My Reflections from the TASSP 2014 Summer Workshop — DAY 1 (morning)

Posted: June 14, 2014 in Leadership, Learning
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This post is a review of the sessions I attended while at this year’s TASSP Summer Workshop in Austin, Texas.  I was fortunate to, once again, be able to attend this outstanding opportunity for professional development as well as get the opportunity to network with other principals and administrators from across the state.  I was also able to listen to three great speakers in their keynote addresses.  During these three keynote addresses, I didn’t take any notes at all.  What I did, though, was tweet out what would have been what I would have written down if I did take notes.  I used the #hashtag — #TASSP14 .  You can go to that #hashtag and checkout all kinds of tweets from everybody who was tweeting at the summer workshop and get a lot of good information from a lot of different sources.  You can also go to my twitter feed @scot_wright and look at all of the tweets that I specifically tweeted out during this week using the hashtag — #tassp14.




Day 1 — June 11 (Grand Opening General Session, First Morning Session)


Grand Opening General Session keynote speaker  — Kevin Honeycutt.  This was funny, thought-provoking and inspirational. 

You can follow him on twitter @KevingHoneycutt


Instead of taking noted during this session, I tweeted out my notes.  Here is what I tweeted …

  1. Flipping classes can be easy.  You don’t have to be Spielberg to do it.
  2. Don’t judge your students too hard.  You never know what they are going through.
  3. Thank teachers who try new things.
  4. Be a “Funnel of Opportunity”
  5. Use Edmodo (on Twitter @edmodo ) to post your student’s work
  6. A 3-fingered shop teacher talks about band saw safety !!! ( You can take this however you want to).
  7. The most dangerous place to be in school is … alone!  (for a student, but also for teachers.  Think about it).
  8. EMPOWERMENT comes from being trusted to attack learning according to your own strengths!
  9. “Digital Possibilities Group” — #GreatIdea
  10. The only one who can stop you is … you!
  11. This one I retweeted from @tjadams105  — Kids are playing on digital playgrounds and no one is on recess duty.  (We must teach and model digital citizenship!!).

I really enjoyed this guy.  He talked about his personal situations as a kid in and out of schools as well as what he is doing now as an educator and a school board member.  I would highly recommend looking him up on on twitter — @kevinhoneycutt and also on YouTube.


1st Session

The Tipping Point:  The Need to Transform Teaching and Learning Environments. 

Presenter:  Wayne Morren, Principal from Floydada Jr. High/ High School in Floydada, Texas.


Their teachers had worked very hard but they didn’t transition well from TAKS to STAAR.  They didn’t want to change anything they were doing.  Their scores did not compare well to the state averages.  They are improving now though.  They are working hard to close the gaps.  It is critical that you look at your data.  You may have a great staff and great teachers, but if they are not working together then you will not get good results.  If the CULTURE is not positive, if PRACTICES are not shared, if DATA is ignored … you will not ever be successful.  Change doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of people.  It means that you have to play to people’s strengths.

Staff development must be on-going and embedded in daily practices.  You must follow up on it periodically.  Training must be in grades 7 – 12 — all teachers at the secondary level.  They give their teachers two conference periods.

He talked about 7 Critical Success Factors: 1.  Academic Performance, 2.  Use quality data to drive your instruction, 3.  School Climate,  4.   Leadership effectiveness,  5.  Increase learning time, 6.  Teacher quality, 7.  Family and community involvement.

1.  Academic Performance:

  • They use the TEKS Resource System (CSCOPE) –> YAG, IFD, and Unit Assessments
  • They have PLCs every Friday morning.
  • Teacher quality must be improved.
  • For their new teachers, they give them a week of professional development the week before everyone else comes back
  • Teachers get a minimum of 3 walk-throughs each six weeks
  • There is an Instructional Specialist on each campus to coach the teachers

2.  Data Driven Instruction:

  • Teachers must do a good job of using data.  They MUST know the students and the SPECIFIC problems they are having.
  • Teachers must be trained in DMAC and must be proficient in using it.
  • You must know where each student fits in the accountability system.
  • This is difficult for some people to take –> Data is available for all teachers to see the data from all teachers.
  • Use SE breakdowns to drive your interventions.  Have targeted tutorials and use peer-to-peer tutoring.

