Courtney Dealy, Boys Town National Training
There are a lot of challenges to urban education. William Galston, an expert on domestic policy, discussed urban education in an interview with Frontline. He said, “So, while money matters, it's not the only thing that matters. School safety and discipline matter a lot. Teacher quality matters a lot. Support from parents and the surrounding community matters a lot. And a culture of learning matters a lot. And all of those things have to be attended to at the same time that we continue to focus on the existing and remaining gaps in resources.”1
When I first visited Northend Elementary, a K-5 urban school in New Britain, Connecticut, I saw many of the challenges described by William Galston. It was clear that students brought their home-life struggles into school,
affecting the climate and culture of a school that was trying to be responsive to varying and sometimes extreme student needs as they arose.
While many of the teachers were trying to implement strategies they’d learned in the two-day Well-Managed Schools workshop, there were student behaviors that became barriers to teaching, learning, and a positive school climate/culture.
The principal, Dr. Sanders - a dedicated principal in her second year at Northend, was open and welcoming. We discussed the areas of need. And determined three areas to work on:
Dr. Sanders and staff went to work!
To address the identified areas, they:
I provided frequent consultation services during the first year, including training a few Northend teachers on providing Well-Managed Schools coaching to their peers. The coaches began to take ownership for classroom-level implementation-especially in year two of implementation- including managing the book rotation and maintenance. I met with Dr. Sanders to continually focus our efforts on school-wide implementation. She attended our Administrative Intervention workshop to learn how to complete the circle and do skill-teaching when students earned referrals. Then we trained a teacher to be a Well-Managed Schools trainer, meaning she could train the entire two-day workshop.
After two years of intentional and ever-deepening implementation, Dr. Sanders notes these results:
I find it encouraging to reflect on Northend’s growth. Based on the most-recent classroom observations,
Thinking of the work done at Northend gives me chills. Dr. Sanders sums it up well: “The Well-Managed Schools philosophy has become a way of life at Northend. Our implementation continues to evolve each year and it has been a joy to observe how students and adults interact with each other.”