Category Archives: Leadership

Small Wins for Growing Habits and Skills with Diverse Learners

Let’s be real. One of the hardest things for people to do is build a new habit. It takes commitment, focus, drive, and a constant reminder or way to trigger that action. In the learning environment habits play an equally important role as mastering curriculum. For many students habits may come naturally and become part of a routine – something they don’t even think about or focus on…they just do it.

For students with learning disabilities, habits of mind do not come easily – making learning even more complicated due to this missing ingredient. On top of the deficits that come into play for students with learning disabilities, such as, retaining information, processing, skill performance, and executive functioning, building a new habit demands a plan of action and the support of teachers. In the end, when students with learning disabilities take an opportunity to build a habit, they will be more inclined to improve their academic performance, skills, and most importantly, confidence. Continue reading Small Wins for Growing Habits and Skills with Diverse Learners

Retain Talented Educators in Your District

We know what great teaching looks like- dedication, continuous improvement, care for their students’ needs, etc.  But, do we know what great teachers look like?

Does your school and district consciously recognize great teachers, as a means of honoring them, for the great work they do? Does the public know who those great teachers are?

More than a certificate and a handshake, a well-designed teacher recognition program can complement other essential work in your school and district. Schools should think bigger than offering recognition at staff meetings. Include the community at large, so they can share in their local schools’ pride, by recognizing educators at athletic or other events. Continue reading Retain Talented Educators in Your District

Build it and they will come!

Has anybody been around cinema long enough to remember a couple of the famous lines from Kevin Costner’s 1989 film, A Field of Dreams: “build it, and he will come” or “go the distance”? Now I have to admit, the film I automatically think of when I hear Kevin Costner’s name is “The Bodyguard.” Blame it on the soundtrack, but I digress – tee hee hee!

Kevin Costner’s character in A Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella, was practically mocked, ridiculed; and he almost went for broke for building a baseball field on land that had historically been used for farming – something predictable and something that upheld current social patterns. Perceptions, relationships and other variables were immediately strained, as Ray felt compelled to transform the land and eventually the hearts of the people in his community. Why would Ray change what on some level was working? The land was familiar, traditional and it just “fit” into the existing community, expectations and cultural patterns. Continue reading Build it and they will come!

Individuals First, Learners Second

It’s the beginning to a new school year. As you start the year take into consideration this mind-blowing fact.

Did you know that the term “didaskaleinophobia” is the acute fear of going to school? And, that it affects about 2.4% of all children?

I bet you didn’t know that, or are asking yourself why I bring that up? Well, I believe it is fair to say that most students have a sense of anxiety, nervousness, or a feeling of unexpected emotions that arise from going to school each day. Although these feelings may not all be considered “fears”, they are emotions that need to be controlled and tended to in order to give a sense of comfort and focused mind to learning. When we, as teachers, understand our students as individuals first and learners second, we are more inclined to make their experience within the classroom both productive and focused to their goals and success. Continue reading Individuals First, Learners Second

Strive for Less Than 5!

written by Ron Koehler

School districts across Kent ISD are teaming together to deliver a common message to all students, to their families and the community at large:  Strive for Less Than 5 days absent.

You should soon be seeing yard signs, posters and this Strive for Less Than 5 video to spread the message that students who miss five or fewer days of school a year perform better than those who miss school on a regular basis.

The data for students who are chronically absent is clear:  Students who miss more than 10 percent of school time, just two days a month, are far less likely to be proficient than their peers who regularly attend school. Continue reading Strive for Less Than 5!

Alternatives to Suspension

Written by: Kelly Amshey, Assistant Principal Rockford Public Schools Freshman Center

We have all been frustrated when issuing suspension to students when we know that the consequence does little to shape behavior.  In my experience, many students who “earn” suspensions are the most at-risk academically, requiring more time in the classroom, not less.

Students who require special education services, those who struggle with attendance, and those who are otherwise disengaged from school may be those who are suspended most frequently, undermining our goal of keeping them in class and supporting their educational outcomes. Continue reading Alternatives to Suspension

MDE “Top 10 in 10 Roadshow” Visits GR in April

“We have a tremendous opportunity, working together as a state, to lift student achievement using these goals and strategies. This requires open minds and the will from all involved to make it work.” State Superintendent Brian Whiston

Michigan’s Education Vision is for “Every learner in Michigan’s public schools to have an inspiring, engaging, and caring learning environment that fosters creative and critical thinkers who believe in their ability to positively influence Michigan and the world beyond.” Continue reading MDE “Top 10 in 10 Roadshow” Visits GR in April

The Power of Reflection

In considering the various “R’s in Education”, how important is the process of “reflection”?

The power inherent within your personal reflection of your educational practices should never be undervalued. But, does “reflection” fall into my 5 R’s of Effective Engagement? A component of this reflection strategy are the proverbial “Look In The Mirror” Moments.

For me, when I awake in the morning as I am preparing myself for work, I look in the mirror and ask myself, “Will you give your best today?” Without hesitation, my reflection always responds back with the affirmative, “Yes!” Continue reading The Power of Reflection

Change Illusion

Blog post written by: Dr. Anthony Muhammad

Change is a very difficult process, but it is the catalyst to continuous improvement.  It tests our ability as professionals at many different levels.  Sometimes, when things get too challenging, we tend to look for short-cuts or we quietly surrender.  We live in a political climate that demands that we change, whether we choose to or not, but I have found that some organizations are good at creating the illusion of change, rather than being fully involved in the process of change.  There are three key phrases which clearly indicate that an organization is not fully committed to the change process. Continue reading Change Illusion

Observation and Formative Feedback: Best Practices

Written by Steve Seward, Associate Director, MASSP

“Teaching is complex work. You don’t have to be bad to get better!”  Candi B. McKay

Regardless of age or role, we all deserve formative feedback for growth that is centered on clearly specified areas of focus and success criteria. Those that are most effective as leaders, in all educational capacities, consistently engage in the process inquiry through the gathering and gaining feedback for growth.

There are multiple ways to give and receive feedback and multiple uses of feedback. Most important is that feedback is provided based on a strengths-based approach. As John Hattie explains, “Feedback must be timely, relevant, and action-oriented”. The goal with formative feedback is to provide feedback that moves learning forward by causing the learner to think, and at the same time be the owner of their learning. Continue reading Observation and Formative Feedback: Best Practices