When your flair isn’t making the cut

Please tell me you remember Office Space (1999)?

How many of you meet the minimum, but the minimum does not meet the expectation?

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Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: We need to talk about your flair.

Joanna: Really? I… I have fifteen pieces on. I, also…

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: Well, okay. Fifteen is the minimum, okay?

Joanna: Okay.

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: Now, you know it’s up to you whether or not you want to just do the bare minimum. Or… well, like Brian, for example, has thirty seven pieces of flair, okay. And a terrific smile.

Joanna: Okay. So you… you want me to wear more?

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: Look. Joanna.

Joanna: Yeah.

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: People can get a cheeseburger anywhere, okay? They come to Chotchkie’s for the atmosphere and the attitude. Okay? That’s what the flair’s about. It’s about fun.

Joanna: Yeah. Okay. So more then, yeah?

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: Look, we want you to express yourself, okay? Now if you feel that the bare minimum is enough, then okay. But some people choose to wear more and we encourage that, okay? You do want to express yourself, don’t you?

Joanna: Yeah, yeah.

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: Okay. Great. Great. That’s all I ask.

And how many of you are doing more because you’re expected to and not receiving more compensation?

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Bill Lumbergh: Hello Peter, whats happening? Ummm, I’m gonna need you to go ahead come in tomorrow. So if you could be here around 9 that would be great, mmmk… oh oh! and I almost forgot ahh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday too, kay. We ahh lost some people this week and ah, we sorta need to play catch up.

If you exceed the expectations and go beyond what is required, do you stay silent about it or are you vocal about it? In my experience, it’s the less vocal that accomplish more than those who speak loudest. Yet why is it that the loudest receive the recognition? Is the noise meant to cover the lack of doing?

So how much flair is enough flair, and how do you show your flair so that you don’t feel like…Image

PD – Not just for teachers anymore

Thanks to my CUE Technology Coordinators SIG (via Google+ Community), I was exposed to reading a recent blog by Jackie Gerstein regarding how educators are taking PD into their own hands. To supplement the missing links, teachers pay out of pocket for PD, do not receive recognition  or compensation for taking such initiatives, and often remain voiceless in their actions (this last part I added).

* On a side note, have you noticed that those who are most vocal often do and accomplish less than those who are reserved about their actions?

Shortly thereafter, I completed the anonymous Survey Monkey poll for CUE. I’m disclosing my answers for the final prompts because they deserve to be asked/discussed regardless of CUE membership.

In a nut shell:

  1. What are current challenges for schools, teachers, students, and parents?
  2. Knowing that CUE supports legislative advocacy, what are my current concerns?

To answer the first question:

  • Schools face challenges in keeping up with all what is out there not just regarding educational technology, but educational policy reform and best practices -> Schools as a whole should have access to necessary PD and support = don’t just leave it up to the schools themselves to figure things out.
  • Teachers face the challenges of receiving adequate and personalized PD -> This is where Jackie’s blog comes into play. Yes, teachers are taking PD into their own hands because schools continue to provide one-size-fits-all PD. PD nonetheless, but not PD that matters. That said, schools need to ensure that the mission and vision are carried out, and so if providing PD to meet those needs facilitates that challenge, then continue. But if that PD does not meet the individual needs of the teachers, then the PD is falling short. How can PD merge the needs, and wants, of the teachers and the school?
  • Students and Parents – We have forgotten about providing development for these two audiences. While we’re so busy making sure that schools and teachers receive PD, we have let students and parents fall to the wayside. Yes, I realize that this is an extremely generalized statement and I appreciate that there are schools and teachers who provide students and parent PD, but to my personal experience and knowledge, there is a shortage. So what do I mean about student and parent PD?
    • Students need direction how to use tech beyond social circumstances. Using technology and media for education is different. While conceptually it makes sense for adults, but making the logical connections from one to the other can be difficult and not as obvious to the teenage brain. I say teenage here because that is my focal group and the audience who I teach.
    • Parents need to gain awareness how technology and media is used in their student’s (students’) classrooms, especially in high school because traditionally, students have 6-8 different teachers who all do something different, and expect something different. Parents should receive PD regarding the tech their students use.

