No stranger to the work of James H. Stronge (our district used The Teacher Quality Index to design our teacher selection/hiring process), I was pleased to review a copy of Principal Evaluation: Standards, Rubrics, and Tools for Effective Performance to learn more about Stronge’s frameworks for principal evaluation. I’ve written on the topic of professional development for principals and administrators and principal evaluation in the past, and, like teacher evaluation, the process of principal evaluation is tricky business. The job of the principal is multifaceted and complicated. Developing a framework to fairly evaluate the effectiveness of a principal’s areas of influence has to be a near impossible task. Every principal’s role is different due to the unique compositions of our schools and communities. To standardize it is laughable. However, are there certain characteristics all strong principals possess? Most agree there are. So what are those characteristics, and how can we measure the extent to which a principal possesses them? (Because, as we all know, in public education, if we can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.) Ahem. Stronge’s book is organized into three parts: How to Build an Evaluation System That Works – provides a conceptual framework for designing a principal … Continue Reading →
Dear Principalship, It’s been quite a ride. I transitioned into administration in the summer of 2008, not knowing what to expect. But, after 9 years in the classroom, I welcomed with open arms (and a whole boatload of nervous) the new adventures you’d bring. It’s hard to summarize in a single post the valuable leadership lessons I’ve learned over the past five years. I’ve blogged about many of them. I don’t want this post to be a total rehash of everything I’ve ever written about the life of a principal, so suffice it to say that serving as the principal of Brecknock Elementary School has allowed me to learn about myself as a person, teacher, leader, manager, caregiver, organizer, disciplinarian, partner, mentor, mentee, coach, supervisor, friend, teammate, and student. I laughed, and I cried. I will greatly miss interacting with my students on a daily basis. (Understatement of the century). When I thought my day couldn’t get any worse, I’d see one of their smiling faces, or one of the kids would say something so innocent and ridiculous I’d laugh my head off. Thank you, students. I worked with a large number of teachers during my principalship. New teachers, veteran … Continue Reading →
I’m playing #etmooc catch up (again) and will begin sharing all of my reflective posts here as well as my original learning with #etmooc blog space because of the demise of Posterous, which has both saddened and irritated me. Digital literacy is the topic that made the etmooc learning space so irresistible to me… I think as educators we spout off about wanting our students to be digitally literate, but not many of us (myself included) have a firm grasp about what that actually means, and quite a number of us are still attempting to become digitally literate ourselves. Whatever that means. It turns out, defining digital literacy isn’t such an easy task. The etmooc community was fortunate enough to hear Doug Belshaw speak on this topic in a recent webinar. I’ve followed Doug on Twitter for quite some time, and it turns out his dissertation investigates just what is digital literacy… and his TED talk can be viewed here. Doug explained that digital literacy is quite ambiguous, and he doesn’t have all of the answers when it comes to defining these terms. He made a point to ask, How can we define digital literacy when we don’t know what … Continue Reading →
There was an article in the most recent issue of Wired magazine that sparked my thinking. It didn’t detail the latest gadgets or technological innovations, or deal with the field of education, yet it immediately made me consider this question in regards to our roles as school leaders and educators: Do we show them we care? Dr. Feelgood, written by Nathanael Johnson, explores the beneficial effects of alternative medicine. Despite the fact that science is often unable to prove its ability to be effective in curing patients, the same scientific studies show that patients treated by alternative measures often end up feeling better. Huh? Johnson reminds us of the placebo effect: when sick people are given a treatment, even if it’s just a placebo, their condition often improves. But not always. So further studies commenced, and researchers discovered that when patients are treated by doctors and care providers who approach treatment with kindness and care, they report marked reduction in symptoms. Researcher Ted Kaptchuk from Harvard Medical School concluded ”the empathetic exchange between practitioner and patient” made the difference. This approach to healing has been coined the care effect: “the idea that the opportunity for patients to feel heard and are for can improve their health.” … Continue Reading →
#etmooc – a Massive Open Online Course on Educational Technology and Media -is underway. I registered and will do my best to participate in this course, since its topics are of great interest to me: connected learning, digital storytelling, digital literacy, the open movement, and digital literacy. View topics & schedule here. As with any MOOC, the more I put into engaging in the spaces and the conversations, the more I’ll get out of it. I know it will be difficult to find the time to attend sessions and complete all tasks, but I’m eager to learn more in these areas. I used Posterous to create a space for my #etmooc reflections. (Is there anything simpler than setting up a space in Posterous? Love it.) You can participate too! Register here.
