Thursday, March 28, 2013

The dreaming begins . . .

Last evening the dreaming began.  We brought together about thirty people to begin the educational specifications process for a new, comprehensive 9-12 high school.  In the room were high school students, teachers, support staff, community members, administrators, business, and higher education representatives.  This team comprises the Design Advisory Group whose functions are shown in the diagram below.  This is a new process for us that is facilitated by our architects from DLR Group that over time could involve about 100 people in the work.

This is the first step of the process designed to begin dreaming of what the structure can be and  the functions that the structure must support.  We are designing physical spaces to provide learning opportunities for our graduates to be positioned for success in their post high school learning and work choices.  We are doing this not knowing what those careers might be and knowing that it may be fifty years before the community will have another opportunity to engage in this work.

The level of engagement in the room was high for the entire duration of the meeting with the students adding energy and insights from their critical context as users of the facility.  I am excited about the possibilities for the process and the make-up of this team to dream big as we bring life to this Regional Learning Center concept.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Another first for Tahoma Junior High . . .

I had the great fortune to spend the day with 29 students and staff from the JH at We Day in Seattle.  We joined about 15,000 others at Key Arena to celebrate the power of youth to create positive change in their local and global communities. We were one of about 100 schools from across the state that were invited to this event with the invitation earned through service.  It was a high energy event with singing, dancing, and moving stories.

We Day is an event that grew from Free the Children, a non-profit organization formed by two Canadian brothers, Marc and Craig Keilburger who are building schools across the world.  Theirs is now a world wide movement celebrating the experiences of youth as leaders that are making a difference in their world today.  Their message focused on creating a spark around a passion that one person has to change the world and to then act on that passion with others who share that passion.  Age is not a barrier - youth can and are making a difference.

The event today in Seattle was the first We Day to be held in the United States and we were able to be a part of it.  It was a star studded event with stars from the entertainment and sport fields sharing their experiences with people from the business world as well as elected officials.  You can see the lineup of those that had a role on this site.

It was also a day where young people from around the world shared their life experiences and how they overcame sometimes unbelievable circumstances to realize that they can at a young age make a difference in their world.  I was truly moved by these stories and the strength and commitment to change shown by these young people and the acceptance and support they were given by the audience.  Below, I'll try to capture in my words what I heard from some of those sharing their stories.  It is difficult for me to capture in words the emotions that were in the room, but I'll try.

Co-Chair of the event, Pete Carol:

  • Commitment starts with a vision to make it happen - let the world hear from you.
J.R. Martinez an Iraqi war veteran and burn victim.
  • What's normal?  Accepting who you are and yourself as normal is being you.
  •  How do you leave the bad and get to the good?  When in a bad place in life you need to believe, to have hope and to make the right choices to get back to a good place in life.
  • Be the change you want to see in world - speak up every day.
Spencer West a young man who lost his legs at age 5 and has accomplished so much in his life including climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.
  • After losing his legs he heard others talk about he can't and won't - learned through his life experience that it is not about can't and won't it is about HOW.  He found his How was through sharing his story and assisting others in finding their HOW.
  • Go for the WOWS baby.
There were so many others like Martin Sheen, Mia Farrow, Jennifer Hudson, Seahawks Wilson, Sherman Moffitt and Okung, Magic Johnson, Gary Payton, and Martin Luther King III that I could add many more stories to this post. Unfortunately, I had an evening meeting and got started late on the post and need to consider closing down for the night so I'll close with what was the highlight of the day for most of the young people.  The surprise at the end was Seattle singer Macklemore.  It was loud all day, but when he was introduced the decibel level increased significantly.  The kids went wild, he their attention.

It was a great ending as he shared how they had traveled all night so they could get back to Seattle for this event.  
Look up respect admire what you doing for others in the world Giving back to others is imperative to be happy in this life Good see key arena packed young people making difference
  • He shared the great respect and admiration that he had for the young people for doing what they do for others in the world.
  • Giving back to others is imperative to be happy in this life.
  • With his Sonic's jersey on he shared how it was great to see Key Arena packed with young people making a difference in this world.
It was a great day for me and a cherished opportunity to share this stirring event with our young people and adults from TJH.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Living near the watershed . . .

I thought I'd share a little bit of what it is like living by the Cedar River watershed in Ravensdale.  The pictures were taken yesterday morning in the neighbor's yard across the street from me.  It is not uncommon to see a small herd like this one of seventeen at this time of the year and in the fall.  What was different for me was watching the bull with one horn herding and chasing out an intruder over the course of about five minutes.

The picture below shows them after the bull had bunched them up.  Prior to this, they were spread out on both sides of the fence that is made of a heavy gauge wire that was broken by them jumping over from one side to the other.  The bull is the lighter colored one in the middle of the picture.  If you look closely you can see one horn.  Surprisingly, he was one of the smaller animals in the herd.

Living by the watershed can be a rewarding experience such as what I observed yesterday.  My Grandson was spending the weekend so he was also able to observe them.  In a few weeks we will be able to see them in both our front and back yards as their migratory patterns in and out of the watershed are the same each year.   Unfortunately, they can also be a problem, especially on fences, trees, shrubs, flowers . . .

The pictures below are of two small trees in our yard that a large bull elk (seven point) decided this past fall needed some pruning.

Over the years we have seen the elk wreak havoc in the yard, but we have learned how to protect trees and shrubs until they reach a certain maturity.  The behavior of this particular elk was an aberration as it wasn't in the spring when horns are coming in or during the fall rut.  Even with the damage over the years, being able to watch the "herding" with my Grandson and in earlier times with my own children makes living near the watershed a positive experience.  After all, the elk have been using my property far longer than I have and will continue to use it after I am gone.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Seeking clarity . . .
My last post on the Classroom 10 "elevator speech" resulted in a comment that included questions for me seeking clarity and sharing of private thoughts about teacher evaluation.

I sat through training yesterday about the TPEP and wondered why we are melding the two docs together? Is our own ego too big here? Are we not seeing the big picture, because we are holding on to the "Tahoma way." We speak of suspending ladders here in Tahoma, can I ask where are you on the ladder with the TPEP and the fact we were forced by the state to choose a system we did not create?

I'll try to answer the questions by starting with the last question on my ladder of inference related to the mandated teacher and principal evaluation process.  When we first learned of this mandate I made assumptions about why this and why now that were based on my reading about similar models across the country and the state's need to have one in place to qualify for a waiver from the requirements of NCLB.  These assumptions remain with me today as does the negative ladder that I hold about the mandate.  I am working through this issue knowing that I must be able to shift my mental models to support teachers and principals in this work.

I think it is also important to know that I view TPEP as something separate from Classroom 10.  There is, however, a part of TPEP that I view as a positive influence on our work and that is the selection of the 5D+ instructional model.  It is this model, not the TPEP process, that we are making a part of Classroom 10.  In essence, we are making 5D+ the "instructional" component of Classroom 10 because it is research based, it is more inclusive than our original work, and because of the need for coherence in our focus on classroom practice.  All of our original Classroom 10 instructional components align well with 5D+ so this transition makes sense as we strive for coherence.

I believe some of our current confusion and lack of understanding is because we have always referred to Classroom 10 as our "instructional model' when it has been much more than a vision of preparing for and delivering quality learning opportunities.  Classroom 10 has also been our vehicle to identify our beliefs around the importance of Habits of Mind and thinking skills and the Outcomes and Indicators that we believe support our young people in post high school learning and work.  We have also historically shown our belief in the importance of collaboration and our learning organization work through our Classroom 10 focus.

Integrating the 5D+ instructional model into our work results in better support for influencing classroom instruction.  It also results in better coherence because the language of our classroom instructional vision and the language of evaluation will be aligned.  It is important to remember that this work is still in draft form.  As we receive feedback and users ask questions, additional clarity will be achieved and the work will benefit from the conversations.  We will continue our search for the combination of documents that will result in common understanding and coherence for those in our school system.

So, thanks for the thoughtful comment and opportunity for clarification.  I encourage those that were engaged in last week's teacher leadership sessions to add your thinking and thoughts to assist us in moving forward with common understanding and purpose.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The elevator speech . . .

We met today with the secondary school teacher leadership teams to create a deeper understanding of the connections between our Classroom 10 model and CEL's 5D instructional model, to share some draft documents integrating the two, and to seek feedback and direction as we continue our leadership journey.  Going into the conversations I had some mental models about the documents and what we needed to do to move the work forward that were influenced by what I was learning and hearing.  Because of this influence, I was able to suspend assumptions I had made and look forward to continued conversations to identify and create structures to assist principals and teacher leaders in supporting changes to classroom practice.

