Back to school

It is that time of the year … back to school time.  Kids say they aren’t ready to go back, but secretly, though, many of them are.   Teachers are the same way.  They enjoy their summers off doing nothing! (Doing nothing … yea right!!!)  Teachers get finished with one school year and then start planning for the next.  They go to workshops to learn new things that will help them with their classes.  They come up to the school (and try to maneuver around the desks and tables that the custodians have moved into the halls and not walk on the freshly waxed floors) in order to work in their rooms.   Some teachers come up at night to work on their rooms because they have a summer job because teacher’s pay is too low.  Teachers spend all summer doing nothing, so when the end of August rolls back around, they are ready for the new school year.

It’s that time of the year … back to school time.  It’s that time of the year when new teachers meet the teachers who have already been working in the district.  It’s that time of the year when the veteran teachers  are able to help mentor the new teachers and help them get settled in.   It’s that time of the year when a new principal is welcomed by fresh faces (teachers, students, parents, community members).  OK, I had to include this last sentence because I’ve been in my new school for 12 days now and I have met a lot of good people who are also excited about this new school year.

It’s that time of the year … back to school time.  Schedules are done, but some students aren’t happy because they didn’t get all the classes they wanted.  It’s that time of the year when the first day of school is right around the corner and senior students realize that this will be their last … first day of school (I stole this statement from a teacher at my previous school who always does a great job with the back-to-school announcements and assembly).  It’s that time of the year when the football team is practicing in the 90-100 degree heat as they get ready to make a run for the state championship.  It’s that time of the year when the volleyball team is working hard in preparation for their run at a state championship.  It’s that time of the year when we’re already having volleyball games but school hasn’t even actually started yet.

It’s that time of the year … back to school time… and I’m looking forward to it!!!!!

My First Attempt at Tackk

Posted: August 3, 2014 in Learning
Tags:

One of my former teachers shared with me a video from www.tackk.com and I thought that it had some real possibilities, so I thought that I had better try it out.  Here is my first attempt at creating a Tackk ( I guess that is what you call it??).

 

https://tackk.com/gl5d2x

 

Check it out and leave a comment.  Let me know what you think.

Enjoy.

 

Relationships Matter!

Posted: July 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

Originally posted on THE BRAHMA BLOG:

relationships

I love the fall (even though technically it is still summer!)  Why?  Because of two things:

  1. It’s the start of a new school year, and
  2. It’s time for football and volleyball ( I added volleyball because my daughter is involved in this sport and I have now grown to really like watching her play this game)

There are a lot of similarities between school and athletics.  Each year you get a chance to start over.  Each year you get a chance to continue to build on your successes from the previous year.  Each year you have returning players / students, and at the same time, you have new players / students.  The success of your team depends on your coaches and your teachers.  All they both need to do is get the best from each player / each student.  When a coach / teacher is able to do this, then…

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This is one of those posts that begins … “I don’t really know where to start!”   There are so many emotions that have been running through me the last few days; however, I am not going to talk about these emotions in this post.

For the last 10 years, I have been principal of Ore City High School, which has an excellent faculty and staff.  They have truly made my job easy.  We had a good system going and I would hope that it continues after my departure.  We all have grown in our roles as teachers and administrators (in the last few years especially).  We moved from a district-led staff development model to a campus-based, teacher-led model which has allowed for the emergence of new teacher leaders and also has allowed for a greater connection and cohesiveness among the teachers and staff.  I truly believe that OCHS is the best campus in the district.   We were the trendsetters, the risk takers, the trailblazers for OCISD.  The teachers are always open to new ideas and challenges and I encouraged them to take risks, use social media, connect and collaborate with each other as well as with other educators across the state of Texas, the United States and Canada, as well as across the entire globe.  I encouraged them to always look for ways to grow professionally.  They accepted this challenge!!  I am so proud to have been associated with the faculty and staff of Ore City High and I truly wish them much success in the future.

Now as I move into my new position as principal of Paul Pewitt High School, I am looking forward to new challenges, new teachers, new students, and a new community.  I am very excited about this opportunity and the feedback I have gotten so far has been very positive.  Together we will make a big impact on our students as well as on each other.  We will connect, learn, share, and grow.  It is going to be fun, and I can’t wait to get going.

Super Heroes

Posted: July 6, 2014 in Teachers
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When I was a kid, it wasn’t like it is today …  I only had 3 channels on the TV (not over 500) and we had an antenna outside that we could turn to a certain spot and MAYBE get the 4th channel.  Cartoons only came on Saturday mornings and were only on only for a little while.  Today there are on entire channels, and they are on 24 hours a day.  And today there are so many different cartoon characters whereas back in the day it was Mickey Mouse and his friends, Bugs Bunny and his friends, Scooby Doo and his friends, and then there were the Super Friends … Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman & Robin, and Aquaman.

Super Hero -- All 4 together

They were a part of the Justice League that had its headquarters in the Hall of Justice.  If there was an emergency the Super Friends came to the rescue.  They all had very different powers, and they used their different powers toward the common goal.  They would always save the day.  They were able to resolve whatever conflict came there way.  They were individuals but they could work together.  They fought for the good and they won!