At this time of year, busy bloggers typically compile their top ten lists of <insert topic here> , reminisce about the highlights and lowlights of the year gone by, and solidify in writing their resolutions to yield a more fruitful life in the coming year. I’ve read several blog posts this week that open with those sentiments, so I guess all of the cool kids are doing it. Here’s my attempt. 2012 was a keeper. I can say that I chose to make family and friends a priority and put my professional growth and participation in connected learning on the back burner. In March, when my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, as cliche as it sounds, it changed everything. Suddenly every day my thoughts were consumed with the child who would be joining our family in the fall, and, add to that the sheer exhaustion and demands on the body and mind that pregnancy brings, I had little desire to read, reflect, write, converse, and publish. I definitely dropped out of the conversations. My “in-person” learning experiences this year were plentiful, including the opportunity to present at Educon, attend ASCD, Pete & C, and two edcamps, … Continue Reading →
Last week I received a direct message tweet from a former administrative colleague, asking me if I had seen the “gangnam style” video that was dubbed “the worst video on the entire internet.” He told me he saw it when the link was tweeted by someone with over 25,000 followers… so I figured it was going to be viewed by a handful of people. But why did he send the link to me? I was out and about with a newborn singing melodiously in his carseat and didn’t have a chance to view the video at that time, but when I glanced at the video’s thumbnail, I recognized three of my administrative colleagues from our district’s high school: Reaction #1: These three are dedicated professionals and do have a great sense of humor, but why in the world would they create a gangnam style parody video and post it on YouTube? When I got home I was able to view the video in its entirety and realized it was a student-created video. At the time, it had around 45,000 views. (As I write this post, it has over 1 million). And then, I began reading the comments. Hateful, hurtful, horrid … Continue Reading →
As new parents, my husband and I are learning as we go. This isn’t to say we didn’t read, research, and Google the heck out of every possible pregnancy, labor & delivery, and newborn-eat-sleep-and-poop-related topic we could find over the past nine months, but there truly is no replacement for “hands-on learning.” (Especially when your little one surprises you by arriving three weeks before his due date! Talk about the need to be flexible with your thinking.) I consider the time we spend with our son to be the ultimate authentic assessment. (And I’ve never been assessed by someone as darn cute as our little guy.) If we can meet his needs, he’s happy. If we don’t, he lets us know about it. We use his cues as feedback to adjust our methods and continually strive to get it right, for him. We don’t compare ourselves to other parents. We don’t strive to attain some sort of blue ribbon parenting status, judged by measures that don’t take into account our strengths, needs, and personal circumstances. We work hard to give him a happy life because it’s meaningful work for us. The most meaningful work we’ve ever done, for sure. Posts … Continue Reading →
Educators are well aware that teacher evaluation systems are at the forefront of the discussions on school reform. A member of the general public who catches even a glimpse of educational headlines in the local news realizes this as well, although I would venture to say they don’t fully comprehend the scope of implementation and accountability of these systems. The general thinking behind the design and use of teacher evaluation systems is that if we create more effective teachers, better learning outcomes for students will result. As an administrator, I have noticed that the topic of principal evaluation systems may be a secondary thought in “school reform” conversations. In fact, in many districts, the principals of under-performing schools are simply fired or reassigned to other roles or buildings. Many state systems define the effectiveness of teachers and principals based mainly on one measure: student achievement on standardized tests. This narrow focus does little to improve the quality of our educational organizations or the professionals within. Where’s the professional development? Where’s the support? Principals play an integral role in the success of school improvement efforts, and they have the power to create solid foundations for improvements in student learning and teacher … Continue Reading →
PLP Live is fast approaching… if you’re looking for a day of learning facilitated by passionate speakers and educators, this is the day for you. I have no doubt you will leave feeling inspired! When? Friday, September 28, 2012 Where? PA Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA Who? John Seely Brown, Suzie Boss, Darren Cambridge, Bruce Dixon, Will Richardson, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Jackie Gerstein, Jane Krauss, Renee Moore, and more! What? Inspire – Collaborate – Shift! Inspirational keynotes, collaborative opportunities with educators and educational leaders, “lunch ‘n’ learn” with the speakers, and more. The day’s agenda can be found here. I’m really excited to be facilitating a “collaborate” session with Lisa Neale, Alan Fletcher, and Bonnie Birdsall. Are you ready for the shift? Join us! For all of the great details and to register, click here!