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I’ve been away from my blog for a while . . . immersed in other projects; but, I’m back with a message today for school and district administrators.
As we quickly approach the holiday break, marking the mid-point of our academic year, I want to give you food for thought as you turn that proverbial corner toward the second half of the school year. I’ve had this idea for some time, but it really came to the forefront as I finished teaching an online graduate-level course in action research last week. For one of their last assignments, I asked my students to share in a discussion board post their thoughts about action research and whether they would continue to conduct their own action research studies, outside of their coursework.
The students unequivocally stated that they believed there was a huge value and benefit to designing and conducting their own action research studies. However, with so many other duties and responsibilities, most felt they wouldn’t have the time to engage in such professional endeavors. I understand--trust me, I truly get it--but I think they’re missing the bigger picture in all of this.
I “get it” because, to a degree, I think they’re right. While I believe that conducting action research in isolation can still be hugely beneficial, doing so leads to a feeling of, well, isolation. Let’s face it--none of us really wants to do anything if we feel isolated in doing it. So many of those “other duties and responsibilities” could be enveloped in an action research approach and mindset. Additionally, we need a supportive environment; a culture that promotes, values, and rewards professional activities that result in us becoming better educators.
Please don’t misunderstand--I know that doing this requires time, resources, and commitment. But, by implementing my ideas, you can collectively capitalize on so many aspects of what you’re undoubtedly trying to do in your schools. What I’m really talking about is the development of action research communities, or ARCs. I envision these action research communities functioning as professional learning communities, focused on and based in an action research approach to professional development, growth, and empowerment.
I envision ARCs functioning just like other PLCs, with all the essential components (e.g., a shared vision, collaboration, collective inquiry, an action orientation, a commitment to continuous improvement, and an orientation focused on results). The only real difference is that the focus, mindset, and culture is created around collaborative action research in your schools.
The benefit of your school- or district-based ARCs may not stop at the simple implementation of action research studies. For example,
The power that lies in the implementation of ARCs is potentially immense . . . perhaps, even limitless. Admittedly, their implementation requires some degree of planning and coordination. However, I firmly believe in them, and in the fact that their potential benefits far outweigh their initial start-up costs.
So, as you begin to plan for 2014 (and perhaps the 2014-2015 school year), be sure to mark that “Note to Self: ARCs!” in your calendar!!
Instructional leadership is essential in K-12 schools. What is an instructional leader? A second grade teacher can serve as an instructional leader. Principals and assistant principals should also be viewed as instructional leaders. A central office staff member may have the title of Chief Academic Officer or Curriculum Director, but that does not mean they are the only instructional leader in the school district. Once teachers begin communicating with teachers in the same grade level and make connections with the next level (i.e., middle school and high school transition), students will benefit from increased clarity on the essential learning outcomes.
“One of the tasks of curriculum leadership is to use the right methods to bring the written, the taught, the supported, and the tested curriculums into closer alignment, so that the learned curriculum is maximized” (Glatthorn, 1987, p. 4).
How do you 'maximize' the learned curriculum? Developing the local curriculum, curriculum alignment, analyzing assessment data, and meeting in job-alike teams are important activities. However, meetings can often become a weekly ritual that do not lead to increased student understanding. An instructional leader is constantly focused on 'maximizing' student understanding. During the No Child Left Behind Era, student achievement was defined in most schools as passing a high stakes test. When instructional leaders define test results as student achievement, most meetings focus on test prep, curriculum reductionism, and closing gaps. Closing gaps is critical and ethical work. Closing gaps should not mean teaching to the middle or ignoring our gifted students who need challenging work. Schools throughout the United States have witnessed artificial gains in student test scores by eliminating science, social studies, art, music, PE, and other non-tested subjects. Glatthorn's question is one that drives the work of instructional leaders. Does test prep or curriculum reductionism 'maximize' student learning?
3 Ways To Grow As An Instructional Leader
1. Join a Twitter Chat
I have been participating in Twitter chats for the past two years. When I describe Twitter chats to other educators, they often look at me like a deer in headlights. Why would someone teach school all day and then join a Twitter chat at 9:00 pm on a Thursday night? How could a one hour chat with educators across the world support teaching and learning in my school? I have met educators in all 50 states. As a principal, I learn from principals, teachers, superintendents, university professors, education consultants, and others who are passionate about teaching and learning. Educators share links to their blogs, school websites, curriculum maps, school goals, presentations, family resources, and more! A Twitter chat is similar to attending a national conference. You will be exposed to multiple perspectives and it will challenge your own views on education. The conversations are lively, but professional. If you ask a question, you may get answers from New York, California, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas. Twitter chats will inspire an instructional leader and will offer multiple opportunities for professional growth.
2. Join and Become Active in a Professional Learning Community
According to Schmoker (2006), "Mere collegiality won't cut it. Even discussions about curricular issues or popular strategies can feel good but go nowhere. The right image to embrace is a group of teachers who meet regularly to share, refine and assess the impact of lessons and strategies continuously to help increasing numbers of students learn at higher levels" (p.178). Schools throughout the United States are operating as a Professional Learning Community (PLC). If your school still allows teachers to operate in isolation, you can learn more about a PLC at http://www.allthingsplc.info.
“Schools committed to higher levels of learning for both students and adults will not be content with the fact that a structure is in place to ensure that educators meet on a regular basis. They will recognize that the question, ‘What will we collaborate about,” is so vital that it cannot be left to the discretion of each team’” (DuFour, 2011, p. 61). Instructional leaders believe in growth. Continuous improvement is possible when each instructional leader is a member of a PLC.
3. Identify Essential Learning Outcomes
It is difficult to maximize student understanding if you do not know the goals. Learning targets help instructional leaders know if students are reaching the goal. Is your goal college and career readiness? An instructional leader must define what the path to college and career readiness looks like for a ninth grade student. Is your goal to increase the number of students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes? Once you define the end in mind, it will be easier to determine the skills and understandings that students need to be prepared for advanced courses. According to Wiggins and McTighe (2007), "The job is not to hope that optimal learning will occur, based on our curriculum and initial teaching. The job is to ensure that learning occurs, and when it doesn't, to intervene in altering the syllabus and instruction decisively, quickly, and often" (p. 55).
Instructional leadership supports teaching and learning. It is easy to focus on standards, assessment, school safety, school improvement plans, faculty meetings, high-stakes tests, developing your next meeting agenda, technology integration, curriculum alignment, and state mandates. While none of these topics can be neglected, it is easy to lose sight of the goals of an instructional leader. Instructional leadership should not take the backseat to meetings, planning, or activities. Parker (1991) cautioned instructional leaders to avoid motion mascquerading as improvement.
Roland S. Barth shared in his seminal book Learning by Heart (2001), that schools should possess an “ethos hospitable to the promotion of human learning.” As I have endeavored through massive leadership and learning changes, Barth’s words have become a truism for me. Whether navigating a curriculum change, supporting different forms of professional learning, or problem-solving a complex issue (or usually all of the aforementioned at the same time), I ask myself, “How is what we are doing promoting an ethos hospitable to learning?” Inevitably the responses to this question have led the way to culturally transformative levels of learning in our school. Given that instructional cultures grow best organically and synergistically, (and this has been the case for mine), I would simply add that when change is nurtured with innovation, support and feedback, the rate of growth is exponential, and the direction of growth flows in intended and unintended directions.
In our schoolhouse, we believe:
Barth eloquently describes what it takes to achieve this vision. “When we come to believe that our schools should be providing a culture that creates and sustains a community of student and adult learning—that this is the trellis of our profession—then we will organize our schools, classrooms, and learning experiences differently.” (Barth, R., The Culture Builder, Educational Leadership, May 2002.)
Organizing learning differently has been both an exciting and daunting challenge. In the era of sweeping reform, striving to make this vision come to life uniquely within a school requires the science and artistry of students, faculty, staff and parents alike, who must continually partner as an interdependent team. This type of work demands mutual support, collective expertise and shared accountability. (For example: How does being affixed to one curriculum benefit students? Am I ready to share my student’s formative data with my teaching peers?) It also demands adaptive thinking, rather than technical solutions. (For example: How does this master schedule promote flexible forms of learning?) In our school’s journey, confronting shared questions have proven weighty, but worthy. While many might say strong academic achievement has been the most visible and predictable success in our trellis climb, we believe our substantive growth has mainly emanated from our collective drive for seamless collaboration and embedded forms of professional learning. In fact, I would characterize our school as relentless about setting the conditions for academic and social-emotional success. Our sustained urgency on learning, along with our instructional and cultural momentum has fundamentally redesigned the way we teach and learn. What were once individually celebrated features of our school’s educational excellence, are now deliberately interconnected and vital components of our cultural instructional identity. In essence, we teach and learn within a coherent system of meaningful moving parts.
Professional Learning Communities
Our teams practice the data cycle (Reeves, D.) within the professional learning community model (DuFour, R.). In addition to three dedicated common planning times for each team each week, our teachers also collaborate in numerous informal, horizontal and vertical ways throughout each school day. We reflect, design, instruct, assess and monitor as teams. No one teaches or works in isolation. We strive to meet and exceed commonly established goals, and our data is transparent and accessible at all times.
Response to Intervention Methods
Our faculty has studied Response to Intervention (RtI) through the work of Mike Mattos. Our Superintendent’s leadership has also helped us fully commit to giving students what they need, when they need it. We employ universal screening, core district curriculum, and progress monitoring procedures. Customized interventions and supports are architected into personal learning plans, which are designed and delivered by our expert teachers. These academic and social-emotional learning plans are monitored and refined by data teams in instructional cycles throughout the year.
