Thursday, October 30, 2014

Campus Security Checklist (REVISED)

The following is a post that I wrote in 2012, hoping that I would only have to publish it once.   This is now the fourth time I have shared it.  Hopefully, this time will be the last.

Over the upcoming days, weeks and months there will be considerable hand wringing, finger pointing and second guessing when it comes to analyzing the tragedy of last week. There is little positive to come from this.  An irrational actor, with a mission and no exit strategy, attacked the school.  A perfect storm of unmitigated evil.

In my education leadership career, I do have some unique experience and expertise in school security.  Here are some things that I recommend you should do to review your campus security procedures and practices, today.  This checklist is quick, practical, reasonable and actionable.

1. Keep your exterior doors and windows secured at all times. This may mean that locks need to be replaced and keys need to be inventoried and redistributed.  This should have been done before, do it now.  Stop the practice of people propping doors open when they go outside.  Constantly remind staff and students the seriousness of exterior door safety. Be diligent in modeling and monitoring this practice and dealing with those that forget and break protocol. 

2. Review and practice alert, evacuation, and shelter-in-place procedures. Regularly, not just on the last day of the month. Immediately stop the practice of warning staff when there is going to be a drill.  It defeats the purpose of the drill and creates the learned behavior of, Checking to see if it is a real emergency.Also, there should be drills conducted on days when campus leadership is not available.  Emergencies can occur at any time.  Practice accordingly.

3. Keep your head on a swivel.  Stay alert.  When it comes to their surroundings, most adults operate in a fog throughout the day. This is where you can actually use students to help with security.  They are much more alert than we give them credit for.  Teach them to monitor our shared surroundings (visitor badges, unlocked doors, open windows, damaged equipment, unsafe conditions, etc.) and quietly report to their teacher. Make it a game.

4. (NEW) Allow any adult or student on the campus to initiate a lockdown.  This bears repeating, allow any person on the campus (adult or student) to initiate a lockdown.  Most campuses require a previously identified administrator or team to authorize a lockdown of a campus.  That person or persons may not be readily available when an imminent danger is identified.  So for a lockdown, eliminate the middleman and secure the school first. Then only lift the lockdown at the direction of a key administrator or a public safety officer. 

5. When something seems off, listen to your gut.  If you gut is wrong, all you did was take an extra precaution.  If your gut is right, you prevented or reduced the severity of a difficult situation.

6. (NEW) Provide students and teachers with a phone script.  Pre-write a basic, fill-in-the-blank, “Here’s what happened, now we’re safe, how to get me,” script for students and teachers.  As soon as the situation is stable, hand out the scripts and have the students and staff call their loved ones on their cell phones and follow the script.  They are going to call anyway. So manage the situation and reduce the amount incorrect information and panic that is generated from any school safety incident.

7. Plan for the worst. Pray for the best. We should not turn our campuses into armed camps and we cannot live in fear.  But we should be prudent and take reasonable precautions. 

This is a tough time to be an educator.  But this is also a proud time.  We have peers who have paid the ultimate price to protect our children. We will not forget that. And still we man our posts because the job is important and it is what we do.  We Are Teachers.    

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Buy In?

It is regularly reported that some initiative on a campus failed because there was no “Buy-in.”  I’ve been doing this a while, and I believe this concept of buy-in is overrated. As a school leader, here is what I believe in:

1. I believe in communication. 

2. I believe in clear purpose and intent.

3. I believe in training. 

4. I believe in support.

5. I believe in monitoring. 

6. I believe in, “Do or Don’t Do.”

7. And I believe that sometimes, in spite of everything we do, things don’t go according to plan.

But, the lack of “buy-in” is the cop out excuse of the manager who was negligent somewhere in items 1 thru 5 and doesn’t want to be held accountable.

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 28, 2014

The Student With a Baby

I recently had the following correspondence with the Superintendent of a small, rural district.

SC,

Considering my district and the community we serve, what would you do for the student who is a junior and now has a baby with no day care options, no family support and no job for a baby sitter?

SC Response
I could make a snarky comment about accessing the safety net for unprepared mothers and their children, but that is another post.  As is the case for almost every social issue, as school leaders we leave the rhetoric to those who exploit, instead of dealing with problems.

I know creating a day care at your high school is not feasible, so let’s go straight to Plan B.

1. Get the student access to some on-line course work, immediately.  A+ or Khan Academy courses would be the first place I would look.  This student don’t need great instruction, this student now needs exposure to content.  If the student doesn’t have a computer and/or connectivity, take care of both issues.  Then the student progresses thru the lessons at home and comes up to the school to take the tests to earn the credit in the course(s).

2. Get the student back on campus and in class as soon as baby-sitting is available. If quarter or half day attendance is the only option, then exercise it.

3. From an education standpoint, there are only 3 priorities: 
A – Earn a required credit. 
B – Earn a HS diploma.  
C - Start earning some college credits towards a certificate or a degree as soon as possible.

In our state, it only takes 22 credits to graduate from High School, if they are the right credits.  As a junior, the student most likely has 16 credits earned and 4 credits currently in progress.  Which means that there is no reason why this student couldn’t graduate by July 2015 and be enrolled in a course at the local Junior College in the Fall of 2015.

