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What Does It Take for Schools to be Student Ready?

student ready schools

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been supporting teachers on our site for nearly a decade, and we’re so excited for the campaigns we’ll roll out together throughout the 2017-2018 school year. (Stay tuned to our blog for details.) In the meantime, we’d love to share a little more about how the Gates Foundation is celebrating this year’s Back to School season — and how DonorsChoose.org teachers are on the cutting edge of educational approaches .At the start of a new school year, the Gates Foundation is celebrating the concept of student-ready schools. While no two schools are the same, many schools across the country are using student-centered approaches that are getting results – especially for low-income students and students of color.Below are four characteristics of student-ready schools the Gates Foundation is highlighting this back-to-school season. When we looked at the list, it was immediately clear that DonorsChoose.org teachers were already exemplifying these principles in their classroom projects. We’ve included along with each characteristic a project that embodies the spirit of student-readiness that teachers are already looking to bring into their schools and classrooms.

Strong and Shared Leadership

Effective principals and teacher leaders have the authority, time, and resources to drive change and develop strong instructional practices.Project: It Starts With Us: Positive School CultureMrs. Lencho is a member of the leadership team at Grantosa Drive School in Milwaukee, where 94% of students qualify for free lunch. This year, she’s focusing on leading in-service trainings for her colleagues on developing a positive school culture, “a professional environment where teachers look forward to Monday morning” and “a place where students and staff are inspired to teach and learn.”

High Expectations

Schools help students stay motivated, believe in themselves, and reach learning goals that will help them on a path to be ready for college and career.Project: Making Math MatterMrs. Radcliff wants her students to make significant progress toward their math goals this year, including being able to add and subtract fluently and having a concrete understanding of the number system. But she also wants her students to understand how these concepts apply in the real-world. Mrs. Radcliff is hoping to provide a kit for her students that will give them hands-on tools to create and solve concrete problems and build the skills and knowledge they will need to be successful.

Data-Driven Improvement

Principals and teachers study student data to find the root cause of problems and then make changes to drive improvement in teaching, how the school operates, and student outcomes. Put simply: they collect the dots, then connect the dots.Project: Data-Driven Decisions: Data-Wise!Teachers at Martin Luther King Elementary School in Hartford meet weekly in data teams to “make data driven instruction decisions that take into account what we know about teaching and learning, the formative assessments we give and how we use that information in a meaningful way.”

Great Teaching

Teachers are supported through learning opportunities, high-quality materials, and dedicated collaboration with their peers to improve instruction together.Project: Watching Yourself Teach: Reflection Matters!In Milwaukee, WI, teachers are filming their lessons so they can watch them later as an instructional team, share feedback, and reflect on how they can improve in order to help their students.

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