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Did You Know You Are A Hero?

cowboys
Dallas Cowboys stock images.

Today I watched some news highlights of Dallas Cowboys training camp 2014. It reminded me of a day back when my son was 10 years old.  He was attending his first Cowboys training camp. He stood at the fence and watched as the players went through their drills, just waiting for the end of the camp and the chance to get an autograph from one particular player. He was his hero back then. He watched him every week, knew all his stats, and was so thrilled this day to be able to experience a moment with this guy.  It’s hot in July, in Texas. But the discomfort and heat meant little compared to being able to see, and be acknowledged by, his hero. He wanted to grow up to be just like him!

Did you know that to many students, you are a hero? You are who they want to grow up to be like. They watch you, they listen to you. You may be a parental figure to some, or a role model, or a friend.  Each day our students come to school is an opportunity for us to “see” them. To become a part of their lives. To let them know that they are appreciated and that they are important. Because something magical happens for a kid when their hero makes that connection with them.

When my son graduated from high school and joined the Army, he found new heroes. And when he deployed to Iraq in 2009, he found himself being called by that name quite often. Once, in a restaurant while home on R&R, by a stranger who paid for his meal. And I heard him reply,

“Thanks, but I’m not a hero. Heroes change the world – like teachers. I just followed orders”.

Like teachers. It brought a tear to my eye. The man went on to tell him, that he fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. That heroes come in many different forms. And that to some, he did change the world. Their world.

brandon4
My son, Brandon, on the left. A “hero” of his on the right, his NCO.

As educators, we have the opportunity to make someone’s day every day!  Teachers really do change the world – through the lives we impact. The confidence we can help build in students. The sense of importance we can bestow on each and every student. The development of things like grit, and growth mindset, and perseverance – we have the chance to shape these each day.

It might be the daily “hello” you give that student who isn’t even in your class, or it might be daily conversations with those who are in your classroom, but there are students who would go through anything just to have that acknowledgment, that relationship with you. To make you smile, and to matter to you – as you matter to them.

Because whether you know it or not, you are a hero to someone.

Really love it when I write a post that lends itself to a David Bowie tune! Thank you for the many heroic things you do for kids every day. I hope you all have a great new school year!

 

 

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Gearing Up For The New

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 12.38.34 PMThis is my first post for the Fueled by Vroom Compelled Tribe blog group, a group of educators who have committed to reflecting through blogging. Our goal is to blog monthly around common topics and then give each other feedback on our blogs. You can view the members of this group by looking at the blog roll on the right of my home page. We are led by Craig Vroom, a Principal in Ohio. Our first topic is how we are gearing up for the new year!

This year marks the start of a new journey for me. After having spent the past fifteen years as a teacher, I am moving into my new role of Assistant Principal, at a new school, in  a new district.  I am excited, eager, and also a little bit nervous as I step out of a comfort zone and embrace the new!  In the past, gearing up for the new year meant buying supplies, planning my room arrangement, gathering information about my new students, gabbing with my teammates, and planning new and exciting ways to teach my content. Not this year! It’s a strange feeling…not knowing what you don’t know. I do not have a checklist in my mind of how to get ready for the year, when I have never experienced this from an AP standpoint. I’m viewing the world through a new lens, and taking it all in as I go. So instead of tasks and checklists related to a particular “role”, I’m going to describe how I am gearing up for a brand new experience.

