint-school professional development initiative to help us develop our own reading
comprehension strategies program using exemplary children’s literature. The Committee further
recommended that we seek a multi-year partnership with the Tufts University Center for Applied Child
Development (CACD) as a source for the needed onsite training. As a result of these recommendations,
in the fall of 2004 we began working with Lynn Schade, the Program Director of CACD. We “emerged”
from our ambitious three years of professional development with our own grade level month-by-month,
year-long reading comprehension strategy plans complete with identification of the “mentor texts” that
would be used to teach each skill at each grade. During the 2006-2007 school year, Carolyn Davis (the
pg. 8
principal of the Winthrop School across town) and I brought grade level teams from both schools
together to exchange reflections and experiences related to the development and piloting of the new
curriculum. As we moved from room to room, we were gratified by the energy, the good spirit, and the
thoughtfulness of the sharing. Most impressive, however, was that we were hearing a new functional
vocabulary being used. The language of the new instructional objectives had been incorporated into the
discussions and to us that signaled “buy-in” by staff, and the likelihood that the curriculum would “take
root.” The language we were hearing was the language of ownership. Our Faculties were taking
ownership of the school and of its’ future. The line between “management” and “labor” was becoming
blurred. We had arrived at this most positive outcome no doubt because we, the teachers and
administrators from both schools, had worked collaboratively in developing the curriculum from the
start. Aside from a certain inevitable amount of “tweaking,” this curriculum is still in place at both
elementary schools.
This is a good example of how, in order to instill ownership, we made every effort to minimize the “us
and them” gap that is found too frequently in relationships between faculty and administration. Instead,
we tried to blur the traditionally adversarial lines by building the “WE.” This was true not only at the
Doyon School, but also in the other schools across the district. At the Winthrop School, for example,
Superintendent Dick Thompson suggested that Principal Davis consider a “shared leadership” model
with her teachers. What was remarkable was that he had no preconceived model in mind; instead, they
decided to broach the subject with staff and if there was sufficient interest, they would design the
model with the faculty. In Carolyn’s words, “We saw it as an opening for some teachers to put a toe in
the water to see if they liked areas of leadership that could springboard into future administrative
positions and/or to provide a greater sphere of influence in the school.” With that mindset Carolyn and
the eight teachers who stepped forward that first year designed a model that provided the option for
teachers to assume leadership roles in the school in areas of interest. Over the ensuing years many
different teachers participated and as a group they presented this innovative model at an NAESP
national convention in Seattle
It made a huge difference that the two Superintendents of the Ipswich Schools, Dick Thompson and Rick
Korb, who served during these years were supportive of site-based management and of fostering a
“we’re all in this together” culture. The goal of nurturing and preserving our district’s collaborative
culture was so important and pervasive that even the district’s attorney would include in his counsel the
impact pending legal decisions might have on our climate and culture.
Writing Committee, Comprehensive Literacy Assessment Plan; Trimester Reporting: (2007-2009)
During these years, we provided the staff with time to meet both as grade level teams (for support and
sharing while implementing the new reading comprehension curriculum), and as members of multi-
grade writing study groups. The goal of the writing initiative was to support and assist teachers as they
began to integrate writing objectives into the new year-long reading comprehension plans. Based on a
poll of the faculty, the writing committee recommended that we form three study groups and that
teachers have the choice of joining whichever group piqued their interest. Each group read and
implemented one educational author’s approach to teaching writing—the three authors were Lucy
Calkins, Katy Wood-Ray, and Ralph Fletcher (in addition, many teachers were already using the work of
Regie Routeman). In the spring of 2009, teachers were asked to share what they felt were the strengths
of each approach. The consensus of the group was that the best program for us would be one that
would draw upon the strongest elements from each author’s work. The year ended with several grades
pg. 9
posting drafts of their integrated reading and writing objectives on the “faculty share” intranet server,
and everyone understanding that completing this project was going to be a major goal of the 2009-2010
school year.
