Tag: #K-12

What made your list of leadership qualities to have in 2022?

Being a leader in 2022 is the same, different, or we don’t know? Do the qualities and skills need to be the same? What are your thoughts? Do we need different leadership qualities? What is the most important quality for a leader? Why?

I believe a job title does not define leadership. Leadership is part of our lives at different stages and areas. We provide opportunities for children to explore, experience, and engage in leadership. We have many lists of characteristics and qualities created over many decades to identify excellent leaders. Has leadership changed? Do the qualities change? How can we help children grow to become great leaders?

We need your help! Tell us what qualities do great leaders need.

Acceptance brings peace

Change is always happening! The pandemic ushered in several shifts in our lives and education! It is when we can accept things we cannot change we can continue to move forward. There are things we can change and with these we follow our core values.

Identify the ‘what”, the “how” will follow. We cannot make the “how” an excuse not to face and accept the “what.” “When” we accept the “what” and “how” as our own, the realization of “who” needs to do the work required to make change is found.

Acceptance brings peace and reminders of our “why,” “what” we do, “how” we react, and “when” we accept, positive change can happen.

Teaching Together

Teaching together in a school can be great, or it can be a very challenging situation. Teacher collaboration occurs when members of a learning community work together to increase student learning and achievement. What happens when you have a few who do not want to go along with the team? There could be a few staff members who do not believe the children you serve can learn or improve.

If our ultimate destination as educators is student achievement, think of teacher collaboration as the journey. Collaboration is not a task to complete then move on; it’s an ever-changing and ongoing process. As a positive team member, it is your responsibility to help overcome those barriers in the journey to prevent student achievement from happening. Toxic cultures and climates impact student learning when teachers are not teaching together.

“Students will learn more and be more successful in an environment where all educators believe they can learn at high levels, and those educators work together to convince the students that they can achieve lofty academic goals teachers set for them.”-Transforming School Culture (pg.25) by Anthony Muhammad

Building a collaborative culture and a strong collaboration takes commitment to develop over time. The benefits are clear from these practices and beliefs. Authentic, collaborative communities address common issues, shared goals, school-wide initiatives, deeper teacher learning, and results in student achievement.

Strategies to build teacher collaboration

  • Create shared vision and goals
  • Identify group norms
  • Build a sense of community
  • Effective communication
  • Professional learning

Working as a collaborative team with a common purpose supports all in the process. Choose to be the solution daily by designing climates and cultures for all learners.

Monday Matters!

What Matters?

In education, we measure, collect data, and report on students’ performance at grade levels. However, what matters in the big picture of learning? Accountability of the test scores reported on the school, district, and the teacher in the evaluation process plays an important role. Teachers are asked to set growth goals; schools do the same, and districts are told to keep up. So what matters to student achievement?

“In reality, it is through classroom assessment that attitudes, skills, knowledge, and thinking are fostered, nurtured, and accelerated-or stifled.”

-Hynes

For the last decades, the measurement of what mattered to the standardized test scores did not equal the results in the overall learning capacity. These measurements lead to increased test scores in areas but without increased learning. Students could memorize information but not apply skills. Students need to have a clear understanding of the content and the skills. The instruction and measurement must have a balance between content and skills.

Transferring knowledge to other areas requires students to have a high-level understanding of the skills and content to apply in various contexts. In measuring this level of expertise, it moves beyond multiple-choice and short answer questions. Students will need to demonstrate through problem-solving, analyzing data to conclude, matching learning to a rubric with other anchor papers, or testing a hypothesis.

The critical solution as a takeaway is this: The meaning, purpose, and values students see in what they are learning will play the most significant role in the retention of learning, motivation to use the teaching, and the interest to continue to learn.

I had written before about excellent teachers who were the best storytellers to hook students into learning and those who were so creative! I believe in students being in charge of their knowledge as they lead themselves in goal setting and explaining where they are regarding the learning standards journey. Student lead conferences are the very best as students take charge of presenting their progress.

As you hold conversations with your team on what matters keep these questions in mind:

  • What steps do you need to take to align learning measurement tools and practices in your classroom? School? District?
  • Making these changes would impact students how?
  • What measurements do you have in place? Do you utilize all of them, and how? Do some measure the same thing? Do you have too many, not enough, or not the correct measurements?