Reading

One of the major things I am doing to prepare myself for this new role is reading and reflecting on the ideas of others.  I am reading books that some friends have suggested to me related to leadership, coaching, and serving others.  Some of the books I have read this summer include:

  • Engaging Students – Schlechty
  • The Energy Bus – Jon Gordon
  • Motivating and Inspiring Teachers – Todd Whitaker
  • What Great Principals Do Differently – Todd Whitaker
  • World Class Learners – Yong Jhau
  • The Immortality of Influence – Salome Thomas – EL
  • Examined Lives – James Miller (This is a personal read, but filled with information about the great philosophers and how their ideas shape us)

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There are some common ideas and themes that really resonate with me. Things such as being present. Being a listener. Being a learner. Spreading joy and positivity. Being visible. I am consuming a lot of information, but making mental connections as I go and identifying main “hooks” on which to hang this learning. I think these hooks have generated themselves because they speak directly to my own passion and interest. What type of leader do I want to be? One who is present, and visible. One who is helpful, and acts as a servant leader. One who lets teachers, parents, and students know how valued and valuable they are to our community-often and sincerely. Who spreads joy and gratitude. One who collaborates, and facilitates. One who is here to listen, and be a sounding board. So the ideas in these books that are resonating with me, fit into those categories and big ideas. So, as I read, I am identifying and strengthening my own purpose and mission.  This is helping me to “gear up” !

Setting My GPS

Along this same line, I have identified five words that are going to serve as my personal GPS for the year. This idea came from a summer learning series I have participated in with Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd) principal of Navasota Intermediate School in Texas.  We were asked to identify five words that we hope our teachers, students, and community would use to describe us.  How do we want to be seen by others? My five words for this year are:

 

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I am going to frame this Wordle and hang it in my office. Every day, when I see it, I can think about my own GPS for the year and ask myself how the conversations and activities I engage in daily line up with the GPS. I am hoping that this simple but powerful GPS will guide my interactions and decisions, so that everything I do is in line with these values.  If you would like to do this challenge yourself, here is a video that Dave Burgess (Teach Like A Pirate author) created for this summer learning series, with further information:

 

Health

One of the important things we can do as we embark on a new challenge is to stay cognizant of our own health. New things can cause stress, and too much stress can cause physical sickness and just wear us down in general. So, I am making sure that I am eating right, that I get enough sleep, and that I am exercising regularly. This last one is a little challenging for me, because my new hours are different and going to require me to get creative with my gym time. But for now, early morning is working. I am also stocked up on the vitamins!

 

positive-quotes-0Maintaining A Balance

This is hard, because I am so eager to get started and I want to just spend 24/7 on this new role!! But, it’s important to have a balance and make sure that I am making time for myself and my family.  Spending time in my normal Twitter chats is good for me, because this is a hobby but also allows me to connect with others and grow my PLN. Watching movies with my daughter, going out to eat with the family, reorganizing the pantry so that I can find things (something I have wanted to do for a long time), and redecorating my personal space have been some fun ways to relax and keep the balance. Currently, I am working on a project in my bedroom closet. All carpet and padding is ripped up, and I am preparing the floor so that I can paint the concrete. I am excited to see how this is going to look!! I also have been spending a lot of time at my mom’s house on the lake. The serene environment and beauty that surrounds her place is good for the soul. We have been having many great times together, which is priceless. Here is a picture looking out on the lake from her back deck:

 

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Once I start working, I will add to this list of important focus areas, including building relationships (my first order of business!).  I have a yearbook that I asked for about a month ago and I am steadily “getting to know” faces and names. But for now, these four things are what’s going on in my life right now. So many different things are, in their own way, helping me to gear up for a new role in a new school district. But these are four that I am being purposeful about, spending a lot of time on, and that I believe will have a great impact on my year. What about you? How are you gearing up for a new year? I would love to hear from you!

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Linking Evernote, Twitter, IFTTT and YouTube

So today, my learning at #NT2t (a Twitter Chat for educators who are new to Twitter that I co-mod) continued for several hours as I began to learn and play around with Evernote and a little with IFTTT. Here are a few things I learned about. Things like linking my Twitter activity with Evernote, as well as how to send videos to Evernote.
I’m also going to describe how the Evernote Web Clipper add-on allows you to send a webpage to your Evernote, and how you can use IFTTT to automatically send Tweets to Evernote instead of emailing them.

