What a great morning I had with Gina Leonhard and her team at Shaw Middle School. The Shaw staff is a dedicated group of professionals who are all working together to support students using a triangle model that includes personal/social, academics, and careers. This model successfully supports the whole child at this pivotal point in their lives. The administration, counselors, and staff work together on established goals annually. Part of their focus is based on a Kindness Crew made up of students supported by school staff. Classroom curriculum is provided by the counseling department and the entire student body receives 6 – 8 lessons along with ‘weapons of kindness’ they can use to support their academics and interactions with fellow students, teachers, staff, and family. I also learned all about the Standards Based Report Card used at the school. This tool supports students truly learning the curriculum using multiple supports so they can build on their foundation for future learning.
I enjoyed visiting multiple classrooms during this visit. I always enjoy talking to our teachers and getting to see firsthand the amazing work they do for our students. Interacting with students is always a highlight for me and the Shaw Coyotes did not disappoint!
My visit to Denise Paxton’s social studies class was very interesting. Not only did I visit with students who were working with partners to discuss “Do we need a government?” but I got to see the flexible seating arrangements in the classroom. There are regular sized tables and chairs, tall tables with chairs, sofas, plush chairs, and floor seating. At the beginning of the school year, students rotated through the seating options and selected their preferred seating after trying them all out. It was surprising at first to see the set-up, but after a few minutes in the classroom I could see that the students were all focused, engaged, and comfortable.
Angela Morss and her leadership students were busy getting ready for a school assembly. They were making posters, preparing for contests, and testing games. I was happy to help with this task! And, of course, my teammate and I won! The students were definitely great role models and represented the school well.
STEM class students in Mark Ochs’ classroom were involved in many, many activities. The students work in groups and explore a different activity with designing, building, testing, documenting, and analyzing for two weeks. They move on to a new activity and repeat the process. I was super impressed by the energy and the focus of all students. Every group I talked to enthusiastically told me all about their activity. They also told me how much they loved having this elective class.
Next, I visited Scott Mullins and his math students. They were definitely 21st century learners using individual iPads to participate in the lesson on the Smart Board. They were all connected to his Smart Board and putting their work and answers on the board.
I enjoyed visiting Devan Bartmus and her math students. I met Devan at the first-year student event held at TMCC in August. I enjoyed talking to her at the event and then getting to visit her in her first classroom.
Our next stop was in the Enrichment class with Campbell Valle and her students. They were doing an activity about cyber safety. The students were learning how to identify phishing and what to do if they encountered issues online. I enjoyed talking to the students as they were looking at different exercises.
I was joined by a lively group of nearly 40 eighth-grade students for lunch in the library. We talked about how much they love the team concept at Shaw and their SEL learning. The students had a chance to ask me questions and this group came prepared. They asked about the WCSD dress code, snow day procedures, and school start times. And those were the easy questions! I was asked about the WCSD budget, the hours I work, equity and access, school zoning, Multi-Track Year-Round schedules, and Code Reds. I loved the thoughtfulness of their questions and the rich dialogue we had on all of these topics.
The Shaw environment was great. I enjoyed the entire visit and all the students I met. I had an opportunity to share a lot of information with kids but was able to learn just as much from them. It was a wonderful visit to Shaw.