Sunday, December 28, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
We have taken the grand kids to a place where they can swim and we can use the hot tub and sauna and that is where I have returned. What a difference. The pictures tell the story. Now my feet will only be wet from warm water, not from snow in my boots. That is if I wear boots in the hotel parking lot that is ankle deep in slush and ice.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
As I look outside now, it appears like the snow is here. At least it is in my little section of Ravensdale. Just in time to make tomorrow and Friday another opportunity to second guess the weather and practice our analysis and synthesis skills as we evaluate the conditions and make a decision. I'm still waiting for the no-brainer decision, but don't expect that it will show this week. Lori, Susie, Bonnie, and Bridget are putting in long, stressful hours checking roads, answering my questions, and fielding calls from upset parents this week. They deserve a big thanks and appreciation for their commitment in difficult and anxious situations. Though the call in hindsight can certainly be questioned, we made it based upon the best information available at the time.
On another topic, we are anxiously awaiting the Governor's budget. It is the first budget to be submitted and we expect it to be out tomorrow. It will give us an indication of how difficult it will be to develop a balanced budget as I don't think a democratically controlled house and senate will make major shifts in the education portions of their budgets that come out after the session begins in January. We will soon be starting a budget development section on our web site to share information as we go through this process. We know there is a need for staff to have accurate and timely information as these difficult decisions are made. The addition to the web is one vehicle for dissemination of this information.
Finally, I'm pleased to say that we have spent considerable time discussing the comments to my post on our curriculum. On the January 5th waiver day we will be sharing with all High School and Junior High staff information on our curriculum development work and Classroom 10. Nancy will be with Terry and teacher leaders at the High School and I will be with Rob at the Junior High. I am looking forward to this opportunity for sharing information, identifying additional needs, and answering questions that resulted from your comments.
Monday, December 15, 2008
We closed for today because there were too many emergency routes that were not safe for our buses and because of the potential for kids to be waiting in poor conditions for extended periods at bus stops. King County public works staff shared with us today that they believe that we made the correct choice. Though the main roads are free of ice, the side roads in many areas are not and they have not been sanded or salted enough to make a difference. This includes one of the main roads to the high school, the junior high, Lake Webster area, the Maple Valley Heights area, and . . .
So, what is different for tomorrow and why with little change in the weather are we thinking about holding classes? First, the weather today did result in evaporation of some of the moisture that results in ice. We also today shared with Jeff from public works our emergency routes and where we were seeing the major problems. He is great, always listening and asking where they can help. He believes that late this evening and with the midnight shift they will be able to sand all of those areas. They wanted to wait until it was colder to ensure the sand would be over the ice. We were also able to spend additional time on the parking areas to make them safe.
The people who drive the district will be out early in the morning to provide us with guidance as we make this difficult decision. Some of us will spend a restless evening wondering and worrying what this guidance will result in around 5:00 am tomorrow.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
- How bad is the road to the high school since we know kids will still drive?
- Are the parking lots safe?
- If we believe the weather won't change between now and the morning when should we make the call?
- What are the conditions in the surrounding communities since those will impact staff travel?
- Are all emergency route stops on the main roads?
- How many people can we get out on the roads now in the areas we know are the hardest areas to call?
- If we go, should we go two hours late so it will be light and less traffic even though it probably won't change road conditions appreciably?
- And, . . .
It will be another of those restless nights until we make a decision then a different stress after the decision as many second guess what we decided. These are obviously very difficult decisions to make that are made more difficult because of the diversity of our community as it relates to elevation and impact of the foothills on snowfall and temperatures. None of us individually has the context to make the decision. As with most things, it takes a collaborative effort to make the best decision.
One of these times if we have to alter the schedule it would be nice for it to be an obvious call. You know, one of those no brainers because of the number of inches on the ground. I wonder even then if all would agree?
