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  • What I Learned Lately (WILL 14 What I Learned Lately (WILL 14/15 #1)

    • From: Joshua_Garcia
    • Description:

      What I Learned Lately (WILL 14/15 #1)




      “Way Too Much Time to Think About Data, Part 1.”


      For the past few years, I have been hearing the hype of the SBAC and PARCC assessments.  I have been drowned by the controversy of the Common Core.  Unfortunately, the conversation has turned from what is good for kids to what are your politics.  First and foremost, I believe in teaching clear and rigorous standards.  I believe in assessments that match the depth of knowledge of these standards.  I also believe in alignment that will create patterns for all students.  I believe that it is our jobs to facilitate these pieces relentlessly on behalf of our students.  However, more than ever I believe that we must take back our profession and create the systems that will measure student learning.  I know this will be extremely difficult and challenge us at a new level.  The new math problem for us is: (A) x (E) x (Q) = (SS), Access x Equity x Quality = Student Success.  We must relentless provide access to the standards, we must provide equitable supports to students in order to meet these standards and we must ensure there is quality instruction and assessments every day for every child.


      Imagine a time when people speak matter-of-factly about our schools success and how dropout rates and the achievement gaps are at all-time low.  This day is fast approaching.  Our teachers are taking their students to new heights locally, national graduation rates are at an all-time high (http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/high-school-graduation-rate-hits-40-year-peak-in-the-us/276604/).  In Tacoma, we will see another year of graduation increases.  However, in order to continue our recent successes and maintain continuous improvement, schools in Tacoma and across the nation, must create assessments that support data systems that can be disaggregated and used to systematically measure student growth from year to year.  A systemic approach to conducting data analysis for this purpose requires collaboration and purposeful conversations among teachers.  A data system is a system that all teachers actively participate in and identifying data elements that measure students’ yearly progress in a building.

      Often the most difficult part of grasping how to use a data system to drive instruction is the lack of understanding of the very terms used to define it.  We often assume that we share definitions to many of terms that are used daily basis.  For example, do we have common definitions for formative and summative?    When we measure growth, are we measuring the same standards or different standards?  It is lack of clarity about a common language that can lead to confusion, false positive results, and besieged attempts to find simple solutions for student learning.  Although data systems at the building level can seem overwhelming, they are crucial to provide data that reports student achievement precisely and accurately. To accomplish this goal, our schools will need to foster a culture of professional collaboration, one that provides opportunities for teachers and school leaders to make meaning of key data points and to clear up misconceptions or misinterpretations.  When our entire staffs are committed to examine data and use it to drive instruction, our schools will eliminate waste in the system by setting priorities and dedicating sufficient time and resources that “add value” to instruction and learning.  I believe our efforts to create sustainable change in student achievement can be facilitated through a series of guiding principles:

      • How can an assessment system support sustainable changes in instruction and learning?
      • How do we create a data system that is comprehensive?
      • How do we create a data system that is efficient?

      How do we create data that is constant?


      Creating sustainable systemic change requires us to have a clear vision of how the data from our instruction and assessments are not only connected, but more importantly, can’t be separated.  Schools in our district and across the nation at minimum, and hopefully districts, must begin to design systems that are comprehensive (assess all students in a tiered model), efficient (minimizes the loss of instructional time) and constant (developing an assessment cycle that promotes professional conversations).  The vision of the data system must be clear for all employees and students and address local, state and federal mandates. For example, does that data produced in alignment with School Board Policies and benchmarks?  Does it align to state requirements for reporting?  Does that data that is produced align with the reporting requirements of entering college?  In addition, vision statements must address building the capacity (expertise to deliver and analyze the data) of those in the school system (see figure 1).  For example, our schools will need to create capacity by providing time and professional development to staff that allows them to make meaning of the types of assessment that are currently being used and the data that these assessments produce. Without this clarity, the assessment system will cause confusion, frustration, and ultimately a sense of failure.


      Figure 1




      At the school level, aligning data with assessments is necessary to ensure that every student’s academic growth is measured in an effective and efficient manner.  Today, we face the daunting challenge of gathering data that proves mastery of mandated academic standards. However, is there such a thing as too much data?  At what point do you examine the number and the quality of assessments that we administer each year at each grade level?  For the past few years I have been talking to educators across the world regarding the use of data.  In an effort to gather data and monitor progress, some educators are administering mini-summative assessments and calling them formative assessments. For example, a classroom teacher may give a common unit exam at the end of the month.  This data maybe recorded and put into a grade, however it is not formative data unless the teacher uses it adjust their upcoming instruction or reteach specific concepts based on the student data that was collected.  Additionally, many will not use this data to drive interventions.  Instead interventions are still based on a subject area, “math” versus specific math standards.  For a classroom teacher it is critical to know the purpose of each assessment and to determine if it appropriate for an assessment to be considered summative.  Questioning how this data is used to drive instruction can help us decide which assessments can be eliminated and which need to be added. 


      Collecting data throughout the year to measure progress is essential to developing a comprehensive data system.  Similar to a Response to Intervention model (http://www.rti4success.org/), assessing students using a tiered approach allows educators to determine which students are meeting the standards, for which students more diagnostic information is needed, and how to monitor student learning progress.  An assessment given 3-4 times a year for the purpose of progress monitoring is considered a Tier I assessment.  The Nation Center for Response to Intervention (http://www.rti4success.org/screeningTools) provides numerous examples of Tiered I assessments and gives details on the strengths of each detail.  For those students who are not making sufficient progress as indicated in the Tier I assessment, they should be administered a diagnostic assessment, or a Tier II assessment.  A diagnostic assessment will provide more specific information on specific skill development (http://www.ststesting.com/dra.html).  Finally, based on results from the Tier II assessments, brief assessments that measure specific standards, sub-skills, or learning targets should be administered. Assessments at this level would be considered Tier III assessments. 

      How do we create a data system that is efficient?  Often in our desire to create data and monitor progress, we lose sight of the functionality of the system.  As leaders, examining the balance between effective and efficient is a valuable endeavor that should occur regularly.  Our must continue to examine the added value of any data and eliminate any waste.  What is waste?  Waste in today’s school systems is all those things that don’t provide information critical to improving student achievement.  For every dollar spent on waste is a dollar that is not adding value.  An “Assessment Matrix” needs to be defined at each of our schools and communicated to our staff, students and families.  We must begin by eliminating any assessment that is redundant and that cannot be used to inform instruction.  Start with a simple matrix to begin your analysis.


      Assessment Name:

      Content or subject area

      Grade Level/s administered:

      Standards Being Assessed:

      Formative or Summative:


      Purpose: Diagnose or monitor Progress:

      Will the assessment be used for grading:



      Grades 3

      Common Core Standards - several


      3 times a year




























      If assessments are not useful to inform instruction, then they are a waste of instructional time and serve as a potential loss of added value.

      How do we create a data system that is constant?  The need to examine data from year to year is critical to determining student growth.  For years, researchers have examined longitudinal data with mixed results.  In fact, longitudinal data often has weak correlations due to the variations in what is being assessed from year to year.  Within a school there is an opportunity to create consistent data that is gathered constantly.  Many of the Common Core Reading Standards are based on a learning progression, or skill levels and expectations that increase in sophistication from grade to grade.

      The key for classroom teachers and building leaders is to not make assessment decisions in isolation.  Create a data system with input from everyone on the staff, so that for comparison sake, students are using the same assessment. When determining student growth, use fewer tools that are as consistent as possible.  For example, if there is a reading assessment that measures skills from K - 3rd grade (Dibbles), and another one that measures from K - 8th grade, such as a Diagnostic Assessment of Reading (DAR), select the tool that is not only the best quality but also provides accurate and precise data from student achievement from grade level to grade level.  These assessments are especially helpful when students move from level to level (i.e. from elementary to middle and middle to high school).  This type of constant data can give teachers an accurate picture of student skills in the beginning of each school year as well as identify abnormalities in a student’s data history.  This can be done in our regional meetings as well as level meetings.

      Fill in the Blank exercise:


      In order to create a learning and instruction data system at ______ School, Principal ______ focused on making sure teachers were having effective conversations about ways to measure student academic growth and effectiveness of instructional strategies.  ________ was often heard saying “teachers and administrators need to start by telling a story of “student growth”.    ________ School implemented the following framework for collecting data and having conversations about student growth.


      Prior to school starting each fall, ______would determine each staff members’ percentages of students who have met each respective standard for the upcoming school year, based on the previous year’s end scores.  For example, using state testing data, _____ had ____% of her students met the previous year’s end of the year Main Idea Standard.  At the end of the year, ______ had____% of her students meet the end of the year Main Idea Standard, for a growth of ____%.  This data was needed to determine the baseline and helped measure student growth throughout the year.  Like many schools, ______ School had previously started each year by giving the current year end of the course examination as a pre-assessment.  With this data, decisions about which students were behind were made.  However, these students had not had access to this curriculum, and therefore, in theory should not have been successful on these exams.  The staff at _______ started having honest conversations about the number of students that arrive in their classrooms behind academically, which ones are on target for the grade level standards, and which students had already reached beyond their current grade level standards.  As part of the transformation process, the______ Staff identified the following factors:


      • Are the standards from grade level to grade level aligned?  Are the standards part of a learning progression or are new skills being introduced?
      • How many students are coming into the year having met the previous year’s standards?
      • How many students have no data at all?
      • ___________


      Grade level teams then determined specific and measureable instructional goals for the first 6 weeks of school for each classroom.  _____ and ________ met with each staff member to review data, set classroom goals, and determine student interventions and enrichment activities.  In week 7 of school, the administrative team members met with each staff to evaluate progress and to determine effectiveness (Effectiveness was measured by meeting 80% or more of the standards). During this time, teams revisited student interventions and established new goals based on the current data.  In week 8, ________ met with district leaders to discuss trends in student growth, support needed, and areas of concern.  The following questions and factors were considered:


      1)      Identify classroom, grade level, and school learning target themes.

      2)      Describe the trends for each of the respective classrooms, grade level teams, and the entire school.

      3)      Compare and Contrast these trends to last year’s trends.

      4)      Analyze what themes they saw

      5)      What instructional strategies can we expect teachers, grade level teams or the school to apply in an effort to address the learning target/s

      6)      Speculate what our data will look like at the end of the year

      7)      Predict our summative scores?

      8)      _____________________________

      The cycle above was repeated every nine weeksSchool ________met with each classroom teacher to identify what support was needed and to examine the agreed upon data.  Together the team collected, guided, and monitored data in a systematic fashion. 

      Next, teachers at ________ began sorting and examining each class through a four-group flexible and fluid lens.  The groups were based on those students who are working above standard, those students who have met standard, those students who “nearly missed” the standard, and those students who had “far misses”.  For each group, teachers evaluated data on specific learning targets; identified supports and enrichment opportunities within the classroom and school; and developed (instructional) strategies to employ for each of the different groups. Then teachers would employ ongoing (daily) formative assessments (addressed more deeply in future modules) to address each group’s instructional/learning needs.  In addition, teachers administered and examined mini-summative data to determine student growth (students meeting standard with 80% or more of the standards measured) and adjusted groupings.  Finally teachers met with support teams (principal, ______, interventionist, counselor and ________) to discuss results and refine plans at a minimum of every 7 weeks. The following next steps were considered by the team:

      1)      Identify individual class strand themes.

      2)      Describe the trends for different leveled groups.

      3)      Compare and Contrast these trends to last year’s trends.

      4)      Analyze what themes you see.

      5)      What instructional strategies will you use for each group to address the strand data?

