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Focus on Essentials (September ASCD Review)

This quote by Education Leadership expert Michael Schmoker from the September Education Leadership (ASCD) caught my eye and I needed to share with you, Poor instructional practices amount to "hundreds of hours of wasted class time" every year in the great majority of schools. 

Click here to read the full article. 

Schmoker points out three key competencies teachers must master in order to ensure school performance is moving in a positive direction for all students:

1. Clear, Coherent, Curriculum: I recall one time asking a leadership team what was the school's curriculum. Of the five leaders in the room, I received four different answers. "If you all are not clear, how would the 30 teachers in charge of disseminating know?" The first question know that I ask school leaders when we conduct a walkthrough is, "How will we know what will students be learning today?" On a scale of 1-10, how well can you answer this question?

2. Sound Instruction: Schmoker shares that every...

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"Get"-ting Our Students

Do you remember what it felt like when a teacher really "got” you? What I mean by that is do you remember a teacher who knew your strengths and your weak­nesses and encouraged you to aim higher in both?

I sure do. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Bragg, was one. My 11th grade English teacher, Mrs. Vandevelder, was one, and my graduate school professor, Chris Thaiss, was one. They “got” me, and the "me" that they “got” was someone they liked. I liked that version of me too, and because of the way they saw me and responded to me, I thrived in their classrooms.

In grade school, I always pictured one of my teachers who didn’t “get” me talking to one of my teachers who did “get” me. As a kid, I believed that everyone I knew had nothing better to do than to talk about me. Perhaps that is a common thought among children. 

Back to my picture. I’d picture my math teacher talking to Mrs. Bragg, and this is how the...

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Building Systems is Your Key to Success

Did you know that even the way an email is responded to needs a system? The same is true for the way you assign and hold your team accountable to results. Whether you know it or not, systems are everywhere in your organization. You, as the leader of the organization, are a systems engineer, whether you’re aware of it or not. Ignoring this truth will create an organization that’s out of control. I like to call it, organized chaos. 

The key to having an organization that simply works is creating your systems with intention. What this means is many organization leaders inadvertently create ‘systems’ that completely depend on themselves, or specific employees, without even realizing it. That is a great deal of intellectual property that leaves the organization every day. One day, they might not come back. 

For example, if your Student Admissions Director Mary is the only one in your organization who knows how the lottery runs and enrollment forms are...

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