Early in the session I had the opportunity to share some of my thinking around the importance of principals and teacher leaders supporting and influencing the work of teachers and the role of the central office staff in supporting them.  I also suggested that those in leadership positions must develop a deep understanding of Classroom 10 and the 5D model and be able to demonstrate that understanding in an elevator speech.  We must be able to answer the question from a community member or colleague when asked what is this Classroom 10 thing and do so in 30-60 seconds, the amount of time one might have while sharing an elevator ride.

Can you do this?  It sounds easy, but in reality it is difficult to do.  Explaining a complex model in 30-60 seconds requires a deep understanding and the capacity to identify the critical components and beliefs that drive the work.  So, if you were asked this question how would you respond?  I would welcome comments from any reader.  Share in bullet format what you would say.  Remember, you have 30-60 seconds.  Need to brush up on Classroom 10?  Try this link for information.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A new and necessary support . . .

I used the slide above in a post earlier this month when I was sharing about the need for coherence and what we are learning from a research study done by CEL, Leading for Effective Teaching. The slide shows the important role that each layer plays in support of student learning.  I used the following words to describe what I am learning are critical system functions necessary to support instructional practices that influence student achievement.

Teachers facilitate student learning, principals facilitate teacher learning, and central office staff facilitate principal learning.

This week we once again have the opportunity to support principal learning and the teacher leaders that support them in their work.  For these sessions I have added a critical structure to the support model, teacher leaders.  We are learning from the same study that in systems experiencing success, central office staff are supporting principals in developing highly skilled leadership teams.

First, school systems are helping principals strategically expand instructional leadership
capacity in their buildings by sharing such responsibilities among multiple leaders. Research
has consistently shown that when more staff members share instructional leadership responsibility with principals, classroom teaching and student learning improve more rapidly. As
a result, school systems are placing greater emphasis on principals’ capacity to build and
manage strong instructional leadership teams in their schools. Such teams often include
expert teachers, instructional coaches, other administrators, and department heads. Under
such a scenario, principals become “leaders of instructional leaders” in their schools. The
contributions of other instructional leaders support rather than supplant a principal’s own
responsibility and authority to lead learning, extending a principal’s instructional leadership
reach in his or her school building.

Success on our Classroom 10 journey is not possible without highly skilled teacher leaders working collaboratively with principals to support their colleagues.  As we slow down to redesign the vision for our journey by embedding 5D+ language and indicators, we need teacher leaders with deep knowledge of the revised model to facilitate the learning process with other teachers in their grade levels and departments.  Our work this week is an example of central office staff supporting the learning of principal/teacher leadership teams by clarifying the vision, developing their understanding of the model, and enabling them by identifying and implementing structures to support the learning of others in the system.

This work and my learning walks with principals are two structures that are energizing for me and that provide me with continuous learning opportunities.  I believe that the support model identified in the slide above will support us in identifying the structures that we must retain, those that need revision, and those that we have not yet discovered.  We have much to be proud of on our journey and much more to learn.  This is exciting and important work and I am so very fortunate to be a part of it with this great community of support.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A new message . . .

I received notice of this paid ad in the Olympian today from WASA and from LEV.  It is a message that I first heard about from Superintendent Dorn that attempts to make clear that the state is not fully funding basic education.

Today marks the 2/3 point on the school calendar — a symbolic date to remind us all that the state funds only 2/3 of the cost of running our schools. The state-funded part of the year may be done, but that doesn’t mean the Legislature has met its responsibility.

Our state constitution’s paramount duty is to fund K-12 education fully — not 2/3 — and for all
children, not just some.

Multiple organizations came together to support this message. I believe that it does a good job of putting the issue in a context that captures the essence of the funding dilemma; the program that we currently offer requires local and federal funding of approximately 30%.  Not only does it require these additional funding sources, but it does not offer the level of support found in the basic education reforms of HB 2261 and HB 2776 that provide the guidelines for the McCleary decision.

Learning about Classroom 10 . . .

If you follow my blog, you know that I often refer to our Classroom 10 journey and more recently how the state-mandated TPEP initiative will influence and support that journey.  teaching staff are familiar and engaged in the work, but for those that are not part of the work and community members this link will provide you with information about what Classroom 10 is.  Under the pictures on the left you will find multiple links to provide more detailed information.

