Our Opinion: Retreat allows educators to assess big picture

News Tribune editorial

When it’s difficult to see the proverbial forest for the trees, a retreat sometimes is needed to focus on the big picture.

That’s the reason for the two-day retreat held Thursday and Friday by the Jefferson City School District.

Superintendent Brian Mitchell acknowledged that during a school year “so many things get thrown in our direction, and we respond to so many of those things independently, and in isolation.”

The retreat offers an opportunity for administrators, staff and faculty, in Mitchell’s words, “to make sure we are evaluating our current performance and looking at the things we’re doing exceptionally well, and looking at areas where we want to make improvements.”

The evaluation is based, as it should be, on how well the schools are educating students. As MItchell said: “It’s all about student performance.”

Student performance is measured by a range of components, including: course work; ACT, MAP and other tests scores; federal “No Child Left Behind” criteria; and post-high school performance in colleges and careers.

The retreat also provided an opportunity for educators to review and prioritize 20 Belief Statements developed in December.

Mitchell said a focus of the retreat is establishing expectations for students and steps to attain those expectations.

Education is a process, not a product.

Just as each person learns throughout a lifetime, so educators continually are learning how to become better teachers.

A retreat, as the name implies, allows educators to step back, share what they’ve learned and examine how that fits in the big picture of quality education.

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