      6)      Speculate what your data will look like at the end of the year.  Predict your summative scores.

      7)      ___________________________________

      Finally, ______ clearly articulated, which resources would be dedicated for staff.  Instructional Coaches, Curriculum Leads, Counselors, Specialists and Principals, all understood their role in providing support to staff.  Some examples of the supports that were considered include:

      1)      Collecting and organizing summative data (end of the course/year exams), and unit exams (teacher created and explicitly based on standards)

      2)      Help in the design and evaluation of daily formative assessments – stems and questions that are directly linked to a standard and match the cognitive demand

      3)      Extended learning opportunities for students – building based

      4)      Targeted and differentiated professional development workshops

      5)      Professional development learning communities

      6)      Coordination and alignment of district service

      7)      ______________________

      The foundation for an effective assessment system is one that is comprehensive, efficient and constant.  By establishing this framework, educators are able to develop a high-functioning data system in which all stakeholders have faith.  When done well, this framework serves as a lever for continuous student growth.   I know we have a long ways to go and many of you have been screaming for this for a while.  I also know that there will be others that just want to wait for the new assessments to address the challenge.  It is not the tools we use which make us good or bad, but rather how will we use the tools.  For me the summer has been filled with numbers and data, more to come…

      Finally From Robert William, “The Call of the Wild”,

      Have you gazed on naked grandeur where there's nothing else to gaze on,

       Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,

      Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding sunsets blazon,

       Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?

      Have you swept the visioned valley with the green stream streaking through it,

       Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?

      Have you strung your soul to silence? Then for God's sake go and do it;

       Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.








      Scholastic Testing Services.  7/23/13. http://www.ststesting.com/dra.html

      The Atlantic.  First published on 6/6/2013.  http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/high-school-graduation-rate-hits-40-year-peak-in-the-us/276604/

      The National Center for Response to Intervention (7/23/13).  http://www.rti4success.org/screeningTools

      The Northwest Evaluation Association.  http://www.nwea.org/blog/2012/formative-assessment-vs-summative-assessment-results-timing-matters/


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  • 14 ways to think about good te 14 ways to think about good teaching: A useful PD exercise

    • From: Elliott_Seif
    • Description:

      Much of my educational career has been spent in teaching or observing teachers. I also had the incredible opportunity of attending many wonderful professional development sessions with outstanding presenters, and working with some amazing educators over many years.


      As a result, I have compiled a synthesis of some of the most important things that I have learned about effective teaching along the way. Here are fourteen ways of thinking about teaching that, when part of true self-reflection, can change much of what is being done in the classroom for the better.


      These fourteen ways of thinking can be explored with individuals or groups of teachers to raise issues about teaching and learning, focus professional development around some important issues and challenges, and help provide a framework for professional growth over time. They may also be useful as a framework for thinking about teacher evaluation.


      Read the descriptions below of my fourteen “ways of thinking” about teaching and learning. Get familiar with them. When you are done, consider doing the exercises at the end of this commentary, or sharing them in PD sessions, in order to better apply them to teaching and learning.


      1.     Get to know your students, especially how they learn and think.

      Teaching is about relationships. Getting to know students helps with planning, motivation, interest, discipline, and effective communication. It is about knowing how students learn, how they think, what blocks their learning, what’s on their minds.


      As much as possible, get to know students as individuals, with all their variety of thoughts, passions, ideas, backgrounds, humor, unique qualities. This is especially hard for middle and high school teachers, who have so many students to teach. But it is important that all teachers, whatever their level of teaching, whatever their situation,  take some time during the school year to do activities that build relationships and help to learn about students. There are many ways to both formally and informally do this, such as get-to know-me activities, written self-reflections, observing how students go about solving problems, observing groupwork discussions, making sure students know to ask for help when they are having problems, meeting with students informally after school, or talking with other teachers about specific students (not always problem students).


      2.     Plan goals for both the long term and the short term.

      Long term planning should be the force behind short term planning. In other words, plan for what you want your students to accomplish in the long run, and then plan each day so that your students can get closer to your goal. For example, a long-term goal might be to help students become better writers, while the short-term goal is to improve their grammar and vocabulary. A long- term goal might be a unit goal, and each daily lesson plan contributes to the goals of the unit. A long-term goal might be a yearly understanding-based goal, and a unit goal might contribute to the year-long goal.


      As most teachers know, this is not easy. There are many obstacles, changes, and detours along the way, depending on what happens each day. The variables are tremendous. But it is always important to consider what you want your students to accomplish over a long period of time (the big goals), and figure out how each day helps them get there.


      3.     Include social-emotional learning goals as well as academic goals.

      With the emphasis today on standardized test score success, learning academic content and skills become the most important focus for achievement and success. But much recent research suggests that “social-emotional” learning qualities are critical for long term success. Students who don’t see a connection between their effort and learning, are unable to be persistent, lack curiosity and resilience in the face of challenges, cannot work well with others, lack self-responsibility, are unorganized or unable to plan their time well, or lack the ability and willingness to ask for help and support when needed will have a great deal of trouble both in learning and in life. So it is important for teachers to assess these “soft” skills as well as academic and cognitive learning to help students achieve long-term success.


      4.     Translate learning goals into meaningful, interesting questions and challenges.

      According to several sources, Richard Feynman, a world-renowned physicist, was “heavily influenced by his father, who encouraged him to ask questions to challenge orthodox thinking”… “[His father] never taught facts so much as questions. He encouraged young Richard to identify not what he knew, but rather what he did not know… What's most important for knowledge is the well asked question”.


      Today, in my view, too many teachers have lost the art of helping students focus their learning around meaningful questions. My observations indicate that teachers still most often focus learning around imparting specific subject matter or stating goals in terms of “behavioral” objectives. But what if we thought about our teaching in terms of exploring open-ended questions that are interesting and meaningful to our students? What if we put “essential” questions on the board at the beginning of units and lessons, discussed with our students why they are important and meaningful, and then referred to them throughout the unit? Designed core questions that extended throughout the year? Created meaningful open-ended challenges as starting points for learning? Asked our students to develop essential questions?


      One of my favorite questions, used by Kathy Davis, a first grade teacher, is the following:

      What writing is worth reading? Imagine studying different kinds of writing over a long period of time with that question in mind? Another set of questions, worth studying in an American History course, is the following: “What is the American Dream? Where did it come from? Does it still exist?


      So here’s something to think about: How can you translate your learning goals and objectives into important, interesting, meaningful questions? How can you use these questions as starting points for learning? For skill development? For making content relevant? How can these questions repeat and recur over time? Become the focus for many learning activities over time?


      Much, if not most, important learning and growth starts with curiosity around questions, or perplexities around challenges. Teachers need to reinforce that type of learning, and begin student learning with questions and challenges that stimulate curiosity and interest, and motivate students to learn.


      5.     Teach reading (and other forms of literacy) as inquiry, exploration, and research.

      Textbook activities often are treated solely as reading assignments (e.g. Read chapter seven and answer the questions at the end of the chapter). But what if teachers thought of textbooks and other reading materials, especially non-fiction reading, as sources of information designed to help answer questions, build understanding, explore interesting topics, and help find answers to challenges. What if the reading of literature was built around some interesting, significant questions, conflicts and issues? What if students had a chance to choose some of the literature they are asked to read based on their own curiosity? Treating textbooks, literature and other reading resources as a form of inquiry, exploration, curiosity, or research to answer questions helps put reading in an important context, not as a chore.


      One simple textbook-non-fiction reading strategy that helps support this approach is the simple SQ3R strategy and its variations. First, students survey the material to be read, looking at headings, key words, difficult passages, pictures and other ancillary materials, and the like.  Next, students turn headings into questions or bring into play previously developed questions to begin to find answers in the materials. Finally, they read and highlight key points, recite learning from the text that answers key questions, and then review and summarize the information that relates to the answers to each question.


      6.     Frequently use writing as a key instructional tool.

      Asking students of all ages to continually write in many formats helps them formulate their ideas, organize their thoughts, think clearly and cogently, draw conclusions, self-reflect, and learn how to write position papers, among other things.


      Most teachers don’t provide students with enough opportunities to write and reflect on their learning. Opportunities include writing at the beginning of a unit to determine what students know and how they think, daily short written reflections summarizing what they have learned at the end of a class, position papers around an issue discussed in class, research and project reports, analyses and interpretations from reading, frequent self-reflections, and end of unit essays in place of or complementary to traditional tests. Not all writing has to be graded, but carefully choosing writing to provide feedback provides students with significant opportunities for improvement.


      7.     Develop “deeper learning”.

      I have always felt that many teachers try to teach much too much content and therefore do not have enough time for getting deeper into subject matter and skill development. Teachers need to think about priorities so that content is most likely to be limited and remembered. For example, the period of history in which the Constitution was developed is a very good time to concentrate on a few key points about the Constitution: the Bill of Rights, the Organization of Government, and the Constitutional “compromise” on slavery. While there are many other issues and facts that might be learned, these are key.


      “Deeper learning” also results from analysis, interpretation, or doing something with (applying) the information learned. What if students ended this American history unit by developing their own Constitution for their classroom or school? Or created a new and better Constitution for America? Or simulated the Constitutional Convention and developed a Constitution based on the interests of each of the thirteen states?


      8.     Involve and engage ALL students in learning.

      It is surprising how often teachers, especially in middle and secondary teachers, spend little time thinking about how to engage and involve every student on a daily basis. All too frequently, I have observed teachers who ask questions and involve very few students in giving answers; allow students to put their heads down on their desks during a lesson; stand in front of the class instead of walking around to engage students. Many students learn that it is OK to “tune out” of the lesson, and that they will be rewarded just for coming to school that day. Beginning teachers are especially likely to make the mistake of letting students “tune out” of their lessons. Here are some ways to avoid student passivity:


      Don’t just stand in front of a group of students. Walk around the room. Catch the eye of students. Watch what they are doing. Gently shake a student who has his or her head on the desk. Call on students who you think are not paying attention.


      Begin each class or new learning experience with an engaging “To Do” Activity that students must respond to as they enter your classroom. For example, a “To Do” Activity might begin with writing a short summary of what they were asked to read the night before or finding the answer to a math problem based on the work they did the previous day.


      Use “think-pair-share” strategies to involve everyone in exploring significant questions. Here’s how it works. Ask an open-ended question. Then ask each student to write down an answer. Then students pair up with another student to discuss their answer. Finally, teachers call on individual students to share their answer and hopefully begin a discussion.


      9.     Bring the outside world into the school and classroom, and the school and classroom into the outside world, and help students apply learning.

      Here’s how I think about schools and the surrounding world: The school world is for learning - the outside world is for living. People don’t live in a school. They go to school to learn. They live in their homes, in their offices, in the environment around them, in the world outside of school. Too often, school becomes an isolated entity unto itself, with little or no connection to the way people live in the outside world. As teachers, we need to remember this and, as often as we can, bring the outside world into the school and the school into the outside world.


      How do we do this?


      I remember watching Ms Tolliver, an excellent elementary math teacher who made some wonderful professional development tapes, take her fifth grade urban students on a walk through the school neighborhood looking for mathematics concepts and creating mathematics problems (Math Trail). They developed problems and found mathematics around park benches, playgrounds, subway trains, parking meters, building blocks and shapes, maps of the neighborhood, and seven step staircases in Central Park. The math that they were learning in school became real and relevant. Another example: in a local comprehensive urban high school I recently visited, a counselor organized talks in the school by local community members to help students see the variety of careers and lives led by those with similar ethnic backgrounds. Finally, new technologies provide new tools for bring the outside community into the school and the school to the outside community. There are currently many examples on the Internet and on websites of how teachers use Skype and other Internet options to bring in the outside community and world into the school and classroom.


