I started this week not really believing that I was going to make it. The quarter ended last Friday, so grades were due. I had two doctor’s appointments, one blog due, and a meeting with two high school departments on Thursday. I needed to be at the board meeting Monday night and the National Honor Society faculty council meeting Wednesday night. None of which would be a problem. Except that my department was being audited—on Thursday.
I love that word, audit. Just saying it strikes fear into the hearts and minds of everyone in hearing distance. It reminds me of the words “Final Exam” or “Dean’s Office.”
Our school has never really had a full time GT Coordinator, so I wanted to show everyone, myself included, just how amazing our program could be. The primary function of the audit, of course, is to determine whether or not the school is in compliance with state regulations. I don’t want to be just in compliance; I want our school to be a leader in gifted education.
Now I understand that it won’t happen overnight. I’ve only been in this position two months; asking to have a perfect score on the audit, and be the very best school that the auditor has ever seen is probably a stretch. On the other hand, I can be the biggest improvement she’s ever seen, right? So I aimed for that goal, and drove toward it as hard as I could.
In preparation for the audit, I blanket tested 600 elementary students, and identified 30 new students. Our population of GT students in the elementary school now matches the correct proportions based on gender, race, and (this is where I am most proud) ELL students! How amazing is that? I met with students to identify goals that are based on interest and need, instead of just test score, and have developed a new snapshot ALP that teachers, parents, and students can read in one minute, not one hour, which has gotten a lot of positive feedback. Every elementary student is in the state system.
I also used previous assessment scores and teacher surveys to identify 25 students who needed testing in the high school. We identified 11 students, bringing our population to almost match the correct proportions, but not quite as well as elementary. Everything in high school is up-to-date in the state system, and I have delivered two hours of professional development, along with a full manual of teacher information to the staff.
Middle school is where I’m behind a bit, but catching up! Half of the 50 potential students are tested, and half are in the system. We are getting there!
What I’m most excited about is that I’ve created a faculty mentorship program, where each GT student will choose and work with a faculty mentor on a year-long project to be presented at the end of the school year. The project will be related to their area of giftedness, but will also connect to their personal interests. I’ve had so much fun helping students create interesting and exciting projects to present, and I think it will be really fun to allow them to stretch themselves!
I only had to stay up half the night typing ALPs three times that week to get it all in, but I felt ready when the audit started. Despite my nerves, it went amazingly well, actually. Of course, the program isn’t perfect, and we don’t have everything ready. Compared to where we were, our school has shown tremendous growth. Our auditor actually asked me to send her some of my creations so that she can send it to everyone as an example. She said that we have grown into a leader, an example of what to do. We may not be the very best, but our growth has been outstanding.
I can definitely live with that.