Archive for June 22, 2012

Relationships and the Number 96

*This is blog post #3 in the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge*

In my last post, I shared what I learned from Willard Daggett speaking about Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships. Readers’ comments on that post pointed out that I didn’t speak to the 3rd R, however, Relationships are essential in schools in order to get to the Rigor and Relevance.

On relationships, Daggett refers to the necessity for teachers to build relationships with students in the classroom. Daggett’s point about relationships was that learning is personal. When teachers have strong, trusting relationships with their students, they work harder and achieve more. The same is true with leaders. We may have many ideas about what needs to be done; but without trusting relationships with those we wish to lead, we will find ourselves alone on the journey, It is so easy to get excited about the Rigor (this could be technology, new classroom pedagogy, etc.) that we forget to build strong foundational relationships before setting off on our journey.

When I think about Relationships, I think about the number 96. What is the significance of 96? On the last day of school this year, a student in our school told her teacher that she doesn’t get to go to summer school (we have a large summer school program with many enrichment classes) and she is counting down the days until she gets to come back to school…96 days until she gets to be back to her favorite place. I know that it is the relationships this student has had with her teachers throughout the years that have made our school her favorite place to be.

Rigor, Relevance and Relationships

I recently attended the 2012 Wisconsin School Leadership Academy and was fortunate to hear some great speakers that I will try to blog about in my next few posts (especially since I’ve been challenged to blog twice a week this summer –if you’re counting this is blog post #2 in the challenge).  If you’d like to check out the tweets from this Academy, you can check #2012WSLA on twitter. I tweeted from the @AWSALeaders1 account, so you won’t find too many tweets from me.

The first speaker we heard was Willard Daggett, known by many for speaking/writing about Rigor, Relevance and Relationships in education.  Here are some of my bullet point notes from his session:
  • Schools are improving, but we still have a gap of where students need to be in our changing world.
  • Teachers are on treadmills just trying to keep up and cover everything that might be on the test.
  • The 3 central challenges in education right now: Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Assessments, and Teacher Evaluations.
  • Rapidly improving schools have proactive leadership, and focused/sustained professional development.
  • Our state tests focus on lower level applications, but our students NEED higher level/real world applications (Rigor/Relevance).
  • Research on the most improving schools have found that many have eliminated department chair heads and have instead moved to interdisciplinary teams. You cannot get to higher level/real world applications one discipline at a time!
  • Building character/guiding principles (respect, responsibility, compassion, initiative, adaptability, perseverance, etc.) are still essential for our students.  Do you know anyone that truly lost a job due to a lack of academic skills? It was likely a lack of one of those character traits.
  • There is NO research that supports eliminating the arts (especially if it means more test prep).
I realize that these are not the best notes from his session (like I said, I was also busy tweeting!)  I must confess that I have heard Daggett’s name mentioned numerous times before, but didn’t hop on the bandwagon to read up on the new “Rigor/Relevance” buzz words, but now I’m racking up another amazon order for his books.  Daggett doesn’t speak to any sort of magic “be all/end all,” but rather speaks about common sense practices and the importance of making your curriculum rigorous (higher level thinking/applications) and relevant (real-life situations that make the learning important and applicable for students).

2012 Summer Blogging Challenge

Bill Carroza (@wcarozza) over at “Principal Reflections” snuck in a blog challenge in his post “5 Reasons Educators Should Blog.” Then my twitter friend @fliegs threw @mmiller7571 and I under the bus in a tweet to get us in on the challenge (now that I think about it, I think he has done this to us every year!) I have a hard time saying no to anything so I’m in (even if it means that this first post is this simple–it is also my first attempt at using the blogger app on my iPad, so I have no idea what it will look like and have found I can’t add any links into my post.)

So who wants to join us? Only 2 posts a week, come on we can all commit to at least 2.

Now I’m off to start thinking of my next blog post…