Our district is deeply committed to embedded forms of professional learning. At the elementary level, we employ the workshop model of instruction, chiefly studying the work of Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project. We benefit from three literacy specialists and one mathematics specialist on our staff, who actively coach each of our teachers and teams. Our school employs a literacy and mathematics laboratory model (conducting peer observations with a coach, engaging in lesson voice overs, leading parts of a lesson, and dissecting model lessons), shared classroom walkthroughs, opportunities to look at student work, and the unconference model. Each of these forms of adult learning expands our craft knowledge and grows our shared expertise.
Leadership For All
Our school rests upon our extraordinary teachers and staff, each of whom is a leader in his/her own right. Teachers are trusted to make important decisions about learning. While we have formal teams such as a school leadership team, a child study team and a positive behavior support team, our teachers actively lead the wealth of the instructional design, intervention plans, and assessment work. Teachers also design and lead professional learning opportunities that seed the school with innovation; modeling their own risk-taking and inspiring adaptive thinking among staff.
As Barth has eloquently pointed out in Learning By Heart (2001):
“It has been said that running a school is about putting first things first; leadership is determining what are the first things; and management is about putting them first. I would like to suggest that the ‘first thing’, the most important feature of the job description for each of us as educators, is to discover and provide the considerations under which people’s learning curves go off the chart. Sometimes it’s other people’s learning curves; those of students, teachers, parents, administrators. But at all times it is our own learning curve.” (Barth, R. Learning By Heart, 2001, p. 11).
I would be remiss if I did not comment on my own learning curve amidst this type of learning environment, where change is the norm, and as Barth points out, “learning curves go off the chart.” My experience is that one cannot be immersed in this type of work - day in and day out - without realizing the profound personal and professional effect it has on your own practice. The way I think, the way I listen, the way I reflect, the way I contribute and the way I solve has everything to do with what I have learned from my colleagues. Their work teaches me everyday. Courageously, they have helped me reach upward and outward for a truly ambitious vision, and equally have the support to lean into what can be possible for every learner. Barth reminds me time and time again, that the ethos of learning is within and among us every single day. Even in the face of tremendous change, it is our calling to climb the professional trellis uniquely and continually, in order to benefit every student and adult in the schoolhouse, including ourselves.
Sandra A. Trach, Principal
Estabrook School, Lexington, MA
What I Learned Lately (WILL 13/14 #8)
“The Grass Is Not Always Greener”
At this time of year in the great Pacific Northwest there is lots of fog. The days are getting darker and many of us long for the sunshine. It also the time where we start having “family/teacher” conferences. In many cases, families and staff go into these events with a little angst, not knowing what will be a bright spot or what will add to the haze of clarity on how to help our shared students. Perceptions are such a driving force in this dance.
As families we have perceptions about our own experiences of school. Ultimately we just want to know if our children are safe, engaged, supported, challenged and in a healthy environment. Often we are in unchartered waters, either this is our first child experiencing this grade level/school or our children are so different that we experiencing something new at home as well as at school. As staff, we have perceptions about what perceptions families may have about us, our schools and public education as a whole. We have to not only know our students individually well enough to guide them, we need to think about what strategies we can provide families to help their children at home. We want to be clear and honest about each child’s strengths and areas of growth, but don’t want to feel offensive. We want to help our families, but also need to be aware of our limitations of time and resources. For me, I am aware of both sides of the dance and always trying to different strategies to help my needs as a parent as well as honor the staff that are serving my children.
This week a master teacher taught me a few new strategies. She starts by asking families to describe what they are seeing at home when they are working with their child (assessing their perceptions about their student).
Next, she has the family watch a short video that she has filmed of the student doing some grade level work (establishing a shared context for the conversation and showing what the engagement or non-engagement looks like in the class).
Showing her human side, she is honest about her new learning of technology and her limitations (establishing that we are all learning and to take risks).
Then she asks them what they saw and their thoughts (facilitating reflection, this may be the first time the family has seen their child learning at school).
She builds off of their comments and talks about what they are doing in class to either provide additional support and or challenge the child during the day (reassuring their child is safe, engaged, supported and challenged).
Working from the standards and skills, she has a few generic strategies that are related to the standards/skills that can be replicated at home. Often these are skills that reinforce academic stamina, solid work habits, and are simpler versions of what she doing in the class already (reinforcing healthy habits that we all can support).
She reminds the family that this work needs to be low stress and not fight, “start slow and be consistent” (finding safe ways to challenge their child at home). Finally, she asks the families to contact her every few weeks to get an update and share what they are seeing at home (reinforcing the partnership without all the ownership lying on the teacher).
I was reminded that we have world class teachers and world class principals in our schools. Our teachers and principals have never been more challenged and met those challenges at higher levels than ever before. I know there are challenges in our schools across our Nation. I am not blind to the realities that not every child in our country has a world class teacher, every day.
However, there are many schools, cities and states that our global partners may want to come examine. With relentless pressure to provide quick fixes and national propaganda about the lack of the success of our schools, maybe we should look closer at the numbers (http://www.edweek.org/ew/section/infographics/math-achievement-globally.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1). In our state we are not perfect, but we are becoming world class.
This week in Washington it is Principal Appreciation Week, I am thankful for our world class principals. Their successes are marked in more than a single test score, but rather the 1000’s of lives they save every day. In Tacoma, we have some the world’s best educational leaders. Although there may be foggy days in our area, rest assure there is sunshine behind the clouds for our students, for that I am humbly grateful.
Finally from David Whelan’s “My View of Fog”,
Ask any ten people, 'what's the odor of fog? ' And...
you'll get different replies, from ten different guys,
from brisk, briny sea smell, to smell of wet dog,
to perfume worn by Neptune, essence of clouds
and blue skies
I think that fog is something and nought.
A wraith of perception
suffused with deception
as easily at home…
or in thought
The belief that standardized test scores are the most viable means that can be used to determine student learning, is so deeply rooted in our psyche that we have embraced the practice of evaluating teachers of non-tested subjects based on the results of subjects that they do not teach. This should be scandalous; especially given that this practice negates the main goal of evaluation systems, which is to hold teachers' accountable for student performance based on what they teach.
The Tennessee Fine Arts Growth Measure System brightens the prospect that this practice would eventually cease. This System incorporates students' portfolios and peer reviews to gauge teacher effectiveness. As Tracy McNelly notes, portfolios focus on teacher demonstration, professional development and teacher assessment. Together, these factors provide a more complete picture of a teacher's performance. Also, the use of peer reviews provides an opportunity to bring about true education reform by helping to create an evaluation structure that deviates from and that holds more promise than traditional evaluations systems in terms of effectively capturing and determining how a teacher’s professional growth influences student achievement.
In addition to providing a more comprehensive look at a teacher’s performance, portfolios and peer reviews are in line with the much lauded 21st century skills. Portfolios are authentic artifacts that are better suited than standardized test scores for illustrating, creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, decision-making and learning. Similarly, peer reviews require communication and collaboration. As such, the use of these two tools helps to exemplify what is meant by “teaching is an art.” Furthermore, using portfolios and peer reviews also help to restore the humanity into evaluation systems that have become far too mechanical, subjecting all those involved; school leaders, teachers and students to mind numbing activities.
Perhaps this is an opportunity for educators to act on Craig Mertler’s call for courageous educators. In this case, the call is for educators to speak up about this practice of evaluating teachers of non-tested subjects on subjects and for students that they do not teach. It is a practice that diminishes recognition for the contributions that teachers make equipping their students with the knowledge and skills that they need for future success.
In order for me to lead effectively in my classroom, I needed to make sure I was teaching the right things. Otherwise, what were students learning? And, why were they learning it?
Students need to be personally invested in their learning in order for them to be most successful. What’s taught needs to be relevant to them. The curriculum can be rigorous to the 10th power, but if it isn’t taught in a way that is engaging and fun, students will not produce work that is reflective, vulnerable, risky, and potentially full of mistakes.
Mistakes help us to grow when we acknowledge them and are willing to identify what we did versus what we should do the next time. As I sat down to preplan my year as a fifth grade teacher, I needed to reflect on where I was as a learner: what was I doing well? What could I improve on? What was hard for me? And, what were my goals for the year?
What I’ve mentioned are all things I ask of my students: take risks, invest in yourself, advocate, and be open to new ideas because, good learning is messy before it looks good. As I tell my students, if you have truly waded through the mess to construct new meaning and have learned the material, you can teach it to someone else. This is the highest level of learning, and this is how we create leaders. As a leader in my classroom, I need to embody and model these soft skills I ask of my students. Otherwise, I am a hollow leader. And, I felt hollow as I preplanned my year.
When I meet with each one of my students at six week intervals to discuss how they are doing in meeting their hope and goal for the school year, I ask them to answer the questions I posted above so we can have an authentic, meaningful conversation. We get to know each other and ourselves better, thereby deepening our trust in one another. When a student is struggling, we work through it, so both of us have a deepening understanding of why they feel the way they do. Once identified, we can figure out a potential solution to the problem. The challenge is in the identifying. I needed to do the same thing I asked of my students: reflect, ask questions, and identify the genesis for my hollowness As I thought through each question, the same refrain kept repeating: ‘I do the same things every year, but why do I do them?’ I needed to become relevant again, things needed to make sense, and I needed to have fun in order to meet the needs of my learners, and myself.
During the school year, peers will stop in my room for something and comment on student behavior, or on our practice. We hear a lot of “you’re very nice to each other,” “there’s a good vibe in here,” and “you all seem to be really having fun.” All these things are true in the moment. But, have I grown during this time, too? Or, am I just regurgitating the same lesson plans each year? Yes, we do Morning Meeting, Energizers, and Closing Circle. We incorporate cooperative learning and team-building skills into all learning experiences. But, I realized that I was leaning too much on prior lesson plans and prior knowledge. As a teacher, I know that prior knowledge should springboard to deeper understanding, not serve as a final resting spot for learning. When that happens, I am not growing. If I am not maxing out my potential each day, I am definitely not doing that for my students. I needed to model the expectations I had for my students. Otherwise, I was doing them, and myself, a disservice. And, education should never be that.
