Each month the Sunnyside School Board travels to two of the schools in the district, learning how administrators plan to improve the learning environment.
Last night the board visited Outlook and Chief Kamiakin elementary schools.
The school improvement teams there have been adopting a philosophy based on a concept demonstrated by the behavior of geese.
Outlook Assistant Principal Brandon Pontius showed the school board a YouTube video to better explain the concept. The idea is that staff at the school can be more effective by supporting, caring, sharing and leading each other.
Outlook Principal Maria Hernandez said helping one another by "sharing the work" can make a staff better able to help the students be successful.
She said her team uses trend data to measure student growth. The staff also looks at cohort data and target levels to best assess the needs of individual students.
By sharing the work, the staff is able to work together to best meet the needs of those individual students through interventions and strategies.
"Our work this year has been on aligning all our goals," said Hernandez, stating the use of GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design) teaching strategies is also being implemented throughout the school.
Those teaching strategies are designed to improve learning through the use of chants and pictorials, as well as other learning tools.
Kimberly Cook said the chants have been effective in several classrooms throughout the Outlook school, helping students to better learn and retain skills that can be applied to different subjects.
The staff at Outlook has also found recognizing students for their accomplishments can be effective. There are many ways students are recognized inside and outside the classroom. Teachers inside the classroom mark progress using maps and visual tools that include target "destinations." Outside the classroom students are recognized during assemblies, when they receive student of the month honors, when they are "caught doing something good" and on their birthdays.
Staff members told the board that parents who support their students make a difference, as well. It was said the parental support motivates the students to achieve success.
At Chief Kamiakin Elementary School there is a new focus on student improvement by making better use of professional learning communities and GLAD strategies.
Staff are implementing the GLAD strategies this year and those who are on the school improvement team said it is taking some adjustment.
Principal Kim Frank said the hope is that students who are English language learners will also see improvements in testing through the use of the GLAD strategies.
"Our work is being restructured and our focus is on controlling PLCs (professional learning communities)," she said.
The staff is provided the ability to adjust goals based on testing results and tracking the data that is provided by those results, according to Frank.
She said adjusting the student goals helps staff and students develop new goals.
Through a video presentation, the school board learned staff members at Chief Kamiakin Elementary School are giving the students the ability to take ownership of their learning. The students track their own progress via graphs they create.
The students, according to the video, are involved in the process of developing student learning plans, as well.
"Goals must be purposeful and realistic," according to the video's narrator.
Kathy Tramel is on the school improvement team at Chief Kamiakin and told the board members the school has also changed how interventions are directed. Interventions used to be the responsibility of paraprofessionals, but are now directed by the teaching staff.