School Improvement Themes of the Month

Schools have a yearly rhythm -- changing with the cycle and demands of the school calendar. Special concerns regularly arise throughout the year. With this in mind, school improvement plans need to ensure that such concerns are well-addressed.

Examples of Concerns Arising Over the Year
  • Welcoming and integrating and ensuring good school adjustment
  • Enhancing student engagement
  • Addressing ongoing learning/behavior problems
  • Minimizing stress reactions & preventing student and staff "burnout"
  • Re-engaging disengaged students (as well as families and staff)
  • Preparing students for transitions to the next grade and new school
  • Preventing problems related to parties, proms, and graduation.

Clearly, every month, there are important opportunities for anticipating predictable problems and planning prevention and early intervention to minimize them. By pursuing such opportunities, schools enhance teachers' ability to do their job well.

Therefore, as such basic concerns arise throughout the year, school staff need to be proactive and timely in promoting a schoolwide focus to address the concerns and minimize their impact on students, their families, and the staff at a school. Student support personnel, in particular, can play a major role in formulating and providing supports for implementing a theme of the month at schools throughout the district.

Given the limited time a school has for personnel development, focusing on a different theme each month engages all stakeholders as a community of learners. Emphasizing a theme encourages doing some reading, discussions with colleagues, learning about additional resources from our Center and elsewhere. All this helps build capacity and can help in developing learning supports into a comprehensive system.

By fully integrating a theme of the month into school improvement planning, schools increase the likelihood of enhancing equity of opportunity for all students to succeed at school and for making schools better places for all who spend so much of their lives there.

To guide and support this facet of school improvement, the Center has developed monthly themes and compiled a set of aids and resource references related to each. These can be readily accessed at no cost by going to our Center's website (http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu) and clicking on the icon labeled: Ideas for Enhancing Support at Your School: This Month.

And the Center's Online Clearinghouse Quick Finds provide a gateway to even more free resources related to topics about which school staff are concerned.

Theme of the Month Examples

The first months

Toward and Right After Mid-Year Anticipating the end of the school year
    Month 7 (Mar): Spring Can be a High Risk Time

    Month 8 (Apr): Helping Students and Families Plan Transitions to a New Grade/New School

    Month 9 (may): End-of-the-Year Student Celebrations at All Levels: Hope, Congratulations, Safe Exuberance
Summer
    Months 10-12 (June, July, August): Moving Forward in Providing Learning Supports (Three overlapping concerns for work over the summer:
      >Summer Learning
      >System Development
      >Staff Development
The above themes clearly can be "rearranged" to fit the particular rhythm of different schools.

The complete set of material for all the themes is available online for downloading as a Resource Aid in PDF format -- http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/rhythms.pdf


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