At this point, your job is to increase the opportunity set of your student and her child.  Each additional credit earned does that, a High School diploma does that, and enrolling in a college course does that.

As you know, the decisions you make in this matter will change lives.  Change them for the better.

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 27, 2014

Top LYS Tweets From the Week of October 19, 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 19, 2014.

1. Redundancy is critical in training a school response plan. What happens when the "safety guy" happens to be gone for the day? (By @TinneyTroy)

2. Laugh if you want, but a simple kitchen timer is the post powerful piece of technology a teacher can use in the classroom. (By @LYSNation)

3. I think it is funny how many politicians brag about having mothers who were teachers while simultaneously gutting public education. (By @plugusin)

4. The structures in education placed by people who don't understand education are hurting teachers and students. (By @BeckyFredickso)

5. If you can change a child's writing, you can eventually change their thinking. (By @MsCalcoteZPB)

6. Research says students must talk to each other about 7 times in a given class period to comprehend topic at hand. (By @justintarte)

7. Writing is hard work, because thinking is hard work. Writing is thinking on paper. (By @MecrumpMyra)

8. If you tell yourself that winning isn't important then your chances of winning go way, way down. (By @LeadToday)

9. Remember, if you want a different result, do something different. (By @Crysrommuel)

10. Big Spring HS Hammer Time Policy: No announcements during the last 5 minutes of class. Reserved for Lesson Closure. The Close hammers home the learning. (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: 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 24, 2014

The Threat is Real But It Doesn't Have to Be

There are threats to our representative democracy, but that isn’t the news.  There have always been threats to our representative democracy and if reasonable people make reasonable decisions we will reach reasonable solutions.  The danger is the when the power of the fringe faction overwhelms the power of the reasonable mass.  In our current political environment the following are the tools of the fringe faction and their use elevates the real and potential danger to democratic principals.

Gerrymandering: The purposeful drawing of political boundaries to maximize the influence of a ruling minority over an overall majority.  The danger and very real effect of this practice is that the will of the majority is thwarted and the primary election becomes the de facto election. When this occurs the power of the fringe is magnified and the power of the mass is diminished.  The solution is to oppose the practice and not to vote for its proponents.

Voter Suppression: Voter suppression is disguised as a reasonable practice to prevent voter fraud.  The only fraud in the voter fraud argument is that there is voter fraud.  It does not exist.  People who don’t have the right to vote, simply don’t vote. Heck, the people who have the right to vote... don’t vote.  And there is the rub.  So few people vote that preventing someone from voting is as powerful as getting someone to vote.  This is especially true if a faction targets those that are unlikely to vote for faction in the first place. The most fundamental right of an American citizen is access to the ballot. Those that work contrary to this right are the most base opportunists.  The solution is to oppose the practice and not to vote for its proponents.

Unfettered Campaign Finance:  The argument is that dollars = speech.  That premise is false.  Speech = speech.  Dollars = access, influence, coercion, special consideration and media time. If we believe in the premise of one person - one vote, then that requires limits on those who individually have the resources of 100’s or even 1,000’s of people.  To not do so is to abandon democracy for oligarchy. The solution is to oppose the practice and not to vote for its proponents.

The Attack on Public Education: Key to a thriving democracy is an educated citizenry. An educated citizenry questions, thinks, considers and votes with reason and reflection. For a faction that is afraid of a growing populace that does not look like them, the last thing the faction wants is for those they deem different making mass, educated decisions at the ballot box.  When a faction defunds, devalues and debases public education, the faction diminishes access and opportunities to those who most need it, and who coincidentally have the most compelling reasons to question the status quo.  The solution is to oppose the practice and not to vote for its proponents.

This post is in no way a partisan attack. In fact, in the recent past, both parties have been guilty of engaging in each of the dangerous practices I have presented.  Which is why I have always voted a split ticket. I don’t vote party. I vote for the smartest candidate that most consistently plays by the rules that are best for the country.  And that is why the threats I have listed could fade away almost overnight. All it takes is more of the collective us not only voting, but voting with consideration and reflection. 

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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Early Success: A Coaching Exchange

The following is an excerpt between LYS Coach Harry Miller and the principal of a new LYS school.

(Coach Miller) It is exciting watching your people grow and increase the size of their bag of tools.  There is power in having all of the campus totally immersed in this endeavor; it’s hard to beat synergy. Remember, a rising tide lifts all boats!

(LYS Principal) Thank you for helping us.  You and the LYS Team have definitely sharpened some of our dull tools that needed to be revamped, and added a new set of tools to our toolkit.   As of now, here are my stats:

86 PowerWalks for the year
52 PowerWalks for the month
24 PowerWalks for the week (I'll have more tomorrow)

I'm proud of what I've accomplished thus far but am pushing for more PowerWalks.  I keep an eye on the Top Observers of the Month and I've noticed that one of our elementary principals has been in 3rd place for most of the month.  She also knows this because I told her on Monday, “I'm coming for ya!!!”

I have been sharing what I have observed with my staff!  After which, teachers will write me meaningful replies back, or come into my office and thank me.  I thank them right back because they are the ones making such huge changes. 

Thank you, for everything you do and what Lead Your School (Fundamental 5, PowerWalks) has brought to our district. 

See you 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); 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


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