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
What I have learned this year is that the demeanor of the crowd seems to change with the record. With the success of the last few years I didn't notice some of the behavior we are now experiencing. There has always been the drinking and I have annually had beer spilled on me at least one time partly because I have an aisle seat. It is the language and surliness that is increasing. The "F" word seems to flow like water from the mouths of those behind us and to one side. Fans of the other team have always been subjected to some good natured ribbing as they walk by that has now turned into yelling and profanity. It is a different environment now that we are losing.
We have one more home game this season with the Jets. I am looking forward to seeing Favre quarterback for a different team, but I am not looking forward to the changes in behavior that we have experienced these last few games. Winning next year will be welcomed for more than just the record. Can they make the changes next year that are necessary to again become winners?
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
- I have been superintendent for many years and I can only recall one time in all those years paying for an "expensive guest speaker" and that was Ian Jukes.
- Understanding Classroom 10 is necessary before successfully implementing it.
- Grading CBA's and core assessments in a scoring conference format the research would suggest is one of the most effective ways to influence and support quality learning and teaching when followed by conversations about instruction.
- Yes, it does make sense to support integrating thinking skills and habits of mind into lessons and units. This is what the curriculum is doing and with it the focus can shift to instructional practice aligned with Classroom 10.
- In regards to the "bland presentation" I think it would be important for you to give this feedback to your building leadership team since they are planning the presentations.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Any thoughts on how to support making this connection and creating a sense of urgency for all as we make this change over time?
Monday, November 17, 2008
Ethan asks: What steps will you and Connie be taking to make sure that the participants ALL agree to at least keep an open mind, to at least humor you? I think we will continue to share our belief in the importance of the process, the impact on the product when quality time is given to Wagner's questions, and cash in some of the balance of our credibility index with those that struggle with too much process. What steps will you and Connie be taking to make sure that the participants keep the big picture goal at the front of their brain at every minute of the day? We will revisit Wagner's questions at each meeting always with a focus on the problem to be solved, the goal to be reached, and the strategies identified to reach the goal.
Amy shared: The leadership institute is valuable for both its training of processes and the time for product. While active learning strategies support the training in the morning, I am not sure a specific product needs to be a result of the morning. The freedom to practice the skills learned that morning or in previous institutes is valuable as we work towards a product in the afternoon. With this comment, Amy has captured the intent of the Leadership Training Model. Connie and I attempt to provide learning opportunities and skill focus in the mornings with the afternoons being the opportunity to practice new skills in a safe environment. To use our language, we introduce mental models that support process and product work. This year we are differentiating between the mental models and the skills and tools that allow the mental models to influence our work.
Jerry shared: Finally, though our team had some struggles and will reflect on them, there is no question that growth occurred on many fronts. (the point of the day, right?) Yes, Jerry, that is a goal that Connie and I have for each meeting. I spent time with Jerry's team giving them feedback on multiple occasions. The feedback was direct and based on the non-verbals and partial verbal sparring later in the meeting in response to the feedback it did raise some dissonance for some. I touched base the next day with some team members asking for feedback and found that some of my assumptions were not accurate and that Connie and I could have done a better job in establishing the process for the afternoon. It was good learning and a reminder for me to watch more closely for the lens that I have on as I observe the afternoon discussions.
Crystal offers: But in the interest of being completely honest, I think that if I were asked to trust in listening I would of course do it, but I still probably wouldn't like it. I am a very goal-oriented person and if I can't see/touch/feel the progress I'm making towards a goal then I feel like I'm wasting my time. My original post was partly in response to a posting on her blog, maybecrystal. Crystal's comment supports what Ethan and Jerry say about students and teachers and what I call cashing in on an earned credibility index. But, it still concerns me that there are multiple people in the room feeling as Crystal does when progress seems to be difficult to reach.
Connie and I will continue to seek balance, but we will not lose sight of the need to provide time for learning new skills and tools that identify and reach goals that influence learning in all our classrooms. Teachers attending these learning opportunities are critical components of the support side of our high demand/high support culture. If we can effectively get each of them to feel this and see the importance of the role it may help when it becomes difficult to persevere. Knowing that there is a larger goal and responsibility can sometimes influence our commitment that will in turn influence our behavior.
