Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Senior Master Sergeant Bunny Gant (1922 - 2016)

My grandfather, a member of the Greatest Generation, a veteran of two wars, retired Air Force and a top executive in two large companies shared this with me early in my development as a leader. He said, “Son, they don’t have to like you, they just have to work for you.”

This piece of advice has always kept me focused on what is truly important in leadership, that the mission of the organization trumps your need for feeling good.

I learned a lot from my grandfather. When I start to think that I’m overwhelmed, I just remember me a plaque he kept on the wall. In formal and fancy script it read, “When you are up to your ass in alligators it is difficult to remember that your primary objective is to drain the swamp.”

If what we do everyday isn’t primarily focused on improving the quality of instruction and increasing student performance, then we too are being distracted by the alligators.

My grandfather gave me a gift. It was a safety net. He and I knew that if things ever got over my head, he would bail me out. No questions asked.  I am most proud of the gift I believe I gave him back. I never had to use the safety net.


Work Hard. Be Responsible.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of November 20, 2016

If you are not following @LYSNation on Twitter, then you missed the Top 10 LYS Tweets from the week of November 20, 2016 when they were first posted.  And if you are on Twitter, you might want to check out the Tweeters who made this week’s list.

1. Reading gives a sense of a life beyond which I have... of a future I can aspire. (By @jbriannorton)

2. "The only unforgivable sin as an educator is to not be coachable!" (By @tra_hall)

3. Prevention is the best form of intervention. (By HBAppel)

4. Quick Writes are one of my favorite strategies. Putting pencil to paper is the purest forms of assessment. (By @vhsaldana)

5. "You can't always control your situation, but you can always control your attitude." (By @jackson_moffatt)

6. Without Coaching and Feedback there is no real sustainable change! (By @tra_hall)

7. If you have an intervention problem, you have a Tier 1 problem! All students need access to essential grade level standards! (By @theceebru)

8. Texas needs support for public schools, not privatization schemes. -The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (By @TXKidsCantWait)

9. Happy is the man, when being tested, who holds his ground. (By @clwilkens)

10. May we make God’s merciful love ever more evident in our world through dialogue, mutual acceptance and fraternal cooperation. (By @Pontifex)

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...
  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Upcoming Conference Presentations: TASSP Aspiring Principal Workshop (Multiple Presentations), Learning for a Change Spring Summit (Keynote and Multiple Presentations) 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of November 13, 2016

If you are not following @LYSNation on Twitter, then you missed the Top 10 LYS Tweets from the week of November 13, 2016 when they were first posted.  And if you are on Twitter, you might want to check out the Tweeters who made this week’s list.

1. Congratulations to LYSer, Brandy Corbin! She is the new principal for Fairdale High School (JCPS)!! Who will be next? (By @LYSNation)

2. "You can't grow teachers if you only see them once or twice a year." (By @smithdianemarie)

3. Every successful person begins with two beliefs: The future can be better than the present and I have the power to make it so. (By @melrobbins)

4. Schools don't innovate. People innovate. For your school to change, you have to change. (By @danielmccabe)

5. Stop talking. Start doing. (By @melrobbins)

6. Meet at least 2 times a month - for at least 15 minutes - with every direct report. Let them set the agenda. (By @Leadershipfreak)

7. Refusing to act because someone's feelings might get hurt means feelings run your organization. (By @Leadershipfreak)

8. Assuming you’re ignorant helps solve your ignorance. (By @Leadershipfreak)

9. Texans are fed up by Texas political leaders pushing for private school vouchers when they have ZERO authority over private schools. (By @pastors4txkids)

10. How are you going change the arc of the life of your students?  (By @jbriannorton)

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...
  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Upcoming Conference Presentations: TASSP Aspiring Principal Workshop (Multiple Presentations), Learning for a Change Spring Summit (Keynote and Multiple Presentations) 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Friday, November 18, 2016

A School Asks... Common Assessments 101

A campus implementing the LYS Common Assessment model sent in the following implementation questions:

SC,

We have some concerns with the 30-minute time limit on common assessments.  For ELAR, there is a fair amount of reading a piece of text or multiple pieces of text before reaching the ten questions on the assessment.  As a department, we are ready to embrace the ten questions for an assessment.  Thirty minutes is not adequate time to read and annotate the text and then answer and justify/prove the answers.  Our question is can the students spend 20-minutes reading and annotating the passages and then give them the 30-minutes to answer the ten questions?  Additionally, how does this concept work with students who have IEPs stating that they receive extra time on assessments?