I went back to the theorists and books on my shelf. I pulled out Jensen’s Brain Based Learning, Denton and Kriete’s First Six Weeks of School, and Kriete’s Morning Meeting Book. I reread pieces of each, took notes, reworked ideas in my head, wrote lesson plans from scratch, and fought with my computer. Half-written pieces on pieces of paper, manila file folders, and books surrounded me. As my wife reminded me of the mess I was making it all made sense: I needed to set the purpose for my learning, teaching, and leading through a hope and goal I shared with others. And, I could do that at Back to School Night. How more accountable could I be then? Every parent of every child I was teaching this year would be there. They would hold me accountable for my hope and goal. I needed to think through my message to them. What did I want to say? What was most important? What did they need to know? How could I weave that into a hope and goal that they could see directly impacted my teaching and would positively influence their child on a day to day basis.
I decided my hope and goal would focus on three key ideals: learn, teach, and lead. I needed to learn each student’s needs, connect it back to what the research shared as best practice, weave these best practices into my teaching, and create a group of young future leaders. I would be modeling the highest level of understanding through my leadership. With my hope and goal cemented, and my lesson plans formulated, I began to learn, teach, and lead again. With passion. When I lost my PowerPoint slideshow the day of Back to School Night, I dug up an old one for window dressing. I spoke without the notes I prepared. I focused on the key aspects of our classroom organization: social – emotional growth, learning risk – taking in our learning, questioning to stimulate deeper understanding, and enjoyment of the learning process. With that would come the academic stamina and perseverance parents could point to as growth occurring.
The rest is yet to be written. Back to School Night went well. I shared the connection between the social curriculum and its impact on the academic curriculum. My passion and vulnerability was visible in my hope and goal for our fifth grade students. And, I learned something. Now, I’ll go teach and lead.
I have been writing blogs for two years on ASCD Edge. While each of the blogs are independent entities, consisting of separate thoughts and ideas, they also can be combined to create what I hope is a coherent framework of goals, suggestions and practices for educating children in a 21st century world. In this “meta-blog”, my blogs are placed into categories that examine a different aspect of 21st century teaching and learning. This will provide you, the reader, with a chance to browse through one or more of these commentaries using a larger framework as a reference.
You can also delve more deeply into the qualities, characteristics and perspectives of a 21st century education by going to my website:
***Please note that a few blogs are listed in more than one category.
The Broad Perspective: Reflective Questions and Suggested Changes
A Learning-Centered Checklist for 21st Century Classrooms, Schools and Districts - http://bit.ly/18RS0VJ
Reflect on Your School Year With the Following Questions… http://bit.ly/1218hB7
Ten questions that will improve your teaching, school or district http://bit.ly/OKOj9a
Ten things that will REALLY make a difference in education http://bit.ly/18WGdIZ
My Top Ten education wishes for 2012 (and beyond) http://bit.ly/12LVKZj
Mission and Goals
What should be the outcomes of K-12 schooling? How do we know if we’ve achieved them?
What is your core mission?
What Does This Poem Say, About Education Today
New Goals For a New Year (and a New Age)
Make Meaning and Purpose Key Elements of Teaching and Learning http://bit.ly/14Npfdf
Beliefs about Learning
Beliefs about Learning and their implications for teaching and learning http://bit.ly/1b1pCRu
Positive Learning Environments, Cultures, and Attitudes
Thirteen Ways to Build Positive Learning Attitudes: a Key to Successful Teaching
Core Skills: Identification, Methods and Strategies
Teaching the Right Skills For a New Age- Inquiry Based Instruction http://bit.ly/vVhpSQ
Seven Principles for Teaching the Right Skills for a New Age http://bit.ly/yLVZ0M
Using Inquiry-Research Projects to Teach the Right Skills for a New Age
Eight Types of Instructional Strategies That Improve Learning in a 21st Century World
Six ways to build greater curiosity in students
Do You Teach Creative Thinking? You Should if You Don’t!
Curriculum and Instruction Issues
The Integrated Skill Development Process (ISDP) - The Power of Teacher Collaboration
Strengthening Curriculum and Instruction in a 21st century world
A Dozen Reasons Why We Need High Quality Science Teaching and Learning in a 21st Century World
Why we need strong science programs, K-12!
Promoting STEM in a 21st century World
Ten reasons why teaching the arts is critical in a 21st century world
Early Childhood Education
Bridging the Opportunity Gap: Improving Early Childhood and Primary Grade Education
Formative and Summative Assessment
Use portfolios -- the best tool for assessing 21st century skills
Customized Versus Standardized Assessments: A Fairy Tale
The Bubble Test Trap vs. Project Based Learning
Increasing Learning With Traditional Tests
Five Powerful Feedback Principles That Improve Student Learning
Professional Growth and Development
Four Activities To Help You Become a Better Teacher and Leader…
The Integrated Skill Development Process (ISDP): The Power of Teacher Collaboration
Ten Possibilities for Summer Professional Development
Using Education Leadership Articles as a Staff Development Tool to Promote a 21st Century Education
Exercise: Ten Teacher Questions for Self-Reflection
Alternatives to Teacher Tenure – What Will Work?
No Child Left Behind
Adapting NCLB to a 21st Century World
Five Books That Every Educator Should Read?
Some Summer Reading And Resource Browsing
A new book that helps all of us examine teaching and learning in a 21st century world
All blogs can be found at
More blogs will be coming soon that will enhance these categories, including the unique qualities of American education, the importance of motivation, seven types of projects, ten ways we will know that STEM is being practiced in schools, changing the organizational structure from courses to learning inquiries, and many more….
For all of these reasons I continue to journal every day. I can always look back to my journal for guidance, to remind me of what is important, and to show me I can overcome all challenges. I have grown as a teacher, a leader, and a person throughout the pages of my journal, and I use them to support my continued growth in the future. If you do not have one already, I encourage any leader to start writing.
I have kept a journal since I was a sophomore in college and it has been one of the most valuable leadership tools I have ever used. At any staff meeting, professional development, or conference, my colleagues will often see me jotting down my thoughts in my Moleskine. I try to write something every day and now, ten years later, I can go back and see how I felt on any given day throughout the year for a decade. Since most of those ten years were spent as a teacher and aspiring educational leader, many of my entries contain observations, reactions and reflections on my experiences in those roles.
In the past ten years of keeping a journal, here are some of the most valuable things I have learned:
1. Understanding the rhythms of the school year - Often, in the month of November, in that challenging time between Halloween and Thanksgiving, I will think that I am experiencing the most difficult year of my career. When I look back at my journal, I see that November is always rough. I also see that after Spring Break, everything goes better, and that the time after Winter Break until Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an all-out sprint to get things done. By looking back at my journal, I have perspective on what I am experiencing. I recognize that there are challenging times and there are good times, but that no bad time or good time lasts forever.
2. Reflections on the best intentions – Many of my journal entries are new ideas that I want to implement in my classes or my school. Afterwards I will write about the success, the failures, and most importantly the unintended consequences of the new ideas. The journal allows me to see how even the best ideas can sometimes go awry. It also shows me how things I once thought were unimportant actually became critical to my success. The journal reminds me to be deliberate about what I want to accomplish and to refine my ideas before implementing anything.
3. Space to think and ask the big questions - Again and again, scattered throughout my journal I find the same sentence, “I am not quite sure what to do with my life.” Following each one of those sentences, I then find an explanation of what I thought about my life and future path at the time. As I read back through all of the entries I find it hard to believe that I have accomplished anything since I have never really sure about my path forward. At the same time, by constantly asking this question and recording the answers, I focus myself on the things that are important to me. I write about my belief that education is my vocation and that I am meant to work in schools. I write about the fact that the students are what give me energy and carry me through the challenges of the day. I write about the desire to help those around me and try to not forget that I am working with people who have good intentions. My path forward grows out of the path I have been on.
This blog will share my experiences this year with all the ways I am observed and evaluated and how I make use of the growth-producing feedback to build my teaching effectiveness. Not sure where it will go, but it will be honest. Friday was my first PPP - Professional Practice Plan - meeting. This meeting with my principal, assistant principal, peer evaluator, master teacher, instructional coach (Oh, gosh - Was there anyone else?) was to review my evaluation from last year, discuss my strengths and weaknesses, set a working goal, and create a plan for reaching it.
Background... Colorado begins using a statewide teacher-effectiveness system this year. 50% of a teacher's effectiveness comes from measurements of student growth, 50% from the teacher's professional practices as measured by the Teacher Rubric. It effectively negates the tenure system. Teachers in my school, because we are part of a Strategic Compensation grant, used the teacher rubric for evaluations last year. I have been teaching for 15 years. Last year was the first time my evaluation was not terrific. It was kind of ugly. I got angry, then I got past being angry, since that helps nothing. It's a new year.
The PPP meeting consisted of questions and discussion aimed at allowing me to talk through what I want to focus on, setting some action steps, and deciding what evaluators will look for in the classroom to notice if I'm reaching the goal. My focus area is in Professional Techniques - a. communicates to students expectations for learning. My specific focus is around the daily learning goal with the expectation that students will be able to tell an observer what the goal is, why it matters, and how what they are doing builds toward the goal. The meeting was very positive, but still rather overwhelming. My final statement about last year's evaluation was, "What if last years evaluation was accurate? Then I will work hard to build the skills to be the best teacher for my students, What if the evaluation was inaccurate? Then I work hard to continue to build skills to be the best teacher for my students. No real difference." I'm ready to be practically perfect - my goal!
