Schools are working very hard on establishing data points for students to follow their progress during their school years. We research formative and summative assessments and look into what tools other school districts are using so we can try get a better understanding of our students. However, it seems as though searching for good data is a fruitless effort because high stakes testing is the only data that matters. When the state education departments in the U.S. announce that high stakes testing results are out, local newspapers and media all focus on the results. Newspapers compare schools from across ...


Around the Chapel, Of Old St. Paul, Blow the dancing leaves Of the coming Fall. In the morning breeze They leap and fly Beneath the towers That scrape the sky (The Little Chapel That Stood, 2003). The summer is a great time to reflect on past, present and future practices as we sit in our empty buildings spending quality time with out secretaries. As administrators, how can we have a bigger impact on our students? How can I get students to want to talk with me instead of having them fear my title? How do I reconnect with the teacher ...


"We have spent so many years kicking the can down the road that the can is kicking back." Unknown Across the country this year, many public school districts saw their budgets get voted down and they were forced to make more cuts or go into a contingency budget. As we enter the new school year, students, staff and parents are beginning to see the effects of their defeated budgets. Many people, businesses and institutions have spent years not living within their means, and we are all paying for it in a variety of ways. Given the cuts to state funding ...


Officials need not endorse any particular student organization, but federal law requires that they afford all student groups the same opportunities to form, to convene on school grounds, and to have access to the same resources available to other student groups (Duncan, 2011, p.2).* Some schools can be cold and unfriendly. Perhaps it's because they are unsafe or there is an over-focus on academics and an under-focus on school climate. It has been said that you can tell the climate of a school within the first two minutes you walk in the entrance. Do we have a school that ...


"One of the biggest barriers to improvement in school systems is the presence of punitive accountability. If you fail you will be put on a watch list. We have already seen that punishment (and even its opposite, reward) can never lead to intrinsic motivation to put in effort to solve a problem and to sustain one's interest in solving inevitable future problems" (Fullan, p.79). Improvement is a word we often hear in education but many of you reading this have probably not seen improvement in quite some time. Most educators are concerned that we are being forced in the ...


"When it comes to deep divisions, resolution and empathy must be combined if change is to occur (Fullan, 2011, p.50)." Recently, I had a conversation with internationally known educational leadership expert Dr. Michael Fullan. Dr. Fullan has a new book entitled Change Leader, and our conversation focused on how educators could use Change Leader to better meet the needs of students. Although it is primarily written for school leaders, I strongly believe that many of Fullan's core practices can be transferred to the classroom as well as a school building or district. One core practice that Dr. Fullan focuses ...


When I taught first grade, I introduced a new book to my students during calendar time. The book was entitled First Snow by Caldecott Award Winner Emily Arnold McCully. It's a wordless picture book that I had never used before but I loved the illustrations. Pauline, the school librarian suggested I use it with my students. I decided to use it for a "picture walk" one morning, which is a good literacy practice to do with students before you actually read the book out loud to them. A "picture walk," although I'm sure it's called something different now, is a ...


"You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." Christopher Robin As our new school year approaches, I inspect the building to make sure everything looks fresh and clean for our students and teachers. My custodians, Maggie, Mary and Garry, work hard during the summer cleaning, painting walls, stripping the floors, waxing the floors, and working on countless other jobs. A school right before the school year begins is a very exciting place. This summer, many teachers spent countless hours (on their own time I may add) to get their classrooms ready for the new ...


"When I was young, the snow was deeper and all the hills seemed so much steeper. The crusty ice I walked upon Would never once give in, And every sled race that I ran Would surely be a win. Its' good to see the snow again From a child's point of view, Because what you see is different When you're a bigger you" (Moira Fain, Snow Day). This summer, I attended a training for school leaders at Questar III Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). BOCES offers many resources to educators in New York State. We have Questar III and ...


"The first gave you a need for love; the second was there to give it" (Masse, 2007). A few weeks ago a reader told me to stay away from diversity because schools use it as a catch phrase and should avoid it because it is not our business. So in an effort to go where I do not belong, I wanted to write about families and diversity. In the public school system, and this blog which focuses on the social and emotional growth of children, I do believe that families and diversity are very much our business. Some conservative groups ...


The opinions expressed in Finding Common Ground are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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