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In one of his academic articles, Andrew Burke reports that teachers make some 30 non-trivial work related decisions every hour and engage in as many as 1,500 interactions with students every day. No wonder teachers are so exhausted!
The opportunity to engage with students as many as 1,500 times every day presents us with lots of opportunities to “get it right”—and just as many opportunities to fall short.
While these four strategies from blogger and ESL teacher Larry Ferlazzo won’t guarantee that we “get it right” all the time, they may prove useful for strengthening your relationships with challenging students.
Simple Ways to Reach Your Challenging Students
Conduct regular student reflections
Most of us regularly tell students what we expect of them; less often do we ask them to set expectations for themselves. One way to have students take stock of their behavior and intellectual growth is by having them write weekly reflections. As an example, you might consider having students answer and discuss prompts like these:
The idea is for each student to write about how they see themselves in the context of that particular topic and determine if they are satisfied with themselves. If not, encourage them to reflect on how they can improve.
In his class, Ferlazzo begins each week by having students write a goal and closes each Friday by asking them to assess whether or not they were successful in reaching it.
Use daily evaluations
Writing students’ names on the board is one amongst many “old school” methods of discipline still used in the classroom.
Instead of resorting to this, try using daily evaluations instead.
To start, discuss important elements of a healthy classroom. This should be a conversation that includes everyone. Based on this discussion, develop a check list, have students grade themselves on each criteria and assign themselves an overall grade at the end of each day.
Self-assessments should only take a few minutes to review and comment on.
No more phone calls about bad behavior
Instead of calling the parents of a student who was not behaving well, Ferlazzo suggests telling disruptive students that you will not be calling their parents—at least not that day.
Instead, let them know that the phone call will wait until the following week so that you can report all the good things they’ve done and how they’ve improved in the last week.
Arrange a secret sign with students that lets them know they need to stop
Private conversations usually help curb disruptive behavior, but they may not be necessary if you and the student arrange a “sign” that lets the student know a specific behavior needs to stop. This may be as simple as standing next a student or tapping on his or her desk.
If you stop by Mr. Ferlazzo’s blog, you’ll not only find a collection of useful teaching resources, you’ll also be able to read the six remaining classroom management tips we mention here.
What time is it?
If I asked that question at home, my children would probably yell, “Adventure Time!” At work, I ask myself that question all the time (no pun intended).
There are a lot of old adages and cliche’s about time and I love everyone of them… I’m sure you have heard them too:
“Time swiftly passes”
“Time is of the essence”
“Time flies when your having fun”
“Time is an illusion”
With the increasing demands on school leaders, I think that this post is timely (pun again). How do we spend our time?
I struggle with time. I am not a morning person, but I know it is important to be at work early (although no one seems to care how late I stay). Throughout the day I am constantly juggling the responsibilities of observing, walking through classrooms, connecting with other educators, talking to students and parents. My time is precious. …. I can’t be everywhere all the time (pun number ?)
How do I manage my time? I have become reliant on my Outlook calendar. I have my calendar on my laptop, iPhone, iPad and anywhere else I need it. Someone asks me to do something or be somewhere, I usually whip out my iPhone to check my availability. I know I only have so much time (pun number ?).
I have to make time to learn new time management tools
My PrincipalCast co-hosts and I just did a podcast on Time Management. Although the session was not recorded (due to technical glitches) we had an amazing discussion on technological breakthroughs that can assist educators with time management.
In preparing for the show, I read a wonderful post byTony Sinanis who ended up stopping by to chat. InPut What Matters First, Tony discusses how he “prioritizes” rather than “manages time.”He is student-centered and remains steadfast that students are first on his list of priorities!
Jessica Johnson shared how she prioritizes her time. She uses the Four Quadrants of Time Management, a matrix popularized by Stephen Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. She also uses BILT (Before I leave today) to ensure she accomplishes her tasks before heading home.
I shared one of my favorite books, Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracy. In the book, readers are provided with 21 time saving tips to make sure that priorities do not get out of control.
Other resources that were shared on the podcast:
Paperless Principal by Jethro Jones
Want to lose the 3 ring binder? Try Livebinders
Want to connect with people without email? Printing? Try Google Docs
Quickly becoming the best place to explore, share, and contribute educational content… Educlipper
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 email@example.com.
Action Items for ASCD Leaders
Policy Points Highlights Funding Sources for Educator Professional Development
Despite shrinking education budgets, there are still opportunities to pursue funding for educator professional development. Check out the latest issue of Policy Points (PDF), which provides links to these resources.
Leaders in Action: News from the ASCD Leader Community
ASCD Leader Voices
Welcome University of Southern California ASCD Student Chapter
ASCD is pleased to announce a new ASCD Student Chapter, started by ASCD emerging leader Eric Bernstein. Please join us in welcoming University of Southern California ASCD Student Chapter to the ASCD community!
2013 ASCD emerging leader Melany Stowe was recently appointed director of communications and community outreach for Danville Public Schools in Virginia.
OYEA winner Bijal Damani is one of 250 educators chosen for the Microsoft Expert Educators Program. She is also a finalist for the 21st Century Learning Teacher of the Year award, and will be sharing her experiences at their global conference next month in Hong Kong.
Throughout November on www.wholechildeducation.org: Supporting Student Success and the Common Core Standards
The Common Core State Standards are not a curriculum. Standards are targets for what students should know and be able to do. Curricula are the instructional plans and strategies that educators use to help their students reach those expectations. Central to a supportive school are teachers, administrators, and other caring adults who take a personal interest in each student and in each student’s success. How are we designing course content, choosing appropriate instructional strategies, developing learning activities, continuously gauging student understanding, adjusting instruction accordingly, and involving parents and families as partners to support our students’ success?
A whole child approach to education is essential to realizing the promise of the standards. Only when students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged will they be able to meet our highest expectations and realize their fullest potential.
Download the Whole Child Podcast for a discussion on supporting student success as schools implement the Common Core State Standards. Guests include Peter DeWitt, an elementary school principal in New York, author, and Education Week blogger; Thomas Hoerr, head of New City School in St. Louis, Mo., author, and ASCD Multiple Intelligences Professional Interest Community facilitator; and Rich McKinney, an assistant principal for a middle school in Knoxville, Tenn., and Common Core coach for the state of Tennessee. 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
Roland S. Barth shared in his seminal book Learning by Heart (2001), that schools should possess an “ethos hospitable to the promotion of human learning.” As I have endeavored through massive leadership and learning changes, Barth’s words have become a truism for me. Whether navigating a curriculum change, supporting different forms of professional learning, or problem-solving a complex issue (or usually all of the aforementioned at the same time), I ask myself, “How is what we are doing promoting an ethos hospitable to learning?” Inevitably the responses to this question have led the way to culturally transformative levels of learning in our school. Given that instructional cultures grow best organically and synergistically, (and this has been the case for mine), I would simply add that when change is nurtured with innovation, support and feedback, the rate of growth is exponential, and the direction of growth flows in intended and unintended directions.
In our schoolhouse, we believe:
Barth eloquently describes what it takes to achieve this vision. “When we come to believe that our schools should be providing a culture that creates and sustains a community of student and adult learning—that this is the trellis of our profession—then we will organize our schools, classrooms, and learning experiences differently.” (Barth, R., The Culture Builder, Educational Leadership, May 2002.)
