At Eagle Cliffs Elementary it is our vision to empower our students with learning. We want them to SOAR: we are constantly working to foster Successful, Open-minded, Achieving, Respectful learners. Our top objective with this Houses project is promoting a community of well-rounded learners who are capable of achieving academic and social excellence.
Purpose of Project:
*To create a sense of community and promote cohesion among staff and students throughout the entire school.
*To hold students accountable to high academic and social expectations.
*To maintain and foster quality and meaningful relationships with each child.
This year, our school is going through a metamorphosis of sorts. In order to enhance the learning of the children we serve, we are focusing on transforming our school culture. In other words, we are working together so staff and students have a set of positive beliefs, values, and assumptions to share. Our goal is to become a cohesive K-5 community.
A lead researcher in education, John Hattie, wrote in his book Visible Learning, A Synthesis of over 800 Meta-analyses Relating to Achievement that one of the greatest indicators of a successful, high achieving school is one that fosters positive relationships. Having teachers who care, students that show respect and compassion towards each other, interactions with empathy, and a general positive regard for others have a greater impact on student achievement than those who do not (Hattie, p. 118).
Our Houses project puts healthy relationships and social-emotional intelligence at the forefront in order to make a positive impact on all learning. We want to implement a “House System” in our school create unity among students and staff. The idea calls to mind Harry Potter being assigned to Gryffindor, and this is not far off the mark of the magic we hope to create. The students and staff would be “sorted” into teams or Houses. The “Houses” are all grade levels and staff members. For example, in a House, first graders could be teamed with fifth graders and third graders with kinders for citizenship development activities. Further, children would have the opportunity to interact with teachers they normally would have no cause to know. If we create these smaller communities (Houses) within the larger school community, our students will make stronger bonds and connections.
We will create four Houses modeled after the system in place at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. The Ron Clark Academy is a very successful and progressive middle school that is also an educator training facility. The Houses are as follows:
Students and staff will meet bi-weekly as a House. In these meetings, students will be engaged in learning activities that promote and practice our Eagle Cliffs Elite 18. In the 2018-2019 school year, our staff worked collaboratively to develop 18 rules as the values we share as a school community to promote citizenship and well-being. To create the “Elite 18” we closely examined our students and our collective vision for our children’s futures. Yes, academic achievement is of the utmost importance at our school; however, we also realize that academic excellence goes hand in hand with these important citizenship values. We are committed to educating the whole child. It is our goal to empower our children with academic excellence, as well as, essential understandings of how to contribute to society with respect, poise, confidence, and kindness.
Our Eagle Cliff Elementary Elite 18 will be a foundational piece of this House System we are creating. As previously mentioned, students will meet in their House teams every other week to develop a deeper understanding of the Elite 18. Students will engage in activities to practice and apply the core values. For instance, students will act out social stories for handling conflict respectfully. Additionally, Houses will have opportunities to do community outreach and engage in random acts of kindness. Students will be given House points for upholding and demonstrating these Elite 18 core values. The House points will be a friendly ongoing competition between Houses to help us uplift each other and reward these essential manners.
Our goal to transform and improve our school climate is a journey, one could visualize a road trip adventure of sorts. In this theoretical road trip, the drivers are our committed staff. The road map is the professional development that we have had and continue to engage in. We have had ten staff members attend the Ron Clark Academy educator training. Through PTA fundraising, donations, and our general budget, we will be sending more staff to this incredible professional development. Further, we have worked tirelessly in our own professional learning communities on improvement of our school climate. The fuel for our road trip, is our passion for the children we serve. It is the potential and greatness that we see in our students that makes our journey even possible. The children are the energy behind everything.
The House System project is our vehicle for reaching our destination. If you would be interested in helping implement the House system or donating to this project, we would be so appreciative. Please contact the office if you have questions, ideas, or want to know more. We would love to share even more about this exciting time at Eagle Cliffs!