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I made a call to my internet provider the other day to inquire about changing some of my current service features. Cutting the “cable cord” has increased our internet streaming usage, and I wanted to make sure I was getting the most out of my service. Rightfully so, I was asked questions about the way I utilized the service, how many users, locations and types of devices, etc. Essentially, I was being assessed so I could be guided towards the service plan that best fit my needs. At the end of the call, I was asked if I would be willing to complete a short survey regarding my experience. The questions were pretty simple, but very applicable to the purpose of the call: Was the customer service representative friendly? Did the phone call and service resolve the issue? There were other questions, but the point is, the company wanted feedback regarding their customer service. For the past several months I have been receiving physical therapy for an Achilles injury that has hindered my ability to run (a.k.a. my personal sanity control tool). Every time I attend therapy, I am assessed from the minute I walk into the door (filling out a form that ranks my pains and abilities) and throughout the entire visit with my PT. He monitors and measures my progress and from the feedback provided, he alters my treatment plan. His assessment of my progress and my feedback is as much for his role as the physical therapist to provide the appropriate treatment as it is for me, the patient, on the receiving end. Prior to the holiday break, I took my car in for an oil change and tire rotation. The next day, I received an email requesting me to complete a satisfaction survey. Similar to the above example, my local dealership wanted feedback regarding my experience as a consumer. At many restaurants, it is quite common to pay the bill at the kiosk that sits on your dining table. Last week I was dining with some people at an American casual restaurant chain where this feature was available. After paying the bill, I proceeded to fill out the survey—I always take the time to do this. The survey asked questions not only about the quality of my meal, but also questions about the general cleanliness of the restaurant, the service of the staff, and how likely I would be to dine there again in the future. They were seeking specific feedback in relation to my experience at that time.   Being in education, I have seen, too often, any type of assessment—formative, interim, or summative—focus solely on the student’s performance; however, I believe we have it completely backwards. The student is essentially the consumer in the education system.  When using assessment to collect feedback, instead of focusing on the end result of student performance, it would be wise for us as teachers and leaders to focus on these factors instead: Did we meet the needs of the student? If student results, aka feedback, indicate that there was a struggle with a standard or a concept, then what can we do to use that feedback to inform or modify our instructional strategies? How can we use the feedback to make the student want to come back to class every day, learn, and be successful?   When business and industry seek feedback, they value the information they get from everyone. They know they have to differentiate their products, their services, and continue to create a culture that meets the needs of all. As educators, we can do the same. I challenge each of us to begin to think about assessment and feedback differently and utilize feedback to inform and inspire solid instruction as well as quality learning. And as always, I welcome your feedback as well. ​ Renee Scott  Assistant Superintendent, USD 457  rscott@gckschools.com  @reneeflaxscott (twitter)
Posted by scottr  On Jan 11, 2018 at 1:14 PM 129 Comments
​  Little Investments If those reading this blog are anything like me, when the school year begins there is a sense of excitement. Fall activities, new teachers, new backpacks and school supplies—I always associate the new school year as a chance for a fresh start. But after Thanksgiving, when some of the “newness” wears off and the drudgery of routine often dominates the day, I begin to feel a little less enthusiastic. This year, I was determined to change my mindset and avoid the “winter funk.” I was immediately inspired by an assembly I attended at Charles Stones Intermediate Center. Without gimmicks or prodding, students and staff emptied their pockets of any spare change and raised an enormous amount of money for a nutrition services worker in their building whose daughter had been battling numerous medical issues. During the assembly, in which the family was present, it was pointed out that students gave pennies, nickels, and even pesos to contribute. Any little contribution made an enormous difference. Florence Wilson Elementary School is the boundary school for a local address that houses foster students who are struggling to find placement. I equate the house to a modern-day temporary orphanage for kids. The staff at FW school felt horrible that students placed there often came with a plastic grocery bag with one change of clothes. The principal and staff purchased duffel bags that will be filled with clothes as well as wish-list items that those children can now take with them when they leave the placement. A special abilities class at Garden City High School used some of their work program dollars to also contribute by purchasing board games and craft supplies that can stay at the house so the children have things to do when school is not in session. To take things another step, a local restaurant is making sure the students have a meal at the house on Christmas Eve. These little gestures, where multiple people contribute, are huge for the children who have no family or sole possessions. Sometimes we lack extra time in our day to work with others as shown in the above examples. However, there are ways to make little, individual differences that are at no cost, nor do they require extra time: When sending an email, start and/or end with a positive message. I appreciate all that you do. Lead a meeting with everyone sharing something positive about the day. The tone of the meeting will be set for the better. Instead of sending an email of thanks or recognition, make a phone call or personal visit instead. Making little extra effort demonstrates the value in the person. Every day we are bombarded with negative news and headlines about how school-aged kids are selfish and not involved with the community. Today’s headlines also give those in the teaching profession minimal respect. I beg to differ. I only mentioned a few examples above, but I believe every school in this community makes it a point to show compassion for others. And our students know that even a little effort can mean the world to someone else. I challenge each and every one of us, over the course of the dreary winter months, to follow the example of the students at Charles Stones Intermediate Center, Florence Wilson Elementary, and all of the schools in Garden City; make it a point to do something, big or little, for someone else. It will make a difference.          Renee Scott Assistant Superintendent, USD 457 rscott@gckschools.com @reneeflaxscott (twitter)
Posted by scottr  On Dec 20, 2017 at 7:49 AM 78 Comments
   And That’s the Way We Buffalo! We’ve got our horns up high Our hooves down low And that’s the way we Buffalo Buff-alo-oh, Buff-alo-oh! Although I’m unsure of the exact history of this cheer unique to our community, I have heard it every year that I have been here, which now totals fourteen. It is a cheer in which the high school cheerleaders form a line with a Buffalo mascot on each end and they entice the entire to crowd with, “Hey Buffs, Are You Ready?” and then the cheering commences, usually with even the assistance of a few instruments from the band. This cheer is heard at almost every pep rally; it gets tweeted on a regular basis, and has been the topic of one or more commencement speeches. But as I reflect on this cheer, it actually truly began “branding” our school and community long before branding was a buzz word in education. You see, the simple, repeated words really do represent a standard in which we live. Here are a few examples…  Every year, employees in our district are asked to do more with fewer resources. They not only step up to the plate, they do their jobs with commitment, passion, and dedication. …and that’s the way we Buffalo Last spring, the Garden City Police Department worked with school officials tirelessly to provide support and guidance to solving a case involving school threats. …and that’s the way we Buffalo Many teachers give up their summers to gain additional professional development that isn’t required because they know it is what is best for learning. …and that’s the way we Buffalo  Community members, city workers, and teachers donated time and resources to put in walking tracks at two elementary schools to promote activity and wellness for students and families. …and that’s the way we Buffalo  This year, students at Garden City High School present every opponent with a $500 check at both home and away football games to the charity of the opposing school’s choice—all fund-raised by students. …and that’s the way we Buffalo                                                     At tonight’s football game, we are bringing back a tradition that ended in the 1990’s with a live buffalo kicking off the game festivities (Where the Buffalo Roam). And although that buffalo will be a live representation of strength, tenacity, and will, our students, staff and community truly stampede to greatness each and every day.  …’cause that’s the way we Buffalo!   Renee Scott Assistant Superintendent, USD 457 rscott@gckschools.com reneeflaxscott (twitter)  
Posted by scottr  On Oct 20, 2017 at 2:50 PM 67 Comments