Back to [Lead Evaluator] School

Image: www.nysut.org

As a new school year begins and Lead Evaluators in schools prepare to work within the guidelines of the APPR plan to supervise and evaluate teachers, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of what is important. What are the components of our APPR plan that promote continuous improvement and a growth mindset? What are the parts of the APPR system that don’t? Continue reading

Responsive Classroom® Leadership

“Don’t send your teachers to staff development that you don’t plan to attend with them”, said Dr. Brian McNulty a few years ago when he presented at a leadership conference at OCM BOCES in Syracuse. McNulty is a co-author of School Leadership That Works: From Research to Results (2005) and Leaders Make it Happen!: An Administrator’s Guide to Data Teams (2011). In his lecture, he told a room full of school leaders that in order for administrators to support learning in their buildings and school districts, they need to learn alongside their teachers.

This past week I heard McNulty’s voice in my head when four building principals joined me for the first OCM BOCES session of the newly revised 4-day Responsive Classroom Course. Pat Charboneau, principal at East Syracuse Elementary, Lisa Kaup, principal at Virgil Elementary in Cortland, Susan Prince, principal at McGraw Elementary School and Peter Reyes, principal at Barry School in Cortland joined the group of summer learners. Continue reading

Teaching & Engaging Students: What Really Matters

I recently had the opportunity to see Eric Jensen present on Teaching and Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind. I went in to this workshop excited to learn some new strategies to use with students coming from backgrounds of poverty. However, what I learned was much more than that. A major takeaway for me was that the information and strategies discussed are not specific to students from poverty. They are part of everyday good teaching for all students. There is no magic bullet to successfully teaching students from poverty. Continue reading

Historical Thinking = Looking Back to the Future

firstPersonAs I write this blog there are exactly 13 days left of the Teaching American History grant which officially ends on August 31, 2014. My job as the director of the grant will phase out as I finish up our last event, Books and BBQ 2 (it’s not too late to sign up for lots of freebies and great food!), and write the final reports that I will submit to the federal government where I will try to capture the work we have done over the last four years of this version of the grant, First Person America. Continue reading

How Do I Know if My Students’ Snacks are “SMART?”

Smart Snacks in School, the latest phase of an exhaustive school-food nutritional overhaul set forth by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, is now official. As of July 1st, ALL foods sold during the school day (midnight to 30 minutes after the end of the “official school day” [to be determined by the LEA]) must meet the same federal nutrition standards that have been implemented over the past couple of years for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). This encompasses vending machines, school stores, a la carte items, and school club fundraisers. To learn all the particulars, go to Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School. Continue reading

The Power of Protocols: Looking at Student Work – Collectively

BinderBring my student’s work to team or grade level meetings? Talk about who is better at teaching this topic than I am? Reflect on my work as a teacher? This is scary stuff for many educators! We are in a profession in which a culture of isolation has been the norm – coming out of that shell and into a collaborative culture can be daunting, overwhelming and downright scary, especially in a time of reform. But looking at student work – collectively – reveals the life of a school community in a time when we, as educators, need to move toward reflective dialogue about our teaching and student learning. And using protocols gives structure to professional conversations about instruction – allowing safe space for difficult conversations with our colleagues about ensuring that ALL students learn. Continue reading

A PBL Summer

PBLThis time of year I am always reminded by the opening lines of one of my favorite books by Natalie Babbitt that I use to love to teach when I was a 5th grade teacher at East Hill Elementary in the West Genesee school district. The opening lines from Tuck Everlasting are:

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things…” Continue reading