Before doing anything else, make sure you have an Evernote account. Next, I suggest you add your Evernote email address to your Gmail contacts. I have an Evernote email? Yes,you do! I do this so that I do not have to remember that address (it is long and weird). You can find it by going to your Evernote settings and scrolling down until you see your Evenote Email. Copy it to your clipboard, and then paste it into your Gmail contacts.

Sending a Tweet to Evernote:
Let’s say you see a Tweet that you want to send directly to Evernote. Just click the 3 dots (if in Tweetdeck) that appear below the Tweet. Next, click on “email this Tweet”. Then when your email default program (mine is Gmail) opens up, you go to the “To” field. When you begin to type your Evernote email, it will auto fill after the first couple of letters (because you added it as a contact). You can now send the Tweet to Evernote and it will save in “All Notes”.

You can also send the Tweet directly to a specific notebook within Evernote! The way to do that is to add @NOTEBOOKNAME to the end of the subject line. Example: If the notebook I want to send this tweet to is named “Reading”, then in the subject line of the email, I type @Reading at the end of the subject. Viola! The Tweet is sent directly to my Reading notebook in Evernote. Here is a link to my Note in Evernote, which I emailed to my “How To Use Evernote” notebook!

Evernote Note Link

This wonderful bit of brilliance came to me from Rik Rowe, see the tweet below:

 

Evernote Web Clipper
I downloaded the web clipper (you can find this easily here: Evernote website). Now, let’s say I am on a webpage, reading a blog, and I want to send this to Evernote. All I have to do is click on the Evernote web clipper from my Internet tools menu. It will pop up with options for me to name the notebook I want to send this page to. If I don’t have one set up for this particular item (for example, I don’t have a notebook for blogs yet), I can just leave it as it appears . I can also include tags (which will help me locate it later based on a few chosen words). Here is a picture of what comes up when I select the web clipper on a page I was reading about Concept Based Curriculum:

web Clipper

Notice how I can choose to Save Article to Evernote. I can also use the drop down menu to change the notebook, if I don’t want to save it to the “Essential Questions” one that automatically appeared. I can also type in tags, and comments if I wish. It will then send to my Evernote.

Evernote With YouTube
So I really wanted to know how to send a YouTube video to Evernote. After playing around for a while, this is what I settled on:

yotubeUnder the YouTube video, select “Share” and then choose “Email”. From there, do as we discussed above. Begin typing your Evernote email, and it will auto-fill the rest of your address. In the subject field, type @NOTEBOOKNAME if you have a particular notebook to send this to, and click on send. The YouTube video now goes to your Evernote. It appears as an embed, but when you click the video itself, it takes you to the YouTube page where the video begins to play. I have not figured out a way to bypass YouTube and play within Evernote. Here is a link to my “Music” note that I created in Evernote, where I recently sent a “Rainforest Sounds” video:

Music Notebook

That link will open the note, but it will not play from the note. You will need to select “View in Evernote” which is a big green button on the top left of that note, you can’t miss it. Once you do that, you can select “Join Notebook” and you will have access to that notebook and videos.

IFTTT with Evernote
The final thing I did today, was search for and activate a recipe on IFTTT (If This Then That). Now, if you don’t know anything about this, you can still do it! Just visit the website here. You will click on “Join” and set up a free, quick and easy account for yourself.

Next, browse the available “recipes” (which means things you can do with it). I typed “Evernote” in the search bar. I found a recipe someone already made which will take Tweets you favorite and send them directly to Evernote. Wow! So if I don’t want to email the Tweet, I just want to automatically send it to Evernote, I can do this with this recipe. I clicked on “Use this recipe”. I had no idea what was going to happen, but amazingly this was simple! It told me I needed to activate both Evernote and Twitter on the IFTTT site. This is as simple as clicking “Activate” right there on the screen. It then said the recipe was stored. I was thinking, “that’s it”? Can’t be that easy! So I went to Twitter, I clicked favorite on a random tweet, then went to my Evernote. Sure enough, a notebook was there labeled IFTTT Twitter. I clicked the notebook and there was the tweet. I do not know how to create my own recipe’s yet. But that is okay, because for now I can use recipes that are already there (thank you wonderful people) until I have a need for one not yet created.

