Northampton Public Schools Superintendent Blog

April 5, 2013 Weekly musings:

Posted on: April 5, 2013

By: Gwen Agna

By: Gwen Agna

Though the budget has eclipsed our discussion time lately, our work continues in all other areas of education.  High on the priority list for our administrative team is a successful pilot year for the new evaluation tool. We are all on track with mid-year meetings, classroom observations, SMART goal progress, and review of the artifacts in each of our assessment elements.  Coincidentally, I was reading an article in Educational Leadership, April 2013, by DuFour and Mattos entitled, “How Do Principals Really Improve Schools?”

The authors assert that increased classroom observations and a new evaluation system are not the most effective ways to improve teaching and learning.  Though these strategies can have some impact on some classrooms, the best way to build improvement overall in the school is the implementation of Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s). Research has established that PLC’s, made up of motivated professional educators who meet to focus on: examining student performance, sharing successful practices, engaging teachers in discussions with grade-level or subject matter peers, and giving teachers the collective responsibility for student learning, will have the greatest impact on improving teaching and learning.

Our Northampton Public School teachers are actively engaged in PLC’s doing exactly this type of work to improve our schools.  I am so proud of the commitment of our faculty and principals who stay current with best practices, and continually progress forward in our professional growth, while still adhering to all of the many state initiatives.  PLC’s around student performance data, best classroom practices in literacy and math, and Responsive Classroom methods are all just a part of our routine.  It’s refreshing to read professional journal articles that confirm our practices and reassure us we remain ahead of the curve in many ways.

Thursday, I held the honor of Principal for the Day at Jackson Street School. I enjoyed observing, teaching, and being present in the building.  I was impressed with the lessons on improper fractions with 4th grade in mathematics, vocabulary and spelling in second grade, reader’s workshop in action, P.E. activities on motor skills, and music reading and guitar practice.  I offer a special “thank you” to Kathy Malynoski for her steady leadership at Jackson Street while Principal Gwen Agna enjoys her journey in Myanmar.

Brian L. Salzer

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