School Redesign is a Process Driven by Four Principles
While academics are and will remain important, students who lack success skills, such as self-regulation, empathy, self-efficacy, self-awareness, perseverance and the ability to collaborate and communicate, will struggle both in the pursuit of postsecondary education and in the workforce. It’s important for schools to include an intentional focus on identifying and developing the skills each student needs to be successful in education, in their personal life, and after graduation. We will model and teach success skills to our students in a variety of ways such as one-on-one mentoring, rigorous coursework, teamwork, real world experiences and many other avenues depending on each student’s wants and needs. Fostering student success skills will set students on the path to becoming happy, successful and productive citizens.
The level of supports provided by schools, parents and communities influences the success of each Kansas student. Research shows that – at both the elementary and secondary level – when schools, parents, families, and communities work together, students earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school and are more motivated. Creating and sustaining collaborative partnerships is key to reaching our vision of leading the world in the success of each student. Engage parents in school redesign and policy conversations. Their buy-in is critical to the success of your school’s redesign. If parents don’t understand and support decisions that impact their own children, success can become difficult to attain. Creating a welcoming, supportive and transparent school culture should be the goal of parent partnerships. Community partnerships provide an essential opportunity for bringing real-world experiences to students and ensuring schools are teaching students’ the skills needed to be successful in the workplace. Local businesses can offer job shadowing and internship opportunities to students, while community organizations can provide additional educational opportunities to support work in the classroom. When structured correctly, partnerships will enhance student success not impede it.
What Kansans told us they want in their education system requires more than delivering traditional academic learning. They want students to be able to develop and apply their skills and knowledge in practical ways. For older students, that means having them learn through internships, job shadowing and projects that demonstrate their application of knowledge. For younger students this means having them learn through experiences that expose them to a variety of possible interests and careers. In addition, the experiences afforded some children through 4-H or Scouts should be experiences made available to all children. Project or problem-based learning is another way that students of all ages can connect what they are learning in school with events and problems outside of the school, in their neighborhood, community, nation or the world. Learning shouldn’t just take place within the classroom. Learning experiences need to be connected to the community.
Personalized learning provides students choices on how they learn, what they learn and the pace at which they learn. Students are able to get the instruction and direction they need, when they need it, while maintaining the autonomy to regulate their own learning. Teachers are able to develop a deeper understanding of the student’s individual learning style, skills and even personal issues affecting their ability to learn. Personalized learning provides students the opportunity to develop self-efficacy and self-regulation skills to ensure they stay on track with their learning. Students who master content easily can move ahead. Those who need more supports can work at a steadier pace, without the pressure of feeling as if they’re holding back others. We believe that when students have control over their learning, they are more likely to remain in school as engaged learners.