Stories from an Alaska Superintendent - PART I
By Scott MacManus, Superintendent of Alaska Gateway School District
I'm not one to take cold calls from companies, but when Brightways Learning contacted me six years ago, my intuition - and their approach toward collaborative problem solving - told me to take a few minutes to listen. I'm glad I did. I would never have expected a small nonprofit organization based in Montana to be able to provide me with some of the vital keys that are contributing to the growing success of my school district.
At the time, I was Assistant Superintendent recently charged with improving school performance, and we had some poor performing schools. Because of having to deal with so much staff turnover, instruction that was driven by curricular fidelity was crucial. Developing ways to ensure that long-term fidelity without it becoming an impossible administrative task for our principals who also have teaching duties, was equally important.
Like many rural school districts, our district struggles with issues that large technology companies rarely take the time to understand. Rural Alaskan schools, for example, must typically contend with diverse multi-grade classrooms, high teacher turnover, principals who also have classes, and the need to be flexible and adaptable to unpredictable conditions and often limited resources.
To help address those issues, my district began using ClassBright Curriculum Management system in Fall 2011. Like other lesson planning systems, our teachers can plan their weekly lessons and align them to our state and local education standards. Unlike other systems we have found, it manages the district’s curriculum, and is able to adeptly monitor instructional progress. The important distinction about ClassBright is its flexibility to:
- handle multi-grade planning
- provide a way for our Curriculum Director to share our district's course materials for teacher integration
- track gaps in standards addressed, and
- offer a streamlined way for submitting and approving weekly plans
Ultimately, the bottom line is clear: Brightways Learning's customizable and flexible systems are increasing our staff efficiency, effectively supporting our district's objectives and goals, and keeping administrative costs down.
Next Month - Part II: Simple and Effective Teacher Evaluation