Keep in mind the title of the post. What Matters! Student Achievement is the purpose of education. Along with achievement are learning, discovering, asking, inquiry, and stretching minds. It is in finding the love of learning. In addition, it is the character, hopes, inspiration, relationships, understanding of acceptance, dealing with difficulty, mistakes, overcoming trauma, and so much more that matters. Life is complicated, and unfortunately, it starts young with all of its trials. Know your children, families, staff, and community. There are supports for what matters! If you need help finding them let me know. We will be the solution daily for what matters.

Supporting-keys in solutions to educator success

The problem-How do we develop a sense of efficacy, confidence in accomplishing meaningful impact?

The solution-The identified keys to establishing educator success

Key 1: Collective Efficacy

Educators in a school need to believe they can positively affect student learning. Individual teachers can think their efforts are helping and are working with the children they are serving, but if they do not believe in their co-workers, the collective efforts will fail.

Collective teacher efficacy is “the perceptions of teachers in a school that the efforts of the faculty as a whole will have a positive effect on students” (Goddard, Hoy, & Woolfolk Hoy, 2000). Building on earlier studies of individual teacher efficacy, research on collective teacher efficacy further investigated the effects of teachers’ perceptions of their collective capacity to improve learning experiences and results for their students. Schools are under pressure to succeed, and educational research seeks what factors contribute to student success. We know by Professor John Hattie’s research that collective efficacy is ranked at 1.57 effect size. A school that believes it can make a positive impact is an essential element to the overall well-being of all.

Key 2: Educator Agency

Educators with a strong sense of professional (educator) agency in their lives believes they can achieve their goals. Teachers act purposefully and constructively to direct their professional growth and contribute to the development of their colleagues.

As we have had disruptions to school, added stress, and fatigue, we need to find ways to help our educators rebuild, refuel and reconnect. The focus to support “educator agency” looks at collaboration, feedback, and spotlighting success. We need “adult learning” during professional learning community time, feedback that fuels our teaching energy and celebrating the achievements.

Key 3: Sustainability

The conditions needed in the school setting for collective efficacy to existing according to researcher Jenni Donohoo (2017), are:

  • Including teachers in school-wide decision making
  • Finding consensus on collective goals
  • Understanding colleagues work
  • Finding alignment on educational philosophy
  • Responsive leadership
  • Effective systems of intervention

Teachers must feel empowered to take risks. They need to feel comfortable to grow in their practice and to understand not all classrooms have to look the same. The school environment is working towards common goals.

The key factor in the solution is to value staff and to let them be heard. Staff needs support and affirmation, but they need to see evidence in their work. We need to support them in effective practices and providing them with reliable evidence of the impact they are having.

We have continuous work to do to be the solution daily for those we serve.

Teaching Inspiration and Exhaustion

#Bethesolutiondaily

If you are in the teaching profession today, why? Why did you become a teacher? Most likely, you have a vision of individuals who inspired you to dive into this profession. It is the inspiration that often leads us into the lifelong career paths we find ourselves in today.

Jennifer Gonzalez at Cult of Pedagogy is one of the thought leaders I have followed for several years. I utilized her website/blogs as part of my new teacher mentoring program and, as a principal, sent her tips out in messages to staff.

The piece I am sharing today is comprehensive and follows my philosophy of being the solution daily. Often we identify problems, talk about them, stare at them, and they continue to thrive. Action steps involving change are the catalysts for actual solutions.

As a leader, I have never been offended by her posts. She is straightforward, has strong opinions, and you can judge for yourself if you want to view more. Please take a little time to read her post. It is powerful to me.

As a teacher who worked countless hours then as an administrator, clocking in, even more, I relate to the feeling of exhaustion! I did all my work before COVID, so I know I would not have survived. Blessings to all of our educators!

Leadership is 360 degrees and 365 days

As we study math and science we learn a great deal about measurements. When we discuss 360 degrees, we can recognize this as a reference of measurement in angles, a circle’s circumference. If we compare to the temperature in Fahrenheit, it is above 212, the temperature of boiling water. If we include a calendar year, it contains 365 days. Leadership encompasses all of these components.