In any case, keep up the comments. I will do better in the future.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Check out this new version of Bloom's Taxonomy that I found on Darren Kuropatwa's blog. I like the change in order and the addition of creating. What are your thoughts? Do our units provide opportunities for this learning?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
This thing called teaching is not easy. These experiences for me are both humbling and confirming. They confirm my belief that it takes hard work and commitment to become a good teacher and working with these leadership teams also confirms for me the high quality of teacher that we have in our schools. They persevere through my speeches and still have the energy to engage in the given tasks. They also appear to put up with my questions and feedback though I wonder what the parking lot talk is like after a session like today where I spent quite a bit of time with one group trying to bring clarity to their goal.
This evening Dawn and I had the opportunity to share with the Rock Creek PTSA our Classroom 10 focus. I feel much better about this, probably because it was a presentation and it is expected of the presenter to stand and deliver. A long time ago I was a good teacher, but now I think I have become a good presenter and have lost much of my teaching skill. Presenting is far easier even when trying to use the presentation zen model. It still takes hours to plan, but the skill level necessary to deliver with fidelity is far less than that required of a teacher.
In the morning I present again this time to our Rotary Club. These people are a wonderful support to our schools and to our students and families. I am proud to be a member of this organization. I'll try to represent you well. I think I have a good shot because again, it is a presentation, something I think I can do when I give it quality preparation and planning time.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
She and my cousins were a big part of my childhood. We lived a mile from each other and because of this proximity and being just a few years apart in ages we spent many happy and carefree days together. She was there when I needed help and support and she never hesitated to give me good advice. In reflection, she is one of the few people I know who never hesitated to share her private thoughts.
She lived a simple life devoted to raising her children including my cousin Mike who has Down's Syndrome. Her husband died when two of the four kids were in their early teens and Mike was not yet ten so it wasn't always easy. She worked hard to provide for the family. Her and my Mom were "Bingo Queens" for many years. I think I'm probably beginning to ramble with all these memories popping into my mind so I best just close for now.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I wonder how many of the respondents, 105, are from parts of the country struggling to find teachers and not just for math and science positions? I believe that the tendency to see this as a necessary and positive move would be greater in these situations. When you are struggling just to find people for positions it makes sense to look for those that have content expertise.
I still believe that both the content knowledge and learning experience are important preparation for being responsible for the learning of young people. There is an art to our profession that can be acquired through actual experience, but given a preference, I prefer that this learning start prior to assuming the responsibility of a classroom. Not everyone can be successful in this work and the preparation programs are necessary for prospective teachers to make decisions about the commitment that they can bring to this difficult work.
Do I think that some could move from the private sector straight to a classroom and experience success? Yes, in a collaborative culture with quality support from experienced professionals and a shared commitment for the learning of all young people in a school. Unfortunately, this does not describe the majority of schools where these people are being asked to fill difficult teaching positions.
What do you think, should we be recruiting teachers from the private sector without any undergraduate teaching experience? Check out the poll at Edutopia.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Why this post considering I try to stay away from political conversations? Because finally the candidates talked about education in last night's debate. Not long, but long enough for Obama to say "that education has more to do with our economic future than anything . . ". That sounds like education is really important though the questions didn't provide for much time or a better understanding of their positions. It was mostly about vouchers, waivers, early childhood interventions, and teacher salary; things that we hear much about and that lend themselves to sound bites.
If it is so "important', then why do we not hear more about it? Why is the majority of information about our profession negative news about what we are not doing or accomplishing? Why is it so easy for politicians to say it is a high priority and then to lose sight of the priority once in office? Why would a diverse group of economists suggest it is the number one economic priority?
What would it look, sound, and feel like if someone with the authority and commitment actually aligned their behavior with their stated beliefs that education is in fact the number one priority or I'd even settle for a top five?
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The Bears and the Cougars also lost, that's two in a row for our Bears. The Huskies had another bye or it would probably have been another clean sweep for my teams. Not doing well this year and no expectations for changing in the short term except for the Bears.
