February 2009 Archives

What does it take right now to register a student in your school and have them fully functional as a part of your learning community? Really think about it. They have to go to one office and register then that clerical staff will have to either walk or send, in some way, his/her information to probably four or five different offices at the very least. What if I were to tell you that my school district will have it down to one office in our school district by the beginning of next school year. What if I were to ...


in·no·va·tion (noun) 1: the introduction of something new; 2: a new idea, method, or device Merriam-Webster online The term innovation is becoming more and more prevalent in education-related discussions. Schools from coast to coast are adopting "innovative" models to address educational needs in local communities. The range of practice associated with these models is wide. Some models are prescribed programs with detailed requirements for professional development and implementation. Other models are more tailored to an individual community and somewhat less specific in structure and delivery. The development of these K-12 programs has been accompanied by university programs ...


If you have not read the McKinsey report - How the world's best performing school systems come out on top - you need to download and read it!!!! What you will find is a lot of influence from Michael Fullan and other international education thinkers. Bottom line - school outcomes will be no better than the quality of your teachers.The evidence on this has come from Boston, Dallas, Tennessee, Marzano's research, Sanders research, and from all OECD countries. Two consecutive years with a low quality teacher and it is almost impossible for children to recover. What are the three ...


My wife has told me many times I put my "rose colored contacts" in each morning before I go to school. I don't dispute my looking to the silver lining in things but have become a bit worried lately. I have struggled with how to address this post for a while now - so much so I have missed my publication date for the past two months (Sorry, Scott.) I might be taking some small steps down the path towards being a curmudgeon. I am far too optimistic to allow this to take place, but I am at the point ...


The Flip camera seems to be just about everywhere these days. The Flip makes it very easy to record and share video with other users, a fact which has not been overlooked by our hardworking teachers in the field. But, I feel that we should not overlook the potential of the flip in helping leaders help make us better teachers. Having conducted many an observation, and having many more conducted upon me, I know how difficult it is to visualize where my teaching could improve. The Flip has the potential to make to make visualizations unecessary. The video does not ...


Every semester I review (or create for the first time) the readings I require for the classes I teach. I am always thinking about a good blend of theoretical and pragmatic readings for my principal preparation courses. The polemic notions that programs either teach too much or too little theory bothers me. Ask a pre-service principal candidate if they should be reading Weber, Parsons, and Callahan and they will complain the preparation program is “out of touch” or does not understand what they will be asked to do as school leaders. On the other end of the spectrum are too ...


One of the criticisms I've come across about accountability measures based on standardized tests goes something like this: If we assess students based on standardized tests, teachers will "teach to the test", which when translated, means drill and kill, followed by rote memorization and robotic hypnosis while all creativity is thrown out the window. Here's another one of those false dichotomies that is propagated throughout the educational kingdom. When I think of creativity and flair on the basketball court, one of the first players that comes to mind is Pete Maravich. He was one of the most creative and flamboyant ...


Image Source: http://weblogs.cltv.com/news/opinion/mcclendon/reinvent.jpg "Yikes! I feel for Ms. Gerald," wrote one teacher in an online learning course of her principal, "being at work until 10:30 pm. On top of working, we all have our home lives too!" This comment was in the midst of an active online learning course where participants were online as late as midnight participating in the conversation, or up as early as 5:00 AM. Did they have to do this? No. They were engaged, excited about discovering each other online. The campus principal who learns online ...


Source: http://www.cold-moon.com/images/Motivators/motivators.htm Chatting with a friend about losses in staff in my own office spurred a return remark. "You think you got it bad?" asked a close friend, whom we'll call "James." He continued, "I've lost half my team and I'm in a bigger district than you that's growing!" In a relatively short time period, James, a fellow CTO, will have lost 6 staff members of his 10 member team. This constitutes half his highly specialized team, supporting special student information management systems that must work. Each staff member is in a highly ...


Image via Wikipedia This entry cross posted to "Sentiments On Common Sense" I found Scott McCleod's PDF handout on the 100 Principal Blog project almost 3 years ago when I took the initiative to start my school principal's blog. My tech integrator at the time, Jeff Utecht, was so proud. He had been gently encouraging me to think about taking it on as a way to communicate to our school community. One weekend, I sat on the couch, laptop at the ready and leapt into a wordpress blog provided by Scott. One of the key reasons for principals to blog ...


stimulus | 'stim yul us noun (pl. -li | -,li) • a thing that rouses energy in something or someone; • an interesting and exciting quality On this, the thirty-day anniversary of the historic Inauguration of our 44th President, this much is clear: when it comes to leadership, Barack Obama has some game! In just four weeks (about the time it took most of us to figure out where the restroom was in our new school), President Obama has named and re-named cabinet members, passed a nearly $800 billion stimulus package, flown to Denver, Phoenix and Ottawa, launched Hillary into the Far East, ...


A couple of months ago I wrote a post introducing a dilemma that my colleagues and I have been struggling to solve. The dilemma essentially is "How do leaders ensure that teachers are implementing best practices at a rigorous level in their classrooms?" This year we launched a major literacy initiative (really just a major expansion of an existing initiative) and along with that we introduced "Literacy Commitments" to increase the use of literacy skills across the curriculum. Nearly all of our middle schools and high schools have a Literacy Coach assigned to their campus and this person is charged ...


Dear A-Rod, I just can't thank you enough. You have provided me with the perfect example to bestow upon my charges just when I really needed a new, fresh one. This example is not that liars and cheaters never prosper, because you certainly have prospered, but that the truth will always prevail. Kids just don't believe they'll ever get caught, especially if they bend the truth about their involvement. I'm sure you didn't believe you'd get caught, either. I am continuously counseling students on how not owning up to their actions will catch up with them, explaining that not only ...


In the wake of Presidents Day, and inspired by ESPN's similar sports-related effort, I find myself wondering who would be included in a Mt. Rushmore of Education. Who are the giants; the folks upon whose shoulders we as educators stand? Here's how I'd construct the Mt. Rushmore of Education: *Horace Mann - considered the "Father of American Education" *John Dewey - the "Father of Progressive Education." His writings continue to influence educators worldwide. *Edward Thorndike - we have him to thank for bringing testing to bear on education. (besides, he needs to be here to make sure that Dewey doesn't ...


This week, on Thursday at 10:00 am in an obscure room in downtown Saskatoon I will be delivering my third presentation. Now, my record of presentations is, well, unknown since I really didn’t get any feedback from the previous two. I’ve made a note to make sure I leave comment pages for the participants so I have something with which to work. My presentation if focused on PLN - Professional/Personal Learning Networks. For me, both are so interwoven that I don’t bother separating them. Professional/Personal have intermixed with many of my personal pursuits also ...


Last month, Kay Yow died after a decades long battle with breast cancer. Our local paper ran an article yesterday on five lessons that she taught to all of her players through the years. It's a compelling read and her lessons are as much a series of leadership lessons as coaching lessons. It's important to put her lessons into context. She was a basketball coach before Title IX and before women's sports were being placed upon an equal footing as mens sports. She labored in the shadows of a larger than life location as far as basketball is concerned. Let's ...


When do we practitioners have time to read current research studies that can assist us with our daily work? And, why does it seem so difficult to wade through the research terminology (e.g. standard deviation, fixed effect, coefficients, regressions) I recently took the time to read the 2008 paper Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement by Charles T. Clotfelter, Helen F. Ladd and Jacob L. Vigdor. How does someone who is passionate about putting technology in the hands of students and teachers use the results of this study? The two research questions are: "Do students' ...


In a recent gathering of educators from different walks and disciplines headed by our own Scott McLeod, we discussed Seth Godin's book Tribes and how it affects the world of education. The discussion involved a round-table presence of 20 leaders and a world wide web of hundreds of people via various Internet outlets.Some of the key questions and points: Is there any difference between leadership and marketing? How can shed a more positive light on "anti"? Rather than saying you're "anti-establishment, call them "anti-change" What is this secret society of "they"? How many does it take to make a ...


There has been a great deal of effort throughout history focussed on transforming America's schools. There have been many attempts to bring schools up-to-date with the latest technologies. Sadly, most schools throughout history have been good at preparing students for a work environment which is already in the past. Good schools may be preparing students for the present, but few schools are preparing students for their futures. There have been significant changes in which the focus of education has shifted. Early on, the focus was on skills and basic literacy, in the not so distant past, the focus was on ...


What happens on a daily basis in the classrooms of a school committed to 21st century learning? What would you expect to see? Students in most every room busy with computers or handheld electronics? All too often I think that many people equate the equipment like interactive white boards, and new state of the art computers with a good technology program. Don’t get me wrong having good equipment is always nice but it is just the window dressing. Likewise visiting classrooms and seeing students busy on computers can be equally deceptive. The heart of a quality program is much ...


I blogged earlier this week about the potential for collaborative technologies to have a significant impact on the way we deliver professional development in our schools. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that we are right on the precipice of some really powerful transformations in the ways that schools have traditionally handled staff development. The PD Spiral Think about professional development and you'll often think of what I've heard described as "drive by staff development." We've all been there. We talk about something (or we bring in a highly-paid consultant to talk about something), we spend ...


Dear Mr. Secretary, Congratulations on your appointment as President Obama's Secretary of Education. Thank you for sending the message that you want to address and fix elements of NCLB rather than scrap the entire piece of legislation.  While I am not as supportive as some, I do agree that NCLB started a meaningful revolution that has pushed the evolution of our educational system forward. Thank you also for expressing the fact that you want to rename the legislation.  I cannot recall any other legislative title that has been so misleading in its use (if not original intention).  As a principal...


I have been in the field of education for more than a few years. And, there's a resounding sense of change that has begun to happen beyond the constant talk about the need for change and then the multiple voices calling out to "come this way" only to find that "this way" wasn't the solution. To state the problem succinctly: public education has failed to teach everyone. To state three of the most pertinent issues surrounding this statement: 1) many teachers (far too many) want to teach the way they have always taught (which is primarily the sit and get ...


I have to admit that I watch the reality show called “Supernanny”. If you arent’t familiar with the show the concept is pretty simple: the Supernanny (a family coach)) is invited into a family by parents that are being driven nuts by their children. I began watching the program as a guilty pleasure; but soon I realized that it was an excellent tutorial on good leadership consulting “Say again?” Let me give a simple example. Three pre-adolescents kids are running wild, throwing toys and fighting with each other. Mom is doing her best to maintain order; but ...


Three years ago I dove head first into the Web 2.0 pool. I passionately embraced blogging, wikis, podcasting, digital storytelling, RSS, social bookmarking, social networking, and so on. This has been one of my main areas of professional development, and I have written short-term and long-term professional goals for myself in this area of education. Furthermore, I have been working very hard to teach these tools to teachers, and I have made it clear that they need to incorporate these technologies into their instruction. We have dedicated many hours of faculty meeting time to discuss the importance of embedding ...


As technology continues to revolutionize communication (everywhere but schools of course), a proliferation of tools are becoming available. Some older applications like blogging are still slow to catch on and are very underutilized by administrators. In my book "The School Administrator's Guide to Blogging: A New Way to Connect with your Community," I outline many ways blogging could help administrators as well as the drawbacks. Yet everyday new technologies and new applications of old technologies keep emerging. Some districts use email and cell phone texting for emergency notifications now. As old hat as that sounds, many schools still do not ...


[Download this file: png ppt pptx] Imagine that, day after day, all you have to eat and drink are bread and water. When that’s all that you’ve ever had, it tastes good. Even wonderful, sometimes. Imagine that on one special day someone gives you a little taste of honey. Maybe a small smear on your piece of bread. From then on, of course, your normal diet never tastes as good again. So what? Well, I think that increasingly our schools will have to recognize that… Our kids have tasted the honey. When our kids go home, they get ...


When we usually talk about teachers and their technology skills we usually separate them into two categories: technology averse or technology savvy. However I believe that there is a third category that is gaining traction. This new category I am calling tech-welcoming. These teachers are the teachers that need extra help to really understand the technology and to get it infused into their pedagogy and curriculum. However, they are trying. They really try to understand the technology and they are willing to try it out and make it part of their instruction. Especially with the tough economic times we are ...


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