Changing Form While Clarifying identity

Today marks a new beginning for the site Success for Every Child.  I’ve not posted much here in the past year, but that is about to change.  In October of 2017 Pitt County Schools was awarded a five-year, $16.2 million federal Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant; PCS is one of only 13 districts across the nation to receive this grant.  Additionally, in December of 2017 PCS was awarded a four-year, $4.9 million Teacher Compensation Model grant from the State of North Carolina, one of only six districts in the state to receive an award. The purpose of these grants (which total over $21 million) is to allow Pitt County to develop and implement differentiated career pathways for teachers, as well as institute some form of performance-based compensation.

This blog will become a place where regular updates on the grant are posted, as well as generalized information regarding this exciting new initiative.  Additionally, Seth Brown, the district’s Director of Educator Support and Leadership Development and the co-director on the TIF grant, will be posting here as well. Over the coming months we will both be posting information, updating FAQs, and making exciting announcements all related to these two grants.

In one of the specific trainings we do, Adaptive Schools, we define adaptivity as “Chaning form while clarifying identity.”  And that’s one of the things that has had to happen with this website.  While we have kept the title of Success for Every Child Every Day, we had to clarify our identity because our form has changed.  No longer is this just a home for Professional Development or even Race to the Top (because that’s how it started).  When we were talking about this site with someone they said, “But I thought you were focused on equipping and empowering adults, yet this title seems to imply you’re focused on kids.”

So here’s the word we love to use: AND.  Yes, our focus in the grant is to recruit, retain, and reward excellent educators – and we do that so that we can better ensure the success of every child every day.  More simply put, the way we help each and every child become successful is by expanding the influence and impact of the excellent teachers who work with them every day.

So you may be wondering what the name means specifically – why use some of the words we used? It’s simple, really. Often times those of us in education talk about reaching “all children” or espouse a belief that “all children” can learn. The problem with the reference to “all children” (for me) is that it ignores the individual differences and needs of every child.

Think about it – if my goal as an educator is to teacher “all my kids” then I can give an over-view presentation of a topic and as long as they have “all” been exposed to the information or skill I’ve met my objective. But if my goal is that every child will succeed that changes my perspective – now it’s not enough to look at my class as a whole but I must instead look at each individual child and their goals and needs. It’s the old forest vs. the trees thing: by referring to “all children” we run the risk of only focusing on the forest and lose sight of the trees, but by looking at “every child” we realize that the forest is made up of individual children with different and varying needs.

And what about the whole “every day” thing? Again, too often some students get passed by with an excuse of “there’s just not enough time in the day – but tomorrow I’ll get to them.” There’s an old parable the the way the way the devil can keep people from doing good is not to get them to do bad things but to simply get them to put off the good things they need to do until tomorrow. The problem is that tomorrow never comes. While we all need to plan for tomorrow we also need to spend our time in today, because today is all we know we have. By reaching every child every day I remove the option of putting something (or someone) off until “tomorrow”.

Finally, we begin with the word “Success”. In order for every child to succeed every day the responsibility falls right back where it needs to be: on us as the adults in the building – the teachers, administrators, coaches, and district personnel who work every day for the good of our students.  The question is no longer “What might this child learn when I _____?” but morphs into “What will I do to empower this child to learn?” I have a responsibility to that child. What does success look like?  Success is simply ending a little bit further than we started – further along in our skills and comprehension at the end of the day than we were at the beginning.

By living to ensure the success of every child every day I can ask myself a couple of questions at the end of the day:

1) Did I reach every child today?

2) Did I empower every child to be a better someone today than they were yesterday?
And if I can’t answer both questions in the affirmative then I know what I need to change to improve.

I’m going to end by paraphrasing a statement by a famous pastor: It’s all about the kids, it’s always about the kids, and it’s only about the kids. Ensuring the success of every child every day helps us keep our focus on what’s important.

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