Closing Out The School Year- Opportunities for Academic Leaders

I admit that when I was a building administrator, and I thought about the end of the school year I concentrated on planning to avoid casualties. I missed opportunities to be a more effective academic leader in pursuit of survival.

I know now that there are number of things academic leaders can do to promote successful transition for students (even if there only two weeks left after testing is completed) and still survive. Perhaps the most important opportunity is to collect end of year data on every student that can be shared and help teachers plan for the students they’re going to have in class the next year.

Perhaps the most important data point is what Ed Directions coaches call an EOY student profile. The profile is basically a summary of data points relative to student status. Ed Directions coaches emphasize that having some quantifiable and perceptive data on students before school starts enable teachers to diversify class plans before the students reach school. A sample of an EOY summary profile used by Ed Directions coaches includes a number of data points.

Link to tool

In addition, the coaches include perceptive descriptors that can identify strengths and concerns that impact student learning and student performance. The goal is not to prejudice teachers but to provide “new” teachers with characteristics that are learner strengths and characteristics that are learner concerns.

Positive characteristics are characteristics that enable students to learn and perform at optimum levels without intensive teacher support. They represent characteristics related to the five legs that support student learning and student performance on assessments (knowledge, attitude, perception, thinking, and experience).

Positive characteristics

CHARACTERISTICYESNOTES
Independent  
Positive attitude  
Attentive  
Strong work ethic  
Appropriate language  
Concept mastery  
Highly engaged  
Optimum behavior  
Critical reader  
Critical thinker  
Critical writer  
Thoughtful respond or  
High expectations  
Strong home support  
Independent reader  
Strong self perception  
Revises work  
Positive peer group  
Rarely absent  
Always prepared  
Seeks clarity  
Learning/task completion the priority  

Students possessing all or most of these characteristics are usually very successful in school, and have the potential to post top scores on state and national assessments. If handled correctly, they can serve as positive role models and positive leadership for students who need to develop those characteristics.

Likewise, the list of concerns can help alert the “new” teachers to characteristics that might put the student at risk of underperforming and can help inform decisions about preschool and opening activities.

Concerns

 

CHARACTERISTICYESNOTES
Teacher dependent  
Attitude problem  
Attention problem  
Work ethic issue  
Informal language  
Concept issues  
Compliant  
Behavior issues  
Recreational reader  
Impulsive responders  
Random writer  
Impulsive responders  
Inconsistent expectations  
Little home support  
Reluctant reader  
Low self perception  
Low expectations  
Finishes/doesn’t finish work  
Negative peer group  
Attendance issues  
Random preparation  
Socializing the priority  
Responds impulsively  
Easily led astray  
Demands attention  
Physical/mental issue  

Students possessing all or many of these characteristics will probably underperform their potential if they don’t receive aggressive support for their priority needs in the first five weeks of school. This will be compounded by the fact that they will rarely be identified as student leaders, receive leadership opportunities, be considered for co-curricular and extracurricular activities (except for remediation), or receive commendations and recognition from teachers and administrators. Having a heads up for students who have multiple “at risk” characteristics can help a team of teachers develop a cohort of potentially underperforming students who can work with an adult mentor to build optimum academic and behavior patterns.

Student profiles are a valuable tool for teachers and academic leaders in planning the years curriculum, the years activities, and the years support systems.

Another type of data that can be collected is the type of data that usually overlooked. Most EOY “student perception surveys” (if used at all) deal with student likes and dislikes about the year. Usually, there is a time filter for those last few days of the school year. Another approach might be to probe student perceptions of how they learn in class. An example of a student EOY survey is included to show the types of things that help students learn even while they are not learning.

 

Student________________      Class___________     Period________

Class activity

Rate each activty from “1” to “5,” where 1 means that you would definitely participate in the activity and 5 means that you would never take part.

My RatingI would like to say this about that
Lecture and notes  
Text reading  
Group work  
Hands on work  
Real world study  
Reviews for tests  
Work sheets  
Text questions for practice  
Demonstrations  
Discussions  
Question and answer sessions  
Competition and games  
Teaching others  
Tests and quizzes  
Simulations and role play  
Problem solving and decision making  
Homework  
Teachers who expect a lot  
Teachers who expect little  
Study sessions with friends  
One on one work with the teacher  
Writing about what i am learning  
Library/internet research  
Pair/share work  
Creating charts and graphs  

My favorite unit was___________________________________

I learned the most about________________________________

Helping students think about themselves as students, not only helps build attitude and perception, but also supports student ownership of the learning process. It also gives teachers data points that they can use to shape their teacher and student work for the coming year.

Another valuable tool for the end of the year, or the beginning of the year if it wasn’t done the year before, is a student interest survey. Most strong students get a chance to engage regularly in activities that they enjoy, but the same isn’t true for students who are under-performing academically or behaviorally. Research indicates that activities beyond the classroom that gives the students an opportunity to be immersed in an activity that they enjoy and want to pursue proficiency if not excellence. Immersion activities, talent extension activities, and life experience extension activities are all valuable in preparing students to engage at high levels, and as result support, erasing performance gaps and under-performance. A sample of an Ed Directions interest survey includes both athletic and nonathletic activities.

 

This activity is designed to help school leaders identify activities that can support student growth over the summer and during the school year.

The goal is to identify the activities that you would be most want the school to offer next year. You do not have to put your name on the form but if you want to be given priority in signing up you should include your name.

 

Grade__________           Name (optional)_______________

Athletics

schoolwide

 Rate each activty from “1” to “5,” where 1 means that you would
definitely participate in the activity and 5 means that you would never
take part.

My RatingI would like to say this about that
School teams – baseball  
School teams – basketball  
School teams – football  
School teams – track  
School teams – softball  
School teams – field hockey  
School teams – soccer  
School teams – volleyball  
School teams – archery  
School teams – bowling  
School teams – cheerleading  
School teams – dance  

Athletics

intramural

  
Basketball  
Softball  
Volleyball  
Soccer  
Archery  
Bowling  
Clubs  
Science club  
Astronomy club  
Photography club  
Art club  
Fishing club  
Model aviation club  
Bookclub  
Other  
Co-curricular activities  
School newspaper  
School TV/radio station  
Science fair  
Robotics  
Debate/speaking  
Theater – classical  
Theater – musical  
Filmmaking  
History/archaeology  
Summer activities  
Class or group Travel  
Archaeology dig  
Aviation introduction  
Community service  
State history travel  
Writing workshop  
Robotics  
Flyfishing camp  
Other  
Other  
Other  
Other  

My top choice is ___________________________________

my second choice is ________________________________

 

Getting students involved in activities that they enjoy and are willing to give “best effort” can change not only the student’s attitude and perception but can give the student a reason to want to come to school.

For the academic leader, the end of school is going to be a time of stress, but can also be a time of opportunity.

Who we’re going to have in school next year and what their profiles and preferences are will provide valuable information towards developing an optimum learning environment for all students. One of the goals for high-performing schools is to see that every student gets involved in some ongoing activity that interested uses the students to the learnings of an area of interest, and engages the students at high levels. One of the Ed Directions goals for all schools curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities is that all students benefit from immersion in something of interest.