Tag: #Resurces

Seeking Solutions

Students pass through the halls at a Dallas ISD elementary school. (Photo: Dallas ISD)

Dallas ISD reenvisions school year to tackle learning loss by Matt Zalaznick, March 11,2021 in District Administration

As I read from many sources to find solutions to share, I discover educators and leaders seeking solutions to solve issues caused by the pandemic by thinking outside the box.

The pandemic has pushed leaders to rely on their collaboration skills, empathy, and creativity in approaching the needs during this time. Additionally, dealing with mental health, social-emotional needs, and vulnerability. Helping teachers feel safe in taking chances and being innovative in how they approach instruction—allowing freedom for students in making choices. Maybe the camera is on or off during instruction, as an example. Students were learning during this time, but so were all of the educators!

I discovered this article and found it interesting to read about the approaches they have presented. My favorite term they use is “unfinished instruction.”

“Dallas ISD leaders prefer the term “unfinished instruction” to learning loss, and plan to tackle the problem with extended school calendars in 2021-2022.”

“Beginning-of-year assessments showed 50% of students had fallen behind in math and 30% in reading during spring COVID closures and summer 2020, says Derek Little, Dallas ISD’s deputy chief of academics.”

I think you will find the article helpful! Here is the link. https://districtadministration.com/dallas-isd-reenvisions-school-calendar-year-tackle-learning-loss/

Through the cracks, Don’t let them go!

As a teacher, have you ever been moved or gotten a new principal? Me too! It is a little scary because you don’t know them and they don’t know you. What do you do? Well, teach, like you always have!

Making his rounds, the principal makes his way to my classroom. He pauses in the doorway, looking around and not sure what was going on. Some students were at the computer station (3 Apple IIGS showing my age here), some at the reading station, others working at desks, some with me. Students moved to deliver completed work to the designated bins for completion, and everyone was on task, but it was a little noisy.

The principal asked if he could speak with me. “What is going on in here?”

I explained, learning. I do things a little differently. You will not find my desks in rows; they will be doing something different all of the time, but they are learning. I wanted to let you know we will turn our history book into a recorded video of a radio station called “History Rocks at Ridge Farm Elementary.” The students are dividing the chapters, writing the scripts, designing assessments, and creating game show trivia for the radio—lots of fun and learning.

The principal did not know what to think but looked around and saw for himself learning in action. Kids need to be actively involved in the learning process, have help in the design, and most importantly, everyone should be having fun!

Published in 1994 The authors of the book are Barbara Emmons, Carolyn Sollman and Judith Paolini

Through the Cracks is one of my favorite books I have used in the past for professional development. This book reminds all of us about the teaching and learning process. Children become frustrated and disengaged in school settings that do not always meet their needs. The book’s pages walk you through a glimpse of classrooms as elements promote the shrinking of students from learning to then grow. What is the secret?

Accountability is our next step in our SHARE process for the school level, according to Eric Jensen. When the principal made his way to visit my classroom, he was making sure I was teaching. He is accountable for all of the students in the school. As a teacher, I am responsible for the students I am teaching. However, as a team, we are accountable for all together!

“Passion comes from feeling responsible and accountable for results, which means it’s the rigor, intensity, and duration of enriching education you provide that matters.”-Eric Jensen, Teaching with Poverty in Mind pg.82. Every day, hour, and minute counts we have with our students to help them grow. I had a student when I became principal who could imitate me perfectly.

“This is the level of my expectations for all of us, not down here. We are here. I will not lower it for anyone. We are all here.”

Expect the best from everyone, including yourself. “If you are serious about helping students from poverty to succeed, keep this in mind: your 1,260 hours, you have to be so spectacular that they can over-come the other 7,500 hours in your students’ lives.”-Eric Jensen, Teaching with Poverty in Mind pg 83 Now, can you do it?

“Children who grow up in poverty often live in environments that offer less support and stability. (Evans, 2004). Research shows that home and community environments that increase stress lower the development of cognitive flexibility, and the early formation of cognitive flexibility is critical for the long-term prognosis of the skill.”-Horacio Sanchez, The Poverty Problem, pg. 40. Children need cognitive flexibility as it supports problem-solving and allows them to look at issues from different perspectives.

We have lots to unwrap, learn and understand as we serve our children, families, and communities. It is essential to comprehend our accountability level. Take time to reflect on yourself today. Where do you stand with yourself? Always be true to yourself and what you stand for. The world today is making things very difficult as the division line becomes more vital with this “cancel culture.” Please do not find yourself falling through the cracks but crawling to the light to stand up bright for those who need you! People only have power if we give it to them.