Organizing learning differently has been both an exciting and daunting challenge. In the era of sweeping reform, striving to make this vision come to life uniquely within a school requires the science and artistry of students, faculty, staff and parents alike, who must continually partner as an interdependent team. This type of work demands mutual support, collective expertise and shared accountability. (For example: How does being affixed to one curriculum benefit students? Am I ready to share my student’s formative data with my teaching peers?) It also demands adaptive thinking, rather than technical solutions. (For example: How does this master schedule promote flexible forms of learning?) In our school’s journey, confronting shared questions have proven weighty, but worthy. While many might say strong academic achievement has been the most visible and predictable success in our trellis climb, we believe our substantive growth has mainly emanated from our collective drive for seamless collaboration and embedded forms of professional learning. In fact, I would characterize our school as relentless about setting the conditions for academic and social-emotional success. Our sustained urgency on learning, along with our instructional and cultural momentum has fundamentally redesigned the way we teach and learn. What were once individually celebrated features of our school’s educational excellence, are now deliberately interconnected and vital components of our cultural instructional identity. In essence, we teach and learn within a coherent system of meaningful moving parts.
Professional Learning Communities
Our teams practice the data cycle (Reeves, D.) within the professional learning community model (DuFour, R.). In addition to three dedicated common planning times for each team each week, our teachers also collaborate in numerous informal, horizontal and vertical ways throughout each school day. We reflect, design, instruct, assess and monitor as teams. No one teaches or works in isolation. We strive to meet and exceed commonly established goals, and our data is transparent and accessible at all times.
Response to Intervention Methods
Our faculty has studied Response to Intervention (RtI) through the work of Mike Mattos. Our Superintendent’s leadership has also helped us fully commit to giving students what they need, when they need it. We employ universal screening, core district curriculum, and progress monitoring procedures. Customized interventions and supports are architected into personal learning plans, which are designed and delivered by our expert teachers. These academic and social-emotional learning plans are monitored and refined by data teams in instructional cycles throughout the year.
Our district is deeply committed to embedded forms of professional learning. At the elementary level, we employ the workshop model of instruction, chiefly studying the work of Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project. We benefit from three literacy specialists and one mathematics specialist on our staff, who actively coach each of our teachers and teams. Our school employs a literacy and mathematics laboratory model (conducting peer observations with a coach, engaging in lesson voice overs, leading parts of a lesson, and dissecting model lessons), shared classroom walkthroughs, opportunities to look at student work, and the unconference model. Each of these forms of adult learning expands our craft knowledge and grows our shared expertise.
Leadership For All
Our school rests upon our extraordinary teachers and staff, each of whom is a leader in his/her own right. Teachers are trusted to make important decisions about learning. While we have formal teams such as a school leadership team, a child study team and a positive behavior support team, our teachers actively lead the wealth of the instructional design, intervention plans, and assessment work. Teachers also design and lead professional learning opportunities that seed the school with innovation; modeling their own risk-taking and inspiring adaptive thinking among staff.
As Barth has eloquently pointed out in Learning By Heart (2001):
“It has been said that running a school is about putting first things first; leadership is determining what are the first things; and management is about putting them first. I would like to suggest that the ‘first thing’, the most important feature of the job description for each of us as educators, is to discover and provide the considerations under which people’s learning curves go off the chart. Sometimes it’s other people’s learning curves; those of students, teachers, parents, administrators. But at all times it is our own learning curve.” (Barth, R. Learning By Heart, 2001, p. 11).
I would be remiss if I did not comment on my own learning curve amidst this type of learning environment, where change is the norm, and as Barth points out, “learning curves go off the chart.” My experience is that one cannot be immersed in this type of work - day in and day out - without realizing the profound personal and professional effect it has on your own practice. The way I think, the way I listen, the way I reflect, the way I contribute and the way I solve has everything to do with what I have learned from my colleagues. Their work teaches me everyday. Courageously, they have helped me reach upward and outward for a truly ambitious vision, and equally have the support to lean into what can be possible for every learner. Barth reminds me time and time again, that the ethos of learning is within and among us every single day. Even in the face of tremendous change, it is our calling to climb the professional trellis uniquely and continually, in order to benefit every student and adult in the schoolhouse, including ourselves.
Sandra A. Trach, Principal
Estabrook School, Lexington, MA
As an educational leader, you have a vision of where your school needs to be. You have invested in your staff, students, and stakeholders, and you expect success. And you hold yourself to a high standard knowing that your attitude—and your action—sets the overall tone for the school. So why is it that some leaders seem to be able to “get it done” while others seem overwhelmed? For many, it’s about time. All of us, if we are honest, have plans or goals that are unrealized, in part, due to how we have chosen to use our time.
In Short on Time: How Do I Make Time to Lead and Learn as a Principal?, we tackle some of these important issues, one step at a time. We hear insights and see examples from successful leaders in the field. In my work as a teacher, principal, professor, and learner, I’ve compiled a growing list of ideas related to school leadership. From this list of 100 Action Steps (yes, it’s a big, round number), there are a few you might consider:
Consider leaders who have successfully navigated some of these challenges and realized success in their schools. Some of their action steps may be a great fit for you and your school, and you will likely add a host of others to your own list. Ask yourself, “How can I make time to lead in order to realize this goal?” Success often comes one action step at a time. Let’s take the first one. It’s time.
The ASCD Arias book Short on Time: How do I Make Time to Lead and Learn as a Principal? is written by William Sterrett, who is also the author of Insights into Action: Successful School Leaders Share What Works (ASCD, 2011). Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org.
For more information about the book or to purchase copies, go to http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Short-on-Time.aspx You can follow on Twitter @billsterrett
If only I had the time. How often do school principals hear this phrase from their hurried colleagues? Educators' sincere desire to do more, learn more, and engage more continually runs up against the realities of the frenetic, ever-changing world of teaching and learning.
I wish I could reach Benjamin better and see him more engaged. How is this possible, with so many other student needs to meet?
I would love to read that new book and apply a new perspective to my work. Who really has time to read, digest, and apply emerging ideas and best practices when so much is demanding our attention in this moment?
It would be great to log on to my Professional Learning Network (PLN) and collaborate with others. Despite our best intentions, exhaustion often trumps professional learning goals at the end of a busy day.
We are living in a time of sweeping curricular shifts and demographic changes. Uncertainties abound regarding educational funding and policy. Innovation inside the classroom and access to resources and perspectives outside the classroom hold unprecedented potential and promise for teaching and learning. This is a time when we sorely need leadership in our schools. We must teach, learn, collaborate, and lead--together. Schools cannot be powered by a hard-working few or count on a small core to "show the way" to success.
In Short on Time, we will take a closer look at action steps that involve teaching, innovating, and leading. They require planning, action, and reflection. Here’s one important area principals can start with: faculty meetings.
The very notion of faculty meetings makes even some of the best teachers cringe. Asking the staff to convene at the end of a busy day is something that any school leader should carefully consider. Principals, take note: if you are struggling to come up with a reason to meet, make the wise decision and cancel the meeting. Be inspirational, not merely informational. School leaders should model what they want learning to look like in their buildings. A principal rambling through a laundry list of managerial items in a meeting is no different from a teacher passing out a dreaded "word find" worksheet to his class. As a rule of thumb, ask yourself, If I were a teacher, would I want to attend this meeting? To make the best use of meeting time, focus on the ABCs of meetings: affirmation, best practices, and coordination.
* Affirmation. Start each meeting by recognizing others' successes and innovations. Principals are uniquely poised to share "what's right" with the school. Allowing teachers to recognize one another can go a long way toward creating a positive climate and high morale.
* Best practices. To encourage best practices, share examples of what is working well within the school and discuss new opportunities for growth. Principals are in a position to leverage powerful insights from teachers and students, and sharing video clips of teaching and learning highlights can transform a faculty meeting's tone and level of involvement. Feel free to include ‘outside’ sources such as an occasional guest speaker or clip from a TED talk. Encourage teachers to lead the discussion.