Two other study groups were simultaneously formed during these years as well: one focusing on literacy
assessments, and the other an ad hoc group which explored the pros and cons of moving from a
quarterly to a trimester grade reporting schedule. The Literacy Assessment Study Group worked to
design a time-efficient reading assessment program that would be consistent at each grade level, and
that would provide normative, diagnostic, as well as longitudinal data. In the spring of 2009, after
extended surveys, presentations, and discussions at staff meetings, Doyon Faculty reached a consensus
which formalized the use of multiple assessments, many of which were already in widespread pilot in
the school, such as the GRADE, DIBELS, and the DRA. The assessment group also custom designed a
single-page form to hold each child’s K-5 literacy assessment data (as well as state test scores) to be
kept in cumulative folders. This page was intended to provide quick access to key benchmark data
regarding each student’s elementary “reading journey.” These objectives were fully implemented in the
2009-2010 school year.
The Trimester Study Group (which included staff from both elementary schools including the building
principals) did extensive research, and discovered that a surprising number of Massachusetts
communities had already moved to the trimester format. Advantages for making that change included a
more accurate “first” formal report, and a tremendous “time dividend” for staff who could use the
recouped hours for planning, collaboration, and direct pupil services. The study group developed a
proposal to move to the trimester format (providing for a fall parent conference several weeks prior to
the first grade report), and sought and received support in turn from the faculty, the superintendent,
the parent organizations, the school councils, and finally from the school committee. The trimester
format was implemented during the 2009-2010 school year.
There were many other positive accomplishments at the Doyon School over these years, but this review
should give you an idea of the flow of our improvement process and of the scope of our collaborative
endeavors.
(Nels and Joe) At this point it should be clear that the enormous amount of program building achieved
by the Doyon School would not have been possible without the staff’s ability to work together and
serially focus on goals and objectives. Developing programs and building the educational system in your
school takes time. They really stuck with it. Their investment on behalf of their students was exemplary.
You see in the above goal succession why we do not believe in silver bullets, but rather in the hard
work of continuous improvement—a long-term incremental process where the staff of a school works
collaboratively to build ever-improving educational programs.
Though a continuous improvement effort like this takes time and dedication, Ken and his staff enjoyed
the process because it is a rewarding feeling to build programs and see them affect your students in a
most positive way. Achievement has a powerful fulfilling impact on job satisfaction.

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The Doyon School Goals

  • 1. pg. 1 The Doyon School Succession of Goals, Objectives, and Action Plans One of the best ways to have the elements of the improvement plan come alive for you is to review in more detail the succession of goals and objectives as they happened at the Doyon School. It was a remarkably systematic restructuring of the school’s educational systems. Using the process we described herein, and focusing only on a couple of goals at a time, the Doyon School reviewed its goals and objectives annually with a major review and revision every two years. Once a goal or an objective became an integrated part of regular operations it was dropped from the improvement planning queue and a new goal or objective was selected in its place. What follows is a list and explanation of some of the major goals accomplished in the fourteen years following the inception of the process. (Ken) The following is not intended to be an all-inclusive list but it will provide you with a good example of what we were able to accomplish through implementation of a consensus-driven, focused improvement process. Working Values: (1995-1996) As was noted in the Chapter Two section “How Working Values Came to the Doyon School,” I had reached the conclusion that broad improvement initiatives would have a difficult time succeeding where positive professional relationships were strained by fear, jealousy, or self-serving priorities. We definitely had some of that at Doyon in the early 90’s. Before we as a staff could enthusiastically embrace a collaborative improvement initiative, I believed we first had to come together as a positive working team. The journey of reaching consensus on our own set of working values helped us to identify, reflect on, and in some cases to share the personal characteristics and inclinations that we held in common which had led us to choose teaching as a profession. Our discussions also assisted us in collectively identifying and articulating the interpersonal dynamics that would be most welcomed in our workplace. As I write this in 2011, the set of Doyon Working Values agreed upon during the 1995-1996 school year continues to be a key document at the school and an ongoing expression of the staff’s aspirations for themselves and for each other. Consistency: (1996-2010) In the fall of 1996, as we engaged in the first of our faculty goal brainstorming exercises, of all the possible subjects and all the endless lists of instructional topics the staff could have identified as worthy of our focused attention, one overriding (and unforeseen, at least by me) concept received the absolute highest numbers and broadest faculty support—“Consistency.” After an open and free discussion process, the faculty felt that there was too much variation in curriculum between classrooms at the same grade level, and too little continuity in programs between grades. Teachers pointed out the following: Since each grade constructs the foundation upon which the next grade is built, it is important for all children to move on to the next grade having had a similar core educational program.
