Thursday, August 18, 2016

Our Goal: Create a School That Students Run Toward

At WJHS, we strive to create a school that students run toward, not away from.  We believe that students can't reach their full potential in a school where they aren't inspired.

This morning that belief was further reinforced for me when I read an article from ASCD entitled "The Schools Students Want to Attend.

My favorite points from the article were:

-Numerous studies show that engaged students are more likely to be motivated to learn, experience satisfaction from learning, persist in challenging work, and improve their academic achievement.

-Academic success and engagement are not mutually exclusive.

-It is becoming clearer that engagement is the lens through which students see school, and is therefor their window toward hope for their future.  In Gallup's report, vice chair Connie Rath noted that "students who strongly agreed that their school is committed to building student's strengths and that they have a teacher who makes them excited about the future are almost 30 times as likely to be engage learners as their peers who strongly disagree with both statements."

-Real engagement, not compliance, comes when learning goals are clear, relevant, and appropriately challenging, and the classroom culture signals that teachers are genuinely invested in student learning.  This means making room for students to try new things, make mistakes, and learn from their mistakes.

-"Relationships are the prime factor of teaching,"  Kim Thomas said, "What do you love?  What makes you laugh?  You can build off that in any content area."

-"To engage kids, we first need to let them know they matter," added Quaglia.

-We will only be successful if our schools are places where students want to be.

The points above could have been plucked from many of our faculty meetings and staff development sessions over the past few years.

I'm honored to work in a school where creating a learning environment that students want to be in is the primary goal. Our teachers and staff work tirelessly to make WJHS one of "the schools students want to attend."

Tim Sparacino, Principal