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Showing posts from 2016

Why Do Amazing Educators Embrace Data for Success?

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Data is not new to education, but its use has many iterations. What are connected educators saying about data best practices? Why do amazing educators embrace data? How is data currently used to improve performance? What words of caution do thought leaders provide?
How Do Your Teams Measure Success? Goals and plans are useless without targets. I can have the best plan, but where is it taking me? How will I know when I get there? The same applies for schools. Data does nothing alone. It requires context, culture, and targets to take on meaning.
I Never Heard a Number Explain Itself A bit of caution on measurement. There is always a story behind the numbers. Qualitative observations are essential. - Douglas Reeves @DouglasReeves Contextual factors are always present within the classroom, the school, and the home. Those factors do impact numbers. We can change contextual factors, but it takes we.

When we ask why in response to data, it's easy to blame the only adult in the classroom…

Visible Learning: Is Hattie's Top Strategy in Your School?

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It is the strategy, approach, and set of techniques that can unleash the largest results in student learning. Its name is vague and uncertain. It comes from the research in John Hattie's Visible Learning.

At the top of Hattie's research is a simple instructional strategy called, student visible learning. But what is it? What should we look for in our schools and classrooms to ensure it's happening?

Are we designing curriculum and instructional materials that embed visible learning techniques for teachers and students to use?

Are we building systems of support and development to increase the use of this powerful instructional strategy?

Visible Learning: The Big Picture How do we help students become their own teacher? Helping them to see their learning and make the best choices about how to learn? That is visible learning.

Student visible learning is the set of strategies teachers use to help students gain ownership of their own growth. These strategies increase student aw…

Focus: The Essential Leadership Mindset

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We're in the midst of the holiday season and one thing is for sure...every store out there is vying for your attention. It's difficult to focus on your list. All the stores have really cool stuff for really great prices. Focusing is a skill that is hard to develop when the distractions look so great!

The same is true in school leadership and school improvement. Every school out there seems to be doing something great. Every publisher has great ideas to improve student learning. Every leader is making an impact in their world of influence.

Your superintendent is offering ideas. Your peers are talking about ideas. Your teachers are innovating new initiatives. Your school improvement plan is growing and mounding. But where's the focus?

School Improvement Without Focus You know the campus improvement plan. It's thick and no one ever looks at it.

You may have started strategic planning in lieu of the traditional campus plan. That's great!

Regardless of your planning st…

Candor in Crucial Conversations

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Assumptions are the short-cuts to random results in relationships. Sometimes they work, sometimes they fail. Candor is the direct path to results in crucial conversations. Candor produces clear communication and understanding in relationships.

If you believe in your relationships, you can afford candor. If your relationships are superficial, candor may just be what is needed. Conversations just aren't at optimum quality without it.

This is a follow-up to our previous post How to Navigate Crucial Conversations.

What is Candor and Why do School Leaders need it? Consider the following potential conflicts:
Someone didn't complete a task. A teacher didn't fulfill your expectation. A parent is suddenly upset and calls the school board. Your leadership team is quieter than normal at your three previous meetings.Your assistant superintendent seems to have stopped visiting your campus, and you're not sure why.  The worst response is to make an assumption. You might assume you s…

Navigating those Crucial Conversations

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There's that nagging friction deep inside that let's you know that you need to have a conversation with someone. You've put it off for days, maybe even weeks because you know it will be a difficult conversation. But you also know it is a crucial conversation to have.

Can you think of it? That person and conversation? Okay. Let's look at 4 strategies that will help you.

Also, here's more on "Candor in Crucial Conversations"
First, there are plenty of resources on holding difficult, crucial, challenging, and complex conversations. The books and articles are out there because we all recognize the cost. The cost of not holding the conversation is greater than the potential conflict that could occur in the discussion.

There are mindsets, approaches, and ideas for minimizing any conflict that could occur from a tough talk. But, does it really have to be a tough talk?