  • 2. pg. 2 Since our K-5 program was a multi-year process, it made sense for our year-to-year programs to have continuity both in curriculum and instructional resources, so time spent adapting to new programs could be kept to a minimum and so educational accomplishment could be maximized—i.e., if we were all pulling the wagon in the same direction we would end up further down the educational road at the end as opposed to each of us tugging students in our own “favorite” direction. You can recognize that this thinking was the polar opposite of the mindset (i.e., “close your classroom door and do it your way”) that prevailed at the time of my prior abortive attempt to create a reading committee some three years before. I alone didn’t turn this about, it was the result of deep, open, respectful discussions centered on the heart of why we had entered the educational field, and what we believed would be best for the children in our care. The emergence of “Consistency” as an overarching goal was momentous for a number of reasons. First, it lent legitimacy to what was to become an ongoing sequential process of examining different areas of our curriculum (the order decided by the faculty) through the lens of consistency. Secondly, it represented an implicit commitment on each teacher’s part to pass on to the following year’s teachers, children who had been taught using the consensus-identified program and/or methods. In a sense it was a commitment to “unselfishness,”—i.e., “I will make the commitment to deliver to next year’s teacher a class of students who have been taught this program, etc.” The focus on consistency represented a most powerful shift: the relinquishing of a school run by a loose conglomeration of individual goals in favor of a school run by group collaboration—it was a move from a “self-centered” perspective to a “student-serving” focus. At the meeting when this occurred an unusual thing happened. I actually envisioned in my mind’s eye the word consistency lit up and hovering over the group like a neon sign. I had to control myself because the corner we had just turned was so exciting; a development for which I foresaw huge potential benefits. With this new mindset, I thought we might over time review and assess our programs in every subject area holding them up to the standard of “consistency.” It felt like I had just hit the lottery. I was super excited, but I said nothing. The group was on its way towards embracing the consistency concept and I didn’t want to interrupt or even to show how enthused I was, because it could have affected the dynamic by calling attention to me. I wanted it to be what it was—the faculty’s idea of what was best for kids—but inside I was jumping for joy. Fourteen years later, at my first faculty holiday party after retiring, the staff was still discussing consistency. When I asked how the new literacy assessment program was going—the response was, “everyone is on board.” From 1996 to the present 2011-12 school year, every Doyon School Improvement Plan included the following “helicopter” academic goal: “To develop, implement, and assess a high quality curriculum that is consistent across the grades and aligned with the Massachusetts State Frameworks” Running a school is a team sport. Each teacher preps for next year’s teachers; the quality of the product—the graduate—is a team achievement. A note on “Consistency”: with very low levels of consistency (similar to low levels of “alignment”) the educational program is scattershot and decisions are made by individual educators in a happenstance manner. There is no way of determining the nature of the educational end-product; i.e., it becomes
  • 3. pg. 3 impossible to anticipate what students will know or be able to do at the end. But if very low consistency is counterproductive, the same can be said for the other end of the spectrum. Lock-step, predetermined, scripted curricula hobble the educational process by completely removing the teachers’ discretionary sense of what is important to teach. Even teachers who follow the scripted lesson notes in a teacher’s manual can teach with a sincerity and a vigor that effectively encourages students to invest, if they believe that the program they are teaching is a good one, worth their time to teach, and worthy of the students’ time to learn. But if something is just shoved into a teacher’s hands and they are told “all teachers are to teach this,” they may go through the motions but the percentage of students who will be meaningfully engaged will be minimal (and behavioral and attitudinal problems will be on the rise!). Teachers need to attain some degree of “felt- need” in the importance and worth of what they are teaching; without that, they are in the position of trying to convince students to invest energy in material they don’t quite believe in themselves—and students can sense that. Teachers who have been told by administrators to “just teach it,” may well feel justified in pivoting and commanding students to “just learn it.” But kids require felt-need too—they need to understand the relevance and value of what is being taught—otherwise why learn it? If teachers aren’t inspired, how can we expect them to inspire their