On top of this grief, I aggravated both my back and knee yesterday mowing the lawn, going to the dump, and unloading stall and stove pellets. I'm getting too old for all this physical labor. Thank goodness tomorrow is work where I can stress my mind not my aging body and bruised feelings.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Today, we spent time reflecting on previously introduced mental models and skills, the focus of last year's team goal, and beginning the process of bringing clarity to a "meaty" goal for this year. We shared some new learning around the difference between mental models and skills and discussed the mental model of creative tension in a new way. We asked the teams to think about the potential that creative tension brings for supporting learning and change and the need to create emotional ties to this effort.
We use Tony Wagner's five rigorous questions to focus skillful discussion in the afternoon for each team as they work to support the PLC journey that each site is on. We didn't get an opportunity for much feedback today so if you are reading please consider sharing your thoughts in a comment. Connie and I will appreciate it and the readers will have a more objective opinion of the usefulness of what we do in this work. Speaking of Connie, she is so gifted and an invaluable support to me and to our school system over time. I am blessed to have her as a colleague and a teaching partner.
Tomorrow is our first waiver day and I had planned on attending some of the learning opportunities, but I have been invited to spend the day with Peter Senge. This is an opportunity I couldn't refuse as so much of what I do has been influenced by his work and his writing. I'll share my day in a later post.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The institute brings together teachers from our system with support from our Teaching and Learning Department, Gilda Wheeler from OSPI, and Kayleen Pritchard from PEI. This morning Gilda shared information on what sustainability is to create a common understanding of this fairly new and critical concept. Both Gilda and Kayleen will continue to support our work during the continuing institute days and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience with them. We are fortunate to have these resources and we are fortunate to have teachers that are committed to writing the units and supporting the work of their colleagues.
Nancy and Kristen have created this writing model as an adaptive solution to bringing the curriculum into our classrooms on an accelerated time line. It is a new model that will require further adaptations as the teachers and others continue this work. I am excited about the potential as is Gilda who sees it as a model that she may be able to use across the state. She complemented our T&L Department and our teachers for being on the cutting edge of not only sustainability curriculum, but other curriculum work we have done.
I shared two books that I may have shared in earlier posts, but will share with you again on sustainability and the importance of changing our behavior while we can. If we don't, the world that these young people will inherit will be significantly different than the one we live in today. The first is Peter Senge's, The Necessary Revolution. The second is Thomas Friedman's, Hot, Flat, and Crowded a follow up to his The World Is Flat. Both books, in different ways, create a picture of current reality and what will happen if we cannot create a vision of a better place that influences our behavior and releases our creativity. Today's youth will become significant contributors to the creative solutions that are required in the revolution that each author says is required.
It would be great to hear from anyone that attended today's institute. If you are reading, please take a moment to post a comment.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
- How do you intend to bring the global community into your classroom?
- How will you prepare students for a future that is relatively unknown?
- How you will eliminate the racial predictability of achievement outcomes in your classroom?
The first two questions raise concerns for me because Scott goes on to say - We should be asking teachers and principals that question more often (and just that directly). Yes, we should, but is it the responsibility of teachers and principals at the building level to identify what students need to learn and how to make this happen in classrooms? Do teachers have the time, knowledge, and skill to create the units and lessons that are aligned with state standards, that are process and skill focused, that provide problem solving opportunities, that include collaborative projects, that provide for information literacy and technology fluency learning opportunities, that . . .?
More simply, do teachers want to write curriculum or do they want to focus on teaching? In our district we have been at both extremes of this continuum and I have come to believe that it is best for teachers and students if the primary responsibility for this is in the district's Teaching and Learning Department. I have also come to understand how difficult this work is, how fortunate we are to have Nancy, and that teachers must be directly involved in the development and review of this work.
I believe that teachers want to teach and not have to always be responsible for determining what content and skills will I cover tomorrow, next week, and next month. Over the course of a year this takes tremendous energy and time and does not result in consistency between classrooms and buildings.
