#500c

August 16th, 2018 will mark the start of another great  year in Jeffco Public Schools. It has been fun visiting schools and different teams to see their preparations for tomorrow. There is an air of excitement and a palpable sense of positive energy in our schools and across the organization. One might even characterize it as “fun!”

This year, I’m committing to visit 500 classrooms across Jeffco (and possibly in some other places as well). I’m going to be gathering observations on what students are doing in these classrooms, so that I have a strong understanding of the student experience in Jeffco and how we might make that authentic, meaningful, engaging, memorable, and connected to the world outside of school.

In particular, I’m going to be looking for great examples of something called student “task.” Task is a component of learning where the student moves into the driver’s seat and gets to practice and experience something first-hand.

We wish these experiences to be anchored in challenging and relevant content (facts), but also to provide opportunities for students to practice a host of important skills such as collaboration, perseverance, adaptability, critical thinking, effective communication, problem solving, persuasion, and personal responsibility.

This list is by no means exhaustive. These skills (among others) are what employers have been telling us for some time our students are missing in the workforce. They are also vitally important for our students as we prepare our students for an increasingly automated and globally connected world and where the importance of being an engaged citizen are even more critical.

I will also be looking for great examples of something called student agency. This means that we want to see more of students exercising choice in how they respond to complex problems and that they are getting the opportunity to work on problems and projects which are relevant and meaningful to them.

I realize that in several of these classrooms I will only spend minutes before needing to move on. I do have another full time job, after all! But I hope to capture the spirit of what is happening in these classrooms and learn from that.

I also try to spend two days (one each semester) co-teaching. I do this usually with a social studies teacher, since that was my content area when I was a teacher. This year, I’ll be working with Dale Munholland at Pomona High School and Kerrie Dallman at Arvada West High School. I also spend time working alongside our support staff each year, getting to know these critical support roles as people and professionals.

I don’t know yet what will emerge from this one year study – but I will occasionally share reflections and my learning with you.

I’ll be using the hashtag #500c and posting photos of my visits. Wish me luck!

2 thoughts on “#500c

  1. This sounds like a great initiative to visit 500 classrooms. I suggest that you do these visits unannounced so that you get a true picture of what is going on the schools. I also think you should give a lot of focus on the middle schools that are now going through some serious growing pains as they have taken on a few hundred more students and appear to not have been equipped for the start of the new academic year (Example: no lockers at Oberon for the 6th graders, serious parking shortage at Oberon, kids sitting on the floor of the bus at Drake, etc.). I am worried that these schools were not prepared and are now overwhelmed and running ragged. Please consider visiting middle schools as well as checking in regularly to make sure that they have the resources they need to support student success.

    Thank you,
    Jen Baichi

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    1. Hi Jen – thanks for responding. I do let the schools know that I am coming, but I pop into the classrooms unannounced, take a quick photo as I am coming in, and then spend some time observing and talking with students and sometimes the teacher about what they are working on – working to understand the student task and experience. I actually visited 5 middle schools yesterday and had a very different experience than what you describe. While the new school year always comes with some issues as new procedures and routines are started with new families and students, reports across Jeffco were positive and that the start of school went smoothly – especially at our middle schools. Our middle schools and facilities staff spent a tremendous amount of effort preparing for this shift and that seems to have paid off. I think there are some real needs at Oberon – we have a bond proposal that the Board is considering Thursday that would allow us to make even more improvements at that school. As for the “students sitting on the floor of the bus” at Drake, I’d want to know more about this claim. We do not transport students sitting in the floor of the bus. In the rare event there is an overflow, we dispatch another bus to safely transport the students. If you have any evidence or information about that claim, I’d be happy to investigate it and take whatever action is appropriate, once what happened is determined. You can email me that at jason.glass@jeffco.k12.co.us. I look forward to your message and more information.

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