Tag: #ASCD

Teachers and Leaders, encourage failure!

This title may need to be explained! It is not that I am encouraging all of us to fail but to innovate and become resilient. The title is also not saying teachers and leaders encourage their students to fail. It is the approach and strategies we use to help children grow.

One year the theme I selected for our school year was “Failure is not an option at SVMS,” based on the book written by Alan Blankstein. In his book, he points out six principles that guide student achievement. It is a perfect book to utilize with staff to work on improvement plans, reviewing data on instructional needs, practices, and curriculum. I was and am impressed with Alan Blankstein because he shares his own stories of struggles and how educators do change the lives of others.

But my title says, “encourage failure?” You can utilize the theme and the practices by engaging in examples of why it is okay to fail but not stop. We have many examples in history of individuals who failed but continued to try and found success.

15 People who failed on their way to success!


Children need opportunities to learn, explore and discover. It is acceptable to take risks, chances, make mistakes and fail. Is your classroom or school environment a place where children feel safe to make mistakes, or are they working in an “answer getters” mindset where the correct answer is the only way?

I want to repeat one of my phrases for you: “Education is something we do with children, not to them.” To help build a growth mindset, innovation, creativity, resiliency, and academic success, “encourage failure.” Suppose children focus only on reaching the correct answer without inquiring the why, how, and what; then the next level of learning is never reached. How will we find the next discovery, cure a disease, invent a new idea or solve a global problem if we do not help our children learn how to dig deeper in their learning.

Feel free to reach out to Alan Blankstein @AlanBlankstein. If you have not picked up any of his books please check out his latest book Breakthrough Leadership https://us.corwin.com/en-us/nam/author/alan-m-blankstein

Help children build resilience by embracing the understanding of failure and the lessons they bring to help make toolboxes to conquer more issues as they are part of their path.

Professional Development or Learning

What’s Key to Sticky PD?

Education Leadership Article by Fred Ende February 2021 | Volume 78 | Number 5
Making Professional Learning Stick Pages 38-43

“The before and after of a professional learning event is as important as the event itself.

Before reading any further, take a few minutes to consider the following two questions:

  • During this past year, what has been the most valuable professional learning experience you’ve had?
  • During this same period, what has been the least valuable professional learning experience you’ve had?

As you wrap up your reflection, think about what these two events have in common and what separates them. In some cases, it will be obvious how your best professional learning experiences differ from your worst. In other cases, it won’t be as clear. For instance, even a well-facilitated professional learning session may not have led to a significant change in your practice or to more successful student learning outcomes. While we know that well-delivered professional learning is more likely to be engaging and useful than poorly facilitated professional learning, there is more at play than simply how well a learning session is led.

Several years ago, I wrote a short book for ASCD titled Professional Development That Sticks (2016). In the book, I used the work of education researchers, as well as the experiences I had amassed as a teacher, regional coordinator of science, and assistant director of curriculum and instruction to make the case for a multidimensional view of professional learning. The way I saw it (and still do), professional learning will only truly “stick” if we allow ourselves to think beyond the event itself. Much like a hamburger with all the fixings, or a sandwich cookie, professional learning is a full-flavored experience. In both cases, the full flavor only arrives if the burger or cookie is eaten as a unit. The lettuce by itself is just lettuce, much as the cookie filling only provides one flavor and texture.

In the same way, professional learning will only be effective if work is put into what comes both before and after the facilitation of the learning itself. This points to the importance of planning for professional learning and following up on a professional learning event.”

The rest of the article can be found at the link provided and is well worth reading. Also, Fred Ende’s book Professional Development That Sticks is an excellent addition to your reading list.

As you work to look at improvements and professional learning, keep these ideas that“stick” in your mind. Learning for everyone is essential as we take action steps to improve overall.

Thank you for being part of the solution daily as we learn each day!


STOP ⛔ Leading….Start Building

Robyn R. Jackson is the author of this great new book from ASCD!

In this book, you’ll learn how to use her Buildership Model™ to escape the “school improvement hamster wheel”. Embark on creating the school your students and teachers deserve. It involves a few simple shifts in how your approach.

As leaders, we always start with a vision. Clarifying our purpose with an ambitious mission, a strong foundation of core values to secure a trusting staff built to believe in what we say and do. Then finalizing it with a system of accountability for achieving our goals.

One of the phrases Jackson has started is, you can have a will problem or a skill problem. Indicating your staff may not have the will to believe in the vision or the skill to implement it. As you “build” new ways to help staff grow, all areas will improve.

I add my philosophy with hers in taking the steps of being solution-focused. As we identify problems, we begin to plan our approach to the most significant issue first. We map out a concise plan building better training, utilizing data, enriching curriculum for all students, enhancing community and family partnerships, and a comprehensive approach to accountability.