It was interesting to follow the recent Bellevue strike where autonomy over lessons was one of the issues. I don't have much detail about this, but I know it has led to conversations in our system about the model we are using. Do are teachers have similar concerns?
Do you agree or disagree with my belief that teachers do not want to be curriculum writers, they want to focus on teaching?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
When I started last year I don't know that I believed I would sustain this long and though I don't post often, with this many over the course of about thirteen months. As I have shared before, however, I have come to enjoy and look forward to the opportunity to share. It makes me think systemically as I reflect on what might be of importance to people in our system. Like all bloggers, comments are like finding treasure because they validate the intent of the blog, creating conversations, and because they make me think. I will truly become a blogger when I can say something that results in multiple people building off of other's comments. That will be a celebration.
Some of you may know that we are creating a Classroom 10 video to capture for our community our 21st Century learning journey. I am excited about this new venture for our system and encouraged by the commitment that many are bringing to it. I have also been spending time on moving forward and You Tube looking at videos for ideas. I ran across this one on Scott McLeod's blog (a real successful blogger) and thought you might enjoy it.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
- Thinking critically and making judgments
- Solving complex, multidisciplinary, open-ended problems
- Creativity and entrepreneurial thinking
- Communicating and collaborating
- Making innovative use of knowledge, information and opportunities
- Taking charge of financial, health and civic responsibilities
We are updating the information on our website to create a common understanding of the why and what of Classroom 10 in our community. This publication will become one of the resources that will be added to this site. Check it out and give us some feedback
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
We have our first administrator (ELT) business meeting of the year next Tuesday. These are not meetings that my colleagues all like to attend and over the last couple of years I have found myself cancelling about half of them. I rationalize to myself that it is because the potential items don't warrant a meeting. There is some truth to this, but I know I am also influenced by the non verbals and lack of engagement in the room during the meetings. I am committed to improving these meetings this year and that needs to start with my own mental model and ladders that I bring into the room. It will be interesting to watch how this unfolds and how well I do at improving the quality of these meetings.
Like always, the agenda is long because of the time of the year and because we meet for this business meeting only once a month so items build up. So, I need to model what I teach and begin to focus on my professional learning community. I am looking forward to the challenge. I wonder if my colleagues believe it can happen? My success will also be determined by my colleagues willingness to suspend their assumptions, something I have no control over, but must rely upon.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Thanks Dawn for letting me know. She is actually also in the office today, came before me and will probably be here after me.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
I think the sharing at the all-staff gathering on Wednesday went well. We were able to share our focus on Classroom 10 by reinforcing the why of the change and the goal this year for all staff to be able to articulate the why and what it looks and sounds like when in place in classrooms.
I came across Moodle in my reading and decided to see what my blog would look like in a word cloud. Kind of cool. I like the fact that teachers and learning are of importance in my posts.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I also experienced my first personal comment to a post. A teacher visited me Friday to ask some questions about some of what I said. I have observed in the teacher's classroom multiple times seeing much of what we describe as Classroom 10 on each occasion. I have much respect for the teacher and was pleased and honored by the surprise visit.
There was a concern that I was identifying a specific building in my comments about lack of success and specifically the teacher's building. He believes that much progress has been made in the building with leadership and is particularly pleased with our focus this year on instruction. At the time I said no I wasn't focused on a building, but in rereading the post I can see why the question was asked. The comments should have resulted in understanding that the model we were using for our secondary buildings did not work well for a variety of reasons. We believe this year that we have adapted to the current situation and that the model will be much more effective in supporting these teachers.
These comments and the visit again drive home to me the power of ladders of influence on my thinking that then influences my behavior. I strive to share my private thoughts and be a role model for the importance of suspending one's assumptions and always placing into the discussion what one is thinking, not just willing to say publicly. As I said previously, this has given me much to reflect upon.