3.  School Climate:

  • Everyone must “buy in” to improve the school climate.
  • Shake hands with students everyday.  All teachers must do this.
  • Teachers must take advantage of screencasting apps and software.  This is a great way for students to get some instruction if they are absent
  • The BEST way to improve school discipline is to improve instructional practices.
  • Project-Based Learning has made the biggest difference in improving school discipline as well as in the overall school climate.  students are engaged and not bored.

4.  Leadership Effectiveness:

  • I must develop ALL teachers as leaders
  • Teachers are assigned as Lead Teachers
  • Teachers must visit other classrooms.  They need to go on walk-throughs with me.
  • Develop a checklist for teachers to see different instructional practices as they visit other classrooms.  Use the checklist to document as they see the other teachers using these different instructional practices.
  • Veteran teachers do not like other teachers to come into their classrooms.
  • Teachers must look at the TEKS and know what they are supposed to do.
  • All teachers must know the TEKS and make the language student-friendly.
  • How do you test?  Must test like on STAAR — both multiple choice and written.

5.  Increase the Learning Time:

  • Teachers need time.  Find it for them.
  • Use PBL
  • They extended their day until 4:30.  Athletic practices do not start until after 4:30
  • They have Science Saturdays periodically where students can work on their science projects.
  • They have what they call The Breakfast Club that starts at 7:00 am.  Some teachers get to school that early and work with students.
  • They communicate with parents regarding late work and missing assignments.  This helps a lot.

6.  Family Engagement:

  • They do WEEKLY progress reports.  Grades are due each Monday morning and progress reports go out each Wednesday.
  • Do a PGP Hamburger Supper to get parents to come to school.  They also use door prizes for both students and parents who come.
  • They do a lot of social events….tour colleges, go to football games and other sporting events.

Random notes:

Share Data.   Support and promote teacher growth.  Use the teacher’s strengths.  The adults must learn to listen to the students.

It’s about teacher/student relationships.  Learn from each other.

Be flexible — identify the needs and then be flexible in how to deal with those needs.

Use your data. Find out what the students need.

Support the teachers and their instruction.  Adults must learn too.  Ask the teachers what they think they are good at.  The teachers must be prepared EVERYDAY.

Model learning — learning doesn’t stop the moment you get the job.

Change before you have to.  Don’t ignore your problems.

Students are assigned to tutorials after school.  High School athletics don’t begin until after 4:15, MS until after 4:30 — MS also comes in at 7:00 am some days.

Night School at least one night a week.  This is so students and their parents can come in and get extra help.

Students that have to leave early for contests do not get go to electives that day.  They go to their CORE classes so they don’t get further behind.

The better teachers engage the students better which means the students will learn more.

They do Academic rewards every 3 weeks

FRIDAY SCHEDULE — take 5 minutes off of each class period (makes 40 minute class periods) and have 1 hour PLC periods.

Teachers must work together and help each other.

GRADING — must take a minimum of 2 grades each week.  Progress reports go out every Wednesday.  This eliminates teachers waiting until the end of the 6 weeks to put in their grades.  Parents know that the teachers will do this.  Printed report cards are sent home with the students each Wednesday.  Parents can also use the Parent Portal if they choose, but they still send progress reports home weekly.

They did well on TAKS but haven’t done so well on STAAR —

  • instruction must  improve or scores will suffer
  • must have engaging practices or will lose students and scores will suffer
  • engaging instruction = student success

This was a very good session.  I was able to get some good ideas that I have already gotten some good feedback about some of these ideas.  I will definitely be looking more into implementing some of these strategies into my school setting for this upcoming school year.  I was also fortunate enough to be able to talk to Wayne Morren one-on-one during a Peer-to-Peer learning session later on in the week.


Stay tuned.  More to come.


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