John Maxwell’s book 360 Leadership is a great book. His description of organizations needs leaders who can lead in every direction. Then Jon Lockhorst’s new book, Mission-Critical Leadership, reconfirms the importance of leadership at every level with the ability to support others at different levels.

The qualities and attributes of leaders identified as 360 leaders include:

  • Adaptibility
  • Discernment
  • Perspective
  • Communication
  • Security
  • Resourcefulness
  • Maturity
  • Endurance
  • Reliability

Leaders do not work every day, but their qualities are present 365 days a year. On some days the temperature of the situation they are working on can reach 212 degrees. This is when the steam pushes them on to reach extraordinary levels of accomplishment.

One of the elements missing in the description of a 365 leader is initiative. My favorite way to provide professional learning on this subject is through the book The Dog Poop Initiative by Kirk Weisler.

Action Plan

  • Call a team meeting
  • Prepare the meeting room with pooper scoops on the tables filled with candy (tootsie rolls).
  • You can tell the story as written or change it to meet the needs of your organization. I have retold the story utilizing slight variations.
  • Parts of the presentation provide pauses in asking questions to make choices and decisions. You can add: Pieces of litter on the floor, Empty bottles of drinks, money on the floor, chair with something on it (gum, spilled drink)
  • When you came in today, who noticed the _____ Who pointed? Who walked by? Who did something to clean it up?
  • Now you don’t want to call people out. This is shaming, bullying and can be a bad situation. We can do these as hypothetical questions. You can find video clips to use as examples to help reinforce the message. But as a presenter coming in we could get by with pushing the envelope without calling people out. They all know who they are!
  • Reinforce the importance from the story of the time lost, opportunities missed, and how one individual or group can impact the change needed to accomplish a goal (no pun intended.)

“Why you lead and the way you lead are important. They define YOU, your leadership, and ultimately your contribution.” -John Maxwell

As an organization, our goal is to be the best, serve others with high levels of respect and support each other to accomplish our goals.

Action Steps for leadership 360

  • Lead Self first- to lead in all directions, begin with mastering self-management. People will not follow you if you have not taken control of valuing your own time, have a clear focus and purpose. You are disciplined in handling your emotions. Could you make them want to follow you?
  • Lead in the middle-across- Leading in this position is a consistent state of developing and maintaining credibility. Individuals need to influence and build on relationships of trust. Providing peers with success, opportunities to voice ideas with allowing the best to achieve credit. Most individuals in the middle will not receive credit for the work they do, but they need to know others’ know-how valuable the work they do is.
  • Leading down- Learning about all of the staff is an excellent part of understanding how to serve your teams better. Know the strengths of the individuals to make sure they are working in areas to maximize the skills they have and prevent burnout. The goal of leadership is to help people succeed. Their success is our success. Inspire them through the vision and providing what they need to succeed.
  • Leading up-, It is important to remember we started with ourselves. To help lead up, we must be the best “us” we can be. This allows the entire team to succeed and provides upper leaders with valuable resources. When you perform well, you can step in to help with the responsibility of the top leadership to support the overall growth of the organization.

What to do? According to data?

In every organization, data-driven decision-making was and is a phrase repeated often. Sitting around a big conference table, I can recall talking about the stacks and stacks of data collected by an individual for us to utilize. However, we all looked at each other with a huh what. Data-rich and information poor, why are we collecting all of this data, and what is it being used for?

Understand where you are, where you want to go, and then how you will get there. One of the biggest things we noticed was the duplication of data. We were assessing to answer the same questions.

What do you need to know and find solutions for to achieve the goals you established? Looking at your situation, what is the most critical issue facing your organization?

Mental health is an issue that is revealing itself as a priority since the pandemic. It has always been important, but recent data reveals it is steadily increasing with our children.

“Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a 31% increase in the proportion of mental health-related emergency rooms visits in youth ages 12 to 17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More youth are also reporting increases in depression, anxiety, and stress, according to a YouthTruth survey.” The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services pledged $85 million in funding to address the mental health needs of our children and teens. To learn more about funding and data, please read this short article:

https://www.k12dive.com/news/biden-administration-pledges-85m-to-support-student-mental-health/605750/

A clear focus on what improvements are needed will help to target these areas with direct assessments and instruction. Providing the strategies to support the desired outcomes will keep a transparent approach to achieve positive results.