Many things can distract us and cause roadblocks or detours. The global pandemic taught us to expect the unexpected! We learned to think outside the box and to change. Drastic changes are done; we did it! Let’s take lessons learned, what worked, things we wish we could do, and work out the details.

Building better begins with being able to break down the barriers that hold us back. Please grab a copy of Robyn Jackson’s book, follow her on Twitter, Facebook or check her website. She is a great one to gain guidance and support.






Will you be my friend? Finding Friends on Friday

“Childhood lies at the very heart of who we are and who we become.” Fred Rogers

Mister Rogers was not afraid to talk about difficult social issues, tackle them head on and make it a priority to support children in the best way he knew how! He talked about divorce, assassination, death, racial issues and talked honestly and openly about subjects adults were often afraid to speak about, but which children often silently wondered and worried about. He utilized his platform to help children, and adults too, know that there are some things no one can understand. “Some things I don’t understand.” However, with honest, open and continued conversations in positive, optimism for solutions are found. We are one nation working together to make a great neighborhood for all.

We are all friends! I want to thank my best friend in kindergarten, Tammy! We enjoyed many years growing up in a confusing time, but never for us! She helped to button my coat when I couldn’t and I can still remember her being crowned queen in high school. Children only see differences when they are taught to see them. I was never taught to see anything but friends.

Although children’s “outsides” may have changed a lot, their inner needs have remained very much the same. Society seems to be pushing children to grow faster, but their developmental tasks have remained constant. ~Fred Rogers

Children could turn on the television and find security in the voice and words from Fred Rogers. He could influence how they felt about themselves and others by the words of encouragement he had. Each time the child tuned in, he consistently shared the message of self-worth, hope, security, stability, and confidence, as he ensured trying is okay even if you fail. You are perfect just being you!

I want to pose this question: What resources do children have to turn to daily for this kind of reinforcement?

Next question: What are ways we can help children have this kind of reinforcement daily?

Finally: Children and adults are spending countless hours online in Zoom meetings/virtual classrooms, no real face-to-face interactions with others, and facing hours of negative news. How can we help address fears, calm emotions, reduce the negative effects?

People need people! We need to have opportunities to talk, engage in fun activities in real-time, and enjoy the company. Isolation from others is difficult. Think about all of the children who went from being gone every day involved in multiple activities to now sitting staring at a computer screen.

Do you know anyone who retired and then was miserable? If you do, then you know it is because they did not plan out how it would be when all of their “work friends” would still be busy in their work-life and they found themselves with nothing to keep themselves focused on or a purpose in life.

Stages in life provide us with the lessons to form our foundation. I focus a great deal on words and actions. Even when we believe no one is listening or watching, they are. I have gained this from my own experience and from the children I have served.

My hope is if you have chosen to read this blog, you will be my friend and provide me with your thoughts on how to create better neighborhoods for all children. How can we stop all of the negatives and replace them with positives? I promise together we can gain solutions!

Feedback and comments needed, please! @CorwinPress, @ASCD, @ELmagazine, @NAESP, @NASSP, @Humanex_dij, @ilprincipals.org, @IllinoisASA @beckyrbnsn, @WeavingInfluence, @teacher2teacher, @JennyGRankin, @bethesolutiondaily, @PeterMDeWitt, @Robyn_Mindsteps, @ToddWhitaker, @ByronErnest

“Your off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”~Dr. Suess

No! I can’t! Papers pushed off the table. Feet and chairs are moving. Door slams shut and then the sound of the elevator door opening.

Searching for the keys to the car, I paused. What just happened? I have seen this before, but I was not pushing papers off the desk or yelling; it was one of my students in a classroom.

Frustration points are real to individuals suffering from trauma and injuries. It is beyond the scope of thinking clearly and responding to typical reactions. Understanding the “why” and the “what” behind the behaviors of who you are dealing with help with the solution.

Trauma victims have big mountains to climb, but they can do it. There is no magic timeline of when they will reach it. They need to know when they stumble; you won’t let them fall too far. Safety, security and the ability to make a few mistakes is all they need when they look up and find a strong support system in place. Oh, the places they will go!~Dr. Suess

Trauma-Sensitive Schools information and resources are available on the ASCD website. We have all experienced trauma! If you need help, please ask me, and I will do all I can for you. We are the solution.



Trauma-Informed Design in the Classroom

Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher and Dominique Smith

Color. Carpets. Configurations. The classroom can create a sense of safety, calm, and invitation to learn—if designed correctly.

Helping Kids Facing Trauma Do Better

Brandi Clark

By building relationships and helping students create their own “wellness tools,” teachers can foster skills for managing challenging emotions.

Podcast: Creating Cultures of Safety in Schools

Authors and speakers Pete Hall and Kristin Souers discuss the work involved to create “nests” in schools—cultures of safety that make everyone feel welcome, nurtured, and free to explore and take risks—and how this work can help us all manage emotions and persevere.