7 Habits of Effective Learners

Posted by Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski on 2/1/2016

The month of March is already upon us and with its presence comes a sentiment that spring is quickly approaching. To me, spring symbolizes growth, new beginnings and optimism. Knowing this, it seems like the perfect time of year to reflect on the positive developments and true successes that have occurred in our school district this school year. It is my hope that in sharing these accomplishments, that you will have a greater sense and clearer picture of the tremendous teaching and learning that takes place here each day.

As I wrote earlier in the school year, our vision remains strong about the need to develop and educate the whole child. We have continued to ground ourselves in the belief that all students can learn and are worthy of intellectual respect, that the life and mind of each child is precious, that quality education demands genuine appreciation of difference and that together we can achieve more. This shared vision allowed us to develop an idea over the past three years and finally see it come to fruition at a formal Ribbon Cutting Ceremony which took place at our Board of Education meeting on December 15, 2015.

Three years ago, when I began my role as Superintendent, I began sharing my vision for learning which included a special place where students of varying abilities could receive the support, empowerment, resources, and opportunities they need to reach the greatest success in whatever learning path they are on in school. In hearing the call to develop learners who are prepared for college, career and beyond, it became even more clear that these special places were something that we needed to make happen in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District.

With support from our Board of Education, a vision embraced by all, thoughtful planning, forward thinking, hard work, and financial projections which all focused on the same result---strong support for our learners which yields higher academic achievement--we were able to make this vision of having these special places become reality. These special places have evolved into two beautiful, warm, engaging, supportive, positive, student-centered and inviting Academic Learning Centers.

Our Academic Learning Centers, otherwise known as our ALCs, represent a new vision of academic programming that is aligned with 21st Century learning and meet the individual needs of our learners. As the leader of our school district, it is critical that I advocate for all learners—those that struggle, those that require additional support with challenging coursework, such as Advanced Placement or Honors coursework, those that want to challenge themselves with achieving a higher score on the SATs, those that seek to give back to their classmates through peer tutoring, and those that just may need a quiet space for completing work.

In our Centers, students have the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with the ALC teachers or peer tutors, they are able to work in small groups, they can study independently, they have the chance to work on-line to acquire course credit, and students have the opportunity to select which type of learning works best for them. Our Academic Learning Centers are student-centered and encourage all learners to be in charge of their own learning.

With the increased rigor and challenging work that students are exposed to, it is our obligation to ensure that they have a supportive and nurturing learning environment that supports the Whole Child, which is our strongest core belief in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District. Developing and supporting the Whole Child is exactly what our Academic Learning Centers do—they recognize that all students can learn and are worthy of intellectual respect, they recognize that the life and mind of each child is precious, they recognize that quality education demands genuine appreciation of differences, they promote an environment of student leadership and the message that together we can achieve more resonates throughout each Center.

We have also been working very hard at both Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School and JFK MS to implement The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This is a process—not a program—that strives to focus on having a positive attitude, maintaining an optimistic outlook, and realizing that change is good, that change will increase results, and that change is most productive if made over time. The process is modified a bit for our younger learners at TR and is referred to as The Leader in Me. The results of the implementation process have been most successful with staff, students and our families who have provided positive feedback about the effects that this process has had on either themselves, their children or their families at home. Please take a moment to talk with your child about The 7 Habits to see what they have learned. I included them here for your review.

Habit 1: Be Proactive—responsibility, choice, accountability, initiative

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind—vision, commitment, purpose

Habit 3: Put First Things First—focus, integrity, prioritization

Habit 4: Think Win-Win—mutual benefit, fairness, abundance

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood—respect, empathy, courage

Habit 6: Synergize—creativity, cooperation, diversity, humility

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw—renewal, continuous improvement, balance

We are looking forward to expanding The 7 Habits to Woodrow Wilson and JFK High School in September for implementation in the 2016-2017 school year.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about what our school district has accomplished so far this school year. With each passing day, I feel more fortunate to work in a school district that is so committed, positive, and focused on student learning. Our number one priority will always be our students and giving each one of them the very best educational experience possible so that they soar to the highest level of success in life. Thank you for your constant support at home and in our community—it truly means everything to us.



Mrs. Andrea L. Galenski

Superintendent of Schools