It is what teachers do all the time and it is a great way to replace hodgepodge professional development planning with professional developing planning that is effective: begin with a baseline; provide support; and evaluate.
Begin with a baseline: What do teachers need in order to continue to grow professionally and to enhance student achievement? How do these needs relate to the school’s goals? Anwering these questions require two things. One is teacher reflection that determines where the teacher is and what she wishes to improve, or, add to her instructional toolbox. The other is having an honest conversation with the school leadership about how the teacher’s needs are linked to the school’s goals. This information is recorded by both parties as part of the teacher’s professional development plan.
If the school plans to introduce new iniatives, it is a good idea to ask the teacher if and what she knows about these initiatives. Responses will provide further insights to the type of professional development opportunities that would be useful. Also, a good way to ensure that all teachers are interviewed is to list meetings on the school’s internal planning tool.
Evaluation criteria are established during this step and are based on the questions posed earlier. Hence, enhancement of teacher practice, student achievement, and impact on the schoolwide community are factors that are measured. These factors typify Danielson’s framework domain one (planning and preparation), domain three (instruction), and four (professional responsibilities), respectively.
Provide Support: As noted earlier, recorded goals and responses to questions about initiatives are great sources to use to plan appropriate, group and differentiated professional development. In addition to providing internal professional development opportunities, school leadership should also consider allowing teachers to attend external professional development sessions during school hours. However, in keeping with the effort to create an effective professional development plan, these sessions should also be included as part of the school’s internal planning tool to ensure a smooth transition of instructional changes that are needed in the teacher’s absence.
Additionally, teachers are to be encouraged, after a reasonable time has passed, to share what they have learned, what challenges they faced when implementing new learning, how implementation affects their practice and urged to provide a demonstration for their peers. And, they are to be recognized for their efforts and accomplishments.
Evaluate: Now that goals have been set in accordance with teachers’ and the school’s needs and a support base has been established, evaluation can take place. How has the professional development that teachers have engaged in enhanced practice, student achievement and the school community as a whole? The criteria established during goal setting are used to conduct the evaluation that will help to answer this question.
One other area that is often overlooked but that must also be evaluated is the process. How effective has the process been in promoting professional development? This can be determined by using feedback from teachers together with implementation results.
This approach of using a baseline to meet specific needs, providing support by making it possible for teachers to practice and share what they learn and evaluating to determine the value of professional development, is simple but useful for promoting a healthy environment for effecting growth in teaching and learning.
Next week is going to be a tough one at my school. My staff know it, my parents know it, and my returning students know it.
It's going to be tough because coming into the building will be a new cohort, representing about 25% of the school population, who are not happy with school. Don't get me wrong, they are great kids, with wonderful potential. It's just that they are hurting.
They are hurting because, for a myriad of reasons, they have become convinced that they can' t learn; that they are not as capable as their friends; and, that school is a negative place for them. It doesn't have to be that way. I am a big fan of Carol Dweck. My wife Rheanne (who is the most reflective educator that I have ever known) reminded me today that Dweck poses a framework to refocus students on their potential for self-fulfillment. Her thesis on nurturing a "growth mindset" in students is a powerful argument for directed, positive reinforcement of executive functioning skills and work ethic in students. She contrasts a growth mindset with that of a "fixed mindset", a difference which she defines this way:
In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.
Many of my new students have a fixed mindset. They are totally convinced that they can't learn, that they are "dumb" (to use Carol's term) and that school is a place that is filled with frustration and failure. They have suffered under the misapprehension that they are "dumb" because they have done their best and have come up short. They are often articulate, creative and highly interested and motivated students, and when they "fail" it is interpreted by teachers (and even sometimes by their own parents) as being a product of their own lack of persistence, effort and grit. How many report cards have you read that say "Work harder and you will succeed"; or, "Not working up to ability"; or, "Needs to make a greater effort" ? Now I am a big believer in true "grit". They even made a movie about it - twice! But I watch these kids, who have more grit than any I have ever known, beat themselves up because they believe that they just can't do it.
For these students, repeated failure has cemented a fixed mindset in place. Unlike the student who is so highly praised for mediocre work, (a common occurrence given the inflation of marks and the deflation of evaluative language - does anyone get less than a SUPER!!!! written on their work anymore?), these students get firmly convinced that they are incapable of completing what appear the simplest tasks for their peers to do. Their self-esteem plummets, and they become convinced that no matter how much they persevere, they will surely fail.
So where is the balance? Years ago I had the privilege of teaching alongside William Watson Purkey Jr.(Self Concept and School Achievement, 1970) at the University of Connecticut. Bill Purkey (University of North Carolina) and my friend John Novak (Brock University) wrote Inviting School Success in 1984. Their work in invitational education struck the right note between empty praise, and potentially limiting criticism. They saw invitational education as a general framework for thinking and acting about what is believed to be worthwhile in schools. It centred on five basic principles: (1) students are able, valuable, and responsible, and should be treated accordingly; (2) educating should be a collaborative, cooperative activity; (3) the process is the product in the making; (4) people possess untapped potential in all areas of worthwhile human endeavor; and (5) this potential can best be realized by places, policies, programs, and processes specifically designed to invite development, and by people who are intentionally inviting with themselves and others personally and professionally.
Purkey once told me "anything worth doing is worth doing poorly - the first time". The secret is to see learning as a continuum rather than a series of isolated successful or unsuccessfully completed tasks.Learning is a work in progress. It is a developmental process that can easily be derailed as soon as we adults put a value judgement on it (e.g. "good work", A+, C-, etc.). Finite assessments, no matter how well intentioned or justified, stop the learning process and lead to not only fixed mindsets in our students about their ability and potential, but also in our own professional judgements about them as learners.
So the real question is: "Who is the architect of the fixed mindset"? Is is the parent who thinks that her or his struggling child can do nothing right? Is it the student who receives so much discouragement at school that she or he is convinced that every test will be a disaster; every assignment an F-; every speech a clunker; and, every team tryout, an early cut? Or is it us educators who are quick and easy with both our praise and our critical judgements? It is easy to avoid inflating an ego, and encouraging a work ethic; but, it is even easier to crush the spirit of a learner and prejudge their perseverance based upon our vague perception of how well they "should" do. Unfortunately, in the final analysis, all too often it is us, as teachers and administrators, who place these limits on growth.
So what should we do? To begin with, we have to undo the damage that years of failure have caused. We have to create new pathways to achievement; celebrate each small success; open students' eyes to the fact that no-one is perfect and that everyone has her or his own individual path to follow. We are lucky in our school. We have a dedicated faculty and staff who are so numerous that is almost impossible for a student to fall between the cracks. For most students, we are a way station between a frustrating beginning to their school careers, and a much more balanced and satisfying end.
I could speak to you about differentiation and IEPs and one on one tutoring but the reality is exactly as Carol Dweck says. We try to instil in our students a flexible mindset. Our goal is to make them understand that their journey is a personal one and that the route that they follow will be uniquely theirs.
Will every one of our students reach their full potential? Who knows! Our job, as with every great teacher in thousands of schools across this continent, is to open their minds to the possibilities. To have that flexible mindset that says: "if I have the will, and the perseverance, there is definitely a way".
None of our students, nor us, should ever accept that there are limits on growth.
Cross post from the @WashingtonASCD Emerging Leader blog. http://wsascdel.blogspot.com/
L2L News: August 2013
ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-mail newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in a Position on the Board of Directors?
ASCD’s 2013–2014 Nominations Committee will be seeking qualified individuals interested in running for a position on the Board of Directors in 2014. The application process opens on September 1 and closes November 30. Beginning September 1, you can visit www.ascd.org/nominations to access the application form and information about qualifications for office and the time commitment involved (Board members serve a four-year term). If you have any questions, you can contact Governance Director Becky DeRigge at email@example.com.
ASCD Kicks Off August Recess Campaign!
Don’t let your senators go on vacation. Take advantage of Congress’s August recess by asking your senators to become cosponsors of S.1063, the Effective Teaching and Leading Act. This important bill supports induction and mentoring programs and enhances ongoing professional development for teachers and school leaders. The more cosponsors and support the bill has, the more likely it will be added to the Senate’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill when it’s considered on the Senate floor.
The ASCD Public Policy Team has created an easy-to-use checklist of activities to help guide your involvement, social media instructions with tips and sample messages, and a one-page resource with background information and talking points about the bill. Start by sending your senators an automated e-mail that asks them to cosponsor the bill. Then, share these resources with your colleagues, and encourage them to get involved. Questions? E-mail the policy team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vote on proposed changes to the ASCD Constitution: Coming Late Fall
ASCD members will be asked to vote on a set of proposed changes to the ASCD Constitution in the fall of 2013. Please visit www.ascd.org/governance to view the changes. If you have any questions, you can contact Governance Director Becky DeRigge at email@example.com.
U.S. House Passes the Student Success Act
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) rewrite for the first time since the law expired six years ago. The Student Success Act (PDF), which passed on a party-line vote, dramatically reduces the federal role in education, particularly in the areas of school accountability and improvement. The bill also eliminates 71 programs that support individual subjects and disciplines that comprise a well-rounded education. ASCD sent a letter to the House as it prepared to debate the bill, which emphasized the importance of a comprehensive education and the need to base student, educator, and school accountability on multiple measures of performance. ASCD’s Capitol Connection e-newsletter covered the bill’s progress and will keep you updated on the NCLB rewrite process throughout the coming weeks.
