Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Closing the Lesson - It's All About the Plan

The most powerful retention strategy available to teachers is closing the lesson appropriately. This is neither a secret nor a recent revelation. Though one would be hard pressed to prove this in the field. Spend a reasonable amount of time observing classrooms and you too will discover that lessons are closed in an appropriate manner less than 1% on the time.

This bears repeating, the most power retention practice available to teachers is, essentially, never used.

Now we could discuss why this is the case, but that is a waste of time.  Instead I’m going to share with you how to fix this oversight.  The teachers that consistently close the lesson appropriately follow a simple 2-step plan.

1. Pre-plan and post the closing question for the lesson. Every lesson.

2. Use a timer. Every period.

The timer is set to chime five minutes prior to the end to the period.  When the timer goes off, the teacher has her students address/answer the closing question.  Like clockwork (note: the Fun 5 Timer I-Phone App is highly recommended).

You can recognize the 1% of teachers who do this.  They are much less stressed than all the rest of us and their students perform at higher levels (in comparison to like peers in similar classrooms).

My advice to schools and teachers: Steal the plan. Work the plan. Reap the rewards.

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
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); Fun 5 Plans (Fundamental 5 Lesson Plan Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Money Follows the Student... A Really Bad Idea for Taxpayers

There is a compelling need for an educated citizenry.  As such, it is the responsibility of the body public to provide for education services that meets its needs.  Texas does this thru its system of public schools, paid for by Texas and United States taxpayers.

With this tax funding, there are accountability standards in place (fiscal, academic performance, and governance) and safeguards to prevent discrimination, segregation, and exclusion.  All of these benefit the public good and protect the taxpayer.

Having the “money follow the student” circumvents all of the currently afforded standards and safeguards. This is neither logical nor good policy.  Let me illustrate why this is the case.

Assume I’m a parent that wants my child educated in a non-public setting, which is currently (and always has been) a parent’s right.  However, I have decided that the state should pay for my choice by allowing me to take what the state would have spent in the public setting and use those funds to offset the tuition of the private setting.  Sounds fair, doesn’t it? 

Not really...

1. The public school has to meet certification standards for staff. For the taxpayer, this is a good thing.  The private provider is not accountable to staff certification standards.  For the taxpayer, this is a bad thing.

2. The public school has to meet public accounting and financial audit standards. For the taxpayer, this is a good thing.  The private provider is not accountable for meeting public accounting and financial audit standards. For the taxpayer, this is a bad thing.

3. The public school has to follow open meeting and open records standards. For the taxpayer, this is a good thing.  The private provider does not have to follow open meeting and open records standards. For the taxpayer, this is a bad thing.

4. The public school has to meet state academic accreditation and performance standards, for all students. For the taxpayer, this is a good thing.  The private provider is not accountable to state academic accreditation and performance standards.  For the taxpayer, this is a bad thing.

5. The public school cannot discriminate based on creed or nationality.  For the taxpayer, this is a good thing.  The private provider can discriminate based on creed or nationality (thru both official and “soft” entrance requirements).  For the taxpayer, this is a bad thing.

6. The public school cannot segregate based on race or ethnicity. For the taxpayer, this is a good thing.  The private provider can segregate based on race or ethnicity (thru both official and “soft” entrance requirements).  For the taxpayer, this is a bad thing.

7. The public school cannot exclude based on ability, gender or economic status. For the taxpayer, this is a good thing.  The private provider can exclude based ability, gender or economic status.  For the taxpayer, this is a bad thing.

The rebuttal argument is this: “But what about what is best for the parent and the child.  Don’t they matter?” 

To which the answer is, “Yes, as has always been the case, they matter.”

For the parents that believe that public education is unable to provide the level, focus or type of education that they desire for their child there is a remedy. For the parents that prefer a school made up of a specific peer group of their liking, there is a remedy. Those parents can remove their children from the public school setting and enroll them in a private setting more suited to their philosophy, worldview or agenda. That is their right and their privilege. It is their "School Choice."

They just have to pay for it.

For the taxpayer, that is a good thing.

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 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); Fun 5 Plans (Fundamental 5 Lesson Plan Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Monday, October 20, 2014

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of October 12, 2014

A number of you in the LYS Nation are now Twitter users.  If you haven’t done so yet, we want you to join us.  To let you see what you are missing, here are the Top 10 LYS Tweets from the week of October 5, 2014.

