Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Reader Shares... PowerWalks 2.0 is Awesome

A LYS Principal share the following:

SC,

As you are aware, I have been using PowerWalks since it was first introduced.  It was a pretty exciting instrument then, but nothing compares to the new version that you launched this school year.  PowerWalks 2.0 is amazing! 

I love how you can see the scoreboard for schools right when you open the program.  This has been very motivational for my team of observers.  They have been working hard to get their visits completed and keep us in the top schools.  The benefit of that is that we are ready to begin sharing data with teachers by the first week in October.  This is much earlier than we have ever had enough data to begin sharing. 

In addition to the scoreboard, the quick report that I am able to run showing all of the counts for each observer is terrific.  The email feature has made it possible to send the administrative team the counts for each of us every Friday afternoon.  No one wants to be the one that didn’t get his or her visits done!  What a great use of positive peer pressure!  We use the reports for our counts and observers, inter-rater reliability reports, and individual teacher reports as a regular part of our administrative meeting each week.  It is making a huge difference not only in the number of visits being done, but our understanding of what is going on in each classroom.

Now the best part of the program has to be the survey instrument itself.  The changes are brilliant.  You have trimmed down the indicators being monitored without sacrificing the critical items that help identify great teaching practices.  The cleaner version is easy to understand and makes it less likely that those doing the visits are rating indicators differently.  Lastly, the reports for teachers are so much easier to build and run.  The charts are clear and concise, making them easier for teachers to pinpoint areas that they want to focus on for improving their craft.

If it is not already clear, I love PowerWalks 2.0.  I appreciate your dedication to education and providing us with a quality program that helps us do our job better.  I am a lifelong fan.

Sincerely,

L. T.

SC Response
Thanks.  As you well know, every change to the system is the result of feedback from leaders like you who believe in formative observation and coaching and want to best tool possible. As the principal of a perennial PowerWalks Hero School, your endorsement carries significant weight.  It is our validation.  Keep leading the way for your campus and district.

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

Monday, September 29, 2014

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of September 21, 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 September 21, 2014.

1. In the absence of effective leadership success will be a "situational phenomenon" at best. (By @JohnJungmann)

2. Wendy Davis reminds the audience that Greg Abbott can drop the appeal of the school finance lawsuit at any time he chooses. (By @LYSNation)

3. Stand firm about what matters most. Let the other stuff fall by the wayside. (By @vhsaldana)

4. Lack of willpower and drive cause more failures than lack of intelligence and ability. (By @AlanStein)

5. A teacher who closes the lesson well is like the gymnast who nails the landing. (By @LYSNation)

6. Fundamental 5 school leaders - remember to use Specific Recognition & Reinforcement with your STAFF too! (By @Crysrommuel)

7. As a Texas resident nothing is more disappointing than a candidate who is obviously more interested in winning rather than leading/serving. (By @cheadhorn)

8. Without a good process, you will always struggle. (By @LYSNation)

9. Today's Quote:  "Merely imparting information is not teaching." (By @DrRichAllen)

10. The Fundamental 5 (Cain & Laird) has now sold over 66,000 copies! Thank you, LYS Nation!!! (By @LYSNation)

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: TESPA Fall Conference; The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote Presentation); ASCD Annual Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Just 1 Week Away - The Fundamental 5 National Summit

The second annual Fundamental 5 National Summit will be held in Austin, Texas on October 5th and 6th.  Last year over 400 educators from across the country (and Canada) met for the purpose of better implementing the Fundamental 5 on their campuses.

This is a practitioner’s summit, with real live teachers and campus administrators leading the breakout sessions.

The Fundamental 5 National Summit is open to all states, all schools, and all grade levels! Bring your team and experience the power that is unleashed when theory and practice align.



The Fundamental 5 National Summit
Austin, Texas
October 5 & 6, 2014

Open to All Educators
Presented by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals

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: TEPSA Fall Conference; The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote Presentation); ASCD Annual Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook
  • Friday, September 26, 2014

    Why the Funding Should NOT Follow the Student

    There is a growing argument in Texas for state education dollars to “follow the student.”  Meaning that it costs the state about $7,500.00 to educate a student in Texas and that the state funding should follow the student, to any education setting. This seems logical.  And for “School Choice” advocates, they present this as a fair and reasonable compromise.  Parent choose what they deem to be the best education setting for their child and the state pays for it.  After all, the parent pays taxes and the state pays for education, so really what’s the problem?