Over 200 Leaders Gather for the 2013 Leader to Leader Conference
Last month, ASCD leaders met at the Hyatt Dulles hotel for the 2013 Leader to Leader (L2L) Conference. ASCD staff would like to thank attendees for a great conference and for their dedication and renewed commitment. Attendees have already provided extremely helpful feedback in the conference evaluation that will help inform future improvements to the conference. A follow-up activity to the Idea Marketplace will be coming soon!
Resources – We used several resources during L2L that we invite you to check out.
Connecting – Check out some of the action from L2L!
Reflections from L2L:
ASCD Emerging Leaders Sound Off on ASCD EDge and How to Learn
Check out these great posts from ASCD Emerging Leaders Kevin Goddard and Dawn Chan. Feel free to comment and share!
Please Welcome New Affiliate Executive Directors
Please join ASCD in welcoming the following individuals as they begin their new roles as ASCD affiliate executive directors:
Thank You to Outgoing Affiliate Executive Directors
Several affiliate executive directors have recently transitioned out of their leadership roles. ASCD would like to take a moment to thank these leaders for their years of work and dedication in the affiliate executive director role, striving to ensure that each child in each community is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. You will be missed!
Cindy Marchand, Massachusetts ASCD
Deborah Baker, Maine ASCD
Pat McNeil, Michigan ASCD
Pete Ziegler, Minnesota ASCD
Thanks and Farewell to Plymouth State University ASCD Student Chapter Advisors
ASCD and New Hampshire ASCD Executive Director Sue Copley wish to thank Marianne True and Gerard Buteau for their leadership as faculty advisors for the Plymouth State University ASCD Student Chapter. Together, True and Buteau have energized and mentored pre-service teachers to initiate a wide variety of educational and service-oriented projects. True and Buteau have helped raise funds that allowed many Plymouth State University chapter members to attend the ASCD Annual Conference. Marianne True also initiated the Student Chapter Service Project that precedes the start of the ASCD Annual Conference and draws student chapters members from across the country and Canada. Thank you both for your years of service!
Policy Priorities Focuses on Principal Growth
ASCD’s newest issue of Policy Priorities chronicles the importance of principal evaluation and growth. Recognizing that principals fill a wider variety of roles than ever before, states and districts are increasingly turning their attention towards quality and fair principal evaluation; as of 2009, 33 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation requiring the adoption of new evaluation systems for principals. The issue highlights the importance of continuous principal training for their growing role as evaluators and the burgeoning trend of including student performance and growth as a component of principal evaluations.
Learning from L2L
At the recent ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) conference, attendees had a series of passionate unconference conversations. Several groups refined their thoughts into a series of presentations to share with other attendees in an “idea marketplace.” During the idea marketplace, unconference groups presented for four rounds of 10-minute sessions, giving their peers the opportunity to learn from several groups in one session. Groups are invited to share their experiences and thoughts with the wider ASCD audience on the Whole Child Blog. The following are a few of the most recent entries:
Check back for more entries from other participants. Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #ASCDL2L.
Something to Talk About
“A precondition for doing anything to strengthen our practice and improve a school is the existence of a collegial culture in which professionals talk about practice, share their craft knowledge, and observe and root for the success of one another." - Roland Barth
Schools across the United States have faculty meetings, weekly grade level meetings, and attend required professional development. What makes a great team? Aside from the required meetings, high performing teacher teams possess three common characteristics. How does your team measure up?
Successful teams establish goals and when the team begins to succeed or fail, members return to their established goals. A high performance team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are equally committed to a common purpose, goals, and working approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. Members of the team are deeply committed to one another’s personal growth and success (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993).
Wiggins and McTighe (2005), wrote, “In the absence of a learning plan with clear goals, how likely is it that students will develop shared understandings on which future lessons might build” (p. 21)? If teachers claim to operate as a professional learning team, but they lack clearly defined learning outcomes, then students will experience a disjointed curriculum. If goal-setting is important in athletics and on business teams, then professional learning teams must reflect on how the absence of essential learning outcomes can interfere with the team’s common purpose.
According to Lencioni (2007), a lack of trust "occurs when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another and are unwilling to admit their mistakes, weaknesses, or needs for help. Without a certain comfort level among team members, a foundation of trust is impossible."
A PLC that operates with trust will ask:
Which students seem to struggle with the key concepts and skills identified by the team?
Which skills or concepts do I struggle to teach?
If our students do not do well on the state writing test, then what strategies should we incorporate at our grade level? At the grade levels prior to our grade?
Some students are struggling with note taking and organization skills. What can teachers do to support students who are struggling in school, due to a lack of study skills?
Our students are struggling with Algebra I. Are there areas of the curriculum map that could be revised to support teaching and learning?
Solution Tree created an interactive survey for teams called the Trust Survey.
See if this survey helps your team rise to new heights in 2013-2014!
Teacher teams enjoy collaborating and sharing ideas. Risk taking is rarely seen in most team meetings. Often, teams follow an agenda, share ideas, give each other a high five and type the meeting minutes. Discussing grading practices involves risk taking. Developing a rubric for a student project involves risk taking. Another form of risk taking is challenging the process. In the famous leadership book, The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner wrote,
They look for innovative ways to improve the organization. In doing so, they experiment and take risks. And because leaders know that risk taking involves mistakes and failures, they accept the inevitable disappointments as learning opportunities.
If teachers are going to transform teaching and learning, then they must be comfortable with risk taking. Implementing a new unit and trying technology integration involves risks for most teachers. What if it fails? This is the beauty of a team. If the unit or lesson fails, then you have a team that can offer support, share how the same activity went in another classroom, or support you in tweaking the lesson. As education continues to change and the world requires a different type of high school graduate, educators must take risks. What would Joe Montana do in the closing seconds of the game? What would Michael Phelps do on the final lap? How would Keri Strug respond on her final vault at the 1996 Olympics? Winning teams and winning athletes take risks. Don't play it safe. Students are depending on you to think outside the box and to prepare them for the next level.
There are other characteristics of high performing teams such as team norms, highly qualified professional teachers, a desire to learn, and more. As you begin the 2013-2014 school year, reflect on your team's strengths and weaknesses. You may be part of a new team. Perhaps your strongest teacher leader retired at the end of last year. Teacher teams provide leadership, ideas, and a strong foundation for students. In the absence of a strong foundation, students may not graduate college and career ready. That would be a shame.
ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-mail newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Invitation from ASCD President Becky Berg
ASCD’s 2013–14 Nominations Committee will soon be seeking qualified individuals interested in running for positions on the Board of Directors. Please consider applying for elected office or encouraging others to do so. The application process opens on September 1 and closes November 30. Watch for more information on how to access the application form and find information on the qualifications for candidacy and the time commitment involved (Board members serve a four-year term). If you have any questions, you can contact ASCD Governance Director Becky DeRigge at email@example.com.
Multiple Measure Assessments Gain Momentum
Educators at the state and local levels recognize the benefits of implementing multiple measure assessments and the limitations of standardized tests in capturing the nuances of student or staff abilities. ASCD’s June issue of Policy Points highlights the multiple ways in which federal and state accountability systems can and should evaluate students, teachers, and schools. Read the issue to see examples of the types of measures that policymakers should consider for more comprehensive accountability and evaluation systems.
Contexts and Constraints in School Health
Join ASCD and the International School Health Network (ISHN) for a Global School Health Symposium on August 23–25, 2013 prior to the 21st IUHPE Health Promotion Conference. The symposium targets discussion and presentations around aligning the health and education sectors as well as supporting youth in both developed and underdeveloped regions. ASCD’s own Executive Director Dr. Gene Carter will speak at the event, as will Director of Whole Child Programs Sean Slade and Director of Public Policy David Griffith.
Other speakers and panelists include:
· Dr. Benjalug Namfa (Deputy Permanent Secretary, Office of the Basic Education Commission, Ministry of Education, Thailand)
· Professor Albert Lee (Chinese University of Hong Kong)
· Dr. Shu-Ti Chiou (Director-General, Bureau of Health Promotion, Department of Health, Taiwan)
· Associate Professor Louise Rowling (University of Sydney, Australia)
· Dr. Peter Paulus (University of Leuphana, Germany)
· Professor Didier Jourdain (Blaise Pascal University, France)
· Goof Buijs (Senior Consultant NIGZ and manager of Schools for Health in Europe)
· Bill Potts-Datema (Acting Senior Advisor at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA)
Throughout Summer at wholechildeducation.org: Reflection and Planning
Summer for educators is often a time to look back on the past year—and look forward to the coming one. What worked, what didn’t, and what will you change? Educating the whole child and planning for comprehensive, sustainable school improvement requires us to be “whole educators” who take the time to recharge, reflect, and reinvigorate. Where should we put our effort? What aspects of a whole child approach to education are most critical to us right now?
Download the Whole Child Podcast for a discussion on educators’ need to reflect on the past school year, refresh their passion for teaching, recharge their batteries, and look ahead to next year. Host Kevin Scott, a former history teacher and current director of constituent services at ASCD, is joined by educators, ASCD emerging leader alumni, and ASCD affiliate leaders Peter Badalament from Massachusetts and Jason Flom from Florida.
Whole Child Network School Featured in Minnesota Publication
Excerpt:It's hard to break out of a norm.
For a long time there was a mentality in K–12 schools that teachers were islands who led a group of kids on their own for a school year and then sent them onto the next grade. Le Sueur-Henderson Middle/High School Principal Kevin Enerson said most school districts are learning that teaching a student takes a village. And that collaborative mentality is just one change in process at his school as it progresses through a three-year initiative called Whole Child.
“There's been a lot of growth this year with myself and the Whole Child team,” Enerson said.
The school is wrapping up its first year participating in the prestigious Whole Child Network, an initiative of ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development). The school is one of 10 from the U.S. and Guam chosen to participate in the initiative, which aims to change the focus of education from only academic achievement to child development, health, safety and engagement. Read the full article.