      10.  Know when to maintain a strong structure for students and when to “let go”.

      Good teachers know when to provide students with significant learning structure and when to give students greater freedom and self-direction. For example, when students are first learning how to do research, they need more structure – a step-by-step process, good explanations of how to conduct research and use research skills, models of good research products, and guided practice opportunities. Once they have learned and practiced the basic components of research, then they can be given more freedom to work on their own independently. In other words, sometimes students need strong structures, especially when they are first learning how to do something. But, eventually, we need to “let go” and give them freedom to work on their own and make their own mistakes in order to keep getting better at what they are doing. One of the most difficult decisions about teaching is knowing when students need significant structure and when to let go and give them more self-direction.


      “Letting go” may also mean giving students greater choice and more options. Giving students the right to select their own books to read should be an important part of a good comprehensive reading program. Allowing students to select their own research question, sometimes within the parameters of a subject area, also gives students greater interest in and responsibility for their research.


      11.  Help students to improve, make progress, and get better.

      What does it mean for students to get better at doing something? Understand in a deeper way? What are the most critical changes you would like to see in your students over time? What does it look like when they improve? How will you know when your students have a better understanding of core content? How can you build a student culture of “craftsmanship and understanding” that supports and encourages gradual improvement over time?


      Unfortunately, traditional tests and quizzes don’t easily lend themselves to demonstrating improvement and progress in understanding and skill development. Seeking gradual progress and improvement is more likely to occur when students frequently do tasks related to what needs improvement, such as writing, making presentations, conducting research, performing experiments, and organizing learning for understanding. Specific feedback that provides students with specific guidance on what they need to do better is important. Showing models of good work to strive for is very helpful. An approach to teaching and learning that savors and supports gradual progress and improvement can lead to the development of a culture and way of thinking that promotes craftsmanship, deeper understanding, and improvement over time.


      12.  Check for understanding - often.

      When I taught many years ago, I was unaware that I needed to frequently check for understanding. This was not good for student learning. This way of thinking has been getting much more play lately, and rightly so. Teachers need to check in frequently with students to see if they are “getting it” – really understanding what they are learning. Many strategies are available for this purpose, such as application oriented math problems, end of lesson summary strategies, such as 3-2-1 (three things I learned from this lesson, two things that were the most interesting, one question I still have); and 10-2 lectures (10 minutes of lecture, 2 minutes of reflection and questions).


      13.  Create strong culminating experiences and assessments.

      Unfortunately, end of unit culminating experiences are often multiple choice-short answer tests. What could be less interesting for a student? What could be less relevant? Should the traditional test be the culminating experience of student work and learning?


      Consider developing alternatives to traditional tests, even for just some units. How about a field trip to an art museum at the end of a unit so that students can analyze and write about a specific artistic period in greater depth? Perhaps students should write a position paper about a controversial topic in American History or design an experiment as the culmination of a science unit? How about giving students two or three (or more) essay questions several days in advance of a test time to give students time to prepare outlines of answers, from which one or two are selected to be written during a two hour class period? How about giving students interesting open-book (or even open-research) essay questions? Or what about completing an authentic performance task that demonstrates the ability of students to apply their learning to a new situation? These are much more interesting, relevant, and meaningful culminating assessments.


      14.  Appropriately use technology as a learning tool.

      There is a tendency to talk about using technology today as if it were something to be automatically incorporated into the learning process. The reality is that technology is often hard to use or apply easily to teaching situations. Technology usage often requires a good deal of staff development, and is costly to implement and maintain.


      However, technology, when used appropriately, can be an extremely valuable tool that enables teachers and students to learn more efficiently and effectively. For example, simple technologies, such as Microsoft word and powerpoint are useful for encouraging and editing writing and making presentations. The Internet is a wonderful tool to support research, but students have to learn how to use it carefully, skillfully, and wisely for this purpose. Some of the more complex technologies are useful to promote “gaming” and simulations. “Flipping” uses technology to help students learn basic information outside of school so that teachers can focus on “deeper learning” when students are in class. Some technologies that promote individualized learning through highly structured, engaging learning situations are very helpful to students.


      Any of these technology tools, and others, should be used when appropriate to the teacher’s goals and to the learning situation. Technology tools should be used for specific goals when they make learning more efficient, but not when they might deter students from using their minds, thinking through a problem, or reading texts carefully.


      Teaching is very complex, much more complex than it is made out to be in the press, in government initiatives, and even in State Departments of Educational directives.  Good teaching is a moving target – goals, children, cultures, teachers,  and conditions vary from state to state, school to school, and even classroom to classroom.


      These fourteen ways of thinking about teaching suggest both the complexity of good teaching and the potential common core components that measure good teaching and help teachers improve on what they do. Learning about students, creating a positive learning environment, focusing on both academic and social-emotional goals, building curiosity by focusing on questions, focusing on less content and deeper learning, figuring out ways to engage and involve students, planning both long and short term goals – all of these and more are important elements of an effective teaching-learning process. I hope that an exploration of these components will help teachers and school leaders understand what they must do to improve schools and suggest a way to build a framework for evaluating teaching and improving teaching and learning in the classroom.


      An Exercise to Share and Learn from These Fourteen Ways of Thinking


      Now that you have read and learned about the fourteen ways of thinking, here is an exercise you can do to help you examine these in greater detail and apply them to your own teaching situation.


      Here are the fourteen ways of thinking listed without commentary:


      1.     Get to know your students, especially how they learn and think.


      2.     Plan goals for both the long-term and the short term.


      3.     Include social-emotional learning goals as well as academic goals.


      4.     Translate learning goals into meaningful, interesting questions and challenges.


      5.     Teach reading (and other forms of literacy) as inquiry, exploration, and research.


      6.     Frequently use writing as a key instructional tool.


      7.     Develop “deeper learning”.


      8.     Involve and engage ALL students in learning.


      9.     Bring the outside world into the school and classroom, and the school and classroom into the outside world, and help students apply learning.


      10.  Know when to maintain a strong structure for students and when to “let go”.


      11.  Help students to improve, make progress and get better.


      12.  Check for understanding - often.


      13.  Create strong culminating experiences and assessments.


      14.  Appropriately use technology as a learning tool.


      Some questions to consider: 

      • Do these all make sense to you? What would you add or subtract and why? How would you change the wording to increase clarity and meaning? 
      • Which to you are most important for effective teaching? Least important? 
      • Consider how you apply these to your own teaching situation? Which areas are your strengths? Which are challenges?  
      • If you could pick one or two areas that you currently do really well, what would they be? Which one or two do you need to work on the most? 
      • Can you share what you do well? What do you specifically do that makes one or more of these “ways of thinking” work well for you? 
      • Can you take some time to think about which areas do you most need to work on? Find out what other teachers do who are strong in those areas? Do some research on effectiveness in these areas? Consider one or two changes to your routines that might improve them?



    • Blog post
    • 3 weeks ago
    • Views: 6425
  • Are You Listening? Are You Listening?

    • From: Suzy_Brooks
    • Description:

      I was out of the classroom this past Thursday and Friday to participate in a K-12 focus group in Washington DC.  I had little idea what to expect going into the conversation, but I came out of it with an even broader perspective than I believed I had to begin with. I’ve spent the last 3 days reflecting on my experience and how it can ultimately benefit my students.

      When I told my Room 204 friends I would be absent for Helping Hands Day, they were all visibly disappointed. However, I told them the trip I was taking was an important one, and I would like to bring their thoughts along with me. I had all students write a piece about what adults should keep in mind when making decisions about education. In my opinion, their responses were beautiful and I was determined to pack them in my suitcase and later share them. (link below)

      There were about 50-60 people brought together from all facets of education. There were researchers from premiere colleges and universities. There were entrepreneurs whose education products are designed to move us towards ed reform. There were folks involved in education at the political level, where advocacy and policy are their greatest strength.  There were several corporate leaders from major companies servicing the education market. There were school administrators from traditional and charter schools. Finally, there were also two teachers including myself. It was a powerful cross-section of finance, research, politics, private interest, and practice. On any given day, I believe this group could move mountains together.

      While the nature of the conversation ran from college and career readiness to teacher effectiveness, with lots of other topics woven in-between, most conversations were tied tightly to the necessity of data.  Data is what ties our efforts to our outcomes, and is a necessary part of measuring growth.  I found myself surrounded by fellow Data Nerds, who view numbers to be exciting and sometimes enlightening. Data-driven decision making is a widely-accepted and oft-used catchphrase in education.  However, I am never looking for data to tell me what I already know. If I already know a student struggles, I don’t need data to confirm that.  Instead, I need decision-driven data collection. I decide there is a problem to be analyzed, and then collect data to solve the mystery.


      However, with every question posed and answer given in regards to data, I couldn’t help but think of my students’ letters sitting quietly hidden at my feet in my teacher bag. There are essential skills our students must learn, which are rarely measured by assessment data. When reading my students’ reflections, I further realized there are some things I'm just not sure can be measured.  Can we measure how children feel about school? Can we truly and accurately measure the degree to which a student feels he or she is a valued member of a classroom community?  How do we measure fun?  What matters to students should matter to decision makers. So, how do we (and should we?) find the fulcrum to quantify that?  Can we truly measure meaning?

      After drumming up my courage, I decided to spread my students' letters out on the tables early the next morning as we geared up for Day Two.  I felt it was important to have student voices included in our conversation.  Many folks took the time to thank me for the not-so-subtle message. There are no decisions I make without students in mind, and I feel that should be true for decision makers of all levels and backgrounds.  Kids are at the heart of what we do, and if an 8 year old is able to convey the fact that students need to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged, aren’t we obligated to make that happen?

      Please read my students' thoughts at our Student Voice Padlet page:  http://padlet.com/SimplySuzy/StudentVoice


    • Blog post
    • 2 months ago
    • Views: 855
  • A 5-Point PD Plan (since this A 5-Point PD Plan (since this is 2014!)

    • From: Craig_Mertler
    • Description:





      Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog about one of our son’s teachers, along with the frustration that he and we, as his parents, have been experiencing.  In case you missed it, I liken her to a teacher that I had in 1978––suffice to say, it was not a positive comparison.  I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wrote, about this teacher, and about the feedback that I’ve gotten from that blog.  While the feedback has been nothing but positive and supportive, I feel that I should do something to help this teacher, instead of just criticizing her.  Therefore, I am offering to her my 5-point professional development plan:


      (1)  Find ways to vary your instruction.  Each day in your class should not look like every other one.  Find ways to change what you do. Get your students more involved.  Some days, have them lead the instruction, perhaps by doing examples for the rest of the students.  Find ways to incorporate group work.  Model for them how collaboration can be highly beneficial in the teaching and learning process.


      (2)  Get up out of your seat (please!).  An active, more energetic classroom is by far a more interesting classroom.  I sense that your students get bored because there’s very little interactivity from the beginning of class to the end of class, as well as from day to day.  Similar to #1 above, mix things up a little bit––it’s hard for your students to be energetic and interested in learning when you don’t appear to be.  Surprise your students from time to time with activities they don’t expect––I guarantee that it will keep them more interested in what you’re doing, as well as in learning what you want them to learn.  When they know exactly what’s going to happen every minute of your class time with them, they will be bored––that’s simply human nature.


