"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 ...


Note: Erik Palmer, an author from Denver, Colorado is a guest blogger today. Haphazard. That word best describes our approach to teaching speaking. Yes, every teacher at every grade level in every subject has oral language activities: discussions, book reports, research presentations, Socratic seminars, dialogues, read alouds, debates, and many more. But very few teachers specifically teach students how to do those activities well, and every teacher seems to have a different idea of what it takes to be an effective speaker. I worked with a team of four fourth grade teachers who all planned language arts activities together. They ...


"Speak up, be a leader, set the direction - but be participative, listen well, cooperate" (Bennis, 2003). Sometimes I wake up feeling brave and when I find myself in social circles I out myself as a school administrator. The reactions are often mixed. Some people are scared. Some are impressed. Others don't know what to say. Some of the more friendly people will talk about their memories of their school administrators and I often wonder how my students will describe me in the future. There are always a few who say, "I wouldn't want your job." The latter statement is ...


Once a month I do parenting segments with Subrina Dhammi and education segments with Elaine Houston on WNYT which is the NBC affiliate in Albany, NY. Subrina approached me a few weeks ago about new legislation being introduced in New York State and wanted to do a news segment on it. It was entitled Drop Outs Don't Drive. Students drop out of high school through a couple of different mechanisms. One way they can go through the process of dropping out is through a meeting with their parents, guidance counselor and school principal. Parents are allowed to "sign them out" ...


"The high stakes test culture runs almost totally counter to what we know about how people learn. It causes us to engage in professional malpractice on a regular basis." Carol Ann Tomlinson There is nothing better than watching high-quality instruction. Seeing students engaged with their teacher, doing hands-on activities, or debating about an issue is very exciting. Great teachers easily float from a planned lesson to a teachable moment. If you are fortunate enough, you may get a chance to capture the first moment a student falls in love with a subject that will guide them to their first career. ...


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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