To cover or uncover?

frustrated teen student long hair adhd

The standards are here. They’ve been here. For many of us, the common core standards are coming, and the weight of their impact on our daily practice is overwhelming. Have you ever sat down, really, with that three-ring binder stuffed full of standards documentation, and read the content we’re expecting students to master in each content area, at each grade level? Do it. It’s staggering.

Teachers are presented with state standards, district curriculum maps, pacing guides, textbooks and long-term planning templates and charged with the task of covering the specified content in the most ideal time frame possible.

Is it good to have a plan? Yes, and pacing guides and curriculum maps can be fine tools to help us wrap our heads around content expectations. However, I don’t think any one of us assumes that every child will learn x amount of content given the same number of days or weeks of the year to learn it. Nothing irks me more than hearing teachers describe how they’re expected to teach lesson 2.3 on Monday, 2.4 on Tuesday, 2.5 on Wednesday, and following a day of brief review, test and move on. And as the content becomes more specialized, who’s to say that every child should learn each and every standard? Are we keeping the focus on individual student needs?

Karl Fisch adds his commentary on this topic in his recent post, What should students know and be able to do?

My bias, however, is that too often in schools we err too much on the side of content. I once heard Cris Tovani, a wonderful reading teacher in Colorado, say,

Yeah, as a teacher I can cover my curriculum. I can get to that finish line. But often when I get to that finish line and look around, I’m all by myself.

That’s even more true today, when we live in a rapidly changing, information abundant world. We live in exponential times. There’s just too much content out there.

So… should schools strive to cover content? Or rather to UNCOVER content? To allow our children to explore, question, and dig deeper into overarching concepts and apply skills learned in real-world, contextual situations?

Simply covering the content does not ensure mastery. It does not promote learning. It does not unleash the learner.

Uncovering content takes the learner on a journey from absolute knowledge, where the student plays a passive role, accepting knowledge as either right or wrong, taking all cues from the teacher….to contextual knowledge, where the learner’s knowledge is built upon evidence in context, and the student’s role is to think through problems and integrate/apply knowledge at a formal operational level. Uncovering content asks students to assume no knowledge is sure knowledge. It asks the student to embrace questioning, testing of ideas, reasoning, forming judgments, and interpretation.

So how can administrators encourage teachers to uncover, rather than cover, content? Here are some thoughts:

1. When writing , revising, and evaluating curriculum, make it a team effort. Include teachers from all disciplines and have them work together to build the foundations. Look for the logical opportunities for integration of disciplines to allow for students to make meaningful connections with the content.

2. Don’t dictate that teachers abide by strict pacing guides. Help teachers develop long-range plans that are comprehensive enough to ensure the curricular needs are met, but flexible enough to support student learners. This includes providing both additional time and intervention for struggling learners as well as compacting of the curriculum and enrichment for students who are capable of moving beyond proficiency in those areas.

3. Make assessments awesome. As we’re rethinking curriculum, we can’t forget about assessment (or instruction, for that matter). Help teachers develop formative, authentic, comprehensive, real-world assessments to evaluate student learning. Be sure self  and peer-evaluation components are included.

4. Stay afloat. Don’t drown in a sea of standards, anchors, and bullets. Consider the big picture, and encourage your teachers to encourage the development of collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. Help them be literate. Teachers and administrators need to model for children that the process of true learning is never-ending, reflective, and powerful.

Go out and uncover something wonderful today!

Many thanks to my grad professor, Dr. Elias, who always leads us in stimulating conversations and whose words helped spark this post.

It's about people.


Yesterday I spent a considerable amount of time renaming my Google Reader feeds. While I’ve come to recognize many of the titles in my Reader, I did not often associate the blog title with the person behind the virtual pen.

I didn’t like that.

I love scouring these feeds for inspiration. Educators (and students!) from all over the world post their ideas, stories, projects, what they’re reading, and what influences their practices. Their words jumpstart my professional drive and often make my heart swell with admiration for the work with children these educators do.