Below, is a video that Scott Mitchell, TEA President, and I did to share information on how we will use the 5D+ Instructional Model to support our Classroom 10 journey.  We chose the 5D+ Model to align with the requirements for TPEP implementation. (I have been trying since yesterday to embed the video with no success.  Here is a link  to the video.)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

First legislative budget falls short. . .

The House Republicans were the first to unveil a budget for the next biennium.  A short review can be found in this Tacoma News Tribune article.  As expected, it is their Fund Education First" budget and came out in the "billionish" range that I shared last week in this post.  The dollar amount is short of the $1.4-1.7 billion pushed by professional education organizations and may also not be enough to meet the expectation of the Supreme Court justices in the McCleary decision.

And even the long-term plan leaves out some increases that have been discussed as part of meeting the McCleary decision, including school employees’ pay. Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, Republicans’ leader on education, said they are sticking to areas the Legislature promised to fund in 2009 and 2010 laws rather than hanging more funding items on the budget “like a Christmas tree.”

Read more here:

Two members of that caucus, Representatives Rodne and Magendanz and Senator Mullet attended yesterday's Town Hall meeting in Maple Valley where this budget was briefly touched upon.  I think for the majority of the about thirty people who attended, we left not feeling that this budget meets our expectations and is not going to provide the support that we so desperately need at this time. Even beyond the dollar amount, for me the lack of flexibility that I spoke of in this post is a reality in this budget.  The House Republicans are ignoring the work of the Joint Task Force on Education Funding recommendations.  Instead of first funding transportation and maintenance, supplies and operating costs (MSOC) that would have given us the flexibility we need, they have chosen to first fund all day kindergarten and lower class K-3 class size.  It is an example of their position that any new money must be tied to increased accountability.  They do this by making the funding categorical, meaning you get it only if you use it the way they tell you.

So, this caucus presumes that they know what we need better than the task force who studied the issues in depth and over time.  They do not trust that we know what to do to support teachers and students. It is another example of the one size fits all mentality that will not in and of itself improve the learning environments in this state.  Mandating change will not provide the results that they want, something that I still struggle to understand.  Imposing additional categorical funding on 295 different school districts is not a structure that will move this state's education system forward.

We are a good example of why these one size fit all strategies do not work.  First, by any measure of student achievement we are successful.  We have much yet to achieve for our young people, but in comparisons we do well suggesting that we might have a plan and some sense of what to do to move forward.  We do not need additional accountability measures to move us forward.  Second, we do not have additional classrooms to lower class sizes in all K-3 classrooms or to implement all day kindergarten in every school.  With our over crowded classrooms and lack of classrooms what they see as support is not possible given our current reality.  we would not be able to take advantage of the funding as proposed.

The slogan Fund Education First, increasing accountability, lowering class sizes to a number that the research suggests will not result in the needed achievement gains, and funding all day kindergarten plays out well in headlines.  They make great talking points for legislators, but they ignore the current reality of the 295 school districts in this state and more importantly, of the change process.  We need new structures that provide school systems like those in the 5th legislative district with the support and flexibility that we need, not mandates with little chance of creating the instructional changes necessary to meet the needs of ALL young people in this state.  Yes, there are systems with greater needs than ours where categorical funding and additional accountability may be a part of the structures that will support increased achievement,  but my sense is that they will need more than those in the House Republican budget proposal.  Treating all of us with a one size fits all solution meets the situational needs of none of us.  I believe that this budget falls short not only in the dollars needed to meet the McCLeary mandate, but in understanding how to implement change that increases student achievement and that sustains over time.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A wonderful evening . . .

Last night I had the great pleasure with a number of other administrators of serving dinner to classified staff at the Junior High.  This has become an annual event that is one of the most enjoyable evenings for me of the school year.  It is a fun evening and an opportunity to show our appreciation for the contributions that these dedicated staff bring to our system and to our success.

Elected officials from state and city government were present as well as from our school board to share in the evening's events and to thank those in attendance for their work and commitment to young people.

Kyobi Hinami, Glacier Park Teacher, providing musical entertainment
Administrators from across the system took pride in being able to show our respect by serving and then cleaning up after the event.

Chris Thomas, Glacier Park Principal, serving 
One of the highlights of the evening for me was the "Rock Star" ovation that Bruce Zahradnik received only to be surpassed by that for Sean P. Kelly.  In comparison, it was a rather muted applause when I was introduced.  Another highlight was the message that Bruce gave.  As you may know, he is retiring at the end of this school year, something causing me anxiety and a deep sense of loss.  Over the last two years he has worked closely with many people in the room last night and has developed a deeper understanding and appreciation for their work.  It was evident in the words and the manner in which he shared his thoughts and feelings.  I know that his mental models have changed because he is assisting me in suspending assumptions so that I can better see reality and not my perception of it.  I believe that everyone was moved by his words.