* Coordination. At the end of each meeting, be sure to outline what is to happen next. Ensuring well though-out action steps will help keep the momentum of school improvement moving forward. An example of coordinating next steps might be: Each department will review and revise exit slips in their core subject area for the next three weeks. Or, With a colleague, review these two teaching strategies and discuss your thoughts on student engagement. Occasionally, use the scheduled faculty meeting time to let all teams conduct a deeper PLC-formatted meeting with specialists and administrators on standby to offer support.
This post is a modified excerpt from the forthcoming ASCD Arias book Short on Time: How do I Make Time to Lead and Learn as a Principal? by William Sterrett. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. © 2013 by ASCD. Reprinted with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org . For more information about the book or to purchase copies, go to http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Short-on-Time.aspx You can follow on Twitter @billsterrett
This is the fourth year I have been part of a summer reading program which ditched the traditional assignment for a more connected approach. Utilizing a tool, like Schoology as we have, to provide a platform for ongoing communication regarding the reading has had a truly transformative effect on a traditional assignment.
The other night I received a phone call from a fellow recent graduate from Indiana University who came to me with questions prior to her elementary school interview. After a 45 minute conversation I found I had much more insight than I previously believed when it came to interviews. This is a continuation from my recent blog on resume tips: http://edge.ascd.org/_34Resume-Tips34-from-a-recently-employed-educator/blog/6537246/127586.html . Like in the previous blog post, I hope to receive feedback from other members both positive and negative welcome regarding my belief about interviews. During my student teaching I was fortunate to have 7 different interviews and also attend 4 job fairs. Below is what I have learned throughout this process.
1. Prep Work
- Prep work is key to a successful interview. Make sure you have reviewed the schools mission statement and possibly some procedures. Questions will not be about this, but it could give insight to what is most important to the culture of the school.
- Know the principal, VP, and division head if applicable to your position (For me it was the social studies department head)
2. Cover Letters/Resumes
- Make sure that cover letters are personalized. I made sure to have separate cover letters for the Principal, VP, division head, and anyone else I thought might be involved in the interview. Make sure to have at least 3-5 extra cover letters that begin with “Dear sir or madam” (still unsure the best way to address people that you do not know what their sex will be, but feel it is better than “to whom this may concern” or something similar).
o In one of my interviews 4 extra members of the social studies department were involved and I did not have their names specifically on the cover letters, which I did not think mattered much. The personalized cover letter is just an extra touch, but I believe is essential now days.
- Have a resume for each cover letter, but do not attach with a staple or paper clip. In only 1 interview was the cover letter really looked at during the interview.
o One teacher I worked with in the Chicago Public Schools explained that I should limit the barriers and with that a paper clip and especially a staple should be excluded when presenting the cover letters and resumes.
3. Interview Questions
- I spent a significant amount of time thinking about these questions and many of them are similar to the essays that are included in the job applications. There will almost always be questions regarding your processes regarding curriculum design, assessment, and classroom management. There are tons of practice questions online for teachers.
4. Bring your Portfolio
- Going into my first interview I had the typical portfolio that I was told to have (unit plan I created in my methods course and a few lesson plans). My next blog will be about what a portfolio should inculde, but here is just a quick summary: Bring lessons you have DONE and thought were successful, student work from these lessons, classroom management plan/philosophy. Use your portfolio as a tool to improve your answers to questions.
5. Ask questions when the interviewers ask if you have any!
o It is important to ask questions at the end of an interview when the interviewers ask if you have any. To keep this blog from getting too long, I will post my experiences and also questions that I thought were impressive in my interviews. There are a number of places to find lists of questions for teachers online.
6. Personalize your interview
- When asked questions throughout the interview, personalize your answers. If it is a classroom management question, explain what you have done in the past and possibly what you would do differently in the future. Do not say, if I had my own classroom I would ____. Using personal experiences helps you come off more candid and also more impressive by showing that you have been there and done that.
7. “Act like they would be dumb not to hire you”
- I received this advice from one of my close friends and fellow Indiana U graduate, who received a very impressive starting job in the finance sector. Because interviews are nerve racking, going in with confidence that you are the best candidate is key. Remember, in many instances, it is you vs. 200 other candidates and if you land an interview you ARE IMPRESSIVE and are most likely down to the last dozen candidates. BUT they are looking for only 1 so you must feel like you are the best candidate for the job. This does not mean be cocky and act like the job is yours,, but having the confidence that the job is yours if you want it shows during an interview and comes off as impressive.
Like all of my blogs, feel free to comment and critique what I have to say. I have limited experiences during this process and felt it might be beneficial for other teachers to hear what I have to say. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on twitter MrFritz8. Hope you enjoyed!
For many students, beginning a new school year can be a great source of anxiety. Thanks to a successful end-of-year transition though, one that you can begin right now, a new teacher and classroom can be an exciting event—not one that causes insecurity or dread. To help your students make a successful transition into the next academic year, we’re offering five simple activities you can put into practice right away.
5 tips for a successful end-of-year transition
The relationship doesn’t end with the academic year
You don’t have to cry like my second grade teacher did on the last day of school, but do let your students know that you valued your time with them. Also, let them know that the relationship doesn’t have to end with the academic school year. They may be moving rooms and working with new teachers, but let them know that they are always welcome to say hello, stop by after school or interact with your new students on your classroom blog.
Ask their new teacher to visit your room
Arrange a time for the new teacher to visit your classroom so that s/he can interact with the students. If you’re looking for a list of tried-and-true icebreaker activities, you can find them here.
Meet the new teacher’s current class
One way to ease your students’ fears about their transition is by having them each interview one student in their new teacher’s current class. They might ask questions like:
Once they conduct the interview, have your students share their findings with the class.
Visit the new classroom
Arrange a time for your students to check out their new digs. It’s always easier to walk into an unfamiliar place when you know where to go and what your surroundings look like. Ask the new teacher to give them a tour and, if you can, try scheduling a follow-up visit.
To help prepare your students for the upcoming summer, check out two of our recent blogs, 10 Summer Reading Activities for Struggling Readers and 10 things parents can say to struggling readers.
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 email@example.com.
Your To-Do List: Action Items for ASCD Leaders
Newest Policy Points Revisits A Nation at Risk
ASCD’s newest Policy Points (PDF) takes a closer look at A Nation at Risk, the 1983 report on the state of U.S. education that launched a spirited and ongoing debate about the quality of our public schools. This issue of Policy Points examines the specific recommendations of the report, the accuracy of its dire prediction about “a rising tide of mediocrity” undermining the nation’s well-being, and the evolving school reform debate the report kick-started three decades ago.
Throughout May on www.wholechildeducation.org: The New Poverty
In today’s global economic state, many families and children face reduced circumstances. These “poor kids” don’t fit the traditional stereotypes—two-thirds live in families in which at least one adult works and the percentage of poor students in many rural districts equals that in inner-city districts. In the United States, the economic downturn has dramatically changed the landscape, and districts that were previously vibrant are now dealing with unemployment, underemployment, and more transient families.
Join us as we share what new—and old—solutions we are using to support learning and ensure that each child, whatever her circumstances, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Download the Whole Child Podcast for a discussion on the current economic downturn; its result that many families and children face reduced circumstances; and implications for schools, many of which have seen drastic changes in the populations they serve and their communities. Guests include Deborah Wortham, superintendent of the School District of the City of York, Pa., and former assistant superintendent for high schools and director of professional development for Baltimore City (Md.) Public Schools; Felicia DeHaney, president and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute; William Parrett, director of the Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies and professor of education at Boise State University; and Kathleen Budge, coordinator of the Leadership Development Program and associate professor in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies Department at Boise State University. Parrett and Budge are also coauthors of the 2012 ASCD book Turning High-Poverty Schools into High-Performing Schools.
