Thursday, January 26, 2017

What We Believe Matters...

The single greatest impact we have on our students is in our belief that all students can achieve and grow as learners. When our campus, as a family of educators, shares that belief along with a collective agreement in our strategies and practices the impact, as Hattie reports in his research, is the factor that ensures the most student growth (over a year in fact).

So the question is, how do we take the belief we all have that all students can achieve and grow and create the collective agreement in our strategies and practices?

We have a foundation in our PLCs which our collective ownership of learning, growing, and data dives have moved us toward this collective agreement. We have established norms, focused our conversations and begun the work of talking more deeply about our practice. It is in this collective agreement we must also have shared leadership. Team leads may bring to the table the action pieces and vision that is designed by our Leadership Team, but leadership isn't about one person and everyone else complies. Leadership is everyone's responsibility... leadership comes back to what we do together in our time and transfers into our roles as lead learners in the classroom. Each part of a PLC is every person's part. Each student is OUR student. Each success is OUR success. Each failure OUR failure. It is through collective efficacy- how we collaborate, why we believe what we believe and alignment in our strategies and practices- that creates the IMPACT.

Here is an article from an educational research driven blog, Corwin Connect, that speaks about how, through collective efficacy, we can make a difference.

Please read:

How can you, your team and/or our campus FAMILY create the IMPACT that gains the results that mirror what we believe... that all students can achieve and grow as learners? How do we show that what we believe matters?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Next Steps...

During our last Professional Development we took a moment to reflect and assess our progress. We determined what we were doing with fidelity, things we were moving toward, and things yet to be done or to re-think. It was through that each team shared what they felt were the next steps to continue our growth and progress toward our problem of practice.

It was interesting to see the feedback. There were two areas that were most commonly addressed... student learning in the way of students taking ownership through challenging themselves and their peers, goal setting and peer to peer feedback. The other are was in collaborative planning... having critical conversation and examination of student work and the teacher model, and use of planning documents to help push forward intentional and purposeful planning of content-rich work.

In the book "Visible Learning for Literacy: Impact" by Fisher, Frey and Hattie it states that of all the instructional strategies that garner more than a year of growth in students was in the area of self-reported grades/student expectation (goal setting, student led discussions, peer to peer feedback) and collective teacher efficacy (highly effective teams that plan for the why, focusing on thoughtful literacy-rich work including questioning, student led discussion and data driven decisions).

I came across a brief article while doing more research on this matter of student self-reported grades/student expectation and collective teacher efficacy. It is a great article that mirrors our conversations about growth mindset and that the teacher matters...

The article entitled: "John Hattie's Eight Mind Frames for Teachers" was a great read. As we continue to fine tune, monitor our progress and grow together, this is an excellent read that aligns with our next steps.

Where do you find yourself as you read these eight mind frames? What in your thinking aligns with Hattie's work? What do you find yourself pondering or being challenged to think differently?

Please post your thoughts and ideas below!

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Happiness Hypocrite

This is a confession of sorts. I watched Shawn Achor's Ted Talk "The Happy Secret to Better Work".  I think of myself as a relatively happy person. I can see the positive in a lot of situations. So, I just kept doing what I have always done.

When we returned on January 2nd I actually wrote three things I was grateful for for a few days. I even had a situation during those few days that led to one of my three things where I needed to get a hold of Shaunda Garrison, our Math Coordinator. Every time I planned to call something else would need my attention. At 5:05pm I was in a position to call... knowing as I dialed that she was gone. To my surprise, she answered the phone. She cheerfully and teasingly told me how lucky I was to have caught her. I quickly responded, "I am so glad I did, in fact you are going to be one of my three things I am grateful for today!" We laughed and finished the conversation having the information I needed and the side benefit of a smile on my face and bringing happiness to another individual. In that moment I was grasping the "Happy Secret." However it didn't last. I quickly resumed my old approach of doing what I have always done. I was a Happiness Hypocrite.

I became aware I was a Happiness Hypocrite one evening after a very long day. My kids could tell by the look on my face and the weariness in my voice it had been "one of those days." My wise-beyond-her-years fourteen year old, turned the tables on me and used one of my classic mom "tell me about your day" techniques. She challenged me, asking, "Mom, what is one good thing about your day?" I first laughed, because I realized what she was doing, and then second, paused... a very long pause. I couldn't think of anything. I had let the day and the things that had occurred determine my happiness. I did finally come up with one thing, but in that moment I realized, I didn't have the "Happy Secret" and I was a Happiness Hypocrite. This HAD TO CHANGE!!!

An article I recently read "Is There a Happiness Advantage for Schools?" there is a quote from Shawn Achor that shifted my thinking. He states, "Happiness is not the belief that we don't need to change. It is the realization we can. Happiness and optimism are the precursors to success, not merely the result." It hit me... we have to have happiness to get there, it isn't what we do that generates the happiness. Happiness happens in spite of the situation... Happiness is what drives our hope, our belief and our "never give up" determination with our students.

After re-watching the Ted Talk and reflecting on the brief moment where I grasped the "Happy Secret" I began to wonder. I thought about how, as a campus, we started 2016-17 challenging the staff with the "Growth Mindset" based on Carol Dweck's work that was presented by Nicole Covarelli and Susanna Craig. What would happen if we, as a campus, did the 21 Day challenge mentioned by Shawn Achor in his Ted Talk? What would it hurt to try?

So my challenge to you all is to do the 21 Day Challenge. Every day starting this week (starting Sunday 1/15, Monday 1/16 or Tuesday 1/17) write down three things you are grateful for at the end of the day until February 4th-ish (depending on when you start). This is not required, but if someone makes your list on one of the days, share that with them... it will make you smile and I guarantee it will brighten their day!

If you are already doing this... awesome you may already have the "Happy Secret." The rest of us will be joining you soon.

As I have heard so many times in education, "Make it a great day or not. The choice is yours!"

I know what my choice will be! #happiness #21dayhappinesschallenge