Published: March 25, 2014
2013 World’s Best Workforce Legislation (Section 120B.11) commits the state to achieving five key goals in every district in the state:
1. improving kindergarten readiness
2. achieving universal literacy by third grade
3. meeting a 100 percent high-school graduation rate
4. reducing achievement gaps
5. preparing all students to graduate college- and career-ready
The bulk of the work will be undertaken by every school district in the state. Each will develop strategic plans, hold an annual public meeting to report on progress, and set interim goals for next year.
Meet Sharon Burrell, Curriculum, Staff Development and Q Comp Coordinator for North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale Schools, and longtime elementary classroom teacher. As a member of the district's teaching and leadership plan, Sharon agreed to be interviewed for BloggED. She explained that their process began by articulating educational programming and determining multiple measures to assure academic progress for all District 622 students.
During our interview, BloggED asked Sharon to share an influential or critical learning moment in the process and planning leading up to the district’s final plan.
Sharon: One of our advisory meetings this fall was a turning point for me. District 622 had a long-standing and well-attended Citizens Advisory Committee on Curriculum. World’s Best Workforce required that the membership of that committee be expanded to include students, members from business community, and district administrators and teachers. The structure of the meetings needed to change from informative—here’s what we’re doing, to participatory—what do you think?
Our committee began by changing the physical set up of the room, adding large tables to promote small group discussion. We provided grounding questions, asked classroom practitioners to share their work, and provided structures for both individual and group feedback.
We shifted from a sharing of what had been decided to asking, what do you, the community, want for this process or initiative? As a result, the meetings became far more engaging for all members, including myself as facilitator. Some of the feedback from parents and the community was difficult to hear; other feedback was reassuring. We plan to continue to invite community and parent participation.
Blog: What advice, suggestion or recommendation would you give to other districts and school boards still working on their plan?
SB: Engage your community. Be creative in recruiting businesses and members who do not have students currently in your schools. Ask for feedback.
Blog: How do you think we can ensure every child receives a great education in Minnesota? And what role will your leadership—and the leadership and work of others in your district on the World’s Best Workforce plan—play?
SB: Be intentional and tenacious in continuous progress monitoring. It’s hard work. Ask the hard questions, for example, how do we know this intervention is effective? How do we assure our parents and students a guaranteed and viable curriculum in every classroom?
The role of our Teaching and Learning team continues to be designing opportunities for collaboration with teacher leaders, administrators, and the community.
Blog: If you'd like to learn more, Sharon Burrell can be contacted, SBurrell@isd622.org. with questions about developing a World's Best Workforce plan in your district.