Friday, May 27, 2016

The Positive Benefits of School Accountability

This post is not to discuss the merits of the any state’s accountability system.  It’s easy to throw stones at system designed primarily by pandering amateurs.  Instead, this post is to remind us that accountability has changed the profession, for the better.  Here is just one of many examples. 

When I started teaching (pre-accountability) my department chair explained that if I failed too many students in my math classes, I would be considered a bad teacher.  Makes senses.

My department chair (a respected, “good” teacher) also explained if I didn’t fail enough students in my math classes, I would be considered “too easy,” another category of bad teachers. 

Which means when I began my career as a teacher, there was an acceptable failure rate. An actual group of students that I was expected to leave behind.

Today, I wouldn’t hire a teacher walking into a classroom with that expectation. There is no acceptable failure rate and we know that because accountability forced us to adapt to a new and better instructional reality in our classrooms.

And that’s 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); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: Texas Association of Secondary School Principals Conference (Multiple Presentations); Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Conference (Multiple Presentations); LYS / TASSP Advanced Leadership Academy (Keynote) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Reader Writes... Keep Doing What You Do

A LYS Assistant Superintendent writes:

SC,

I know that you probably get emails with positive comments cheering you on all the time, but keep up the great work.  I love what you are doing for education!

SC Response
Thank you! Though it doesn’t happen all the time (see yesterday’s post), the vast majority of the comments I receive are positive.  And those comments, like yours, let me know that the work that all of us in the LYS Nation are doing is vital, important, and needs a forum.

Then there are the negative comments from readers who happen upon the blog.  And even more than the positive comments, those comments let me know that we have to keep educating the public about what our mission is in education and that we, educators, have to tell our story. A story of facts, reality, enlightenment, and improving an entire citizenry.

Because the story of our (public educators) daily work is neither the agenda nor the propaganda of those marshaled against public education.

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: Texas Association of Secondary School Principals Conference (Multiple Presentations); Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Conference (Multiple Presentations); LYS / TASSP Advanced Leadership Academy (Keynote) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Reader Writes... A Stressed Out Staff - Part 2

In response to the 1/27/15 post, “A Stressed Out Staff,” a reader writes:

This is absolutely absurd. There is no empathy in this article. This is more "blame the teacher" propaganda. If a school staff is supposed to be a team, this completely undermines that idea. Encouragement and stress relief is what is needed. Support and an empathetic ear are what are needed. Sometimes all a teacher needs is encouragement and a chance to vent.

SC Response
First, thank you for writing that you disagree with the post.  I was actually sharing with a LYSer earlier this week that I was getting a little concerned that we weren’t hearing from anyone with a contrary position.

Second, I went back and reread the post and want to take your critique line by line.

A. “This is absurd.”
The facts are not absurd.  The facts are the facts.  There was an AP that was concerned about staff complaints. We went to observe teachers, on this particular campus, to better determine the source of the teachers’ stress to better support the complaining teachers. The instructional practices observed were, at best, lower yield.

B. “This is “blame the teacher” propaganda.”
Far from the case, I am a public education advocate.  What I am not is a public education apologist.  When we are on our game, I won’t back down. And when we aren’t doing what we should, I will not sugar coat it.  What we do as public educators, every day, is too important to abide half measure on any day.

C. The post “undermines the idea of staff as team.”
To the contrary, it completely supports the idea.  What undermines the idea of “staff as team” is leadership allowing those working for the team to also carry the weight of those not working for the team. That would be a form of leadership failure and only benefits those taking advantage of the team.

D. “Encouragement and stress relief is what is needed.” 
Agreed.  For those who are engaged in doing the work as required.  For those who are not, they must be encouraged to engage and implement their training, because by not doing so, their stress is self-inflicted.

E. “Sometimes all a teacher needs is encouragement and a chance to vent.”
Agreed, and I even wrote as much...”Don’t confuse the stress of focused purpose with the stress of lazy practice.  One is addressed with empathy and support.  The other is addressed with honest communication and monitored expectations.”

I just point out a leader must recognize that “guilt stress” requires a different response than “pressure stress.”

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: Texas Association of Secondary School Principals Conference (Multiple Presentations); Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Conference (Multiple Presentations); LYS / TASSP Advanced Leadership Academy (Keynote) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Readers Write... A Stressed Out Staff - Part 1

In response to the 1/27/15 post, “A Stressed Out Staff,” readers write:

A LYS Principal
 “Right on, Brother. Keep preaching it!“

A LYS Principal
“Good stuff... good stuff... So glad you shared this out!

