CSI Spotlight: Elmsdale District Elementary School

CCRCE News: 
Monday, November 24, 2014

Continuous School Improvement (CSI) emphasizes the engagement of school administration, teachers and school staff in an ongoing cycle of reflection and action within a professional learning community culture. A school’s CSI plan is built to incorporate the goals of CCRSB’s Strategic Plan: Increase student learning; and provide positive, safe, socially-just learning environments. 

The CSI journey for Elmsdale District Elementary School began last spring when members of the school’s assessment team – Melanie Breen-Maloney and Dania Hayward – came together with Kelly Brown, education services consultant for the Nova Family, and principal, Mary-Anne Alley, to analyze both the provincial and school-based data available. With this information in hand, they created preliminary CSI goals and an overall CSI plan for Elmsdale District. The plan and goals were shared with staff for input and approval, and then re-assessed with input from the data collected from a school-based assessment and a school-wide survey. CSI team members Beth Gouthro, Jessica Schuringa, Tamara Minard and Principal Alley then further refined the goals for the next three years: 

  • By 2017, the number of students meeting grade level expectations in writing will increase by 5%, as measured by classroom and provincial assessments. 
  • By 2017, Elmsdale District will see an increase of 5% in the number of students reporting a positive, safe respectful learning environment as measured by the student/staff survey. 

To meet their literacy achievement goal, Elmsadale District has created specific targets; staff use writing resources provided by CCRSB to help students achieve their goals. Tying all of the work of students and staff together are teams. Teachers of the same grade collaborate to create common goals and expectations to ensure that similar teaching philosophies are being implemented. This, in turn ensures that students are receiving the same support class to class.

In the second term all of Elmsdale District will participate in “daily writes”. “Daily writes” is an exercise that gives students 10-15 minutes each day to write on a suggested topic. “The daily practice of writing, whether it is for 10-15 minutes or longer, strengthens the writer’s voice and becomes habit forming. Through this habitual practice it becomes easier and eventually allows the writer to use new skills and understandings to fine tune this craft”, said Mary-Anne Alley, principal. 

Elmsdale District is using several different strategies to meet their second goal focusing on school climate. One such strategy is the use of “Zones of Regulation” which identifies four zones categorized according to the different ways a student feels (states of alertness): blue, yellow, red and green. The green zone is the most desired place for students. Green zone behaviour indicates that the student is happy, focused and ready to learn. The blue zone is used to describe a student that feels sad, depressed, tired or bored. The yellow zone is a warning that a student might enter the red zone. A student may be experiencing stress, frustration, anxiety, excitement, or silliness in the yellow zone. The red zone is used to describe a student that may be elated or experiencing anger, rage, or explosive behavior. Students are taught strategies to help them self-regulate and return to the green zone.

Elmsdale District's climate goal is further supported by their two “peace poles”. The four-sided peace poles have the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth” written in English, French, Arabic, and Mi’kmaq representing the languages spoken in students’ homes. “It is a nice, multicultural aspect of the peace pole that brings us all together in unity,” said Beth Gouthro, Grade 5 English teacher. 

CSI leaders are expecting to see progress in student writing via the assessments which will happen in May. It is also expected that improvements will be noted in student use of the problem solving tools that have been taught in the classroom. The application of these strategies to students’ daily social interactions will ultimately have an impact on their social-emotional well-being. 

Principal Alley, believes their CSI goals will have positive results. “We have certainly developed an action plan with focused strategies that we feel will meet the needs of the students over the next three years. We are expecting to see improvements in both writing and a positive, safe, respectful learning/living environment”.

For more stories like this, check out the November issue of the Super's Monthly Report!