Through my WWU EDAD 543 class, I have been able to visit numerous schools in the south sound area. There was so many amazing resources and information that was given to me by some amazing principles. I thought I’d share some of them with you as well.
- Be a change agent.
- Kids are not “at risk” they are “at hope.” Kids at Hope
- Adopt Make your Day behavior management Make Your Day
- ACES program ACES too high
- Morning Meetings – whole school and classroom Classroom Morning Meetings Whole School Morning Meeting
- Use principles of Restorative Justice Restorative Justice in Schools
- Communities in Schools Website
- Consider home visits to every student, utilizing every staff member prior to the first day of school.
- Find ways to have after school programs.
- Hire more paras.
- Hire a consultant to assist in school culture development – Shelby Skaanes
- Character Education programs so very important
- Build school culture with wristbands for every student at the start of year.
- Hold an all school assembly on the first day of school to help build community.
- Add SWBAT to connect, compete, and collaborate as global citizens to your mission.
- High schools can hold Intervention Nights where students can come and receive help from teachers.
- Social Media issues top the current discipline trend.
- Kids are first, Staff is a close second.
- Establish a strong building leadership team
- Hold a summer soiree Meet and Greet
- Plan on team building activities throughout the year for staff
- Have a clear professional development focus
- Clarify and define all system expectations
- No one has the right to interfere with the learning or safety of others.
- Do what is expected and do it the best that you can.
- Read Ruby Payne’s book “A Framework for Understanding Poverty”
- Create staff norms for meetings.
- Create your Core Values and stick to them.
- Don’t be compromised by “political wind”
- You must be willing to take calculated risks in the name of school improvement.
- Use conflict as a learning tool.
- Discipline should be used a chance to learn and grow – to educate.
- You must have authentic and material material.
- If you are disrespected, you must give respect back.
- Find a balance to be humbled and big enough to take criticism.
- Student engagement=student achievement.
- Participate in daily classroom walk throughs, and have teachers walk through each others classrooms.
There are 3 books that give great insight and perspective to use as an administrator. There are Catching Up or Leading the Way by Young Zhao, Out of Our Minds by Ken Robinson, Reign of Error by Diane Ravitch.
The first book I read was Catching Up or Leading the Way. Zhao does not believe in raising expectations, rather he focuses on the positive attributes of American schools – our spirit of creativity and innovation. I agree with his philosophy because it takes new eyes and innovation to make change.
In Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds, he emphasizes the importance being creative and using innovation in your daily life and decision-making. When children are asked if they are creative, they usually answer yes. When adults are asked the same question, they usually answer no. That is the big issue according to Robinson. He interviewed the men who began The Blue Man Group; a trio of blue, bald-headed silent performers. Being creative is a core value of The Blue Man Group philosophy. They believe everyone must have the opportunity to express their ideas. After their huge success on stage, and starting their own families, they decided to start a school based on their same creative philosophies. They call it The Blue School and they have evolved to a two part education model: core curriculum and creativity and expression. This could be a perfect model for American schools to follow as it educates the whole child: social and emotional. This creative philosophy rings true in Robinson’s statement, “We cannot meet the challenges of the 21st century with the educational ideologies of the nineteenth (pg. 283).”
The book that I connected with most was Ravitch’s Reign of Error. She gives powerful evidence of how our current education system and policies, like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, are not working for today’s students. Ravitch does offer many solutions to our problematic educational system. They include:
- access to medical care, nutrition for all pregnant women
- pre-kindergarten for all children, more to learn basic social skills, the opportunity to begin to develop background knowledge and vocabulary through the integration of joyful learning and play
- in early elementary grades, teachers setting age-appropriate goals
- in upper elementary and middle school, a balanced curriculum that includes science, literature, social sciences and foreign languages, with a rich arts program and access to physical education every day
- teachers who write their own tests, and limiting standardized tests primarily to diagnostic purposes
- a commitment to building a strong education profession
- schools having “the resources they need for the students they enroll” (p.8)
- as a society, committing through goals, strategies and programs to reducing poverty and racial segregation
On this last point Ravitch states something very important to ponder:
Those who start life with the fewest advantages need even smaller classes, even more art, science, and music to engage them, to spark their creativity, and to fulfill their potential. (p. 8)
I believe each school must have a strong Leadership Team with both staff and family representation. I believe a strong leader must support teachers by removing all barriers that inhibit them from delivering quality education. I believe a school leader must always be looking for ways to improve and promote their school.
Today’s school leaders must be able to tackle the issues of today’s educational challenges. Diane Ravitch explains in her book Reign of Error how school leaders must focus on students of poverty and racial segregation. These two compelling issues are the heart of today’s crisis in public education.
4 Steps to Building Leadership Capacity
Strategies for Creating Effective School Leadership Teams
I believe that families must be an advocate for their child and support their child’s learning. Families must respect school staff, and trust they are providing their child with a quality education. If families have questions or concerns, they must be able to ask.
In The Jossey-Bass Reader on Educational Leadership, Molly Gordon states, “the value of creating participatory structures in schools lies in its potential for increasing family and community members’ sense of engagement and ownership in children’s education, which can augment and reinforce the less obvious behaviors responsible for improved outcomes (pg. 352).”
The research out there points to the correlation between family life and academic outcomes.
The Positive Relationship Between Family Involvement and Student Success
I believe teachers must have access to current research on best teaching practices, and allowed time to learn and apply them. I believe teachers must respect their students and understand each child’s emotional and academic needs. Teachers must be required to work collaboratively to create a positive learning environment where all teachers are reaching all students. I believe teachers must work with families to create a support team for each child.
Power of Teaching
Benefits of Teacher Collaboration
It is my belief that all students deserve a quality education. I believe that all students can succeed when an adult believes in them. I believe students learn best when they are fully engaged.
Students are our clients in this educational business. Student growth is our performance indicator. In her book, Reign of Error, Diane Ravitch offers, “Every school should have a full, balanced, and rich curriculum, including the arts, science, history, literature, civics, geography, foreign languages, mathematics, and physical education (pg. 234).”
This means we must offer all students this balanced education in order to reach every child’s learning potential.
Child by Child
I believe that administrators must create a school environment where kids feel safe and free to learn. I also believe that teachers must feel safe and free to teach. This means it is an administrator’s job to create a positive learning environment for both teachers and students. This should include student engagement and high-quality instruction.
How do you do this you say? First, you must think creatively. In his book Out of Our Minds, Ken Robinson states, “that everyone has huge creative capacities as a natural result of being a human being. The challenge is to develop them. A culture of creativity has to involve everybody, not just a few select few (pg. 3).” By thinking outside of the box, you can help solve the challenges now “to transform education systems into something better suited to the real needs of the 21st century (pg 15).” This shift in education has to have a “radically different view of human intelligence and creativity (pg 15).” This means moving out of the old world view which can definitely feel comfortable.
Next, you must instill the core values of student engagement and high-quality instruction. This ultimately means accountability that falls upon the administrator. We must coach our teachers to utilize quality instruction strategies that promote student engagement. But without proper training and education, it is unfair to expect your teachers to plan high-quality instruction lessons. In his book, Catching Up or Leading the Way, Yong Zhao says, “useful knowledge changes as societies change. What used to be valuable can become irrelevant today. What is considered necessary in one society may be useless in another.” Simply put, we must change our mindset on how students learn. We must be creative in our planning and instruction to allow diversity in our teaching. This ultimately leads to higher student engagement which then leads to student achievement.
Below are some links I found useful when thinking about your school setting.
Essential Practices of High Quality Teaching and Learning
High Quality Instruction Part 1
Principles of Instruction