A LYS Teacher
            “And I thought I was the only one who noticed which teachers do the most whining.

SC Response
I get it.  Teaching students in this era of increased accountability and diminishing resources is difficult, stressful work.  Much more so than when I was in the classroom. I also recognize that for many, “gritching” is the lubricant that allows one to deal with the friction of doing difficult work.  So I have a high tolerance for “in house / behind closed doors” gritching. 

So for those doing the work, in the way that we agreed to do it, I am on your side and if I can help, I will.  

But for those making their lives more stressful due to cutting corners and hoping to not get caught, the only help I can give you is to help you get on board or to help you move on.  That is difficult job of leadership.

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: Texas Association of Secondary School Principals Conference (Multiple Presentations); Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Conference (Multiple Presentations); LYS / TASSP Advanced Leadership Academy (Keynote) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Monday, May 23, 2016

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of May 15, 2016

If you are not following @LYSNation on Twitter, then you missed the Top 10 LYS Tweets from the week of May 15, 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. Remember we don't have a few more days until summer break. We have a few more days to make a difference for our children. (By @PrincipalOgg)

2. “The secret to making sure students don't act like the school year is over is to make sure teachers don't act like the school year is over." (By @DrRichAllen)

3. Repetition: A person must hear something several times to believe it. A person must do something several times to achieve it. – John Wooden (By @CoachMotto)

4. I would rather try to control innovation than boredom -- take a risk. (By @MichaelFullan)

5. Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon.  They crap all over the board and strut around like they won. (By @RatliffT)

6. Be clear about this Texas Legislators: Cutting state taxes means hurting children. Just ask our Oklahoma friends. Or any Texas teacher. (By @pastors4txkids)

7. Demonstrate habits of excellence. Elevate your performance toward a noble purpose. Lift others to their highest potential. (By DrMetz_MHS)

8. Leaders are wise to identify top influencers on campus early. Those people are your power brokers. Their words carry weight. (By @heffrey)

9. Some days I walk in my class with my arms full of papers thinking: "What moron assigned all this work to be graded?" (By @BluntEducator)

10. "We want guys who drink out of the water hose, not the guy who's mommy brings him a Powerade after the third inning" - Tony Robichaux. (By @CoachLisle)

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: Texas Association of Secondary School Principals Conference (Multiple Presentations); Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Conference (Multiple Presentations); LYS / TASSP Advanced Leadership Academy (Keynote) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

Friday, May 20, 2016

Schools are Built for Adults - Case 2

“Schools are built for adults.” 

As an extension to the 5/18/2016 post, “Schools are Built for Adults – Case 1,” the above truth does not predispose that educators are bad people.  They (we) are not. In fact, compared to the population at large, educators are more decent, empathetic and self-sacrificing than the typical adult.  But we are still people. Which means that effective school leaders must be students of human nature.

My second proof point that “schools are built for adults” is this... In the Long Run, Adult Comfort Trumps Student Performance.

The overwhelming majority of schools do not operate to maximize student performance. Instead they operate at the intersection of an acceptable level of student performance and acceptable level of adult discomfort.

As long as that intersection resides above state accountability standards, the campus is considered successful and there is no pressure to maximize student performance.

If the intersection resides below state accountability standards, there is significant internal and external pressure to raise the level of student performance.  And the staff on the targeted campus will bear down and endure significant hardship toensure that more of their students meet the external accountability standards.

Not only is this admirable but it also demonstrates that we are capable of doing more than what we typically do.

But then the campus gets performance over the minimum standard bar and the crisis is ended.  Sooner rather than later, the all-important measure of adult comfort again takes over and there is significant pressure on campus leadership to “slow down,” and focus on morale.  The fact that there is objective proof that increased student performance is not only possible, but probable, is immaterial.

And for those of you skeptical, this pattern has been observed 100’s of times.  It is the primary reason why the State of Texas monitors campuses for up to 3 years after the campus finally meets minimum standards.   

No one really pays attention this truth. Now that you know it, what will you do with this information?

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: Illinois ASCD Fall Conference (Multiple Presentations), Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Fall AP Conference, The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Multiple Presentations) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook