This post reprinted in its entirety courtesy of the School District of Menomonee Falls, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, and the district’s Public Information Coordinator/Executive Assistant Mitch Maersch.November 15, 2014
I’ve never seen my students learn so much so fast,” said 20-year veteran high school teacher Dave Mahlum. The school district of Menomonee Falls’ continuous improvement process has made dramatic changes inside the classroom and across all departments of the district. Word of its success has spread, and the district holds two large visits per year to help others replicate the process. Educational leaders and quality improvement professionals hailing from places like Harvard, Stanford, UCLA and Sweden have attended. Check out what quality improvement professionals from Sweden had to say during their visit (video cite):
People are coming to see how teachers and students complete 10-day learning cycles using the plan, do, study act (PDSA) quality improvement method, allowing teachers to quickly adjust their learning techniques to be more effective.
Gone are the days of waiting for an update halfway through the quarter or looking annually at growth targets. Students now take more control in their own learning and know what they need to do to succeed.
“I’m giving all my students a voice in my classroom and allowing them to take an active part in their education,” said Nationally Board Certified middle school teacher
Julie Poetzel. “Each one of them is tracking their own performance and this allows them to see where they are strong and where they need to improve.”
Teachers are seeing the difference in students. High school reading teacher Michelle Matter said she used to have a struggling student who didn’t want to come to school. Then the improvement tools kicked in. Grades and attendance went up in all classes.
“What I think has been different for him is that he can actually visualize the growth he is making. He sees his scores, a positive trend line, his articles getting more challenging, and he also knows which posted scores are his on our class graphs,” she said. “He can see his improvement.
Superintendent Patricia Greco, Ph.D., whose dissertation was on instructional practice and on organizational improvement, is leading the way to implement business principles of LEAN and Six Sigma in school.
“In two to three years the graduates of Menomonee Falls High School will be speaking the language of business,” said Joe Weitzer, Ph.D., dean for the Center of Business Performance Solutions at Waukesha County Technical College.
Beyond the classroom. The district’s improvement process has changed how it does business in all divisions.
“If we see something that’s not working right, our heads immediately go to, we need a better process for that,” said Human Resources Coordinator Sherry Jaeck.
“I think we get to faster and better solutions,” said Christiane Standlee, Director of Human Resources. Risk taking is encouraged, even if at first you don’t succeed…
“It’s not about failing. It’s about trying something to improve, and if it doesn’t work, making adjustments on the fly,” said Jeff Gross, director of Business Services. “If the adjustment worked, then you’re really focusing on the data.”
Even custodians are on board, seeing their suggestions on improving processes get implemented. “All of a sudden that gets their wheels turning. It just snowballs,” said Scot Weisbrich, Head Groundskeeper.
This post courtesy of the School District of Menomonee Falls, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, and the district’s Public Information Coordinator/Executive Assistant Mitch Maersch. http://www.sdmfschools.org/ or contact Mitch Maersch, the district’s Public Information Coordinator/Executive Assistant.November 15, 2014 Discover more about the School District of Menomonee Falls from the district’s website at
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Filed under: How to Lead…, iTeacherSuite – Teacher Tips, Our Partners, Who’s Engaged? Tagged: Continuous Improvement, PDSA, performance excellence, Plan Do Study Act, School District of Menomonee Falls, SDMF