Your Unfair Advantage

Over break, I read Embracing a Culture of Joy: How Educators Can Bring Joy to Their Classrooms Each Day, by Dean Shareski and was struck by the phrase “unfair advantage” that Shareski uses: 

Finding your unfair advantage is not about competition but rather an internal sense of confidence and purpose. It speaks to Pink’s (2009) and Schwartz’s (2015) notion of mastery and autonomy. While teacher satisfaction research can vary, many studies indicate that the lack of autonomy is growing in education (Sparks & Malkus, 2015). If teachers were told to embrace what makes them unique, to find and foster their unfair advantages, I can’t help but surmise that it would make a significant difference to job satisfaction. The unfair advantage of schools is the diversity of students and teachers.

Shareski explains that, if given that all things are equal – resources, time, etc., we all have something unique that we bring to our work and that gives us an unfair advantage over others.  Shareski goes on to say that this isn’t about being competitive.  It’s about recognizing a talent or passion you have that others in the building do not have and how that leads to a culture of joy in your classroom and throughout the building.

The problem, as Shareski points out, is that we often can’t see our own unfair advantage because we spend most of our time in our own classroom, our own building or our own district.  However, that shouldn’t stop any of us from knowing or finding out what our own unfair advantage is.  We should continue to look for opportunities to gain an outside perspective that will allow us to discover what it might be.  Discovering our own unfair advantage allows us to embrace what makes us unique and leverage these strengths in our work.  Recognize your strengths. Be proud of what you bring to the classroom and to our kids!

Finally, how powerful would it be for our kids if we help them think about their strengths and how they can grow them and use them as they continue to develop as learners?

EnJOY the GREAT week back!

– Herb

Worth Checking Out —

 

 

Upcoming Dates –

27 – Class Panoramic Pictures

28 – Legend Group (403b) here during lunches

29 – Staff Meeting, 3:45 – One2One Pioneers to present; Get Fit Girls, 3:35 – 4:30

30 – Mental Health & Wellness meeting, 8:00

30-31 – Herb in DC

31 – Fruit & Veggies (pineapple & carrots); Staff school supply orders due; PTO Parents Painting Night, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

 

April

3 – School Community Meeting – “Adjust and Adapt”, 10:45am; Board of Education meeting at ADE, 7pm

4 – BIT meeting, 8am; 5th grade ELA, Part 1

5 – IMPACT PD (K-2 Teachers); 6th grade transition meeting, 2:00 – 4:00; 5th grade ELA, Part 2

6 – Admin meeting (Herb, AM); Blue Jackets Choir performance (before game); 3rd & 4th grade ELA, Part 1

7 – 3rd & 4th grade ELA, Part 2

10 – Preschool IEP meetings (Herb/Brian H), throughout day; PTO Meeting, 7:00

12 – Staff Meeting – Progress check on Data Team goal; KG ELL testing; Urban Zen, 3:45 – 4:45; Lambright’s Parent Ed Camp

13 – Mental Health and Wellness Team meeting, 8am; One2One Principal meeting, 10am; KG fieldtrip to Franklin Park Conservatory; 2nd grade Wax Museum; Last day to submit requisitions; Staff Lunch

14 – Holiday, No School

17 – 4th grade fieldtrip to Supreme Court & Statehouse

18 – 5th grade Math test

19 – SLSP fieldtrip to Steak N Shake; 4th grade Math Test

20 – Principal’s meeting (Herb, AM); 3rd grade Math Test

21 – 2nd grade fieldtrip to Art Museum

24-28 – Book Fair, open til 5:00 on 25th; open during Art Show on 27th; open 8:00-10:00 am on 28th

24 – Gifted model parent meeting, 6:00; Vidic’s Medicine Safety Presentation (5th=1:30 – 2:15, 4th=2:15-3:00)

25 – 5th grade Science Test; 4th grade Social Studies Test; Vidic’s Medicine Safety Presentation (2nd=1:00-1:35; 3rd=1:40-2:15; 1st=2:20-2:55)

26 – Staff meeting, 3:40; Walk-A-Thon

27 – Elementary Transfer meeting, 8:30; Art Show, times TBD

28 – BAC meeting, 8:00; fruit & veggies (grapes & snow peas); clean office lounge

Let Your “Why” Lead the Way

6698208975_2e9d5c8344_b
Image source: flickr

What is your “why”?

What is your response when someone asks you why you got into education?

Serving others and changing the world for the better are the “whys” that drive me.

Serving others sounds reasonable and relatable to others, especially those who are outside of our field.

However, the second “why” – helping change the world for the better – gets a different response: a coy smile, a “yeah, right” look, or some sort of patronizing response.

But it’s true – I want to change the world and make it a better place.  I believe that education is the key to that change.  The values we lift up show our kids the importance of integrity, responsibility and citizenship and what that looks like when we apply what we’ve learned to create something new or solve a problem that exists.

I love this thought from the book Start. Right. Now.: Teach and Lead for Excellence

Good teachers help students learn facts so they can do well on tests and progress in school.

Great teachers empower students to use knowledge to change the world.

Whitaker, T., Zoul, J., & Casas, J. (2017). Start. Right. Now.: teach ande lead for excellence. San Diego: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.

The learning experiences we create for kids should go beyond just covering a curriculum or making sure we “hit” standards.  Our work needs to be rooted in the bigger goal of creating students who are empowered to use knowledge to make the world better.

When we talk about “exercising the gap” between good and great, we are talking about pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone and escape from “that’s the way we’ve always done it”.  Doing so gets us and our students closer to a more personalized learning experience and to a point where we are developing learner agency.

It’s shocking to me how people dismiss the importance of education to our future.   It’s even more shocking when educators misplace this importance.

Let’s continue to commit ourselves to developing an understanding of the importance of the work we do and how it connects to the success our students will experience in their future.

Each one of us is the key to developing a future we hope to see.

Have a GREAT week!

– Herb

 

Worth Checking Out

How Schools Can Face The ‘Bad Habits’ That Inhibit Meaningful Changes https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2017/03/06/how-schools-can-face-the-bad-habits-that-inhibit-meaningful-changes/

Want to Fix Schools? Go to the Principal’s Office https://nyti.ms/2m9RAWx

Upcoming Dates

March

 

13 – Spring Flower Sale Orders due

14 – IMPACT PD (K-2 Teachers)

15 – Olive Tree Spirit DAY; Spec Ed Team Meeting, noon; RTI Team meeting, 3:40

16 – Admin meeting (Herb, AM); 5th Grade Musical Performances: 10:50, 1:20, & 7pm

17 – BAC meeting (rescheduled to this date), 8:15am

20-24 – Spring Break

27 – Class Panoramic Pictures

29 – Staff Meeting, 3:45 – One2One Pioneers to present.

30-31 – Herb in DC

 

April (State Testing dates listed below)

3 – School Community Meeting – “Adjust and Adapt”, 10:45am; Board of Education meeting at ADE, 7pm

4 – BIT meeting, 8am

6 – Admin meeting (Herb, AM)

10 – Preschool IEP meetings (Herb/Brian H), throughout day

12 – Staff Meeting – Progress check on Data Team goal

13 – Mental Health and Wellness Team meeting, 8am; One2One Principal meeting, 10am

14 – Holiday, No School

2016-17 Testing Calendar

Ohio State Assessment Schedule at ADE (Grades 3, 4 & 5):

Tuesday, April 4 — Grade 5 English Language Arts, Part 1

Wednesday, April 5 — Grade 5 English Language Arts,  Part 2

Thursday, April 6 — Grades 3 & 4 English Language Arts, Part 1

Friday, April 7 — Grades 3 & 4 English Language Arts, Part 2

Tuesday, April 18 — Grade 5 Mathematics, Parts 1 & 2

Wednesday, April 19 — Grade 4 Mathematics, Parts 1 & 2

Thursday, April 20 — Grade 3 Mathematics, Parts 1 & 2

Tuesday, April 25 — Grade 5 Science and Grade 4 Social Studies, Parts 1 & 2

 

This Incredible Opportunity

My goal as an educator has always been to help change the world and help make it a better place for all.

