Hopes and Dreams: Goal-Setting and Reflection
September 17, 2018

Dear Harbor Families,

As we learn more and more about the brain, best practices have emerged in the field of education that support engaging students in ongoing reflection and goal-setting for their learning. Walking through the halls and classrooms at Harbor, you will see examples of students’ “hopes and dreams” for the school year. With teachers’ guidance, through goal-setting, students truly “own” their learning and make purposeful steps towards goals throughout the year.

Strong schools, like the learners they serve, regularly set goals for ongoing growth and reflect on progress toward them. One of the (many) features of Harbor that drew me to the school was an existing culture and commitment to ongoing school improvement. In fact, at 9 AM on July 2, my first official day as Head of School, I spent time with Board members analyzing data from the parent survey. Yes! This sent a strong message that this is a school that cares deeply about reflection and goal-setting! I’ve since had multiple opportunities for a deep dive into this data with administrative colleagues and facilitated an exploration of the results with the faculty. This, coupled with my many conversations with parents, teachers, and former Harbor community members (thank you all for spending time with me!), has enabled me to form impressions of the school’s many strengths, and - together with the faculty and staff - to set goals for the school year ahead.

The strengths of the Harbor School are plentiful and incredibly rich. Our cohesive, small community, where children are truly known is a common theme in everything I have heard. Our community values our explicit teaching of social-emotional skills in balance with a strong academic program. Our focus on creativity, expression, and student leadership is recognized and celebrated by all who know Harbor. It is clear that our community is confident that at Harbor, our small class sizes support individual attention and child development.

At Back to School Night, before the teachers’ wonderful presentations in the classrooms (and wow, were they wonderful!), I spoke about four main goals for program growth for this coming school year and into future years. It’s important to note that our school has an existing strength in each of these areas, on which to build an exciting future:

Parent Communication and Engagement - You may have noticed that teachers are working with a new format for grade level newsletters and have introduced a new app, called Seesaw, for sharing student learning with parents on a weekly basis. We have scheduled parent education sessions once a month throughout the year for more access to our curriculum. Further, we’ll soon be announcing evening events throughout the school year highlighting speakers on parenting and child development.

Design Thinking and the Development of our Makerspace - As the school year has taken off, teachers have been facilitating learning with the students in our makerspace, working through the steps to explore, create, and iterate. Our year-long professional development partnership with the KID Museum will take various forms, including visits to their site at the Davis Library, as well as KID Museum consultants working alongside our teachers in our our Makerspace to plan, implement, and reflect on lessons to incorporate making and design challenges.

Differentiated Teaching and Learning - To further develop our strategies to differentiate - and individualize - instruction in the classroom, we are working with specialists to continue to add to each teacher’s toolbox to reach each child individually. A committee of teachers will also be developing a set of criteria for effective teaching practices, which will guide goal-setting and reflection for professional growth and learning school-wide.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - All schools serving young children have a deep-rooted responsibility for recognizing and celebrating diversity and ensuring that children feel included and safe in their learning. The Harbor School has a rich background and history and has shown commitment to this goal in different ways throughout the years. As the school year continues, we’ll be exploring diversity, equity, and inclusion questions as they relate to our curriculum and teaching, and ensuring that our school maintains a warm environment that reflects and fully includes the communities in which we live.

We are looking forward to a terrific year ahead. Please let us know how we’re doing as we move through the year – my door is always open!

Warm regards,

Leah Musico

Head of School

The Harbor School

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