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Posted by on in School Culture

Fleetwood Mac Rumours Trasera

Summer is a time for relaxation, recharging, and for some, regrouping. I'm a big fan of just zoning out on the beach to some tunes. One of my favorite bands, Fleetwood Mac, was just on with their hit "Second Hand News". I know the song has nothing to do with school, but the title sure does.

As a Superintendent, I am constantly addressing the rumor mill and second-hand news.  There's not a day that does not go by where I don't hear "well I heard that..." or "someone told me that..." or "is it true that..." To be clear almost every administrator goes through this. In no way, shape, or form is this unique to me. 

Once you think you hear it all, something else comes along.  It's constant, but almost expected. 

Why would I waste time blogging about this? Simple; others folks in my position need to know it's not just you, your district, or location. It's everywhere. What you need to do is simply laugh it off and keep moving along. The only time I address rumors is when someone is personally being scrutinized for something.

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Posted by on in School Culture

Little Prince

I've loved The Little Prince since I was a child, and with each reading or exposure, I get something more out of it. As a kid, I'm certain I missed some of the symbolism or allegories, but I'm sure I empathized with the fact that I felt adults didn't always understand me, or have the right priorities.

This summer, I re-read The Little Prince for the first time since becoming an educator, and below are my three take-aways for educators:

1. On Authority

On one planet, the prince meets a King, and

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Posted by on in School Culture

numbers time watch whiteThe strategic use of time supports good teaching? 

How is time used where you teach and learn? 

Who has ample time for planning and collaboration, and who has insufficient time in that regard? 

Does the use of time match professional expectations? 

To better efforts, is it advantageous to audit the use of time in school systems? 

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Posted by on in School Culture

When I was principal of a rural high school we did an exercise to determine which students had connections with adults in our building. We had every student’s name on a list hanging on the wall in the library. Armed with colored dot stickers teachers were to go through the entire list and place a sticker next to every student in which  they felt they had established a solid relationship. The stickers began to overlap for many children. These were the students that were social, popular, and active in extra curricular activities. These students that had multiple stickers liked school and liked their teachers. There was no doubt as to their graduation completion.

As the exercise continued we noticed that there were a few, 4 in all, that had not one sticker by the name. Who were these children? How had they managed to attend our school and yet not one teacher would say a relationship was established? The information was profound. These children were at the biggest risk for dropping out. They were disenfranchised.

A plan was put into place as we determined how we could get to know and engage these children in school. Various teachers would reach out and try to get to  know these students. Perhaps they could invite them to participate in an extra curricular activity. Maybe just having a deliberate conversation routinely would make a difference. How had these children slipped through the cracks?

Did we save them all? Sadly, we did not. Honestly we were able to reach 1 of the 4 and engage him in school. The other 3 ended up dropping out. I take responsibility for these 3. Never again would this happen under my watch.

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Posted by on in School Culture

Our local newspaper runs a "22 years ago today" item most days, a quick snapshot of what people were up to 22, 44 and 66 years ago. This morning I picked up the paper and saw a name I think about every year.

The student was in my class, long long ago. He was what we like to call an "at risk" student, which is such a professional term to use, when the human reality of at risk students is not so clinical. He was a student who could have gone either way-- having the ability and potential to make a stable and happy life for himself, but in circumstances that could easily push him in other directions. Watching an at risk student is like watching a dancer walking along the edge of a knife in a stiff wind, to one side fields of clover and to the other side, a long plunge into darkness.

I won't tell you that this student had the heartwarming charm of a television-ready at risk kid. He was not easy to like, abrasive and with a hair-trigger, not inclined to be kind to his peers. But not stupid, and able to make connections to people that he considered worth his time. I don't remember having to drag and carry him through my class. I didn't particularly build a strong connection with him, but he was never as completely openly defiant for me as he was in other classes. Win, I guess? He had the tools.

But life circumstances were on his side. I don't remember where his mother was, and he was briefly homeless after a huge fight with his father. The subject of the fight? His father refused to his newest batch of drugs with the son.

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