We who teach have been given this incredible opportunity to help lead a community of learners.  Our work empowers students with the skills and knowledge they will need to be the leaders we will need in the future.

When I feel down or stressed, I need to remember to be grateful for this incredible opportunity I have to make a difference – to keep the main thing the main thing – and then act with as much positivity, optimism, and joy as I can every single time I walk through the doors of this great community of learners.

Have a GREAT week!

– Herb

Articles Worth Checking Out

Can Personalized Learning Flourish Within A Traditional System?

Lazy but talented

Using Math Menus: Some Nuts & Bolts | Marilyn Burns Math Blog

Upcoming Dates

March

7 – BIT Meeting, 8am; 3rd Safety Drill, 10:45 am

8 – ADE Staff Meeting, 8am — Check in on Students’ writing performance since last month (Counts as monthly Data Team check-in for literacy)

10 – Principals’ One2One meeting, 10am

13 – Spring Flower Sale Orders due

15 – Olive Tree Spirit DAY; Class Panoramic Pictures; Spec Ed Team Meeting, noon; RTI Team meeting, 3:40

16 – 5th Grade Musical Performances: 10:50, 1:20, & 7pm

20-24 – Spring Break

29 – Staff Meeting, 3:45

30-31 – Herb in DC

2016-17 Testing Calendar

Ohio State Assessment Schedule at ADE (Grades 3, 4 & 5):

Tuesday, April 4 — Grade 5 English Language Arts, Part 1

Wednesday, April 5 — Grade 5 English Language Arts,  Part 2

Thursday, April 6 — Grades 3 & 4 English Language Arts, Part 1

Friday, April 7 — Grades 3 & 4 English Language Arts, Part 2

Tuesday, April 18 — Grade 5 Mathematics, Parts 1 & 2

Wednesday, April 19 — Grade 4 Mathematics, Parts 1 & 2

Thursday, April 20 — Grade 3 Mathematics, Parts 1 & 2

Tuesday, April 25 — Grade 5 Science and Grade 4 Social Studies, Parts 1 & 2

Permit and Promote

“If you permit it, you promote it.” – Todd Whitaker, What Great Principals Do Differently

This quote was referenced by Todd Whitaker in the context of building culture and establishing expectations.  He explains that the culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.

As we recognize and commit to the need to journey into uncharted pedagogical territory in education, this quote actually may be the key to moving forward. That is, if we flip the focus of the quote from negative outcomes to positive outcomes.

What if we permitted more in our classrooms in order to promote more of the kind of learning experiences our kids need?

What would happen if we permitted more projects, more collaboration, more reflection, and more student control?

If we permitted more of the kind of learning that will allow more inquiry, authentic application of skills, and opportunities for kids to reflect on their learning journey more often, we will promote a dramatic shift the learning culture in our classrooms.

As we move into Act III of the school year, think about what you might intentionally permit in order to authentically promote.

Have a GREAT week!

– Herb

Worth Checking Out —

Love this video by Apple —  As we move to providing students with a One2One iPad experience next year I challenge you to think less about the tool and more about what’s possible with it:

What Makes a Master Teacher http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/267

what-makes-a-master-teacher

Upcoming Dates —

February

 

27 – Spring Flower Sale Kickoff

March

1 – School Community Meeting – Step Up/Build Skill, 10:45; Spec Ed Team meeting, noon

2 – Admin mtg (AM)

4 – ADE Family Fun Day, 10am-3pm

7 – BIT Meeting, 8am; 3rd Safety Drill, 10:45 am

8 – ADE Staff Meeting, 8am — Check in on Students’ writing performance since last month (Counts as monthly Data Team check-in for literacy)

10 – Principals’ One2One meeting, 10am

13 – Spring Flower Sale Orders due

15 – Olive Tree Spirit DAY; Spec Ed Team Meeting, noon; RTI Team meeting, 3:40

16 – 5th Grade Musical Performances: 10:50, 1:20, & 7pm

20-24 – Spring Break

2016-17 Testing Calendar

Inefficient energy

800px-171879main_limbflarejan12_lg

I loved physics in high school.  We did so many great experiments and had many conversations that challenged assumptions we had about science.

I remember my teacher, Mr. Mackey, telling us that heat is one of the most inefficient energy sources we have.  He had us think about how the sun’s light heats the Earth each day and how most of that energy all around us during the day slowly starts to transfer to lower forms of energy as soon as the sunsets.

I thought about this lesson this weekend as I thought back on the week that was.  There were a handful of times at home and at school when I was reacting to the heat of the moment.  In those moments, I reacted with default behaviors instead of disciplined ones.  I ended up spending more of my time and energy having to go back and clean up my own mess.

“Heat” is certainly an inefficient source of energy. 

This week was a great reminder to stay focused on behaviors and habits that have helped me stay disciplined in the past:

  • Meditating and running in the morning to keep balanced all day.
  • Getting plenty of sleep to keep my head clear.
  • Building 5 to 10 minutes in between projects and activities to get my mind right.
  • Continue to celebrate the positive and being grateful for the great things in life.

E+R=O is easy to say and hard to implement with 100% efficiency.

This week was a great opportunity for me to remember that culture and leadership is the experience you provide for others.

Heat is one of the most inefficient sources of energy, and it’s certainly not an efficiency energy source for delivering a culture or leadership experience.

I hope you reflect with me this week — How are others experiencing our culture through you?

Have a GREAT week!

– Herb

Worth Checking Out –

What Works Can Hurt: Side Effects in Education http://zhaolearning.com/2017/02/17/what-works-can-hurt-side-effects-in-education/

A new way to measure the benefits of school recess http://brook.gs/2lxMoLy via @BrookingsInst

 

Upcoming Dates –

February

21 – 4th Grade / 5th Grade Data Team Meeting

22 – Gifted Cluster PD (Cluster teachers); Staff Meeting, 3:45

23 – Fire Drill, 10:20am

24 – BAC, if needed, 8am

27 – Spring Flower Sale Kickoff

March

1 – School Community Meeting – Step Up/Build Skill, 10:45; Spec Ed Team meeting, noon

2 – Admin mtg (AM)

4 – ADE Family Fun Day, 10am-3pm

7 – BIT Meeting, 8am; 3rd Safety Drill

8 – ADE Staff Meeting, 8am

10 – Principals’ One2One meeting, 10am

13 – Spring Flower Sale Orders due

15 – Olive Tree Spirit DAY; Spec Ed Team Meeting, noon; RTI Team meeting, 3:40

16 – 5th Grade Musical: 10:50, 1:20, & 7pm

20-24 – Spring Break

2016-17 Testing Calendar

 

“Being a _______ is messy…”

hand-84613_960_720
http://www.downtownmagazinenyc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/hand-84613_960_720.jpg

“parent”

“child”

We could all take turns filling in the blank to complete that statement.  All of our words would work too because life is a guaranteed complication.

Being a church is messy…

This is what our pastor said to a member who just openly shared his story of addiction with the congregation.  Her words were honest and sort of comforting at the same time because she then reminded us that we are all probably dealing with something too. We also need to remember that we have each other to get through it all as long as we have empathy and compassion for each other.

Today made me think about how the words and lesson shared by the pastor applies to so many parts of our lives.

Being a teacher is messy.  We all work hard and do the best we know how to do. We are our own worst critic and often overthink to solve problems that have solutions sitting right in front of us.

Being a principal is messy.  Packing up your emotions and feeling like you have to have the answer right away is more exhausting than it sounds.

Being a school is messy.  So many things have to work right in order to have success and it seems like it’s more often than not that one of the pieces falls apart or goes missing.

Learning is messy.

Change is messy.

Life is messy.

But it’s all good.

All of it.

The bad things that happen make us stronger so that we can some day help someone get through the same struggle.

The good things in life are all around us — It’s the people, our community, our students and our colleagues.  It’s in the joy of making someone’s day through a kind act.

So don’t fear the mess — Embrace it!  This is how we learn more about ourselves and each other and this is how we get better.

Have a GREAT, messy week!

😉

– Herb

Worth Checking Out —

 

10 Benefits Of Inquiry-Based Learning http://www.teachthought.com/?p=35672 via @teachthought

Learning Places: Shifting from School Change to Fostering a Culture of Growth by Irene Fountas  https://lesleyuniversitycrrlc.wordpress.com/2017/02/03/learning-places-by-irene-fountas/

Upcoming Dates —

Weds, Feb 8 — ADE Staff Meeting, 8am — Serves as Literacy Data Team meeting: Focus will be on results/analysis of recent On-Demand Writing Assessment

Weds Feb 8 — RTI Team Meeting, 3:30

Thurs, Feb 9 — Building Improvement Team meeting, 8am

Feb. 13-16 — Parent/Teacher Conference Week

Mon., Feb. 13 — PTO Meeting, 7:00 p.m.

Weds., Feb. 15 — Band & Orchestra Demonstrations to 5th Grade, during school day; Spec Ed Team Meeting, Noon; ADE Parent Teacher Conference Night, 3:30-8pm

Fri., Feb. 17 — No School – P/T Conference Comp Day

Mon., Feb. 20 — No School – President’s Day

Weds, Feb 22 — ADE Staff Meeting, 3:45

Thrs, Feb 23 — Mental Health and Wellness Team meeting, 8am

Fri, Feb 24 — BAC meeting, 8am

IMPACT — K-2 Math PD Dates:

2/9/2017

8:30 AM-3:30 PM

 

CO-COA ConfRmLg

3/14/2017

8:30 AM-3:30 PM

 

CO-COA ConfRmLg

4/5/2017

8:30 AM-3:30 PM

 

CO-COA ConfRmLg 

PLC/Data Team Half-Day PD Days:

Feb 14 — 2nd Grade (AM), 1st Grade (PM)

Feb 15 — KG (AM), 3rd Grade (PM)

Feb 21 — 4th Grade (AM), 5th Grade (PM)

The Pieces and Parts: Thoughtful, Effective, and Efficient Planning

This is a two-post topic that we are excited to be writing about and sharing with you. It has been a great experience for us to collaborate together as a husband and wife team on a topic we are both passionate about. Our hope is that you will come away from reading these two posts with affirmations of the great things you already do for students and with ideas that will allow you to revise how you plan for literacy instruction. 

Last week was Part 1: The Big Picture; Creating Conditions for Biggest Impact On Growing Readers

This week is Part 2: The Pieces and Parts; Thoughtful, Effective, and Efficient Planning

So how can teachers purposefully plan to help students make meaning, get the biggest “bang for their buck”, while working towards an approach that encompasses all mentioned above?  Here are some tips to consider.

Start with the students, not the standards.  

  • Analyze student work and anecdotal notes from observations and conversations and decide what students need next and what part of the framework would scaffold their thinking the best to maximize student learning with the least amount of support.  
  • When we focus on the students first, we make more meaningful connections to the standards for the students — We will in fact personalize learning.  

Plan with the end in mind.  

  • Share those learning outcomes with the students so they are aware of the expectations.  They need to be a part of the goal setting process.  
  • Make the work purposeful and authentic, and connect with learners outside of your classroom.  Make sure students are aware of your purpose, this will inspire and engage.
  • There are so many variables to consider, and we often rely on the chance that the learning experiences we have created for our students will work the way we intended.  However, consider what Pasteur said: “Chance favors only the prepared mind”.  When we have planned with depth and breadth around a theme or topic, we will be more able to nimbly shift our feedback in a way that offers continuous instructional support that is on the cutting edge of each student’s learning.  

Take learning and meaning deeper.

  • Consider using what Nell Duke calls “conceptually coherent text sets” for read aloud, shared reading, and guided reading to take students students deeper into a content area or topic and enrich the literacy experience.  
  • Some books within the set should be outside of what we would normally select as an instructional level for the students.  By engaging in the text set, students can navigate through more challenging texts because of an ongoing understanding of the content, exposing students to such aspects new writing structures and elaborations on a topic.  
  • Fountas and Pinnell offer a free comprehensive resource of themed texts sets across the school year for each grade level here.

Give specific feedback to students.

  • Be explicit so students know what steps they need to take in order to be successful.  Give them the chance to do so.
  • A number, score or grade doesn’t mean much on its own when trying to move students forward.  All students see is a grade and then build irrational walls that block their own progress.  Instead, put the focus of assessment feedback on the “next steps” for learning.

Pull a common thread through your instruction so students can make connections across content/disciplines.

  • Connect the focus of your reading or writing workshops to all areas of the Literacy Framework to help students make connections and transfer knowledge from one context to another. Pulling a common thread through instruction has the potential to lessen the amount of planning we need to do because we are going deeper with one theme or topic.
  • Connecting an instruction thread through all levels of support is essential to effective intervention. Without this connection, intervention support ends up being a fruitless exercise for both the student and the teachers. Communicate regularly with the other teachers who support the students in your classroom.  Share teaching points and your thoughts about instructional next steps.

Our hope is to reflect on our experiences and what research says about children as learners, readers, and writers and connect it to best practices in ways that will create more efficient planning for learning.  We hope you are able to take an idea or two away to ponder as you continue to plan this school year and refine your practice, as we know educators are the most ambitious learners out there!  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Connect with us – Share your journey with us!  You can connect with Herb and Carrie on Twitter (@hhigginbotham & @C_higg). We’d love to learn from you!

 

Upcoming Dates

Weds., Feb. 1 — School Community Meeting, 10:45 a.m. (Press Pause)

Thurs., Feb. 2 — Kindergarten Registration Day

Tues, Feb 7 — Building Improvement Team meeting, 8am

Weds, Feb 8 — ADE Staff Meeting, 8am — Serves as Literacy Data Team meeting: Focus will be on results/analysis of recent On-Demand Writing Assessment

Weds Feb 8 — RTI Team Meeting, 3:30

Feb. 13-16 — Parent/Teacher Conference Week

Mon., Feb. 13 — PTO Meeting, 7:00 p.m.

Weds., Feb. 15 — Band & Orchestra Demonstrations to 5th Grade, during school day; ADE Parent Teacher Conference Night, 3:30-8pm

Fri., Feb. 17 — No School – P/T Conference Comp Day

Mon., Feb. 20 — No School – President’s Day

Thrs, Feb 23 — Mental Health and Wellness Team meeting, 8am

IMPACT — K-2 Math PD Dates:

1/26/2017

8:30 AM-3:30 PM

 

CO-COA ConfRmLg

2/9/2017

8:30 AM-3:30 PM

 

CO-COA ConfRmLg

3/14/2017

8:30 AM-3:30 PM

 

CO-COA ConfRmLg

4/5/2017

8:30 AM-3:30 PM

 

CO-COA ConfRmLg 

PLC/Data Team Half-Day PD Days:

Feb 14 — 2nd Grade (AM), 1st Grade (PM)

Feb 15 — KG (AM), 3rd Grade (PM)

Feb 21 — 4th Grade (AM), 5th Grade (PM)