There are superheroes in every school, and they all have different powers and work toward the common goal.  They are teachers.    In every school in every city in every state, they use their super powers to help save the world.   They work hard everyday to make sure that the students have the knowledge and ability to think and solve problems.   They fight to save the day.   They haven’t won yet, but they are winning.

Each of our super heroes … the cartoon super heroes and the real super heroes in our schools … even though they all have different powers, there is still one super power they all have in common — COURAGE.

  • Courage to fight the fight!
  • Courage to face each day with its monumental obstacles and sometimes insurmountable odds!
  • Courage to accept the challenge!
  • Courage to win!

 

 

Super Hero -- Teacher

 

Aren’t we all lucky to have super heroes !!  

What do you think?  Leave a comment and let us know.

 

Fundamental Change witht he Fundamental 5

 

This is a review of my notes from my final session from this summer’s TASSP Summer Workshop in Austin. In this particular session, Sean Cain, one of the authors of The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction, gives some practical advice to administrators and teachers about how to increase student achievement by following each of the components he outlines in his book.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.  It is an easy read with straight-forward, easy to follow and implement strategies.  This will not be a summary of the book only a summary of my notes from this particular session.  Notes that I took that will help me in my school as we work to increase student achievement.

I am not an advocate of teaching to the test, or CONSTANTLY verbalizing the importance of raising our scores.  My teachers know that we are judged by our scores and they don’t need to be constantly hounded about getting them up.  This is not to say that we “bury our heads in the sand” and do not talk about it.  What we do is work to improve instruction in every classroom every day.  When students know what they will be learning each day, when they exposed to higher-level instructional practices, and they are engaged daily, then our test scores will improve.

 

LESSON FRAME:

We will discuss how the Fundamental 5 transforms classroom instruction.  I will describe the relationship between the Fundamental 5 and improved student performance.

 

What does instruction look like now?  Mostly it is at the COMPREHENSION level.  There is lecture, students are taking notes, and they have homework .  Students are doing something.  Teachers are still teaching like they were back in the 1990’s.   At the best campuses, typical instruction is just under the APPLICATION level.

LOW-YIELD INSTRUCTIONAL PRACTICES

  • whole group instruction
  • lecture
  • worksheets

HIGH-YIELD TEACHER PRACTICES

  • teacher to student feedback
  • questions, cues, and organizers
  • reinforce effort

HIGH-YIELD STUDENT PRACTICES

  • written summarization
  • non-linguistic
  • generalize and test hypothesis
  • cooperative learning
  • student-to-student feedback
  • discussion groups

WRITE CRITICALLY = written similarities and differences, written summarization, note taking

SMALL GROUP, PURPOSEFUL TALK = cooperative learning, student-to-student feedback, discussion groups

If teachers teach the way they always have taught but recognize and reinforce (authentically) they can get up to a 30% increase in student performance.  This is a big increase just by doing this one thing.  It only make sense that when students are doing the right thing, they need to know.

If students are engaged in an academic task and if the teacher monitors and supports this by being in the Power Zone, student performance can also increase.  Teachers can now more easily recognize and reinforce.  All they have to do is start talking to their students.

Students need to write.  There is noting more powerful than writing critically.  This does not mean that students need to write research papers all the time.  They need to write in small to mid sized chunks.  They need to talk & write and write & talk.  If it doesn’t involve talking and writing, it is not a good instructional practice.  This purposeful talk can easily be managed by the teacher being in the power zone.

When the teachers don’t frame their lesson, they haven’t planned enough to know when and where to talk and write.

Here’s a simple solution to increased and improved student achievement:  Expose students to better instruction.  When students are exposed to better instruction, they will  out perform students who are not exposed to better instruction.

Math teachers can easily have students work at the application level if they “solve” problems BUT only if they are solving what they don’t already know.  Otherwise it is only “review”, which is only at the knowledge level.

If the teacher is talking it is only at the Knowledge level.

Fine Arts classes and science labs are at the Application level.  Most of the time the core classes are not at this level.

In order to get to the Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation levels, students must write and students must talk. (write critically, small group, purposeful talk).  The prompt is important and the teacher being in the power zone is vital for them to see and hear what is going on.

No matter how hard the teacher works, if the students are not talking purposefully and writing critically, their instruction will never be above the knowledge, comprehension, and application levels.

Rigor in the classroom is not driven by how hard the teacher works or talks.  Rigor only increases when students talk with a purpose and when they write critically.  They must Talk & Write, and Write & Talk.

The Good Ole Days are now and the Great Days are ahead of us.

 

The Fundamental 5

 

Relationships 3

 

Do relationships matter?  What do they have to do with the climate in your classroom or school?

Here are some reflective questions for you (and me, too) …

  1. What do students SEE in your classroom or school?  Why?
  2. What do students HEAR in your classroom or school?  Why?
  3. How do the students FEEL in your classroom or school?  Why?
  4. What do the students EXPERIENCE in your classroom or school?  Why?
  5. What is the CLIMATE of your classroom or school?  Why?

 

What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment and let me know.