Principals and Professional Development
Since 2009, 33 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation requiring school districts to implement new principal evaluation systems, and many of these systems include student achievement data as a significant component of the evaluations. The most recent issue of ASCD’s Policy Priorities details the ever-evolving role of principals and the push for evaluations and professional development that will help to ensure that principals are strong leaders who promote school-wide success. Read the issue for examples of how states and cities are basing principal evaluations on multiple measures and learn how some states and districts are improving principal preparation and professional development to incorporate more real-world experiences and ongoing support.
Your Summer PD: ASCD Whole Child Virtual Conference Archives
How can schools implement and sustain a whole child approach to education? The 2013 ASCD Whole Child Virtual Conference, entitled “Moving from Implementation to Sustainability to Culture,” was held in early May 2013 and, through archived presentations, offers educators around the globe strategies and learning to support your work. In these presentations, you will
No matter where your school falls on the whole child continuum, be it the early implementation stage or beyond, the Whole Child Virtual Conference provides a forum and tools for school sites and districts that are working toward sustainability and changing school cultures to serve the whole child.
Something to Talk About
· Who Says Book Clubs Are Just for Moms? By ASCD Constituent Services Director Kevin Scott
· ASCD Offers Free Common Core Webinars This Summer— ASCD is offering two new webinars on the Common Core State Standards this summer at no cost. The webinars, each presented by a different education expert, cover a range of topics related to Common Core planning, access, and implementation. Read the full press release.
· ASCD Publishing Launches New Short-Format Books/E-books Imprint—ASCD Arias—ASCD, the publisher of more than 40 education books a year, is launching a short-format imprint with the debut of its first four ASCD Arias™ professional development publications. Read the full press release.
· ASCD Announces Upcoming Conference on Educational Leadership—ASCD is hosting the association’s Conference on Educational Leadership on November 1–3, 2013, in Las Vegas, Nev. The conference promises to guide educators of all levels to add new ideas to their leadership knowledge base, focus on what matters most in leadership, and connect them with global education leaders. Read the full press release.
· ASCD Debuts New Educational Leadership App and Releases Free Digital Issue on Summer Planning—ASCD, the global leader in providing programs, products, and services that empower educators to support the success of each learner, has launched a new app that delivers Educational Leadership (EL) magazine content to iPad®, iPhone®, Kindle Fire®, and Android tablets and smartphones. Read the full press release.
· ASCD Appoints Gregory Smith as Chief Technology Officer—ASCD has appointed Gregory Smith as the association’s new chief technology officer (CTO). In his new role, Smith will lead and direct the association’s technological planning and development. Smith will be ASCD’s first-ever CTO, a position created by the ASCD leadership team to enable the association to expand innovation opportunities with current and emerging technology. Read the full press release.
· Five Free ASCD Resources to Transform Summer Learning for Educators—ASCD is pleased to offer educators of all levels a selection of high-impact, in-depth professional development resources at no cost. Read the full press release.
As the school year comes to an end at New Milford High School, I can’t help but begin to think about sustaining the many changes that have taken place over the past few years as well as identifying other areas where change is needed. My school is a shell of what it once was when one looks at how far we have come in terms of effectively integrating technology, re-envisioning learning spaces, and providing a foundation for a more relevant and meaningful learning experience for all of our students.
Below is just a quick list of some of the many changes that have been successfully initiated and sustained over the past three years:
Together we have the power to improve all of our schools and mold them in ways to maximize the potential of our students, teachers, and administrators. It is time to realize that social media, technology, and the change process are not the enemy. Once you get past this, you will quickly discover your own niche as a change agent and it is here that you can receive support and guidance to make any initiative successful. When moving to initiate sustainable change that will cultivate innovation acquire necessary resources, provide support (training, feedback, advice), empower educators through a certain level of autonomy, communicate effectively, and implement a shared decision-making practice.
In collaboration with my staff and the support of District leadership, my efforts have laid the foundation for an innovative teaching and learning culture that focuses on preparing all students for success. We have learned to give up control, view failure as not always a bad thing as long as we learn from our mistakes, to be flexible, provide adequate support, and take calculated risks if we are to truly innovate. To this end, teachers and students are now routinely utilizing social media and other various Web 2.0 tools on a routine basis to enhance and promote essential skill sets such as communication, collaboration, media literacy, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, global awareness, and technological proficiency. It is not uncommon now for classes to be Skyping with students in other countries, using Twitter as a learning tool, constructing QR codes for artwork, blogging, or creating multimedia projects using a variety of interactive web tools that are blocked in many schools across the country.
One of our most successful initiatives has been the establishment of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program mentioned briefly above where we are harnessing the power of student-owned devices to increase engagement. Instead of viewing student-owned technology as a hindrance, it is now wholeheartedly embraced as a mobile learning tool. Teachers have the students text in their answers on their cell phones using web programs such as Poll Everywhere, conduct research on the Internet, take notes using Evernote, or organize their assignments. Students can also opt to bring their personal computing devices (laptops, tablets, iPod Touches) to use in school and class.
What might separate us from other schools where change has not taken hold is that we, as a school community, have decided to forge ahead no matter what mandates are thrown at us at the state and federal levels. We needed to take a hard look at, and seize upon numerous areas of opportunity, to create a better school for our students that focused on the whole child using their interests and passions as catalysts for learning. The change process never sleeps. During the summer months my administrative team and I will continue to work with all stakeholders to forge ahead by doing what we have done for the last three years and looking for solutions to problems instead of excuses. This might be the single most important element of a successful change initiative. That and being digitally resilient.
What do you plan to change this next year and why?
In a video posted on June 4, 2013, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest discussed the Common Core State Standards. It is apparent that he is both not a fan and that he has not fully investigated everything about them and the implications they may have on teachers, students, and the entire educational system in his short tenure. This is in response to my colleagueSteven Weber’s post about an Educator’s Perspective on the Common Core, specifically in relation to his state’s actions.
We need less extremism and polarizing missives and more opportunities for collegial dialogue and specific plans of action that are based on collaboration and agreed upon goals around whatever it is we decide to do as a country. These standards are a foundation, not the aspiration of all students. What we grow from them is the art of teaching. Having standards and maintaining them is the science of teaching. The Common Core does not dictate curriculum anymore than your blood pressure number dictates a course of appropriate action. They are a standard, a level of quality, a point of reference to a mean. What we do to attain them and what we do to grow beyond them are more essential questions than how do we get rid of them. Getting rid of them means going back to previous standards that will have the same arguments, for or against, as to why they are good or bad.
What follows is a breakdown of my analysis of his comments. I very much think the Common Core Standards are a good idea. For the first time in the history of our country, students in Wyoming and Nebraska and California and New York and North Carolina are being held to the same standards. Assessment data in our country will be less skewed than it is in other countries (who have national standards) and we are thinking specifically about what it is that prepares students for going to college or moving into a career after high school.
The rigor of the new standards is greater, yes. Much of the conversations I have about them push teachers and administrators out of years old comfort zones. I believe this is a good thing. I believe that most teachers want to improve their professional practice and this is a step in that direction.
Beyond the standards, specifically with new teacher evaluations tied to them and canned curricula being created around them, I believe that there are wrong things being done in the name of progress. The standards themselves, in my humble opinion, are not evil. The hurricane of “progress” around them is what people should be paying attention to and questioning and determining the usefulness and economic viability of.
What follows is not meant to be personal. We, as educators, have an obligation to both invite and engage in public discourse about what we believe is best for our kids. I have a kid in public school already and another one joining the ranks shortly. I want this to work. I want my kids prepared well for the world they will graduate into. I want to have no regrets on graduation night (if graduation the way we know it stays in place, in the traditional sense) that I did everything I could do as a parent and an educator.
That said, what follows is a discussion of the comments and assertions made by Dan Forest:
Dan begins his video by blaming the previous administration.
Besides being in poor taste, it is juvenile and reflects negatively on his professionalism as a state leader.
It’s not about what happened before he came into the office, it’s about what he will do to improve things now that he is in office. That improvement should build from where things are now, rather than wasting more money, time, and resources on dismantling everything up to this point and starting over.
The previous administration did what they thought was best; as he is expected to do while he is in office. He may disagree and he may act differently, but laying blame paints a portrait of him as a savior from years of oppression. While I know that some will buy this shtick, my hope is that most will see through this and evaluate his statements and his actions with a critical eye, and not be persuaded by his claims without further investigation.
He is concerned by new standards.
This is a strange statement. In all states, standards evolve and upgrade every few years.
Because they have national media attention, this version of the evolution and upgrade is problematic? This seems more like a fraternity of rejection to join rather than a real concern about what our kids need to know and be able to do.
He is concerned about local control and parental involvement with standards.
If the common core wasn’t there, how much local control existed (with End of Grade high stakes testing?) and how much parent involvement was there?
Parent involvement is a huge missing component of the Common Core. Teachers are expected to do the best with what they’ve got, but what they’ve got is oftentimes dependent on the environment from which their students come, rather than a function of how the educational experience truly impacts their learning. Until this is addressed, the entire teacher evaluation system is flawed.
I agree that upcoming new assessments are in part narrowing the curriculum and making testing a cash cow. These are functions of vendors interpreting the Common Core versus the standards themselves and states agreeing to give them exclusive contracts to spend their Race to the Top money.
Local control is a good thing when it works. I believe that districts have distinct understandings of their populations and the systems within which they function, but if they use that as a scapegoat or excuse to explain performances that should be better, it’s a problem.
Mr. Forest says, “Standardization runs counter to the customization of the world we live in.”
Except when you check your blood pressure or cholesterol?