      (3)  Provide your students with scoring rubrics––or other specific forms of feedback––for their assignments and tests.  No one expects all of your students to ace every assessment you administer.  However, if you truly want them to learn from the assessments, you must provide them with concrete and formative feedback on how they can improve their performance.  Simply marking the number of points that they’ve missed and not providing them with explanations of why they missed those points may make your job easier, but it’s completely counterproductive to their learning.  Providing them with rubrics for constructed-response items––such as problem-solving on a math test––will not only provide them with sound feedback on their mistakes or misconceptions, but distributed in advance of your tests can inform them of exactly what your expectations are from them on the assessment.  This is simply good assessment practice.


      (4)  Be supportive of and try to work with students who struggle in your classes.  With the number of students that you see every day, this can be a challenge.  Trust me, I know––I’m a former high school teacher who used to see more than 150 kids every day.  However, when students struggle in your classes, your first line of defense should not be to brush them aside and simply tell them to get a tutor.  After all, YOU are their teacher; YOUR job is to help them learn, even when they struggle.  After you’ve worked with them, and you’ve determined that they clearly need some sort of additional support, then recommend that they see a tutor.  But, please remember that it is your primary responsibility to help them learn the content that you are charged with teaching them. 


      (5)  Listen to your students.  Look, I understand that this is your classroom, but you may not always know what’s best for your students’ learning.  When you have a high number of students who have been extremely successful during their previous 9 or 10 years of schooling and they are failing your class, something isn’t working right.  Sometimes, students will come out and tell you that they are struggling; other times, you must discern this in other ways.  Regardless, listen to what your students are verbally or nonverbally communicating to you about the struggles that they are having . . . and then do something to address those issues, as the professional educator that you are.


      By the way, every one of these 5 professional development strategies above can be effectively implemented and assessed by integrating an action research approach into how you do your work as a professional educator.  Come up with strategies to implement one or more of the points above; collect data from your students and assess the effectiveness of your efforts; appropriately revise how you approach these issues in the future.  You will become a better educator––and your students will become better learners.


      Post Script:

      • We found out last week that the teacher in question was named “Teacher of the Month” at our son’s school––quite simply, this defies rational explanation.
      • However, rumor has it she’s also retiring at the end of this year.  Unfortunately––or fortunately (depending on your perspective!)––it doesn’t look like she’ll have an opportunity to implement my 5-point professional development plan . . . still, I hope this helps someone out there.



    • Blog post
    • 3 months ago
    • Views: 552
  • Five Ways for Teacher-Leaders Five Ways for Teacher-Leaders to Bolster the Effectiveness of Peers

    • From: Krista_Rundell
    • Description:

      This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “How to cultivate and support teacher leaders?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to http://edge.ascd.org/page/ascd-forum.html

      How many educators have “fallen” into a teacher-leadership role without intention?  As a high school social studies instructor, I continually strived to refine my skills both the art and science of teaching.  In my ninth year, I was encouraged to apply for a grant-funded position that would take me not only out of my classroom, but also out of my comfort zone.  However, I also knew that I would regret passing up this opportunity for personal and professional growth. 

      During my five years as a Curriculum and Instructional Technology Coach, my growth was exponential.  My most pivotal insights involved learning how to best move the district towards achieving its mission and vision through ongoing, job-embedded, collaborative, and supported professional development. 

      It is my hope that what I have learned can serve not only as a guide for other teacher-leaders, but for all educational stakeholders interested in building a climate and culture dedicated to staff development and student achievement.

      1.     Be a life-long learner: Model continuous learning alongside peers.

            Learning can be engaging, enthusiastically contagious, and invigorating.  Experiencing that “AHA!” moment-of-realization continues to be remarkable, even in adulthood.  Teacher-leaders share the joy of this adventure with peers, engage curiosity, and spark momentum for knowledge-seeking.  Similarly, they also recognize that everyone has valuable contributions that add to the collective learning of a group, and thus, encourage the facilitation of learning over the “sage on the stage” mentality.

      2.     Be a contributor: Build a Personalized Learning Network.

            Connecting with other dedicated educators opens doors for the permeation of new concepts, astute advice, and best practices.  Teacher-leaders exchange ideas with their network, then share these perspectives with peers in the district to help direct next course of action.  Better yet, teacher-leaders invite interested peers to join their online network (see #5 below).  These additional viewpoints can help direct the movement of initiatives forward or provide guidance when the path needs to be altered. 

      3.     Be a canvasser: Seek input and multiple perspectives when introducing, modifying, or deepening initiatives.

            Valuing the opinions of others, even those who disagree, builds character, collegiality, and a positive climate in which learning and growth can flourish.  Teacher-leaders suspend judgment, actively listening to and incorporating the ideas, concerns, and solutions of others.

      4.     Be an advocate: Create a communication bridge between administrators and teachers.

             Uniting stakeholders helps reinforce our common goal to provide a valuable, meaningful educational experience for our students.  Oftentimes, our own vision is limited by the constraints of our daily schedule, the pressures of external forces, and the determined focus on accomplishing our own tasks.  Teacher-leaders weave connections between administrators and teachers to address the “whats, hows, and whys” to create a deeper understanding between both groups.

      5.     Be a capacity-builder: Stand next to colleagues as they integrate their new learning into practice - and reflect with them afterward.

            Offering to co-teach with teachers integrating a new practice can alleviate feelings of uncertainty, promote confidence, and lead to fun, engaging collaboration.  Teacher-leaders spend time with colleagues reflecting on the effectiveness of lessons in relation to student learning, focusing what went well, and addressing what could be improved.  In addition to building capacity among staff, this interaction shows students that teachers work collectively to provide the most effective instruction in order to meet their varied needs.

      “Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”  ― W.B. Yeats

    • Blog post
    • 3 months ago
    • Views: 626
  • How can teacher leaders be ide How can teacher leaders be identified and cultivated?

    • From: Janet_Gates
    • Description:

      This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “how do cultivate and support teacher leaders?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum.

      How can teacher leaders be identified and cultivated?


      In a school setting, it is important that leadership does not come only from the administration, but from all aspects of the school community.  As peers, we can identify and cultivate teacher leaders through paying attention to each others’ strengths and skills (including our own), and by seeking information and feedback.

      Teachers are leaders when their influence extends beyond their own classroom.  This influence can be a simple as working with a colleague to improve teaching practice through observation.  It could be more involved, such as working as part of a curriculum development team.  Leadership could even be quasi-administrative, such as serving as department chairperson or as a mentoring teacher.

      No matter the role of teachers, we can identify leaders by paying attention to their strengths.  Are they good listeners? Do they work to include all participants in meetings? Do they think “outside the box” to help solve problems? These are all skills that can serve well in leadership. When we are with our colleagues, we should pay attention to these types of skills, and should point them out to each other.  Additionally, we should pay attention to our own strengths.  If we find that we are effective at meetings, at talking to others, at helping all members contribute, we should hone these skills and improve them to increase our leadership.

      Seeking Information
      Seeking information and feedback can help cultivate a fledgling leader – even if that leader is ourselves.  When there are areas of concern, such as an unproductive team member, we should look for resources to guide us to effective communication.  We can ask our peers to give us feedback about our effectiveness in different areas – especially our communication.   We can honestly give feedback to our colleagues if they seek it.

      Leadership needs to be cultivated throughout a school community.  Even if we have terrific administrators, we are a stronger organization when we can pool our talents and skills.  Identifying and cultivating leaders is a task for the entire school, because it benefits the entire school.

    • Blog post
    • 4 months ago
    • Views: 596
  • Teachers Appreciate Choice in Teachers Appreciate Choice in PD

    • From: Tiffany_Della_Vedova
    • Description:

      In a recent post, Personalizing Professional Development, I shared our plan to personalize an upcoming professional development day by having teachers indicate which target goal they wanted to focus on and what activities they would like to engage in to further their learning outcomes in that area. The experience proved largely successful and respectful of teacher autonomy and specialization. When we anonymously surveyed teachers to obtain their feedback, we were able to reflect on the effectiveness of the day and were even able to learn more about our individual team members. Here’s what we learned…

      • 100% of teachers found the experience at least as enjoyable or more enjoyable than a more traditional professional development experience, with 85% of teachers reporting a more enjoyable experience. Many expressed gratitude for the ability to customize the day with comments such as this one: “Thank you so much for the opportunity to tailor the PD to our individual goals. The time allowed me to really focus and make progress on the goals I set earlier this year. It felt positive and productive.”

      • 100% of teachers found the experience at least as valuable or more valuable than a more traditional PD day, with 78% of teachers indicating a more valuable outcome.

      • Preparation was key for the greatest outcome. One teacher shared the benefit of pre-planning, “I feel the planning for the day went well. We were able to meet prior to our trip off campus, allowing us to set goals for the day. We also met after the experience to discuss the experience and work on putting a plan in action” while another pointed to the need for more pto maximize the experience, “The only change to our experience could have been a little (30-minutes) pre-planning so we could have hit the ground running.”

      • Some teachers indicated the value of both types of experiences in reflections such as, “The reason I chose "about the same" is I think our PD's this year have been very good!” A few even suggested that having an option of a more traditional workshop as a learning path on a choice-based day would be helpful “in case plans fall through” or simply because they enjoy shared learning, “It would have been nice to have one topic/ article to discuss and learn together as a team.

      As an leadership team, we are very grateful for the reflective feedback. It was clear that teachers put in a great deal of thought into their responses, and we plan on incorporating some of the great ideas into our next professional development day.


      I’m inspired to continue searching for innovative, personalized approaches to professional development. It seems that the more validated people feel in their professional endeavors and the more opportunity they have to engage in meaningful, passion-based learning, the more invigorated about their profession they feel. For teachers, as winter endures and the year grows longer, energy is especially precious!

    • Blog post
    • 4 months ago
    • Views: 460
  • Leader to Leader News: Februar Leader to Leader News: February 2014

    • From: Meg_Cohen
    • Description:

      ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-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 toconstituentservices@ascd.org.


      Action Items for ASCD Leaders

      • Join the ASCD Forum conversationFrom now through April 11, ASCD invites educators worldwide to join a conversation on the topic, “How do wecultivate and support teacher leaders?” Learn more at www.ascd.org/ascdforum.
      • ASCD Emerging Leader Program applications are openNominate a colleague; we are accepting applications until April 1.
      • Presenting at ASCD Annual Conference?Send your session number to constituentservices@ascd.org by March 3 for inclusion in a special ASCD Annual Conference L2L newsletter. We’ll highlight your session so that your fellow ASCD leaders know to come out and support you!



      ASCD Nominations Committee Selects Candidates for ASCD Board of Directors

      In January 2014, the 2014 ASCD Nominations Committee selected five candidates to run for two open positions on the Board of Directors in the next General Membership Election. Those five individuals are Tony Frontier (Wisc.), Josh Garcia (Wash.), Patrick Miller (N.C.), Lorraine Ringrose (Alberta, Canada), and Anne Roloff (Ill.). The election process will open on April 1 and will run through May 15.


      ASCD Releases 2014 Legislative Agenda

      The key priority for ASCD in 2014 is to promote multimetric accountability so that standardized test scores are not the sole measure of student achievement, educator effectiveness, or school quality. Multimetric accountability systems must

      • Promote continuous support and improvement.
      • Be public and transparent.
      • Include a range of subjects beyond English language arts and mathematics.
      • Incorporate important nonacademic factors such as measures of school climate, safety, and parental engagement.