Bruce Zahradnik

This is a great event that I hope continues to grow in numbers and recognition.  Thank you to PSE leadership for organizing this wonderful evening and for allowing me to share it with the many people in the room that contribute to our journey.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Support looks and sounds like . . .

At last night's board meeting, we saw what support looks and sounds like with over one hundred people in the room and hallway to support our instrumental music program.  My sense is that the number is probably higher because not all had a chance to get into the room to sign in.  Four parents and two former students spoke on behalf of those in attendance to thank the Board for support over the last two years and to request that the support continues as they work to build the program.

The Tahoma Band Boosters organization understands our current reality and has a vision of what can be given the time and resources to close the gap.  They are being driven by the creative tension generated by the gap and the desire to ensure that the heart and energy behind the band's recent growth and accomplishments continues the positive journey.  It was wonderful to have the energy in the room and the passion these people feel for what our music program is doing for our young people.

Unfortunately, all but a handful left the meeting after their comments with two important agenda items still to be discussed.  Both of the items are related to our over crowded conditions and the need for creating additional housing capacity in our system.  The first item was a presentation focused on a process to provide input to the board from registered voters on a possible November bond measure.  The process would include focus groups followed by a phone survey to give the board feedback and statistical information as they make decisions on what to include on the measure and the timing for the vote.  

The second related item focused on a recommendation to once again make some adjustments to elementary attendance areas.  With changing demographic patterns we are recommending that we shift students from the Lake Wilderness and Rock Creek attendance areas to the Shadow Lake and Glacier Park attendance areas. The number of students in a potential shift is not large compared to some we have done, but if you are one of the families it can create anxiety, stress, and anger.  

Both of these items reflect our current reality of over crowded schools with continued growth in enrollment projections.  We have a vision for a preferred future that is emerging leaving us with the question of how to close the gap.  Where and how do we create the passion we witnessed last night for a vision of the band program around our need for new housing capacity in this system?   How do we fill the board rooms and larger venues with passionate people to support this system need?  It takes a community and thus far, in this area of our work, we have not found answers to close the gap.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The message of moving forward . . .

Thinking back to my post on the importance of a community of support for success in our work, leads me to reflect on yesterday's experience with legislators and the importance of their contribution to our community.  With over 70% of our funding coming from the state, decisions that they make have a significant influence on our capacity to meet the needs of our students.

The graphic that I shared in the post doesn't tell the whole picture because community is greater than just our local area.  It includes the state legislature and the federal government because they also contribute funding to our work.  It reinforces the importance of what is taking place in Olympia and the difficult decisions that they face in finding revenue to meet the McCleary decision and supporting us in our work.

The message that I am giving our legislators is one of moving forward with the reforms in HB 2261 and HB 2776.  Move forward by funding the recommendations of the Joint Task Force On Education Funding and making movement to fund the prototypical school formulas.  Start by fully funding transportation and maintenance, supplies and operating costs (MSOC).  This would be phase 1 followed in the next year of the biennium by funding for all day kindergarten and the K-3 staffing enhancement of 17 to 1.

The order of funding these programs is important because transportation and MSOC increases provide us with flexibility, something we need as we move into TPEP and Common Core implementation with little support from the state.  For some of the legislators funding the next phase of all day kindergarten and K-3 staffing may become more categorical, aligning with their outcomes based approach.  So, what will it cost to fund phase 1?  Somewhere in the $1.4 billion range.  What will it cost to fully fund basic education as defined   in HB 2261 by 2018?  It will cost about $1.8 billion in each year from 2014 to 2018.  Sound like a lot of money?  It is, especially with the no new tax parameter of Governor Inslee and the Senate leadership.

What message are you sharing with your legislators?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Time to move this state forward . . .

I spent the day in Olympia with Board member Mary Jane Glaser and Mark Koch at the WASA, WSSDA WASBO Legislative Conference.  After spending the day yesterday in Seattle at the E3 Washington Board meeting I was not looking forward to another day in Olympia, the fourth visit in the last two weeks, but I am glad that I went.  The updates and guidance provided us with important information as we make decisions on the message we want to give our legislators.