The world we live in (technology wise) is increasingly based on Google and Facebook analytics that customize our web experiences by finding commonalities in the way we search for information and interact in the real world based on our “customized” searches. Ultimately, these companies, including Google, are looking for ways to streamline experiences and de-individualize user experiences for the sake of what’s easiest and most economical for the masses. That’s why Facebook tells us what all of our friends are doing. Our commonalities are more important than our individuality.
He said that technology and the learning experience can be customized to the needs of the individual.
See number 4.
Technology should be the new paper or pencil rather than something we plan for or customize. Sure, we can customize learning experiences, but at what expense? All of these customizations cost money and public institutions have an obligation to the masses and the money is divided among the total population of students.
That customization is great in theory, but economically, won’t work for most students.
This is said knowing full well what my own expectations are for technology immersion and the sometimes utopian ways I speak about it. However, what I may say in theory is always tempered with the reality of what schools are dealing with financially and what their infrastructures and technology capabilities are.
Also of note is the publication of the 2013 Horizon report, part of which focuses on Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). College and Career readiness is not only about independence with content knowledge but also valuing evidence, strategic and capable use of digital media and the Internet and strong communication and collaboration skills. These MOOCs are going to transform education in the very new future and change our notions of how we “do” education, the places, the time constructs, the demonstration of learning. We still need a framework of anchor standards, checkpoints from which to grow and sophisticate from one year to the next regardless of how school and learning is accessed.
He says that Common Core has not been field-tested.
Have previous iterations of evolved standards been field-tested?
The assessments that follow new iterations of standards usually re-inform instructional practice AFTER new standards have been put into place and are ultimately assessed a year or more after implementation.
He asserts that Testing standards have not been rolled out.
The General Item Specifications for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium were rolled out last April.
PARCC content frameworks have been available for 2 years. Additionally, many states have assessment guidelines that direct what any vendor, including Pearson, must consider for building new assessments. I found resources for assessment development in North Carolina on their website. And this one here for NC’s Next Generation Assessments. The process for developing new assessments are not going to be that much different—just set to new standards.
Sample assessment questions are also available from the PARCC website and multiple states have given access to sample questions on their state education websites: New York | Delaware | Other States
I am troubled with his questioning of the Common Core Standards themselves, rather than all of the hoopla around them.
Standardization is not bad: blood pressure, cholestorel, etc. He even uses a medical metaphor about launching a new drug without FDA approval—essentially, isn’t that what states do when they evolve standards and change curriculum or try new strategies that may or may not be researched based?
It’s not just Common Core, it’s every time the standards change. If you go back to previous state standards, aren’t you just going back to a previous version of what was “not vetted” and “not piloted?” (And without articulation of what was college and career ready?)
It takes time to implement anything new, navigating nuances, deciding what to cut or keep or create. What will be the cost in time, resources, money, and culture if the Common Core is ditched and we go back to what we used to do?
I think the more unconscionable acts are how the standards are the scapegoats for making decisions about what vendors deem to be “Common Core Aligned.” This could be curriculum materials, assessments, test prep materials—all things I think teachers are capable of creating well if given enough time.
The statement on Data Collection and what data will be collected and who the data will be shared with seems alarmist.
With all of the media attention from Opt Out organizations about the inBloom data product and the Data Driven frenzy that goes with the Common Core as a deliverable element, there is the need, for reporting and for teacher evaluations, to collect massive amounts of data on student performance. This is a function of the Race to the Top grant and states buy into this level of reporting. The amount of test data and the associated personal data is relative to individual states who are participating in Race to the Top but the data is not that much different, if at all different, than data that has been collected for the last two decades. Because of the backlash against associated elements with the Common Core, administrative leaders and those that are trying to undo the new system would have you believe that this data is a function of the times, when the truth is more along the lines “of same data, potentially new containment system.”
If that containment system is hosted on an internet based server, as it is with inBloom’s product (Amazon server) then there is the potential for the data being compromised or accessed by hackers and while there are multiple “what if” scenarios around the potential for compromised data and what could be done with it, I think the reality is that these are potential yet unlikely scenarios, as they are with our bank and credit card data. Breaches happen rarely and when they do, there is a quick scramble to re-secure the data as quickly as possible.
Mr. Forest says, “A third of the states in our country have either rejected Common Core or are seeking legislative action to back out of it.”
What evidence does he have for this statement? That’s a pretty strong claim to make without backing up with details.
While there is an occasional news tidbit about states that are considering giving the Race to the Top money back, a full third of the states participating in a collective mutiny seems like it would be more prominently discussed on the evening news.
Mr. Forest says, “I’ll be looking at the Common Core with a Critical Eye.”
What’s his background? What’s his level of expertise at looking at the standards and evaluating whether or not they are good for students? What’s so great about previous North Carolina standards, or any states’ standards that make them better, worse, or even with Common Core?
There has been a lot of good work done within the new standards framework. Teaching and learning have been upgraded to more rigorous levels that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Do we really want to go back to the way things were? Worksheets? Lectures? Resource/Textbook dependence? Computer lab Thursdays? (I hear that Oregon Trail software is pretty cool.)
It’s a little disconcerting to see political figureheads undo the Vision and Culture of education in a state where the teachers are under such intense pressure.
Would it not have been better to “look before he leaped” into a response until after he’d investigated?
Keeping people in turmoil seems more like a political strategy than an effective way to lead the state’s educational expectations. I hope that his constituents pay attention to what he is preparing to “undo” in order to “redo” around his own opinion.
A team/collaborative effort here is necessary. I don’t mean state level teams, I mean all stakeholders: state education, administrators, teachers, parents, and students.
I worked in North Carolina for years before moving to New York. What I’m saying here is representative of the fact that I have worked in multiple states around the Common Core standards and obviously, I'm a bigger fan of them than Mr. Forest. I’ve seen the positive changes that they’ve made in classrooms for both teachers and students.
When I think back to my time in North Carolina, there was always an emphasis on the End of Grade State tests. Teachers, at that time, and including me, had better ideas around what they’d always done and what curricular materials they used from year to year than the actual standards. It took me a while to un-marry myself from the materials and have a deep understanding of what the standards demanded my students know and are able to do. The Common Core, if nothing else, is helping teachers have intimate knowledge of the standards. North Carolina was one of the first states to break the standards down into actionable learning targets for the sake of helping teachers teach their students well.
I think the critical eye should focus less on the standards themselves and more on:
Ceasing expenditure of more money on curriculum materials until we have another year or two for publishers to have a better idea of what Common Core alignment means, particularly in terms of new assessments.
Time for teachers to work with the standards and plan for deeper instruction and assessment.
Building up infrastructures for Wi Fi and digital devices as always-available options for learning.
Looking at how we “do” school and thinking of divergent and creative ways to help students access and interact around their learning expectations both physically and virtually.
Ditching the mindset that what we’ve always done is still good enough. Growth comes from upgrading and reimagining what we know to be good, not sticking with the status quo. We’re preparing kids for 2025, and our schools should reflect that goal.
How do we do what must be done today to prepare kids for tomorrow? That’s our essential question. We’ve got a long way to go, for sure, and if not these Common Core standards, then what? How are we going to prepare our kids for the world they will graduate into, whether to go to college or to start their careers? How will we explain to our students tomorrow what our collective decisions are today? Now that we know better, we should do better.
What can teachers do to support student achievement? How can teachers and administrators monitor the written and taught curriculum to ensure alignment? When I read about school districts and educators who are unhappy with the Common Core State Standards, I scratch my head. Standards are not a curriculum (Janet Hale, Curriculum Mapping 101). There are several things that teachers control. Curriculum and instruction involve decisions made by teacher teams. When the teacher closes the classroom door there are hundreds of curriculum decisions made, according to the readiness level of each student. The following curriculum types are important for teachers to understand as they reflect on curriculum, instruction and assessment.
The intended curriculum consists of the written curriculum or plans that have been predetermined prior to the class.
The enriched curriculum is when teachers enhance the curriculum or develop opportunities for acceleration for students who have mastered the written curriculum. Enriched curriculum involves providing multiple opportunities for students to engage in key concepts and skills at their readiness level.
Some teachers offer the enriched curriculum to the students who are prepared for acceleration and the watered-down curriculum to the students who have demonstrated low growth or who do not understand the key concepts and skills identified in the unit.
Many teachers and administrators fail to monitor the received curriculum. The received curriculum is what an individual student receives. If one student receives the enriched curriculum and another student receives the watered-down curriculum, then each student's chance for success will be drastically different. This is known as Opportunity to Learn.
All students should receive a guaranteed and viable curriculum (Marzano). If the received curriculum varies from one class to the next, then it will be difficult for teachers at the next grade level to build on prior knowledge and understandings. One of the goals of teaching is to ensure close alignment between the intended, taught, assessed, and received curricula. Opponents say the standards take away local control of education. I would argue that curriculum development is a local issue. When districts provide teachers with time to align the currriculum with the standards, student achievement will follow. Share your thoughts on ASCD EDge by replying to this article.
Questions to Consider:
1. Does your school have a guaranteed and viable curriculum?
2. How is the intended curriculum different from the received curriculum?
3. Do teachers implement the written curriculum/intended curriculum or do teachers create curriculum in isolation?
4. Ask yourself - Would I want my son or daughter to experience the watered-down curriculum and miss out on parts of the district's intended curriculum?
What the best and wisest parent wants for his or her own child, that must the community want, for all of its children.
As cited by Gene Carter, Executive Director ASCD
ASCD Education Update - December 2006, p. 2
5. What mechanism does your school have in place to monitor the received curriculum?
One of the tasks of curriculum leadership is to use the right methods to bring the written, the taught, the supported, and the tested curriculums into closer alignment, so that the learned curriculum is maximized.
Allan Glatthorn, Curriculum Renewal (1987), p. 4
It’s Finally Here!