      The 2014 Legislative Agenda (PDF) contains four policy recommendations:

      • A Well-Rounded Education: All students deserve comprehensive and engaging opportunities that prepare them for college and careers and to be active, productive citizens.
      • Conditions for Learning: Students need a strong foundation of support—including in-school social and emotional learning and meaningful parental and community engagement—to attain their full potential.
      • Multimetric Accountability: Standardized tests should never be the primary measure of student or educator proficiency; instead, accountability systems must include a range of subjects and promote continuous support for growth.
      • Developing Educator Effectiveness: Continuous educator preparation and professional development must provide personalized support that recognizes educators’ strengths and enhances their growth.


      ASCD Educators Connect the Classroom to the Capitol

      Educators throughout the United States recently convened in Washington, D.C., to attend ASCD’s legislative conference, the Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy (LILA). Attendees had the opportunity to meaningfully network with colleagues, build knowledge to expand their personal influence, and hear from top education thought leaders including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who urged attendees to “seize the day.” Duncan also commended ASCD and its members for “walking the walk when it comes to professional development,” helping classroom teachers and schools leaders commit to a “rich, well-rounded, rigorous education.”

      If you were unable to attend this year, see LILA’s storify collection—which brings together your colleagues’ pictures, tweets, and reflections. ASCD Emerging Leader alum Hannah Gbenro also shared her reflections in an ASCD EDge® post Educational Advocacy: Why and How.

      Other conference highlights:

      • Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute delivered a provocative keynote address during which he encouraged advocacy and offered attendees advice to improve their meetings with policymakers, from beginning meetings with a positive attitude and presuming the reasonableness of elected leaders to offering workable solutions and compromises instead of only raising issues and complaints.
      • With bipartisan panels of congressional staffers and policy experts, attendees learned about the pessimistic outlook for Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization.
      • In interactive skill-building sessions, attendees walked through the steps to developing a personalized advocacy message using ASCD’s 2014 Legislative Agenda (PDF) along with their own examples and data. Attendees then took their messages to Capitol Hill, where they met with their federal policymakers to share policy recommendations for improving education.

      Access follow-up resources from the conference, including more detailed policy recommendations and an overview of the legislative agenda.


      ASCD Emerging Leader is Facilitator of New Professional Interest Community

      Congratulations to ASCD Emerging Leader Jill Thompson, facilitator of ASCD’s newest Professional Interest Community on the topic of personalized learning. Please join the Personalized Learning group on the ASCD EDge platform to stay connected on this important topic.




      Join the ASCD Forum Conversation on Teacher Leadership

      The ASCD Forum is the chance for educators to make their voices heard on a topic of worldwide importance. From January 15 to April 11, ASCD invites all educators to explore the question through online and face-to-face discourse, “How do we cultivate and support teacher leaders?”

      To learn more about the ASCD Forum:

      To join the conversation:

      Join the ASCD EDge® group and respond to the comments from other educators.

      Read and comment on these blog posts:

      Follow the conversation on Twitter at #ASCDForum.


      Write your own blog post on the topic of teacher leadership. Here’s how.


      Join us at ASCD Annual Conference in Los Angeles at session #2124 hosted by ASCD President Becky Berg on Sunday, March 16, 8:00–9:30 a.m. pacific time.


      As the most active leaders in the association, you are integral to the success of this conversation. Your leadership helps set an example for others to make their voices heard. Please join the discussion on teacher leadership!


      ASCD Leader Voices


      Association News

      ASCD Releases 2014 PD Online® Course Catalog for K–12 Educators—ASCD announced the release of the 2014 PD Online course catalog. The new catalog offers more than 100 user-friendly courses developed by ASCD authors and experts available anytime, anywhere to educators, including 21 new PD Online courses. PD Online courses are developed to help educators increase their knowledge and discover best practice methods. Read the full press release.

      ASCD Announces Expanded On-Site and Blended Professional Learning Services Offerings—ASCD announced the new ASCD Professional Learning Services, enabling more school districts nationwide to receive greater customized professional development from the association. The ASCD Professional Learning Services offerings are customizable based on the needs of a district or school and are available in on-site or blended solutions. Read the full press release. Read the full press release.

      2014 ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show Set to Host Sessions Focused on Technology, Leadership, Common Core Implementation, and More—ASCD announced the full schedule of events for the upcoming 69th ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show. The upcoming conference will be held March 15–17 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, Calif. Attendees will learn ideas and best-practice strategies that drive student achievement while unlocking ways to boost teacher and leadership effectiveness. Read the full press release.

      ASCD Releases Four New Professional Development Publications to Transform Learning—ASCD announced the release of four new professional development titles for educators. As educators face new standards and classroom challenges, they will find solutions for prioritizing school improvement efforts, working with difficult students, bringing joy into teaching and learning, and teaching vocabulary effectively in these new professional development publications. Read the full press release.

      ASCD Brings Spring and Summer Common Core Professional Development Institutes to New Cities in 2014—ASCD announced the lineup of one- and two-day Professional Development Institutes for the spring and summer. Expanding to eight new cities, ASCD’s institutes are designed to provide greater support to educators nationwide as they continue to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), while meeting educators where they are. Read the full press release.

      ASCD Releases 2014 Legislative Agenda, Calls for Increased Multimetric Accountability—ASCD released its 2014 Legislative Agenda on Monday, January 27th, at the association’s Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy in Washington, D.C. Developed by the association’s Legislative Committee—a diverse cross section of ASCD members representing the entire spectrum of K–12 education—the 2014 ASCD Legislative Agenda outlines the association’s federal policy priorities for the year. Read the full press release.




    • Blog post
    • 5 months ago
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  • Authority Means Never Having t Authority Means Never Having to Say You're the Teacher

    • From: Mindy_Keller-Kyriakides
    • Description:

      Recently, I worked with some secondary educators who were interested in developing behavioral strategies for their more difficult students, particular as it pertained to students’ disrespect of the teachers.  I observed several classes over the span of a semester, and I noticed that many teachers would state the obvious in an attempt to gain control of their classes. They would say things like, “I am the teacher, and this is my class. You cannot talk to me that way.”


      This approach didn’t stop students’ disrespectful behavior; if anything, the interruptions, talking back, mocking, and mumbling escalated. Further, those teachers struggling the most with student behavior made these statements more often than their counterparts who were having less trouble. So, why did they resort to stating the obvious? Why does a teacher feel the need to proclaim that he or she is the teacher when responding to student disrespect?


      These statements (coined as authority statements by Laitin, 1977) seem to be offered as a justification for making the corrective statement that follows. The underlying thinking seems to be — Because I’m the teacher and you are the student, you need to stop doing X and/or start doing Y an overt reminder that one of you is a subordinate.  


      However, the use of explicit authority statements is ineffective. They work a lot like “but” statements: I love you, but you’re too impulsive.  The listener only hears you’re too impulsive; the but negates the I love you.  Similarly, explicitly stating your obvious and inherently authoritative role negates the more important information that follows it: I am the teacher. I am trying to teach. You keep interrupting me.  Adolescent students probably don’t hear the important part (you keep interrupting me) over the sound of their eyes rolling. 


      Imagine your principal telling you: I am the principal, and I want everyone on board for the roll-out of this new system.  Wouldn’t you kind of get stuck on the idea of the principal making a hoopla about being the principal?     


      The use of this phrasing comes across as weak and ineffectual.  No wonder students just smirk or yawn when they hear it. If you’ve reached that level of frustration and start spouting out the obvious, consider that what you’re really doing (most likely) is reminding yourself that you’re in charge.


      Stop saying you’re the teacher and go for the nub.

      What do you want the student to do or not do?


      Teachers using explicit authority statements may not realize the greater effectiveness of simply implying them. Harmin and Toth (2006) define authority statements as “making a simple direct statement of our authority as teachers” (p. 439).  The following are some examples in their Inspiring Active Learning handbook for educators:


               I do not want even minor distractions or disruptions in our lessons.

               I need you to stop talking to your neighbors. It’s time to control that.

              We do not do that here. (Harmin & Toth, 2006, pp. 111-112)


      These examples differ from explicit authority statements in that no explicit mention of the role of teacher is made. Though Harmin and Toth’s (2006) definition states that the statement is of our authority, these examples more aptly reflect a statement from our authority.  This distinction is important. We don't have to say it. We just have to be it. Implying authority carries more weight, and though decidedly unspoken in the examples above, “I am the teacher” is nonetheless clearly asserted.


      Words matter, and what we say conveys how we feel about ourselves and our role in the classroom. You don’t have to say you’re the teacher.  You are.


      Mirror Site



      Harmin, M., & Toth, M. (2006). Inspiring active learning: A complete handbook for today's teachers (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.


      Laitin, D. D. (1977).  Politics, language, and thought: The Somali experience. Chicago, IL:  University of Chicago Press.


    • Blog post
    • 6 months ago
    • Views: 923
  • Leader to Leader News: January Leader to Leader News: January 2014

    • From: Meg_Cohen
    • Description:

       ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-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 constituentservices@ascd.org. Copyright 2013 by ASCD. All Rights Reserved.

      Action Items for ASCD Leaders


      ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative Has a New Twitter Handle

      ASCD's Whole Child Initiative switched its official Twitter handle to @WholeChildASCD. Themore than 15,000 followers of the old @WholeChildAdv do not have to do anything to keep following the initiative’s Twitter account; current followers have automatically been moved to the new handle. In addition, individuals trying to contact ASCD under the old account will be directed to the new Twitter handle: @WholeChildASCD. The initiative encourages whole child enthusiasts to follow the new handle to stay up-to-date on whole child issues and partner activities. Anyone who has questions about the twitter handle should contact Kristen Pekarek, ASCD’s whole child project coordinator.


      Sign on to the Global School Health Statement

      Schools have always played an important role in promoting the health, safety, welfare, and social development of children. Progress has been made in policy and program effectiveness. However, the trend of establishing initiatives as sector specific—or sector isolated—has affected long-term sustainability of approaches. The global evolution of education systems to suit the needs of the 21st century presents both a need and an opportunity for greater sector integration. Ultimately, there is a need to focus on the development and growth of the whole child and develop better ways to integrate health and social programs within education systems.

      In response to the World Health Organization’s Health in All Policies (HiAP) initiative and recent HiAP statement (Helsinki 2013), education leaders invite representatives from the health and other social sectors to lead a revised partnership with education. This partnership uses a capacity-focused and systems-based approach to embed school-related efforts more fully into the core mandates, constraints, processes, and concerns of education systems.

      ASCD and the International School Health Network are now inviting individuals and organizations to sign on to the global school health statement. Learn more.


      Can’t Wait for #ASCD14?

      How about some free sessions from the 2013 ASCD Annual Conference to tide you over?

      Check out the live-streamed recordings of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Freeman Hrabowski III, and Maya Angelou from last year’s conference.

       Register for the 2014 ASCD Annual Conference.


      ASCD Members Approve Proposed Changes to ASCD’s Constitution

      ASCD members recently voted to approve several changes to ASCD’s Constitution: clarifyinga quorum for Board of Directors for voting purposes at the Annual Meeting; changing the start date for newly elected officers and members of the Board; and changing the ASCD membership requirement for applicants for Board positions. Contact Governance Manager Becky DeRiggewith any questions.


       ASCD Emerging Leaders: 2013 Recap

      Check out our recap of all the amazing things ASCD emerging leaders did in 2013. We’re looking forward to some great things in 2014 as well!


       ASCD Leader Voices




      Throughout January at wholechildeducation.org: Personalized Learning

      How do we help each student succeed? One promising way is to personalize learning and put each student at the center of her learning experience. Broader than individualized or differentiated instruction, personalized learning is driven by the learner. Ensuring personalized learning for all students requires a shift in thinking about long-standing education practices, systems and policies, as well as significant changes in the tools and resources. To address students’ abilities, interests, styles, and performance, schools need to rethink curricula, instruction, and technology tools to support giving learners choices and schools flexibility.

