3 Lessons To Systematically Engage Families

This article comes to you from the Harvard Family Research Project or HFRP.  I have published their work before and they are now starting a blog series called New Directions in Family Engagement.

Lots of people publish information about ideas/opinions the discuss parent and community involvement, my self included, but the difference maker here is this: the HFRP backs their suggestions/thoughts with FACTS found by surveying the public.  This blog is powerful and I hope that it provides all of you with a great resource as you enter the start of a new school year.  This is a crucial topic and one that all districts need to work towards master because it is proven that getting parents involved leads to success.

**Photo is borrowed from the article cited for this blog post by the HFRP**



Professional Development Season! 5 Tips to Make it Successful

So it might not be as exciting as Wedding Season but Professional Development (PD) season is upon us.

Administrators have started, or will be soon, planning for the professional development that will occur prior to the start of school as well as throughout the year.  Some choose theme’s that will be discussed ad nauseum throughout the year, others develop PLC’s, while a few throw together events as they come up.  Hopefully you at least work in a district that falls into the first two!  I mean, how can administrators have high expectations for their staff if they themselves cannot perform at a high level?

As you approach this year and your PD let’s make a true effort to make it meaningful and fun for our staff.  How you might ask.  Well that depends on the culture and environment of your school and staff.  Before we get to my 5 Tips I want you to reflect back to one of the worst PD experiences that you have participated in during your stint in education.  What were some of the major flaws?  You might be thinking… I sat in my seat for an hour just listening, blah blah blah. OR I did not have a chance to talk with anyone or offer feedback but only to listen. OR We have been sitting here for 20 minutes and I still do not understand what I am learning from this session. OR you get the point.

There are a variety ways that people can fumble Professional Development.  Here are my 5 tips to make your PD Season successful:

  1. Develop a clear set of personal and campus goals for you and your staff.  This will help you to focus your PD to match these objectives, thus maximizing your time with your staff.  Here are some do’s and don’t to selecting objectives! Peter DeWitt does a nice job discussing several of these in this article, “Should These 10 Educational Words Be Banished?” and follows it up with “12 Words That Should Be in Our Educational Vocabulary”.  These are merely words but these words have certainly be the topic of some PD that you have received over the past few years!
  2. Research and look for best practices, success stories, or even stories of failure.  You want to make sure that when you sell this to your staff you are prepared and provide evidence to support your claims.  Your preparation will be recognized, appreciated, and noted.  If it is authentic and comes from the heart, this will resonate to your audience.
  3. Create a sales pitch and tell a story when you present your goals to your staff. Once you have outlined your objectives you need to sell these to your staff.  When you do it, consider telling a story to support your goals so that it resonates and connects with your staff.  This will create buy in as well as inspire them to follow your lead.  If this sounds different, read this and it may change your mind.
  4. Delivery:  Be Clear, Concise, and provide Context. So you developed your pitch, now you need to practice.  (Every time I say the word practice, I think of Allen Iverson, anyone else with me?)  But seriously, you want all of your hard work to pay off and you have 1 chance to sell this years goals and objectives.  Start the year off right and make a difference!
  5. Make PD fun!  So you have your objectives, practiced how you want to deliver it, now you need to develop the activity.  This can be a challenge.  A few things that I feel are crucial to making PD fun are to: allow for collaboration, create an environment for learning, and do not be afraid to try something new!  If not fun then it just needs to be engaging.  If you can get the audience to buy in an be engaged it will be a success! Here is an article to provide you ideas while also support you in the creation of these activities – Professional Development Should Be Fun.

For more information on how to potentially improve your PD, check out these resources that I have shared here before: Let’s Flip Professional Development and PD – It Should Be More Like ‘Masterchef’


Arts Education Needs Protected!

This article comes from Jill Berkowicz and Ann Myers blog called Leadership 360.  Clara Lieu does a wonderful job explaining the significance of including Arts in your curriculum and I think makes the case a slam dunk as to why Arts Education should be protected!

“Art education provides a vitally important sandbox for learning in unconventional ways that is essential to education.” – Clara Lieu

Looking to be inspired today? Then this is a must read.  Clara discusses how she found the arts, landed teaching Art in college, and now volunteers her time working with students exploring if art is for them.  Her story is captivating and inspiring and as a former teacher, it is stories like this that keep my fire for education a live.

Visual arts are designed to allow for experimentation, allow for trial and error, patience, and dedication to your work.  These are qualities that ALL of us need to attain at some point in our educational career to be well-rounded individuals.  I am not sure that this is always gained from traditional education.

I think back to my time in Art class and I always loved it because I had great teachers who respected us, our creativity, and allowed us to experiment.  They did not grade us on if our work would sell at an art gallery but rather on our creativity, effort, and they always made it fun!  I hope yours was the same but I am sure that several of you did not have the same experience.  You might have had similar experiences to what Clara describes in her article.

Cheers to Clara for writing her piece and good luck with continuing to inspire young artists and making an impact!

Educational Epidemic Solution: Hold Parents Accountable

Gerard Robinson and Benjamin Scafidi do an excellent job discussing Absenteeism and how it can be handled in this article.

They discuss some of the statistics that I mentioned in my previous post: Education Epidemic – Absenteeism.   They discuss the US Department of Educations claim that 13% of American students missed more than 15 days of school during the 2013-14 school year.  Their solution is to make parents accountable and to “stop giving them a pass”

Check it out and let us work to solve this epidemic so that our kids can learn.  They are our future!

Looking for additional resources on why chronic research matters, check out this site by the Department of Education.


Majority of States Fall Short of Meeting Expectations for IDEA

Sharing this via  EdWeek and Christina Samuels.  This article cites some disappointing news around special education.

According to results on the National Assessment of Education Progress; 26 states, including the District of Columbia, do not meet the standards set forth by the Individuals with Disabilities Act.  This means that students are not scoring at or above the basic level in over half of the states in the US.

Check it out for yourself!


Trump/Pence Ticket – What This Means for Education

Alyson Klein discusses here the impact of the Vice Presidential selection by Donald Trump.  Trump has made some headline comments about the future of education in the US and Pence appears to be in line with his thought process.

Here are some highlights:

  1. Pence is against the Common Core – Indiana was the first state to reject the standards.
  2. He led the chard against the NCLB Act and is against the federal government have a major role in Ed policy
  3. He is Pro School Choice

Clinton vs. Trump – Great Resource to Explain their Stance on Major Educational Topics

PD – It Should Be More Like ‘MasterChef’

William Tolley does a GREAT job explaining how to step your game up with it comes to Professional Development (PD).  Check out his article here. 

Do you like cooking shows?  I am not a great cook but man do i love watching to see what is possible and attempting to be a master chef. ( I actually do pull it off sometimes!)  Either way – turn PD into a game and I am all in!  We need to continue to make Professional Development accessible, interesting, and fun.  If we cannot find it within our selves to be life long learners and fine tune our craft, how can we expect it from our students?

He breaks it down into 5 key points:

  1. Gamification
  2. Mastery Learning, Differentiation, and Personalization
  3. Peer and Expert Evaluation
  4. Microcredentials
  5. Redemption and Empowerment