Reflect, Review and Renew yourself!

Celebrate Staff! A great book I just read was Love’em or Lose’em by Bev Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans great to add to your list! I want to let you know to make it authentic! I loved to celebrate individuals! Not everyone wants a public celebration; they may want something more private.

School-wide Decision making if you are not already doing this as a practice. If you are review and who are on your teams? Make sure it is reflective of all voices.

Common Planning times-What do your planning times look like?

There are many things to check, but this is a great start! It is critical to self-reflect first. Think about where you are right now. Watching news media, it seems they are saying many have fallen through the cracks. What do we do about it? We have solutions! Painting pictures in a negative light makes us use a bigger brush!

Thank you for being the solution daily! http://www.bethesolutiondaily.com #Bethesolutiondaily

Go Ahead, Judge Me! I know you are!

“What are you looking at?” “Look at what she is wearing.” “Can these kids do anything right?” “I can’t, the kids will make fun of me.”

Phrases I have heard, I am sure you have too from kids and adults! Maybe you have even said them. I can remember walking through the halls of middle school as a student and as a principal. I am pretty old, but it seems the same feelings were still there, judgment.

Everyone is looking, pointing a finger, whispering, and we are all thinking… “What are they saying about me?” It is human nature to feel that way and sometimes it is true, people are judging us.

My granddaughter is a middle school student, and we just had a conversation about people looking at you. I gave her my thoughts on the issue, but you know she is a teenager. I explained as a teenager, I thought, why do people look at me? I was timid and never understood, so I made negative thoughts up in my head. I continued that practice even as an adult. I told her, you always wonder if you have something wrong with yourself. We laughed at a couple of stories when some people approached me when we were together to comment on my appearance. It was positive interactions, but just strange in how they happened.

She understood people might have positive things they are thinking, but why are we letting them be the judge? The control is with us in the judgment of how we look, speak, behave and live. After all who spends the most time with you? You!

In our society right now, we seem to have a great deal of judgment going on. “It’s not the differences that divide us. It’s our judgments about each other that do.”-Margaret Wheatley, Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future (2002) How can we unite this divide without utilizing all of the judgment?

As an individual and professional, I have taken responsibility for growing. My life has been full of reading, education, life experiences, and opportunities to get to know many different individuals. Now as you read those last two sentences, did you make a judgment call about me and my background? Be honest with yourself. I have heard in the news the phrase “white privilege.” Did you just think that about me?

Now let me approach it differently. As a young girl, I had many opportunities to learn the importance of education, reading and meeting many different people. My parents came from poor farming families in the south and we’re uneducated. They did not know how to read, so I learned to read and read to them. We never met strangers as we grew a big garden and gave food to others. Now what is the thoughts?

I think as I listen, read and research, the missing links to our rush to judgments are conversations with real listening. Marshall Rosenberg-Nonviolent Communication A Language of Life (2003) “Moralistic judgments imply wrongness or badness on the part of people who don’t act in harmony with our values.” These types of judgments are often wrong. They do not account for the complexity of the situation. Know the story entirely through all lenses. I am proud of my background, struggles, opportunities, challenges and continued learning. My family is a mixture of color, backgrounds and stories. I love all of them.

I learned in my life to never judge a book by its cover. It may look different on the inside. You will never know if you only look at the surface and not the pages that reveal the secrets it will tell you. Sometimes those fancy covers are all it has.

Please read, research, explore, share and understand! Jim Knight is one of many I read! I hope you are working with your staff in a coaching model, if not please check with Jim Knight. It is the best practice to be the best! My favorite books of his are The Impact Cycle and Better Conversations. Please click on the links I have shared to learn more about Judgment and how it can hurt the teaching/learning process.

“There are many ways to roll your eyes that don’t involve our eyes.”-Michael Fullan. My biggest trigger is people rolling their eyes, so I saw you! Now that may have been a judgment or a good guess. Just click on the links, learn and stop judging!


Take the Judgment Challenge: Why Moralistic Judgment Is Wrong, Why It Feels So Good, and How to Stop It

Happy Birthday 🎉

March 2, 1904

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known under his pseudonym “Dr. Seuss,” was probably the best-loved and the best-selling children’s book writer of all time! My childhood, my daughters and my grandchildren, have enjoyed these beautiful books! As an educator I passed on my love for the gift of reading with Dr. Suess books and now my daughter does the same in her classroom! A celebration of his birthday on March 2nd each year kicks off a week-long Read Across America!

