But do your practices require students to learn? Have you established routines in your school that create learning opportunities for all students? I challenge you to examine educational practices in your school to see if learning is required or voluntary.
The Breaking Ranks school showcase at the National Association of Secondary Principals conference highlighted several secondary schools that are showing incredible gains in student achievement. The culture of those schools is that learning is required, not voluntary. School practices are crafted around that belief that each and every student will participate. There is simply no other option.
“We have them from 8:00am-3:00pm every day and we will make each minute count,” said an Associate Superintendent from North Carolina. North Brunswick High School was one school featured that took voluntary practices out of their school. The school made learning mandatory for every student and it radically changed their culture. Instead of waiting for students to come to advisory, teachers roamed the building, bringing every student with them. They also built a pyramid of interventions that required students to learn.
“Not doing the work was not an option.”
One program, ZAP, eliminated zeroes from the grade book. The school utilized a automated phone system to notify each parent about missing assignments. The student had to do the work. Incomplete work would not be accepted. “Not doing the work was not an option,” one presenter commented.
This theme carried throughout other presentations from schools. Voluntary learning was not something leaders in these schools would accept.
As I reflected on my own practice, I kept thinking to myself….Is learning required in my school?