      Personalized learning has been described as learning that takes place “anywhere, anytime, and anyplace.” More importantly, it has the promise to ensure equity, engagement, ownership, and achievement for each child, in each school, and in each community so that she is college, career, and citizenship ready and prepared for success in our global, knowledge-based society.

      Download two Whole Child Podcasts discussing personalizing learning for students—one is a special one-on-one conversation between professor and author Yong Zhao and ASCD’s Sean Slade, and the other podcast has a panel of educators featuring guests Jennifer Eldredge, a Spanish teacher at Oconomowoc High School whose district is a member of the regional Cooperative Educational Service Agency #1, which is committed to establishing personalized learning as the prevailing approach in southeastern Wisconsin; Andrew Miller, former classroom and online teacher and current education consultant, ASCD Faculty member, National Faculty member at the Buck Institute for Education, and regular ASCD and Edutopia blogger; and Beth Sanders, a high school social studies teacher at Tarrant High School in Alabama who is also the cofounder and codirector of Youth Converts Culture and was named an Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2013 and 2013 Teacher of the Year for Tarrant City Schools.

      Throughout the month, read the Whole Child Blog and tell us what has worked in your school and with your students. E-mail us and share resources, research, and examples.



      Something to Talk About

      Top 10 ASCD EDge blog posts of 2013

      Top 5 Whole Child blog posts of 2013

      Mostclicked stories from ASCD SmartBrief


      Association News

      ASCD Invites Educator-Driven Conversation with the ASCD Forum and #ASCDEdSpace—ASCD announces two new ways for educators to shape teacher leadership. From now through April 11, 2014, educators are encouraged to participate in the ASCD Forum online via the ASCD EDge® social networking community and in-person at the 69th ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show. Read the full press release.


      ASCD’s Newest Professional Development Publications Support Effective Instruction—ASCD announced the release of three new professional development titles for educators. As educators face increasing pressure on assessments and testing, they will find support for structured teaching, self-regulated learning, and assigning and assessing 21st century work in these new professional development publications. Read the full press release.


      ASCD Announces Updates to Free EduCore™ Common Core Implementation Tool—ASCD announced new features available on its free Common Core implementation tool ASCD EduCore™. For the new year, the updated EduCore website features simpler navigation and expanded resources. Read the full press release.


      ASCD to Live Stream 21 Sessions from 2014 Annual Conference and Exhibit Show—ASCD will live stream  21 sessions from the association’s 2014 Annual Conference and Exhibit Show. The live stream option offers global educators an accessible and affordable alternative to attending ASCD’s 2014 Annual Conference. Read the full press release.


      ASCD Joins Instagram as @OfficialASCD—ASCD has joined the social network Instagram under the username @officialascd. ASCD’s Instagram profile will show educators worldwide a behind-the-scenes look at ASCD, while providing free motivation and professional development through pictures and videos. Read the full press release.


      ASCD Releases Four New Professional Development Publications for the New Year—ASCD released four new professional development titles for educators. In light of pressing issues facing educators today, such as improving stagnant Programme for International Student Assessment scores, implementing the new Common Core State Standards, and improving teacher effectiveness, these four new ASCD publications offer educators support with getting to the root of academic and behavioral issues, working with English language learners, developing effective school rules, and teaching effectively. Read the full press release.


      ASCD Expands Emerging Leader Program to Serve More Young Educators—ASCD is pleased to announce the expansion of the ASCD Emerging Leaders program. The two-year Emerging Leaders program is designed to prepare younger, diverse educators for potential influence and ASCD leadership. The expanded program now enrolls more educators, inducting a larger membership class than ever before, and includes an Emerging Leaders Grant opportunity that will award selected participants in their second year of the program with grants of up to $2,000. Read the full press release.




    • Blog post
    • 6 months ago
    • Views: 437
    • Not yet rated
  • PD: Same Old, Same Old. PD: Same Old, Same Old.

    • From: Tom_Whitby
    • Description:

      On January 15, 2014 my Blog will be three years old. With this post included I have written 223 posts just for my blog. In addition, I have done several dozen guest posts for other blogs. On a week-to-week basis I strive to write something new about education, or at least a new take on an old subject, but there are some subjects that linger with very little change.

      Social media’s influence in education is a great example of slow change under the influence social media itself on education. The acceptance of social media in our culture has allowed social media’s slow acceptance into our school system as a source of branding, collaboration, and communication. The idea of blanket banning of students and teachers from all social media, although, unbelievably, still existing in some less enlightened districts, has been a declining practice. There are far fewer posts about that narrowly considered practice. At least this is progress.

      Technology’s acceptance in education however, seems to be a never-ending subject amongst bloggers. Many refer to the fear factor involved with educators and technology. I do not understand what there is to fear from technology. It is what we all depend on to drive our civilization at this point. It is part of our world, and will continue to be so into the future. Our kids will use it and rely on it more than we do, as we used it and relied on it more than our parents did.

      There is no longer a choice as to whether or not educators should incorporate technology tools for learning into education. That boat has sailed, that train left the station, that genie is out of the bottle, and that horse got out of the barn. Time to close that barn door and get on with it.

      If there is nothing to fear about technology, why are so many educators fearful of it? I have often read that there is a technophobia among some educators. Could it be a fear of being replaced by a computer? I doubt it, because educated adults, especially educators, should be able to recognize that as a myth perpetrated by science fiction. Computers cannot replace teachers, but they can make teachers more effective and efficient.

      I think the real pushback on technology from educators comes not from fear, but rather a reluctance to give up time and effort to have to learn something else. Teaching is not an easy job to begin with. It requires not only subject or content knowledge, but education knowledge as well. It requires mastery of two areas and that comes with a price. It requires more than a specialized degree, but additionally, an ongoing struggle to stay relevant in a society that is undergoing continual change at an ever-increasing rapid pace. Learning about technology and how to incorporate it into learning specific to one’s class may be a bridge too far for many educators.

      This dilemma, as pervasive as it seems to be, is not totally the fault of the educators. Many educators have taken to learning on their own. They have personalized their learning to address their needs, as well as the needs of their students. As educators we know that self-motivation in learning is not a common commodity. It also holds true for educators who are learners as well.

      If our education system requires that our educators maintain their relevance through education than the system should have a responsibility to provide the support and security to do so in terms of time and access to learning. Professional Development needs to be more than an occasional workshop that can then be checked off of an Administrator’s list of things that need to be done for the year. PD must be prioritized and supported on an ongoing basis. It must be part of the workweek. In addition to providing access to new ideas, technology, and methodology, time must be afforded for educators to collaborate on what they have learned. Educators need time and support to put into practice what they need to learn.

      In an ideal world every educator would pursue relevance on their own as life long learners. They would seek out the latest and greatest methods and technologies to enhance their teaching and all would benefit. All would be right with the world. Unfortunately for us, we do not live in that world. Educators are strapped for time and money as much as anyone else. Fear of learning something new is far less a factor than time or inclination to do so. If we want to incent people to learn more, we need to prioritize it with time and money. It always comes down to this.

      Professional Development for educators for the most part has been left to the individual educators. The hours spent on PD are often mandated by the district, or state and described in teacher contracts, but the learning often comes at the expense of the educator. This is a model that does not work. We are a system obsessed with assessments, yet we fail to assess many of the things that would really make a difference. Try assessing the effectiveness of PD in a district. Is it making a difference to the entire system, or are only a few educators benefitting? If your system’s method of PD does not do what PD is supposed to do, then maybe you need to change the way you are doing it.

    • Blog post
    • 7 months ago
    • Views: 188
  • Evaluations, Observations, and Evaluations, Observations, and Instructional Rounds

    • From: Nancy_Hahn
    • Description:

      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!

    • Blog post
    • 10 months ago
    • Views: 152
  • I Think I Must Have the “Back- I Think I Must Have the “Back-to-School Blues”

    • From: Craig_Mertler
    • Description:


      I mean, what else could explain this lack of excitement I feel, as the days of summer begin to wind down?  Normally, this time of year brings to me a renewed sense of enthusiasm.  Maybe it was because my summer was a little “turbulent,” but I don’t think that’s the root cause of my blues.  I think it might have something to do with the following story I read last week:


      A local elementary has received sub-par scores on the statewide reading test.  They are now being required to add 1 hour to the length of each school day for the entire 2013-2014 academic year, in order to focus on additional reading instruction.


      Geez, I need to try to understand this.  Let me see if I’ve got this right.  So, we’re going to take kids--between the ages of 6 and 12--and add 5 hours per week to the amount of time they spend in school, right?  Instead of 7 hours each day, they’ll now spend 8 hours in school each day.  Now, on the surface, this sounds great:


      More instructional time




      Academic gains




      Improved test scores


      But, let’s think a little deeper about this.  What do you suppose will be the quality of the reading instruction that takes place during that additional hour at the end of the day?  Kids will be tired; adults will be tired.  Is it reasonable to expect that simply adding more time will automatically lead to more academic improvement?  I honestly don’t think so.


      Maybe the idea is that enhanced/supplemented reading instruction will occur in the mornings.  However, if that’s the case, something’s still got to give during that last additional hour of the day, when kids and teachers are exhausted.


      This “solution” worries me, especially when we have other alternatives.  I respectfully raise the fact that, perhaps, the issue should not be the quantity of instructional time, but rather the quality of instructional time.  What about exploring any of the following?

      • How is reading instructional time is currently structured?
      • What is the effectiveness of the supplemental materials used to support the reading instruction?
      • What is the nature of the general instructional methods used in the school?
      • To what extent is reading supported across the curriculum?
      • The list could go on and on...


      What about the possibility of exploring alternative structures to the things I’ve listed above?  Further, what about the possibility of engaging in schoolwide, collaborative action research as a mechanism to explore the effectiveness of current practices and evaluate the potential power of alternatives to current practice?  There simply is not enough of this type of reflective teacher inquiry into professional practice as a means of solving the educational problems that we face in today’s classrooms and schools.  We absolutely need more of this kind of empowered thinking in our schools if we truly intend on finding effective ways to improve the system of education in our country.


    • Blog post
    • 11 months ago
    • Views: 231
  • Purpose + Alignment = Success Purpose + Alignment = Success

    • From: Adrian_Bertolini
    • Description:

      Many years ago when I used to teach engineering at university I had a passing interest in the field of shape optimization. It was a fascinating field because the idea of optimization in my particular area of expertise revolved around designing software that could optimize the placement of material so that, for given forces and stresses, the software would design the best and lightest shape of an object to withstand the given input.


      It was interesting to watch how the material thickness flowed during the optimization process until the final shape was reached. The optimized shape would then represent the strongest yet lightest shape that would account for all the input conditions. Different input data would result in different shapes and the more accurate and representative the input data was the better and more practical the optimized shape became.

      I bring this up because I was pondering recently what our education system, schools, and teaching is optimized for?

      Let’s do a bit of a thought experiment to explore our thinking for a moment. 


      Imagine that we had the opportunity to begin from nothing and design an education system from the ground up.


      Firstly, we must decide upon the input conditions. What will the education system be for? Will it be to prepare students for an every changing world where we don’t know what jobs they will be doing? Will it be to get them into university or college? Will it be to prepare them to be good citizens? Will it prepare them to be spiritual or respectful? Will it prepare them to follow rules and laws? Will it prepare them to be factory workers? Will it prepare them to do a trade? Will it prepare them to think in particular ways? Will the education system be a place that keeps them out of the way until they become adults?


