Glenn Stephens Puts the Child First: Culture, Collaboration, Core.
Here at Stephens, each part of our mission has two meanings:
Our focus is on the culture of the students, their identity and background, and who they are as a person as well as the culture of the school, what we value, and what we want to achieve.
We are also focusing on best teaching practices such as collaboration among educators and teaching teams as well as the collaborative conversations among students while engaged in learning.
Lastly, we are focusing on mindful practices that support one's core such as meditation and breathing exercises as well as better understanding and teaching to meet the Common Core state standards.
With our mission, we will create a school community that supports professional learning and student growth. Here is a highlight of some of the great things taking place here at Stephens.
Best Practices & Teacher Teams
Part of our professional development is focused on using the district's Literacy Guide to assist us with using common learning targets and teacher use of mentor texts to support student learning. We are also continuing our focus on Gradual Release, an instructional practice from the Great Teaching Framework, with attention to student collaborative learning strategies. In particular, we are paying closer attention to and using these practices to better support our English Language Learners and African American students. To make this happen, our grade level teams meet at least once a week to collaborate and learn from each other. An instructional coach also meets with the teams around planning with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in writing. All teachers will develop student learning objectives that are tied to the School Improvement Plan.
Our school wide expectations are Be Safe, Be Responsible and Be Respectful. To set students for success, at the begining of the school year, the PBS team coordinates a crash course where expected behavior in specific areas of the school is taught to all students. Throughout the school year, teachers teach and re-teach these expectations. Staff acknowledge students when they see students display expected behavior. Eaglets are handed out to students who are being safe, respectful and responsible throughout the school. Students' eaglets are collected in their classroom and when a class earns 10 eaglets they get an eagle egg. All classrooms add eagle eggs to our collection in the library. When the container fills up to the line, we have an all school celebration!
Responsive Classrooms & Morning Meetings
We also practice Responsive Classrooms where all classrooms take time each morning to engage in a morning meeting. During morning meetings, the class does a greeting and a group activity, students get to share about themselves, and announcements are made for the day. This is a great time for the classroom to build their community.
We have quarterly Community Circles, which are all school assemblies. This year our focus is on our school mission: putting the child first, culture, collaboration, core. Our first community circle will focus on the core. Ms. Speich will lead the whole school in a breathing and meditation exercise.
Strengthening students' core is important to us as it helps students build self awareness, self reflection, and self care. Paying attention to and addressing these skills will help students take better care of themselves; thus, will help them be better learners and participants. Everyday at 7:50 am, Ms. GG leads the whole school in a meditation and breathing exercise. Afterwards, teachers engage in a mindful discussion with their students.
We have made it a priority to build a thriving workfoce here at Stephens. This includes providing staff opportunities to develop and hone in on mindful practices with one self and with the classroom as a whole. Every Thursday after school Ms. Marci Speich leads the staff in a mindful practice starting with fifteen minutes of silence followed by fifteen minutes of guided meditation. Staff members who have participated in this have found it to be very helpful. Here is what some staff members have to say about it.
"It is hard to get to with everything that needs to get done in my classroom, but it is totally worth it. I feel a lot better when I leave and it is really helpful!"
"I don't know how I would have done the rest of my day yesterday without this practice after school. What a gift!"
Race & Equity Work
As part of our School Improvement Plan, we are working together to learn about, reflect on, and address race and equity. We are fortunate to work with Dr. John Diamond and Dr. Beth Giles from the University of Wisconsin who will be facilitating our professional development work around race and equity. We are spending this year focusing on race as a social construct and how this construct shapes how we view and interact with the people around us.
Check out a video highlighting our work with Dr. John Diamond & Dr. Beth Giles from UW-Madison here.
Circle of Support
This is our second year offering a boys support group for our African American students in grades 3-5. Mr. Donald Dantzler, a Ph.D. student from the University of Wisconsin, volunteers his time to work with our students. This is an opportunity for our students to have a space to feel comfortable, learn skills necessary for success, and problem solve as a group. The name "circle of support" signifies the interlocking communities that surround, support, and collaborates to help these young men succeed emotionally, socially, and physically at school, home, and in the community.