But wait ⛔ In the division of this nation, anger-filled individuals and everyone eager to find a reason to “cancel.” We find ourselves scratching our heads wondering what is going on.

The link below is one article regarding why Dr. Suess is cancelled in some US schools


Oh how I worry about the things they will do

What will my grandchildren, and those after go

To learn, appreciate, laugh, create, imagine and grow

Oh my oh my, do people who cancel really know

This type of thing is not the way, but maybe so…

Soon we will have no one left to say, No!

March 2 is National Read Across America Day, established by National Education Association (NEA) in 1998 to help get kids excited about reading. The day occurs each year on the birthday of beloved children’s book author Dr. Swiss. A perfect way to celebrate is to read one his famous tales, like One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, fix green eggs and ham for breakfast or take a virtual trip through the places you will go!

March into reading! It takes you anywhere you want to go! You learn about others, differences, cultures, animals, space, science, math and so much! Appreciate all, understand differences and grow! Enjoy Read Across America!

National Read Across America Day – March 2

Making it Meaningful, Making Proffesional Development Stick @EducationalLeadership

I have found the essential way to support staff to continue to grow, offer them precisely what they want. Why would we continue to do our professional development in the same way we tell our staff they should not teach in the classroom? We need to differentiate!

Jim Knight is an expert! The article he has written for the edition in Educational Leadership is a great one to utilize as you plan your professional development. It also provides you with an understanding of the implementation stages for staff.

Change takes time, and we all know from our experiences it can be met with challenges, unforeseen issues, a little craziness, and then all of a sudden, things start moving in the right direction. Well, sometimes.

One of Knight’s points is people are hesitant to make a change because they do not think it will make a difference with “their” students. He hits this precisely right! I have heard these words for many years. “Sure that looks great but it won’t work in my classroom.” “I would like to see him do that with my students!”

As the Director of Educational Support, my team wanted to improve our writing and overall language arts programs K-12. We worked to coordinate the training so teachers would have it simultaneously, and it was tailored to what was needed.

Understanding all of the needs for an effective writing roll out I needed to work with my team to plan this out accordingly. So I handpicked a group to attend a workshop of the lady I wanted to present to our district. I selected the presenter because of several reasons. They included her energy, enthusiastic approach, her background and overall ability to make the transition we needed! Her name is Kristina Smekens http://www.smekenseducation.com

The group went to her workshop and began texting me from the conference. They were sold! We invited her in and we worked together to make the time exactly what staff needed. As the individual in charge and being nicknamed Hallmark, you know my inner Oprah came out! We worked with Kristina to find where she would have a break in her training and something the staff would need to apply in their classroom. So when she finished demonstrating for staff she would pause and say….everyone gets one. Then we would walk around to give each staff member what they needed to take back to the classroom to implement immediately.

Now, as you read in the article, staff need to know it works with their students. So as a follow-up, we invited Kristina to come in and do a model lesson in a classroom. We would hire floating subs so teachers could watch and then debrief. Then we would have staff create a lesson, draw names, and one person would teach the lesson in someone’s classroom, and they would assess the lesson. We utilized floating subs again to support the learning. We repeated this process until the teaching teams felt confident. They loved the way we made this approach to a new initiative.

I recommend Smekens to your school! It will be one of the best professional development you can provide for staff. Jim Knight is an expert, and he gives you so much knowledge and expertise to guide you through your leadership.


Tuesday Teaching Talk, on target

Making efforts daily to increase learning growth is the goal of every educator. As we walk by classrooms, visit a Zoom classroom or watch an online performance of the band learning is visible when teachers have strategies in place to enhance the classroom to meet the needs of all students.

Every school has a curriculum in place with units and pacing guides to support teachers. As the principal of an at risk school it was important for me to not only be an instructional leader, but also a leader who supported staff to take risks and to be innovative in their approaches. However, we needed to work collaboratively in order to narrow a focus to understand the gaps we had in our curriculum. Our students were not mastering the standards they were being assessed on to achieve. This was a reflection on our curriculum, practices and strategies. What can we do better to serve our children?

Instructional objectives guide instruction. Learning targets guide learning. As a teacher planning lessons you need your objectives to guide your instruction, but the learning target is important for the students to understand. When the learning target is posted, clear, and explained so students understand what they are to do; learning will take place.