ASCD Leader Voices
Arkansas Governor Signs Whole Child Legislation
Arkansas Governor Michael Beebe signed a new bill into law that promotes a whole child approach to educating the state’s children. The legislation (PDF) establishes a Whole Child Whole Community recognition program and aims to measure the comprehensive well-being of children and how well stakeholders are meeting their needs according to the five whole child tenets and their indicators as identified by ASCD.
The recognition program will acknowledge and highlight the work of Arkansas educators, parents, community members, and policymakers who support the whole child. The legislation also indicates that one purpose of the recognition program is to help spur systemic collaboration and coordination within and beyond schoolhouse doors and to promote a shift from narrowly defined student achievement and traditional education reform to broader, more comprehensive efforts that recognize the crucial out-of-school factors that influence teaching and learning. A diverse state working group will work over the course of a year to recommend a framework and process for recognizing exemplary whole child and whole community successes.
Congratulations to Arkansas ASCD, which played a crucial role in supporting the bill’s development and introduction!
Rhode Island Passes Whole Child Resolution
The Rhode Island General Assembly passed a joint resolution (PDF) supporting a whole child approach to education that ensures each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
The resolution affirms that to educate Rhode Island’s children effectively, the state must pay attention to factors within and beyond its school buildings as well as integrate efforts among schools, families, and communities. In addition, the resolution expresses the assembly’s intent to model whole child concepts in its own work and to join with other stakeholders who support the whole child.
Congratulations to Rhode Island ASCD(RIASCD), which worked hard to have this joint resolution introduced into the Rhode Island legislature!
To help the state fulfill its commitment to whole child education, ASCD and RIASCD offered some initial steps (PDF)—organized by the five whole child tenets—for educators, parents and community members, and policymakers to take. RIASCD also highlighted some of ASCD’s free resources to help the state put its whole child vision into action.
South Carolina ASCD Featured in ASCD Inservice Blog Series
Weasked some of our affiliate leaders to tell us how the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has been going in their home states.In the seventh post of the series, South Carolina ASCD leader Josh Patterson writes about the challenges and successes that South Carolina has had with CCSS implementation.
The Effective Principal
What we see through our research, reading, and conversations with principals and school staff is that to see what an effective principal is, don’t look at the person; look at the effects of her leadership on student achievement, school culture and climate, teacher effectiveness and satisfaction, and community relationships. As the wearers of many hats, principals are crucial to implementing meaningful and lasting school change. Read more on the Whole Child Blog.
In April, we looked at what qualities principals in today’s (and tomorrow’s) schools need to fulfill their roles as visionary, instructional, influential, and learning leaders. Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Donna Snyder, manager of Whole Child Programs at ASCD; Kevin Enerson, principal of Le Sueur-Henderson High School in Minnesota (an ASCD Whole Child Network school); and Jessica Bohn, an ASCD Emerging Leader and principal of Gibsonville Elementary School in North Carolina.
Also this month on the Whole Child Podcast, we talked with educators from Oregon’s Milwaukie High School (winner of the 2013 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award) about how they meet student and staff needs, taking challenges and turning them into opportunities for all. Guests include principal Mark Pinder, assistant principal for curriculum Michael Ralls, assistant principal for student management Tim Taylor, dean of students Donnie Siel, and teacher leader David Adams.
Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read the latest newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Something to Talk About
Killeen Independent School District Deepens Professional Development Partnership with ASCD—Killeen Independent School District (ISD)—whose more than 6,100 staff members serve approximately 42,000 students—is deepening its relationship with ASCD to meet its professional development goals. Read the full press release.
ASCD Publishes Leadership Guide on Transforming Any Teacher into a Master—ASCD is pleased to announce the release of Never Underestimate Your Teachers: Instructional Leadership for Excellence in Every Classroom by best-selling education author, renowned educator, and professional development expert Robyn R. Jackson.
Never Underestimate Your Teachers offers school leaders a new model for understanding great teaching as a combination of skill and will, and it's the first book of its kind to support leaders as they facilitate teacher growth in both areas through differentiated leadership. Jackson shows readers how to design and deliver targeted professional development to help each teacher realize his or her potential and achieve great results for the benefit of every student. Read the full press release.
New ASCD Common Core Academy Supports School Leadership Teams Across the United States—ASCD is bringing its inaugural ASCD Common Core Leadership Team Academy to Chicago August 5–8, 2013. This intensive four-day professional leadership experience offers groups of administrators, teacher leaders, and nonprofit and higher education partners an accelerated plan for putting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) into routine practice. Read the full press release.
ASCD Summer Reading List Identifies 10 Books That Can Transform Teaching and Learning—In the spirit of promoting year-round professional development, ASCD has assembled a diverse list of books essential to educators who seek to improve their practice over the summer months. These books—organized by how they help educators transform teaching and learning—offer readers the opportunity to dive deep into the hottest topics in education, including using data to focus improvement, project-based learning, child development, and neurodiversity. All books are currently available in paperback and e-book formats. Read the full press release.
Arkansas Governor Beebe Signs Education Reform Law Supporting the Whole Child—Arkansas Governor Michael Beebe has signed a new bill into law that promotes a well-rounded whole child approach to educating the state’s children.“An Act to Establish the Whole Child– Whole Community Recognition Program; and for Other Purposes” (Senate Bill 1051[PDF]) outlines a plan for the Arkansas education system that ensures Arkansas students receive a whole child education. Read the full press release.
New ASCD Staff Expand Association’s Ability to Design, Deliver, and Evaluate Professional Development Resources—ASCD welcomes three new staff members to the association’s Program Development Work Group. Dr. Andrea Muse has accepted the position of director of research and program evaluation, Jen Thompson will serve as director of program management and process improvement, and Elizabeth Thurman has joined ASCD as director of customer engagement and product support. The additions of Muse, Thompson, and Thurman expand ASCD’s capability to design, deliver, and evaluate the crucial professional development resources today’s educators need to learn, teach, and lead. Read the full press release.
A high performance team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are equally committed to a common purpose, goals, and working approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. Members of the team are deeply committed to one another’s personal growth and success (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993).
As I observe classrooms and visit schools, I am always looking for high performing teams. I am impressed by a fourth grade teacher who can differentiate, analyze assessment data, lead professional development, teach students to think outside the box, and integrate technology on a daily basis. However, I am in awe of high performing teams. In The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, Maxwell (2001) wrote, “Communication increases commitment and connection; they in turn fuel action. If you want your team to perform at the highest level, the people on it need to be able to talk and to listen to one another” (p. 197). Does your professional learning team communicate on a regular basis? Do you plan to meet daily, weekly, or monthly? How often do you need to meet in order to make certain all students learn the essential learning outcomes?
High performing teams use the following strategies to take students to the next level:
Team norms are the foundation of a high performing team. Some teams feel like they can operate without norms, but conflict or a dysfunctional team member highlight the purpose of norms. When teams operate with norms, each member of the team understands how to communicate, how shared decisions will be handled, when to arrive for meetings, and how to professionally disagree. I have observed teams that developed norms five years ago, but they fail to revisit the team norms. When a new teacher moves from a different grade level or from another school district, it is difficult for the teacher to participate as a team member because the team norms are akin to living and working in a different country or culture. Solution Tree has developed a free online resource which supports the development of team norms titled, Developing Norms.
A precursor to improvement is a clear understanding of the goal. Educators often enter a new nine weeks and don’t pause to reflect on the current reality (i.e., Where are we? Where are we going? How will we get there?). If six eighth grade science teachers each develop their own goals and learning outcomes, is it likely that students will end up at the same place when they enter ninth grade science? Blanchard (2007) contends, “Goal setting is the single most powerful motivational tool in a leader’s toolkit” (p. 150). A school without clearly defined goals is like a ship without a rudder; it lacks direction and a slight wind could easily blow it off course (Wiles, 2009).