      You can probably add much more to that list and feel free to. However, you may notice that many are not mutually exclusive and all represent some of what we want the education system to do. And, much like optimization in my engineering example, differing input conditions will result in a different education system. I think that whatever we decide upon as the purpose for an education system it should cater for the current societal needs but also represent the most complete far-seeing future that would set up each individual for a positive and productively just world.

      Once we have chosen the purpose we could then begin to optimize the structure of that education system to be able to most effectively deliver the purpose we have designed.

      To accomplish the purpose of education over the time an individual is in the system would it require funding, schools, teachers, technology? How would we design funding for it? Who would have a say about its design, etc.? What evidence would we look at to support decisions that are made? What would ‘schools’ look like? Would we even have these things called schools? Would we have timetables? Classes? What would learning look like? Would it look differently at different developmental stages of the individuals? How would we cater for the spectrum of learners? How would it cater for different availability of resources? How could we cater for people of different cultural backgrounds?

      The optimization would begin with the overall goal / purpose in mind and then each sub-section below it can be optimized for local conditions but still fulfilling the overall purpose. As localized input conditions change so will the structure. This naturally points to the system needing to be self-reflective and adaptable but consciously and intentionally aligned to fulfill a purpose.

      So what is the point of this thought experiment?

      Well, it is rare for any country to sit down with a blank sheet and do this work. I can count on one hand how many countries have deliberately done this. If you do a little digging you will find those that have done something similar to this thought experiment are the ones at the top of the PISA rankings. Most countries try to patch something on to old way of doing things and have competing purposes and structures. There is no reinvention or transformation – just Band-Aids and wastage. I am also aware that those that have the say in designing the education systems of a country quite often are not driven by a clear vision but by competing demands that have nothing to do with creating a clear vision. Setting out with a clear goal does make a profound difference.

      Secondly, I find that it is also rare for schools to do this work. Again you will find that schools that have created a clear purpose then have aligned their school structures to fulfill their chosen purpose will be palpably great learning cultures where staff, students and the community are in alignment. They will also perform effectively against all measures and will adapt well to changing conditions.

      Many schools and their internal structures occur as a hodge-podge of ideas and structures with little integrity or alignment to deliver a particular purpose. There are staff holding out and hiding out – doing their own thing. There are inefficient professional development structures – ideas and leadership are not enhanced and grown. There may even be pockets of distrust between staff and leadership. Regardless of what the Education SYSTEM does a school can be internally focused and aligned. This makes a profound difference in and of itself.

      Finally, I also suggest that it is rare for teachers to do this work for themselves. In other words, identifying what is their purpose then how are they going to align their structures and the creation of learning for their students given the external forces they face so they can accomplish their purpose. Masterful teachers are constantly adapting and developing themselves to do this. Again, regardless of the eduction system and a school and teacher can be internally focused and aligned.

      I invite you to consider that in many education systems, schools and the way that teaching staff relate to their environment there isn’t enough alignment. Research shows that greater effectiveness can arise when there is greater alignment. You may not be able to change the education system or the way the school can operate at the moment, but how can you align yourself and your structures to more effectively accomplish your purpose for being a teacher or a school?

      Unless you are consistently reflecting and aligning yourself and your structures to deliver your purpose as conditions change then bit by bit you are devolving your capacity to perform. At best you will become mediocre. At worst, counterproductive.

      If you are a good school and interested in being a great school – the key is to create a coherent purpose and then alignment of structures throughout the school to achieve that purpose. If you are a good teacher and interested in being a great teacher then reflect and begin aligning yourself to your vision and what you are really out to create for your students and education as a whole. What you will find is that life and work will become much more purposeful and clear for you.

      It's a start!

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 1664

    • From: Craig_Mertler
    • Description:



      I wanted to take a brief moment to introduce my new venture to any and all who read my blog:  an educational consulting company, ready and open for business!  The name of my consulting company is MERTLER EDUCATIONAL CONSULTING, LLC.  

      Services include the following:

      Professional development training in the following areas:

      1. Action research (especially as applied to the implementation of the Common Core State Standards)

      2. Data-driven decision making

      3. Assessment literacy

      4. Classroom assessment techniques

      5. Interpreting standardized test score for instructional improvement

      Consultative services related to the following:

      1. Research design, instrument development, and data collection and analysis that may or may not be related to grant-funded projects

      2. Action research initiatives

      3. Program evaluation

      4. Student assessment systems

      Speaking services, including:

      1. Keynote addresses

      2. Inservice professional development presentations


      Please check out the MEC web site by clicking here (where you can also find a downloadable brochure).

      Here’s what a couple of former clients have said about the services provided by MEC:

      “Dr. Mertler has helped me and my staff understand how the action research process, formative assessments, and teacher leadership play a key role in educating our students.  He takes what educators often look at as being complicated tasks and helps paint a clear picture of how systems can be used within schools to improve student achievement.  Working with Dr. Mertler has given me the confidence in working with both data and people that my college courses never provided.”




      “Dr. Craig Mertler is a leader and ‘architect’ in the field of action research.  I was fortunate to work with Dr. Mertler for two years as he mentored me through a year-long action research course and led me through the dissertation process.  His style focuses on novel research, continuous improvement, and educator empowerment.  His cyclical application of action research serves as a guide that can be used to improve the educational practices and processes of teachers, administrators, district personnel, and researchers.  Without reservation, I would recommend Dr. Mertler’s services to anyone and any school looking to advance the quality of their work.”




      The web site includes more testimonials from current and past clients.

      Consider contacting me today, so we can begin to explore collaborative projects that will enhance the effectiveness of your school or other educational institution!!

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 204
  • 12 Steps to Keeping Our Studen 12 Steps to Keeping Our Students Safe

    • From: Carol_Hunter
    • Description:


      After each atrocity in our schools, dialogue about “increasing school safety” is heightened. The focus is usually on implementing a variety of new controls and punishments. Do our students feel safer if they have passed through a metal detector? Do they feel safer if there are policies and procedures in place about weapons? Do they feel safer if there are anti-bullying policies in their schools? I don’t believe these measures do much to increase a real feeling of safety.

      What we need is a shared understanding of safe school culture and the knowledge of how to create the culture that makes our students feel truly safe and ready to learn.

      As principal of a large, inner-city, multicultural school in Ottawa, Canada, I led a team of dedicated teachers and educational support staff in creating a school where everyone felt safe and cared for, where everyone was engaged and empowered to become the best they could be, where bullying was almost non-existent, where students wanted to come to school and behavioral issues were at a minimum. This is not easier said than done. It is being done at many schools across North America. It can be done anywhere. How?

      At the risk of reducing something as important as personal safety and mental health to a list of actions, here are 12 suggestions of what we need to know, do and “be” to create safe and caring school cultures.

      1. Know that “school culture” is composed of people, processes and programs.For example, people must treat one another with mutual respect and a sense of shared responsibility. Everyone should have an optimistic feeling that they can be successful when empowered and supported to be the best they can be. Anti-bullying policies and procedures must be in place and their effectiveness must be tracked. Student-led programs such as mentoring and conflict resolution should be in place.

      2. Know the power of building personal connections within our schools and our communities. Students should be connected to one another through group projects, mentoring younger students and working together to make a difference in their local and global communities. Parents must be fully engaged in their child’s learning.

      3. Know that “test scores” will not rise if our students do not feel safe and cared for at school. Commit to moving well beyond teaching strategies and narrowly focused teacher evaluation systems to gaining a full understanding of the impact that feeling safe has on the brain. Much like a hungry child not being able to learn, the brain of a child who does not feel safe is unable to maximize learning.

      4. Know that schools must address the safety needs of the whole child — social, emotional, physical and intellectual. Although metal detectors appear to address physical safety needs, they may negatively affect the emotional sense of safety.

      5. Define the culture you want in your school. Create a plan to make it happen and implement and monitor the plan. If you don’t actively address culture in your school, you will live within the default culture. This isn’t good enough.

      6. Create a culture that encourages engagement and empowerment. Within a shared understanding of purpose and goals, empower your students to engage fully in their own learning through providing choice and addressing individual learning strengths and styles.

      7. Implement whatever security procedures are necessary in a particular school community. Base this decision on risk assessment and an understanding that safety will never be guaranteed.

      8. Pay particular attention to those students who are slower to engage by maintaining open communication and building connections.

      9. Be present. Be visible and engaged in the life of your school. Live and breathe your mission, vision and values.

      10. Be positive. Believe that everyone wants to do a good job and make a difference. Support students and colleagues in doing so.

      11. Be real. Move well beyond “playing a role.” Feel safe in being yourself. Grow and learn every day.

      12. Care. We all care deeply about the students in our care. Unfortunately, politics and bureaucracy often get in the way. Don’t let that happen.

      If we focus on creating safe and caring cultures, bullying will diminish, mental health will improve, teen suicides will decrease and we will feel safer in our schools and in our lives. It’s the least we can do.

      This Blog was first published on SmartBlog on Education at http://smartblogs.com/education/2013/06/20/12-steps-to-keeping-students-safe/

      Carol Hunter is an award-winning, retired elementary-school principal and author of“Real Leadership Real Change”. She is president of Impact Leadership, a consulting company focused on bringing real change to public education.

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 1710
  • How Districts are being Penny How Districts are being Penny Wise and Pound Foolish and Pound Foolish

    • From: Suzanne_Klein1
    • Description:

      Have you ever been asked to create curriculum when you felt like you went to school to teach?

      In an effort to save money, we have heard some districts are having teachers work collaboratively to design daily lessons for the Common Core. This poses a problem. When are teachers going to find time to create top notch Common Core lessons when they are in classrooms every day?

      There are two ways districts think they are saving money. One is they are trying to find free Common Core material for their teachers to use. The other is they are asking their teachers to be curriculum creators.  Now don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Districts might save one penny now, but waste pounds of pennies later on when they realize their plan to save money backfired. Read on to hear my opinions on why I believe districts should make curriculum decisions with their eyes wide open.

      Take out the “R” in FREE and you get FEE

      Upon further investigation into why a prestigious Michigan district did not choose WriteSteps, we uncovered the truth that the district went with a “free” resource. Denise Dusseau, WriteSteps’ Curriculum Creator, looked into the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA) CCSS Units they went with. MAISA CCSS Units is an example of a consortium of school districts currently working to create writing units adhered to the Common Core Standards.

      Denise discovered that like with many things, when you take out the “R” in FREE, you get FEE.  The supposedly “free” writing units offered to schools actually require teachers to have the full version of Lucy Calkins in order to teach the complete MAISA lesson plans.  Therefore, if teachers do not have Lucy Calkins, they will have to take the time to create the lessons themselves. It’s like when your kids open their Christmas presents and are so excited to use them, only to discover you forgot to buy the AAA batteries!

      Plus she discovered the Common Cores are not even addressed in the pacing guides! I understand school districts are trying these free units in an effort to save money, but as the age old saying goes, “You get what you pay for!”

      Experiences and Observations from Creating Curriculum While in the Trenches

      I ran into numerous challenges when creating lesson plans collaboratively with my co-workers. Here is what I discovered:

      • Collaboration among teachers to create lessons involves a lot of work.
      • Different viewpoints are great, but I spent a lot of my time explaining why I chose a certain style of lesson to other teachers, and vice versa.
      • The variety of different teaching styles and opinions disrupted the flow and continuity for students.
      • I believe elementary teachers are taken advantage of. As a teacher I was a generalist and taught all the subjects. But, I think administrators assume we are specialists in all subjects. If a teacher agrees to be a curriculum creator for writing, will they also be asked to be curriculum creators for math, reading, spelling, science, and social studies?
      • While I was meeting, planning and creating, I couldn’t give my best to my students.


