Archive for July 4, 2013

Blog as a Portfolio and Knowing the Admin Standards

I recently transferred my old blog to this new domain site and in the process decided to add categories and tags to each of my posts. I previously had no idea of why one would categorize blog posts until I read this post by George Couros and watched his video from a session he led on the topic:

In George’s video clip he says that blogging is “learning openly.” He goes on to say that “this is not to ‘toot my own horn,’ but to put my ideas out there, because there are a lot of great educators online that can respond to my posts, challenge me and add to my thinking.”

This past year our district implemented the CESA 6 Teacher Effectiveness Project to meet what will be the new state requirement for the teacher evaluation process in 2014-2015.  As part of this new system, each educator must submit artifacts into a documentation log (similar to a portfolio) to demonstrate evidence of effectiveness for the standards.  As I watched George’s video, I realized how easy it is to turn your blog into a portfolio if you align your posts to the standards.

Easy, right? Well, since I had over 100 posts that didn’t have categories it did take quite a bit of time to go back and review them. It was interesting to read my old reflections and compare to where I am now. I then realized how it can be difficult to decide which standard each blog post fit into (to my teachers reading this…I do realize the dilemma you had deciding which standard each of your artifacts should be in!) Over the past year I became an expert on the teacher standards, but I realized that I couldn’t even recite the administrator standards, let alone identify which standards that each of my practices aligned with!

As I read through my blog posts, I had the document of administrator standards open in my Evernote file to refer back to.  I found several of my posts fit into more than one standard and also found that a handful of posts didn’t really fit into any of them, so I created a “Personal Learning” category in addition to these standard categories.

While this took me a great deal of time (it took me a few different sittings over a week’s time), I felt like it was time well spent for me to better understand our administrator standards and reflect on my practice according to these standards.

So, from this point forward, my blog posts will be aligned to the following CESA 6 Effectiveness Project Administrator Standards (plus the personal learning category):

Performance Standard 1: Leadership for Student Learning

The school administrator drives the success of each learner through collaborative implementation of a shared vision of teaching and learning that leads to student academic progress and school improvement.

Performance Standard 2: School Climate

The school administrator fosters the success of all students by advocating, developing, nurturing, and sustaining a safe, positive, and academically engaging school climate.

Performance Standard 3: Human Resources Leadership

The school administrator provides effective leadership in the area of human resources through selecting, assigning, inducting, supporting, developing, evaluating, and retaining quality instructional and support personnel. 

Performance Standard 4:  Organizational Management

The school administrator fosters the success of all students by supporting, managing, and overseeing the school’s organization, operation, and use of resources.

Performance Standard 5: Communication and Community Relations

The school administrator fosters the success of all students by effectively communicating, collaborating, and engaging stakeholders to promote understanding, support, and continuous improvement of the school’s programs and services that are aligned with the school’s vision.

Performance Standard 6: Professionalism

The school administrator fosters the success of all students by demonstrating behavior consistent with legal, ethical, and professional standards and by engaging in continuous professional development and contributing to the profession.


A Post for the Principals New to Twitter


I have previously written about how powerful Twitter in several different posts: My #1 Recommended Resource, Expanding my PLN on Twitter, Is Social Media Taking Away from Personalization and Relationships, and The #WIAmigos are at it Again) Anyone who knows me knows that I always promote the power of building your PLN (Professional Learning Network) through Twitter.  Principals have a lonely job being the only one in their position in their building, but by connecting with others on twitter, you are not alone!

I recently read a post by Tom Whitby, To Whom Should I Connect?, and was also having guilt about not recommending people on #FF (#FF is for “Follow Friday” when people tweet out recommendations of people to follow).  Twitter is great, because I find something new every time I check the feed, however, what’s even better is knowing the strengths of each person I follow so that I know specifically who I should go to with a question in that area.  I do follow over 3,000 people so I must say I don’t know the strengths of all of them.  In the past month I’ve started getting quite a few principals started on twitter so I wanted to share a page of recommendations of who to start following and why (some is copied again from this post).

Educators in Wisconson (we like to refer to ourselves as #WIAmigos)…

@CurtRees (Curt) – for RTI questions, because his school is a model school for RTI and has presented at a couple of conferences.  He is also a tech guru, currently getting his Doctorate with an emphasis in Technology Leadership and is one of the Techlandia Podcast crew.  As a principal he also does a great job of keeping his parents/community well informed through his school facebook and youtube channel.  He’s also been a principal far more years than I have so I call on him for general advice as well (along with his knowledge of random songs/movies from the 80′s).

@PosickJ (Jay) – his school was one of few that went 1:1 with chromebooks for their 4-8th graders and has some great tech gurus in his district.  He doesn’t tweet much other than how far he runs everyday (which also is motivating for me), but he hasn’t ignored my direct messages or emails.

