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Turn Up the Volume!
Ever seen a team, in the last seconds of the game, encouraged to victory by a listless audience and a mumbling squad of cheerleaders? We don't think so. Now, we aren't about to suggest that teachers don pom-poms and megaphones, but we will say this: Let's turn up the volume when it comes to key messages our students absolutely need to hear.
The "Turn Up the Volume" concept comes from West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) Superintendent, Dr. Bruce Harter in Richmond, California. In his September welcome, Dr. Harter reminded staff to keep the volume loud on their three key messages: This Is Important, You Can Do It, and I Won't Give Up On You (an idea introduced to the WCCUSD during an Efficacy presentation citing Jon Saphier's work on expectations in The Skillful Teacher).
When you turn up the volume you get through to people; especially kids. WCCUSD's Peres Elementary School is one great example of a school that's got the message turned up loud. Double-sided banners hang in the main hallway, so kids cannot help but be reminded of the Efficacy Mindset. They read: Peres Scholars; Think You Can, Work Hard, Get Smart; Effort is Smart; Student Proficiency.
Student papers also decorate the halls, explaining how they are getting smart at Peres. Efficacy Director of School Services, Barbara Logan, says that Peres employs "multiple modalities for exposing students to Efficacy concepts." For instance, Peres students in grades 1-3 start each day in a morning assembly lead by drop-out prevention specialist, Cornell Green. The assembly is used to review concepts and skills that students are struggling with, but it is laced throughout with Efficacy concepts. Students share their voices in a "Work Hard, Get Smart" call-back chant, and "Holler if You're a Scholar." Barbara says the assembly helps kids internalize Efficacy and, at the same time, learn important academic content. Peres Principal, Dr. Janet Scott adds that the morning assembly "gets them in the mindset for doing work."
Dr. Scott often monitors the hallways, stopping students to ask how they did on the latest benchmark test, and what they are going to do to get better. As a mark of the school's progress, "They can say what they are going to do to get better," Dr. Scott says. This is real evidence that the "Work Hard, Get Smart" Mindset is sinking in with Peres children. As one confident sixth-grader informed Barbara on a recent school visit, "Efficacy is about your power to do things."
This school year will be Peres' second full year as an Efficacy school. We'll keep you posted on their continued efforts in upcoming issues of From Now On.
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