      Not all Teachers are Skilled at Creating Lesson Plans

      Let’s be honest. Some teachers love creating lesson plans and can whip up great lessons in no time! But what about the teacher that finds the process difficult and time consuming?  Compiling and creating lesson plans takes a lot of work. I know because it took me years of research and planning to create all of the lesson plans that were included in the original WriteSteps.  The time went by in a snap because of my passion for teaching writing. However, not all teachers want to spend countless hours outside of the classroom perfecting lessons on a subject they may not particularly be passionate about. Many teachers originally decided on their career paths because they are passionate about TEACHING, not creating lesson plans.

      The moral of this story is look before you leap! “Free” will most likely always equal fee in the end, whether it be a fee of money or a fee of time. If you try a free program, chances are you’re going to waste a year and discover that “free” really isn’t free, and you will be hunting for a different solution. Likewise, asking teachers to develop lesson plans to meet the Common Core Standards hurts their effectiveness to do what they do best, teach!

      With WriteSteps, teachers do not need to wonder if they are using the correct curriculum; it’s all there for them in the daily lesson plans that are provided. Teachers won’t have to struggle or stress about time when it comes to creating writing lessons mapped to meet the Common Core.  We aren’t free, but you will get more than what you paid for-confident writing teachers and strong student writers.




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  • All Teachers Aren’t Cut Out to All Teachers Aren’t Cut Out to Be Curriculum Creators: How Districts are Being Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

    • From: Anjilla_Young
    • Description:

      Have you ever been asked to create curriculum when you felt like you went to school to teach?

      In an effort to save money, we have heard some districts are having teachers work collaboratively to design daily lessons for the Common Core. This poses a problem. When are teachers going to find time to create top notch Common Core lessons when they are in classrooms every day?

      There are two ways districts think they are saving money. One is they are trying to find free Common Core material for their teachers to use. The other is they are asking their teachers to be curriculum creators.  Now don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Districts might save one penny now, but waste pounds of pennies later on when they realize their plan to save money backfired. Read on to hear my opinions on why I believe districts should make curriculum decisions with their eyes wide open.

      Take out the “R” in FREE and you get FEE

      Upon further investigation into why a prestigious Michigan district did not choose WriteSteps, we uncovered the truth that the district went with a “free” resource. Denise Dusseau, WriteSteps’ Curriculum Creator, looked into the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA) CCSS Units they went with. MAISA CCSS Units is an example of a consortium of school districts currently working to create writing units adhered to the Common Core Standards.

      Denise discovered that like with many things, when you take out the “R” in FREE, you get FEE.  The supposedly “free” writing units offered to schools actually require teachers to have the full version of Lucy Calkins in order to teach the complete MAISA lesson plans.  Therefore, if teachers do not have Lucy Calkins, they will have to take the time to create the lessons themselves. It’s like when your kids open their Christmas presents and are so excited to use them, only to discover you forgot to buy the AAA batteries!

      Plus she discovered the Common Cores are not even addressed in the pacing guides! I understand school districts are trying these free units in an effort to save money, but as the age old saying goes, “You get what you pay for!”

      Experiences and Observations from Creating Curriculum While in the Trenches

      I ran into numerous challenges when creating lesson plans collaboratively with my co-workers. Here is what I discovered:

      • Collaboration among teachers to create lessons involves a lot of work.
      • Different viewpoints are great, but I spent a lot of my time explaining why I chose a certain style of lesson to other teachers, and vice versa.
      • The variety of different teaching styles and opinions disrupted the flow and continuity for students.
      • I believe elementary teachers are taken advantage of. As a teacher I was a generalist and taught all the subjects. But, I think administrators assume we are specialists in all subjects. If a teacher agrees to be a curriculum creator for writing, will they also be asked to be curriculum creators for math, reading, spelling, science, and social studies?
      • While I was meeting, planning and creating, I couldn’t give my best to my students.

       Not all Teachers are Skilled at Creating Lesson Plans

      Let’s be honest. Some teachers love creating lesson plans and can whip up great lessons in no time! But what about the teacher that finds the process difficult and time consuming?  Compiling and creating lesson plans takes a lot of work. I know because it took me years of research and planning to create all of the lesson plans that were included in the original WriteSteps.  The time went by in a snap because of my passion for teaching writing. However, not all teachers want to spend countless hours outside of the classroom perfecting lessons on a subject they may not particularly be passionate about. Many teachers originally decided on their career paths because they are passionate about TEACHING, not creating lesson plans.

      The moral of this story is look before you leap! “Free” will most likely always equal fee in the end, whether it be a fee of money or a fee of time. If you try a free program, chances are you’re going to waste a year and discover that “free” really isn’t free, and you will be hunting for a different solution. Likewise, asking teachers to develop lesson plans to meet the Common Core Standards hurts their effectiveness to do what they do best, teach!

      With WriteSteps, teachers do not need to wonder if they are using the correct curriculum; it’s all there for them in the daily lesson plans that are provided. Teachers won’t have to struggle or stress about time when it comes to creating writing lessons mapped to meet the Common Core.  We aren’t free, but you will get more than what you paid for-confident writing teachers and strong student writers.


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  • Refocus on the Learner Refocus on the Learner

    • From: Michael_Fisher
    • Description:


      Recently, I worked with Steve Hargadon of Classroom 2.0 at an educational conference in Jacksonville, Florida. Steve is a marvelous conversationalist and has fantastic stories to share.

      In the car on the way to the conference, Steve and I were discussing the “institution” of school and the “system” of school. The largest part of our conversation centered around the fact that we have, collectively as a nation, created a massive operation for educating children that does not work. Students are not graduating with the skills they need to be successful in the world they are graduating into. No surprise to many of you reading this--it isn’t “new” news. We know it’s not working.

      The “institution” is the bureaucratic, policy side of public education that demands that “each get some.” The “system” is the mechanism for delivering the “some” to all.  The good ideas that created the system and thus the institution around it are lost in the shuffle. Doing what’s best for kids and doing what’s fair for all have each become a separate megalopolis each on a separate continent.

      Education has become so institutionalized that the act of “doing” something equates to readiness for the next checked off item on the “to do” list of instructional practice. The ebb and flow of “doing” becomes the barometer for success as measured by standardized high stakes tests that, in one moment, assess a student’s ability to “do school,” measure a teacher’s effectiveness, and be a checks and balances sheet to maintain the system as directed by the institution.

      Note that in the previous paragraph, the word “learning” was not used. In a Huffington Post article from last March, Connie Yowell describes education as what institutions do and learning as what people do. What’s happening, though, is the system and the institution are methodically destroying learning. I think it’s high time we refocus on the learner.

      My friend and colleague Jennifer Borgioli recently wrote a piece for the Gotham Schools blog about standardized testing, in the wake of the recent Common Core aligned New York state tests. In the blog post, she describes learning as a construct. We can measure variables that indicate that learning is happening but cannot quantify the whole of what learning means. In Jen’s words, we can’t “pull out a child’s brain, slap it on a scale, and say, yup, they’ve learned this much.”

      The system and the institution would have you believe that it is possible to well quantify the learning with one high-stakes assessment that serves as a good indicator of year to year growth, how well a teacher teaches, and whether or not the school as a whole is an effective system. The problem is with the variables. In science, we draw conclusions based on the experimentation of one variable at a time, a process approach that helps winnow the possible outcomes of comparative observation. In our current model, the system and the institution are on a multi-variable train that not only amounts to bad science but, in turn, leads to bad practices.

      Case in point:  A few weeks ago, students in New York State took the first version of the new Common Core aligned tests. They were asked questions that were more rigorous than ever before in an attempt to measure the learning of the Common Core standards. The stories that came out of the woodwork over the course of the week involved students walking out of the test, kids crying, kids unable to finish, kids just giving up, etc. The test was designed to measure the degree to which the students met the Common Core standards. The test does not allow for variations in home environment, parental support, socioeconomic status, etc., all of which are variables that are not necessarily considered as important but in the end, majorly affect the data collected. (Other variables here would also include teacher support, teacher training, schools as systems supporting the standards versus pocket buy-in, etc.)

      The test was designed to evaluate the system and perpetuate the institution. The tests in other states that are being designed to evaluate the “learning” are all heading in the same direction.

      Do we want our students ready for college and careers? Absolutely.

      Do we want them ready to meet the challenges of the world they will graduate into? You betcha.

      Do we need assessment? Of course.

      Do we want them suffering through assessments that were designed with the institution/system rather than the child in mind? Not at all.

      Steve and I discussed how the people with the best ideas are usually not the ones running the companies that develop and market and sell the product that the idea people generated. Wonderful ideas are snagged up by companies or companies are created around them. In order to sell to the masses you need a system set up for production and delivery. You also need an institution to maintain and advance the ideas, normalizing everything for the benefit of impacting the most people possible to increase the bottom line over time.

      The problem though, lies in the fact that once the ideas/learning lose the focus of priority in favor of the system or the institution because of a mistaken belief that “some” of the original ideas are best for “most” in the system, the system falters. How well does that work when the institution or the system becomes the priority? You tell me: Polaroid. Enron. Commodore. Hollywood Video. Madoff Investment Securities. The list is long...

      Assessment is not bad. In a previous blog post, I wrote about why in the world we would practice for a game we never played or rehearse for a performance we never give? I also don’t disagree with checks and balances in the system, but the system must have integrity. That integrity lies in the priority of keeping the learner at the center. That means that we must not only find ways to more rationally assess students without causing complete psychological breakdowns on test days but also that we address some of the other variables that the system and the institution keep in the periphery, primarily poverty and family/environmental support.

      Hmmm. “Test days.” Now that I’ve said those words specifically, perhaps that’s the beginning of the new conversation. Instead of the grimness of the dark and scary hell week of assessments, perhaps we start looking at what can be embedded in instruction. Perhaps we look at leveraging opportunities for choice and differentiated products through performance tasks and problem-based scenarios that not only generate a product but also are a launching pad for the next learning moment. These aren’t new ideas. I’m not innovating here. I am talking about something though that is difficult for institutionalized implementation. It is difficult for systemic production and delivery. It’s expensive and messy and would involve much more local control.

      We can send a man to the moon but we are still having trouble negotiating the creation of a better assessment of student learning? I wonder how many one size fits all, end of the year, high stakes assessments those NASA engineers took before they were finally ready to, according to the system and the institution, design and implement their ideas? I wonder if Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would have been comfortable putting their lives on the line for a bunch of scientists that did REALLY well on their one moment in time, end of year state tests?

      There are no easy answers here, I know that. But I also know that there are still kids at the heart of all of this. The institution and the system need to refocus on that. We have an unbelievable challenge and a massive obligation to get this right.


      Originally blogged on Smartblogs.com/education. Portions added.



      Follow Mike on Twitter

      Upgrade Your Curriculum now available at the ASCD Bookstore



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    • 1 year ago
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  • L2L News: May 2013 L2L News: May 2013

    • From: Meg_Cohen
    • Description:

      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 constituentservices@ascd.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.

      Throughout the month, read the Whole Child Blog and tell us what has worked in your school and with your students. E-mail us and share resources, research, and examples.


      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.

      Previous Posts:Tennessee ASCD, New Jersey ASCD,Alabama ASCD, Arkansas ASCD, New Hampshire ASCD, and Florida ASCD


      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

      ·         Most recent blog posts on ASCD EDge®

      ·         Mostclicked stories from ASCD SmartBrief


      Association News

      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.



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