I came across a term recently that really got me thinking. The term is Academic Safety. We talk about Safe Schools, Safe and Caring Schools, Digital Safety, Safe and Inclusive Schools, Playground Safety, and the list goes on. There are expectations around the things we do at schools to keep students safe, but I feel there is often a piece missing. What are we doing to provide students with academic safety?
To me, the term means that we are setting the students up in an environment where there is no risk or danger involved in the academic tasks they are assigned to do. Some of the obvious things that one can consider about this kind of safety would be:
- Fear of Failure
- Fear of making mistakes
- Fear of judgement
- Fears around speaking out/having a voice
I am sure there are other things that could be on this list, but my point is, there are things that can make students feel like they are not safe to move forward academically. Students who are not able to concentrate at school because of home issues, issues around safety outside of school, and a myriad of other concerns. We need to be cognizant of the factors that are preventing students from being in an optimum situation for learning.
Schools need to be areas where the culture and expectations are first and foremost about ideal learning conditions for students. As School leaders we need to establish environments where staff are able to provide these conditions and students know that we want the best for them and are there as experts to help them learn. We always keep safety in mind, but personally I usually only think about the physical and emotional safety. Thinking about safety in ways to maximize learning is extremely vital. It’s part of the culture we need to have.
Leading a Learning Community is, to me, the second most exciting part of my job (second to establishing relationships).
I felt I have met the criteria by doing the following:
- When staff attend PD sessions, I encourage them to first of all connect with other teachers in the school who might be interested in attending as well, and if that isn’t possible, they need to connect with others in the division. Teachers know that I value the ability to collaborate and network around the learning that we are doing.
- Staff meetings are centered around learning and collaboration. We take time to learn together about effective instruction and our Leader in Me Program. The learning might also be around PowerSchool, Reporting, Assessment, IPP development or any number of other pertinent topics.
- Our School Motto – Everyone a Learner – Everyone a Leader, embodies this standard. I have worked to make sure that all staff know it, and remind them that that is the framework around which we operate.
- I value providing opportunities for teachers to grow and develop.
School Leadership Cohort
School Leadership Team
Promoting Division and ATA Leadership Opportunities
- Encourage and promote opportunities for students in the area of sports, the arts and music. All students need opportunity to do well, esp. if they are not traditionally academic learners.
- I make a strong effort to make time for Staff Collaboration time. In the past that has meant allotting either admin time or some teacher time to covering classes so teachers can collaborate. Currently we are using a large portion of our AIS PD budget to recognize the value and knowledge we have on staff to collaborate and design our own Literacy/Guided Reading. Leading a Learning community starts first with valuing the learning that happens in that community.
- Continuously share information through the use of email. The information comes from Twitter, blogs, magazines, books and from other people.
- Encourage and participate in a book study on the Daily 5. This is part of our focus on Guided Reading/Literacy with AISI.
- Currently three teachers on staff are working on their Masters’ Degree. This is encouraged and I take time to discuss learning that is happening with their programs.
- As Part of our Leader in Me Program. We encourage leaders in the community to talk to our students about learning to be leaders. This has included visits from our Central Office Senior Administration to talk about Leadership and share stories with the students.