    Actually there are a lot of them.  I’ll just address the big two.

    Let’s tackle choice first.  There is not a "School Choice" problem in Texas.  There has been viable school choice in Texas for as long as I have been an educator.  The state provides for and pays for a level of education services that is delivered through public schools (this now includes charters).  There are parents who desire a level or version of education services different than the standard.  The state recognizes this (rightfully) and allows parents to home school their children and/or enroll their children in private institution more to the parents liking.  Choice is not being infringed upon in any way.

    Now the state does not pay for education choices provided outside of the public delivery vehicles (traditional and charter schools) nor does it refund any tax dollars that are not expended due to children being educated in a non-public setting. (Note: actually the taxes for every taxpayer are lowered when fewer students are educated in the public arena).

    Now the "School Choice" proponents will argue that this system is somehow unfair.  I will illustrate the fallacy of this argument with another example.  In Texas, a level of law enforcement protection is provided to all citizens.  There are affluent neighborhoods that desire additional law enforcement protection, let’s call these “Protection Choice” neighborhoods.  These "Protection Choice" neighborhoods hire additional security personnel to patrol their communities.  But the state does not pay for this choice.  And at any time the neighborhood can access traditional law enforcement services. In neither the school nor the protection arena, in no way has “choice” been infringed upon.

    The second big problem is the issue of taxes.  The "School Choice" proponents will argue that the money following their student isn’t a big deal; it’s only their taxes following their child.  This is a lie.  To explain this I’m going to simplify the numbers.  In Texas, schools are funded through property taxes.  Let’s assume the average household pays $3,700.00 in school taxes.  It costs about $7,500.00 to educate a child in Texas.  The parent who wants the funding to follow their child to a non-public education setting would be paying less than half of the cost.  The rest of the state’s taxpayers would have to cover the balance of $3,800.00 ($7500 - $3700).  If the parent exercised their “choice” for 2 children, the rest of the taxpayers would have to come up with the balance of $11,300.00 ($15,000 - $3,700).

    Now the "School Choice" parent might argue, "Since I’m opting out of the public education system then just opt me out of my school taxes.  It’s only fair."  

    But is it?  What about the taxpayer with no children? They too are not using the public education system.  Shouldn’t they be exempt from school taxes?

    The issue with "School Choice" is not that choice is not available.  It is.  The issue is a vocal group of parents and special interests that want others to pay for a lifestyle choice that they want to exercise. 

    As a fiscal conservative and prudent taxpayer, I have a problem with that.

    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: TESPA Fall Conference; The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote Presentation); ASCD Annual Conference 
    • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

    Thursday, September 25, 2014

    A Reader Asks... Lesson Framing in the Self-contained Classroom

    A LYS Assistant Superintendent asks the following:

    SC,

    The training that you provided this past summer was great and our staff has worked this semester implementing the Fundamental 5.  With that implementation, we some have questions.
      
    What is the best way to manage “We will” and “I will” statements for grade levels that are self-contained and have several content objectives?

    I appreciate any guidance that you may be able to give us.

    SC Response
    Great question.  I would start with the reminder that the self-contained classroom is inherently unfair for both the teacher and the student.  The teacher is expected to be an expert in all four content areas, plan for all four content areas, and deliver daily rigorous and engaging instruction in all four content areas.  Yet Framing the Lesson is where the breakdown occurs?  The better solution is partner pairing, but we can save that concept/practice for a later discussion. 

    Start with the understanding that a Lesson Frame frames the big idea or the critical understanding of the lesson.  Which means, especially in elementary classrooms, you don’t frame everything taught during the content time, you frame the most important thing.  So lets say during my Reading/ELA block that my direct teach addresses reading comprehension, but I will also have a grammar review, centers, individual practice and some pullout groups. Most likely, I will Frame the direct teach concept. From a practical and observation standpoint, this means that there will be less Frame / Student Activity alignment in an elementary classroom than in a secondary classroom. 

