Administrator’s Corner: Helping growth for all

Published 8:00 pm Friday, October 8, 2021

Administrator’s Corner by Nicky Edwin Severtson

Seeing our students in the hallways and classrooms again for the start of the 2021-2022 school year has been rejuvenating and rewarding. In response to the pandemic, Sibley Elementary teachers and staff have been putting a strong focus on social-emotional learning and building relationships, along with meeting students where they are at with their academic needs and goals.

Nicky Severtson

In our elementary schools we are fortunate to have a licensed teacher-resource specialist who is dedicated to collaborating with our teachers, families and students. This person provides families and teachers with resources and strategies to support student academic growth and narrow the achievement gap. At Sibley our resource specialist, instructional coach and intervention teacher, along with grade level teachers have been collaborating and analyzing student assessment data to identify areas of need in reading and math. From this data, research based interventions and extended learning for students who are already proficient are being implemented to meet the individual needs of students in a 1:1 or small group setting. You might hear your child refer to this as WIN time (What I Need). Students are motivated and empowered when they are learning at their instructional level.

We also use a research-based program titled Second Step that provides staff and students with social-emotional skill building tools to equip students to excel both in school and in life outside of school. Teaching skills of self-management, relationship building, cooperation and conflict resolution are necessary skills for success. Second Step lessons are delivered by our school counselor with follow-up activities that the classroom teacher incorporates. Our morning announcements and monthly all-school virtual assemblies spotlight the social skill that is being taught.

Sibley teachers and para educators will be involved in monthly professional development sessions focusing on building and implementing a trauma sensitive approach to teaching and learning. These sessions will be delivered by our school social worker and school counselor. Classrooms have been provided with tools needed to teach emotional regulation strategies and tools students can use once instructed to regulate their emotions so they are ready to learn. Regulation stations have been incorporated into all classrooms and consist of fidgets, calming cards, breathing boards and mindfulness books and activities. A trauma-sensitive approach benefits all students across cultural and socio-economic boundaries.

It is our hope that the combination of these support systems for students and professional development sessions for teachers will encourage academic, social and emotional growth for our entire Sibley community.

Growing together; every learner, every day.

Nicky Edwin Severtson is principal at Sibley Elementary School.