3 Tips to Use Your Master Schedule to Embark Change in Your District

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I LOVE the scheduling process.  It is a challenge and a fun puzzle that I enjoyed being a part of during my time in education.  We had the old school “whiteboard” mentality when it came for building the master schedule, and then we scheduled students 1 at a time, by hand!  We had a small population but we did not trust the scheduler to customize the schedule with the best interest of the school, students, AND teachers in mind.

I recently read an article by Katrina Schwartz that sparked my interest in how a school’s master schedule can foster growth and change.  The power of the master schedule cannot be underestimated and it is often overlooked.  I see this ALL the time in demonstrations where people quickly point the finger to those who are responsible!  You know what I mean.  It is similar to when someone brings up state regulatory reporting and everyone defers to the few people who deal with it on a daily basis!  The master schedule is much more than a laboring, tedious project.

“The master schedule is to a school, what grading policies are to teachers and classrooms.  It reveals the true beliefs, attitudes, values, and priorities of the school.  The school’s master schedule is looking at an MRI of the inner workings of a school.  It is the window to the soul of the school.”

“The Master Schedule: A Culture Indicator.” – NASSP

Chew on that thought for a moment.  (No really, think about it for a minute or two!)  The quote takes all that finger pointing that I described above and turns the finger to yourself.  Yes, a few people might lay the master schedule out, but it takes all stakeholders involved to fulfill it and satisfy the main objective: giving students every opportunity to discover their love, passion for learning while providing them all the experiences they need to prepare them for their future.

3 Tips to Prepare Yourself for Scheduling Season:

  1. Decide what your vision as a district/building/campus is and what skills you want them to possess when they leave. This is the start and honestly, you cannot go to 2 and 3 before ironing this out.  I know it is late in the year to start drastic changes, but it is not too late to take baby steps.  The other positive is that now you know where you want to be in a year so you can analyze this schedule process for 2017 and really start to iron out where you want to be in 2018.  Rome was not built in a day and neither will your scheduling masterpiece! 
  1. Analyze your course catalog and consider revising their names and descriptions. It is all about the foundation and your course catalog is just that: The foundation of all learning that will occur in your school.  I have talked with many districts who are in love with the idea of change, personalized learning, flipped learning, 1 to 1 technology, BYOD, etc. BUT have had issues with getting others to buy in.  While reviewing your course catalog, take time to ask yourself if the course titles, descriptions, objectives match your district vision.  If yes, move right on to number 3!  If not, this is your chance to foster change and encourage growth!  Take time to rewrite the course titles and descriptions to match your vision and encourage your teachers to provide their input.  You may discover that teachers are already meeting the standard and would welcome a chance to define their own course.
  1. Find a product that supports your scheduling needs, goals, and objectives. This is a crucial part because if you hand schedule like me for 150 kids it takes about 2 ½ days, but if you are doing it for thousands, well, get some coffee and buck up!  Finding a program that will allow you to customize how your schedule is run is crucial so that you can be sure that you can break the pedagogical model and re-define the process.  (Contact SunGard K-12 to see how we can aid you in this journey)

So who is ready to embark on a journey for change at your school, district, or campus?  Remember, this cannot happen overnight and that this is a project that can easily take a year or more, but why not start now!?

Get your group of advisors together, discuss your vision, analyze your course catalog, find advocates for change in your district, get your messaging straight, and find a program that fits your scheduling needs and let’s rediscover (Insert your district name here)!  Good luck and best wishes!

Here is a video that highlights how Henry County School in Georgia is doing this very thing.

Carol Dweck Explains The ‘False’ Growth Mindset That Worries Her

“Carol Dweck Explains The ‘False’ Growth Mindset That Worries Her” is written by MindShift. (It is a MUST follow blog in my opinion)

In it they highlight Carol Dweck’s concerns over the ‘False’ Growth Mindset.  I love this post because again she shows her honesty and transparency about the Growth Mindset.  I have read several articles from “haters” who suffer from a fixed mindset who attack the growth mindset for not solving all of educations issues.  Well here again she shows that it is not supposed to!

Here is a great quote from the interview that inspired the post:

“Nobody has a growth mindset in everything all the time. Everyone is a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets.”

10 Big Ideas We Are Learning Through Our High School Internships

Internships is something that I was never lucky enough to experience in high school but have worked at 2 high schools that offered them and they are GREAT!  I would love to see more schools go to this model because it teaches our children so many things.

This post comes from Getting Smart and is highlighted by two 9th grade students who share 10 things they are learning through their internships.

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Image borrowed from Getting Smart

Here are their 10 but you know the drill… you have to check the article for the details!

  1.  Focus on Curiosity and Interests
  2. Be Yourself
  3. Celebrate Uniqueness
  4. Follow Dress Code and Language Code
  5. Use Connections
  6. Conduct Interviews, Follow-ups, & Job Shadows
  7. Do Your Paperwork
  8. Be a Good Communicator
  9. Keep in Touch
  10. Trust Each Other: “Once you’re at Big Picture you never really leave”

10 Tips to Make Learning REAL

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“10 Tips to Make Learning REAL” is brought to you by Eric Sheninger.  He runs a great blog and provides insights from his experiences as a principal.  Check it out!

Superintendents: The lessons we learned in 2016

Who better to learn from than your peers?!  “Superintendents: The lessons we learned in 2016” is brought to us by Stephen Wood with eSchoolNews.

He interviews and shares valuable takeaways from 4 Superintendents over the past year.  Here is a list of the Superintendents, check the article for all the details!

  1. Turning Around a District is a Marathon, not a Sprint” – Dr. Royce Avery, Superintendent of Manor Independent School (TX)
  2. PBL Teaches Educators Flexibility in Lesson Planning”  – Dr. Stephanie Miller, Superintendent and Principal of Congress Elementary School District (AZ)
  3. School Improvement Models Should Be Shared Across the Globe” –  Dr. Bryan D. Luizzi, Superintendent, New Canaan Public Schools (CT)
  4. “Becoming a Great Leader Is Not One Thing” –  Tammy Mangus, Superintendent of the Monticello Community School District (NY)

He is doing a 3 part series and I will be sure to share all 3 on the website!

Donald Trump and K-12 Education: Five Things to Watch in 2017

trumpAlyson Klein writes about “Donald Trump and K-12 Education: Five Things to Watch in 2017“.

Here is the list but check out the post for all of the details!

  1.  Betsy DoVo’s confirmation process
  2. Education Department Staffing
  3. Every Student Succeeds Act Implementation
  4. First Big Policy Proposal
  5. Trump’s First Budget Request

 

 

Changing the Teaching Profession in the Midst of a Storm

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The storm is the looming teacher shortage.

Annette Christiansen hits the nail on the head, several times, in this power post via EdWeekTeacher.  She discusses her sons journey to being an education major and how he was born to be a teacher but explored several other paths before finally “settling” on education.  I hate to say settle but that is the truth in today’s world.  The profession does not carry the respect, honor, and salary that it deserves.

As a former teacher her story resonates with me because I always felt I was born to be a teacher and I did not hesitate to go to college to be one.  I have since left education because I felt a calling to impact education in a different way.

Here are some things that she highlights to help prepare us for this inevitable challenge.

Be positive.

 

Get involved with teacher-preparation programs.

Promote and support new teachers.

 

Shape our future through ESSA.

Unify.

Middle School Suicides Reach An All-Time High

Please read this article by Alissa Nadworthy via nprEd.

This is something that all of us need to educate ourselves on and be prepared to discuss with our students and children.  In today’s world students have access to information in seconds and social media is a breeding ground for bullying.

 

Critical Thinking in the 21st Century and Beyond

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Love this post by Eric Sheninger on his blog called A Principal’s Reflection.

Here is a powerful segment of his post: “What separated Mr. South from his peers was his passion for helping students learn and love the sciences.  His lessons were light on direct instruction and heavy on authentic connections and application. He didn’t teach science. We learned science.”

What I got from his post was that he feel in love with learning by the dedication and creativity of his teachers during his time as a student.  This resonated instantly with me as I was the same!  I became a teacher because of the great impact that some of them had on me, I wanted to do that for others.

He continues to connect this to 21st century learning style where he discusses 7 elements, that when mixed together, will “provide students with the types of learning opportunities that they will carry with them no matter what path they choose”.

Awesome post Eric!

4 Ways to Encourage a Growth Mindset in the Classroom

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Great post by Katie Finley via EdSurge. (image provided 2.0 Flickr user LendingMemo)

Katie discusses the 4 ways to encourage the growth mindset in your classroom:

1. Think about setting achievable micro-goals to encourage students’ consistent, incremental progress.

2. When students succeed, praise their efforts and strategies as opposed to their intelligence.

3. Help students focus on and value the process of learning.

4. Design classroom activities that involve cooperative–rather than competitive or individualistic–work.

 

As you all know, I LOVE the growth mindset and feel like this concept is one that is important for all children to have.  Here are other posts I have made on the growth mindset:

Growth Mindset-Why Not!?

Powerful Podcast-Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset May Counter Effects of Poverty on Achievement