    Now, the question becomes, which content areas should be Framed.  The answer is (in the self-contained classroom) the critical content areas.  Depending on the class and the grade that may be just reading and math, or could expand to include reading, writing, math, science and social studies.  But to not Frame the critical content is not an option.  On this I cannot be more direct. To not Frame is to not prime the brain to be receptive to the learning and to not set up the brain to retain the content.  Which means to purposefully teach poorly. 

    Now, if I have assigned my teachers the nearly impossible task of being self-contained, there are three things that I must do to help my teachers. 

    1. I must provide them with a common scope and sequence.  I must give them the “What and the When” of instruction if they are to plan for quality delivery in four different content areas.

    2. I must carve out time for my teachers to plan and collaborate together.  And I must make sure that they use the time appropriately and effectively.

    3. I must visit classrooms to observe instruction and check the Lesson Frames.  If the Frames are not posted, cue the teacher to get them up.  If the Frames are of poor quality, help the teacher revise them. If the Frames are up and of good quality, give the teacher a “Thumbs up.”

    I hope this gets you and your team past this little hiccup.  Let me know if you need any more assistance.

    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: TESPA Fall Conference; The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote Presentation); ASCD Annual Conference 
    • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014

    An Open Letter to State Senator Dan Patrick

    Let me start by pointing out that I am a middle class, home owning, college educated, white male who resides in your senatorial district.  In other words, there is no question that I represent your target demographic. Though I do not espouse a particular party affiliation, in the six presidential elections that I have been old enough to participate in, I have voted for the Republican candidate five times.  In the six Texas gubernatorial elections that I have been old enough to participate in, I have voted for the Republican candidate four times. The reason why I share the above information is to assure you that this is not a partisan attack of some kind. I write this as essentially a center-right independent.

    Key to a democracy is the voter having the chance to weigh the positions and the judge the mettle of the candidates.  The best vehicle for this is the debate, with multiple debates providing candidates the opportunity to clarify his or her beliefs, philosophy and intended actions. Which in turn allows the voter to make a better-informed decision.  Next to the candidate debate, meeting with the editorial boards of the major newspapers that serve the people you aspire to represent better informs the electorate of what it can expect if it elects a particular candidate.

    Sadly, since securing your party’s nomination it seems that you have purposefully avoided debating your opponent and have deemed meeting with editorial boards unworthy of your time.  Your spokespeople point out that as the frontrunner there is little need for you to do either. Which, in my opinion, communicates very clearly that you are more interested in winning than leading.  Not the quality I look for when evaluating the merits of a given candidate.  By limiting and postponing debate with your opponent and by not making yourself available to the editorial boards across the state the only information left to evaluate your candidacy is your record and your rhetoric.  Which have consistently been anti-public schools, anti-infrastructure and anti-inclusion. 

    At this point, I cannot say that by making yourself more available to the electorate that you will secure my vote. What I can say is based on your current strategy you will not secure 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: TESPA Fall Conference; The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote Presentation); ASCD Annual Conference 
    • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    The Failure of Leadership


    Last week’s post (9/17/14), “Treat the Symptoms Vs. Treat the Disease,” got me thinking about my real job when I was working for the state.  Yes, my title was “State Director of Innovative Redesign,” but the actual job was more along the lines of Plumber. 

    When systems fail, there is either a broken component, a clog or a lack of flow.  What is true in plumbing is true in a school system.  My job was to identify the issue and correct it as quickly as possible.  But where others saw the fault as broke curriculum (component), ineffective teachers (clog), inadequate resources (flow), I recognized that these are all symptoms of the same disease, Failure of Leadership.  A no curriculum or a subpar curriculum is leadership failure. A mass of ineffective teachers is leadership failure.  Not providing adequate resources is leadership failure.  My job then was to identify at what level the leadership failure had manifested (Assistant Principal, Principal, Central Office, Superintendent or Board) and based on the severity of the disease either provide support or excise the problem.

    In the case described last week (9/17/14) the leadership failure had manifested itself at the board level.  Staff can’t run off principal after principal if the Board is focused on student success and makes decisions based on that focus.  And here is what is truly sad about leadership failure at the highest level. Not only do students suffer (in terms of squandered performance driven opportunities), but at some point so will teachers when the only course action left is wholesale housecleaning and reorganization.

    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: TESPA Fall Conference; The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote Presentation); ASCD Annual Conference 
    • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook