In just nine months, many who entered Maria Keegan’s kindergarten class as non-readers have made tremendous gains.
By the end of the school year, students were learning to read at an earlier point than is typical.
Instruction at Glendale doesn’t stop at reading, writing or math. Glendale explicitly teaches social emotional skills along with academic instruction, not separately.
Sara Knueve is a Positive Behavior Coach at Glendale. “The center of what we’re doing is learning – both academic and social emotional, in tandem.”
Every week teachers meet with an instructional coach, Student Services support person and any staff who have a role to play in a student’s success, whether a deaf or hard of hearing interpreter, speech and language therapist, bilingual resource specialist or special education teacher.
Driving the practices of CO-Teaming and teaching social emotional skills is Glendale’s equity vision – At Glendale, there is a place for you. Principal Ben Ketterer explains that the you includes students, staff and families.
Glendale’s school motto is “I am a learner. Together we achieve.”
“I am a learner. Together we achieve.”
It’s Wednesday morning, the day before the last day of school. Glendale students recite a familiar affirmation over the loudspeaker. It’s their school motto: “I am a learner. Together we achieve.”
Students in Sue Bernhagen’s and Maria Keegan’s kindergarten classes are living proof. In just nine months, students are flourishing as early readers.
By the end of the school year, students are reading at even higher levels than expected. And several are now reading at levels G and H, compared with level D, which is the benchmark for end-of-year proficiency in kindergarten.
Two sentences below illustrate the difference:
On Thursday we went to the lake. (From level D book A Week with Aunt B.)
Find some fat pebbles and make them all skip, over the water, plip-ploppety-plip. (From level H book Up the Haystack)
Results over the long term
This wasn’t an overnight win. It is one example of how, over the long term, Glendale is moving the needle through “Collective Ownership” teaming and explicit teaching of social emotional skills.
“By working together, we can more easily overcome challenges. This is the work we have been focused on as a building for the last four years,” Ketterer says, adding that while the change process isn’t immediate, “teachers are now seeing the long-term impact.”
“And the data speaks for itself,” he says.
Just look at the school’s overall reading proficiency over time. Since the 2012-13 school year, it has gradually increased every year, overall increasing 13 points. For African-American students, reading proficiency has more than tripled in four years. This gap is shrinking.
“We believe, and it is supported by research, that the best path to academic and social emotional success is to work together,” explains Principal Ketterer. “We created the Collective Ownership (CO, for short) Team model as our vehicle for this collaboration.”
Every Wednesday at 9 a.m., teachers Bernhagen and Keegan settle into small orange chairs arranged around a table along with Instructional Coach Emily Golliher and Dana Kartos, their support person from Student Services. The goal: To work as a team to improve outcomes for their students.
Joining them are any staff who have a role to play in a student’s success, whether a deaf or hard of hearing interpreter, speech and language therapist, bilingual resource specialist or special education teacher. The group discusses strengths and concerns, often looking at work samples or data, both for academic and behavior.
The advantage of having everyone at the table is that when a need arises, Kartos explains, “We know right away who brings the connection to the family, who brings time, so that teachers don’t have to fish around the building for help. They don’t have to navigate the system alone.” Support staff act as “brokers” for the teachers, bringing expertise directly to the teacher and student.
Teaching the whole child
Instruction at Glendale doesn’t stop at reading, writing or math. Glendale explicitly teaches social emotional skills along with academic instruction, not separately. These include having empathy, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions and managing emotions.
Sara Knueve is Glendale’s Student Services Coordinator. “The center of what we’re doing is learning – both academic and social emotional, in tandem.”
And the learning is happening school-wide. There are structures in place ensuring consistent expectations throughout the building. This promotes health and wellness and reduces barriers to learning.
Students recognize that learning is the reason they are there. “We take that very seriously,” says Bernhagen. “We talk about it with our kindergarteners. You’re going to be a learner for a long time.”
There is a place for you here
Driving Glendale’s work is its equity vision – At Glendale, there is a place for you. Principal Ben Ketterer explains that the you includes students, staff and families.
“We know that each child deserves to be seen as a whole child and helped to fulfill their full potential,” he says, “and that families are best able to support their children when they feel welcomed as equal partners.”
When staff form deep relationships with students and families, students have better outcomes. These connections to students also allow staff to be really tuned into what students’ lives.
When a student meets a milestone or overcomes a challenge? Jenny Logan, third grade dual-language immersion teacher, says, “All of us can pour out our celebration on to this student: ‘I heard something great about you today. I know how hard you worked.’”