students? A teacher’s lack of interest in what they are teaching is sure to lead to low levels of intrinsic interest and effort on the part of students. Systems seeking to address a lack of coherence or test-score underachievement in their educational programs by dictating precisely what every teacher in every classroom will be teaching on any given day (in effect making the program “teacher-proof”) are certain to discover after an unfortunate amount of painfully wasted time, that this type of disenfranchisement of teachers further weakens the very programs they were trying to strengthen. Even in systems that allow for a degree of site-based teacher input in program decisions—not all teachers will feel enthralled about every program they are teaching; but in understanding the nature of consensus and having participated in the process themselves, they are far more likely to be supportive than if a decision were simply imposed on them. We believe that educator input and involvement in curricular and instructional program decisions, in tandem with efforts to increase consistency and continuity, will increase teachers’ enthusiasm and energy in the implementation of programs, which in turn will increase student motivation, attentiveness and achievement. We would expect that in most classes most of the time—say 85% of the time for arguments’ sake (but there is no set number really)—teachers will be implementing the core curriculum reflective of the professional agreements and consensus the staff, with the principal’s support, has reached. That will provide sufficient consistency to reap the rewards inherent in a common, coherent, and predicable instructional program building cumulatively year-to-year. Note that we are reserving 15% of the time for “something else”—that “something else” is for individual teachers to share with students their unique individual interests, talents, skills, background, knowledge, and/or experiences if they are inclined to do so. In most cases even odd areas of expertise can be interwoven with some aspect of the curriculum; e.g., a study of patchwork quilting could be included as part of a colonial history unit, or an examination of samples of sand a teacher had collected from all over the world could be introduced in a rocks and minerals unit. I was always fascinated by the purposeful “drowning” of entire small towns along the Swift River in central Massachusetts during the construction of the huge Quabbin Reservoir in the
  • 4. pg. 4 1930’s, and I developed a lesson on the topic which I taught as part of the grade three Massachusetts geography curriculum. The point is simply to provide some time for the students to receive the special personal individual gifts each teacher has to offer. Teacher’s eyes glow when they have an opportunity to share a skill or a true interest, and students’ levels of attentiveness invariably rise in response not only to the topic but also to the uncommon opportunity for an insight into their teacher’s persona. These can be memorable moments in the classroom and we wouldn’t want to become so dogmatic about “consistency” so as to disallow them. Reading Decoding: (1997-1999) The faculty determined that the most important area to examine for consistency and continuity was our basic reading program. Multiple approaches were being used throughout the primary grades and these different programs introduced the phonemes in different sequences and used different terms in reference to them. A volunteer team of teachers from different grades representing both regular and special education was formed. Their objectives for the 1997-1998 school year were the following: a) to “go out” (i.e., read the research, visit other schools, go to conferences, etc.) and identify two or three of what appear to be the most effective reading programs currently in use, b) to pilot several of the most promising, while sharing experiences with colleagues, and c) to bring the best that emerge to a full faculty meeting in March or April (1998) to see if we could reach consensus regarding adopting one single “optimal” approach as our default reading instructional program. This first major substantive academic goal was going to be a crucial test of the whole improvement process. In the end, we knew that no matter what program was chosen, many, if not most teachers were going to have to “let go,” and change how they taught reading—and some of them had been at it for quite a while. The committee was cognizant of the importance of involving as many staff as possible, including those not on the committee itself, in helping to review and pilot programs and in attending onsite visits. As the year progressed, and as the approaches being considered winnowed down, the committee involved ever broadening numbers of instructional staff in their explorations. I remember the committee chairperson inviting me to accompany the committee and additional staff to a school to observe their use of a particular approach—she had a twinkle in her eye and said “you might want to come to this one.” I knew this was to be the committee’s second visit to this school, so I sensed it was important for me to attend. The host school was exceedingly gracious as 15 of us invaded