Ratings and Rankings

At my core, exists a competitive spirit that drives my desire to succeed at everything I set out to do. As a child it drove me to want to improve, in high school it supported my goal of winning a state championship and as a college football player, it’s what got me out of bed for two-a-days during the hottest month of the year. Now as an adult, it was drives me to be the best husband, father and principal I can be.

As a society, the same competitive spirit feeds the use of ratings and rankings for a multitude of things. We rank sports teams, we use ratings to determine which car to buy, which restaurant to eat at or what to order when you get there. Ratings and rankings help people make decisions all over the world, but is it the definitive piece you use to determine the best team, car or restaurant or are there other aspects to define the success of that team, car or restaurant? It may be in the eye of the beholder. It begs to question, how do you define success? I recently wrote about that very question here: http://matthewarend.blogspot.com/2015/04/how-do-you-define-success.html

A more important question may be, “Do ratings and rankings have a place in education.”

As this year comes to a close, we begin to focus on the next, hosting parent nights for our incoming kindergarten families and meeting prospective parents who may be looking to relocate into the neighborhood.

This past week, at the conclusion of one of our kindergarten family nights, two separate parents stopped me and asked a question about why they should come to Sigler over another campus who has a higher rating or ranking. In my four years at Sigler, I can honestly say it is not the first time a parent has asked a similar question, but for some reason, this time it struck a cord in me. The parents asked great questions and looking back, I appreciate them asking and forcing me to reflect and defend the staff and students who I hold in such high regard. I use the term defend, because I do not feel the rating or rankings that are out there tell the whole story and it is my job to do just that.

I won’t share the whole conversation with you, but at the end of the conversation, I told them both, at the end of the day, choosing a school for your child is all about what you value. If you value high test scores and that is what is most important to you, my campus may not be for you. I went on to add, I want each of our students to be successful on the state test they take at the end of the year, however their success does not define our students, teachers or school and we do not spend the whole year preparing for the test. We want our students to have experiences at school that they otherwise may not have. We care for our students and families, we help meet students’ emotional needs and do our best to equip them with the skills they will need to be successful outside of our walls. Through that process, we just happen to educate them.

I had a sense of pride at the conclusion of that conversation because I am proud of the work our students and staff put in everyday. While the growth we see in our students may not show up on a standardized test, conversations like the one I was able to have is really what makes our story real.

I understand why ratings exists and know they are not going anywhere. The same competitive spirit that drives me, drives thousands of people around the world, which is why, as a society we rate and rank. I also understand parents will continue to use these ratings and rankings when making decisions about where they live and where their children will go to school. Regardless of our rating or rank, I know our teachers and students will work hard to ensure our students needs are being met.

I wanted to share a few of the ratings and rankings I found in just a simple internet search, which is what most parents do, who are looking into their son/daughters school online. For the sake of transparency, you will see the ratings and rankings for Sigler Elementary below. Feel free to check them out. If you are an incoming parent or even a current one and these site raise questions, I welcome them and will do my best to answer them. In fact, I encourage you to share your experiences for others to see, which help us share our story. If you do not, we are letting the ratings and rankings do it for us.

The resources below will NOT provide you any insight into the experiences we provide, the types of students we serve or the spirit of our teachers and staff. To learn more about that, visit our Facebook page and see pictures of our campus and read comments from current families. Better yet, come spend some time in our building. After spending time with us, if our campus is not what you are looking for, I wish you the very best.

#NoOfficeDay – A Hidden Gem

The days we have remaining to positively impact students are slowly slipping away and with each day, so are the days I have remaining to finish up my #NoOfficeDay visits. 

This past Friday I was able to spend time with staff and students in our AELC (Active Learning Classroom & Experiential Learning Classroom), a “hidden gem” within our building. 

When visitors enter our building or when we are showing incoming families around, I am certain to point out this “hidden gem” and speak briefly as to why I am so proud we are able to host both of these Plano ISD classrooms on our campus. 
As members of our Sigler family, the AELC students and staff are embraced just as if they were in a grade level classroom and they should be! Friday was just like any other day. As we transitioned throughout the halls, students in the AELC receive “hellos”, “high-fives” and support from passersby. Moments like this, when our “family” supports one another, are the moments that fill my heart. They are the moments that take just seconds, but leave a lasting impression. The students and staff I was able to spend my day with on Friday remind me of just how fortunate we are to have them as a part of our Sigler Family. 
While the students in the AELC may not raise their hands and speak when called upon, they have their own style of communication and let me tell you…if you are not listening or understanding, they will get your attention just as much as the next child. 
We speak about the importance of relationships when educating students and I am not sure you can find a better example than the relationships that exist between the staff and students in the AELC. Our teachers and staff in these two classrooms know these students inside and out. They know their individual communication styles, learning styles, likes and dislikes, what motivates them, as well as their social and emotional needs. I wonder what would happen if each teacher knew their students as well as these teachers know their students? 
One may argue that the teachers “need” to know everything about the students in the AELC due to the needs of the child (social, emotional, medical). I would argue we “need” to know each of our students to the same depth! Are the needs of one student more important than another?
In knowing their students, the creative activities teachers design, reflect current events, grade level TEKS and are hands-on and engaging! You will not find any worksheets in this classroom. In fact, the special Mother’s Day project students worked on  and the activity made out of recycled materials (following a lesson on recycling) was a perfect example of the heart the teachers and staff pour into the planning process. 
I thoroughly enjoyed my day in the AELC. It is refreshing to spend a day with a group of teachers and students who have such a desire to work with their students and enjoy every moment. Honestly, they make it seem easy! The teachers are naturals, but I warn you…easy it is not. 
The teamwork, synchronization and organization within the classroom is like no other. I was impressed, humbled and reminded just how special this group of teachers is, how fortunate we are to meet the needs of our students in the AELC and receive the love they have to give back to us! (I lost count of the number of hugs I received by the end of the day)
I am thankful for the gifts the students share with us and the gifts our teachers share with them!