3 Instructional Routines to Enhance Engagement

2.jpgOver the last three weeks I have met with many of our teachers for our year-end meetings. While these meetings are often viewed simply as compliance tasks, I was blown away by the level of reflection shared by so many of the teachers with whom I had the privilege to converse. In my on-going quest to be more mindful and reflective, I took time after each conversation to jot down some takeaways. After reviewing my notes, and also my walkthrough observations, some clear patterns emerged. Based on the work shared by teachers and observations from the year, there are three instructional routines that I have seen consistently garner high quality student results. The teachers implementing these strategies have reported fewer behavior issues and expressed less frustration with student performance throughout the year. Each of the approaches detailed below create a classroom culture where students are actively engaged in their learning experience. Great educators know that engagement is the most powerful classroom management tool. Continue reading

The End of Marking Periods – My Takeaways

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 3.28.52 PMTwo years ago, I joined the administrative team at Eyer Middle School. On my first day, principal Michael Kelly (@principalmkelly), filled me in on the work the school had done to improve grading and assessment practices. He shared some research with me, and as a self proclaimed book nerd, I happily dug into the texts. Less than a year later we embarked on an original experience, as we put an end to marking periods and created a continual grading period pilot in our sixth grade. You can read more about the pilot at principalmkelly.com, but the specifics are not the focus of this post. I am writing this post, because this was the first time I was part of leading a significant change. Don’t get me wrong, I read the books and blogs focused on “leading change,” but this was my first time in the “major change” trenches. I had a lot to learn. Below are my top four takeaways. Continue reading

Ed Leadership: Balancing Instructional Coach and Evaluator

One of my greatest challenges as a building administrator is balancing my passion for instructional coaching with my role as evaluator. Our teacher evaluation model, while weighted down with cumbersome mathematics and documentation, offers a valuable opportunity to interact with teachers on authentic work impacting their classrooms. Below are the four factors present in the most successful interactions: Continue reading

Busting Buzzwords – Empowerment

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There is no doubt empowerment is a buzzword in the education arena and beyond. It gets thrown around in leadership classes, interview tables, and administrative meetings. But where does empowerment come from?

How do we empower the people in our organization?

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5 Things Your Art Teacher Wants You to Know

I am very excited to share the following guest blog post by art teacher, Anne Kukitz. As a classroom teacher, I often wondered, “What would an art teacher think about the artistic advice I am giving my students?” Below is Anne’s answer to that very question.


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Fact: Visuals are processed by the human brain 60,000 times faster than text.

Therefore, visuals can be a super effective form of communication.  Since tribal times, people have used visuals to communicate with one another when spoken language was a barrier. Today’s world is heavily reliant on visual culture and knowing how to communicate a message or idea, visually, is an asset to 21st century learners.

As an art teacher, there are a few common mistakes that I see repeatedly in student visual displays. With a few suggestions, you can help students to create more aesthetically pleasing and coherent work. Continue reading