Conversation Can Create a Win-Win Usually there's a problem, perceived behavior, or possibl…

Lead with Intent, Be Transformational

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Principals, you have so many management tasks to do every day - on-site meetings, communication, data-monitoring, conflict resolution, off-site meetings, fundraisers, etc... With the right mindsets and intentional strategies, each of these tasks can be more than a management role. Every interaction is an opportunity for transformational leadership.

Here are three lessons shared in the past few weeks from thought leaders on twitter.
You Will Be Wrong Embrace the fact that if you are going to lead people to grow, you are going to be wrong. It's ok #txeduchat — Aaron Hogan (@aaron_hogan) October 8, 2016  It's okay. No, it's preferred. No one likes perfection. Even worse, no one likes someone who pretends to be perfect.

The emotional intelligence lesson for leaders is, be intentionally vulnerable. Vulnerable people are likeable. They are easier to follow. They are human.

If you want to lead, be open about being wrong. Be easy to follow.

Do You Lead with Checklists?#edleadersh…

Sensitive Data Tools for Informed Decision-Making

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Sensitive data comes from assessments that give reliable feedback to educators about student growth. Previously, I promised to give a list of tools that can be used to shift from lethargic data to sensitive data. Here are sensitive data sources for elementary and middle-level schools that can improve your ability to make confident instructional leadership decisions.

Read about the difference in Lethargic Data and Sensitive Data Here.

Reading Cloze for Overall Reading Growth This tool is old. It's been researched and used for decades. It is easy to create, quick to use, and gives solid data on student growth.

The cloze works because it takes students into the reading process and requires them to make connections within a text to infer words that are missing from the text. It focuses on both students' ability to negotiate print and construct meaning.

And this research review shows how Spelling is a Predictor of Reading Comprehensionall the way up to 10th grade.
Academic Vocabula…

How are you motivating your campus this week?

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There's a difference between motivation and a positive organizational climate. We could discuss scores of studies on these topics in the last four years. Instead of reviewing those, let's discuss how you will motivate your campus this week. As a school leader, you can be strategic about motivation and climate.

Motivation is the drive for excellence. It is the motive, the why. Why do you try? Why do you go the extra mile? It's different for different people. It varies at different times.

Organizational climate comes in several forms at a school: student climate, instructional climate, and work climate. Together, they make "the" climate. Why does this matter?

It matters because the climate can either increase motivation or it can suppress it. Your actions, or lack of actions, can set the tone of the workplace. That tone (read, climate) is the context for the amount of motivated work that takes place.

Enough theory. Let's look at some strategic ways to increase…

Sensitive Data and Lethargic Data

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Here's a concept - sensitive data. Sensitive data are the numerical outputs that fluctuate easily. They are different than lethargic data, which does not move easily. That may not sound very good. It may sound technical and strange, so let's look at some examples.

The first quarter is over. What do we look for to determine results? Do you look for the percent of students who scored above a 70 on a single test? This is lethargic data. It doesn't tell you what you really need to know.

Lethargic Data A passing rate (the percentage of students who scored above a 70) is lethargic because it doesn't show growth well. It doesn't respond quickly to changes in student performance. It isn't all that reliable.

I'd really love to go into the research statistics, but then you'd probably stop reading. So let's just talk the logic.

Lethargic Data in Action Imagine 30% of your students are slightly below level and you give an on-level test at the end of the quarte…

Leaders Should Not Stand Out

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You should not stand out as a leader.
You should not think of new ideas.
You should not innovate.
You should not be creative.
You should seek to fit in and be normal.
Follow rules and be safe. Here are three reasons why.
Innovative Leadership Involves RiskStanding out and being creative is how we find solutions. Innovation means you have to try out new ideas. It means you have to find solutions. Trying out new ideas is risky.
Many educational leaders maintain the status quo. Policy makers maintain status quo. You should definitely do the same. It is safer that way.
If you are a school leader concerned only about keeping your job, then just be normal. Average is good enough. Average is safe. (And outliers are risky.)
Don't learn. Don't grow. Don't risk making a mistake. Just follow everyone else and you'll be safe. Leaders with Vision Have to Work Hard You might just want to come to the office and: read emailscomplete paperworktalk on the phoneturn in reports. If that i…

17 Actions for Lead Learners

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The most powerful learners take ownership. They are passionate about an idea or topic. They pursue it with single-minded attention. They have no excuse to stop them. They are emotionally invested. They take the lead in their own learning.

