Friday, November 21, 2014

The New PowerWalks App is Here! The New PowerWalks App is Here!

Just released, the new I-Phone / I-Pad app for PowerWalks, PowerWalks CLC!  If you work on a campus that has no or poor cellular or Wi-Fi coverage the PowerWalks CLC app allows you to store up to 50 classroom observations on your I-Phone or I-Pad. Then the observation data is automatically uploaded when connectivity is restored.  If you already have an older version of the PowerWalks CLC app on your device, make sure you download the update today. 

Three quick notes:

1. PowerWalks CLC only works if your campus has a PowerWalks subscription. If you are interested in a campus PowerWalks subscription, click here.

2. CLC stands for "Continuous Learning Community."

3. The PowerWalks CLC Android App is coming very soon!

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); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Checkpoint Discussion (Brutal Truth Version)

The following is an exchange I had with a district curriculum director concerning 3-week checkpoints (common assessments).

DIRECTOR
This is a question I'm getting fairly often now, “Why don't the checkpoints get progressively longer as the time for the EOC exam nears? 

I restate and remind our teachers about the purpose of checkpoints.  But the questions keep coming up. What else can I add to my response?

SC
Teachers are worried about how their students will perform on the long, rigorous, high stakes test.  A legitimate concern.  Share with them that World Class marathon runners train thru a regiment of short sprints and mid-length runs. They do not constantly run marathons.

We mimic this with the following assessment series: 

Weeks 3 and 6 – short checkpoints
Week 9 - a mid-length midterm
Weeks 12 and 15 – short checkpoints
Week 18 – a longer final

Finally, we are checking to see if students have mastered what we taught and did we re-teach our identified deep holes. We are not checking to see if students can navigate thru 40 problems in four hours.

DIRECTOR
The same teachers that complain about the test being the center of everything, then complain that the test isn't the center of everything. Do they realize how schizophrenic that makes them look?

SC
Unfortunately, no.  But this is not unique to your district.  It is the manifestation of teacher stress, fear, and superstitious behaviors. And it’s better than your teachers not caring.

DIRECTOR
Just to clarify, are you saying that the 9-week checkpoint should be cumulative?

SC
Yes. But not stupid length cumulative. 15 questions, max.  Also, if the district looks at assessment data, it should only look at the data from the 9, 18, 27 and 36-week tests.  All the other checkpoints are for campus use.  And the tests for weeks 18 and 36 (which are in lieu of a traditional final exam) can be 20 to 30 questions.

DIRECTOR
Got it!

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: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Press On!

So you just found out that your team is unhappy and uncomfortable.  What do you do?

Press on. Focus on accomplishing the next task.  Celebrate when you do and press on.

Understand that there is a difference between unhappy and uncomfortable, and morale.

Morale is unit cohesion in the face of adversity.  Unhappy and uncomfortable are the feelings we have before overcoming the adversity.

Press on.

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: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lesa Cain Writes... How You, the Principal, Should Use Your Data

The following is some advice LYS Coach and Common Assessment Pioneer, Lesa Cain, shared with some of the Principals that she mentors.

Good morning all,

I cannot say this enough, you must pre-plan for your data meetings. That means plan for when the meeting will occur, who will attend, what will be discussed and what you want to happen after the meeting. 

You must get the data first (before meeting with teachers). You must analyze the questions and determine the TEKS (learning standards in Texas) of concern.

For each TEKS that is a concern, look at each teacher in that grade level and see what their scores were on those questions. If there is a teacher that is having relative success, you must find out how they taught the standard. That becomes a conversation point in the data meeting and a potential intervention strategy.

Only after instructional practices have been identified and discussed do you use the data to sort students.  But sort for the purpose of deciding who will teach what, to whom, and when. These are RTI decisions and the data determines what you do and how you do it. And whatever you decide to do, track your results.

YOU as campus leaders have to have an idea BEFORE you meet with your teachers, this give you context during the discussion and allow you to better evaluate recommended instructional tweaks shared by the attending teachers. If you don’t have a plan, then you will be wasting precious time PREDICTING your future scores instead of RAISING them.

Yes, I am putting pressure on you... not on your students, not on your teachers, but on YOU. Think about what you are seeing in classes every day when you are observing instruction, what you know should be happening and is not happening. Get ahead of this by preparing for your data meetings and knowing the data BEFORE you meet with your teachers.  

We have just completed a third of the school year.  This is not the time to slow down.  This is the time to hit our stride.

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: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Monday, November 17, 2014

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of November 9, 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 November 9, 2014.

1. Take an environmental walk through your school. What is on walls reflects what you value. (By @norskireader)

2. It's always a good idea to speak up for your school because I can promise someone is speaking against it. (By @BluntEducator)

3. A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected. (By @NAPmath)

4. Don't think problem, think opportunity. (By @LeadershipTipss)

5. As @LYSNation (S. Cain) says, it's Frequent Small Group PURPOSEFUL Talk. Purposeful in BOLD, ALL CAPS, AND FLASHING FONT! (By @vhsaldana)

6. Bad news served in between a positive sandwich makes for a poor meal.  Be kind but be direct when having tough conversations. (By @TroyMooney)

7. Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success. (By @CoachKWisdom)

8. "Great leaders stay positive in the most difficult of challenges. Wrathful leaders stay negative even in the best of situations." (By @MangersDiary)

9. The United States once led the world in future development.  Now we are allowing ideology to stop needed development! (By @herbertoneiljr)

10. HISD trustee, Lunceford, says state's end-of-course algebra exam isn't high stakes when kids only have to get 37% correct to pass the test. (By @e_mellon)

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: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Friday, November 14, 2014

Be the Best Me in the Classroom

So it is that time of year, late Fall.  The time when the newness of school has worn off and the holiday break is still a month a way.  A time when the leaves start to turn color and the complaints about the lack of student behavior, motivation, and performance begin to heat up.

I’m not going to say that the complaints are not warranted.  But I will say that in many cases the complaints are self-inflicted.

First, we have to remind ourselves that, “STUDENT PERFORMANCE IS DRIVEN BY ADULT PRACTICE.”

So when student behavior, motivation and performance take a noticeable dip, we have to take an uncomfortable look in the mirror.  And based on that look, if we find that we have let some of our practice get sloppy, tighten up just a bit.  Trust me, your students will respond when you do so.  Here is your mid-semester checklist to make sure that we are setting ourselves up to be the best teachers that we can be.

Practice

1. I Frame every lesson. Correctly.

2. I use a timer (recommended: The Fundamental Five Classroom Timer).  To make sure my warm-ups start and end on time and that I close every lesson... correctly.

3. I get into the Power Zone. A lot.

4. I Grade on the Fly. Every chance I get.

Environment

1. I get rid of all the clutter in my classroom.

2. I make sure everything in the room is neat and organized. Always.

3. I make sure the room is clean. At the beginning and end of every class.

4. I open up my blinds/curtains (if I have windows).  I keep the lights on. 

Take care of the items on this list, everyday, and things will go a lot smoother for you and your 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
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); Fun 5 Plans (Fundamental 5 Lesson Plan Tool)
  • Upcoming Presentations: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What to Do With the Entrenched, Bad Teacher

As the LYS Nation is well aware, I (and the rest of the LYS Team) work with schools across the country.  The purpose and focus of our work – increase student opportunity, in every academic setting. Meaning we work with schools and districts that make up the entire tapestry of public education.  

Now a lot of the schools we work with aren’t in the “Want to change” group, for various reasons they are in the “Have to change” group.  The question that we often get from administrators on these campuses is what to do about the long-time disgruntled teacher who is unwilling to change.  A fair question.

The first thing I have to remind administration is that the cynical, disgruntled veteran didn’t start out the way.  He/she came about it honest.  Years of working with inadequate resources, no support, low pay, and high stress, in virtual isolation will do that to a person. Surprising - is it not?  

The cycle has to broken. The quick and easy way to break this cycle with your current disgruntled teacher is to fire him/her and replace him/her with a new teacher that has yet to be scarred and damaged by an obviously flawed system. This is an opportunist’s solution that masquerades as “Can Do, High Expectation” leadership (see M. Rhee).

Or you can break the cycle by providing instructional resources, focused training, cueing, monitoring, problem solving support and regular coaching.  This solution takes longer to implement, especially with the disgruntled teacher, but it is the fair solution.  It requires the instructional leader to reach out, explain, and give teachers the opportunity to engage, even if it is grudgingly at first.  If the teacher comes around and is coachable, he/she gets both time and coaching.

Now if the teacher refuses to use the new tools, refuses to respond to coaching, refuses to engage in a productive manner; then you have no choice but to give the teacher notice and start the termination process.  It happens. But not as often as you might expect.  Because even the disgruntled teacher wants her students to be successful.  Give the disgruntled teacher the means to make students successful in greater numbers and watch the obvious cynic transform into a potential champion... Right before your eyes.

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: TMSA Winter Conference; ASCD Annual Conference; TEPSA Summer Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook