Our Bees Are Buzzing!

Greetings Parents and Community Members! Another week is upon us and what a week it was! Our teachers spent all day Monday vertically planning with the grades above and below them. This is a great way for teachers from an upper grade to talk to the grade below about what they want their students to know and be able to do. We often take it for granted but teachers are busy! They barely have enough time to plan with their own grade levels let alone different grades, so we were happy to see them planning away and building that collaborative learning community that I’ve been speaking so much about. As you know, studies show that no matter where you work, what job you do, or what your source of income is, isolation is NOT effective! I just completed reading an article by Sean Glaze entitled “For Effective Schools- Teamwork IS NOT Optional” and this rings so true for our teachers and staff. In it, this one paragraph stood out to me:

“Being a professional doesn’t mean that you have the opportunity to work alone. In fact, professionals in most every other industry are required to work together to improve performance. Whether they’re airline pilots, psychiatrists, or salesmen, successful professionals lean on and share ideas with others in their field.”

I am so proud of the work our staff has done around building this collaborative learning model where teachers not only take ownership of ALL students, not just their own, but also share data and discuss best practices with their team. A study by Hattie of over 200 million students across four continents echoed the same sentiment. In it, Hattie studied effect sizes that influence student learning. Basically, what helps students learn the best? Is it smaller class sizes, retention, homework or even a child’s home life? While all of these have some effect on student outcomes (whether positive or negative), the number one indicator was something called “Collective Teacher Efficacy.” This is the act of caring teaching, on a cohesive team, that strives to take ownership of all students, not just a teacher’s own students. Every staff member at Brandon, whether homeroom teacher, ESOL, Special Ed., Art, Music or PE, are all part of a PLC (Professional Learning Community).

With that said, I was happy to receive our most recent Gallup Q12 survey results this past week as I attended an APS principals’ meeting off campus. The Q12 survey (google it to learn more) is given to companies worldwide including schools and Fortune 500 companies. It measures staff engagement through 12 simple-to-understand questions focused around basic needs, individual needs, teamwork and growth. For my GO Team and those that remember our school-wide priorities for this year, an increase in staff engagement was a major focus. I’m happy to say that we moved our mean score (each question is on a Likert scale out of 5) from a 3.54 to a 4.11. We’ve moved from the 17th percentile to the 63rd. We increased our engagement from 16% to 55%, all within one full calendar year. I’m excited to say we increased in 11/12 survey indicators, all because our teachers and staff are buying into what we are doing. Our amazing admin team is supportive, our grade level chairs lead great team discussions, and our teachers have the materials they need to do what they do best each day and, most importantly, have an avenue to share their opinions. What’s also great is that an increase in engagement (engagement and satisfaction are two very different things) has proven to lower cortisol in the blood stream which results in a reduction of stress and anxiety, so we’ve gotten healthier too! And did you know that an increase in engagement has also been proven to increase students’ reading and math achievement levels?!? While these are great baseline scores, there is still much work to be done around this important Morris Brandon and APS initiative.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t talk about the amazing talent show that took place last week. This year has been a first for a lot of things and I hope that this is the start of a long-standing tradition at our awesome neighborhood school. The students were undoubtedly the stars of the show and I couldn’t get over not just how talented they are but also how brave! The show was long but the crowd never dwindled, as you showed your dedication and support to our rising stars. Mr. Ashton and team were incredible in taking on this initiative and I have to give a BIG shout-out to all of our teachers, staff, parents and PTA members who helped put on such an incredible show for our community. BRAVO!

As we continue to roll toward Spring Break there are two exciting events happening at our school and within our district, both centered on RUNNING. First, don’t forget to join us for our annual Fun Run Saturday, April 13th to support our amazing school. Second, I would also like for you to consider joining me at the first annual APS Rocks and Runs 5K taking place at Brown Middle School on May 4th. I’ve already charged our teachers in joining me but I want our Brandon community to show up too! Let’s show APS our school spirit and bring as a big of a crowd as we can! Come run with your child, teacher and, of course, administrators!  Registration info and signup can be found here.

Until next time!

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