I’m pleased to announce the Virtual Summer Camp for 2013, the 5th Anniversary of the original!
This year’s Virtual Summer Camp was created with Weebly, a web tool that lets the user create their own website from a variety of templates. In the past, I’ve used different web tools that included Blogger, LiveBinders, Scoop.it, and Learni.st, always looking for different ways to visualize the camp.
Access to all previous camps is included here as well as an array of brand new offerings. The offerings this year are broken into three areas: New Web 2.0 Apps, new Mobile Apps, and a Campfire section that is specific to professional development and global connectivity.
All of the Web 2.0 Apps and Mobile Apps are geared toward Multi-Mediating your professional practice, enhancing singular media content and looking for opportunities to invite multiple versions of content into the learning process.
I purposefully limited the offerings this year for two reasons...24 opportunities are still a lot to investigate AND you have access to previous years Summer Camps that open up multiple opportunities for further resources if you choose to explore them.
I encourage you to not only investigate the offerings in the Virtual Summer Camp but also to investigate Weebly as a Web 2.0 tool. It’s easy to create a website and the drag and drop interface is so easy to use. While it took me awhile to find the individual resources for the camp; it took a minimal amount of time to actually create the Weebly page to house them. This alone could be awesome for students as a demonstration of their learning, allowing them to show and share what they know in a free platform.
I wish you the best of summers! Teachers are amazing, especially in the wake of all the media attention around evaluations and value added measures. I know that you do what you do because you love kids and you value the system of instruction and preparation to move kids to a desired destination. You are rock stars and I am humbled by your efforts, regardless of the bureaucracy and political issues. You do what’s best for kids and I wholeheartedly support that! I hope that you find some useful resources in what I’ve put together for this year’s summer camp.
I look forward to conversing with you and enhancing the offerings as the summer heats up. Keep up the good work and know that you are valued, awesome, and integral to the growth of our country and citizens! You are amazing, and I’m so honored to share this Virtual Summer Camp with you!
Have a great Summer 2013!
Note: The new site is optimized for Mobile Devices too, so you can camp on the go!
Upgrade Your Curriculum now available in the ASCD store
ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-mail newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your To-Do List: Action Items for ASCD Leaders
Newest Policy Points Revisits A Nation at Risk
ASCD’s newest Policy Points (PDF) takes a closer look at A Nation at Risk, the 1983 report on the state of U.S. education that launched a spirited and ongoing debate about the quality of our public schools. This issue of Policy Points examines the specific recommendations of the report, the accuracy of its dire prediction about “a rising tide of mediocrity” undermining the nation’s well-being, and the evolving school reform debate the report kick-started three decades ago.
Throughout May on www.wholechildeducation.org: The New Poverty
In today’s global economic state, many families and children face reduced circumstances. These “poor kids” don’t fit the traditional stereotypes—two-thirds live in families in which at least one adult works and the percentage of poor students in many rural districts equals that in inner-city districts. In the United States, the economic downturn has dramatically changed the landscape, and districts that were previously vibrant are now dealing with unemployment, underemployment, and more transient families.
Join us as we share what new—and old—solutions we are using to support learning and ensure that each child, whatever her circumstances, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Download the Whole Child Podcast for a discussion on the current economic downturn; its result that many families and children face reduced circumstances; and implications for schools, many of which have seen drastic changes in the populations they serve and their communities. Guests include Deborah Wortham, superintendent of the School District of the City of York, Pa., and former assistant superintendent for high schools and director of professional development for Baltimore City (Md.) Public Schools; Felicia DeHaney, president and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute; William Parrett, director of the Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies and professor of education at Boise State University; and Kathleen Budge, coordinator of the Leadership Development Program and associate professor in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies Department at Boise State University. Parrett and Budge are also coauthors of the 2012 ASCD book Turning High-Poverty Schools into High-Performing Schools.
ASCD Leader Voices
Arkansas Governor Signs Whole Child Legislation
Arkansas Governor Michael Beebe signed a new bill into law that promotes a whole child approach to educating the state’s children. The legislation (PDF) establishes a Whole Child Whole Community recognition program and aims to measure the comprehensive well-being of children and how well stakeholders are meeting their needs according to the five whole child tenets and their indicators as identified by ASCD.
The recognition program will acknowledge and highlight the work of Arkansas educators, parents, community members, and policymakers who support the whole child. The legislation also indicates that one purpose of the recognition program is to help spur systemic collaboration and coordination within and beyond schoolhouse doors and to promote a shift from narrowly defined student achievement and traditional education reform to broader, more comprehensive efforts that recognize the crucial out-of-school factors that influence teaching and learning. A diverse state working group will work over the course of a year to recommend a framework and process for recognizing exemplary whole child and whole community successes.
Congratulations to Arkansas ASCD, which played a crucial role in supporting the bill’s development and introduction!
Rhode Island Passes Whole Child Resolution
The Rhode Island General Assembly passed a joint resolution (PDF) supporting a whole child approach to education that ensures each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
The resolution affirms that to educate Rhode Island’s children effectively, the state must pay attention to factors within and beyond its school buildings as well as integrate efforts among schools, families, and communities. In addition, the resolution expresses the assembly’s intent to model whole child concepts in its own work and to join with other stakeholders who support the whole child.
Congratulations to Rhode Island ASCD(RIASCD), which worked hard to have this joint resolution introduced into the Rhode Island legislature!
To help the state fulfill its commitment to whole child education, ASCD and RIASCD offered some initial steps (PDF)—organized by the five whole child tenets—for educators, parents and community members, and policymakers to take. RIASCD also highlighted some of ASCD’s free resources to help the state put its whole child vision into action.
South Carolina ASCD Featured in ASCD Inservice Blog Series
Weasked some of our affiliate leaders to tell us how the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has been going in their home states.In the seventh post of the series, South Carolina ASCD leader Josh Patterson writes about the challenges and successes that South Carolina has had with CCSS implementation.
The Effective Principal
What we see through our research, reading, and conversations with principals and school staff is that to see what an effective principal is, don’t look at the person; look at the effects of her leadership on student achievement, school culture and climate, teacher effectiveness and satisfaction, and community relationships. As the wearers of many hats, principals are crucial to implementing meaningful and lasting school change. Read more on the Whole Child Blog.
In April, we looked at what qualities principals in today’s (and tomorrow’s) schools need to fulfill their roles as visionary, instructional, influential, and learning leaders. Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Donna Snyder, manager of Whole Child Programs at ASCD; Kevin Enerson, principal of Le Sueur-Henderson High School in Minnesota (an ASCD Whole Child Network school); and Jessica Bohn, an ASCD Emerging Leader and principal of Gibsonville Elementary School in North Carolina.
Also this month on the Whole Child Podcast, we talked with educators from Oregon’s Milwaukie High School (winner of the 2013 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award) about how they meet student and staff needs, taking challenges and turning them into opportunities for all. Guests include principal Mark Pinder, assistant principal for curriculum Michael Ralls, assistant principal for student management Tim Taylor, dean of students Donnie Siel, and teacher leader David Adams.
Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read the latest newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Something to Talk About
Killeen Independent School District Deepens Professional Development Partnership with ASCD—Killeen Independent School District (ISD)—whose more than 6,100 staff members serve approximately 42,000 students—is deepening its relationship with ASCD to meet its professional development goals. Read the full press release.
ASCD Publishes Leadership Guide on Transforming Any Teacher into a Master—ASCD is pleased to announce the release of Never Underestimate Your Teachers: Instructional Leadership for Excellence in Every Classroom by best-selling education author, renowned educator, and professional development expert Robyn R. Jackson.
Never Underestimate Your Teachers offers school leaders a new model for understanding great teaching as a combination of skill and will, and it's the first book of its kind to support leaders as they facilitate teacher growth in both areas through differentiated leadership. Jackson shows readers how to design and deliver targeted professional development to help each teacher realize his or her potential and achieve great results for the benefit of every student. Read the full press release.
New ASCD Common Core Academy Supports School Leadership Teams Across the United States—ASCD is bringing its inaugural ASCD Common Core Leadership Team Academy to Chicago August 5–8, 2013. This intensive four-day professional leadership experience offers groups of administrators, teacher leaders, and nonprofit and higher education partners an accelerated plan for putting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) into routine practice. Read the full press release.
ASCD Summer Reading List Identifies 10 Books That Can Transform Teaching and Learning—In the spirit of promoting year-round professional development, ASCD has assembled a diverse list of books essential to educators who seek to improve their practice over the summer months. These books—organized by how they help educators transform teaching and learning—offer readers the opportunity to dive deep into the hottest topics in education, including using data to focus improvement, project-based learning, child development, and neurodiversity. All books are currently available in paperback and e-book formats. Read the full press release.
Arkansas Governor Beebe Signs Education Reform Law Supporting the Whole Child—Arkansas Governor Michael Beebe has signed a new bill into law that promotes a well-rounded whole child approach to educating the state’s children.“An Act to Establish the Whole Child– Whole Community Recognition Program; and for Other Purposes” (Senate Bill 1051[PDF]) outlines a plan for the Arkansas education system that ensures Arkansas students receive a whole child education. Read the full press release.
New ASCD Staff Expand Association’s Ability to Design, Deliver, and Evaluate Professional Development Resources—ASCD welcomes three new staff members to the association’s Program Development Work Group. Dr. Andrea Muse has accepted the position of director of research and program evaluation, Jen Thompson will serve as director of program management and process improvement, and Elizabeth Thurman has joined ASCD as director of customer engagement and product support. The additions of Muse, Thompson, and Thurman expand ASCD’s capability to design, deliver, and evaluate the crucial professional development resources today’s educators need to learn, teach, and lead. Read the full press release.