their domain and their classrooms. It was a very positive visit and we left with a possible “vision” of what the future might look like for our school. ( This, by the way, was an excellent example of the quality management concept of “benchmarking”: studying outstanding practitioners in an area of interest for possible adaptation of their practices to your own working environment.) The broad involvement of so many teachers in the various school visits and classroom pilot experiences during the year helped to minimize the “knowledge gap” between the team and the rest of the staff. When we came together for the team’s summary report and recommendations, we were a well-informed group. Because the team had not worked in isolation, but instead reached out to involve others and regularly communicated with colleagues, when we got to the decision making faculty meeting we were able to reach consensus without a vote. While the program we chose isn’t really the point, we will include that kind of information as part of this review of our goal projects. In this case, the staff consensus was to adopt a program called “Project Read” developed by the Language Circle out of Bloomington, Minnesota. The faculty also unanimously supported revising the school schedule to provide a minimum
  • 5. pg. 5 of two uninterrupted teaching hours for primary grade reading instruction—no small accomplishment since everyone’s schedule had to change. During the 1998-1999 school year we provided 36 hours of in-service training in Project Read Phonology and Story Form. We repeated that training in abbreviated form over the years for new staff. This is still the foundation reading program in use at the school. Excitement for Learning: (1997-2001) The staff wanted to balance the focus on improving core academic operations as described above with a similar collaborative effort in support of positive school climate and culture. The broad objective of this Excitement for Learning initiative was to design school-wide motivational programs that celebrated learning, with a special focus on literacy. Highlights included a “Million Minutes of Reading,” campaign, a “Reading Marathon,” and our first “Odyssey of the Mind” team. Through the years as our priority goals evolved, the faculty kept the model of adopting simultaneous academic and climate/culture/character goals as dual concurrent initiatives in each year’s school improvement plan. Primary Grammar/ Composition/Assessment/Handwriting: (1999-2003) With a professional agreement in place regarding reading decoding, the faculty’s next area of priority was to bring consistency and continuity to the teaching and assessment of grammar and writing. Using the same type of exploratory committee, (referred to as the “Literacy Team,”) a proposal to adopt the program “Framing Your Thoughts,” also published by the Language Circle, was similarly researched, piloted, presented and approved. Teachers of language arts received 24 hours of in-service training in that program as well as a half-day training in using the “Report Form” (the Language Circle approach to teaching children how to organize non-fiction compositions). Teachers in grades 2-5 also received training in preparing and using “rubrics” and “quality indicators” to assess student composition, and for the first time, every student in those grades was asked to respond to a school-wide writing prompt, (scored by teachers using the rubrics) both in the fall and in the spring. At the staff’s request, and to support consistency in our teaching of handwriting, our occupational therapists worked with staff in examining and piloting handwriting programs: the study groups recommended using the Zaner Bloser program at K-2, and Benbow Handwriting at grades 3-5. In addition, teachers requested and we were able to obtain the Write Source reference materials published by Houghton Mifflin. Again, it is worth emphasizing that these were initiatives proposed by faculty study groups (or “teams” or “committees” whatever you want to call them) and then, after discussion, by consensus of the whole faculty. Character Counts: (1999-2009) The primary objective of the Character Counts initiative was (and still is) to promote positive character traits while building and sustaining a cooperative learning environment. Highlights over the years included: a) “Responsive Classroom” training for all faculty, b) implementation of the “Six Pillars of Character” program (developed by the Josephson Institute of Ethics), c) work with Joe and Nels in the area of Emotional Intelligence and implementation of a school wide program to help students monitor and be more in control of impulsive behaviors (we called it the STOP program, an acronym for “Stop,
