After collecting data from the DART (reading diagnostic), FSA, and various in-class assessments it was time to sit down and build our class profiles. We have not done this before, so the first steps were to have our Inquiry Team come up with a format to try. In order to do this, and with the support of our district lead teachers, we leaned heavily on the work Shelley Moore has been doing in our district. We used three structures, moderately adapted by our Inclusion Support Teachers for our needs and proclivities. Each teacher team was released for half a day and worked with one of our Inclusion Support Teachers to develop meaningful class profiles.
We began with an overall assessment of class competencies including the physical community, social emotional community, and the learning community looking at strengths, stretches and individual concerns. The next step, which proved to be very valuable, was to highlight specific student needs from a specific chart of student needs; then teachers had to narrow the list down to the five needs most impacting their classrooms. The Education Assistants provided further information about five classes using RTI triangles, one set base-down to separate by level of needed support, and then inverted to indicate which supports will be needed to match the identified needs. These were edifying experiences. The needs were collected, and several themes emerged: disengagement; social emotional learning, especially connected to mental health; deficiencies in Executive Skills; and challenges in the range of academic competencies and skills in each class. These themes will direct our work moving forward.
I would be remiss if I did not put one caveat here. By highlighting and localizing specific student needs and then making a giant leap to globalizing their impact on the class and then distilling those as part of an even bigger picture, seems to fly in the face of supporting individual needs. The unique individual concerns do not permeate the whole class culture where concerns are actively being addressed through collaboration and differentiation. This raises a key question for us: as we collect information to guide school-wide learning and growth, how do we meet individual teacher needs that might not be reflected in the communal needs? The professional development and support work will need to model the same principles they are developing.
The Inclusion Team compiled this information and collated teacher requests for resources and materials to support inclusion in our classes. This is a very large list which we will not be able to fill but gives us a starting place and guidance.
With this work and planning in hand, we met as a more complete Inclusion Team (site, district, and SET-BC) to go over our findings and work toward a plan to align material requests, identified needs, and expertise. The first thing we realized was that we had a lot to take on and it would need to be incremental. Our feeling was that many of the challenges with student engagement were likely connected to the other three themes. We also found that some of the resource requests were not aligned with needs identified in the class profiles. With respect to concerns about mental health, our 8/9 Team has already undergone significant training and will be teaching it to our students throughout the year. Many of our teachers of students in grades 6/7 are also doing the training and using the same language. So, from all of this we mapped out our next steps.
- Prioritize resource acquisitions to align with targeted needs, i.e. increase our capacity with the tech we have, and supplement only as needed for effective UDL.
- Work to develop multiple ways to engage students by addressing Executive Skills.
- Continue our work as a trauma informed school and release teachers to work on ALSUPs.
On January 15th, the SET BC team will be here to work with our teacher teams for 3 days. We will be looking at different tools we have access to, as well as some that we might want to explore. We will look at how and when to use the various tools, including tech supported tools and non-tech supported tools, that support multiple ways of engagement. If time allows, we will look at the 11 Executive Skills (Peg Dawson) reinforcing our need to be the surrogate prefrontal cortex for our students while they develop theirs. The SET BC team will also work with our Inclusion Support Teachers to help develop their capacity in targeted areas to support the work of our classroom teachers.
As we continue our journey, we embrace the principles of lifelong learning and are working with the opportunities to learn and to grow. I will admit, it feels very rudderless beyond our overarching goals of becoming an inclusive community guided by inquiry, but hopefully that will come. We have done our scanning, developed our hunches, now we are working on the learning parts in our spiraling approach to Inquiry.