Greetings families, students, and Shabazz community members,
Every year Shabazz creates a school improvement plan to guide our work for the year. Any plan for improvement is built upon fundamental beliefs. These beliefs are stated as if/then statements and are sometimes called theories of action. Our focus this year is grounded in the idea that in order to learn how to think critically, problem solve, and communicate, our students need to feel like they belong in the classroom (belonging), like they will be successful in learning (self-efficacy), and that they will learn if they put forth enough effort (growth mindset).
We believe these internal mental traits of belonging, growth mindset, and self-efficacy are not taught, but emerge out of the process of a safe community of learners engaging in challenging and authentic tasks. At Shabazz, we believe increasing our students’ sense of belonging, growth mindset, and self-efficacy (confidence) will increase the likelihood that students will take positive risks in our classroom.
In the end, learning does not happen without positive risk taking. Positive risk taking means that a student is willing to share their ideas, speak in class, create a work of art, or share their writing. If students can take positive risks, then we can engage them in learning.
So, we believe:
- If we strengthen community in the classroom and strengthen relationships with individual students, then we will increase our students’ sense of belonging.
- If we create authentic tasks and activities for students that are aligned with a clear purpose, and support students in building skills by providing meaningful feedback and providing time for reflection on progress, then we will support students in developing their self-efficacy.
- If we develop challenging tasks, assist students in persevering in completing these tasks, and provide regular feedback and opportunities to reflect on their growth and change, then we will increase student self-efficacy and growth mindset.
- If students sense of belonging, self-efficacy, and growth mindset increase, then we will increase the likelihood that they will engage in the authentic challenges at Shabazz.
This year we are challenging our students to engage in critical thinking by expressing their ideas and supporting those ideas with evidence. We are challenging students to act as leaders in our classrooms by asking them to seek understanding from the authors they read and from their fellow students as they share ideas in the classroom. We are challenging them to think about their own social, emotional, and academic growth as they reflect on their vision and goals for their future. Fundamentally, however, we are supporting our students in taking positive risks.
Here is a simplified version of our theory of action: Strong relationships built around authentic tasks --> greater sense of belonging, self-efficacy, and growth mindset --> increased levels of positive risk taking ---> increased levels of skills in presenting, discussing, critical thinking, and writing.
We look forward to the coming year as we implement our theory of action and reflect on our progress and how we can increase the likelihood that we will accomplish our goals. Take care of yourself, take care of each other, and take care of the community.