By the way, there are other recipes in IFTTT that you might like. Such as “Automatically add all my favorited tweets to Google Drive” or “Automatically send a thank you welcome message to new followers”. I know, amazing! But that is another post.

iftttTo view the Storify of the entire #NT2t chat this morning on all this learning, visit this link.  So there you have a few ideas about these programs, and some basic things you can try. I am so excited to have learned all of this today! I hope you enjoy!

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The Curious Concept of Agency

Google Images
Image from brian.magierski.com and retrieved from Google Images.

I always enjoy seeing students engaged in work that causes them to take action in one or another direction in their life. Recently, my daughter experienced this type of learning. She visited a doctor to have some allergy tests run, and when she came home she spent the next few days researching all she could about histamines and how they interact with and through various body systems. It amazed me how much she learned from that independent research, as she came out informing me of these processes using terms and ideas that I really am only vaguely familiar with. She is now on a quest to figure out the educational steps one might take in order to design her future the way she dreams of it: researching rare medical conditions and disorders of the immune system, conducting lab tests, learning…. This is not something new; she has spent most of her life on her computer, researching this or that, always with a particular interest in the areas of health and wellness.

So what changed? Why suddenly is this something she feels has given her life direction? Has given purpose to her education? Why did this experience cause her to feel compelled to act? Curious and driven to research, learn, teach, and contribute to the understanding in the field?

In a recent PBL chat with @newtechnetwork and others (see archive ), a word was shared with me that I really have not pondered much in my life. A word that I thought, at the time, I may not even fully understand. A word that I found out, after some research of my own, I actually do understand and a word that explains, at least in my opinion, the curious explosion that occurs when purpose and action collide.

Agency.

I considered my (vague) conceptual understanding of this word. It is a curious word. Or maybe it is just curious when considered alongside such words as empowerment, ownership, growth mindset, and engagement. It is not a word I hear much; it’s not frequently used in educational circles and conversations I have, at least not that I can remember. So I began looking into this word; more specifically, the ideas and concepts behind it. This idea of “agency”… What is it? How does it affect or contribute to student learning and achievement? How does one develop it? And how can we as educators support it?

One resource I looked at, which sought to define the term “agency” as a phenomenon related to education, was this paper written by Professor Gert Biesta of the School of Education and Lifelong Learning at The University of Exeter in 2006. This definition read, in part,

…the situation where individuals are able to exert control over and give direction to the course of their lives.

This aligns with well a general definition of agency as “…the capacity for autonomous social action” (Calhoun 2002).

New Tech Network, a nonprofit organization, offers this agency rubric on their website which I found to be marvelous. Interestingly, the rubrics, which are entitled “New Tech Network Agency Rubric, High School” reveal domains and criteria to be measured along the lines of growth mindset, seeking out of feedback, and reflective learning, among others.

Further researching turned up this article by Eduardo Briceno of Mindset Works entitled “Mindset and Student Agency”. He suggests:

Deeper learning requires students to think, question, pursue, and create—to take agency and ownership of their learning. When they do, they acquire deeper understanding and skills, and most important, they become more competent learners in and out of school. They become better prepared to succeed in academics, but also in 21st century careers and in life.

But agency is not something we can “give” someone else. It comes from within. What can we do in our schools and classrooms – even our homes –  to help promote agency in our students and in our own children?