SC Response
Fantastic questions, and questions that prove the campus is really committed to making the common assessment process a valuable tool for monitoring and adjusting instructional practices.

The questions you have concerning ELAR checkpoints are not unusual.  You are correct, there can be a lot of reading involved and reading takes time.  Which means for an ELAR checkpoint the passage selection is the driving consideration.  Reading passages that lend themselves to multiple questions are significantly more useful than ones that do not.  Then it has to be decided if a “hot” or “cold” read will be used.  A hot read is a passage that the student has seen before, which means that they can process it more quickly and have time to answer more questions.  A cold read is a passage that the student has not seen before. These passages take longer to process, which means that they have less time for questions.

As you mentioned the 30-minute time limit is an important design element.  30-minutes protects instructional time. Exposure to more instruction is what drives student performance, not exposure to more testing.  A fact seeming lost by most schools, school districts and states.  Because 30-minutes is the driving factor, there will be many checkpoints that have fewer than ten questions.  And that is OK, because the checkpoint is assessing the critical concepts that had to be taught in the 3-week window, not every thing that was taught.

As for students with an IEP, time is a relative concept.  If it takes a student 60-minutes to answer ten questions, I can reduce the checkpoint to five questions for that student.  Or I could reduce answer choices, or I could pre-highlight passages. 

Keep working the process. With every checkpoint cycle things become more effective and more efficient.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...
  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Upcoming Conference Presentations: TASSP Aspiring Principal Workshop (Multiple Presentations), Learning for a Change Spring Summit (Keynote and Multiple Presentations) 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Teacher's take on The Fundamental 5

A LYS Principal forwards a teacher’s reflection on The Fundamental 5:

OK, so I have given this much thought since this weekend when I read the "assignment." I really didn't know what to write other than, "I like this part and that part because..." and felt that was a little generic. This was until last night when at the gym I had an epiphany. I was talking to my trainer, and she was explaining the components we need to be healthy. Ironically, there were 5 that she suggested: rest, water, proper diet, exercise, and vitamins. She explained that doing one of these things without the others is OK, but will not get a person the health results they desire.

AH-HA! The little light bulb went off as I made a connection to The Fundamental 5! As the book states, doing one thing without the other components is OK, but will not yield the dramatic results of doing all of the components together. For instance, if one has the students collaborate in small groups with purposeful talk but not write critically about the idea or lesson, then while it's nice, it may not completely solidify the idea or give the educator an indication of who has mastered the concept and who needs a re-teach. To me, the write critically part is like tying a bow on a great present after the pretty wrapping is perfectly in place. The present may look all right without the bow, but a giant, sparkly bow just makes the whole thing complete.

I'll be the first to admit that I am still working on my own mastery of implementing The Fundamental 5. It takes a day to do an activity, but time to build a habit. I'm working on putting these things in daily so that in no time, it will not only be second nature to myself, but also to my students.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...
  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Upcoming Conference Presentations: TASSP Aspiring Principal Workshop (Multiple Presentations), Learning for a Change Spring Summit (Keynote and Multiple Presentations) 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Superintendent Writes... How Well Meaning Politicians Hurt Students - Part 1

In response to the 11/15/16 post, “How Well Meaning Politicians Hurt Students,” a LYS Superintendent writes:

SC,

I found today’s post not profound, but interesting.  I like interesting. The effects described would be hard to prove but seem intuitively obvious. An interesting research project would be to determine the effects of rapidly changing government policy on fragile students. My premise is probably accurate as far as harm goes: policy changes dictate structural changes dictate environmental changes.

Funny how high performing districts seem to have consistent leadership throughout the district. Coincidence? I think not. Consistency of adults leads to consistency for children. That matters. If it didn't matter then broken homes and single parent households wouldn't matter, yet we know they do.

Inconsistent government policies likely introduce the same instability for children that home dysfunction and divorce do. Yet we see government policies as trying to improve society even as they introduce inconsistency and turmoil thus likely a net negative for the very children such policies purport to protect.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...
  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Upcoming Conference Presentations: TASSP Aspiring Principal Workshop (Multiple Presentations), Learning for a Change Spring Summit (Keynote and Multiple Presentations) 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook