The start of the school year brings lots of excitement, coupled with anxiety. Parents worry whether their children will be successful, bus drivers worry that they won't miss anybody on the bus route, teachers are excited about their new class, sprinkled with a bit of worry about class rosters and the dynamics of the class. School executives also greet the year with excitement and anxiety. Will we meet our goals? How can I increase the chances of us meeting our goals? Do our faculty, staff, parents, community members, and others know about our priorities and our focus? One tool you ...


I'm sitting in my almost empty house which is three hours from my job. My house is for sale and there is an Open House today and so I drove here last night to make sure everything looks OK. The last adult child that was living here moved out two weeks ago. Another adult child stopped by last night and cleaned out the dishes and pots and pans for his place with four other 20 year olds. My desk back at work is full of things to still do before teachers return next week. I still have one teacher to ...


Nothing can be done in a school district without the help from several people, especially, if what is being done, is a district wide initiative. This statement has been proven true countless times this summer as my district rolls out a new student information system. The transition has been a bumpy one, but I believe the benefits will outweigh the challenges in the long run. While embarking on this particular new journey, the patience of all of the administrators and guidance staff was tested. They spent incalculable hours learning how to use the program, and, along the way, encountered problems ...


Research on teacher quality increasingly shows a correlation between the caliber of classroom teaching and student achievement. The issue of teacher quality is one of the most important topics in K-12 education today. States have long required some form or level of standardized certification to gain entry into our profession. The traditional certification involves training in pedagogy and grade level content. This training is dominated by universities who prepare pre-professional teachers to meet the licensure requirements of a given state. As student performance data becomes increasingly accessible, the impact of classroom teachers becomes more obvious. The notion of value-added has ...


We draw our inspiration from the universe. Or other bloggers. And so a few weeks ago I was compelled by the debate spotlighted over on Scott McLeod's Dangerously Irrelevant about how to keep kids from using their cell phones in school. And I wondered how much energy school districts really want to put into that debate. And then I thought about how Plato or Socrates or Antisthenes or one of those old ancient smart guys tried in earnest to convince the world that writing was somehow inefficient use of one's intellect. It seems like educators have a habit of missing ...


Just as President Obama held a round table beer summit to assuage the race relations between two parties who were clearly at odds with each other, I have held “summits” at a round table, namely the one in my office, to similarly assuage relationships between opposing parties. But clearly what has been missing from my round table discussions is the drink. From now on, I will keep packets of Kool-Aid in my office and whenever I have to sit down at my round table with warring parties, I’ll serve some Kool-Aid. And, as President Obama gave each party at ...


This always seems to be one of those "beginning of the year ice-breaker" questions used in many faculty & staff meetings. In fact, a version of it was asked today in a back-to-school meeting that I attended with a group of teacher leaders. So I am curious -- what DID YOU read over this past summer vacation? Your answers can include work/education related books as well as other books. Post your responses in the comments -- I am really looking forward to seeing many responses and possibly learning about some great new books to read! Here are my responses: Liberating ...


As millions of teachers are saying good bye to their summer and gearing up for the new school year, principals, staff developers, and leaders are planning their "welcome back" conversation for the oh-so-anticipated first day staff meeting. You know the one where everyone in the room really wants to be working in their classroom, but are gathered in the school cafeteria for the mandatory "let's go get 'em" rally. As exciting as it is to be apart of such gatherings, it is often a challenge to find the perfect way to engage, excite, and encourage. The key to success- a ...


The new school year has just begun for some and for others it is just around the corner. Perhaps I have been playing too much Wii Music but as I reflect on my own experiences at this time of year it feels like I am conducting a rather large orchestra. All the various parts of the orchestra are in the wings tuning up and looking to me for direction, looking for me to raise a baton and set the rhythm and tempo of this great symphony. I will not push this analogy any further but it does capture both the ...


I think I have found a new vision, a new paradigm, a "New Story of Learning" in the 21st Century. It is creative and innovative. It is passionate and kind. It is natural and real. It leads me down a path to the truth and beauty of learning and the beauty and truth of humanity. It describes for me how we can learn to know, do, be, and live together. You will find all this in a book written by Stephanie Pace Marshall, The Power to Transform. Dr. Marshall is Founding President and President Emerita of the Illinois Mathematics and ...


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