As Briceno points out,  “growth mindset”, “grit”,  “motivation”,  and “college and career readiness” standards are important areas for developing personally aware and autonomous students “capable of driving their own learning”. These ideas, he suggests, are a part of  two distinct but complex components for developing and supporting agency:

Learner Mindsets and Learning Strategies and Habits

What are some examples of learner mindsets that we promote and invest in daily? I know for my daughter, who for those who do not know, is a 19 year old college student who is also autistic, we have focused a lot on growth mindset and perseverance. On self-awareness and familiarity with her own learning style and needs. On self-advocacy, reflection, and how to recognize feedback (both verbal and nonverbal) and then how to think through that feedback and use it toward continual growth and self-awareness. We have focused on confidence building and persistence. We have also focused on recognizing challenges and knowing when (and how) to seek help. We have also focused on purpose, a sense that she “belongs” and has gifts and contributions to make to the world. This is perhaps the most difficult mindset for her. Feeling “different” makes it hard to feel a sense of “belonging”.

So what about learning strategies and habits? It is one thing to have these different learner mindsets I mentioned above as one’s goals. She feels aware and she focuses on growth not ability, and she seeks feedback and strives for purpose and belonging. Great! But what happens when she experiences something that challenges those goals? What happens when she is not successful despite her persistence and “I can do it!” mindset? And how does this look for our students? I think this goes a little bit farther, a little beyond simply “embracing failure”.  Just how do we support agency?

My daughter, just like so many other students (and adults), experiences setbacks frequently. We might not be able to teach “agency” but we can teach learning skills that support the development and growth of agency.  Here are just a few suggestions from Briceno for learning strategies to support agency, along with my own reflections about these suggestions. I will use my  daughter as a little vignette here:

Teach students how the brain works. My daughter has taken numerous learning inventories, and we shared information with her early on about what autism is and how it impacts her specifically. We did this to build understanding and awareness; to help her build capacity. She remarked one day, “So that explains why I do _______!” after reading the book “Freaks, Geeks and Aspergers” by Luke Jackson (Terrible title, great read). This teaching, which was relevant and specific for her, seemed to not just bring awareness, but give her a profound understanding and acceptance of herself. Finally having a reason for her (sometimes odd) behaviors made her feel…well, normal. (I am not suggesting anyone take this approach, as this is a decision based on your own child and family, I am just sharing my own experiences and results).

Self-Efficacy. While she does have a growth mindset toward life and learning, she is also aware of paths to take should she need supports or information, or help. At school, this is again individual. For her, this came in the form of an IEP (for academics) and a few trusted adults to whom she could go to talk or ask a question, but could be any steps a student can take to meet their own needs. It is not enough to believe “I can do it!”, one also needs to know where, how, and to whom they can turn if they need help…if they can’t do it. These “paths” serve to truly support self-confidence…to enable someone to be confident in their ability to succeed, but just as confident in their ability to recover and go on in the face of an obstacle. How that looks is as individual as our students and their needs.

How To Work In Teams. While this was (and still is) a challenge for her, she has learned to offer up her particular strengths to help toward a common goal. Using her technology skills to create a video, for example, or doing the leg-work or research for a particular topic is something she does enjoy, and allows her to still work independently on her portion of a group task.

Developing desirable habits through cues and routines. Funny story to share here. She used to struggle with recognizing nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions or tones of voice. She would be talking away about the current tropical depression or other weather phenomenon occurring in some other part of the world, completely oblivious to the checking of the watch, walking slowly off to the side, and other non verbal ways her peers have of saying, “Nobody cares”!! She spent a great deal of time with her therapist and a computer program, learning to recognize these little cues and nuances which are so natural for you and I –but not necessarily so for others. She has learned to regulate; to recognize when the conversation has changed topic and how to adjust to that, and when it is time to really stop talking about a certain thing that is not interesting to the other person! This is all part of the important work that has gone on, and continues, for her to become a person with a strong sense of agency.

Because, if she does not believe in her ability to direct her own path, to be heard and understood,  if she doesn’t see a purpose and feel compelled to change the world, how will she ever go about changing it? How will she ever fulfill a purpose that she does not believe she is capable of fulfilling? She won’t. And neither will our students. Agency is the line between reacting to a world in which you are only a speck, and designing a world of which you are the creator.