To answer the second question, I find that there is one overarching concern with at least one sub-component:

  • Merging educational technology with CCSS not just efficiently, but effectively
    • Now include above for students with accommodations – IEPs, 504 Plans, and more. These students are mainstreamed, but there still may be a need to differentiate the type of technology and CCSS (i.e. Connectors) for students. Let’s start looking at how we can seamlessly develop curriculum and instruction to meet this challenge.

PD – it goes beyond schools and teachers.

Legislative Advocacy – let’s merge tech, CCSS, and students with accommodations for a seamless curriculum and way of instruction.

Utopian Qualifications for School Leadership

Yesterday, Standford University released a synopsis of a recent study conducted by its School of Education on Instructional Leadership. The study reached similar conclusions to previous research. This particular study examined school leadership via survey-based methodology across East and West Coasts and the Midwest. Participants included 800+ principals, 1100 assistant principals, and 32k teachers. In addition to the survey, researchers conducted 250+ full-day observations and interviews with principals. The results? Schools demonstrate growth in student achievement when principals show strong characteristics as organizational managers.

According to Stanford’s definition,

  • “effective organizational managers strategically hire, support, and retain good teachers while developing or removing less effective ones”
  • allocate “budgets and resources, and [maintain] positive working and learning environments”
  • “strong managers develop the organizational structures for improved instruction more than they spend time in classrooms or coach teachers”
  • In essence, principals should not focus on day-to-day activities and spend less time on administrative tasks like managing discipline, but place a conscious effort in long-term school climate.

At first glance, these definitions lead to make me think that schools should be treated as businesses. And maybe to some extent they should be because don’t schools provide a product to the public and to the students they serve? Aren’t schools supposed to demonstrate successful academic outcomes? And then wouldn’t it make sense to promote good teachers and give amazing bonuses? But what constitutes good, productive, and effective teaching? A teacher whose grade book is full of As and Bs (perhaps not entirely an honest record), or a grade book that includes a range of grades that adequately shows students’ abilities? And this is perhaps an entire different can of worms to discuss at a later point in time. But I digress – let’s get back to the issue at hand – how are school principals supposed to look like if schools are to demonstrate academic growth?

Let’s break the definition down a bit. If principals are to be strong organizational managers who hire, support, and retain good teachers, then why would there be a need to develop or remove less effective ones? Who is on the hiring committee and what are the criteria when hiring new faculty? If there is a need to develop less effective teachers, what constitutes effectiveness? And what proof or documentation would be needed to remove less effective teachers? One could argue that if the strong organizational managers hires effective teachers, then the teachers who require development or need removal are those who are more seasoned to the school – the veteran teacher. But not just any veteran teacher, one who is not willing to assimilate desired approaches to teaching; a veteran teacher not willing to develop.

  1. How does your school manage with teachers who are resistant to change?
  2. What is your definition, or your school’s definition, of effective/effectiveness?

If principals are not the ones conducting classroom observations, there is someone at the school with the designated role to do so. If principals should be able to allocate budgets and resources, effectively, then the principal should have a background in finance and/or business. If principals are to a maintain positive learning and working environment, then the principal should have a background in psychology. If principals are to improve overall instruction, then they should also have a background in curriculum and instruction.

  1. Do you know of a principal who carries these qualifications?
  2. What is the role of your school’s principal?

Between public and private, single-gender and co-ed, and parochial and non-denomination systems, geography, funding, and standards (state and federal), among other aspects of running a school (a business), are principals able to act as organizational managers, or are the pressures of other issues at hand hindering this study’s suggested implications for policy and practice?

Due Dates vs. Late Policies

My Question: Do you (school, department, district, etc.) have late policies? Why have deadlines if late policies exist? Are students penalized for late work?

Meeting benchmarks paves a path for scaffolding skills, knowledge, and abilities, mastery. Formative assessments lead up to summative assessments. Prerequisites help build foundational grounding for things yet to come. Various types of learning methodologies incorporate these concepts: self-regulated, project-based, problem-based, inquiry-based, etc.

Within all of this lies meeting due dates/deadlines. Can’t logically move forward to step D without meeting step C. Teachers need adequate time to review and assess to ensure a student is ready to move forward. Extenuating circumstances asides, meeting deadlines is a life skill, no?

Why set deadlines if late policies exist?