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Hopes for the New School Year

The day after Labor Day is the official start of school for many students across the country. Of course a lot of you have been back at school for some time, and we all know that educators have been preparing for this year ever since their students departed in June. For me, Labor Day offers a time to think about my hopes for educators and children alike for this coming year.

I want all students to experience great teaching every day. I want all students to arrive home from school inspired and eager to share what they have learned and what they look forward to exploring on their own. I want all students to demonstrates hope for their future and understand what they can and must accomplish to achieve their goals.

I want all educators to be confident and supported as they begin this school year. I want all educators to know it's acceptable to tap the expertise of their colleagues when they do not have all the answers. I want all educators to have a team of colleagues who share the same commitment and goals, and who will help and support each other. I want all educators to begin this year believing that teaching is an honorable profession because in it they can experience the daily joy of life-long learning and share that joy with their students.

I want school systems to value these same hopes and to create systems that ensure they come to fruition. They do this putting Learning Forward's Standards for Professional Learning into action in the following ways:

  1. Articulating systemwide goals for equity and collective responsibility for student achievement, and ensuring these goals are understood and embraced by teams at the system and school levels throughout the district.
  2. Making and enacting a systemwide commitment to continuous improvement that ensures all educators (administrators, teachers, supervisors, all staff who have direct or indirect responsibility for student achievement) have the knowledge, skills, dispositions, and practices to help all students succeed. (Learning Communities)
  3. Establishing shared system goals for student and educator learning based on student learning outcomes and performance standards for educators. (Outcomes)
  4. Setting annual improvement targets by reviewing all forms of data and updating targets based on monitoring of data throughout the year. (Data)
  5. Ensuring every educator is a member of at least one learning team that is given substantive designated time for learning from and with each other. (Learning Designs; Resources)
  6. Making classroom practice the focus for improvement, including consistent open-door policies, ongoing classroom-based support, and other resources available as needed. (Implementation; Resources)
  7. Ensuring all administrators have improvement of classroom instruction and support for teachers as their top priorities. (Leadership).

These are my hopes for this school year. They represent what is essential if we are truly committed to achieving the results we expect for every student. There are no shortcuts. In the most successful systems around the world, not one of these actions is ignored. They work together to create a system of powerful support for student success.

How do my hopes relate to your goals? Where do you stand? How will these actions listed help you in articulate what you want in your district, school, or classroom this year? Let us hear your own goals for the year.

Stephanie Hirsh
Executive Director, Learning Forward

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The opinions expressed in Learning Forward's PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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