activities

Flourishing Schools (Part Three)

I have been writing lately about flourishing schools.  In my role as the Head of School, I try to use the research on flourishing schools to help me examine my role in addition to the school’s efficacy.  I have been using questions in the self-evaluation.  One such question a school should ask itself in determining its strength and value is, “Is there an extensive and adequate student activities program?” To answer this, we must first agree with the value of student activities and exactly what student activities encompasses.Student activities are anything that the student does in a school program outside of the classroom and the specific learning outcomes described in the curriculum maps.  This would include athletic and non-athletic activities such as, athletics, clubs, and other outlets for students to extend themselves beyond the classrooms lessons.The nagging question for any educational leader is, “Do they help the students achieve those important outcomes?”  Student activities have assumed an increasing and apparently permanent role in schools, yet they seem to escape the critical scrutiny of curricular review that is applied to academic areas. Great, but, do student activities contribute to the achievement of intended learning outcomes?Student activities have assumed an increasing and apparently permanent role in schools, yet they seem to escape the critical scrutiny of curricular review that is applied to academic areas. Great, but, do student activities contribute to the achievement of intended learning outcomes?Research only provides limited help. Because the nature, number, and quality of student activities varies greatly from school to school, the conclusions can only be made in regards to a particular school.   Conclusions and suggestions may be helpful for pro-grams in other schools, but do not necessarily apply.  However, even though they are not generalizable, they can give insight during a school’s self evaluation when answering the questions about a flourishing school. Thus, I use the research from other schools to glean as much insight that I can.Here are some pf the common applicable themes from the research:

  • student activities provide motivation and recognition for many students who do not find motivation or recognition in the classroom.
  • Student activities enhance the student/teacher school/home and many other relation-ships, all effecting the school climate.
  • Although some activities rated higher than others in the categories of thinking, communicating, and cooperating, there is a clear consensus that student activities do contribute to the achievement of the learning outcomes.
  • Cooperation is the most highly rated outcome in both athletic and nonathletic activities. Since cooperation is an important life skill and cooperative effort in academic disciplines is limited, student activities fill a critical void in this area.

Of course there are many more reasons the student activities (athletic and nonathletic) are important.  This is why Salem Christian School works at ensuring the student life component of our program is robust.  Almost every student at our school is engaged in some student activity. Subsequently, we have implemented a Director of Student Life.  He is responsible for student council, spelling bees, Math Olympics,  fine arts events, varied clubs,  and many other opportunities for students to become involved.   Of course, our Director of Athletics is responsible for Middle School and High School, Varsity and Junior Varsity, ACCAC and PIAA games.    I for one am looking forward to seeing what programs Mr. Ference will be bringing to the school in future years through his position as Student Life Director. Additionally, I am excited to here of the addition of a junior varsity boys basketball team.

We welcome people with the ability and passion to offer after-school clubs, student activities, and other ideas.  Beware, if you have a great idea, we may call on you to come alongside of the school to get it started!


Flourishing Schools (Part One)

Flourishing Schools (Part Two)

Head of School Blog

 

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leader

Flourishing Schools (Part Two)

This week I would like to delve into the first question that Mr. Curran proposes a school should ask in order to determine its effectiveness.   The question is ,”Does your school have a principal who is an active leader?” Any school, including Salem Christian School, has several leaders to whom this question applies.  Of course because of my role and position,  I have impact. But, the other leaders of the school have significant impact as well.

Just a reminder that last week I presented the research on effective schools.  Curran (1983) asked, “Does your school have:

  1. … a principal who is an active leader?
  2. …a positive school climate?
  3. …agreeable and workable discipline procedures and policies?
  4. …teachers who have high expectations for students?
  5. …parents who are involved in the educational process?
  6. …productive methods of evaluating curriculum?
  7. …effective methods of evaluating teacher performance?
  8. …consequential methods of determining and evaluating student growth?
  9. …a realistic philosophy of education?
  10. …an extensive and adequate student activities program?
  11. …significant student services?

Undoubtedly, it is impossible to express everything SCS has been doing.  Additionally, it is not to say that Salem Christian School has reached the pinnacle in any area.  Further research indicates that a school always has to be working towards improvement in every area.  Essentially, it is the process as much as it is the ends (Fullan, 2001).

The leadership team at Salem Christian School includes the Head of School, Mr. Stanton; Assistant to the Head of School, Mrs. Beres; Director of Athletics, Mr. Krage; Student Life Director, Mr. Ference; Director of Information Technology, Mr. Lewis; and Learning Support Coordinator, Mrs. Reinhard.  Together, this team is instrumental in leading this school forward.

Curran (1983), Hallinger, Wang and Chen (2013) provide a great description of what an active leader resembles.   Minimally, the school family-students, teachers, parents, and community members should know who the Head of School and other school leaders are.  An exemplary school must have a school leader that is visible.  This visibility is crucial in order to determine the school family’s needs and seek the appropriate methods of providing for those needs. The school leader must be knowledgeable in school affairs, especially in the areas of school curriculum, teacher performance, and student growth.

Leadership is the ultimate necessity for any successful group, organization, or endeavor. Leadership may be regarded as a series of functions that: build and maintain the group, get the job done, help the group feel comfortable and at ease, help to set and clearly define goals.  (Curran, 1983; Hallinger, Wang, and Chen, 2013)

In an effort to better answer this question , the Coffee and Conversation time has been implemented every fourth Thursday of the month.  We want to chat about the school.  We want to hear thoughts.  It strengthens our ability to lead the school in addition to strengthening the home-school partnership.  Every parent is invited to join me at 8:45 in the cafeteria for our next Cofeee (tea) and Conversation time on Thursday, October 27, 2016.

One of the delights of Salem Christian School is the conversations that are taking place.  Yesterday we spent an hour or so discussing how we can be better at ensuring our students are meeting our expected outcomes.  Today, I have had several conversations about academic and student life growth.  Almost every day through my walk-throughs I am able to see the instruction and learning taking place in the classrooms.  And, I get the privilege of writing a blog that describes excellent schools and shares about SCS.

I see each of the directors meeting with students, discipling students, and helping them reach their academic, future, and spiritual goals. It is a pleasure to work with people that enjoy seeing students flourish and achieve beyond what they thought they could.


Flourishing Schools (Part One)

Flourishing Schools (Part Three)

Head of School Blog

 

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