I apologize for using a rather trite metaphor for the title of this blog, particularly since I never really cared for the dot-to-dot pages that would occasionally appear in my coloring books as a child. I never saw the purpose. I could tell what the picture was going to be and I didn’t need to scour the page to find the next number to make it appear.
As an educator the idea of connecting things has become much more profound to me. Watching the students in my English classes make connections between what we were reading and what was happening in the world were some of my favorite teacher moments. The flip side of that was also enlightening to me. As a principal of a school with many different academic support programs for students I remember a conversation with a student who told me that she didn’t “do reading” when she went to a classroom to work with a teacher who was supporting English Learners, even though I had just been in that room and seen a lesson that was explicitly planned to connect to the general education classroom. The student didn’t see the connection and that was the problem. Read more
Much has already been written, and even more is certain to come, about the times we are living in right now. It feels like a perfect storm of upheaval and uncertainty, about even the things we usually take most for granted—like the long-standing institutions of schools, sports, socializing, commerce, and moving around in the world. Read more
When I wrote my last blog post in January, and made self-assessment my personal learning resolution, I did not know that in a few months my brain would be incredibly tired from learning way too many things in a short amount of time.
I do not need to add any words to the uncertainty that we are all feeling. You know it, and you are all feeling it too. Read more
I plan to explore self-assessment with my blogs this year. One of my favorite things about writing for this blog is that it causes me to reflect and formalize my own thinking about assessment topics. Maybe it is all of the talk about resolutions, or the fact that my own resolutions have not quite taken hold (Sorry elliptical machine! I promise to visit you soon!), or this looming birthday of mine, but the pulls of both reflection and action are pretty strong right now. Read more
As schools struggle to identify what to do to improve student learning, many of us look to researchers for answers—or at least guidance—about which path to take. The work of John Hattie has transformed educational conversations around the globe and caused us to think about not just what works but what truly makes a significant difference. When you look at Hattie’s publications, it is hard to ignore the power of collective teacher efficacy and Hattie’s charge to teachers to “know thy impact.” Read more
A recent job change has extended my daily commute and as a result I have been listening to audiobooks to pass the time and minimize the frustration with road construction. I know that I am late to this party, but audiobooks are a pretty great way to both decompress after a challenging day and get excited about a new one. I recently listened to The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath and it has been rolling around in my head for a while since I finished it. (This poses a new challenge with audiobooks. With a traditional book, I would flip through the pages and reread different sections. I haven’t quite figured out how to do that with the audio version.) I have been a big fan of the Heath brothers since reading their book Switch, which contained one of my favorite metaphors about the change process and proved incredibly helpful in a variety of settings.
As I write this, I’m looking out my window to see green grass and flowers everywhere. It’s the time of year when we are enjoying final concerts, awards ceremonies, and the other typical end-of-year events. If you ask teachers about this time of year, they talk about trying to keep students engaged when the warmer weather and other distractions are competing for students’ attention. Thinking about my own efforts as both a teacher and a principal to keep the focus on learning until the very last minute made me think about student investment. Read more
Formative assessment has the potential to truly overcome the negative connotation that assessment tends to create. Read more
“We do not learn from experiences…we learn from reflecting on experiences.” -John Dewey
Perhaps it is because as educators we are flooded with “end of the year” events like final concerts, awards convocations, sports championships, and spring dances at this time of year, but reflection has certainly been on my mind lately. Read more