By putting into our classrooms and schools practices which value and support growth, effort, and learning, by recognizing and responding to individual needs, through building relationships and knowing our students, and kids, as unique learners and people, we have the best possible chance at supporting agency in our students. It will also help our students avoid the crippling effects of its absence, which she also experienced in her early life and learning experiences.

The curious concept of agency. Turns out, it’s not so foreign to me after all.

What do you think of agency? What practices do you think are important when designing an environment which helps contribute to the development of agency? I would love to hear more!

Sources: Teaching and Learning Research Program (www.tlrp.org); Prof. Gert Biesta , School of Education and Lifelong Learning at St Lukes Campus ,The University of Exeter: Working Paper 5 “Learning Lives“; New Tech Network (www.newtechnetwork.org), Calhoun, C. (2002). Dictionary of the social sciences [electronic resource]/ edited by
Craig Calhoun … [et al.]. Oxford : Blackwell, 2002

 

 

 

Leadership

Leadership Development Part 1: Effective Schools Correlates

 

In just three weeks, I will begin my journey as a first year Assistant Principal. As part of my summer learning,  I am currently involved in some training which is providing me many great things to think about! This post will be the first in a series of reflections on this training. It will be a way for me to share my learning and resources, reflect on the ideas and how they align with my own philosophy, and receive feedback from others to further push my thinking. If you are a new administrator too, I hope you will join in with me and be my thought partner! If you are a seasoned administrator, I would value your insights as well, as they will surely help drive my understanding and help me to synthesize my learning. And if you are a teacher, your reflections, insights and input will truly be invaluable to me as I share my learning with you and receive your feedback.

This first entry will focus on correlates found in effective schools.   

Below is a graphic which relates to effective schools correlates, as identified by Dr. Larry Lezotte and Ron Edmonds, Effective Schools researchers.  These are “correlates” because researchers have identified them as being correlated to student achievement. The first correlate, Clear and Focused Mission, is at the top. This is designed to show that the remaining six correlates support the first one.

Effective Schools Correllates
Sources: Ronald Edmonds, W.B. Brookover and Dr. Lawrence Lezotte Effective Schools Foundation

The following quote by Lezotte speaks to the philosophy which emerged from their research:

An effective school is one in which all the students learn the specified curriculum regardless of factors in their backgrounds which ordinarily have been identified as those which prevent such learning. –Lawrence (Larry) Lezotte in Learning for All.

For historical perspective, this came about in response to the work of other researchers, which held that student home environment had the most profound influence on student learning. The purpose of this post is not to discuss or debate the two different views; but to focus on the correlates outlined above and how some of our current practices align (or don’t align) with these.

As we think about specific programs or actions we currently have in place, we could categorize them according to each correlate. Many will fall into more than one correlate. I am interested in seeing which correlates our practices are most often aligned with, and also which correlates are least identified. Below I will list each correlate and then a few  of the practices I have seen which I would categorize there. These lists are by no means exhaustive, I’m just going to list a few actions under each correlate which are practices from my previous schools.

Strong Instructional Leadership

  • shared decision making
  • goal setting
  • positive supposition
  • focus on analyzing data and identifying trends across the campus
  • collaborative environment with a focus on vertical alignment and common academic language
  • clear and effective communication with all stakeholders
  • scheduling decisions made to make maximum use of instructional time (block schedules, etc)
  • teacher leadership / shared leadership
  • curriculum which is aligned, rigorous, and reflects the standards for each subject/grade level

Positive Home-School Relations

  • frequent communication with parents
  • literacy nights, math nights, reading posse, carnivals
  • leveraging of social media to provide a peek into our days
  • celebrations and events to celebrate students and families, including weekly assemblies
  • opportunities for parent participation on committees, as judges for contests, and as classroom helpers
  • updated websites which contain useful and relevant information
  • curriculum nights which help families learn about the curriculum and learning goals
  • district-wide showcases of student learning
  • positive phone calls, emails, or notes home

