Community of Life Long Learners

Oct 25th, 2018

You and your family are a part of an amazing community with a long history of excellence in education, community, service, and faith. Today, we are tasked with continuing this tradition into the 21stcentury. To accomplish this, we chose to become a Catholic International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. Being a Catholic IB World School provides us the framework, process, and best practices to stay excellent. Part of this process is a continual cycle of reviewing reflecting, and refining so we can be assured our teaching and learning are focused on our vision and mission. This is central to the efforts of our staff and students every day.  It is a promise we have made to you and your family.  As our vision states: “Annunciation Catholic School fosters each child’s potential to create a better world through faith, virtue, knowledge, and service to others”.  

AGENCY:As an authorized IB World School, our work is not over, it has really just begun. We now have the opportunity to move forward to bring a true student-centered educationto our school, developing the whole child – more than just knowledge. At Parent Information Night, we shared the idea of “agency”, a word you will be hearing us refer to more often. Agency is at the center of an IB education – students having “voice, choice, and independence”. When this happens, true, authentic, transformational learning takes place. In our first months of school, I have already witnessed so much authentic, transformational learning and have seen our staff and students leading this learning with enthusiasm and excitement – the true goal of life-long learning. 

ACTION: To expand on this sense of “agency”, we have been discussing other ways of engaging students to share their learning.  To show what they know, students are participating in their assessments in new ways. Beyond quizzes, tests, and formal assessments, students are demonstrating their knowledge in videos, speeches, posters, and action throughout our school. They are observing, taking action, teaching others what they know, and truly growing not just in knowledge, but faith, virtue, and service to others. 

COMMUNICATION: The next step for us is to have student “agency” in our communications with parents. K-5 teachers share through SeeSaw. Middle school is developing a newsletter that will provide updates and eventually, add student voice to the news. Our website will be redesigned and we continue to review and revise our “Weekender” and seek other formats for sharing all the good news of our school.

CONFERENCES: As part of the communication review, we have been researching and discussing our conferences in light of our inquiry education – what is the purpose? What do we want parents to know? How best can we communicate this? Our teachers have been engaged in discussions and are considering what is the best way to share students’ agency with the parents, too.  For fall conferences, middle school teachers will continue to be available for parent scheduled conference times as we have in the past.  New staff will observe the format and together, we will review and consider if this format is still the best to share updates on student learning for today’s learners. For K-5, teachers have met and this fall, we will be introducing parent, student, and teacher conferences. 

PARENT, STUDENT, AND TEACHER CONFERENCES: We will be launching this format this fall. The conferences involves all three – parent, student, and teacher – to come together with the common goal of reflecting on learning and set goals for the future.  Students will prepare by identifying their strengths and areas for growth. They will attend and share this at the conference. Together, goals will be identified and discussion is focused on what the student has accomplished and what areas they can continue to grow. The focus is more about learning than about grades.  

NWEA/MAP: Because the conferences will be focused on learning and goal setting, NWEA MAP scores will be used by the teacher as a baseline to help students identify areas of strength and growth. The fall and winter scores are another lens for us as we create the pathway for student learning. At the end of the year, the spring scores will be shared with parents to show the overall growth. Teachers will contact parents if a student’s scores are significantly outside the norm. These scores also help us determine students who need intervention or enrichment. Otherwise, this data will be part of our on-going assessment of the student’s progress. 

SCHOOL GOAL SETTING: Through a grant from CSCOE, we will be participating in a school-wide goal setting process using the NWEA/MAP scores. Working with coaches from Tierney, we will be reviewing our data and identifying a school goal. They will be meeting with teachers and staff to help us set our goals. We will be monitoring progress of our school-wide growth goal.  This process will help us continue to strengthen our teaching and learning, especially in areas in need of improvement.

As you can see, we continue to learn and grow as a school. In the end, our purpose is to continue the tradition of excellence at Annunciation – providing the very best education for your child. Thanks for supporting us as we are “risk-takers” and “open-minded”, trying new ways to bring out the potentiality in our students. We look forward to seeing how each new process helps us be even stronger. 

God Bless,
Jennifer Cassidy