Computers don’t compose blog posts. People do.

I read a lot of “About” pages and learned more about these blog writers than I ever knew before. And to be honest… if I couldn’t find an author’s name via the blog or a link to Twitter, I re-evaluated keeping the feed in my Reader.

I more closely relate to this

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than this

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At our school we host events like Moms and Muffins and Dads and Donuts -healthy, I know 🙂 -because there is nothing more gratifying than having hundreds of people packed into your gymnasium, engaging in conversations about loving our kids.

1:1 programs, iPads in the classrooms, Smartboards… schools are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into the latest and greatest technologies for their classrooms and student/teacher use. Without quality professional development with connections to learning, are the investments worth it?

Technology/curriculum/standards/programs/policies don’t ensure our children learn. People do.

We’re embarking on a year-long professional development series this week with our elementary teachers focusing on “the shift” in teaching and learning and how we can utilize various technologies to help students delve more deeply into their learning experiences. I will be working with teachers that teach in my building, but also those from two other elementary schools within the district. Teachers in our cohort have been asked to complete some prerequisite activities before our meeting this week, one of which was to watch Shift Happens: 3.0 and reflect upon its contents. Their comments were quite impressive. While some expressed anxiety about potentially becoming buried in an avalanche of new technologies and others were concerned that we will “never catch up,” this insightful reflection reminded me of how the tools are just a small part of what we need to bring to our students:

I think that one of the major implications of “the shift” is that students need guidance and practice in developing strategies to acquire, analyze, and act on the information and communication opportunities that are available through technology so that they will be prepared for whatever technology, tasks, and challenges they will eventually face in their careers. -jhixson

Can technology do this? No.

People can.

You and I can. We can.

Remember that people, and relationships, come first when our shared goal is to provide the best possible learning experiences for students.  Sustainable leadership will only result when people come first.

Go team!


The title of our staff’s latest shared Google presentation was, “Go Team Brecknock!” I’m not sure what compelled me to name it that, but I think it’s because the first hour of our morning (before we provided teachers with sweet freedom to collaborate with their grade level peers for the remainder of the day), our discussions focused on the “state of our school,” an overall look at some data trends, where we are, where we need to go, and how we’re going to get there. We are a team, working toward the collective goal of improving learning experiences for all children.

No single person can move a school, therefore team dynamics become critical. We modeled our own professional learning community work after DuFour’s model. One of the “big ideas” of Dufour’s PLC is A Culture of Collaboration:

Educators who are building a professional learning community recognize that they must work together to achieve their collective purpose of learning for all. Therefore, they create structures to promote a collaborative culture…. For teachers to participate in such a powerful process, the school must ensure that everyone belongs to a team that focuses on student learning. Each team must have time to meet during the workday and throughout the school year. Teams must focus their efforts on crucial questions related to learning and generate products that reflect that focus,   such as lists of essential outcomes, different kind of assessment, analyses of student achievement, and strategies for improving results. Teams must develop norms or protocols to clarify expectations regarding roles, responsibilities, and relationships among team members. Teams must adopt student achievement goals linked with school and district goals. –What is a professional learning community? (DuFour, 2004)

What makes a strong team? What makes a dysfunctional team? I’ve seen both in action, and I’ve been part of both. As administrators we need to recognize the characteristics of effective teacher teams so we can build capacity within them, strengthening the organization as a whole. To further extend this collaborative power for learning, teachers can and should incorporate team-building and team problem-solving activities into their classrooms with students.

