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As the 9th largest school district in the state of Ohio, the Hilliard City School District serves more than 15,500 students in grades K-12, through three high schools, three middle schools, two sixth-grade schools and 14 elementary schools.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 20, 2012

What if You Flipped Your Faculty Meetings?

So, we’ve talked a lot about teachers flipping their classrooms.  Have you ever thought about flipping your meetings or professional development?  This is a pretty thought-provoking blog entry that just might get you thinking differently about how you model effective instructional strategies.

“What's beautiful about flipping your faculty meetings is you are modeling an instructional practice that you'd like to see spreading in your classrooms. Flipping empowers students, giving them ownership over the direction of their learning -- and that feels good whether you're 12 or 27.”

Imagine recording a model data team meeting, sending it out to staff to view, and then bringing everyone together for discussion about what they saw.  We could do the same thing with best practices in the classroom.  Let me know if you give this a try.  I’d love to hear how it goes!

Disrupt Yourself

As a follow-up to our Admin Retreat, and in the spirit of Disruptive Innovations and Disrupting Class, I felt Whitney Johnson's article, Disrupt Yourself served as a great personal account of the Disruptive process.  Johnson moved to New York and went from being a secretary to becoming a Senior Analyst with Merrill Lynch.  She walked away from this lucrative career to become an entrepreneur, and in her words felt it was "time to leave my comfortable perch and become an entrepreneur. Time to disrupt myself."  Johnson goes on to describe the lessons she learn in her own personal disruption.  Check out her Ted Talk as well  here

Managers: Get the Monkeys Off Your Back

Here is a familiar situation: one of your staff members finds you to share a problem that he/she is encountering.  You patiently listen and, in an effort to be helpful, you say that you will do ______ and get back to them.  You add that new chore to your insurmountable "To Do" list.  Now who has the problem?  

In "Managers: Get the Monkeys off Your Back", the goal is to "...minimize or eliminate subordinate- imposed work, get control of boss- and system-imposed work, and maximize discretionary time".  As the school year kicks off, I believe every administrator in Hilliard City Schools is wrestling to manage time to accomplish many work-related tasks.  I bet our delegation skills could be strengthened to find "more time" during our professional day.  

Managers: Get the Monkeys Off Your Back

Even Geniuses Work Hard

If you’re considering whether or not to join in on the iBrain seminar this school year, “Even Geniuses Work Hard”  is a great way to get a general flavor for Carol Dweck’s book, mindset.  This article supports her theory that individuals' attitudes about intelligence affect their behavior and achievement. Students with a fixed mindset think intelligence is innate and unchangeable.  Those with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can grow if they work hard and practice. What I like most about the article is that Dweck reminds us of practical ways for teachers to structure and facilitate learning opportunities in ways that foster a growth mindset. These teachers create a culture of risk-taking in their classrooms; emphasize the joy of a challenge; communicate students’ progress toward mastery; and recognize students’ effort and growth.  Dweck recognizes our ultimate goal of nurturing a love of learning and helping students to see both opportunity and reward in overcoming obstacles.

An Open Letter to Principals: Five Leadership Strategies for the New Year

Eric Sheninger, for those in the Twitter world know of him, is a principal that embraces not only the changes we see coming as a result of our students needs but is also outward focused on growing leadership among principals. He posted this letter the other day on his blog titled “Open Letter to Principals” outlining some basic strategies for leadership. I read through it once with it having little impact on my frame of mind, then we had Dale’s message Friday. I returned to the letter and re-read it, this time with a clear sense of how much our leaders will impact the direction of HCSD. As the kids come back, the staff’s return, and you begin the daily grind I want to say how much you are each valued and how important your leadership truly is. The message Friday will never find the intended audience without your voice.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams

Sunday, August 5, 2012

August 6, 2012

Hard Times Generation - A 60 Minutes Video Segment

You may have seen this 60 Minutes video segment last year, or even last week when it aired again.  It's a glimpse at the harsh reality that so many families and students face today -- and a powerful reminder for us as we prepare to make a difference in the lives of thousands of young people again this school year.

"Never has unemployment been so high for so long. And as a result, more than 16 million kids are living in poverty -- that's the most since 1962 . . . . It's life for a lot of folks. The number of kids in poverty in America is pushing toward 25 percent. One out of four. Austin and Ariel usually get cleaned up for school at gas stations. They find its best to go to different ones every day so the managers don't get sore . . . ."

Like the national average, the number of economically disadvantaged students in our district is nearing 25 percent.  So, what is the impact on us?  And, what do we need to do differently to maximize these students' success?  

Hard Times Generation

5 Ways to Build Sustainable Relationships within Your School

As we begin the 2012 - 2013 school year with many new faces in our buildings, I wanted to share a short article that highlights 5 approaches to developing trust with your staff (Listen first; Overcommunicate; Confront inappropriate behaviors; Create fail-free zones; and Engage staff to gain support and build capacity).  As author John Wilson states, "building relational trust with school staff is a precursor to sustainable success."

Good luck, and here's to a great year!

5 Ways to Build Sustainable Relationships within Your School

21st-Century PLNs for School Leaders

I have a confession to make….I did create a Twitter account one year ago.  But, if I am being honest, I didn’t use it much in the last twelve months.  I struggled to figure out the best professionals and organizations to follow and how to manage it all.  However, my Twitter use has increased recently!  At the time of this writing, I have re-tweeted three times and now follow 14.  (It is important to celebrate small accomplishments!)

During the 2012 Innovative Learning Environment Conference, keynote speaker Will Richardson strongly encouraged participants to develop our own Personal Learning Networks.  He provided a strong argument that using social media sites, such as Twitter, allows us to connect with others on the professional topics about which we are passionate.   The featured article, 21st Century PLNs for School Leaders, provides three specific (and easy) ways for administrators to leverage social media for our own professional growth. 

I would ask you to embrace the challenge with me and follow the three tips from author George Couros:

     1.  Create a Twitter account
     2.  Read blogs
     3.  Write a blog

What New Teachers Want from Colleagues

“What New Teachers Want from Colleagues,” is certainly appropriate as we venture into a new school year.  The pleas from teachers who just finished their first year will resonate with all grade levels and remind us that it truly does take a village, not just a mentor, to help a new educator survive.  The focus is on the benefits of a truly solid, caring school community: one that helps new teachers acclimate themselves to the profession, their students, their first classroom.  Here are their suggestions:
     1.  Share Friendship - and Ideas
     2.  Navigate Curriculum Together 
     3.  Grade Together
     4.  Discipline Together
     5.  Observe and Reflect Together

Building administrators can set the stage by devoting intellectual energy, time, and space to building an ongoing professional learning community.  As another new year begins, remind teachers of the benefits of functioning as a community.  Make sure teacher collaboration time intentionally nurtures your newest teachers and the experiences they’re offering young people.  Consider ways to build community outside school hours.  The end of the article serves as a reminder that we must “make the most of our opportunities to positively change the career trajectories of new colleagues in the same way we change those of our students.”

The First Five Days of School with BYOT

Bring Your Own Technology is a hot topic for all schools because of the desire to go "Mobile" and "Plug-in".  This can be stressful for not only administrators, but also teachers if it isn't handled properly from the beginning.  As a teacher I navigated the positives and the inevitable disasters that came along with the dual edge sword of BYOT.  The disasters shouldn't be a deterrent for using these powerful learning devices. Below is an article that outlines how to handle the BYOT movement during the first five days of school. I know if I would have read this article 3 years ago, I would have had more positive stories, than disastrous ones.