More on leadership to follow with the issues of time and planning of concern. It would be wonderful to hear from teachers experiencing the learning opportunities and placing the knowledge and skill set into practice. What is different because of the learning and opportunity to influence your work with colleagues?
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Our school board has blessed us with both early release and waiver days to support adult learning opportunities as we continue our Classroom 10 journey. We must ensure that we make good use of this time for teachers to understand what 21st century learning looks and sounds like in the classroom. We need to provide opportunities for staff to learn, observe, practice, and receive feedback and reflection time as they engage in this work.
Who plans and facilitates these learning opportunities? There are not enough administrators to perform this function because of the numbers of teams that form on any given day. I also don't believe that building level administrators are always best positioned for success in this work. They may not have the content knowledge or understanding of the learning targets that are necessary to support the adult learning.
Since there are not enough administrators, we must utilize the expertise and experience of teachers to support the collaborative learning of their colleagues. In our system, this is one of the primary functions of teacher leaders; planning for and facilitating these learning opportunities. We have experienced varying degrees of success in this work. Some of what we have learned is that these teachers need:
- Learning opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to support effective communication. Learning to stay in skillful discussion and dialogue and to avoid debate and polite discussion. Learning how to balance advocacy and inquiry, how to make themselves and others aware of their mental models and ladders of inference, and how to bring private thoughts into the room instead of the parking lot are essential for sustaining a focus on this work.
- They need to understand the stages of the change process because we are asking teachers to make significant changes to practice. Support over time is necessary to ensure that the changes sustain.
- They also need support in creating the lesson plan for these meetings that aligns short and long term goals with active processing strategies with adult learners. Facilitating adult learners is not easy and is not something that we learn in college.
In our system, we provide opportunities for teachers to acquire this knowledge and skill set and we have observed success when they do. We have also seen a lack of success in the absence of this knowledge and skill set. Though there are many other variables that influence this work, this foundational set of knowledge and skills is essential.
Even with this work, however, we still have teachers that are uncomfortable in these roles and do not want to be perceived as a leader by their colleagues. At a time when we need to have the highest levels of support we can achieve it is not always possible because of teachers who are unwilling to assume these leadership positions.What gets in the way? What do they believe will happen if they do assume these roles? Is it about more work and added stress? Is it about what they perceive their colleagues are thinking and saying about them? What do we do to create cultures where it is expected and appreciated when those best positioned for these roles perform them? After all, isn't this what professional learning communities do; commit to doing what is necessary to support colleagues, seeking support wherever possible, and holding each other to high standards?
Sunday, August 17, 2008
A lot of potential blog topics have been swimming around in my mind as we approach the start of a new school year. We have a primary election on Tuesday with the State Superintendent of Instruction position on the ballot. This could become an interesting race as there are many in our profession upset with Terry who see Randy Dorn as a formidable and worthy opponent. I could share some thoughts about this race, but I usually stay away from politics.
This year in our state we will see schools and districts not meeting NCLB's adequate yearly progress in greater numbers. I know this is the situation for our school system. So, I could share some thoughts about this potential public relations issue.
Though either of these topics may be worthy of a blog post, I want to start a conversation about teacher leadership and why it is both so important and so difficult to achieve. I make no secret of my belief that we must distribute leadership throughout our system if we are going to realize our Classroom 10 goals. There are not enough administrators in any system to provide the direction and support over time that are necessary to develop and implement curriculum and instructional practices that place young people in situations to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for success in post high school learning and work.
Some questions to consider in no particular order:
- What are the attributes of successful teacher leaders?
- Who becomes a teacher leader?
- What do teacher leaders do?
- Why is it difficult to sometimes be a teacher leader?
- What knowledge and skills does one need to successfully perform the role of teacher leader?
- What support do teacher leaders need from administrators?
- Is being a teacher leader the same as performing administrative functions with out the pay?
- Is this just for teachers or should we consider the same support for leaders in other classifications in our system?
What other questions do you have as you think about the need for distributing leadership beyond those with the title and positional authority? I'll share more of my thinking on some of these questions in upcoming posts.