Teams set goals, companies strive to meet sales or production goals, and successful individuals monitor their diet, finances, time management, life-long learning, leadership growth, and other established goals. If school teams are aiming for student achievement, then they must become crystal clear on how to help each member of their school district meet the goal. DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker (2008) wrote, “One of the most pressing questions a school must consider as it attempts to build the collaborative culture of a PLC is not, ‘Do we collaborate?’ but rather, ‘What do we collaborate about?’” (p. 28). A lack of clarity on intended results is a barrier to growth and continuous improvement in schools.
One strategy that is overlooked in schools is the power of small wins. When I memorized 1 x 1 through 12 x 12, my second grade teacher gave me a poster autographed by a Razorback basketball player (talk about a small win)! Memorizing my multiplication facts did not make me a mathematician, but my teacher took time to recognize the small win each time a new student reached the goal. When I played high school basketball, the coach would require each member of the team to make ten free throws before we left practice. This was a small win and it was psychological. New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle wrote, “Perhaps most important, the “small-win” approach is aligned with the way your brain is built to learn: chunk by chunk, connection by connection, rep by rep. As John Wooden said, “Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts” (April, 2012).
School teams are implementing common formative assessments, the Common Core State Standards, technology integration, reading programs, literacy across the curriculum, character education programs, state initiatives, and more! Most teachers understand the importance of celebrating a small win with students. We need to use this same strategy when we work with our colleagues. Small wins are identified and celebrated by high performing school teams!
Meetings have become a burden to teachers. If a school still operates where each teacher believes, “These are my students and those are your students....” – Then, it will be difficult for teachers to see why they need to meet as a team. High performing teacher teams realize, “These are our students and this is our community.” High performing teams have a meeting agenda, clear meeting outcomes, and action items. If team members are arriving at each meeting asking what are we going to discuss today, then it won’t be a very good use of time.
Some of the best ideas at my elementary school come from team meetings. A collaborative team of teacher leaders, motivated by preparing all students for the next level, is a powerful force to reckon with. This is the scene that every taxpayer should demand from a public school. Schmoker (2005) wrote, “It starts with a group of teachers who meet regularly as a team to identify essential learning, develop common formative assessments, analyze current levels of achievement, set achievement goals, share strategies, and then create lessons to improve upon those levels.” That is the kind of school I want to send my children to.
Essential Learning Outcomes
Effective teams develop and agree to provide all students with essential learning outcomes. In the absence of learning outcomes, students receive a disjointed curriculum experience. Why do some teams skip this step if it is such an important part of teaching and learning? From my observations, developing essential learning outcomes involves trust, conflict, debate, time, and the ability to come to consensus. If teams lack trust or don’t schedule a weekly meeting, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to identify essential learning outcomes. Swan (2010) wrote, "Learning outcomes refer to the skills, knowledge, and attributes students should have upon completion of a particular course or program of study."
Wiggins and McTighe (2005), wrote, “In the absence of a learning plan with clear goals, how likely is it that students will develop shared understandings on which future lessons might build” (p. 21)? If teachers claim to operate as a professional learning team, but they lack clearly defined learning outcomes, then students will experience a disjointed curriculum. If goal-setting is important in athletics and on business teams, then professional learning teams must take time to see how the absence of essential learning outcomes can interfere with the team’s common purpose. Does your team have essential learning outcomes for each nine weeks or semester?
Sports fans love to analyze the greatest teams of all time. The New York Yankees have won more World Series than any team in baseball (27). UCLA men’s basketball team has won more NCAA National Championships than any other college basketball team in history (11). Ten of those championships were won under legendary coach John Wooden. The Pittsburgh Steelers have won more Super Bowls than any other NFL team (6). What makes a great team? Great teams are made of great individuals. Mark Sanborn outlines the “4 C’s of a Great Team Member (1:44).”
If you entered the field of education to make a difference, ask how your individual strengths can benefit the entire team. Michael Fisher (2010) wrote, "If your schools/districts are made up primarily of those with an ‘island mentality,’ then they need to join the continent.” High performing teams are needed in our schools. Students deserve our best and we can work more efficiently if we turn our school teams into high performing teams.
Capacity building is one of the buzz phrases in education due to the complex nature of how society defines student success: “academic achievement; engagement in educationally purposeful activities; satisfaction; acquisition of desired knowledge, skills, and competencies; persistence; and attainment of educational objectives” (Kuh et al., 2007, p. 10). Capacity building within schools could not focus on only one aspect of development within the school because a single group within the school community could not possess all of the capacity necessary to fuel student success. Research indicates that capacity building increases student achievement (Cooter, 2003). All educators in effective schools take responsibility for improvement and professional capacity (Eaker, DuFour & DuFour, 2002; Chu Clewell & Campbell, 2007). Capacity builds as schools focus on learning and getting resources into classrooms to directly benefit students (Machtinger, 2007; U.S. Department of Education, 1998).
Many authors have tried to articulate a definition of capacity. Ervin, Schaughency, Goodman, McGlinchy, and Matthews (2006) simply define capacity as skills, know-how, and available resources. Gewertz (2007) describes capacity as “building the school’s and community partners’ skills to improve, securing the resources to do it” (no page #). Fullan (2006) focuses on marginalized students when he articulates that
capacity building involves any policy, strategy, or other action undertaken that enhances the gap of student learning for all students. Usually it consists of the development of three components in concert: new knowledge and competencies, new and enhanced resources, and new and deeper motivation and commitment to improve things…all played out collectively (p. 28).
Knowledgeable education leaders understand that capacity building relies on the mission and vision of the local context which probably does not include academic achievement as primary to the futures of marginalized students (Schutz, 2006). Low performing schools do not have the capacity to turn themselves around in academic achievement when principals and communities are simply trying to survive concentrated poverty, low expectations, weak courses, burnt out teachers, run down facilities, overcrowding, and poor student behavior (U.S. Department of Education, 1998).
Narrowly focusing expectations of schools in the form of AYP for all students as measured by one unattainable and not always relevant standard, when schools were on the brink of realizing the importance of participation by marginalized populations and opening up the possibility of class mobility of these populations, deflected attention away from what should be the true purposes of education (Noddings, 2006). By focusing attention on education’s inability to teach 100% of children to read and calculate on grade level in grade three through eight and the resulting distrust and dissatisfaction of the school community, schools have an even harder time building the capacity necessary to reach a critical mass in affecting true educational reform to create a truly powerful school-community coalition that could realize greater economic support for low SES schools, more democratic decision-making within low SES communities, and ultimately, better informed and equipped citizens of the future from all classes that might disrupt the status quo of the dominant class (Noguera, 2004). Low SES schools that were led by forward thinking and steadfast administrators continued this course of building the capacity of the school community to ensure truly unlimited opportunity for their student populations where the resources were available to students to be successful academically, socially, and culturally (Nesbit, 2006).
The problem for meaningful and sustainable school reform is not attributable to a lack of energy, ideas, or a willingness to change in education. Fads, competing priorities, and unreasonable mandates deluge leaders immobilizing efforts to sustain and expand promising initiatives (Henig et al., 1999). As funding resources shrink, efficiency and capacity building become more and more important (Kezar, 2006). Teaching specific practices to families over making the effort to build capacity may result in advantages in certain times and places, but a “right way” approach causes action to lose its distinctive character providing the advantage (Lareau, 2000). “We need to reframe our entire reform strategy so that it focuses relentlessly and deeply on capacity building and accountability—a difficult but…doable high-yield strategy” (Fullan, 2006, p. 28).
