What’s Your Brand?

What is the perception your community has about your school? 

The Brand that your school owns will promote the communities’ perception–Good AND Bad!

I have learned over the years to ask the following questions:

1. What discussions has our staff had lately about what we want the community to be aware of regarding our school?

2. What do we want parents and students to think about our school?

3. Is our “Brand” attractive, inviting, inclusive to our community? 

The following are just a few ways to create a powerful Brand for your school:

  • Use the website and all social media to the max!
  • Use newsletters and weekly blogs to your community.
  • Be visible/involved in your school and community.
  • Buy newspaper ads (if necessary) for school promotions.
  • Create “school update” radio spots on local stations.
  • Is our receptionist going the extra mile with kindness when greeting visitors?
  • Is our auto caller system pleasant and positive?
  • Will I get a machine or a real person when I call the school? Is the greeting always positive and cheerful?
The benefits of a Positive Brand for your school is enormous!
Make your school a super positive place to be and communicate your “Brand” to the public daily!
Please share ways your school demonstrates a positive Brand!

Got Formative Assessment?

“…attention to minute-by-minute and day-to-day formative assessment is likely to have the biggest impact on student outcomes.” (Dylan Wiliam)

Formative assessments are about checking for student understanding, minute to minute, day to day, week to week. It’s informal and THE way to guide instruction. It’s about “sometimes slowing down in order to ensure learning is happening”. It involves a mindset that says it’s O.K. to re-teach or review the content that students did not get.

The ultimate question teachers sometimes throw at students looks like this; “Are there any questions? No?, then let’s move on”. Formative assessment means the elimination of this question. It’s an easy way out for the teacher (been there, done that).

Minute to minute, day by day formative assessments are all about guiding where instruction needs to go next. As teachers give feedback to students they are also giving students tools to assess their own progress towards the learning target. In an ideal classroom, students would know what the learning target (intention) is and be open to share their need for greater understanding and not hitting the target. Rubrics are a wonderful tool for students to gauge, monitor and assess their progress as they take aim towards their target.

Formative assessment is more than a simple strategy at the close of every class period. It’s a habit that occurs daily in the classroom. It’s an art that takes constant practice to be done well. Teach students to ask questions and expect them to find the answers. Only then will they think for themselves and regulate their own understanding. They will be Engaged Learners!

The following link shares examples of Formative Assessment strategies.

How is Formative Assessment used in your classroom, school or district?


School Culture: It Matters!

In today’s world of constant accountability and transparency, a measure of school success might equate to AYP status, test scores, student attendance/behavior reports, and graduation rate. These numbers are only a small part of the entire picture. A school is so much more than a number.

The culture that happens in a school is a very powerful structure. One definition of school culture submitted by Phillips (1993) states that it is the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors which characterize a school. Culture influences everything that happens within a school!

When adults in the school community are preoccupied with adult issues, student learning will always suffer. Without a culture that supports and recognizes the importance of learning goals, change and continuous improvement will not happen. On the flip-side, healthy and sound school cultures correlate dramatically with increased student achievement, motivation AND teacher productivity and satisfaction.

One of my PLN partners currently works in a culturally toxic high school. Frustrated faculty come to staff meetings ready to attack any new ideas, criticize those teachers that are making a difference with students and make fun of any staff that are willing to volunteer to attend a conference or workshop. Negative staff have effectively “frozen” this school in time, impairing any attempts at collegial improvement.

Other symptoms of a negative of toxic culture include:

  • lacking a clear sense of purpose.
  • blaming students for a lack of progress.
  • discouraging collaboration.
  • active hostile relations among staff.
  • celebrate successes.
  • emphasize accomplishment, collaboration and continuous improvement.
  • foster a commitment to staff and student learning.
  • cultivate a sense of personal responsibility for student learning and success.
  • prioritize professional development.
  • create time for staff reflection and sharing of professional practice.
Which of the above describes your school culture?