Today I had the good fortune to visit the Bessie Buker Elementary School to participate in a walk through of the classrooms with Buker Principal, Brian O’Donoghue. As I drove to the location, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Within minutes, I felt the warmth and energy of learning all around me. Each of the classrooms we visited opened my eyes up to the strong academic focus and hard work of the Buker staff. Students from K-5 were engaged in literacy, math, music, technology and many opportunities to create. The one thing that stood out to me was the high expectations the staff had for the students. “Always bring your A-game” was a mantra of one classroom. Students learned from the teachers and from other students as well. “Check with three, then me” was stated by one teacher to help her class to utilize the power of their peers. At one point, I felt like on of the students in the class because I was almost forced to pay close attention to everything so that I didn’t miss a cue.
To make my visit more interesting, Principal O’Donoghue came to my school an hour after I visited the Buker. He was able to see the long-term growth of his former students first hand. Our walk through at the HS gave us the opportunity to see the HS staff and students in action. The first 5 classes we entered all had some type of student-centered class activity and one was even out in the hallways and on the floor working to complete a task, similar to the elementary classrooms we had just left.
All in all, I think the visits allowed Principal O’Donoghue and I to reflect on the things we witnessed in each of the 20 or so classrooms we visited, while also realizing how similar things were in schools that most would believe to be very different. Great things are happening in our classrooms. I truly enjoyed the experience and look forward to more opportunities to see our schools in action!