We heard from Governor Inslee, Superintendent Dorn, and Thomas Ahearne, lead attorney in the McCleary case.  We also heard from senators and representatives from each caucus in both houses who provided us with updates on both fiscal and policy bills.  The legislators included Senators Billig and Dammeier and Representatives Wilcox, Hunter, Dahlquist, and Tamiko Santos.  The place was packed with administrators and board members who greeted Superintendent Dorn and Attorney Ahearne's words with loud applause and cheering, something that all the legislators did not hear following their comments.

I could share information with you in posts for the next week.  We heard many numbers mentioned with representatives from both parties saying that they were looking at increasing education revenue to meet the McCleary court ruling.  Rep. Hunter talked about $1.7 billion which is the number being pushed by WASA. It is above the $1.4 billion recommended by the Joint task Force on Education Funding and is arrived at because it is 2/5 of what must happen by 2018 when basic education needs to be fully funded under the court order.  The lowest number came from Senator Dammeier who said in the "billioinsh" range, a number that is larger than what we have been hearing might come from the new senate majority caucus.  The problem is no one has a plan for where the money will come from.

One of the themes from Senator Dammeier and Representative Dahlquist was that any new money must be outcome based, the citizens need to see that the money is resulting in increased achievement.  Their rationale for new reforms that meet their outcome base requirement is that we are doing a poor job in our state of educating our young people.  So, they decide that one size all reforms are going to reduce the achievement gap and for underachieving youth.  I don't disagree that we must do something to reduce this gap, but it is not the same in all systems and one size reforms are not the answer.

At the same time we hear from them that we are doing a poor job, Senator Billig shared that we are generally in the top third of the states on achievement measures and in the bottom third on funding per pupil.  Superintendent Dorn shared that we rank 42nd in per pupil funding and are in the top 10% of achievement rankings with only Utah ahead of us.  These numbers suggest we are doing something right in our state, yet there are many in Olympia believing that we need new reforms to fix us.

The best comment of the day came from Senator Billig when he said our next reform should be funding the reforms in HB 2261 and HB 2776.  This resonates with my belief on the need for stability, not new mandates from the legislature.

We are doing our part and are committed to an instructional focus to improve achievement for ALL young people.  It is now time for legislators to understand that we have the knowledge and expertise in this state to do the work and it is their responsibility to move this system forward by funding the reforms already in place.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

It takes a community . . .

In my last post, I shared my recent experience that resulted in increased coherence for me related to our leadership journey.  In that post, I shared the slide below that I used with our administrator team to capture what I believe is a primary teaching responsibility for all in the system.  Our classroom changes, but we have a responsibility to facilitate learning for those we support.

I want to use the same slide but add two other components, the School Board and community.  The context with this slide is a focus on support and direction.

We would not experience success without the support of our School Board members, Tim Adam, Bill Clausmeyer, Mary Jane Glaser, Tami Henkel, and Didem Pierson.  We are fortunate to have five committed individuals that bring their individual experiences and expertise to our efforts.  They work collaboratively with me and others to identify targets for our work and then securing and allocating the necessary resources to meet their expectations.  From experience, I can share with you that their focus is directly on the center of the target.  They care about the success of our young people while in school and after graduation.  We are fortunate that it is truly a collaborative effort as these board members individually and collectively are not focused on special interests.

We have also come to understand how important our community is to our success.  In the absence of community support for our operation levies and bond measures we would not experience the success that makes our schools a destination school system.  Without this support, the school board would not have the capacity to support the comprehensive program currently in place and the plans to ensure that all graduates are Future Ready.  In the absence of this support those at the center of the target will not be positioned for success and options in post high school learning and work.  It truly does take a community to ensure that young people have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to meet the challenges while in school and those they will encounter in the increasingly more complex world of the future.

So teachers facilitate student learning, principals facilitate teacher learning, central office staff facilitate principal learning, and the school board and community ensure that we have the direction and resources necessary to meet the community's expectations.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The need for coherence . . .

For the last three years Dawn Wakeley and I have had the opportunity to be part of an ESD cohort focused on leading for instructional change.  The work is facilitated by two members of the Center for Educational Leadership out of the University of Washington with experience and knowledge about the research base for this work.  The learning opportunities with this group have influenced my thinking and behavior as it relates to how I and we at the central office support building administrators in their efforts to influence and support our Classroom 10 instructional change initiative.