A team of researchers from Centre for Innovation in Education from the Queensland University for Technology set out to identify the characteristics of effective school-based teams through the lens of micropolitics. Their findings are relevant for schools and school-based systems dealing with school-based management and similar reforms/restructurings in that they developed a tool to assess and enhance the effectiveness of teams. Critical reflection of team dynamics should include a look at the

  • clarity of the team’s role and objectives
    • competence and credibility of the team members
    • uniformity of members’ values and their commitment to team work
    • interpersonal relationships and communication among members and between members and other staff
    • accessibility of professional development opportunities for the team and for its individual members

    Developing strengths in these dimensions will better establish school teams in that they will be more prepared to engage in decision-making processes, develop better relationships among colleagues, and embrace future possibilities rather than focus on current realities (Cranston, Ehrich, Reugebrink, & Gaven, 2002).

    I am generally pleased with the collaborative efforts my teachers are making. Each team is finding their way… each team member is defining and honing his/her role in that team. One area where we need to develop is in our team leadership/coaching roles. Team leaders were appointed and attended professional development sessions on coaching and adult learning. This experience was not enough to impress upon our teacher leaders the essential components that exemplify a true leader. They need continuous exposure to new ideas, time to conduct peer observation and reflections, and time spent with administration to work at defining and refining the shared vision and goals of the school. Most of all, these team leaders need to extend trust to all members of the team and school, and need to be trusted by all. This aspect requires a lot of work and dedication on everyone’s part.

    Finally, I’d like to share @l_hilt’s Dos & Don’ts of team dynamics….

    • Do seek to act upon that which you can positively change. Don’t be negative and dwell on things you cannot.
    • Do be a giver. Don’t be selfish.
    • Do understand that “the way we’ve always done things” is not necessarily the best way to help students learn. Don’t get sucked into a solitary cave of complacency.
    • Do communicate clearly, accurately, and respectfully. Don’t hide your feelings about a situation or make them known maliciously.
    • Do be open and accepting. Don’t be defensive.
    • Do realize that you are not the most important part of the equation. Don’t forget for one second that the child is.

    They're children.


    Last week an educator who happens to be my current grad class professor impressed upon us the most simple, yet profound realization: “They’re children.”

    Do we sometimes forget that? Do we sometimes focus on the fact that they’re not sitting still…not making direct eye contact with us during a lesson…make lapses in judgment which lead to questionable behaviors…not exerting enough effort on assignments….not studying enough for a test…and the list goes on.

    We are the adults. We chose this profession because, I should sincerely hope, we want to serve as role models in the lives of our students and impact their lives in meaningful ways.

    He said, “Even the 18 year olds, who put on a tough exterior, are children at heart.”

    It’s true. We have to give them our best. We can’t transform into selfish, immature, negative souls just because something doesn’t go our way. Is it going their way? What do they need us to be? Are we doing the very best with the resources, time, and capacity we’re given to help them learn? Day after day? Are we working to better ourselves for them?

    They need us to be strong. They need us to be confident. They need us to take risks and not be afraid of making mistakes. They need us to believe in them on their worst days, and celebrate them on their best days. No one is perfect. No child is perfect. But they’re our children. And they’re the reasons we come to work each and every day.

    Sometimes, in the moments when we believe we’ve reached our breaking points, in the times when we feel as though we’ll never have enough resources or time to make a difference, we need to remember that our children spend 8 hours a day with us, and that it is our charge to help them learn and love to learn. No school is perfect. No one ever has enough “time.” But the time we do have with our students should be cherished. We must dedicate ourselves to accepting the challenges each new day brings, and to do better than we did the day before.

    Why? Because they’re children. And we owe it to them. Every word we say, every action we take, every effort we give to classroom activities is important to them, whether they outwardly display it or not.

    Remember this, each and every day!

    Join in the conversation!

    This Sunday, September 26, at 5:30 PM EST, Connected Principals will host its first chat on Elluminate. See all of the details on George Couros’s blog here:

    This is an event you won’t want to miss, and I am incredibly humbled to be joining fellow administrators Dave Meister, George Couros, and Patrick Larkin in addressing the topics of management vs. leadership, social media in schools, and staff professional development in this session.

    Please share all of the details with your administrative teams, teachers, parents, and anyone else who would benefit from the meaningful conversations about learning we’ll have Sunday night! Hope to see you there!