Capacity building is closely related to organizational learning. Knowledge and understanding moves from tacit to explicit back to tacit. “Teacher change, like most human change, must emanate from within” (Bonner, 2006, p. 41). Education becomes more than parents deferring to teacher professional judgment and only being involved to the extent that teachers value (Henig et al., 1999). By understanding capacity, the “lonely teacher… reaches out to and joins the community and family [as] school is a network with permeable boundaries connecting it to the other institutions comprising society” (Musial, 1999, p. 120), instead of “erect[ing] barriers with one hand while reaching out with the other” (Schutz, 2006, p. 726). Often, in unsuccessful schools, agents simply “do not know how to improve it, or they do not believe it can be improved” (Fullan, 2006, p. 60) when collective efficacy holds the potential for a better future (DuFour & Eaker, 1998). Authoritative leadership is not sustainable; but collective, collaborative, distributed leadership can build capacity and commitment to changing school culture in marginalized communities successfully through cooperating and competition, boundary conversations, dialogue, and productive conflict (Barr & Parrett, 2007; Copland, 2003; Patterson & Rolheiser, 2004; Stacey, 1996).
As part of capacity building, principals actively build leadership capacity in others by “broad-based, skillful participation; a shared vision; established norms of inquiry and collaboration; reflective practice; and improving student achievement” (Lambert, 2003, Chapter 1, p. 1; Copland, 2003) and by developing learning communities where staff growth expands their capacity to provide for students (Eaker, et al., 2002). School reform rooted in the efforts of individuals and dependent on individual academic success cannot be sustained and will fail; working class learning is determined by the cultural context in systems dependent on sociocultural capital as opposed to individual capacity (Livingstone & Sawchuk, 2005; Musial, 1999). If capacity relies only on relationships or only on structure, capacity will be too soft or too rigid. Capacity is essential. “Because social systems are uncertain by their very nature, schools are fragile places (Lambert, 2003, Chapter 10, p. 1).
Many factors interact to determine educational capacity (O’Day et al., 1995). Yet, education experts agree, capacity building “must become a core feature of all improvement strategies” (Fullan, 2006, p. 104). Education has progressed to the point where discussion about capacity involves lists whose discussion centers around lines of responsibility versus lines of authority. These discussions describe capacity as built through clear accountability, relevant data available for analysis and application, and high expectations for staff with support of professional development (Walk, 1998). O’Day and colleagues (1995) feel “interdependence of organization and individual capacity” contributes to an understanding of instructional capacity (no page #). These authors list the five dimensions of organizational capacity as vision and leadership, collective commitment and cultural norms, knowledge or access to knowledge, organizational structures and management, and resources.
McREL (Dean et al., 2005, p. 5) defines capacity in three ways:
Complex descriptions alluding to practices evident in High-Performing High-Poverty Schools (HP2S) get past the tendency to create lists and begin to open the door to envisioning improving instructional capacity in schools as an interaction of multiple elements to “produce worthwhile and substantial learning” (Cohen & Ball, 1999). Capacity building efforts result in “adoption, sustainability, and evolution of innovation” to allow HP2S to emerge (Schaughency & Ervin, 2006, p. 162).
One of my favorite arcade games is Whac-A-Mole. When you drop your token in the machine, you have a limited amount of time to ‘whac’ as many moles as you can. In the beginning of the game, one or two moles pop their heads up and it is fairly easy to hit each one. About twenty seconds into the game, the moles start popping up three at a time and when you smash a mole with the mallet it may pop up again.
Whac-A-Mole is similar to the daily routine of a principal. From the time you arrive at school in the morning until late in the evening, moles pop up. Your job is to address each mole and to prioritize which one is most important. In this article, I am going to describe the ‘Six Moles’ a principal must address in order to be a good leader.
Six Moles A Principal Must Address
Principals receive phone calls, emails, and face-to-face messages from families. If you work in the car rider line at an elementary school, a parent or grandparent may share a concern with you as they drop their child off at school. When you check your email, you may have an email from multiple families with a concern about something that happened the day before. There are times when a family member has a concern about something that is a district level concern, but it is the principal’s job to advocate for families and contact the central office or assist the family in navigating communication with the central office. Families are not ‘moles’, but concerns pop up frequently and the principal cannot ignore family concerns. It is not wise to ‘whac’ a family member, but the concern must be addressed.
A principal wears several hats and the instructional leadership hat is critical to the success of the school. If a principal is focused on email, returning phone calls, developing professional development, and attending meetings, he or she will not be able to focus on the main thing. When a principal visits classrooms for formal or informal observations, it helps him or her get a pulse for student achievement and curriculum implementation. A principal should be a coach, cheerleader, critical friend, and more! If a principal does not visit classrooms on a regular basis, then the school will not continue to grow. Instructional rounds cannot be something that a principal does when the ‘mole’ pops up. This important leadership role must be part of the principal’s regular schedule.
Student Discipline pops up unexpectedly. There may be a student issue on the bus ride to school. Students may have a dispute on the playground. A student may break a school rule on the way to the next class. Handling student discipline is one of the main roles of principal leadership. Teachers and staff assist with student discipline, but when this ‘mole’ pops its head up, the principal cannot ignore it and move to the next three moles that pop up. Some of you reading this article may be thinking, “If student discipline is a mole, then ‘whac’ it.” You cannot use a hammer to hit every problem. When you use the Whac-A-Mole approach to student discipline it means you handle the problems as they arise, rather than waiting for more problems to pop up.
One of the most challenging ‘moles’ for a principal is email. If you sit at your desk from 8:00 am – Noon, you will see multiple moles pop up on your screen. More building principals are carrying a personal or school assigned smart phone on their hip. At one point, it was easy to avoid email because you could walk away from the computer. Principals have the ability to check email in the hallway, in meetings, while they are off campus, at home, and any time day or night. If principals focus on each email as it pops up then they will get distracted and miss out on other important leadership duties. Email is a great analogy to the game Whac-A-Mole. When you reply to email it continues to pop up. Time management is important and Whac-A-Mole Leadership involves more than whacking each email, hoping to bop all of the ‘email moles.’
Leading professional development is important. When a school staff stops learning, they stop growing. It is easy for principals to spend several hours developing a video, presentation, or hands-on learning activity. Quality professional development requires planning, learning goals, and materials. Principals are wise to develop a teacher leadership team who can assist with professional development. This will allow the principal to have a role in leading professional development, without having to plan the entire session. This year, our school has conducted professional development on the Six Instructional Shifts (Common Core State Standards), Technology Integration, Literacy, and School Safety. If the principal ignores professional development, then it may not happen. However, a building principal cannot sit in the office and develop every PD, while ignoring other ‘moles’ throughout the school.
Communication is an important responsibility and it cannot be ignored. Principals need to communicate through the school website, email, newsletters, video, blogs, face-to-face meetings, PTA meetings, Coffee Hour, phone calls, and informal meetings in the parking lot. Principals need to be intentional about communication. Principals need to communicate with classroom teachers through classroom observations, email, blog, faculty meetings, notes, and informal meetings. A principal could spend his or her entire day developing communication documents or preparing a speech for the next meeting. It is important to see communication as a mole that you ‘whac’, but also as something you plan for. If you are not communicating and marketing the great things about your school, then who is marketing your school? You cannot afford to let the ‘communication mole’ pop its head up too many times.
