Posted by: kstridegoudie | April 24, 2012

REFLECTIONS … NEW REPORT CARD JOURNEY …

Staff

The New Report Card has been a journey for us at Muir Lake School. It has been an interesting process for me as the leader.  I had to be willing to forge ahead without having “all of the answers” upfront … the very same thing I was asking of the teachers.  I must be honest and clearly state that this has not been easy for any of us.  There have been lots of times when I felt uncomfortable, and as Kelly puts it – “this whole business of learning is messy”.  “Messy learning” … can be challenging for a leader with a “gold personality”. However, I believe this journey has propelled us all forward as learners.

The journey with the new report card has fostered a spirit of collaboration and team … and really working together and learning from each other. Teachers appreciated the time we have provided for grade level and subject level teams to collaborate.

Students

As we have transitioned from the “old” to the “new” report card, there have been some growing pains.   Our grade nines in particular were very concerned about the change, especially since, they would be returning to the “old” way of reporting next year when they were in High School.  Travis and I prepared a power point and spent a couple of hours with them … explaining the rationale behind the change … giving them time to talk in partners … and fielding their many questions. Their questions primarily were around high school placement, real world transitions, post-secondary institutions and “why” the need for change.

I took the opportunity to share a “real world” experience from my own life regarding acceptance into the Masters’ Program at the University of Alberta.  This was a stretch for me … as it was about me -personally. However, it supported the “teacher recommendation” for placement, that they were concerned about … so I shared …

Parents

At several School Council Meetings, we have had discussions about the new report card.  In the first meeting where it was on the agenda, we recorded and gathered their questions.  Then Travis, Diane and I met together to plan a presentation which would provide the rationale around the new report card and answer their questions. In the following School Council Meeting, Diane Lander facilitated a presentation on the new report card.  It was an excellent presentation, followed by questions and passionate comments and discussions from a few parents.  In addition, we have provided handouts, written about it in our newsletters and directed parents to our school web site and PSD 70’s web site for further information.

In the December School Council Meeting, a few parents expressed their dissatisfaction with the new report card and there were some strong comments voiced.  As a result of this meeting, it was decided to hold a “parent focus group” at Muir Lake School, with Emilie, Leah and Diane.  It was a very open and frank meeting.  It is clear that there are a number of parents at Muir Lake School who want “letter grades” and/or “percentages” as the way to report how their children are doing in school.

During Tim’s – Principal Shadowing visit at Muir Lake School, we stopped into the kitchen.  It was there that a group of four parents expressed their viewpoints on the new report card.  They questioned the roll out of the new report card and wonder why we didn’t phase it in gradually? Their recommendation was to introduce it in K-6 this year, and then gradually bring it into the higher grades.  As I reflected later, I can see the wisdom in what they shared.

As I sit here, my thoughts are focused on the “Letter to the Editor” in this week’s edition of the newspaper, which was written by one of our parents.   I sit here and wonder … is there some way to merge the “old” and the “new” or would that be counter-productive? Is it possible to give a letter grade under the “knowledge skills” and utilize descriptors of “established”, “developed” and “emerging” … for the process skills?  It’s a question at this point … and I am sure there will be many other opportunities for discussion in the months that lie ahead.

I guess that is the beauty of change … challenging status quo … and moving into the future with a level of uncertainty … yes it may be uncomfortable … and yes there may be tension … but, ultimately, it is educating our 21C learners that remains our focus and challenge.

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