Update: In December, 2018, Caroline County Schools and LSI hosted a summit to allow other school and district leaders to observe the rigorous classroom environments and speak with administrators, teachers and students.
Not far from the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay lies the picturesque countryside of Denton, Maryland, where the bellowing wails of Wildcat honor personify the solidarity and spirit of a school community’s vision, unwavering determination, and implausible excellence.
Three key milestones mark the diligence of the Lockerman Middle School faculty. This was their journey to rigor—a journey that other schools can replicate to bring about their own versions of Wildcat pride.
1) Creating a Purpose-Driven Vision
Lockerman’s Wildcats were initially challenged in creating a purpose-driven vision. Traditionally, a school’s vision statement is written, shared, and communicated through processes and procedures enveloped in rules, schedules, and curriculum, along with any additional adoption of policy.
That was not what Learning Sciences International (LSI) was propelling Lockerman to do. Instead, LSI asked teachers and administrators to trust our guidance and their guts—and in doing so, to become comfortable with being, in all honesty, uncomfortable. This meant that they had to reflect on why they became educators and to what point those ideas still resonated in their classrooms.
Each teacher and administrator contemplated a meaningful construct of what teaching and learning look like in present-day society. What specific entities could be put into place so students would own their learning and see themselves as successful, intelligent stakeholders in this ever-evolving, innovative, and emotionally charged world?
This became the vision.
2) Changing the Lens: The Hard Work of Implementation
And then, the standstill. Change implementation always comes with its share of hiccups. Once a vision is created, bringing it to fruition is a completely different feat. This faculty was up for the challenge, however, and Lockerman was about to break through.
Administrators, instructional coaches, teachers, and their partners at LSI teamed up to sustain the vision and transform school culture. It was a collective partnership that would not falter.
- An action board was put in place and religiously executed and communicated daily
- Coaches worked with stakeholders to plan for supports and strategies
- Teacher leaders took on leadership roles
- A “Coaching Clinic” was created for teachers and by teachers as peer supports
- “Pineapple Walks” became weekly rituals as teachers visited classrooms to learn and adopt teaching ideas
LSI’s Ignite Core Instruction gave Lockerman staff members access to effective, research-driven training, coaching, and tools. The adoption of a common language also helped to keep everyone focused on purpose, execution, and follow-through—all in the name of student growth.
Administrators and coaches worked together to form a union of strategies they would use daily and became the gatekeepers of the work. They showed up, they followed through, and they became one voice among the faculty.
3) Adopting a Growth Mindset to Sustain the Work
There’s no doubt that the power of teamwork and dedication echoed throughout the corridors. Administrators and teachers at Lockerman believed that a transformation was imminent—that was their driving force—and they had fearlessly jumped in with both feet.
They knew change could be sticky, but prevailed despite all barriers.
They shared triumphs and frustrations and used them as springboards to learn and grow.
They were authentic.
Their hunger to do right for students was a nonnegotiable goal.
Today, Lockerman sits at the forefront as a change leader in K-12 education. All conversations and school-based meetings evolve around their work with LSI’s Ignite Core Instruction and their collective vision. All PLC and faculty meetings mimic engaging, differentiated areas of support for the staff. An undeniable culture of trust has spread throughout the building.
The evolution of Lockerman Middle School has everything to do with resilience, faith, and purpose. Some might say Lockerman’s faculty is different from other schools, but I don’t think that’s the case. In fact, it may be just this simple: Lockerman staff members thought they could, so they did.
Want to read more about our partnership
with schools in Caroline County, Maryland?
Learn about Greensboro Elementary School.
Theresa Staley is a Staff Developer with Learning Sciences International. Her educational career began in 2001. She has held positions as a classroom teacher in elementary and middle school, as an intervention specialist, and worked at the district level. She is a relentless advocate for literacy and upholds an unyielding dedication to teachers and children.