  • 6. pg. 6 Think, Options, Proceed), d) school wide use of the “Second Step” empathy building program (published by the non-profit Committee for Children based in Seattle), and e) instituting a Student Leadership Team (SLT), a concept we borrowed from the elementary school across town, the Winthrop School. Students in grades four and five volunteered to take on helpful projects around the building (often helping in primary grade classrooms) and had the option to also join the “Early Act” service program sponsored by the local Rotary. To participate they were required to fill out a job application and had to interview with the principal. Each student was paired with a volunteer adult mentor and a weekly 30 minute block of time was provided for the student to do their job during the school day (with the student contributing 15 of those minutes by missing a recess and the other 15 minutes taken during class time with approval of the homeroom teacher). To remain on the “SLT” students had to maintain a clean disciplinary record, model appropriate behavior, and be up to date with their assignments. During the first year of the SLT program, 2000-2001, fifty students, (about a third of our fourth and fifth graders), participated with half a dozen adult mentors volunteering; by 2008-2009,that figure had risen to 120 students (80% of grades four and five) with sixteen adult mentors participating. Math Matters: (2001-2005) In the mid-1990’s we adopted the program Everyday Math developed by the University of Chicago and endorsed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The instructional philosophy of the program was in alignment with the Massachusetts curriculum “frameworks” and the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) but our test scores were not up to where we felt they should be. The goal for the Math Matters team was to examine our math program and recommend adjustments or changes that might boost achievement and hence improve our student’s ability to do well on the assessments. In the end, we made the following observations and accommodations: 1) we discovered that most classes were not completing their full grade level program because of schedule and time constraints which left a gap between where they stopped at year’s end, and where the following year’s program began. To address this we increased the time allotted to math, standardizing a daily 75 minutes for all classes grades one through five; 2) we provided two days of training to faculty in implementation of a new edition of the Everyday Math program; 3) we began specifically teaching students how to approach open-ended math questions, which were a key portion of the state assessments, and 4) we examined how we could best use all available personnel to lower math instructional group size. Our combined “Advanced” and “Proficient” scores in grade four math (the top two MCAS test categories) rose steadily as the cumulative effect of these changes took hold, moving from 33% in the spring of 2000, to 69% by 2008. We also discovered that time allotted per subject can have a striking cumulative impact on learning, both positive and negative. When we began to look into why our students appeared to be underperforming on the mathematics state assessment, I asked all teachers grades 1-5 to do a quick calculation as to how many instructional minutes they were devoting to each major subject area in a typical week. We discovered that there was a wide disparity in the minutes devoted to math, with the average across all grades being about 60 minutes per day. There was also a great deal of discrepancy not only between grade levels, but also among teachers at the same grade level. In every case, only the teachers who taught more than the average were actually completing the whole year’s worth of study. We tried prioritizing units, but even then we still calculated that we needed more than 60 minutes per day to teach the “essential” topics—so as I mentioned above, we built in a 75 minute math period into each class’ schedule. As it turned out, those 15 extra minutes were similar to contributing to a math “401K”—it wasn’t such a big change so as to be “painful” for any one teacher, but over time it made a difference. In the fall after the first full year of implementation of the new schedule, teachers began to
  • 7. pg. 7 report that students were arriving in their classes with what appeared to be more solid math skills. After two years of implementation, at a fall faculty meeting a teacher in one of our upper grades made the comment that there was no doubt that as a group, students were coming to her with stronger skills than she had ever seen before, and the spring test scores confirmed that impression. Over the next several years test scores kept rising and then leveled out but remained high. We were very pleased. Upon reflection, we shouldn’t have been that surprised. Without knowing that the numbers would come out this way, our additional 15 minutes per day beginning in grade one had added up to almost a full year’s worth of additional math instruction by the time grade four students took the spring testing. We made a seemingly small change, but over time it had a very significant positive impact. One more thought on test scores—they are an outcome of the strength and focus of instructional programs—they are indicators, not a primary goal. We don’t want to “teach to them,” but given the current emphasis on accountability they can’t be ignored. To the extent there is congruence between what the test measures and what we consider important to teach, it is easier to reconcile life with them. The real cognitive dissonance occurs when the test assesses that which we consider to