June 2009 Archives

Now that I'm a 'seasoned' administrator (I have two years in already!! :)), I've decided that instead of trying to fix everything, I'll pick a few goals to really focus on this next year (see how much smarter I'm getting?!?). I want to focus on literacy in our school, especially reading. We are an alternative school, K-12. Our students have come to us, for the most part, because their behaviors got in the way of their learning in their home school and so they were sent here. Many of our teachers are young and inexperienced. The new principal I hired a ...


I caught Secretary Duncan on NPR this week talking about teacher evaluations and other key issues surrounding education reform. Secretary Duncan talked about several studies that were recently featured in Education Week. The studies major findings that teacher evaluations reflect a Lake Wobegon effect. Almost 99% of teacher evaluations studied reflect teachers were at or above average. In other words, all of the teachers being evaluated are meeting or exceeding standards. Sec. Duncan's question rings true - if all of our teachers are meeting or exceeding standards then there is little to no variation in teacher distribution. Another more distrubing ...


As the largest educational technology conference, National Educational Computing Conference-NECC, is going on, I started to think about the different vendors I work with, the relationships I have with them, and the characteristics that help me choose some venders over others. As a former athlete and coach, I decided to use the analogy of a team. When it comes to this part of the profession, I have two teams: an internal and an external. To be successful, I must have a strong internal and external team and I am fortunate to have both. My internal team is made up of ...


During the last several months, our school district has worked to identify areas of strategic importance to dramatically improving life opportunities for our students. Our focus is squarely on student achievement, and we are approaching this focus through four key areas: Leadership, Engagement, Data, and Collaboration. While we are moving forward in each of these areas, I want to highlight the work we are doing in Leadership. As we assessed our leadership needs in the district, we determined that, like many other K-12 districts, we had a critical need for leadership development. As we planned to meet this need, we ...


Confessions of a Paper Chewer In 1988 I was a 5th grader in a typical Ohio elementary school. It was a day like any other and my cousin and I were bored. The teacher had decided to teach social studies that day by reading to us out of the 8th grade textbook since there was more detail than our 5th grade text. Now, you may ask how I remember this… He used the 8th grade book a lot. Without any words exchanged I can remember he and I engaging in the super bowl of paper eating contests. The goal of ...


What a compelling confluence of events this week: • Iranian patriots riding Twitter to their next revolution. • California in near collapse as they face a $25 BBB-illion deficit! • A Stanford University concludes that students in charter schools are not faring as well as students in traditional public schools. • California Charter Schools Association invents a new scheme to hold charters more accountable. • California's highest performing school, a charter school, emerges as a beacon of light in an otherwise dark and tempestuous storm. Or not. So how do these seemingly separate events connect? A change is gonna come. I am inspired by Tehran ...


It’s cute, it’s hip, it’s a cartoon, and it’s Internet safety but, do they get the message? During the last week of school we had an educational writer from NetSmartz® Workshop come to conduct focus groups with 30 of our third through sixth graders to get their opinions on their new Internet Safety videos for their NSTeens site. NetSmartz® Workshop is a company specializing in safety education for youth, parents, and educators. Created by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC), NetSmartz set forth to spearhead a movement towards safer and more responsible use of ...


This post is simply an open thank you to all of the teachers and those who work with children in public schools. This past week, we watched our youngest walk across the stage for high school graduation. Hers was a large class (over 500 graduates). As is the case with almost all graduations, we had to get to the site early and I got the chance to sit and watch the different parts of graduation unfold; from the band director leading the school orchestra, the JROTC color guard, and the exciting bustle of pregraduation activities. I thought about how fortunate ...


I had a whole post ready for my "official" LeaderTalk day last Friday but in the end I just couldn't bring myself to click "Publish." I was a little frustrated when I wrote it and I think it needs to simmer for a bit before it's ready for prime time. Fast-forward to this morning and a great keynote from Karl Fisch about literacy in the 21st century. Karl said a lot of great things and challenged the thinking of a lot of people in the room. This led to some great conversations throughout the morning and throughout the day. But ...


It was recently reported that California Governor Arnold Swarzenegger has created a plan to phase out school textbooks and adopt digital textbooks. This notion is getting some traction in the United Kingdom. Here is 17 year old high school student talking about just that. In the video, the student talks about creating ischools based on the iTouch. This kid's idea includes adopting digital textbooks among other things. Ray Schroeder has a great information blog called Recession Realities in Higher Education. This is a great one-stop shop to stay updated on how the "global recession is changing realities for students, institutions, ...


This post also appears on AngelaMaiers.com If the riches of the Indies, or the crowns of all the kingdom of Europe, were laid at my feet in exchange for my love of reading, I would spurn them all. ~ Francois FéNelon~ Poor are the readers who do not know of this love. Poor are the students who sit before us starved for meaning. Poor are the students fed a bland diet of narrow reading experiences. Poor are the readers given sparse access to new texts, forms and literacies. Poor are the readers who come into our classrooms hungry for knowledge, ...


As the year winds down the work speeds up...at least at my school. One of the projects we are undertaking is the transitioning to 1:1 with netbooks for our 6th, 7th and 8th grades in the Fall of 2009. It is both an exciting and daunting task. Our school has worked for three years to build a vision for the importance of technology integration, connectedness, global awareness and the skills the students will need for their futures. We are a tuition based school and with 63% of the students living at or below the poverty level and therefore ...


Well, another school year has come to an end. Although the fatigue I face at the end of a school year is still palpable, I must say I ended the year with a positive feeling - one of satisfaction and optimism. Though certainly a practice that is questionable with regard to effectiveness and sense, we hold 2 professional in-service days at the end of the school year. These days are for any teachers who have not acquired 12 hours of professional development throughout the school year. The sessions are limited in scope due to the small number of people who ...


On June 2, 2009 I visited the Massachusetts legislature's Joint Education Committee to give the following testimony in support of legislation that would institute a commission to create a Creativity Index. Very few educators call or write their legislators. Do you? Fewer give testimony on legislation that will affect their professional lives and the lives of their students. Usually, you can submit it in writing. Won't you? We all need to be educator advocates for what we believe is best for children's learning. Legislators will appreciate receiving your point of view. June 2, 2009 Massachusetts Joint Education Committee To begin, ...


I just finished reading The Way We'll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream by John Zogby of Zobgy International, a public opinion polling company. In addition to compiling lots of interesting findings about how the American dream has / is shifting, Zogby creates a picture of generational differences. From many national surveys, the picture of the typical American is drawn based on generational attributes. Zogy describes the generations as: The Private Generation (1926-1945) • Defer gratification • Oppose equal rights for gays and women • Vote to cut school budgets • Favor go-it-alone foreign policy • Expect to live into their ...


I continue to wonder where the instructional leaders have gone. It seems to me that too many leaders are being pulled away from their core mission just when education, teachers, and students need leaders to inspire a new, more powerful direction. So, I challenge you, instructional leaders, to return to being innovators, risk-takers, facilitators, and change agents. I challenge you to begin the process of shifting your organization towards a multi-dimensional learning space. Where Do I Start? What does it mean to be well-educated in the 21st Century? How does this shift the notion of teaching and learning? What are ...


When the nation's largest union agrees to join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in their recommendations for school reform, you know things are getting hard to sort out. I find the following news release and the report from The New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce to be curious. On March 10th, two of the nation’s leading business groups joined with the nation’s largest education employees union to announce they “urge states and the federal government to give a fair trial” to the Tough Choices or Tough Times education reform framework. Likewise, three additional states, ...


With all of the different roles and responsibilities we have as administrators, I have to say that one of the meetings I had today is a great example of my absolute favorite part of my job. It wasn't the kind of meeting where everyone sits there and listens to one person pontificate or the kind where you feel like you're just meeting to meet. Neither was it the kind of meeting where everyone shows up physically but few are engaged mentally. Nope. Not that kind of meeting. So what was so great about it? It was cooking--the energy was flowing ...


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