If teachers learn best from other teachers, then schools must learn best from other schools…
With this core belief in mind, the Colorado Association of Middle Level Education (CAMLE) organized a Peer to Peer Learning Experience to bring interested middle level educators to the 2011 Colorado School to Watch designees Russell, Jenkins and Altona Middle School where they could learn replicable practices that could set their own school on a trajectory of success – just like the schools they visited. The School to Watch school site visits were held on Tuesday November 15 and Thursday November 17. Over fifty Colorado educators traveled nearly 1500 miles to visit these Colorado Schools to Watch in located in Colorado Springs (District 11) and Longmont (St. Vrain Valley Schools).
The School to Watch visitors began their day learning about the rich, research based practices that have propelled student learning through strong organizational practices, best first instruction, and sustained focus on continuous improvement. Guests at Russell Middle gleaned knowledge related to their exemplary implementation of Response to Intervention (RtI) programming that included Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBiS) and Character Education strategies. While visiting Jenkins Middle School, guests interacted with students who spoke first hand regarding the engaging instructional strategies implemented by the whole staff professional study. Finally, visitors to Altona Middle School were immersed in the school’s culture of excellence, focus and precision in execution.
Here is what the attendees had to say about their peer to peer learning experience:
“I had the privilege to attend the Altona Middle School site visit and I was blown away. For over ten years I have thought it is all about teacher: my lessons, my units – and in one day I learned that what it really takes is a strong system. I looked at their lessons and units, and they are basically the same. But, our school doesn’t operate systemically and strategically like Altona. Thank you for allowing me to visit this amazing school!”
“I learned more in one day about RtI by visiting Russell Middle School than I did in over two years training in my own district. I really appreciated understanding their systemic approach to providing interventions. I came away with a lot of ideas for supporting students who need additional help.”
“My favorite part was hearing the Altona mantra, “Every year we do ONE thing and we do ONE thing really well. It seems like the staff has the focus and the time to devote to excellence, and it shows.”
“We saw high level instructional practices and systemwide supports throughout the Jenkins Middle School. The students could explain exactly how the teachers are working to enhance their instructional practices. We saw a whole school learning community in action. It’s not surprising this is a Schools to Watch. Our team now has new ideas we can implement when we get back to school tomorrow.”
If you are interested in learning more about Russell, Jenkins, and Altona Middle Schools or the Schools to Watch program follow the hyperlinks embedded in this post to contact each school and set up your visit. These are Colorado’s Schools to Watch!