be a comparatively irrelevant learning objective; then we are left juggling ethical issues involving the political implications of poor test scores and empathy for our students, (whose academic record and learning self-esteem are both at risk if they do poorly) vs. our own sense of “free will” as professional educators. Perhaps the best advice I ever received on this issue came from Dick Thompson, retired Superintendent of the Ipswich Public Schools. He recommended a “balanced” approach. He suggested we take steps to raise student performance to a “respectable” and “acceptable level,” declare victory, and move on to broader educational goals as opposed to making ever higher scores our ongoing priority objective. Balanced Literacy, Reading Comprehension and Literacy Assessment: (2003-2007) This was a joint effort with our “sister” school across town. Neither school had updated its reading text for many years. We felt we needed to research what was available while also becoming more familiar with emerging trends such as the growing “balanced literacy” movement, use of new literacy assessments (e.g., “running records”) and the role that early instruction in phonemic awareness could play in building primary reading foundation skills. As an outcome of this goal, we began piloting several new literacy assessments, including the Pre-Literacy Skills Screening (PLSS, published by PRO-ED) in kindergarten, and the Phonemic Awareness Skills Screening (PASS, also published by PRO-ED) in grade one. Other grades piloted the Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GRADE, published by Pearson), the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA, also published by Pearson) and the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS, published by the University of Oregon). After a great deal of research, attendance at several national conferences, etc., the Reading Comprehension Study Group recommended that we not purchase a new basal (!) and that we instead take the following steps: 1) continue using Project Read as our phonics decoding program, 2) keep the existing basal as a convenient reading anthology while also upgrading classroom libraries, and 3) begin an extensive joint-school professional development initiative to help us develop our own reading comprehension strategies program using exemplary children’s literature. The Committee further recommended that we seek a multi-year partnership with the Tufts University Center for Applied Child Development (CACD) as a source for the needed onsite training. As a result of these recommendations, in the fall of 2004 we began working with Lynn Schade, the Program Director of CACD. We “emerged” from our ambitious three years of professional development with our own grade level month-by-month, year-long reading comprehension strategy plans complete with identification of the “mentor texts” that would be used to teach each skill at each grade. During the 2006-2007 school year, Carolyn Davis (the
  • 8. pg. 8 principal of the Winthrop School across town) and I brought grade level teams from both schools together to exchange reflections and experiences related to the development and piloting of the new curriculum. As we moved from room to room, we were gratified by the energy, the good spirit, and the thoughtfulness of the sharing. Most impressive, however, was that we were hearing a new functional vocabulary being used. The language of the new instructional objectives had been incorporated into the discussions and to us that signaled “buy-in” by staff, and the likelihood that the curriculum would “take root.” The language we were hearing was the language of ownership. Our Faculties were taking ownership of the school and of its’ future. The line between “management” and “labor” was becoming blurred. We had arrived at this most positive outcome no doubt because we, the teachers and administrators from both schools, had worked collaboratively in developing the curriculum from the start. Aside from a certain inevitable amount of “tweaking,” this curriculum is still in place at both elementary schools. This is a good example of how, in order to instill ownership, we made every effort to minimize the “us and them” gap that is found too frequently in relationships between faculty and administration. Instead, we tried to blur the traditionally adversarial lines by building the “WE.” This was true not only at the Doyon School, but also in the other schools across the district. At the Winthrop School, for example, Superintendent Dick Thompson suggested that Principal Davis consider a “shared leadership” model with her teachers. What was remarkable was that he had no preconceived model in mind; instead, they decided to broach the subject with staff and if there was sufficient interest, they would design the model with the faculty. In Carolyn’s words, “We saw it as an opening for some teachers to put a toe in the water to see if they liked areas of leadership that could springboard into future administrative positions and/or to provide a greater sphere of influence in the school.” With that mindset Carolyn and the eight teachers who stepped forward that first year designed a model that provided the option for teachers to