1. What takes years to build can be torn down in mere days and weeks. Leadership matters. (By @blitzkrieg607)

2. Your surroundings should make the things you need to do easy and the things you shouldn’t do hard. (By @tra_hall)

3. Did you know if teachers start class 5 minutes late and end 5 minutes early every hour they would lose around 29 days of learning each year? (By @justintarte)

4. I've heard many times, "Teachers don't vote." Let's hope this isn't true. (By @PaulaKelm)

5. Congrats to William Moerner, an alumni of Jefferson HS in San Antonio, for receiving the Nobel Prize in chemistry! (By @RYHTexas)

6. Instructional feedback is giving students information in a timely manner that allows them to make changes that affect their learning. (By @vhsaldana)

7. Finishing a high school course beyond Algebra 2 more than doubles the odds that a student will complete a bachelors degree. (By @DrJerryRBurkett)

8. The good people of Texas can breathe easy, as their state is fiercely prepared for the non-existent crisis of voter fraud. (By @JohnFugelsang)

9. We have a constitutional obligation to provide a suitable education to every child in Texas. Vouchers vacate that duty. (By @johnkuhntx)

10. Model!  Model!  Model! (By @OCTHenderson)

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 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); Fun 5 Plans (Fundamental 5 Lesson Plan Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Shifting Fear

Recently I was talking to a LYS Principal, now in his second year.  He asked me a great question, “Does the fear ever go away.

My answer was “No. It just shifts.”

The first year principal lives with the constant fear of not knowing.   

The second year principal lives with the constant fear of knowing.

After year two, the principal lives with the constant fear of lost opportunity.

I closed with this, “Embrace the fear. It is what makes the principalship so worthwhile. You get to face your fear, beat your fear, and make the World a better place while you do it.  You get to be the Man (Woman) in the Arena. It is an awesome responsibility, afforded to very few. “

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 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); Fun 5 Plans (Fundamental 5 Lesson Plan Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Monday, October 13, 2014

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of October 5, 2014

A number of you in the LYS Nation are now Twitter users.  If you haven’t done so yet, we want you to join us.  To let you see what you are missing, here are the Top 10 LYS Tweets from the week of October 5, 2014.

1. A big “THANK YOU” to the organizers, presenters and participants at The Fundamental 5 National Summit! It was a great day of learning and fellowship! (By @LYSNation)

2. Congratulations to LYS Principal, Jayne Ellspermann!! She was just named as the 2015 NASSP National Principal of the Year!!! (By @LYSNation)

3. Be a broken record:  "Continuous effort over time will bring success." (By @mike_metz)
           
4. A leader wants to know what's happening in the classroom. Choosing to do other things limits your ability to lead your school to success. (By @CabidaCain)

5. "Critical writing is the most natural and AUTHENTIC way to increase rigor." (By @mike_metz)

6. Today's Quote:  "It’s simple – education is the key to pretty much everything – prosperity, economics, stability - and peace." (By DrRichAllen)

7. Truth – The Fundamental 5 has the potential to be a GAME CHANGER. (By @leslmeek)

8. America: a nation that invests more $$ in its inmates & prisons than it does in its students and schools. (By @NicholasFerroni)

9. It is now a fact that one half of the students who graduate from college never read another book. (By @tgrierhisd)

10. Hanlon's Razor: ""Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." (By @DanielPink)

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 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); Fun 5 Plans (Fundamental 5 Lesson Plan Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Friday, October 10, 2014

Readers Write... My Texas School Plan: An Open Letter to Candidates

A number of LYSers responded to the series of posts I wrote on 7/8, 7/9, and 7/10/2014:  “My Texas School Plan – An Open Letter to the Candidates From Both Parties.”  The comments that were submitted were similar to the following:

“SC,

Great post! I have forwarded it to my Representative.  We’ll see if he/she does anything.”

And,

“SC,

Please post all three blog posts as a single article so it will be easier to share.”

Thank you to everyone who wrote in and the combined re-print is below.

Dear Candidate:

I’m not running for office, but I am a civic minded, reasonable, professional educator. Due to my devotion to the profession and to the state I offer to you, our candidates who are running for public office, a primer on effective schools.

Here are the pertinent take-a-ways from the countries that have students who outperform ours on a regular basis.

1. You can significantly increase the quality of candidates entering the teaching profession. The Finland model

2. You can significantly increase the quality of teacher training and preparation programs. The Finland model

3. You can pay teachers a professional salary. The Finland model

4. You can have clear, deep curriculum standards that schools are required to teach. The Finland and Poland model

5. You can increase the stakes on the high school exit exams. The South Korea Model

6. You can increase the number of hours and days students devote to academics and school.  The South Korea model

7. You can worry less about how students feel and worry more about student performance in areas that are correlated to an educated and economically competitive populace. The South Korea model

8. You can significantly delay the age at which students are tracked. The Poland model

9. You can ensure that schools that teach the hardest to reach student populations get additional resources. The Finland and Poland model

The teachable moment from the above listed take-a-ways is that it is exceedingly clear that pursuing an agenda of reducing public education support thru vehicles that further segregate school are NOT the answer.

In the public interest and courtesy to all of the candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, State Senator, and State Representative, I present the Texas Model Education and Ensured Economic Prosperity Plan.  Feel free to discuss and use as if it is your own. 

1. Significantly increase the quality of candidates attempting to enter the teaching profession.  How?

A. Increase ACT / SAT score requirements to enter state college of education programs.  
B. Increase Alternative Certification Program entrance GPA requirements or require a minimum GRE score to be accepted into the program.

2. Significantly increase the quality of teacher training and preparation. How? Teacher preparation programs should focus on both content and pedagogical knowledge.  

A. Which means that a potential math teacher should graduate from a college of education with a major in the content, a minor in pedagogy, and a full semester of student teaching.
B. A graduate from an Alternative Certification Program (ACP) should have a degree related to the content area (a prerequisite) and the equivalent of 18 hours of pedagogy course work.  The student teaching for the ACP candidate can be covered through supported and mentored classroom teaching while in the ACP program.

3. Pay teachers a professional salary.  This goes hand-in-hand with increasing the quality of the candidate pool for teaching.  The more a candidate brings to the table, the more options she has.  If teacher salaries are not comparable to the professional salaries of those with a similar education then the best candidates will continue to shun education careers for better economic options.  So here is your professional salary scale for teachers.

A.  $45,000 minimum salary for starting teachers.
B.  $65,000 minimum salary for a core content teacher with 5-years experience, and 3-years in the same district, and multiple certifications (example: K-8 reading and ESL certifications).
C.  $75,000 minimum salary for a core content teacher with 10-years experience, and 5-years in the same district, and multiple certifications, and a Master’s degree.
D.  $85,000 minimum salary for a core content teacher with 15-years experience, and 8-years in the same district, and multiple certifications, and a Doctorate degree.

4. Extend teacher contracts to 200 days. Do this concurrently with the increase in minimum teacher salaries. Use the extra 20 days for training and extended teaching options for struggling students. 

5. Have clear, deep curriculum standards that schools are required to teach. How? We are close to this in Texas.  The TEKS are a good start. They are just too broad. Narrow the overall focus and increase the emphasis on critical thinking.

6. Mandate a maximum 21:1 student/teacher ratio in grade K-6 core content courses.  Mandate a maximum 24:1 student/teacher ratio in grade 7-11 STAAR/EOC courses.

7. Increase the number of hours and days students devote to academics and school. How?  This is easier to do than you might think; it just requires two simple (on paper) changes.

A.  Move all athletic based extra-curricular activities to outside the school day.  This ensures that all students engaged in athletics will receive an extra 45 to 90 minutes of academic instruction in either core content, fine arts, foreign language or career based classes, EVERY DAY.
B.  Move all EOC / STAAR tests to May.  This will encourage (force) schools to teach the content deeper into the year.
C.  Mandatory (in lieu of retention) 3 to 5-week summer school session for all students who failed either a STAAR/EOC test or a core content course.

8. Increase the stakes on the high school exit exams. How? Now everyone immediately thinks this is about increasing punitive measures and consequences.  That is the novice move.  If bigger sticks were the answer, we wouldn’t have our current agenda driven “Failing Schools” problem.  No, we want carrots, BIG FREAKIN’ CARROTS.

A.  We still keep some floor performance requirements.  The diploma should guarantee a level of basic skills.  Right now there are 5 EOC tests. I would prefer seven: two tests for English - ELA 2 and ELA 3; two tests for math - Algebra 1 and either Geometry or Algebra II (student choice); two tests for science - Biology and either Chemistry or Physics (student choice); one test for Social Studies - U.S. History To graduate the student must score at least 60% on 4 of the 7 tests. 
B. We add a performance bonus for a defined level of commended results that could work something like this. For every test the student scores at least an 85% on there is an automatic scholarship that is awarded to the student, redeemable at any state institution (2-year or 4-year) during the freshman and sophomore years.  Prorate the scholarship amount based on need, for example:

a. Student qualifies for free lunch - $2,000 per exam, which represents a potential scholarship amount of $14,000.
b. Student qualifies for reduced lunch - $1,000 per exam, which represents a potential scholarship amount of $7,000.
c. Student not eligible for free/reduced lunch - $500 per exam, which represents a potential scholarship amount of $3,500

Now all students have a significant incentive to take higher-level courses and perform in those courses. And if parents want to opt out their students from testing, they can do so for the advanced tests, but at a potential economic loss (reduced scholarship eligibility).

Accountability still in place but success is driven through the positives of earned scholarships and extended learning opportunities for struggling students. Not school sanctions and mandatory student retention.

9. Implement the following Superintendent Salary Schedule:

A.  District with fewer than 500 students, Superintendent salary no higher than 1.5 times the average teacher salary in the district.
B.  District with 501 – 1,000 students, Superintendent salary no more than 2 times the average teacher salary in the district.
C.  District with 1,001 – 5,000 students, Superintendent salary no more than 2.5 times the average teacher salary in the district.
D.  District with 5,001 – 15,000 students, Superintendent salary no more than 3 times the average teacher salary in the district.
E.  District with 15,001 – 30,000 students, Superintendent salary no more than 3.5 times the average teacher salary in the district.
F.  District with 30,001 – 70,000 students, Superintendent salary no more than 4 times the average teacher salary in the district.
G.  District with more than 70,00 students, Superintendent salary no more than 5 times the average teacher salary in the district.

10. Make charter schools subject to the same teacher pay, class ratio and superintendent pay standards as traditional public school districts.

Now we must tackle the really big problem, how to pay for this ambitious plan. The plan I have presented will represent a significant investment in our state.  To adequately fund this investment will require actual courage and statesmanship (statespersonship), as opposed to lip service and pandering.

Some of the funding is already available. Through the action of moving athletic and extra-curricular practices and activities to outside of the school day, there will be a small, but not insignificant cost savings.  Because coaches and sponsors will actually teach content classes all day, this will reduce staffing needs on secondary campuses. Just note that you can’t sell this as being THE answer. It is not

The plan will cost and cost means taxes (but think “investment”). I propose that the plan should be paid for with increased taxes on the industries the represent a long-term hazard to the state.  This means industries that harvest non-renewable resources (oil, gas, and coal) and hazardous industries (refining, chemical, waste storage/processing).  Yes, these industries are driving our economic recovery, but we must make sure that we equip the state to prosper when the oil is gone and the chemicals are leaching into the water table.  These industries need to help educate a bumper crop of engineers, scientists and doctors to solve the problems the state will face twenty years from now.

Additionally, we need to increase the business tax. The unspoken truth is that Texas businesses essentially get a free ride. It is the consumer that is paying the biggest piece of the taxation pie. We must face the fact that a No Tax policy on business is much more detrimental to the long-term success of the state than Excessive Taxes.  In Texas, we are not excessively taxed. This is especially true for business, industry or those who own lots of land.

The candidate that comes the closest to enacting the plan I have proposed gets my vote. Thirty years ago, a coalition of Republican and Democrat leaders tackled hard problems like these, and implemented tough solutions like these.  Current candidates step up and be a Texas Leader. Channel your inner Bill Hobby, channel your inner Mark White, and channel your inner Ross Perot. Show us your mettle.

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 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); Fun 5 Plans (Fundamental 5 Lesson Plan Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote Presentation); ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Reader Writes... Who Defines the Campus - Part 1

In response to the 5/21/14 post, “Who Defines the Campus,” a LYS Principal writes:

SC,

Bulls Eye!! You have just described what has driven me throughout my career. From Teacher to Principal.

SC Response
I have to admit, I have never understood the typical educator’s aversion to accountability... up to this point.  The farce that the state currently presents as an accountability system is so hopelessly defective that it can only be described as a punch line to a really bad joke. But I digress...

My teams and I welcomed accountability.  It set a bar, forced our campus to question the status quo, and kept us searching and honing our craft.  We took pride in exceeding expectations and knowing that our students were better off on our campus than the campus down the street.  One of the proudest moments of my career was when I heard an Assistant Principal share with a new teacher, “There are state standards, district standards and Mr. Cain’s standards.”

The teacher asked, “Which is the most important?”

The reply, “Cain’s. We play a different game here.” 

Regardless of external factors, the exceptional teacher, principal and school play a different game.  

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 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); Fun 5 Plans (Fundamental 5 Lesson Plan Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote Presentation); ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook