Common Core: The Good, Bad and the Ugly.

Educators throughout the country have undergone professional development courses devoted to understanding Common Core State Standards. Many are questioning the merits of the CCSS.

The Common Core is a philosophical model, not yet tested and fine tuned. It’s premise states that all students need the same academic foundation for success after high school.

The Good:

  • An opportunity for the United States to position itself competitively with other countries by having a national benchmarked system of standards.
  • The CCSS will allow states to compare results.
  • Educators will now have additional collaborative and best practice opportunities to learn from their colleagues in other states .
  • Emphasis on Literacy and Math.
  • Increased rigor in the classroom and better preparation for life after high school.
  • The Common Core Standards will benefit students with high mobility. States will now share the same set of standards.
  • The Common Core assessments will be more authentic to a child’s learning experience. Students will no longer simply be allowed to come up with the right answer. In most cases, they must give an answer, state how they arrived at that conclusion, and defend it.
 
The Bad:
  • Emphasis on Literacy and Math, but not currently on other content areas.
  • Serious lack of planning for the 2015 roll-out. The transition will be a slow process over time.
  • Additional stress and burden put on educators and students with learning and implementing the new standards.
  • Early Childhood programs will increase program rigor. College and Career ready in Kindergarten?
  • No modification test in place yet for special needs students.
  • Schools are not prepared to finance the new materials for teaching and learning the new standards.
  • High stakes standardized testing will rise to new levels as states will now compare scores. (State standardized testing continues to hold less weight every year in the eyes of parents and communities).
The Ugly:

There is no evidence Common Core will improve education in America. It’s never been field-tested, and research suggests education standards have no effect on student learning. Many states with high standards have low achievement, and vice versa. Once again (as I stated in an earlier post), The Only Question: Is It Good For Kids?

What do you think?

Embracing Change!

Positive and successful change means leaders must have the courage to risk and shake the world up a little.

Here is a great story from Jeff Hayzlett, the former Chief Marketing Officer for Kodak that illustrates how leaders think:

“There was a clock on the wall that was always off and never gave the correct time. Everybody kept complaining about it and what a waste it was to have the clock hanging on the wall.

 Finally I pointed to someone and said, why don’t you do something about it? And they said, well, we have to call maintenance and we don’t know who to call. Just then, a young woman got up, pushed her chair over to the wall, opened up the clock and changed it to the correct time.

 And that’s all it takes to be an agent of change.

It’s someone willing to overcome the first three seconds of fear, willing to be a beginner, willing to say, I’m going to do something that’s different and change it”.

SO HOW CAN YOU BECOME A CHANGE AGENT? BECOMING THE CLOCK-CHANGER?

1. Take initiative. Make it happen. Don’t wait for someone else to take over or to offer to help you out. Do you want to improve your relationship with someone? Do you want to change the way you react to demanding situations? Do you want to change an aspect of your current job? Whatever it is you want to change, you won’t get very far without taking immediate action.

2. Create an environment for change. There is nothing more discouraging than trying to create change in an environment that is not conducive to it. Be open and receptive to feedback so you can get a buy-in for change.

3. Flexibility. Leaders are flexible by nature. They can quickly change direction, refocus and get back on track when they need to. They are not deterred by opposition. They can receive complaints and view them as constructive feedback or suggestions for better solutions.

Change should be manageable. Leaders understand that most people can be resistors to change. In fact, they know that some people are dead set against it. However, most people are more willing to say “yes” to clear, manageable changes as opposed to large, confusing and complicated ones.

Your Thoughts?

The Only Question: Is it good for kids?

The ART of successful schools continues to rest on the foundation of the Five “R”s:

