Monday, February 27, 2012

Putting Out Fires

Most administrators would agree that we spend a lot of our time putting out fires that have been created by people.  Many of these fires are preventable.  The level of emotional intelligence plays a key role in successfully preventing most fires from starting.  Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.  

Really it all goes back to the ability to develop healthy relationships. It's a nobrainer the employees that have a high emotional intelligence have less issues with students, parents and community.  They know when to push and when to lay off of them.  They effectively assess the body language of others and able to control their emotions regardless the level of displeasure.  

I believe that all successful leaders have a high level of emotional awareness.  They use controlled burning methods when dealing with tough situations.  

How do you encourage growth in your employee's emotional intelligence?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Challenging the core beliefs of homework

On #edfocus we have been reading "Rethinking Homework."  After reading the first half of the book I have a few thoughts to share that have really impacted me.

1. The role of the school is to extend learning beyond the classroom.  

Is learning actually taking place?  Or is it meaningless work? Don't get me wrong there can be good homework, but we need to reflect and be sure what we send home is extremely important to meeting the instructional goals that we have.  Sending homework home just because it's what you've always done is not acceptable.  It needs to be well thought out, and encourage learning.  

2. Intellectual activity is intrinsically more valuable than nonintellectual activity. 

I believe we need to give back more time to our students.  When I hear comments from students that they spent 2-3 hours on homework the night before, it makes me cringe.  So are they just complying or is learning occurring?  In the book, it is suggested that 10 minutes per grade level should be the measure.  For example, students in grade 12 should not have more than 120 minutes of homework.   

3. Home work teaches responsibility. 

Isn't responsibility just obedience?

Vattertrot (2009) "Responsibility is often a code word for obedience...When we say we want students to be responsibile, are we saying we want them to obedient - to do what we want them to do when we want them to do it, to be mindless drones, blindly obedient to authority?" (p. 11)

4. Lots of homework is a sign of a rigorous curriculum.

Many worry about not giving homework, because they fear that they may be labeled as easy.  When in fact they have a very rigorous curriculum.  

5. Good teachers give homework; good students do their homework. 

This couldn't be farther from the truth.  I believe good teachers still may give homework from time to time, but it is meaningful and isn't something that takes 2-3 hours to complete per night.  I have witnessed many times students that don't complete homework do very well on standardized  tests like the ACT.  

We often categorize students into two categories, is this a true assumption?  

Compliant = Hardworker

Non-compliant = Lazy 

Many of our students do not go home to a supportive environment.  Many of our students that are non-compliant or lazy as we call them lack a good home environment.  They are even less likely to complete homework when it is meaningless and not attached to the learning in the classroom.  

Take some time to think about how you use homework?  Do you take these factors into account?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Maybe we put too much emphasis on AYP

We have received our preliminary state testing results back, and after reviewing them I am pleased with the results.  We are making gains in most areas and based on my rudimentary figuring I am hopeful that we will make AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) again this year.  There is nothing better than seeing data support the changes we have made over the past few years.


Do I/we put too much emphasis on state testing?  We know that this test does not judge how we are preparing our students in an ever changing world.  It is a test of compliance and nothing more.  Are high levels of proficiency good indicators that students will be college and career ready?

The common core will increase the rigor, and it sounds like the assessment will not be a multiple choice test.  I am hopeful that it will judge the schools ability to prepare them for college and a career.  Shouldn't this be the focus anyway?