Building Capacity across New York

Representatives from 25 different BOCES from across the state gathered (again) this summer to collaborate on evaluator training. The APPR law and accompanying regulations spell out the requirement that evaluators of teachers and evaluators of principals receive training each year.  Early on in The Race to the Top/Regents Reform Agenda era, the New York State Education Department provided training materials that Network Teams could use with their districts. SED hasn’t provided resources for a couple of years, however, so many BOCES get together to figure it out on their own. Continue reading

Meeting Students’ Needs Over the Years—Some Reflections

BOOWhat exactly do I teach and how do I meet the needs of ALL the students that cross the threshold of my classroom? Even though we have the Common Core Learning Standards, teachers have the professional latitude to determine what resources and curriculum is used and how they instruct in order to meet those standards. At times this may feel overwhelming as we look at the changes in our roles and responsibilities with each reform or restructuring initiative that is put into place. Educators face their own internal struggles as to what to do and how to do it, each knowing in their heart that they want to do what is right for each student in their charge. Continue reading

Historical Thinking = There’s More to the Story

Women’s-RightsOne of the things I enjoy most about the study of history is learning the story behind the common knowledge we have of historical people and events. Once you start digging deeper, there is always much to the story than you first assumed. There is treasure trove of information behing the “history” that we take for granted. I love it every time I can say “I didn’t know that!”

A couple of months ago, I spent a morning visiting the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls to talk with the rangers about planning a teacher field trip. In the process I learned more about the Women’s Rights Convention that was held in Seneca Falls, NY on July 19-20, 1848, the reason this particular National Park exists. Continue reading

The Vital Link

“School counselors are often the vital link between students’ aspirations for the future and tangible opportunities for post secondary success…I want to call attention to the urgent need for highly effective school counselors and discuss the importance of amplifying the impact of school counselors on students’ academic success, social-emotional well-being, and college and career easiness.”  (Letter from secretary Duncan re:  School Counselors) Continue reading

The NEW Responsive Classroom® Course Starts this Summer!

Responsive-ClassAs teachers begin to wind down and prepare for the summer, staff developers like myself begin to get busy.  Before me is a busy summer attending the PBL World conference in Napa, California and the New Tech National Conference in New Orleans where I will be joining the new teachers and administrators from Innovation Tech, the school planned to open this fall in Liverpool, NY.  On top of multiple sessions of PBL-101 this summer all around Central NY and our big PBLny Event, I will also be doing 3 week sessions of the newly revised Responsive Classroom® Course.  My first session will be in New York City, an advertised institute by the Northeast Foundation for Children (NEFC), developers of the Responsive Classroom approach to developing safe, joyful and challenging classrooms everyday for every child.  My second institute will be in Watertown, NY where I will be doing work with the component districts of the Jeff-Lewis BOCES.  My last session will be in late August for OCM BOCES in Syracuse, NY. Continue reading

Teachers Talking To Each Other: A By-Product of the CCLS

During my 31 years of teaching high school mathematics, I can honestly say that I can count on one hand the number of times that I sat down with Middle School teachers and talked curriculum. They did “their own thing” and we did “our own thing.” Consequently there were gaps in learning even before the advent of the Common Core State Standards. The lack of a well defined and coherent curriculum left little incentive for teachers from different grade levels to communicate with each other. Continue reading

Leading the Change: PBL World Style


Picture this: Napa California in late June – learning about leading the change for our students – PBL style! What better way is there to finish off another school year! I joined a worldwide group of educational leaders and spent time focusing on empowering 21st century learners and improving teaching and learning with Project Based Learning (PBL). The opportunity to network with other leaders was reaffirming – knowing OCM BOCES is heading in the right direction with our vision to change instructional practices for students in our schools. Focused conversations about making the move from teacher-led, content-driven instruction to student-led, authentic problem solving that weaves 21st century skills and habits of mind with significant content were informative and enlightening. We had the opportunity to answer this driving question: How do we lead high quality PBL in our schools? Continue reading