We were able to partner with a company Evans Newton Incorporated located in Scottsdale , Arizona. At the time we did a program called Target Teach to address our language arts needs. It was very successful for us and helped us turn around our school. A lot of work was done! I will break down a few steps each week, but I want to add that we also included our students as we progressed in our improvement process. My philosophy is: Education is something we do with children, not to them. I strongly believe in student lead conferences so please keep that in mind as I introduce this next piece.

So as a review first:

Instructional objectives guide instruction so this is for the teacher.

Learning targets guide the learning so this is for the student.

Assessments, observations, and interactions in the classroom provide evidence of the students learning so the teacher can record their growth. This process helps in feeding students forward in their learning process. Keeping in line with the philosophy of students being in charge of their learning STEP is next. STEP (Students Tracking Educational Progress) is what is needed as students create a portfolio of their work to monitor, set goals, and indicate the growth they achieve. This helps each student take charge of their own learning and opportunities to discuss with others how they are doing on their educational journey.

STEP will utilize the framework of the learning target. As the lesson progresses through the unit, the student will use time to complete a reflection piece, a goal page, what I need help with page and what I would like to learn more about. Many teachers already utilize the I can statements which fits perfectly. Students taking ownership in their learning and talking about it reinforces the learning.

If you are interested in learning more about learning targets I recommend the book Learning Targets you can find at ASCD http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/Learning-Targets.aspx

You’ve got mail, no delivery! Boxes

My first classroom! I am so excited! Everything is going to be great. All the decorations are up, books on the desk, classroom schedule posted, desks arranged and now I am ready for the children to arrive!

I am nervous about my teaching. The teacher across the hall was one of my teachers in school. All of the teachers around me have been working for a long time. I am new to this! I will need help, I am sure!

Students arrive! I begin to get to know everyone. I gather all the work for the day and have accumulated a big stack of papers to grade. The day went so fast, but it was full of learning!

My former teacher walks in, and he begins to talk to me.

“I see you have a stack of papers there to grade. I want to share with you a little advice and a story if I can. You see, there is no need to grade every single piece of paper or assignment. Only select a few pieces to capture what students are capable of doing.”

Did you know that the UPS delivery truck came this morning to deliver boxes to all of our classrooms?”

Umm, no

Yes, they were in your classroom all day! You called them, Justin, Beth, Jacob, Kristin and all the other names. Some of the boxes came in perfect shape and you don’t really have to do a thing to them and they will be just fine. Several came with some dents in their boxes, and you will have to work on those to get them back into shape. A few came in boxes that were crushed. No matter what you do, there is not enough tape to get them back into shape.”

“What I am trying to tell you is you only have so many hours in the day. You cannot spend your time trying to fix things you cannot fix. If you do, you will loose the ones who need you.”

I hope you had a great first day! I will check on you each day. It would help if you did not get discouraged or burned out by trying to save everyone. We will all be here for you.”

I sat at my desk looking at the papers, the desks, and all of the positive things I placed in the classroom. His story was true. I did have some students who were just fine. Several students needed some additional supports I could tell and a handful needed full attention somehowhttp://Bethesolution.com. However, I was the teacher for all of them. I needed to find solutions in order to meet their needs.

This is when you pull on the resources of the community. I made connections with some retired folks we called our “Golden Helpers.” I created a schedule with support of social worker time and we worked to meet the needs of All students.

I never want to limit children by placing labels on them, but only labels for needs. We do not all learn, live or achieve the same. Therefore, the same goes for teaching and being an administrator. Many different approaches that work for some! A solution can be found.

Reflecting on my learning experiences in elementary and high school years, I was part of the several delivery boxes group. I had several dents, and it took a few fantastic teachers later in life to get them corrected! Thank you, teachers, for taking care of all children during their times of need!

Wednesday Words, they matter!


I want to give you a peace of mind. No, not a piece of mind! Words and their usage can be confusing. When you add-in tone, body language and biases, then it rises to a deeper level.

Language used in any setting influences those who are receiving the communication. They can recognize the power in the words from the tone, word choice, body language combined with the individual’s position.

Teachers in a class setting can influence the learners they serve in many ways: the actions, tones, and word choices. Students’ identities as learners are influenced by the power the learner gives to the teacher. Student demeanor, engagement, and outlook can change based on the language used by the teacher. There will always be exceptions and variables, but our responsibility is to set the standard high for communication to be at a level of positivity.

Knowing the responsibility, we have placed on the teaching staff to build relationships with students and families and focusing on the language of positivity. We as leaders need to do the same. How does our language help feed our staff with the fuel they need to feedback to their students as they work to feed up?

