I recently had the rare opportunity (and pleasure) to observe my colleagues’ classrooms throughout two school days. In total, I entered twenty-four classrooms and, after reflective collaboration with the rest of the leadership team, enjoyed conversations about nearly fifty observational rounds. While out on tour, my purpose was to collect data about the amount of differentiation and level of rigor our students experience in a typical day of high school to provide direction for future staff development. What I recorded on a clipboard may prove valuable; but what I experienced has already made a significant impact.
My greatest take-away is the need for all stakeholders to increase innovative thought in our vision of school–by students, teachers, and administrators. Students should spend more time creating, not simply doing, in a school day. Teachers should be coaching more than instructing. Administrators should attack the status quo, think big and ask, “why not?” All leaders should empower others by asking more questions than providing answers. We can make significant improvements to what we do and how we do it. So what holds us back? Continue reading
The body count has begun–Mercutio and Tybalt slain. “Fortune’s Fool,” a newlywed, is on his way to banishment. Yes, Act III, Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet presents more twists than Tybalt’s blade. The scene contains enough action and controversy to promote engaging dialogue. I traditionally use the scene as our first Socratic circle discussion of the year and it never fails to provide engaging material. On the following day, we review the scene and put closure on the discussed topics. We also take the opportunity to dramatically reenact the fight scene.
After witnessing the classroom joy of having several students showcase their cheesy acting skills and reading voices, I shared a new mission for the remainder of the act. Groups of students would have the following day to prepare for a brief performance to be presented a day later. The expectations read: Continue reading
Week of February 9, 2015
The topic for this week’s #slowchatGSD is the LEARNING ENVIRONMENT of our school culture. Once we establish a safe, respectful, academically challenging environment in our individual classrooms, how might we unleash that energy into the hallways and throughout entire buildings?
Last year, in order to TRANSCEND, I felt obligated to get involved in every opportunity that called for educational leadership. My learning grew exponentially, but so did my time commitments. As responsibilities overlapped on my calendar, I found myself rushing (often running) to the next entry on the agenda. That pace is exhausting but necessary at crucial points in life, especially with the motivation to transcend. I am proud of my efforts, but refuse to grow complacent; I know there is much more to accomplish in 2015. Now, with an established foundation of personal and professional understanding, I have a clearer vision going forward.
2015 cordially invites me to take personal action with the following expectations: to find and branch out from my center, extend my learning, reach out, share more experiences, emanate positive energy, shine…
A number of connected educators are admittedly PD junkies. They crave conversations with other passionate educators, share ideas, seek knowledge, exchange resources, and take part in a global dialogue. Many need the adrenaline rush of an intense hour of a Twitter edchat to ignite their creative drive and keep their job from being anything but mundane. However, not everyone is interested nor ready to participate in Twitter chats. These chats are fast-paced, intimidating for some, time consuming, becoming echo chambers, and, as #slowchated founder David Theriault eloquently concludes, might just plain suck. Continue reading
Something amazing took place in class today. After spending the past week struggling to comprehend the opening act of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, my juniors had a breakthrough. Everyone reached proficiency thanks to one of my favorite formative assessment strategies: one fails, we all fail. Continue reading