Posts Tagged ‘Learning’

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.



Learn and Grow

What is the purpose of school?

It doesn’t matter if it is Elementary, Middle School / Jr. High, or High School.  The purpose of school is for the students to learn.  It’s our job as educators to teach them so they can learn.  It’s that simple!

As teachers, we already know everything, right?  We know everything there is to know and we can teach it to every student that walks through our doors, right?  And we know the best way to teach it to them so they can learn it, right?

Really!  (Can you detect a little sarcasm here?)

So what do teachers do to learn?  This is a good question … a question that doesn’t have just one answer because all teachers learn differently, just like their students.  There is not a right way or a wrong way.  What’s important is that you have to learn.  If you don’t, your students will suffer.  And that is unacceptable!

Your students depend on you for help.  Your students depend on you to learn so they can learn!

Here’s the challenge:  get connected, reflect, explore, read, watch, listen, model, collaborate, search, take notes, blog, lurk, discuss, encourage, share, and  …………… grow!


Learnign is Fun

Do You Like to learn new things?  Do you want to learn new things?  Do you need to learn new things?

Is learning fun?

I hope so.

Last week I asked a group of teachers if they looked forward to the first week of school,  you know … the first week back from summer break — The Staff Development Week.  I asked for a show of hands of those who REALLY looked forward to that week.  Surprise, surprise, guess what?  Nobody raised their hand.  That’s as shame, because in theory, it’s supposed to be a week to learn.  But in reality, it’s a week that everyone wishes we didn’t have.

I asked that same group of teachers for a show of hands to my next question.  I asked if they could learn whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, would they like that?  This time, everyone raised their hands.  Is this that big of a surprise?

What does this mean?

It means that teachers do want to learn.  It means that they value choice.  It means that they value freedom to learn on their own terms.

This is good.

It also means that, for those of us in administrative positions, we must listen to our teachers.  We must value their time.  We must give them the freedom to improve their skills.  We have to give up control of professional development and the thought that we always know best what our teachers need.  We must understand that the vast majority of our teachers want to improve themselves because they know that when they learn new skills, techniques, strategies, etc., then the students are the ones who will reap the benefits.

That’s why we are in this business of education … to help our students learn and grow and gain new knowledge and skills.   That’s what it’s all about.  It doesn’t matter if you teach Pre-K, 3rd grade, algebra, or world history.  The goal is for the students to know more at the end of the year than they did at the beginning.

I also know that there are teachers in all schools (and administrators too) who think they already know everything there is to know about their subject, their grade, and what their students need.  These are the teachers (and administrators too) who do the same things every year at the same time every year.  These are the teachers (and administrators too) who think all students (and teachers) are the same and they will learn it or do it “my way” !!!

These are the ones we need to reach.  We need all teachers (and administrators) on the same page and able to admit that we don’t all know everything there is to know.  We need to learn from each other.  Teachers can not only teach their students, they can teach their fellow teachers, and they can also teach their administrators as well.

We are all fortunate to have those superstar teachers on each of our campuses.  We must take advantage of their skills, their knowledge, their desire to learn and teach.  If we do this, each of our schools will be a better place.  Each of our teachers will be better and more able to teach.  Each of our students will be able to learn and grow and become better people.

We all have those teachers who are constantly learning.  And you know what, they don’t save their “learning time” to that first week back from summer break — The Staff Development Week.  To them learning is fun.  But it’s more fun when they are in control, when they have a choice, and when they are given the freedom to learn on their own terms.

Remember this ……….  learning is fun.

Go Learn!




Teh Scot Wright Daily

Every morning around 7:30 ( I just changed it from 8:30) my online newspaper, The Scot Wright Daily, comes out electronically.  It has articles, videos, photos that can give you ideas, tips, motivational tools, technology information … there’s something everyday that you can learn from.

If you want an easy way to get one small bit of your daily dose of information so you can learn, please consider subscribing to it.  It comes out daily on twitter as well, but when you subscribe, it comes out via email to your inbox.  You don’t have to do anything but read, learn, and share.  (Remember to share with your PLN and help them learn too).

Thanks for reading my blog, The Wright Stuff.  I hope you like it.  And I hope you consider reading and subscribing to The Scot Wright Daily.