@ReadbyExample (Matt)  is an awesome elementary principal focused on literacy and is a grant-writing guru.  His blog is filled with incredible information and often writes posts for the Stenhouse blog.

@Joesanfelippofc (Joe) is a Superintendent doing some incredible work in his district and leading his staff to be connected learners. I’m always amazed how many teachers I see from Fall Creek joining in on the #educoach chat each week. You can find out even more about Joe in this post.

@twhitford (Tom) a fellow elementary principal with great ideas and is constantly learning with others on twitter. I’m not sure if there’s a chat he doesn’t join in on, but he loves to talk PLC.

@Leah_Whit (Leah) another fellow elementary principal who also happens to be Tom’s wife. She is constantly reading, learning and sharing on twitter. She just recently started blogging and I look forward to what she has to share.

@ChadHarnisch-is a connected High School principal with a great deal of experience and lot of wisdom to share. He recently presented at a conference about how all of his teachers were teaching literacy in the high school…not just the English teachers.

@chadkafka (Chad) who is my go-to guy for anything google, because he is the google guru! He is also an Apple Distinguished Educator.  He used to lead the MobileReach podcast to share all kinds of great apps and advice for integrating mobile devices in education, but now has the Teacher Tech Talk Podcast.

@Taml17 (Tammy) who joins Chad on the Teacher Tech Talk podcast and shares awesome tech tools/tips. I love following her website to see what she’s presenting on.

@pernilleripp (Pernille) who started the Global Read Aloud project and is so reflective on teaching in her blog.  She is so sincerely honest about her practice and giving the classroom back to the students.

@gunnellAP (John) a middle school principal who took our #WIAmigos connections to the next level by starting the Sunday night (at 8PM) #wischat.

@jgulan (Jeff) I connected with Jeff at a conference to hear about how his High School went 1:1.  We have remained connected since then as our school embarks on this journey.  He has even volunteered his time to skype with our tech committee to talk more about their experience and answer any questions that we have had along the way.

I’ve met almost all of these colleagues in person at conferences.  If I hadn’t known them from twitter, I never would have sought them out at the conference to chat with them…I would have just attended sessions by myself.

Educators out of Wisconsin…

@mmiller7571 (Melinda) a principal from Missouri who started a podcast years ago that I found by chance and enjoyed learning anything I could about being a principal.  It was her podcast that led me to learn about twitter and online, 24/7 PD opportunities.  She also has far more years of experience than me so I’ve called on her for help with a variety of admin questions.

@shiraleibowitz (Shira) and @KathyPerret (Kathy) who both co-moderate the #Educoach chat with me every Wednesday night.  Shira is a Rabbi/Head of School in New York with a wealth of knowledge (how else would I connect with a Rabbi?) on coaching teachers versus just evaluating them.  Kathy is a very well trained Instructional Coach in Iowa, also with a wealth of knowledge.

@NMHS_Principal (Eric)  who is very well known of across the country for having his New Jersey high school utilize social media. He was recognized by NASSP as a Digital Principal Award Winner.  I’ve seen video clips, news articles and blog posts about him and his awesome school.  This past year I got to meet him in his person and hear him speak at the ASCD Conference (wrote about here). He has a new book, Leadership 3.0 that will be coming out in February I believe and I highly encourage all principals to get it when it’s out!

@patrickmlarkin (Patrick) was the principal of a Massachusetts high school has been in national headlines for going 1:1 with huge success (now he’s an Assistant Superintendent). He’s also known for being the 2012 NASSP Digital Principal Award Winner.  I’ve podcasted with him on the EdAdmin show and enjoy learning from his experience.

@Joe_Mazza (Joe) is an elementary principal well known for using social media to strengthen home-school partnerships.

@8Amber8 (Amber) is an elementary assistant principal in Texas who is constantly sharing great ideas for integrating technology.  If you’re getting tired of learning about technology, then she can talk fashion or Tory Aikman 😉

@L_Hilt (Lyn) was an elementary school principal in Pennsylvania and is now an Instructional Tech Coach. She is an incredible leader on integrating technology.

@Eduleadership (Justin)  A former principal, now director of The Principal Center. He has taught me so many organizational/time management tips to keep up with the crazy amount of workload a principal has.

@Cantiague_Lead (Tony) Principal of an Elementary School that has been awarded the National Blue Ribbon Award. I connect with Tony frequently on all things leadership and literacy.

@DrSpikeCook (Spike) another Elementary Principal that I don’t think ever sleeps!  He is always sharing his great ideas and I recently had the chance to hear him and some of his teachers speak at ASCD as his school was featured in ASCD/MCREL’s new video series on Classroom Instruction that Works.

@LeaderandReader (Mindy) Another elementary principal that I love to learn from. She is a true lead learner, constantly sharing her ideas on leadership, leading a literacy school, and Daily 5.