    Who owns it?


    For an elementary principal, enrolling in a course titled “Secondary Education Seminar” was a bit intimidating. Little kids = Awesome; Big kids = Scary. (Kidding.) But it turns out, learning is learning on any level, and our class spends the majority of our time discussing learning.

    Last night we explored the topic of “ownership” in education. Who owns the learning?

    We read the work of Janet G. Donald who has researched characteristics of student learning, particularly in secondary and post-secondary settings. She detailed the historical shift of learning from students being presented with a fixed body of knowledge, known to be factual, to a time when our best teachers are asking students to question, analyze, and internalize concepts to extend learning. How do we know when students are truly engaged with the content and their learning? Who owns it?

    Think of a typical teacher leading a classroom discussion. Who does the teacher most often take their cues from? The students who raise their hands and provide the correct answers. Feeling as though those students represent the understanding of the rest of the class, the teacher moves on. What about the student in the back of the classroom? Or the student who doesn’t volunteer answers? Do they own their learning?

    I raised the topic of formative assessments and how their use is essential, and several opportunities should be planned for student feedback and response throughout every lesson. Until a student owns his learning, he is locked into concrete thinking and cannot move along the learning continuum to more abstract, sophisticated levels of understanding. The learner relies on the teacher to “fill in the gaps” of understanding. There has to be a constant stream of communication between teacher and student so the teacher can recognize the gaps and help provide support to students in making meaningful connections.

    This concept applies to the principal-teacher relationship as well. Consider the policies, procedures, and programs an administrator is asked to implement in a school. School-level leaders are often required to implement these programs through mandates from their supervisors, school boards, and/or governments. The principal is the person to whom the mandates are delivered, and is also the person who delves out the news to parents, teachers, and students that a new initiative is underway. The principal is responsible for ensuring follow-through and evaluating the implementation process. The principal is held accountable.

    Who owns it?

    Ideally I would love to say every directive I hand out in our school has a solid pedagogical foundation at its core. We can’t kid ourselves, though. Building-level administrators can only control so much, however…. we can do our very best to transform the mandates we’re given into learning experiences our teachers and students can own.

    Example. Let’s do a better job rewriting/reorganizing/planning for our language arts instruction to be more inclusive of the standards at each grade level. If we do that, will our reading scores on standardized tests improve? Yes. Is that the only reason why we should do this? No. If that is my directive, then I “own it.” Next step is to help my teachers to own it. Provide support in the way of sample curriculum maps/frameworks they can use to begin the planning process. But let’s face it, they know their curriculum and students best. So do I ask them to be regimented in the way they plan? No. Do I ask them to toss out every idea they’ve ever had about what effective teaching and learning in language arts looks like? No. I ask them to give me feedback about how they’re feeling throughout the process, what they need, and how I can help. I want them to own it. To develop the best possible units and lessons that address the standards while providing inclusive, interactive, meaningful learning for students. So they can own it.

    As will sometimes occur in a class filled with 99% teachers, the last hour of class turned into somewhat of a “But we are told we have to do this a certain way. If we don’t, we’ll get in trouble. But we don’t think that’s what’s best for our students” impassioned, verbal melee against school administration and their impossible-to-comply-with mandates.

    My question to this particular roomful of teachers was, “What are you going to do about it? Who did you approach with your thoughts? What alternatives have you devised to present to your principals? What did you and your colleagues decide would be the best course of action from this point forward to address the needs of the district and the needs of your students?” The same would be true for a directive handed down from my superintendent to our principal team. We have been very vocal on many occasions about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of suggested plans for implementation.

    If we aren’t vocal- if we aren’t knowledgeable about our organization’s needs and what we want for our students- then we can’t possibly own it.

    Communities and Networks

    I had the pleasure of experiencing our first Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) cohort session today, facilitated by the inspiring Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson. My teammates are four enthusiastic, elementary teachers who I could not be more pleased to have joining me on this journey, and our cohort includes about 18 different teams from our county and surrounding districts.

    I know my work with PLP will inspire many future blog posts, but today I’m going to focus on the questions Sheryl raised early in our session: What is a community? What is a network?

    General thoughts about the “community”: Tight-knit. Relationships. Comprised of people that rely on each other. A group who lives, learns, and works together toward common goals.

    General thoughts about the “network”: Comprised of people who share common interests. You can choose your network and can’t often choose your community. Larger than community. Not as intimate as your community.

    One of my PLP teammates and colleagues, Greg Frederick, simply depicted the community and network relationship as such:

    Screen shot 2010-09-15 at 1.34.03 PM

    His thoughts were that our community consists of the core of our social and intellectual interactions, and as we branch out, our network provides us with additional support and information to help us achieve our goals. Our network envelops our work within our community.

    Sheryl continued to share with us the definitions of community and network that we would be using throughout our PLP work to develop common language among the group’s participants. One of the most meaningful points of our morning discussion was the point made about collaboration. Collaboration is not about sharing, it’s about FINDING SOLUTIONS together, and about mutual accountability. Networks are created through publishing and sharing ideas and connecting with others who share passions around those ideas and who learn from one another. Over time, that co-construction of knowledge will build community.

    There are days when I definitely feel more strongly connected with my network than to my community. That being said, I can’t allow that to continue to be the case. If I become enriched by delving deeply into interactions with my network, I have a duty to bring that knowledge into my community, and vice-versa.

    So, where do we go from here? I was totally impressed with my school team today. They jumped into a seemingly frightening world filled with Twitter tutorials, an introduction to Ning and other social networking venues, and a Skype-in from the fabulous Brian Crosby. The “a-ha” moment for us came when my teachers wanted to know, “How can we get our students to make these connections with others?” And, “How can we strengthen how we collaborate with the teachers in our community to really make a difference?”

    That is our next step. We need to examine what we are doing in our classrooms and school on a daily basis and rethink how we can better engage our students in their own learning and help them develop essential, global learning networks to extend their thinking and experiences. We need to take a real look at curriculum, what we are asking students to learn, and how we’re asking them to learn it. We need to develop a system for meaningful collaboration among our peers and beyond. I have no doubt that we will begin to accomplish these goals this year.

    I’m interested in learning how other schools develop the capacity of your communities and networks. Please share your successes!

    I am so amazingly proud of the work we did today.  It’s only going to get better!

    We're in the learning business.

    I am personally struggling right now with a situation involving a child of a friend, who does not attend my school, who has had a difficult start to the school year. He says his teacher is “mean.” She has kept him in from recess on multiple days because his handwriting exercises weren’t satisfactory. She uses the word “bad” when describing his work. Stickers can be earned- for 10/10 work. When asked if he is greeted with a smile each morning, he says no. When asked if his teacher ever smiles, he responds, “Sometimes, if she’s reading a funny story.” She told the class they were going to start taking tests “just like college students.” His love of learning is being suffocated. He cries before school. He is anxious.
    He is six years old.
    These are the facts as I know them, reported from the boy’s parents. He is not a student at my school, but I’ve known him all my life. I know he is a creative, artistic, hard-working, honest, intelligent, imaginative, empathetic, enthusiastic child. He aims to please. He is every teacher’s dream.
    So. I am a principal. The thought of him, or any child, being subjected to this type of treatment in a primary classroom, or any classroom for that matter, is devastating to me. It disappoints me. It infuriates me, and I want to do something about it.
    Every administrator will eventually encounter a concern or complaint from a parent regarding the way his/her child is being treated by a teacher. Or about the teacher’s rules. Or homework policies. Or grading system. Or projects. What to do?
    Like many in my PLN, I’m fascinated about the buzz surrounding a father’s simple observation on his daughter’s Meet the Teacher night and the ensuing discussions/explosions about how parents should or should not insert themselves into the facets of their child’s educational experience. Teachers, administrators, and parents chimed in on Will Richardson’s post that reflected on Alec Couros’s tweet and detailed his own frustrations with his children’s schools. Lee Kolbert’s post proceeded to delineate the ways in which she must “suck” as a teacher because she sets clear expectations for behaviors in her classroom.
    Does any parent want less than the best for his child? In my experience, no. This simple fact has helped me tremendously in dealing with disgruntled, angry, upset, confused, and scared parents. I listen to concerns, no matter how ridiculous I may think they are. I entertain heated conversations so long as they remain respectful.