  • Relationships
  • Respect
  • Rigor
  • Relevance
  • Rapport
 
I hope you find the following list helpful when connecting with kids. THIS IS WHERE IT ALL BEGINS!
  1. Smile and always greet them in the hall.
  2. Learn their names. This is a must!
  3. Seek them out when they’ve done a good deed. Send them a card of “Well Done”!
  4. Listen to their concerns. Don’t be quick to offer solutions. Just Listen.
  5. Ask what they think. Empower them. Give them voice!
  6. Find what their passions are…..inside and outside of school.
  7. Always ask… “How Can I Help You”?
  8. Look them directly in the eyes. THEY GET IT!
  9. Give them the respect you would want to receive in return.
  10. Laugh with them.
  11. Eat lunch with them….once a week, month or school year.
  12. Share with them something about you. It’s OK if they know that you’re human too.
  13. Give them praise when it’s deserved. Give them praise for their “uniqueness”.
  14. Above all….Honor their culture and background. Realize, Recognize and Respect the differences.
  15. Discuss with them how they can improve. Don’t assume they know.
  16. Empower them! Always ask them what their plans are to resolve their concerns or reach their goals.
  17. Have them read, read, read…….
  18. Be their Model.
  19. Be Authentic, and Genuine. Students know the difference.
  20. Trust them.
  21. Expect Respect.
  22. Give them opportunities to be a STAR!
  23. Be Positive. Why would you settle for anything less?
  24. Appreciate their individuality.
  25. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!

10 Effective Dropout Prevention Strategies For Schools.

 

My experiences have proven that the following student Dropout Prevention Strategies are extremely valuable for schools to implement:

1. Safe Learning Environment: Ensure that all safety plans are updated to include crisis team protocols. School-wide Anti-Bullying plans are in place and practiced throughout the year, in classrooms and throughout the school.

2. Family Engagement: Family involvement has a direct role on students success in school. Create opportunities for families to be involved in classrooms, activities, mentoring, etc. Work actively with the Parent/Teacher Organization to make this happen.

3. Community Involvement: Non-Profit and local Businesses have an investment in your school. Find ways to involve them with school partnering opportunities.

4. Start From the Beginning: Research has shown that interventions from birth to five years with additional enrichment can enhance brain development. The most effective way to reduce the chances of students dropping out of school is to provide the absolute best possible school experiences from pre-school through their primary grades.

5. Reading and Writing: Early reading and writing interventions will establish the necessary foundation for success in other content areas.

6. Mentoring and Tutoring: A trustful, one-to-one mentor can go a long way to helping students in all subject areas. Older students and/or adults in the community can be valuable resources.

7. Service Learning Opportunities: Connect with the community to create ways students can receive credit by their service work. This is a great school transformation effort for student learning. Career and Technical classes are an important resource for students in secondary schools for application and engagement.

8. Alternative School: Alternative options for students, to include on-line learning. This is a different path available for students to achieve their high school diploma.

9. After School Opportunities: Research proves that the more active and involved students are in school, the less likely they will be to leave. Provide links to sports, clubs and extra-curricular activities for kids.

10. Make The Most of Classroom Time: Meaningful instruction and DEVELOPING RELATIONSHIPS are what it’s all about!

  • Give teachers adequate professional development in these areas. This is extremely important.
  • Engaged Learners: There are many ways to learn. We are long past the era of teachers being the “keeper of all knowledge”. Project based learning and Flipping the classroom are examples.
  • Technology: Skype, tablets, one-to-one, chrome books. Embed technology into the curriculum. A must with 21st century learning.
  • Differentiated Instruction: Teach each child, every day. Consistent and monotonous worksheet and textbook activities do not work for the student learning our kids must have in the 21st century.
Please share your thoughts!

Top 10 Favorite Reads in 2013

I have compiled 10 of some of my top 2013 educational reads. The list is in no particular order. These books have helped me personally and professionally in 2013.

1. Reign of Error: A provocative book that decries private sector and political leaders who diminish the current strength of public schools in America. It’s wonderfully practical.

2. Shifting The Monkey: Learn to “shift” responsibility back to the individual, group or entity where it belongs.

3. Focus: This book is an energized, easy read with practical teaching strategies and templates.

4. Building the World’s Greatest High School: It’s all about developing relationships! What will it take to believe OUR school is the World’s Greatest?

5. Teach Like a Pirate: Too many teachers teach from their perch (desk) Burgess challenges educators to “immerse” themselves into the classroom. Very entertaining and practical read for any teacher in any content area.

6. The Homework Myth: This book will make you rethink the value and meaning of traditional Homework.

7. Leverage Leadership: Exploring core principles of Educational Leadership. Many useful tools inside.

8. The Collected Writings of Rick Wormeli: I appreciate Rick’s insight on topics like assessment, grading, and educational passion.

9. World Class Learners: A provacative book about cultivating independent thinkers in a globalized society.

10. Change Leadership: A practical approach for school leaders of change.