Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What is Manchester’s Innovation Zone?

The Innovation Zone (iZone) was created in response for a need to do things differently. The  public education model has not changed over many decades, whereas the needs for every student have changed. The Manchester School District, school leaders, and community members are committed to finding a way for schools to develop and implement innovative practices for the purpose of improving student achievement.  The iZone was created to inspire change and empower principals to partner with community stakeholders.

What does this mean for our schools?

In the spring of 2013, Title 1 schools in New Hampshire were ranked by the NH Department of Education (DOE) according to NECAP Index and identified as needing additional supports and  interventions to help increase student achievement and close the persistent achievement gap. In Manchester, those schools are Bakersville, Beech Street, McDonough, Gossler Park, Parker-Varney, Wilson, Parkside, and Southside.  Together, they make up the district’s Innovation Zone. Schools in the iZone are encouraged to try creative ways of teaching and learning that highly engage students and teachers and have proven results.  Being part of the iZone allows principals and teachers more autonomy in trying out new initiatives that support a more efficient approach in meeting the needs of all students where creativity and inquiry are the norm to drive high quality instruction.

In the past several years, we have witnessed a transformative classroom experience;  namely the shift from traditional teaching methods (sometimes described as teacher-centered learning) to a student-centered learning model. Educators have found a desire to adjust classroom instruction from a delivery of information to a facilitation of learning in an informative, sharing environment. The iZone  explores the personalization of learning for every student.

The iZone provides a pathway using the 7 Turnaround Principles as a guide for schools and the district to develop creative practices to better meet the needs of individual students and share proven practices with all schools in the Manchester School District.

Here are some of the initiatives the iZone Schools have been working on to align with the 7 Turnaround Principles(School Improvement Principles from the New Hampshire Department Of Education)New Hampshire Department of Education:
1. Providing Strong Leadership by:

  • Working closely with the New Hampshire Department of Education data coaches and Office of School Turnaround Director, Kathryn "Joey" Nichol, New Hampshire Department of Education.
  • Implementing the School Administration Manager Process and attending professional development sessions on instructional leadership.The National SAM Innovation Project: Helping Principals ...
  • Principals attended a School Turnaround Leaders professional development program at Harvard in June.
  • Mentoring for principals by Public Consulting Group and ongoing professional learning to build capacity for peer support.
  • Professional Development in Professional Learning Communities.
  • Increasing skills to provide feedback to increase teacher and student performance.
2. Ensuring that teachers are effective and able to improve instruction by:

  • Student Learning Objectives professional development provided by NH DOE,  the Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research AlliancREL & e (NEERA)
  • Continuing implementation of the Educator Evaluation Plan for SIG schools and pilot for the Priority Schools 2014-15.
  • Providing professional development in personalized learning for all students.
3. Redesigning the school day, week or year to include additional time for student learning and teacher collaboration:
  • After school and during vacation support offered to students.
  • Tiered instruction given to all students.
  • Time provided for teacher professional learning communities.
  • Restructuring the school and operations around students.
  • Continuously expanding  multiple pathways for student learning-Community connections such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Camp at the SEE Museum.  This has been ongoing for the last two years and will be available for our students again next year.
4. Strengthening the school’s instructional program based on student needs and ensuring that the instructional program is research-based, rigorous, and aligned with State academic content standards:

  • A fully articulated educational curriculum, PreK-12, is being developed by teachers, curriculum specialists and administration.  Professional development will be ongoing.
  • Professional development is being offered to teachers on how to integrate technology into the curriculum.

5. Using data to inform instruction for continuous improvement, by providing time for
collaboration on the use of data:

  • Each school has worked closely with the New Hampshire Department Of Education Data Coaches along with principals to engage faculty in collaborative decision making to enhance student and teacher performance.

6. Establishing a school environment that improves school safety and discipline and
addressing other non-academic factors that impact student achievement, such as students’ social, emotional, and health needs.
7. Providing ongoing mechanisms for family and community engagement.

“The vision of the program is that all children and youth growing up in Promise Neighborhoods have access to great schools and strong systems of family and community support that will prepare them to attain an excellent education and successfully transition to college and a career. The purpose of Promise Neighborhoods is to significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children and youth in our most distressed communities, and to transform those communities by—
  1. Identifying and increasing the capacity of eligible entities that are focused on achieving results for children and youth throughout an entire neighborhood;
  2. Building a complete continuum of cradle-to-career solutions of both educational programs and family and community supports, with great schools at the center;
  3. Integrating programs and breaking down agency “silos” so that solutions are implemented effectively and efficiently across agencies;
  4. Developing the local infrastructure of systems and resources needed to sustain and scale up proven, effective solutions across the broader region beyond the initial neighborhood; and
  5. Learning about the overall impact of the Promise Neighborhoods program and about the relationship between particular strategies in Promise Neighborhoods and student outcomes, including a rigorous evaluation of the program”
  • The Community Schools Project in partnership with Project Launch and the Manchester School District iZone will be hosting Incredible Years for parents and caregivers this summer.
photo.JPGManchester Health Improvement Strategy

Incredible Years is an evidence-based parent education program that aims to prevent and treat young children’s behavior and promote their social, emotional, and academic competence.  http://incredibleyears.com