    My young friend’s mother cried to me on the phone, “I send him to that school for 8 hours a day. He is in her care for 8 hours. How can I feel comfortable allowing him to get on the bus each morning when I know he is so unhappy?”
    Simple. She can’t. She needs to make her voice heard. Legitimate concerns have to be brought to the teacher’s attention. So while I resist the urge to email my thoughts about this particular teacher to the school’s principal (and believe me, I’ve already crafted that communication in my head ten times over), I encouraged my friend to request a conference with the teacher directly. I told her I’d support her in any way I could, and that if she didn’t get a positive response, that I’d help her move to the next level.
    Why? Am I out to get the teacher? No. I’m out to help the student. If my young friend would walk through the door of his first grade classroom feeling as though he was appreciated, that his work was valuable, and that he was cared for, the struggle to perfect his Zaner-Bloser “M”s might not be such a struggle at all.
    Every school needs a well-established system for involving parents, one that is structured, public, and accessible to all. Parents need to know that their voices ARE important. I encourage my teachers to continue developing strong relationships with parents, and vice-versa.  If a parent calls me on the phone or emails me about a classroom issue before he/she has contacted the classroom teacher, I inform the parent that I appreciate the contact, but please call the teacher to discuss this, because he/she is so much more knowledgeable about that particular issue than I am.
    More often than not, parents call me directly because of the incredible emotion they are feeling about the situation. That can scare a teacher, but sometimes I think teachers are so caught on the defensive that they fail to remember that the parent’s involvement in their children’s education SHOULD be emotional. We should ALL be emotional about the education of our children.
    My school’s home-school communication forums were somewhat lacking when I arrived three years ago. In the past three years, I have seen teachers go from monthly or zero communications to weekly posts on their classroom webpages; beautifully designed, informative, and student-created monthly newsletters; more email communication; increased phone calls to parents and teachers providing parents with their personal cell phone numbers so they can be reached after school hours; a school newspaper with articles published by students; monthly newsletters from the principals office and principal webpage updates; a school Twitter account (still catching on, but we’ll get there); hundreds of parent and family visitors for school breakfasts and events with our students; and greater attendance at parent-teacher organization meetings. That doesn’t happen by accident. You have to want it to happen. You have to make it happen.
    As a teacher, I worked with many students whose parents were also teachers, and I made sure to step up my game when it came to communicating with them. Why? Because I knew they knew what they were talking about. I considered that they were judging everything I did in the classroom, every project their child was assigned, every test score, and every newsletter I mailed home. They kept me on my toes, and I appreciated their feedback.
    No teacher wants to hear that her classroom isn’t the ideal place to learn. But in a profession where it’s so easy to fall into “complacency mode,” we have to encourage our teachers to rethink what they do on a daily basis, and to take suggestions from well-intentioned, knowledgeable parents, colleagues, and administration under consideration. I will do the same.
    I have faith that my first grade friend will see an improvement in his daily school life after his parents meet with his teacher and openly discuss their concerns. Together, I believe his parents and teacher will brainstorm ideas about how to reduce his anxiety and support his learning.
    We’re all in this together. In my mind, there are very few instances where communicating your thoughts respectfully with a teacher or principal can be detrimental. Even if no action is immediately taken, constructive criticisms will make people think and will help them learn.
    After all, this is the learning business, isn’t it?

    Who are the Problem Solvers?
    Many look to the principal to be the problem solver.

    We can’t agree on how to schedule these students. What should we do?
    There’s an issue with the lunch cards in the cafeteria. How should we handle it?
    My child is being bothered by another student. Can you help us?
    We’ve tried many different instructional approaches with this child, but he’s still not understanding. What can we try next?
    Most principals are inherently skilled problem solvers. One of the benefits we have in our role is being able to step outside of the situation and view the varied aspects of the problem before offering input into how it can best be solved. As sometimes uninvolved participants in the conflict, we can remain cool-headed, consider all options, and draw upon our experiences to help craft possible solutions. John Gardner reflects in On Leadership that leaders who work to resolve conflicts use their influences to eliminate irrational demands, and “foster the transition from a cross fire of accusations to a collaborative search for solutions” (p. 105). Leaders look for the underlying causes of the disputes. Is it a lack of communication? Insensitivity to needs? Leaders then work to solve conflict in an environment of open communication and honesty and explore all alternative solutions.

    Let’s examine the graphic above, shared from one of my favorite sites, Indexed. (Go to this site after you are finished reading my post. And after you are finished commenting. It’s so smart.) On one hand, the graphic is an accurate representation of how someone from outside of the situation can bring a unique, honest, unfiltered perspective on the conflict. It is sometimes easier for that person to recognize a solution and thus, it becomes less “impossible” to solve. However, personal accountability is huge. The more invested in a situation someone is, the more difficult, ultimately, it is to solve the problem. But truly, can anyone other than the people so deeply involved make the change?

    Principals are certainly not the only problem solvers in the school. In fact, some of the best principals will insist that teachers who raise an issue also present possible resolutions to that problem. Last year a team of teacher leaders in our building read John G. Miller’s QBQ: The Question Behind the Question: What to Really Ask Yourself to Eliminate Blame, Complaining and Procrastination. Intense subtitle aside, the guidelines within this text really help you focus on what you can do to alleviate a problem as opposed to look to others to solve the problem for you. When a teacher asks, “How can I improve this situation?” “What can I contribute?” or “How can I make a difference?” he is placing himself in a different frame of mind that will empower him to be an active part of finding the solution to the problem, not just bringing the issue to someone else’s attention.

    How do these principles apply to our lives in schools? Reading Brian Crosby’s words about what teachers need from administrators helped me reflect on the fact that most teachers want to be held accountable, want to be involved in the change process, and want to do what it takes to improve their practice and their schools. They don’t want change handed to them- they want to be active participants in the process. Anyone who has ever tried to initiate change in an organization knows that conflict will certainly rear its ugly head at some (and likely, all) points in the process. Problems will need to be solved.

    Carry this premise into the classroom as well. Teachers and staff should model for students what effective problem solving looks like – identify the issue, examine the facts, determine the emotional elements involved, brainstorm possible solutions and the consequences of each, agree on some form of action, and continually reflect on that decision to ensure it was right. Students will absolutely need to be adept problem solvers in all capacities in their adult lives, and we need to help them hold themselves accountable for the fact that they do have the power and skills to make the right choices.

    Principals are problem solvers, but we cannot, and should not, do it alone. We need the expertise and creative solutions of our faculties, parents, and students to help us. I’d love to learn about the different approaches to problem solving in your schools!

    Welcome Back!

    Being a paparazzi principal does have its perks… we showed the video below today at our Welcome Back assembly…the students love seeing themselves and their friends, teachers, parents, and siblings on the big screen! It warms my heart when they giggle at the funny faces and cheer for their grade levels! I’ll definitely post this on my school webpage and also run throughout Meet the Teacher night next week. Another idea I hope to bring to fruition this year is for our student council members to create an “All About Brecknock” video for new students. It could feature a building tour, interviews with students and staff, and just general FYIs introducing our new students to our school! Copies could be kept in the district office and distributed to new families at registration. Looking forward to a great year!

    Back to Brecknock from Lyn Hilt on Vimeo.