The same could be said for leaders of learning. They take on leadership like it is learning. Every interaction is a chance to learn about their organization. They use learning as the fuel that drives improvement. They have focus - almost to a fault. Their passion is contagious. They make their work their own. They make it a masterpiece. They take the lead in learning.

Here are 17 actions for lead learners:

1. Enjoy the journey. Processes are more important than products because processes involve people. Enjoy the processes.

2. See challenges in 3-D. 
Challenges are to be solved. But behind each challenge,there is also a dimension that belies some area for growth in your organization.

3. Listen. 
Probably the most powerful skill of a leader.

4. Serve othe…

School Leadership Trends for Back to School 2016

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What are thought leaders saying about school leadership during this back to school season? Visibility, decision-making, building capacity, being a lead learner, and retaining strong teachers are among the top ideas. 
The leadership and school improvement discussions have been great at the start of this school year. Here are four of the top school leadership tweets from the last four weeks. Visibility and Decision-Making Presence w/in Higher-leadership & school sites--when not visible in trenches but make decisions, a us vs. them is established #satchatwc — Diana (@Dianalamaestra) September 3, 2016 The importance of culture is clearly stated here. Decision-making couched in the right culture is invaluable. EdLeaders can either establish or destroy a healthy culture. This is one area with no middle ground.
It is as simple as presence or absence. Mere absence can have a significantly negative impact. Leadership can undermine the organizational culture by being absent - or invisible…

Leadership lessons from the Seagull and the Fungus

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The Seagull If you're not familiar with the coastal regions, seagulls are beautiful birds. However, they can quickly become a nuisance. At the first sight of food, they swarm like white, fluffy flies. 
While grilling at the beach a few years ago, I had a seagull swoop down and snatch a hot dog straight off my grill! He did it right in front of me, straight from the flames. Unfortunately, I didn't bring any extras.
Seagull leadership lessons:
All interactions are opportunities to give, not take. Your energy, enthusiasm, and appreciation are important to teachers.When you swoop in to "save the day", you're actually stealing commitment and ownership from your teachers.Instead of swooping in, be present on a consistent basis. Be there supporting, listening, and empowering. Read this post for 3 concrete ways to empower teacher leaders!
The Fungus I love mushrooms. They taste great. Alfredo sauce with mushrooms is an indulgent masterpiece. But I've never seen a mus…

Powerful Educators Disempowered

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Great educators can be disempowered when a principal is insecure, afraid, or lacks vision. How does this happen? How can we turn it around?
A Culture of Disempowerment How are teacher leaders shut down? How are passionate educators closed out? How do improvement and innovation come to a halt?
Decision-making without culture building. It creates us vs. them. It makes strong teachers and strong leaders feel disempowered. It's a downward spiral for the culture from here. The work of the school is on the path to becoming a job.The leadership circle is a safety net. Instead of empowering leaders. Meetings are information sharing. Leaders are chosen to be a part of this circle based on personality, compliance, or status quo.Keeping your distance fuels your security. It also undermines your ability to build trust, engage your staff, and really know how your vision meets reality. Could these be a lack of vision? Let's turn this leadership scenario around. Three points of focus can do t…

Six Strategies to Create a Culture of Innovation

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Involvement is among the top three keys to school improvement. Innovation requires involvement. We know school culture defines a school's success at innovating. How can we maximize involvement? What are the strategies we can use to find that perfect interaction between innovation, school culture, and school improvement?
Here the top tweets from this week. They show us six strategies leaders and principals can use to create a culture of innovation. Six strategies that result in school improvement! Be Intentional As leaders everything we do is magnified, intentionality is critical in all decisions we make. #leadupchat  — Mike Peck (@EdTechPeck) August 13, 2016 This might just be the starting place - being intentional about shaping culture. Just doing the job, managing the office, and putting out fires does not result in school improvement. That's the hard part, for sure. Master the tasks of the job, so you can get them out of the way...so you become the leader your school needs…