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    Student Focused Collaboration...Better Together
    Posted on 04/17/2018
    Superintendent Nyland with two students in a classroom

    Student-Focused Collaboration…Better Together

    Student learning and success are at the core of the work we commit to every day. Our mission is to ensure that each student is prepared for college, career and life. We are a high-performing urban district leading the way in this effort. Seattle Public Schools was recently recognized as No. 3 out of 200 urban districts for student gains between 3rd and 8th grade, and our graduation rates continue to increase – most notably for our students of color.

    Check out the 2017 State of the District and 2016-17 Progress Report.

    While we continue to make great strides, there is still much work to be done to fulfill our promise of educational excellence for each student. Our Formula for Student Success is centered on equity and improved student learning through replication of effective strategies and collaboration across the district to eliminate opportunity gaps and ensure educational excellence.

    One of our key strategies for implementing the Formula for Success has included building strong systems of professional collaboration to ensure every student receives high-quality instruction and individualized support. This approach encompasses both the academic and social-emotional-behavioral demands of learning. Across our district, educators are working together collaboratively to build strong, coordinated supports for student success.

    Read more about Seattle Public Schools' student focused collaboration also known as Multi-Tiered System of Support.

    We know from research and gap-eliminating work in our own district, that a caring adult is foundational to student success. Intentionally building positive student-adult relationships is also a focus of the Formula for Success. As I visit schools each week, I am continually inspired by the passion of administrators, educators, paraprofessionals and all those who are committed to meeting the needs of every student in their care. Our educators have committed to knowing each student by their story, strengths and needs.

    There are numerous examples of this commitment and work across the district. This month, I had the privilege of visiting South Shore PreK-8 and Dunlap Elementary. At both schools, I learned about the rich positive relationship work being implemented. I was impressed with South Shore’s approach to championing positive relationships by asking students to identify the adult that advocates best for them. At Dunlap, student ambassadors shared how they welcomed all newcomers – staff and students – by sharing their classroom compact, a collaboratively created framework for behavior expectations in the classroom, and helping all feel welcome.

    From My Bookshelf
    Yamada book cover What do you do with a chance?Relationships matter. When they are meaningful and sustainable, relationships foster student engagement, connection and focus on learning. As we move forward in our work of building positive relationships to support student resiliency and success, I’d like to offer two books as reading suggestions for you and your family.

    “What Do You Do with a Chance?” by Kobi Yamada is a New York Times bestseller that illustrates the value of courage against obstacles. I find that children and adults alike can appreciate the message in this book geared toward youth age 4-8.

    Brown book cover Braving the WildernessBy the same token, “Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone,” by Brene̒ Brown reverberates a similar idea. She suggests, “You are only free when you belong.”

    This exemplifies the importance of our work in Seattle Public Schools on belonging. Our goal is to have each student be able to bring their whole self to school and feel welcomed for who they are. Belonging, Brown says is taking a seat at the table, listening, sharing and seeking moments of togetherness. These are important lessons for all of us as we work hard to be better together.

    Eliminating opportunity gaps and a commitment to equity is an investment in our community. We know that students thrive when provided equitable access to quality core instruction that is personalized for each learner’s needs and when they have sustained and positive relationships with educators. Together, with families, staff, and partners, we will achieve our goal that every student graduates ready for college and career success in Seattle.

    Thank you to all our staff, families and greater community for all of the work you are doing to ensure success, belonging and a bright future for every student. Together we are better.

    It is a privilege to serve your student and family.

    Dr. Larry Nyland
    Seattle Public Schools