Safe and Orderly Environment

  • effective school-wide and classroom discipline systems
  • rooms free of clutter, well lit, clean
  • rituals and routines in place and consistently followed
  • classroom management which emphasizes personal responsibility for the learning environment
  • procedures for visitors entering the building, students know what to do if a visitor is not wearing a visitor sticker, for example
  • procedures are in place for dismissal, with students safely exiting the building and knowing designated areas for bus lines, parent pick up lines, etc

Climate for High Expectations for Student Success

  • Rubrics which students help design and which students use to guide their work
  • exemplar products which model high expectations
  • focus on growth mindset and grit as they relate to individual success for all students
  • focus on classroom routines
  • evaluating of student work, identifying best practices and collaborating on scoring criteria / grading practices.  Is the quality of work which meets or exceeds expectations in one class the same in another?
  • regular evaluation of data and identification of next instructional steps to move students forward
  • focus on commended ratings and programs which move high achieving students further
  • feedback to students which coaches them toward success
  • students can articulate the learning goal and what success looks like for that particular task / understanding

Frequent Monitoring of Student Progress

  • PLC meetings are regular, frequent, and effective. Teachers build common assessments and evaluate student progress.
  • leadership actively monitoring grades and common assessments given weekly
  • clear guidelines for intervention processes are in place and teachers understand the process for scheduling meetings to discuss individual students who are beginning to struggle
  • the process of RTI is streamlined; we do not spend unnecesary time “trying out” intervention effectiveness before we can meet as a team again (if those interventions are not showing effectiveness in a reasonable amount of time)
  • grade levels being assigned a “case manager” who they can go to with student progress needs
  • faculty-wide evaluation of data and collaboration vertically on skills, needs, and strengths
  • curriculum /assessment alignment
  • classroom progress monitoring occurs daily, including such things as fluency checks, conferencing, small group guided lessons, guided reading, and anecdotal records
  • formative and summative assignments are aligned and evaluated for instructional direction

Opportunity to Learn and Student Time on Task

  • Scheduling allows for blocks of time for core subjects (90 minutes for Language Arts, for example)
  • specials and lunch schedules are designed so as to not interrupt the core blocks as much as is possible
  • minimal loss of instructional time – video announcements, assemblies scheduled with least disruption, etc
  • tutorials are held before school, after school, and during the day to allow opportunity to participate
  • necessary materials are provided for learning, including science materials, manipulatives for math, variety of books, etc
  • differentiation to allow for multiple learning styles
  • class procedures are established to encourage time on task (routines for reading workshop that maximize time spent reading, for example)
  • absences and tardies are addressed
  • student needs are met, including making sure students are not hungry, addressing needs at home such as with utilities, academic support at home, transportation needs, at home materials (sending home books with those who may not have books at home)

As you can see, many of these actions could fall under multiple correlates. An interesting next step would be to dig further into the practices of my new campus, assign actions to categories as they are relevant, and then analyze the most and least represented to see how this might relate to the achievement of students at our campus. 

These six correlates, and the items categorized under each, are definitely things that I would say speak to a “Clear and Focused Mission“, the top correlate in the pyramid. Using these ideas, how might I come up with a sentence that captures my view of an effective school? I might say:

Effective schools hold the vision that all students can succeed and take actions which align with and support that vision through high expectations, strong collaborative practices, and effectively monitoring the progress of all learners while cultivating strong family and community relations.

Perhaps this activity might be something you would like to do as it relates to your own campus. Think about some of the practices at your school. How might you categorize them using the Effective Schools pyramid? Do you see any that are under-represented? Do you see any actions which conflict with one or more correlates? How do your lists compare with mine? Do you see any that you might place differently? Please share your thoughts with me, and your “Effective Schools” statement!

References and sources:

Jean Richerson, Region 13 ILD training, July 2014; Effective Schools ProductsEffective Schools Correlates PDF; Ronald Edmonds, W.B. Brookover and Dr. Lawrence Lezotte Effective Schools Foundation