Thanks for sharing.

book 1a

Here’s my 2013 summer reading list (in no particular order):

book 1

Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess  — (Follow Dave Burgess on Twitter — @burgessdave)

Dave Burgess lists the following traits to absorb and develop and practice until they become part of the teacher who is wholly committed to the profession: Passion, Immersion, Rapport, Ask and Analyze, Transformation, and Enthusiasm (astute readers will see that the first letter of each word spells out PIRATE). From this jumping off point Burgess accompanies the reader through the techniques he has developed and perfected in making the classroom an exciting, desirable place for students to literally absorb learning. His ideas on providing `hooks’ that focus on capturing the attention and passion of students to follow his standard in making learning not a chore but a fun challenge to incorporate in their view of the joy of learning.

book 2

The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon  — (Follow Jon Gordon on Twitter — @JonGordon11)

The Energy Bus  takes readers on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals ten secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment.  Everyone faces challenges and everyone has to overcome negativity and adversity to define themselves and create their success.  For everyone looking to turn negative energy into positive success, this book provides a powerful plan for overcoming common life and work obstacles.

book 3

Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley  — (Follow Andy Stanley on Twitter — @AndyStanley)

Five characteristics mark the man or woman who will shape the future.

Drawing on two decades of experience mentoring a rising generation, seasoned visionary Andy Stanley shows how to:
-Discover and play to your strengths
-Harness your fears
-Leverage uncertainty
-Enlist a leadership coach
-Maintain moral authority

“Capable men and women will eventually catch, pass, and replace the current generation of leaders,” says Andy Stanley. “Embracing these essentials, you will not only excel in your personal leadership, but also ensure a no-regrets experience for those who choose to follow you.”

book 4

Schools Cannot Do It Alone by Jamie Vollmer — (Follow Jamie Vollmer of Twitter — @jamievol)

Schools Cannot Do It Alone  tells of Jamie Vollmer’s extraordinary journey through the land of public education.  His encounters with blueberries, bell curves, and smelly eighth graders lead him to two critical discoveries.  First, we have a systems problem, not a people problem.  We must change the system to get the graduates we need.  Second, we cannot touch the system without touching the culture of the surrounding town; everything that goes on inside a school is tied to local attitudes, values, traditions, and beliefs.  Drawing on his work in in hundreds of districts, Vollmer offers teachers, administrators, board members, and their allies a practical program to secure the understanding, trust, permission, and support they need to change the system and increase student success.

book 5

The Noticer by Any Andrews  — (Follow Andy Andrews on Twitter — @AndyAndrews)

Poverty.  A failing marriage.  Old age.  Lost dreams.   A failing business.   An unsure future.  To the residents of Orange Beach, Alabama, these desperations are dead ends.  Hopeless, barren places with no chance of change.  But to an old drifter named Jones, with a gift of seeing what others miss, there is no such thing as a dead end.  It only takes a little “perspective”, he says, to recognize miracles in our moments, the seeds of greatness tucked into our struggles.  As Jones mysteriously makes his way through this coastal town and into the searching hearts of its residents, he offers simple wisdom and sound hope.  Think, Learn, Plan, Dream.  For soon … you will become.

Again, this is my plan for summer reading.   I have Teach Like a Pirate on my iPad and hard copies of the other four.  I haven’t decided which one I will start with, but I am going to start one on Monday, June 10th.  By the way, I have included each author’s Twitter handle — you should consider following each of them.

If you have read any of these,  I would love for you to leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Simply Lead

Today was an AWESOME day!

I was fortunate enough to attend Chick-fil-A Leadercast 2013, a one day event that is held LIVE in Atlanta, Georgia and broadcast to hundreds (over 750, I think) of locations around the world.

I can’t say enough about how great of an event this was.  Not only were the speakers and the information they shared great, you could also download the Chick-fil-A Leadercast app.  This was an amazing app that had additional leadership resources, You could take notes directly on the app, and, at one point the emcee, Tripp Crosby, Facetimed with everyone who had downloaded the app.  It was just plain cool!

The theme of this year’s Leadercast 2013 was SIMPLY LEAD.  So in keeping with the theme, I will share a little bit of what I got from each of the speakers.

1.  ANDY STANLEY — Best-selling leadership author & communicator and founder of North Point Ministries

  • Take complicated things and make them simple.
  • What is your core responsibility?
  • Create a one-sentence job description that describes your critical role, your unique contribution to your organization.

2.  JOHN C. MAXWELL — Internationally-renowned leadership expert, coach, and author who has sold over 20 million books

  • Take something complicated and make it simple.
  • How to Simply Lead — It’s basic math!
  • ADD value to people everyday.
  • SUBTRACT your leadership landmines.
  • MULTIPLY your strengths by developing them.
  • DIVIDE  your weaknesses by delegating them.  (let somebody do it who does it well)

3.  SONYA RICHARDS-ROSS — 2012 London Olympic GOLD Medalist in Track & Field

  • Make a vision board.  Focus on your goals.  Look at it everyday.
  • Focus on one thing.  Don’t multi-task.
  • Focus on victory … not what can go wrong.

4.  DR. HENRY CLOUD — Leadership consultant and coach.  Clinical psychologist.

  • Bring necessary endings.  Prune it.  Quit doing stuff that’s not necessary.  Keep doing stuff that’s vital for growth.
  • Don’t be a HOARDER.  Don’t hang on to the past.  Yesterday has gone — let it go.  This includes people too.
  • Focus your attention on the relevant.  Keep current.

5.  DAVID ALLEN — Best-selling author.  Personal and organizational productivity expert.

  • Crisis evokes serenity.  Why?  Because you’re focused.
  • Everybody has the same amount of time – 24 hours in a day.
  • Have a mind like water.  Don’t over react or under react.
  • Don’t multi-task.  Only do one thing at a time.

6.  MIKE KRZYZEWSKI — Head Men’s Basketball coach, Duke University and Team USA

  • You can’t hold back.  Don’t get side-tracked from your mission.
  • In order to learn and grow, you have to get out of your comfort zone.
  • RULES are externally applied.
  • STANDARDS are internally applied.
  • You must have standards.  Have your team “own” the standards.

7.  CONDOLEEZZA RICE — Former Secretary of State (2005 – 2009). Professor at Stanford University.

  • Recognize the simple things that you can do better.
  • The key to complexity is to see simplicity.
  • Even under the most dire situations, try to be an optimist.

8.  JACK WELCH — Former CEO of General Electric

  • Be straight with people.
  • Generosity Gene — Good bosses have it.  They love to give and not take.
  • When you say something is important, back it up.
  • Get rid of the high performer with low values.  This person will destroy your organization.
  • Make your organization a place where people love to be there.

9.  LCDR RORKE DENVER  — Navy SEAL and star of the 2012 movie,  Act of Valor

  • Calm is contagious.  Stupid is also contagious.
  • How can you constantly improve?  Keep reaching!
  • Lead from the front.

This was the kind of event that everyone in any leadership capacity should attend every year. As a mater of fact, you should go ahead and put next year’s date on your calendar — May 9, 2014.

Spring Break

From the end of World War II until the 1980’s, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida was a notorious Spring Break destination for college students.  Actually, though, in 1935, the Colgate University men’s swimming team went to Ft. Lauderdale to practice and escape from the cold, winter weather of New York.   Then in 1960, the film, Where the Boys Are, made Ft. Lauderdale even more popular for Spring Break until the 1985 law that raised the minimum legal drinking age to 21.  This law inspired many underage college students to travel outside of the United States for Spring Break. (

Today many corporate sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Gillette, MTV, and the US Armed Forces cater to the college market and cities stand to make a lot of money from tourism over Spring Break.

But for most public school teachers, Spring Break means a lot more than sun, beaches, drinking, and partying.  It is a much-needed break from the STRESS,  BAD ATTITUDES, and from just being TIRED.  For many, it is a chance to catch up on housework, yard work, laundry, etc.  and just as a chance to do something else besides “school”.

Stressed out teachers

Is this how you felt before Spring Break?

Take this week and enjoy yourself.  RelaxRefresh … Rejuvenate.


Come back in a week FIRED UP and ready to make a difference in the lives of your students.