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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Just my Opinion, but….

JUST SAY NO to standardized testing. It’s time. Right before elections it’s turning into a political football, local, state and federal. At the national level, the leap to ‘for profit’ schools, slaps us into the face of reality.

Tests. Lower the bar, fix or dump the tests? A conundrum. Is the bar too high? If no kids can reach that bar, what’s next? Same thing, same results, right? Or what? Is this the way to judge schools, teachers and children’s future success in our changing landscape? Does rigor insure academic success? I think not.

Something is more than a little off kilter, the ship is going out to sea in the wrong direction. In fact, we are bailing water out of this boat. New ship needed! Let’s stop being on the Titanic, rearranging deck chairs.

Because I am an optimistic person by nature, and always see the good in things, or nearly, I am confident we can turn the tide here, as a collective voice. Because policy makers usually have not been teachers, or even spent any time in a classroom, the new wave of teacher educators running for political office at all levels is heartening.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

"So there looks like there might be an opportunity for you."

At the time when I heard this, I was literally in the middle of having my best teaching year. My sixth grade blended learning classroom was going better than I could ever have imagined. I was "teaching like a PIRATE," engaging and empowering my students, making learning relevant and meaningful to them, learning along side of my students every day, watching them get that love for learning back, and getting to know my students better than ever. And yet, a career opportunity came up that made me leave all of that. 

Why I Thought Left

When I was told, "So there looks like there might be an opportunity for you," I knew it was to step in as acting elementary principal for another principal in my district who needed to take a leave of absence. I did not know how long it would be, but I knew I had to take it. Opportunities like these do not come along often, and if I wanted to take the next step in my career, it began with this opportunity. While it was an easy decision to make, it was, at the same time, the most difficult career decision I ever had to make. I was leaving behind just an absolute incredible group of students, who were doing incredible things day after day. They wanted to come into my class every day. I wanted to come to school every day. There were no discipline issues. They pushed themselves to learn more than they did the day before. They pushed me to make the next day better for them than the day before. And yet, I left them for an opportunity.   

Why I Really Left

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

 

Anything is Possible; Everything is Possible!

We're all just a bunch of bosses and cool ones, at that. We take turns leading and following. When we figure it out, we're like reformed Minions, having a bunch of fun together.

Every day is a celebration of learning and life. Culture is the name of the game and our beliefs, our purposes, our shared Vision and Mission are the tools we use as pieces. We are all stakeholders in the greater good. Successful cultural organization starts with getting along and working together in collegial conversation. 

Our leadership matters! Making a difference to those we work with, play with and care for has its challenges, but we overcome every obstacle. Better together, by understanding and influencing others by who we are, what we say and what we do.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

I recently participated in a seminar on “student engagement” with new and experienced teachers, principals, vice-principals, and district-level educational leaders. We started with a basic icebreaker activity. We were asked to introduce ourselves by giving our names and sharing one word that reflects a central aspect of our educational philosophy.

My chosen word led to a lot of blank stares and more than a few confused looks.

“Hi, I’m Gillian Judson. My word is perfinker.”

Most people nodded hesitantly, taking on a quizzical look that said …Rrrriiight. And that means? One person I met looked at me skeptically and said, “That’s not a real word, Gillian.”

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

How do you normally feel after attending an all day conference or summit? Exhausted both mentally and physically? Sluggish? Overwhelmed? Funny thing happened to myself and two of my colleagues after attending a recent all day summit at Google in Pittsburgh called "Be Internet Awesome." We weren't exhausted mentally or physically. We weren't sluggish. And we weren't overwhelmed. In fact, it was the quite the opposite. We felt refreshed, energized, and full of thought and discussion. 

So how did Google do this? How did they create an all day summit that was just right and left the attendees leaving refreshed, energized, full of thought and discussion? I have been wondering this since the summit and how to take Google's format back to future faculty meetings, in-services, and other conferences/summits. 

Here are my thoughts about how the Google Summit on Digital Safety & Citizenship left those in attendance feeling anything but exhausted:

Comfort

Right from the start, our hosts were concerned with our comfort. This sent a clear message right away that they cared about us. Our Google hosts also invited us to get up and move around any time we needed to. We were told we could sit in back on couches or on floor against wall if we wanted. The choice was ours. Food was in the back we were welcome to any time we wanted, as well. In addition to food, they had music playing in the background that provided an upbeat feel. Finally, everyone, including our Google hosts were dressed comfortably. 

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