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August 08, 2011

Before We Let Them Power Up in Class ...

When one of our science teachers came to me last spring and told me we didn't have enough headphones to do the online state science test, I told him, "We have 600 pairs of headphones floating around this school. Just tell the students to take them out of their pockets and plug them into the computer...

October 22, 2010

Systems Do Not Equal Prisons

Last month I wrote the article, All Systems Go, about how spelling out rituals, routines, and clear expectations for student conduct during the school day leads to a safer, more productive learning environment for all. I explained how empowering teachers to be the guiding force behind the change in ...

September 17, 2010

All Systems Go

Systems are not overrated, not by a long shot. When I took over as principal at a junior high school after nine years at an elementary school, there were virtually no systems, rituals, or routines in place; in other words, very little structure and an awful lot of chaos. Students used (more like abu...

August 19, 2010

Attention Conference Organizers:

Condense it, consolidate it, and give us principals only what we need...the concepts. Expand it, expound on it, and give the teachers what they need...the training. I am writing this article sitting in AVID training in beautiful San Diego on Thursday, the fourth (and not final) day of the training, ...

April 14, 2010

It's not new and it's not improved

Here's an excerpt from a local newspaper article entitled Learning, FACEBOOK Style: At first glance, the first graders in Mrs. Stephan's classroom at Scenic Heights Elementary in Minnetonka appear to be chatting online with their pals, Facebook-style, instead of learning math. As their classmates' ...

March 19, 2010

Kindles for Kids

I recently attended an IEP meeting regarding a student whose primary disability is emotional/behavioral disorder, but one who is far below in his reading ability as well. We discussed how his adverse behavior incidents are becoming more frequently related to his frustration with his inability to rea...

February 19, 2010

When it comes to student engagement, the eyes don't have it

"What do you mean I only got a 2? They were all on task. They were all looking at me." It's no longer about the eyes and whether or not the students are looking at the teacher or have their books open. Student engagement is about the mind - engaging the mind and expressing it through dialogue with ...

January 19, 2010

Putting the Peddle to the Metal

Every year, when the temperature hovers around 10 below zero, we gather all of our marketing resources so that we can enter tourist season with a vengeance. We rehearse our talking points on what sets us apart from the 49 other elementary schools in the district, design fancy brochures, have pencils...

November 20, 2009

Excessive? I Guess Not

It was revealed on the evening news that there were multiple warning signs that the shooter at Fort Hood might have been mentally unstable and capable of violence. Last month I wrote about the precautionary lockdown we experienced due to a disgruntled, mentally unstable former employee. While that a...

October 22, 2009

How Much is Just Right?

You know that commercial for Bud Lite - Too much vs too little? I wrestled with that dilemma this week when we had to go into real lockdown mode and I had to explain the reason for it on various levels. We hadn't even had a drill yet when the real thing became necessary. It all happened during the l...

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