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Hear what our students are saying! • ENGAGE for Mar. 15, 2018

Scott Erickson, Head of School

ENGAGE is the newsletter of the Head of School. His message to parents is reproduced here.

REMINDER: State of the School event tomorrow evening at 6:00 p.m. This is an opportunity to hear what we are doing to provide the best education for your children and to continue driving our leadership in key areas. Hope to see you there!

Hear what our students are saying!

It's important to hear what our students have to say as background for tomorrow’s event. We conducted a survey of our 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-graders to do just that. The survey was collaboratively designed by PBS teachers, administrators, and professional survey writers at a market research firm.

There's a great deal of research that demonstrates the importance of high-quality student engagement in their learning. We know that it increases their achievement and performance. Based on this background and our scan of effective survey models, there are three important areas to measure around student engagement and learning:

  • Mission and Core Values
  • Predictability and Support
  • Classroom Experience

Mission and Core Values

BACKGROUND: PBS's mission and values are the driving force for our curriculum. According to our students, PBS teachers emulate mission-driven attributes very well. As I say to prospective families, it is our responsibility to inspire our students to live by our mission so they can inspire each other.

  • I have opportunities to show courage at PBS. (90% strongly agree or agree)
  • I understand the importance of community. (95%)
  • I have opportunities to practice kindness at PBS. (94%)
  • I love learning at PBS. (87%)

Predictability and Support

BACKGROUND: For a decade, Independent School Management (ISM) has conducted research on student performance, satisfaction, and enthusiasm. ISM identified predictability and support as a critical variable to "enhance the likelihood that students would perform better and experience strengthened satisfaction from, and enthusiasm for, their school classes and activities." We know that students look for the following attributes in their teachers: Passion, care, support, lively discussions and discovery-oriented projects, and predictable, fair outcomes. The ISM team has therefore urged schools to measure predictability and support so students can focus on their academics and do their best in school.

  • I know what is expected of me in my home classroom. (93% always or usually)
  • I know what is expected of me in my specialist classes. (95%)
  • I know what is expected of me at lunch. (92%)
  • I know what is expected of me at recess. (96%)
  • My teachers are fair when something goes wrong. (77%)
  • My home classroom teacher knows me well. (91% strongly agree or agree)
  • My home classroom teacher cares about me. (97%)
  • My home classroom teacher wants me to succeed and do well in school. (97%)

Classroom Experience

BACKGROUND: Two key ingredients for a powerful classroom experience are high-quality teaching and an excellent program. PBS teachers are committed to doing everything they can to deliver our curriculum with conviction, depth, and enthusiasm. We also want to develop our students' academic skills, build their intellectual capacity, and increase their emotional intelligence. We implemented the Curriculum Deep Dive Program because we recognize the strategic need for purposeful, ongoing program review and improvement.

  • I am proud of my school. (91% always or usually)
  • I get to choose different ways to show my learning. (82%)
  • My classes challenge me to think. (69%)
  • I am learning how to work together as a team with other students. (93% strongly agree or agree)
  • I have a friend or many friends I can count on in school. (90%)
  • This year I am learning even more about the things I learned last year. (81%)

Bottom Line

  • I am proud of our students and their candor on the survey. I'm pleased with the quality of teaching, program, and collaborative learning at PBS.

  • Mission, values, predictability, and support are key qualities of our learning environment. These areas of strength provide a launching pad to grow our curriculum in a way that translates more directly into academic outcomes and curriculum structure. This is a focus area for us.

  • As you know, I initiated a community-wide dialogue this year on challenge, achievement, and competition. I remain convicted that we need to develop these concepts further and implement them more visibly in our program by adding academic challenges, encouraging appropriate achievement, and engendering a values-aligned competitive edge among our students. This is a balanced approach to continue strengthening the classroom experience for every student.

My colleagues and I are committed to doing everything we can to provide the best education for your children and to continue driving our leadership in key areas. Thank you for listening to what our students have to say, and for your partnership in strengthening our school.

Scott Erickson has been Head of School at PBS since 2011. In that time, he has focused on curriculum growth, faculty support and professional development, expanding parent and community relationships, partnering with the board to strengthen the school’s financial position, and developing and implementing the school’s Strategic Action Plan. Scott enjoys reading, public speaking, projects at home, exercise, traveling, and time with family, friends, and pets.

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