Thursday, February 25, 2010

Parent Support is Critical

One of my more challenging students has really been giving us a run for our money recently. A couple of us went to her home to meet with her folks a few weeks ago. It was a good talk and, while I didn't think it would cause an overnight change, it felt hopeful.

Since then I've been writing a note in her homework agenda about her day each afternoon. Yesterday was a rough day and she was really rude so I wrote about that. She takes the note home and returns it to me the next day with a parent signature.

This morning it came back with a note. It says, "She promised me that she is going to be rude again."

I hope this is an issue with English not being the native language. If not, we're in trouble.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How Long is Too Long?

During a class this evening I chatted with a teacher from another school in my district. I asked about her principal because I was uncertain if he was still there. He is. He has been for 20+ years. She had mostly good things to say about him, although she did admit he is not much of an instructional leader.

My principal has been in place for about seven years and was an assistant principal at our school for four years before that. I'm in no hurry to see her leave.

Why does a principal being in one position for twenty years strike me as a problem? Should we expect principals to change more often than that?

Do I like having my principal remain because change is hard? Or is it because she is helping us do great things? Both?

I'm surprised at how much this brief conversation got me thinking about the role of the principal and how it does/should change over time. I've come to no conclusions at this point and I'd love to hear others' thoughts on principals and their tenure at a school.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Really? Seriously?

This picture was taken on the way to school about a month ago. We pass this strip club everyday. In the afternoon (even as early as 4:30) the parking lot is full and the bouncers are out. In the morning it's just another spot in a quiet strip mall.

However, on several mornings over the past few months this bus has been there. It's from an elite private school. One morning there was a BMW there as well and it appeared that a child was moving from the car to the bus.

Wouldn't one expect a family that drives a BMW and sends their offspring to elite private schools to have a better plan than meeting the bus in a strip club parking lot? There's a bank just two doors down.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Educon 2.2 Reflections

As always I've gotten completely caught up in life and not taken time to reflect on the wonder that was Educon (it's really pathetic because we're on our fourth snow day in a row, so I have no good excuse).

For me the overwhelming take-away from Educon was passion. The importance and value of that word and idea started for me at the panel on Friday night at The Franklin Institute. The panelists, a fabulous, diverse group, were asked to answer the question, "What is smart?"

Initially the answer that struck me least was the one from Loren Brichter. He spoke about helping students get motivated to find their passion. The more I thought about the different responses the more this struck me as critically important. However, I think students find their passion just fine. We need to figure out how, as educators, to get out of their way.

The idea of passion continued to resonate with me throughout the sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Even if the word was never mentioned, the idea was there. These presenters were there, leading discussion, because of their passion around education and a specific question or issue (the value of play, technology and teacher education, leadership, etc.).

I think that is the power of Educon. Everyone is there because of their shared passion for improving education. There has been much talk since the conference about action. Many folks are concerned that we are doing a lot of talking but not making any change. Those concerns are valid. But I'm grateful for the conversations and for the opportunity to see so many passionate educators gathered together. It gives me hope.

If you are interested in others' thoughts post-Educon, Shelley has collected many here.