A Busy Month of Learning and Reporting

A Busy Month of Learning and Reporting

May has arrived quickly and June is just around the corner. As with every year, this is a very busy time for everyone at Regina Public Schools. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some the developments over the past month.

Congratulations to current Regina Public Schools Teachers’ Association President (RPSTA), Patrick Maze who has been elected president of the teachers’ provincial body, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF). Stepping up to the responsibility of the local association is Jeff Perry, who will serve as President of the RPSTA. Congratulations to you both. We look forward to your continued leadership in these important positions.

Congratulations are also in order to Greg Enion. On Tuesday, May 13, I announced, on behalf of the Board of Education, that he will be Regina Public Schools’ new Director of Education, effective August 1, 2015. Please take the opportunity to congratulate him. I’m sure you will also be seeing and hearing from him as the new school year nears, both personally and here on this blog. You can get more details and even view a video of the announcement here. http://www.rbe.sk.ca/announcements/2015/05/greg-enion-appointed-director-education

Data Wall

By now, you will have read, heard or seen that we have a Data Wall display is up at the Division Office, just outside the Ron Mitchell Room. It is available for all staff and the public to see. The purpose of the Data Wall is to illustrate our collective progress on the school division’s strategic plan and specifically how we are “measuring up” in our six priorities, namely:

  • Development of a First Nations, Métis and Inuit Achievement Initiative
  • Implementation of a comprehensive program to improve Reading Performance at all Grade  Levels 
  • Increasing the number of Kindergarten students who enter Grade One ready to learn
  • Increasing the number of students who achieve Grade level performance in literacy and numeracy
  • Improving student attendance and credit attainment as a means of increasing graduation Rates
  • Ensuring all current and future program and service expenditures contribute positively to  student success

The Data Wall provides an update on each priority and it provides a good running record on student readiness to learn. The Data Wall will highlight growth over time and will tell a visual story, creating a transparent and collaborative approach to data use.

The data sets used for the Data Wall align with our strategic priorities and with the Provincial Education Sector Strategic Plan. These data sets are:

  • FNMI enrollment data
  • Early Years Evaluation
  • Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment (Gr. 3) & Tell Them From Me measures (hours per day spent reading books for fun)
  • Ministry of Education Transition data and Tell Them From Me measures (students reporting a positive sense of belonging)
  • Ministry of Education Credit Attainment, Extended and On time Graduation Rates and Tell Them From Me Measures (students planning to pursue a trade, attending post-secondary education and training programs, or going directly into the workforce.

This is a first step for our school division and, in September, we will report our progress on our 2014/15 priorities. The Data wall will help us better analyze and reflect on student achievement, consider how we use our resources, and plan for professional learning. See the Strategic Plan here.

Teacher and Principal Engagement

A joint committee, including representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Saskatchewan School Boards Association and the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation was formed to explore common understandings, resolve outstanding issues and provide recommendations regarding student and teacher time. Their report, called “Understanding and Exploration of Teacher Time and Workload Intensification – Final Report of the Joint Committee” identifies the issues of teacher time and workload intensification in Saskatchewan schools. It makes a series of recommendations intended to facilitate better understanding throughout the education sector, reduce the tasks that negatively impact the teaching and learning relationship, and support teachers in fulfilling their professional duties.

The Report has 11 recommendations, but one of the recommendations requires immediate action by school divisions – “Addressing Workload Intensification”:

  • Every school division undertake a collaborative problem-solving process to engage teachers at the school level to identify and address issues that result in school division and school improvements with respect to teacher time and workload intensification.

What does this mean to Regina Public Schools teachers?

Mike Walter, Deputy Director, School Services, will work with the RPSTA to:  create a school-based meeting design, build a process to collect feedback, and develop a communication plan.

Over the next few weeks, Student Achievement superintendents will work directly with principals to set up meetings with teachers at their schools. Mike will also lead an audit of educational initiatives at both the division and school levels to inform the consultation process.

Ultimately, School Services will collect all feedback from teachers and will work with the RPSTA to develop a report. With that report, senior administration will meet with the RPSTA executive through REMAC to review the information provided to develop an action plan to respond to all collected feedback from teachers and principals.

I encourage all teachers and principals to participate in this process. Your voice is important. This careful look into how we do things in schools is very much about what changes can be made in the classroom, in the school and throughout the Division for the benefit of teachers and their students. Our hope is that it will identify and address issues or challenges and lead to solutions that will ultimately benefit teachers and how they contribute to student success.   More details about this will be shared by all school principals and superintendents.

A busy month for conferences, fairs and forums

Over the past few weeks I had a rare and insightful glimpse at some of the events in which teachers and students participate. On April 28th and 29th, I had the pleasure of participating in the Treaty 4: The Next Generation Conference, held at First Nations University of Canada. This event was organized by a group of teachers and consultants with a purpose of sharing with students the important history, impact and relationships that have developed as a result of Treaty 4.  The Conference, which included significant pre-work and concluded with lasting artworks, included staff and students from Campbell, Scott, Balfour and Martin Collegiates. I understand that some of the program was presented in French by students in French Immersion classes. Congratulations to all staff and students who had a hand in making this conference a success. More details are available here

On April 29th, I had the pleasure of bringing greetings to the Saskatchewan Association for Community Education (SACE) Conference - “The Changing Face of Community Education”. This conference was an excellent opportunity for the educational community to meet and discuss how, together we can build a better educational environment for all our students. More information is available here.

On May 1st, I also had the honour of speaking at the Regina Regional Heritage Fair. I had the privilege of seeing a diversity of presentations from our students and students from area school divisions. They expressed their understanding and interest of the history and culture of Saskatchewan, Canada and the world. I also saw presentations on First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) issues and topics presented in French. The range of topics was outstanding. Information is available on their website.

On May 4th, more than 80 high students from all our high schools met with administrators and trustees for the Fourth Annual Student-Trustee Forum. The topic was: Improving student attendance & credit attainment as a means of graduation. It was an excellent session with some very insightful observations by Grades 9 to 12 students. This is always a favourite event for Trustees and they were pleased by the open, honest and thoughtful issues raised by all students.

The issues raised at this forum were particularly timely as high school principals have spent a considerable amount of time over the past few months talking about attendance, credit attainment and graduation rates. We now have the students’ perspective on what steps we can take. It is instructive to note that, from previous, Student-Trustee Forums, we heard from students as we developed the Family of Schools Model and the High School Strategy. Read more about this event here: http://www.rbe.sk.ca/news/2015/05/students-are-heard

As we move into mid-May, I look forward to hearing and participating in more student and school-based initiatives. I’m also eager to see the energy all our staffs bring to their work as we prepare for the final month of school. Thank you for making me part of it.

Ernie Cychmistruk

Interim Director of Education