Monday, February 20, 2017

Open for Learning: On PAASCU Visits and Accreditation

The PAASCU Team who was invited at Manresa School
 Last February 6-7, 2017, I was part of the PAASCU accrediting team that was invited by Manresa School to evaluate their self-survey and analysis in the aims of improving their school's academic pursuits and students services. I was there to look into the school's report on their Instructional Media Center, find out the extent of implementation of the previous PAASCU team's recommendations, and discover new things about school librarianship in general as well as specific best features of the school library being accredited.

The Manresa School Library in the grade school unit has an impressive space and physical design of its reading areas and storytelling rooms. The library staff are very welcoming and their commitment to providing the best school library services to students and faculty is evident in their reading campaigns and promotions. The school, in general, has a vibrant student body and a teaching force that is young and eager to learn.

While many see the visit as an ascension of gods and goddesses, we, the accrediting team emphasize in every interview the role we play in the whole exercise. We are colleagues excited to be engaged in the validation of best practices, We are partners in conversations with educators, just like us, who strive to be better at this craft we call teaching. After every PAASCU visit, I always have "take-aways". Here is a link where I write about Insights from a PAASCU Visit in De La Salle Zobel.

This time, I left Manresa School with these questions in my mind: How can school librarians support the reading development of students transitioning from K-3 to middle grades? How can school librarians firm up his and her role in the teaching and learning processes of a school community?

These two questions are not unique from my PAASCU experience in Manresa School. Somewhere, sometime, an answer to these questions can be found. For now, I am keeping tab of these thoughts.

Is your school library "open for learning"?
I have written about my experiences in previous PAASCU accreditations. Working in a big school previously, PAASCU visits are big events, indeed! How everyone in the community prepares for it!  Death by PAASCU is a humorous take on the PAASCU preparations. PAASCU work is not a one year deal. The recommendations to work on are starting points for conversations, reflections and the identification of courses of actions that should not be seen as a way to please PAASCU. But a plan to inform one's self and the school community that it is fulfilling its mission and goals.

I now think of the relevance of PAASCU visits. For one, it is service. We get very little but the joy of learning from one another. Back in 2009, I have received the Fr. James Meany Award for my involvement as accreditor since 2003. I have been called to participate in the evaluation of PAASCU forms and systems. In 2008, the PAASCU office called for a Consultation and Revision of the GS Resurvey Form. We have been using the revised form since then.

In the field of education, a system of assessment and evaluation among peers is a healthy exercise towards a learning community's path to growth and development.

We never stop learning. It is a lifelong process. PAASCU always teaches me that and reminds me that I need to hold my truth lightly in my hands because, wisdom and knowledge do not spring from one source alone.

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