In our session yesterday, reviewing work that came out of the Gates Foundation, Leading for Effective Teaching, once again affirmed for me that we are doing much of what the research identifies as high leverage practices to support principals in this work.  The paragraph below assisted bringing coherence for me to the multiple strategies we are using to support the work.

The report focuses on three broad “action areas” that show considerable promise for helping principals meet new expectations: clarify the principal’s role as an instructional leader by specifying the high-impact practices for which principals will be accountable; develop principals’ instructional leadership practices through job-embedded supports that build expertise; and enable principals to succeed as instructional leaders by providing sufficient time and strategic supports to perform the job well.

Three words; clarify, develop, and enable capture my  responsibility to support principals in their efforts to influence instructional practice in classrooms across our system.  I shared this with our leadership team in our learning opportunity this morning and suggested that the same three practices are important for them to consider in their work to support teachers.

As an example, I shared the slide below of the Instructional Leadership Framework out of CEL that identifies four dimensions with high leverage leadership practices.  This is an example of bringing clarity to the work, ensuring that principals know what is expected of them, and the practices with high leverage in this change initiative.

I also shared the slide below that captures for me the focus for this work.  The intent of embedding Classroom 10 practices in every classroom is to support students in being successful on district, state, and federal standards for graduation and in providing them with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to pursue multiple options for success in post high school learning and work.  Who directly influences this success?  The teacher.  Who supports the teacher in creating the classrooms where learning takes place?  The building administrators and teacher leaders.  Finally, who supports them?  Central office staff.  Teachers facilitate student learning, principals facilitate teacher learning, and central office staff facilitate principal learning.

Coherence is important to all of us, especially at those times when we are engaging in significant change.  Yesterday and today helped me bring that to our multiple efforts to support implementation of Classroom 10.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Repeating my message . . .

Today's Seattle Times had an editorial supporting a number of the "reform" bills coming out of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.  I won't take the time to comment on or share the five bills they are endorsing other than to repeat my request for stability.  At this time, when we are already engaged in major change initiatives (TPEP and Common Core), we don't need additional requirements or mandates placed upon us.  We need the opportunity to focus our energy and resources on creating the support structures necessary for students, teachers and principals to meet the demands that these initiatives have placed upon our system.

Legislators read these editorials and opinion pieces such as the one from Michelle Ree in today's Times about the Seattle teacher boycott of MAP assessments and see them as supportive of the need for reform.  They need to also hear from those engaged in the work.  We are also now getting to the place in this session where budgets are being crafted behind closed doors.  This is an important time to share your message related to education funding with your legislators in Olympia.  As you craft this message, please consider adding a request for stability instead of new reforms.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A vision for Waste Free Wednesday . . .

At a board meeting on January 22nd, Green Team student leaders from the High School, Junior High, and Shadow Lake shared their vision for Waste Free Wednesday in our schools.  Over time, they see this vision moving from our schools to our community.  You can read about what it means to bring a waste free lunch to school on this day from this post by a Shadow Lake Elementary student on the Tahoma Sustainability web page and more about the waste free program in this Covington Maple Valley Reporter article.

As you plan for this day each week, please consider what role you might play to support the vision that these young people have created.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

School must be more than academics . . .

Last week I placed this Presentation Zen post in my blog file for possibly sharing at some time on my blog.  In his blog post, Garr Reynold's shares an example of graphic story telling and visual narrative.  It is a poem by Canadian poet and writer Shane Koyczan that carries a message for all of us.  Coincidentally, later in the week a high school student happened to share the same video with a teacher suggesting that he play it for the class.  The teacher then shared it with a team of teachers focused on bullying and relationship issues at the school.  The student used these words in her request.

I found this really amazing video talking about bullying. I was just wondering if there is a way to get the school to play it in front of the whole school? Or at least in our class? I also have an mp3 of a man talking about how the size of a woman's body or how they look shouldn't define them, if that could be played too? It would really mean a lot because I don't think our school talks about these problems enough, even though these are huge issues in our community.

As we continue our focus on instruction we sometimes lose sight of issues that young people face at home, in school , and in our community that influence their capacity for learning.  It is requests such as this from a high school student and messages such as that being shared by Koyczan that remind us that there is more to our work than aligned curriculum, assessments, and instructional practice.  Our school environments must be places where ALL young people feel they are safe and contributing members of our school communities before they can be academically successful.