assume leadership roles in the school in areas of interest. Over the ensuing years many different teachers participated and as a group they presented this innovative model at an NAESP national convention in Seattle It made a huge difference that the two Superintendents of the Ipswich Schools, Dick Thompson and Rick Korb, who served during these years were supportive of site-based management and of fostering a “we’re all in this together” culture. The goal of nurturing and preserving our district’s collaborative culture was so important and pervasive that even the district’s attorney would include in his counsel the impact pending legal decisions might have on our climate and culture. Writing Committee, Comprehensive Literacy Assessment Plan; Trimester Reporting: (2007-2009) During these years, we provided the staff with time to meet both as grade level teams (for support and sharing while implementing the new reading comprehension curriculum), and as members of multi- grade writing study groups. The goal of the writing initiative was to support and assist teachers as they began to integrate writing objectives into the new year-long reading comprehension plans. Based on a poll of the faculty, the writing committee recommended that we form three study groups and that teachers have the choice of joining whichever group piqued their interest. Each group read and implemented one educational author’s approach to teaching writing—the three authors were Lucy Calkins, Katy Wood-Ray, and Ralph Fletcher (in addition, many teachers were already using the work of Regie Routeman). In the spring of 2009, teachers were asked to share what they felt were the strengths of each approach. The consensus of the group was that the best program for us would be one that would draw upon the strongest elements from each author’s work. The year ended with several grades
  • 9. pg. 9 posting drafts of their integrated reading and writing objectives on the “faculty share” intranet server, and everyone understanding that completing this project was going to be a major goal of the 2009-2010 school year. Two other study groups were simultaneously formed during these years as well: one focusing on literacy assessments, and the other an ad hoc group which explored the pros and cons of moving from a quarterly to a trimester grade reporting schedule. The Literacy Assessment Study Group worked to design a time-efficient reading assessment program that would be consistent at each grade level, and that would provide normative, diagnostic, as well as longitudinal data. In the spring of 2009, after extended surveys, presentations, and discussions at staff meetings, Doyon Faculty reached a consensus which formalized the use of multiple assessments, many of which were already in widespread pilot in the school, such as the GRADE, DIBELS, and the DRA. The assessment group also custom designed a single-page form to hold each child’s K-5 literacy assessment data (as well as state test scores) to be kept in cumulative folders. This page was intended to provide quick access to key benchmark data regarding each student’s elementary “reading journey.” These objectives were fully implemented in the 2009-2010 school year. The Trimester Study Group (which included staff from both elementary schools including the building principals) did extensive research, and discovered that a surprising number of Massachusetts communities had already moved to the trimester format. Advantages for making that change included a more accurate “first” formal report, and a tremendous “time dividend” for staff who could use the recouped hours for planning, collaboration, and direct pupil services. The study group developed a proposal to move to the trimester format (providing for a fall parent conference several weeks prior to the first grade report), and sought and received support in turn from the faculty, the superintendent, the parent organizations, the school councils, and finally from the school committee. The trimester format was implemented during the 2009-2010 school year. There were many other positive accomplishments at the Doyon School over these years, but this review should give you an idea of the flow of our improvement process and of the scope of our collaborative endeavors. (Nels and Joe) At this point it should be clear that the enormous amount of program building achieved by the Doyon School would not have been possible without the staff’s ability to work together and serially focus on goals and objectives. Developing programs and building the educational system in your school takes time. They really stuck with it. Their investment on behalf of their students was exemplary. You see in the above goal succession why we do not believe in silver bullets, but rather in the hard work of continuous improvement—a long-term incremental process where the staff of a school works collaboratively to build ever-improving educational programs. Though a continuous improvement effort like this takes time and dedication, Ken and his staff enjoyed the process because it is a rewarding feeling to build programs and see them affect your students in a most positive way. Achievement has a powerful fulfilling impact on job satisfaction.