In my previous blogs I have talked about communication. Think about the last communication you had with staff? Was it a memo? An evaluation discussion? How about an email or text? What about that social media post?

I hope you are able to reflect and look at all of your forms of communication to see how others may feel, react, respond and react to your communications. Now think about communications you receive. Ask yourself the same questions. Language, words spoken, words heard, body and tone all play essential parts in our communication.

I am a firm believer in teaching vocabulary to students. Utilize positive talk for a supportive and encouraging climate. As an evaluator, it is essential to provide feedback vital to improvement. Feedback that feeds the moral, provides guidance and self-worth.

I am providing some links to additional articles from ASCD to continue your look at language. In addition, Larry Bell provided many years ago 12 powerful words students should know in order to understand questions on assessments. Vocabulary is essential for students. We will look at that topic more on a future blog.

My final piece is a poem by Charles Osgood. How many times have we responded to a question with “pretty good”? Words matter! Be careful not to settle for “pretty good.”


https://www.larry-bell.com 12 powerful words



Pretty Good by Charles Osgood

There once was a pretty good student
Who sat in a pretty good class
And was taught by a pretty good teacher
Who always let pretty good pass.
He wasn’t terrific at reading,
He wasn’t a whiz-bang at math,
But for him, education was leading
Straight down a pretty good path.
He didn’t find school too exciting,
But he wanted to do pretty well,
And he did have some trouble with writing
Since nobody taught him to spell.
When doing arithmetic problems,
Pretty good was regarded as fine.
5+5 needn’t always add up to be 10;
A pretty good answer was 9.
The pretty good class that he sat in
Was part of a pretty good school,
And the student was not an exception:
On the contrary, he was the rule.
The pretty good school that he went to
Was there in a pretty good town,
And nobody there seemed to notice
He could not tell a verb from a noun.
The pretty good student in fact was
Part of a pretty good mob.
And the first time he knew what he lacked was
When he looked for a pretty good job.
It was then, when he sought a position,
He discovered that life could be tough,
And he soon had a sneaking suspicion
Pretty good might not be good enough.
The pretty good town in our story
Was part of a pretty good state
Which had pretty good aspirations
And prayed for a pretty good fate.
There once was a pretty good nation
Pretty proud of the greatness it had,
Which learned much too late,
If you want to be great,
Pretty good is, in fact, pretty bad.

Time to talk about your why and Research


Data, data and more data. Data-driven decision making is what drives improvement. Are we doing this? Are we seeing results? Do we hear our teams saying, “we are data rich and information poor”? Is the data we are collecting the right data? Is it the data making the difference?

Professor John Hattie has conducted research, written several books, completed many talks, and has shared significant findings to help all educators. I had the honor of listening to him talk again last night and have enjoyed all of my learning from him the past few years. His goal of finding the greatest impact on student achievement provided us with Visible Learning.

Visible Learning research identified over 250 factors influencing student achievement. He calculated an average effect size of these factors to find 0.4 as a marker for one-year growth.

Education research can feel overwhelming and can be something people want to avoid. The work has been done for us by Hattie; now we need to look at where we are in order to make decisions to improve. How to apply the work he has done with our why?

Visible Learning research provided a great deal of information for us to examine. The first influence to focus on is how teachers think about learning and the impact of their role.

“The important thing for successful leaders is not what they do; much more important is how and why they do what they do.” -Simon Sinek—understanding the “why” is essential in all we do in and out of the classroom. When the “why” drives what we are doing, outcomes are different. It is the passion, heart, inspiration, and foundation of our core values driving our purpose. Please watch as Simon Sinek explains the why.

https://www.ted.com/talks simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

The book 10 Mindframes for Visible Learning Teaching for Success by John Hattie and Klaus Zierer is an excellent choice for your instructional team. The chapters are designed with the ten mind frames, a reflection piece, questions at the conclusion, and a checklist. Investing in the time with your instructional team is essential in feeding forward positive results.

Education is something we do with children not to them. Helping teachers understand their impact and guiding students into their ownership in learning is my goal as we work together through these blogs.

Next week during our Tuesday Talk, we will focus more on teaching and learning with Visible Learning. I will leave you with additional resources to have to begin your discussions with teams. Please drop me a comment if you have specific areas you want to focus on, questions you have or ideas. I will get the information you need to help you and your team.

Thank you for #Bethesolutiondaily

Resources for Visible Learning