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Showing posts from October, 2017

Effective School Communication

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As a school principal for a medium-sized New Hampshire high school, I am always looking for the best way to communicate with my school’s stakeholders. There are so many choices these days including email, text, automated phone messages, social media, and the good old fashioned traditional letter in the mail. While there may be a time and a place for each of these means of communication, the research suggests that some are better than others when it comes to providing effective communication from the school.
In a recent eSchool News article, Meris Stansbury asks, “What does the research say about how parents and school communicate? Is there an overall preference?” In the article, Stansbury suggests that parents are looking for communication from schools to be “timely, targeted, and personalized to their children or their interest areas.” The article referenced the latest data from the Speak Up Research Project, including this observation: Approximately one third of parents surveyed indi…

When School is a Game, Nobody Wins

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As school principals, most of us are measured by how many of our students “meet the standard” for “getting to the next level” and therefore we often focus first on making sure that failing students don’t fall too far behind. But what if this is the wrong metric and the wrong mentality? The fact is that the way we measure educational achievement today puts too much emphasis on staying above the bare minimum, rather than aiming as high as possible. And I’m not just talking about helping the most gifted students do even better. Too many of our students at all levels have figured out how to be “successful” without mastering all of the skills they actually need. If we are to truly advance learning in our schools, something needs to change, and it needs to change fast.
To prove this point, consider Kasey, a typical eleventh grade student. Kasey has a stable family support system and aspires to go to college. Her parents know what colleges look for in the admissions process, and together they…

Shifting Gears To Competency-Based Learning Through PLCs at Work™

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This blog article was written originally for Solution Tree by Jonathan Vander Els and Brian Stack. The link to the original article is here. “Once you learn, you never forget.” We have all heard that statement as it relates to riding a bicycle, and any of us who has ever taught a child to ride a bike know that for most children, this learning process requires time, patience, and perseverance. Riding a bike isn’t easy. Children are required to transfer their learning of a number of different skills (pedaling, balancing, steering, turning, and stopping, for example) and eventually put these distinct skills together to be a successful bike rider. For those of us in a position to provide the support and guidance, we find ourselves constantly providing feedback, with the ultimate goal of helping the child learn how to ride a bike safely and successfully, recognizing that they had to start somewhere. We have all been in this position in the learning process, either as the learner or the tea…

Preparing for the Gig Economy

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It has been interesting to watch the job market change through the lens of many of my teacher friends who, for the duration of my twenty years in education, have taken part-time jobs to supplement their income. Two decades ago, the popular jobs were camp counselors, after school counselors, retail cashiers, and even ice-cream shop scoopers. Today, technology has drastically changed the jobs I see them doing. For many, short-term jobs and projects known as “gigs” have started to replace the traditional job. There are websites like care.com that match them with short-term caregiver gigs. Tutoring websites like Varsity Tutor find tutoring gigs for them. For those who want something different and less dependent on a schedule, there are ride-sharing websites like Uber and Lyft that allow them to be a taxi-driver when it is convenient.

All of these websites have this in common: They are harnessing the power of technology to efficiently match people who have a service to offer with those who…