Giving my time to our schools

By Bernadeia Johnson
Contributing Writer

You may be wondering what I am doing to ensure that the Minneapolis Public Schools are focused on good teaching and that student achievement is at the forefront of our daily work. I am giving my time to schools.

Visiting schools is one of the best parts of my job. It is also one of the most important. I will be visiting a school a week, every week, for the entire year.

I will be spending three hours a week in each school visiting classrooms, looking at student work in key areas and attending regularly scheduled staff meetings for something I am calling “Homeroom with Superintendent Johnson.”

This is a chance for me to better understand our opportunities for growth and the barriers that stand in our way. It is also a chance to have a direct and authentic conversation with our teachers about focused instruction: what it is, why we are doing it and what difference we believe it will make for our teachers and students. Up to this point, I have visited Cityview, Ramsey, Sullivan, Anishinabe, Andersen and Hall. You can follow my visits on my blog; the link is on the MPS home page at www.mpls.k12.mn.us.

As I reflect back on my visits to schools thus far, I am convinced that focusing on kindergarten is the right thing to do. Preparing students in their early years is the first step to ensuring that students stay on track throughout their schooling. The first weeks of school, I observed high expectations clearly communicated to students, engaged learners digging deep into the subject matter, and instructional staff clearly focused on instruction. We are focused on good teaching, but we know there is still a lot of work to do to reach our academic goals.

The adults in students’ lives — parents, guardians, older siblings, teachers, principals, friends, mentors and others — have a responsibility to mobilize and encourage our students. It is our job to send a clear message to our young learners that they can and will be successful.

I expect all MPS staff to commit to helping all of our students achieve.

Families can participate. Each year your child will have a new teacher in school, but adults at home are teachers for life. It is important to talk to your child’s teacher to learn about the good and the bad. Discuss your child’s strengths and challenges to catch small issues before they become large issues.

We are committed to ensuring that all students are successful in our schools.

Each child’s success is important to the Minneapolis Public Schools. I hope that you will follow me on my blog as I continue to visit our schools and report on the challenges I see and the progress that we’re making. We must all be on the same page with the same clear expectations for all of our students.

Thank you for your continued support of our schools and students.

Bernadeia Johnson is superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools.