Friday, May 22, 2009

Stopping to Celebrate Public Education


Our annual Excellence in Education dinner recognized educators, schools, and community entities for outstanding work in the field of public education through the implementation of a program or service. These recognized programs received the Crystal Award for Excellence in Education.

Each award winner had an opportunity to describe their program and talk about the impact it had on students. Winners ranged from a Health Related Technology program at a Career Center that serves the community through an adult daycare program to a character education program for elementary students and everything in between.

The common thread of relationships seemed to connect all the programs. Retired individuals connecting to middle school students, teachers connecting to digital age of their students, students connecting to their parents, students connecting to the community etc...

I left the event wondering whether we really understand school improvement. Is it about more math and reading options, tutoring and highly qualified teachers? Or is it really about connecting to the students and adults around us?

Congratulations to our 2009 Award winners:


Pictured above:

Top left: Jackie Ludka, Philomena Reduzzi and Patti McLain from the Pleasant Valley School District.

Bottom right: (from left to right-back row) Anita Shannahan, Norma Ferguson, Nancy Marsac, Dick Thompson, and Fred Henderson, mentors from the WE Exceed Program.  (from left to right in the front row) Samantha Sommer (seated), Sara Hriniak and Jacqueline Santanasto from the Bethlehem Area School District

Friday, May 8, 2009

Effective Professional Development

SAW 2007 Ian Jukes 11

The February issue of Educational Leadership provides a summary of research on professional learning entitled, Teacher Learning: What Matters? by Linda Darling-Hammond & Nikole Richardson. The article is filled with great suggestions for effective professional development. The one that struck me the most was the following:

"Professional development lasting 14 or fewer hours showed no effects on learning. The largest effects were for programs offering 30-100 hours spread out over 6-12 months."

In other words the basis of effective staff development is ideally 30 or more hours of training on a single topic spread out over 6 to 12 month period.

Reflection: How does your school or district compare to this research-based best practice?


Darling-Hammond, L. & N. Richardson. (February 2009). Teacher learning: What matters? Educational Leadership, Vol. 66(5), p. 46-53.

Photo courtesy of CIU 20 Summer Administrative Workshop August 2006.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Personal Organizer









A colleague recently expressed interest in Twitter and other web 2.0 tools, but dismissed them because she didn't have time. I agreed. She did not have time to go to multiple websites and get the latest updates. I can't think of an administrator that does have time.

iGoogle is a personalized web page and  is a one stop organizer for me.  It allows me to add news, photos, weather, and much more from across the web. At a glance I can check my personal email, which I use to access a lot of the web 2.0 tools, Twitter, and the various blogs I read through Google Reader. In other words, iGoogle does the work for me... pulling and organizing all the latest updates into one convenient location. For me the key is using Gmail for my personal email. When I check my email, I manage to check everything else too.

How do you keep organized? Any recommendations for working/accessing information at a glance?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Leading for Learning

This past Monday I visited East Stroudsburg North High School. Steve Zall, principal, hosted a group of administrators from a neighboring school district and myself to showcase his building's instructional walk-through process. As I listened to Steve share his experience and hospitality with us, I was struck by two things. First, instructional walk-throughs are not about teachers or teaching. They are about leading and leadership. Secondly, the term instructional leader is really not an accurate term, rather what we need in schools are learning leaders.

To pay attention to instruction is not sufficient. We need leaders who are not content to simply schedule professional development and assume its implementation. We need leaders like Steve, who walk with a high degree of frequency from classroom to classroom looking for evidence of implementation. We need leaders that will learn along side their teachers, participate in staff development and be able to recognize implementation when they see it. When we have learning leaders, I believe we will find learning teachers.

So the reflective question on the table is......

Are you a learning leader?

Do you have learning teachers?

See also East Stroudsburg's Student Advisory Council post.