Whac-A-Mole Leadership is a humorous way to describe the day of a principal. We can all laugh and relate to the moles that pop up throughout the day. You can probably describe several more moles that principals must address if you reflect on your past week. “Leaders are usually distinguished by their ability to think big. But when their focus shifts, they suddenly start thinking small. They micro manage, they get caught up in details better left to others, and they become consumed with the trivial and unimportant. And to make matters worse, this tendency can be exacerbated by an inclination toward perfectionism” (Sanborn, M.). If the goal of leadership becomes whacking the next mole, we may miss the most important things. Stephen Covey shared the Leadership Matrix (as shared by Michael Hyatt, Intentional Leadership). Principals must ask, “Is this mole important and urgent?” or “Is this mole urgent, but not important?” As the moles pop up at your school, I wish you the best. Keep whacking moles, but make certain you are focused on the right mole.
For most people, deciding to give a child an allowance can be a tough decision. There are arguments that an allowance is a great learning tool for children, but there are also those who feel an allowance will teach a kid to feel privileged over their peers. If you have children who are too young to work, then this decision will come into play. Actually, if you want to teach your children financial literacy, then an allowance is very helpful. Here is what you need to know about the value of an allowance for young children.
Teaching Them Financial Literacy Early
It is never too early to teach kids about finances and to ensure they are financially literate at a young age. All too often, parents never instill any information about money to their children. The kids grow up with very little concept of how money works and how to manage it wisely. The result of this can be detrimental when the child gets older and actually needs to budget their money and expenses. By giving your kids an allowance at a young age, you can help them learn basic math and financial literacy well before they actually need it.
Showing Kids to Be Self-Assured
Some parents have found a way to use an allowance for positive reinforcement. Your child needs to learn self-confidence, and you can try this simple trick with your kids. It is guaranteed to help them learn to be more self-assured.
Essentially, this is a type of positive reinforcement in two different manners. You are teaching your kids to not be dependent on you for everything. In addition, you are gaining the other benefits of providing a child with an allowance.
A Great Way to Teach Life Lessons
Children need to learn what it means to actually earn their money and buy things they want. You can use an allowance to help them learn this very important life lesson. Here is what you will need to do:
When kids have to work for the things that they want, they will have a much greater appreciation for the value of money. While you definitely should to provide your children with everything they need, and some of their wants of course, you should allow them to use their own money toward some things.
An allowance can actually be a very important learning tool for kids who are too young to work. While an allowance that is too high could cause some problems, creating a set amount that will give your kids some money each week can be a powerful tool. You can teach your children to be independent and self-assured. You can teach your kids how to manage their money. Finally, you can teach your kids what it means to earn their own money.
Clay Piggy is a virtual world gaming environment which teaches children basic money management skills and the concept of Earning, Spending, Saving, Investing and Giving in a fun and social way. Clay Piggy users choose their avatars by selecting and customizing their characters. Users earn virtual money by working at a job. Users also learn concept of credit score, different kinds of bank accounts, deposit money in bank, write checks and use debit / credit cards.
We were looking over our blog index and noticed that, to date, we’ve tagged 48 blogs with “classroom management”; that doesn’t even take into account the 25 or so blogs that have been tagged similarly. We admit it, we felt that we might have been on the verge of exhausting all things classroom management, but then we found Farley’s blog, Oh, Boy 4th Grade.
This blog is just as much for you as it is for the substitute teachers who take over when you attend a conference, nurse your cold, or insert reason for absence here.
What do I do?
Using a dry erase marker, Farley suggests writing each student a note directly on the desktop (it should come right off, but if not, an anti-bacterial wipe will work).
Do you have a particularly “active” student who needs a personalized reminder? How about a classroom leader, someone the rest of your students respect and listen to? Do you need to remind one or two students to take something home to their parents?
You don’t have to labor over the process and you don’t have to write a message to each student, but if you can find the time, it couldn’t hurt. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee that your students are going to be “great helpers” or “awesome assistants” when substitute teachers take over, but it does remind them of your expectations and encourages them to make decisions that will make your return a jovial one.
36 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Be Able To Do
1. Select the right platform to communicate.
Whether you choose a text message, email, social media message, Skype session, or a Google+ Hangouts depends on who you need to communicate with and why—purpose and audience. So whether you’re sending an email to a parent when a phone call is necessary, or responding in a closed Google+ circle,choosing the right platform is everything.
2. Send large files.
Email won’t always work. You can use Evernote or dropbox; yousendit or SugarSync; a blog or a YouTube channel. Whatever you’re sending, a teacher in 2013 should be able to get it there quickly, and with minimal hassle from the recipient.
3. Take a screenshot on PC, Mac, and mobile devices.
Hit the Print Screen button near your number pad on a keyboard on Windows. Push down volume rocker and power buttons simultaneously on iOS and Android devices. Command-Shift-3 on Mac OSX.
4. Appreciate memes.
Know what it means to be Rick Roll’d, the difference between a fail and an epic fail, why Steve is a scumbag, and who sad Keannu is. You may not care, but your students do. Even if you choose not to speak their language and instead prefer the king’s tongue, you can at least understand what they’re saying, lol.
5. Explain how and why to use technology to those who don’t use it.
Not everyone loves technology. Not only is it not necessary for learning, it’s not even the most important part of learning (how did Socrates every get along without twitter?) That being said, it can indeed transform learning given the right instructional design and learning model. Communicating this to others that may not use it is increasingly important as a network building strategy and as a tool to be used locally to change culture.
An RT as an olive branch.
6. Use digital media in light of privacy, copyright, and other legal issues.
7. Communicate clearly.
Tone is lost when you type. Know this and pre-emptively address is with clarity, choosing the right platform to communicate, and even smiley faces if you have to.
8. Search for, install, organize, use, and delete apps.
This is dead-simple, but you never know.
9. How to create, open, use, and share a variety of filetypes.
10. Help students share files.
Students need help “turning in” digital work. Digital portfolios help, as can blogs and social media platforms. Learning management systems can too. Whatever you use, help them figure it out.
11. Subscribe to and manage YouTube channels, podcasts, learnist and pinterest boards, and other dynamic sources of digital media.
Self explanatory, yes?
12. Create and maintain digital portfolios.
Of your own work, and for your students. The tools, habits, and strategies to do it well are accessible to anyone in the 21st century. You know, especially if you follow any blogs that cover this kind of thing.
That doesn’t mean you have to blog, but blogging is the among the best ways for students to survey, combine, and share digital media. You may not have the energy—or desire—to blog, but to effectively teach your students, you should know the basics.
14. Share learning data with students.
Sharing is easy. Sharing visual and digestible data not so much. More on this one below on #34.
15. Support students in managing their online “brand.”
And this starts with what you model–your visible social media profiles, Google search results for your name. That means a professional image, and no cliché quote from Ghandi in 24 point yellow font.
16. Manage your own social media and internet use.
It’s a tool, not an end. Self-manage accordingly.
17. Plan around a lack of technology elegantly.
Not all students have access. Do all that you can to give students that lack it a similar experience.
18. Delineate the difference between academics and entrepreneurial learning for students.
And in a way that doesn’t completely undercut academic learning, but rather contextualizes it.
19. Troubleshoot stuff that breaks.
Be MacGyver with a keyboard. If the Wi-Fi signal drops, the app freezes, or the password just won’t take, have a plan.
20. Skim and process large quantities of information.
Otherwise you’ll drown in the very thinking and resource stream you’re trying to benefit from. A powerful combination to use here? An RSS reader like Google Reader connected to GetPocket.
21. Use the cloud to your advantage.
Offline access. Automatic syncing. Push notifications on apps. Writing and composition. Use the cloud.
22. Model digital citizenship.
To model it, we have to agree on what it means. We’ll talk more about this one soon, but for now, these resources should help.
23. Casually name-drop reddit.
Reddit is a downright cultish community of active and intelligent forum users that are addicted to socializing everything. And it’s awesome. If you don’t use it, try to mention it here and there as if you do (#streetcred), and when students ask just smile and nod your head a lot.
24. Support students in finding their own voice.
It’s not as simple as “band, books, or cheerleading” anymore. With visibility comes nuance. Now we have facebook groups of cheerleaders who are left-handed and prefer Fiji water over Dasani 50,000 members strong. Luckily, technology can step in and help–drawing, music, acting, writing, a charismatic YouTube channel; it’s now unnecessary for any student to be anonymous and isolated.
25. Research effectively.
And then model that effective research for students constantly in highly visible ways.
25. Use formal or informal learning management systems.
Whether you use a formal LMS, or just setup a Google+ Circle or community, either can help frame your curriculum for students and parents.
26. Leverage the relationship between physical and digital media.
What is the relationship between the app, the YouTube channel, the podcast, the play, and the poem? This is something you need to figure out–especially the English-Language Arts/Literature teachers among you.
27. Highlight the limits of technology.
If we don’t understand both the micro and macro impact of technology–the good and the bad–we’re doomed as a species to be completely overran by it. Sounds dramatic, but it just might be true.
28. Connect students with communities using project-based learning.
This can be one of the most powerful things you do, as it moves the learning from sterile classrooms to authentic audiences.
29. Model the value of questions over answers.
30. Understand how play leads to learning.
Play is not a whimsical recreation, but a zen-like cognitive resonance that rips learning out of the hands of well-meaning adults and seeks to self-direct children through experiment, fail, and try again.
31. Use Game-Based Learning effectively.
That doesn’t mean to just play video games, or make students play them then ask them awkward questions about their experience, but to understand how video games support both academic and authentic learning.
32. Curate functionally.
What to save and how to save it? Great questions. And what kind of process do you have to keep from hoarding digital resources and actually use all the crap you save? An even better one.
33. Record, process, mash, publish, and distribute digital media.
Digital media is likely the future of learning. So, begin the transition.
34. Visualize learning data for students.
This is different than just sharing an alphanumeric digit–this is about knowledge, progress, and the right data and the right time that is packaged in a highly-digestible way.
35. Connect with other educators both in person and online.
Don’t be a twitter diva; don’t be a Luddite. Find a blend.
36. Personalize learning.
To genuinely and fully personalize learning for all of your students in a typical K-20 public school or university is impossible (unless we have different definitions of personalized learning).
And that’s why this is last.
This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “how do we define and measure teacher and principal effectiveness?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum.
Scenario: the principal hires a consultant to observe teachers. The consultant observes one teacher and reports to the principal. Dissatisfied with the consultant's findings, the principal storms into the teacher's classroom and yells at her while informing her that she is displeased with the consultant’s report. The teacher learns for the first time that she has not met expectations for the past four months. The teacher is in tears. Knowledge of the incident spreads throughout the school.
Could the principal have handled the situation differently? Daniel Goleman’s framework for Emotional Intelligence (EI) is instructive in this regard. (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, to control and to evaluate one’s emotions. Goleman's framework consists of five elements, which when employed, can result in more effective leadership and a higher level of managerial prowess. The five elements are:
1. 1. self-awareness - being aware of your emotion
2. 2. self- regulation - controlling emotions and impulses
3. 3. motivation - reason for acting in a particular way/willingness to do something
4. 4. empathy - understanding others emotions
5. 5. social skills - how one communicates with others
Here is how these elements might play out with regard to the scenario described above.
First, the principal embraces how she feels when she receives the consultant's feedback (self-awareness). Pausing to acknowledge her feelings helps restrain the desire to rush immediately to speak to the teacher (self-regulation).
Next comes self-questioning; what gave rise to the feelings? Given that the principal knew of the teacher's poor performance months before receiving the consultant's report, are the feelings more a result of guilt from not intervening to assist the teacher earlier than of discontent with the teacher's performance, or due to another matter that is unrelated to the teacher? Why the teacher was not given help the first time the principal realized that her performance was poor? What can be done to prevent this from happening again (motivation)? Such questioning moves the principal to examine her managerial and leadership practices.
The final step is damage control. Keeping in mind that the entire school is now aware of the incident and that such knowledge can affect morale, what can the principal do to counter this possibility? Having done her introspection the principal can now have an honest conversation with the teacher. One in which she (a) acknowledges her shortcomings in terms of lack of support and the manner in which she conveyed her views about the teacher’s performance (b) states her willingness to hear about and from the teacher regarding her performance and (c) conveys in a positive, non-threatening manner what she expects from the teacher (empathy and social skills).
Of course, putting the “self” on the spot in this way is not easy to do but doing so promotes an enduring self-development. However, using EI to ensure effective leadership and management, is highly dependent on whether the principal views her role as that of a sole proprietor, or, as a member of a cooperative. If it is the latter, then EI would be embraced.
Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Bantam Books: New York.
Do you want to hear something rather alarming and more than a little scary? According to a report completed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about financial literacy in America, the people of our country are in a really dangerous boat. A direct quote from the SEC report stated that “American investors lack essential knowledge of the most rudimentary financial concepts.” (http://www.sec.gov/news/studies/2012/917-financial-literacy-study-part1.pdf) What does this mean? It means that the modern American has little to no idea of how to create a comfortable financial situation for their retirement years, and the problem is only getting worse.
This is not the only scary news. The following facts about financial literacy in the US may open your eyes to a big problem that could even be affecting your own household. Below are some facts to consider.
Many Americans Just Do Not Know
When the survey was taken, many of the questions had to do with retirement, stocks, and bonds. Essentially, the study questions were to show whether or not Americans knew how to invest their money in order to save for retirement. The scary part is the vast majority of people answered these investment related questions with one choice: “do not know.” This was not just seen sometimes, but for many questions, it was the majority answer. Americans just do not know how to use investment options for their retirement savings.
Another study was completed by a prominent life insurance company, and it showed results that back up the SEC study. Perhaps the most alarming part of this study is that it was given in the form of a quiz and the majority of Americans straight out failed the quiz. The test was not especially in-depth, but instead focused on defining terms related to finance and retirement, and more than 60% of those who took the quiz failed.
High School Blues
The problem of financial illiteracy is growing with the younger generations as well. A study of high school seniors showed just this. One study, which was performed by the MoneyTrack Company, showed that less than 40% of high school seniors knew how to accurately define the term, “pension” which is one of the most basic financial retirement terms out there.
An article by financial experts, John Reeves and Ilan Moscovitz about financial literacy in America indicates that “75% of Americans nearing retirement age in 2010 had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts.” (http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2012/09/05/19-alarming-things-we-learned-about-financial-lit.aspx). This is not even enough money to live off of for a year. This indicates very clearly the problem of financial literacy in America. Too many people have no idea how to save money and become financially stable, and it is beginning to take a bigger and bigger toll on the citizens of the US.
What does this mean for you? If you have not taken the time to learn about your own finances, investments, and retirement planning, then consider these facts a wakeup call. You certainly do not want to find yourself near retirement age with no money to live off of. Additionally, it means you need to change how you are teaching your children about finances. The only way we can ensure that future generations have stronger financial literacy is to start teaching about finances even when kids are at a young age.
There are many ways you can teach your kids about finances even if they are young, and the more you get them involved now, the fewer problems they will have in the future. Do not let your own kids to be one of the survey facts above or they could end up with big financial problems in the future.
Clay Piggy is a virtual world gaming environment which teaches children basic money management skills and the concept of Earning, Spending, Saving, Investing and Giving in a fun and social way. Clay Piggy users choose their avatars by selecting and customizing their characters. Users earn virtual money by working at a job. Users also learn concept of credit score, different kinds of bank accounts, deposit money in bank, write checks and use debit / credit cards.