@casas_jimmy (Jimmy) A High School Principal full of energy, great ideas and known for being a HS Principal of the Year in Iowa. He started the #IAEdchat to connect the Iowa educators on Sunday nights at 8PM.

@plugusin (Bill) I recently heard Bill speak at a PLC Institute and learned so much that I attended two of his sessions. Bill is a middle school teacher that has written several books and is what I consider a PLC guru, yet he’s a “real live bonefied active teacher” (not an administrator).

@rondmac (Ron) a  principal that has a lot to share in regards to school leadership.

@hopeleaders (Raul) who I actually had the pleasure of working with during my 1st year as an assistant principal in Arizona. He was an awesome principal that taught me almost everything I know.  He’s now a principal coach in his district.  Even though I moved across the country, I can still keep learning from him via twitter.

@TeacherCast (Jeff) who started TeacherCast in New Jersey, which provides great podcasts to learn from, along with many other great resources for teachers/educational leaders.

@akevy613 (Akevy) another Rabbi/Principal with many years of leadership experience that I enjoy learning from.

Educational Gurus…
How else could I continue learning from my favorite Educational Authors or even ask 1:1 questions of Todd Whitaker“The Sisters”Jim Knight, and Donalyn Miller.

Tips for Formal Observations

This week’s #educoach chat was on Effective Pre/Post Conferences with Teachers for Observation and was a great discussion that all principals could benefit from.  If you would like to read the archives of the chat, you can find a link at the end of this post.

I’ve previously written about leading with a “coaching hat” and try to do so even in the formal

observation/evaluation process. While principals can get into classrooms with a coaching hat on, we are still ultimately responsible for evaluating teachers.  Yes, each school/district/system has its own evaluation requirements for the formal observation process, but I still believe it is possible to utilize the process with a coaching mindset as much as possible.  When a principal approaches the formal observation as simply an evaluatory task, they are more focused on judging teachers and completing the necessary paperwork.  In this situation a teacher will feel like they are simply “under the microscope” or become too nervous for it to be an opportunity for reflection and growth.  A principal completing formal observations with a coaching hat on puts the opportunity for conversation first and the necessary paperwork second.

I know that it is not possible to truly approach a formal observation as an Instructional Coach does, because the principal ultimately has the formal evaluation paperwork in the end; however, teachers will see much more value if the principal puts the emphasis on dialogue and growth first.

Unless you have a concern that is so significant that it warrants an improvement plan, the post-conference should be an opportunity for reflective dialogue.  Ask reflective questions that allow the teacher to do most of the talking.  Two of the easiest questions to ask are “What went well?” and “Was there anything that didn’t go as you had intended?” The ORID Framework provides a variety of sample question stems for different purposes. ORID questions are: Objective, Reflective, Interpretive and Decisional.

Here are some of my tips for principals on the formal observation process:

  • Before the school year starts, create a year-long schedule spacing out the formal observations month by month.  When creating this schedule plan more or less formal observations based on busier or calmer months (i.e. December holiday, state testing month, etc).  Give all teachers a copy of this schedule so they can see how many are being observed each month.
  • Email teachers a reminder at the end of each month if they are “up” for their formal observation in the following month. This gives them a reminder and allows them to schedule an observation with you.
  • When scheduling an observation, schedule the pre- and post-conference all at once.   If possible, schedule the post-conference for the same day as the formal observation. Save yourself a lot of time by having your secretary in charge of your calendar. 
  • Give all teachers a pre-conference form ahead of time so they know what questions to be prepared to discuss during your meeting. Some recommended questions include:  1.What are the objectives/outcomes for this lesson? 2. Describe the population of the class and what differentiation is planned for this lesson. (Once you know your classes well from frequent walkthoughs, you will no longer need to ask for the population of the class). 3. What will be observed? What instructional methods will be used? 4. How will student performance be assessed throughout or after the lesson? What evidence of success/student achievement are you looking for? 5. Is there anything in particular you would like to be observed during the lesson for you to receive specific feedback on? 6. What do you believe to be any areas of concern?
  • Complete as much of the observation form as you can while you are observing in the classroom, but include questions you’d like to ask the teacher in the post-conference and wait to finish it until after you have that post-observation discussion.

If you would like to read the full archive of the chat, you can find it HERE. (*Note-If you’re new to reading storify, it shows some tweets several times based on the number of times it was retweeted by others).  Throughout the #educoach chat I favorited several tweets, here are the “nuggets” from the chat:


Don’t Bench Coaching

If you don’t read ASCD‘s Edcuational Leadership, then I highly recommend that you start. The current summer edition is filled with great articles, as it always is. There is an article by Christina Steinbacher-Reed and Elizabeth Powers titled Don’t Bench Coaching as a result of the numerous budget cuts that often mean cutting coaches (which is a HUGE loss). Their article gives a great plug for the weekly #educoach chat so I just had to share a link in my blog for others to be led to this great article: Don’t Bench Coaching.