Showing posts from July, 2016

Mission and Vision: Top 5 Tweets

What are educational leaders saying this week on vision and mission? It's the start of a new school year, and there's no time better than now to ensure we harness the power of a shared mission and vision for the campus. 
Here are my top five from this week on vision and mission statements for school improvement. I didn't have to travel any further than these hashtags: #atplc, #EdLeaders, and #LeadUpChat. Mission and Vision Statements @DavidJHuber "Mission/vision statements mean nothing unless our practices each day align to the actual words on the page."Bam. In one sentence, it's that simple, yet it happens over and over. The implementation gap. We have ideas, plans, and purposes, but they fail to make it to the ground level. And more often, they fail to make is thoroughly at the ground level. It's not hard to fix this though.
In Leaders of Learning, Dufour & Marzano remind us, "The one thing all leaders must remember to be effective is the impo…

How to Teach Summarizing

Readers do much more than just call words and turn pages. They think. They make meaning. They pull together ideas from their prior knowledge and from the author's own intentions. There are many reasons that reading is difficult to teach. But some skills can be easily grasped with the right scaffolding.
Summarizing is a complex skill that can be made simple with the right materials. You can't just throw a text out, and then give students a summarizing worksheet. Tasks have to be carefully designed to lead students along the path. The Path to Summarization With literary texts, summarizing has a distinct path. It can be explicitly taught. Students can master it. Where do we begin?
We need to first ensure that students understand the concept. What is a summary? They best way to do this is to define what it is not. Many students confuse summaries with retelling and paraphrasing. When teaching summarizing, we should start by clarifying this confusion up front. Here's a post whe…

Boost Staff Morale, 23 Tips

Motivation, staff morale, school climate. All are critical to a healthy working environment. The root solution is hiring. But there are ongoing actions that principals can take to ensure high levels of staff morale!
[Read here on "How to Keep Your Star Teachers from Quitting You"]

Hiring is the easiest way to ensure motivated teachers. The right people, in the right spot, ensure success. The right people are driven by the intrinsic desire to do great and be a part of something great. Hiring right solves the problem of motivation.
However, a bad leader, uninformed boss, and unmotivated principal...well, that can quickly squander the talents and greatness of a strong team. Here are 23 tips to ensure that the principal doesn't get in the way of staff morale, but rather works to boost it.

Sincerity of PurposeYou can't show up as the leader and hide in the office reading emails, surfing the web, or managing paperwork all day. Empower and delegate those tasks. The leader is…

Leadership That Questions

I'm pretty sure no one likes to be told what to do...all the time. On the flip side we want a clear vision, consistently communicated goals, and defined expectations. Clear vision, goals, and expectations provide the structures for creative work to flourish. But how do effective leaders communicate vision, goals, and expectations on a school campus? The answer is questions.
Ken Robinson is quoted, "The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas. It's to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they're valued." This concept has merit, particularly in a school culture. 
We know culture is the key to lasting success in any organization, especially a school. It is the people within the school culture that determine long-term campus success.  
Also, we know involvement creates lasting commitment to improvement efforts. Without involvement, there is not commitment. Here are 5 ways commitment improves schools.
Here are three questioning …

Questioning: The road to critical thinking

Steph bent down to look at the rock. In it, he saw shiny clear crystals, dark black specks, and an overall reddish hue. He yelled, "Hey Dad, come look at this!" In his mind he wondered if he'd found a treasure. He questioned to himself, "Why are there different diamonds in here?" Of course, there weren't different diamonds. Steph stumbled across a basic piece of granite rock. To him, he discovered a pirate's loot!
John Hattie's synthesis in Visible Thinking, points out the powerful impact that questions have on learning. Questions not only shape what information we look for, but questions also shape how we go about finding answers.
Steph's natural curiosity to the granite rock, was to ask why. Why is this so? Where is this from? What does this mean? He quickly assumed it was a treasure, but with the right prompting from his father, he could be forced the think further about the formation of igneous rocks (underground "lava rocks"), ho…

Learning is an Adventure

I'm spending time in the mountains this week and am confronted with the awesome beauty and strength of nature. So much to fear, to wonder, and to explore. 
A couple days ago we climbed Flattop Mountain...ugh, I'm still sore. But I came across so many moments of inspiration that made me reflect on learning and education. Really, I came to believe that Learning is an Adventure. Here are a few of those moments that I felt were inspiring. Do. Learn. Live. These three words have been a theme lately (shared on facebook), but it really hit me on the hike. The path is not the destination. It is where the living is. It is the path where we find learning. We may or may not arrive at the destination - enjoy the path. What are you passionate about? Do. Don't delay. You don't need to know how, where, or why - just do. You will learn along the way. In that learning, we live. 
Learning is not about inert facts and details. Learning is about life. Empowering each other with understan…

Real Life Lessons from Social Studies

Fireworks, parades, family, and barbecues (BBQ here in the South). These are staples of the July 4th holiday. As Americans are celebrating a major historical event, I'm compelled to consider the importance of education...especially the teaching of social studies in Elementary and Middle School years. Unfortunately, we are losing social studies due to the pressures of high stakes standardized testing.
Social Studies is the study of life. It is the study of how humans adapt and modify life on Earth. How cultures, governments, and communities shape life and thought. July 4th is commemoration of the Declaration of Independence. This historical document expressed and codified ideas that helped revolutionize how we think about life, liberty, and government. The signors of this document were expressing support for ideas that were evolving for many years from many cultures. The ideas have been tossed around and revised for millennia from Cleisthenes and Plato to John Locke, Thomas Hobbes…