Showing posts from June, 2009

Principle 1: Master the Courage to Interrogate Reality

This is the follow up to the Fierce Conversations post.I left the book club thinking how we could leverage Principle 1: Master the Courage to Interrogate Reality for school improvement. When we work with school improvement teams we see a nearly universal response. High school says if only the middle school had done its job, and the middle school says kids are not coming prepared. Other favorites include lack of motivation, students moving into the district, or it’s the parents.Let’s Interrogate Reality:When data is the foundation, we often see a different trend. High elementary scores, down slightly at middle school, then a sharp decrease at high school. NAEP data suggest the lower grades are beginning to close the achievement gap, while the gap is widening at the high school level. So in the words of Fierce Conversations author, Susan Scott, “What are we pretending not to know?” “What is our (administrators and teachers) contribution to the problem?”When will we be ready to hear the …

Fierce Conversations

Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott was the featured at our administrative book club this year. True to its title the book boldly described the need and the process for having critical conversations both at home and the work place. The book resonates with sound, practical advice. For a taste of the author’s edgy wisdom read on: “I don’t know about you, but I have not yet witnessed a spontaneous recovery from incompetence” (p. 60).“As a leader, you get what you tolerate” (p. 60).“What are you pretending not to know” (p. 70).“Sometimes we put so many pillows around a message that the message gets lost altogether” (p. 144).“Identify your contribution to the problem” (p. 151).Stay tuned as we apply Principle 1: Master the Courage to Interrogate Reality to school improvement.Scott, S. (2003). Fierce conversations: Achieving success at work and in life one conversation at a time. New York: Berkley Book.

Libraries as the Hub of School Improvement

I love school improvement! It sounds geeky and surreal, but it’s true. I practically get goose bumps talking about continuous improvement and high leverage instructional strategies. We have worked hard at our IU to offer comprehensive services to support our school districts and truly thought we had most of the territory covered. However, turns out we never considered the role of school libraries as a source of school improvement. Summary of Research Concludes(Findings from 19 State and 1 Province including Pennsylvania):“A substantial body of research since 1990 shows a positive relationship between school libraries and student achievement. The research studies show that school libraries can have a positive impact on student achievement—whether such achievement is measured in terms of reading scores, literacy, or learning more generally. A school library program that is adequately staffed, resourced, and funded can lead to higher student achievement regardless of the socio-economic o…

Hiring Practices to Promote Culture

I recently stumbled upon the The Science Leadership Academy website. I noticed they had some employment opportunities…. I was intrigued by their top requirement for applicants, “to teach kids before they teach subjects.” Simple, but profound!It is fairly accepted that elementary teachers get into education because they love kids, while secondary teachers enter the profession because they love their content. While deep content knowledge is important, it should not overshadow the need for a student-centered classroom. We typically assess applicants for their content knowledge, but no where have I seen so clear a statement about the type of culture a school is trying to cultivate than I did when I saw The Science Leadership Academy’s requirement. It inspired me to think more critically about the hiring procedures we use in our office including job postings. According to their home page:The Science Leadership Academy is a partnership high school between the School District of Philadelphia…