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A post about our awesome tutorials

This is really exciting to see some of the great things that are happening because of our tutorial schedule.

My Favorite Tier 2 Intervention: Tutorial | ottographblog

The first time I ran a math tutorial, I set a cap of 10, but only assigned 8 students. On the Monday that begins each tutorial cycle, teachers receive a roster.  To my surprise, all the slots were full.  That meant that two students had chosen to attend math tutorial with me.  I thought this was a fluke.  As an experiment, I left a few slots open for each cycle I taught. It turns out that every single cycle, students have signed themselves up by choice and filled my tutorial section.  Kids know what they need to be successful and want opportunities to improve.  In fact – I kid you not – there is a wait list for the next long division tutorial.

Getting Enough Sleep

All About the Sleep |

It was interesting the discussion that followed with parents.  The community data also indicated the need for students to be getting exercise and participating in sports and many discussed how it was this participation in organized sports that often cut into sleep time – really a no-win situation.  We want our kids to be active and to get 8 or 9 hours of sleep – but soccer practices can go to 9:00 at night and school often starts by just after 8:00 in the morning.  Of course there is also persuasive data that indicates later start-times for school would be helpful but very few jurisdictions have built this into the systems.  Clearly we have structures in our lives that make it hard to adhere to the recommendations.

We put our kids to bed between 7:00 and 7:30. One daughter is out in no time. The other kids stay up later. There is a handy chart in the article above and some great tips.


Special Education Law Blog: COPAA Statement on ESSA--Congratulations on Developing a Reasonable Compromise

COPAA (Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.) appreciates the bipartisan approach which Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Scott led in order to complete reauthorization of the ESEA. COPAA has worked diligently – as an independent voice as well as in key coalitions with business, disability and civil rights organizations – to inform and support the legislative process to help ensure that every child continues to have equal access to a high-quality education as well as equal opportunity to achieve his or her full academic potential. We congratulate you on developing a reasonable compromise. Although we have concerns about certain provisions of S. 1177, we write to let you know that we support the conference report and urge its adoption.

I haven't read the conference report yet. The highlights our state has been giving us certainly seem interesting.

There are some things that seem like bad ideas, but overall, it seems like a better step forward than the waivers.

Student behavior - not about you! Via @principalmkelly

PrincipalMKelly's Blog: Student Behavior: It's Not About You!

By changing my mindset, I began to approach all students, in all cases, as if they needed help to meet expectations. I started to believe that kids would do well, if they had the skills to do so. When a student wasn’t getting started on an assignment, I would approach them and ask questions like:  “Is everything okay?”, “It looks like you’re having trouble getting started, do you have any questions?”, “Let me sit with you and help you get started.” I completely stopped assuming students were just refusing to do their work.

Really good post from Mike Kelly.

I did something radical when I became the principal at KMS: I let the high school take full time an "In-School Suspension Aide" that we had previously shared part time. There was a small uproar, but that decision forced us to ask if students should be sent from class. Looking at the logs, we saw that many students were sent down to the office for things like not having a pencil. This year, we are dealing those issues by giving kids pencils, just like Mike did in his post.

Changing mindsets is incredibly powerful. Melinda Miller calls it assuming good intentions. However you call it, making sure kids know you're there to help and serve them is important.

What's best for kids

10 Month Adventure: White Space for "all" kids is not going to work

“WE DO THIS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF OUR KIDS.” That is always the argument, or is that just something you attach to an idea like a bumper sticker to a car to send a message.  I never use that term.  Because quite frankly at this point, if I am not assuming my decisions are what is best for kids and I have to utter those words, then I am trying to convince myself and therefore had doubt to begin.  

Doug is totally on the money here. Every time I hear someone say that, I ask myself, "Who is this person trying to convince?"

Strategies to Bring Out the Best in Your Staff

8 Strategies to Bring Out the Best In Your Staff | Chris Wejr

An area that I continue to see having a large impact on organizational culture in school is strength-based leadership.  The idea is rather simple: encourage staff members in areas of strength as much as possible and watch them flourish. Educators are often highly criticized by the public (you will see that many governments do not follow the research referenced below when working with educators) so a strength-based lens really helps to create a more positive organizational culture that focuses primarily on what we CAN do rather than all the things we CANNOT do (yet).

Great ideas here that seem like they are obvious, and yet, they aren't, or else we all would do them.

#AKPrincipals Presentation on SLOs

I really love presenting to groups. It is very fun for me. I know it makes some people nervous, but it is just awesome for me. It fires me up and gets me excited.

I just finished a presentation to principals at Alaska Principal's conference in Anchorage, AK. Here are the downloads. Student Learning Objectives are a part of our Evaluations, and they have caused a significant amount of stress for some people. This presentation was all about sharing what we are doing at Kodiak Middle School to reduce the stress level.

In short, we are taking the team approach to the SLO and working together on it, so we are not left alone and aimless. It is pretty awesome.

Two things I should have done that I forgot to do:

  1. Ask for feedback from the participants (using a form).
  2. Record myself so I could use it as part of the podcast. (duh!)

Oh, well, two more presenations tomorrow!

Principal Kafele's keynote at #akprincipals

I've heard of Principal Kafele before, and it was really amazing to hear him speak today. He spoke to a room full of principals and other leaders in Alaska. Very inspiring and moving words.

Principal Kafele

Critical leadership questions for inspiring school wide excellence

  • You're a principal and you better let someone know you're interested in that so they can put you there!
  • If they just gave me a chance I would light those kids on fire.
  • My claim to fame as a leader is the motto for this conference "Passionate Present Principal"
  • What does your signature look like, as it relates to your capacity to lead a school? What is that thing that you do that makes you great?
  • You can only dream about what you can perceive in your circle. Need to help kids expand their circles.
  • Speak life into the emotionally dead, so kids can see what they can become.
  • My attitude changed everything.
  • I am the number 1 determinant of the success or failure of my students.
  • Kids need to hear from their principal before they leave.
  • How often do we engage in self-reflection?
  • Three questions:
    • Who are you?
    • What are you about?
    • What is your most recent evidence?
  • To these boys, I want to be a man.
  • Motivate and empower students. Empower, can I now apply my motivation?
  • As it relates to your staff's perception:
    • Are you the school's instructional leader?
    • Are you the school's informational leader?
    • Are you the school's inspirational leader?
  • Called an assembly to tell students what he does as an instructional leader
  • Don't let kids end up doing jobs that have nothing to do with their potential!
  • Why do I lead and what drives my decision making?
    • We are building a school where we are excellent on purpose!
    • Do I lead with a definite purpose which drives everything I saw and do?
    • Do I aim to be intentional about what I do as a leader?
    • Do I treat my leadership not as a job, profession, or career, but as a mission?
    • Do we recite our mission? If you are in the building, I expect you to know the mission!
  • You have to take care of you as a leader!

Testing and What is Good for Kids

It may be cliché to say that all the important things in life are really learned in kindergarten, but what my daughter learned on her first day – how to get through testing and evaluation – will only prepare her for a long career "doing school," not a lifetime of delighting in learning and discovery.

It is good for kids to use their time efficiently in school. It is good for kids to know where they are at. It is good for kids to be assessed early. It is good for kids to not be assessed early.

When the argument is always "We do what is good for kids" and conflicting choices can both be good for kids, it is hard to make a decision.

This is a good example of that. It is not always easy to do the right thing, and depending on what you value, "good for kids" has a different definition.

Via Andy Greene

Jethro Jones