Monday, May 2, 2011

Chapters 13 & 14 & 15 & 16

Blog about one of the following questions posed in the chapters. Please finish reading the book!
Chapter 13- Remember that great teachers do not argue with parents or respond defensively. What is one way you try to remember this when a difficult parent puts you on the "spot"?
Chapter 14-What things are we doing at KES that are not measured by standardized tests but are vitally important?Are there things that the standardized tests measure we aren't doing?
Chapter 15-Describe the framework that sustains the work of all great educators.
Chapter 16-Of the "Fourteen Things that Matter Most" listed as a summary on p. 127 of your book, which do you feel is the foremost essential practice? Why?
Thanks for a terrific blogging experience this year! I hope you feel, as I do, it has been a professional endeavor worth your time. Email me w/any suggestions for next year's book(s). Teehee. . . . . . .

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chapters 11 & 12

I'm actually going to start w/chapter 12 this blog. Whitaker is a HUGE believer in basing every decision on your best people. I've read several of his books and this is a recurring theme. Why don't great teachers try to "teach to the middle?" Because they KNOW if everyone is engaged and all students are taught with high expectations, everyone achieves more. Where is my data for this? Anyone remember when we had self-contained special education classrooms? The one at my high school was under the football field (the football field was down the road & across 2 lanes of traffic--after roll call in homeroom in the morning, the special education students would walk to the football field with their teacher--can you even imagine this now????) I know I could produce data now that supports our special education students are achieving at higher levels in classrooms with regular education peers than they ever did having to dodge pulpwood trucks every morning to go to their classroom with each other. Here's another example: who do you pair your lowest reader in your classroom with to help him/her become a more fluent reader? (No, Mrs. Marcum is not the right answer!! She's a great answer. . . grin.) You pair him/her with your best reader if you really want to impact reading.
Can I tell ya'll that I love "plandomness" over "randomness?" Cool.
Here's the blog! Choose one concept from these two chapters that you find laudable as well as transferable to your own classroom practice and incorporate it into your teaching for a week. (This is a goal you are reflecting on so if it doesn't work, it's okay. This is a safe place.) Discuss specific examples where you use this concept in your teaching and how well it did/did not work in your teaching.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Don't Need to Repair & Ability to Ignore

For this blog, read the poem "The Builder," which I have copied below. Then blog about how the themes of the poem relate to the themes of chapters 9 & 10 (i.e., "repairing" and "building").
The Builder
I saw a group of men tearing a building down,
A group of men in my hometown.
With a heave and a ho and a mighty yell,
They swung a beam and a sidewall fell.
And I said to the foreman, "Are those men skilled?
The type you'd hire if you'd want to build?"
He laughed and replied, "Why, no indeed."
He said, "Common labor is all I need.
Why I can tear down in a day or two
What it takes a builder ten years to do."
And I thought to myself as I walked away,
Which of these roles do I want to play?
(Author Unknown)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ten Days out of Ten & The Teacher is the Filter

As many of you know, last Friday when I was at Alabama State's recruiting fair, the Montgomery news station asked me some questions about education. Several of you have commented to me that you were surprised by my answer to the reporter's question about the budget. (For those of you who have yet to ask for my autograph, the reporter asked how do we recruit teachers to AL schools with the current budget crisis? My reply was that I don't worry about the budget in Montgomery b/c great teachers will always be needed in AL.) I can't worry about things I cannot change and I am not going to "fix" proration. What I choose to do on Friday was to focus on what is positive. This does not mean I don't watch the bottom line at KES because I do. I also call my legislators and try to be politically responsible. As Whitaker states in Chapter 7, however, focusing on the positive things in our classrooms and schools gives us more drive & energy to get through the less-positive times. Model appropriate behavior. Be respectful to ALL people ALL the time. Understand the power of praise & look for opportunities to find people doing things right (you know I loved that one!). Who determines how much you praise someone? Has anyone ever died from too much praise? (Remember though to be effective, praise must be authentic, specific, immediate, clean, and private.)
Sometimes on Sunday morning, my preacher will "step on my toes" by talking about something I am doing that I need to change in my life (it's fine w/me if he talks about those "other" sinners who are there but when it's me, ouch!). Whitaker really "stepped on my toes" when he said the principal's goal should be you (as teachers) should leave meetings more excited about teaching tomorrow than you are today. That's the leader of leaders I want to be for you. Pray for me.
Read the following sentence: FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULTS OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY COMBINED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS. Now, count aloud the Fs in the sentence and count them only once. Do not look back and count them again.
How many Fs did you count? Many people count only three or four (me!), but there are actually six. The reason that nearly everyone undercounts is b/c the mind automatically filters out the F's in the word of, which is included three times in the sentence (filtering out the insignificant). How analogous is this activity to filtering out negatives at KES?
Blog about anything you found significant or interesting in these two chapters. Let's see where the journey takes us. Remember to read & respond to one another as well as me.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

High Expectations-For Whom? & Who is the Variable in the Classroom?

WOW! If you haven't been blown away by this book yet, then Chapters 5 & 6 will. In Chapter 5, Whitaker states that all teachers have high expectations for students, even ineffective teachers. The difference is great teachers have high expectations of themselves. The challenge is for teachers (and this principal who really wants to be great) is to focus on their OWN behavior since that is the only thing they can control. What's the main variable in the classroom? the teacher
Throughout these two chapters, the book stresses the belief that teachers should take responsibility for what happens within their classrooms. It suggests that if we all look in the mirror each time we ask, "Who is the variable?," we will have taken great strides toward school improvement. Blog about your thoughts on this concept. Then blog about how the issues of student, parent, and teacher responsibility all play a significant role in ensuring academic success for each student we teach.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Power of Expectations & Prevention vs Revenge

In Chapter 3, Whittaker states that rules have drawbacks, including their focus on undesirable expectations, whereas expectations focus on desirable results.
Blog about what is, at times, a more powerful deterrent to misbehavior than a list of predetermined rules and consequences.
The key concepts in Chapter 4 deal with effective teachers. Effective teachers are motivated to prevent misbehavior; ineffective teachers are motivated to punish students who misbehave. Furthermore, effective teachers focus on the future and what they have the ability to influence, not on what has already happened. Angry students are a problem, not a solution. When a student misbehaves, effective teachers do not want a student to leave a classroom angry, they want the student to behave better in the future. Then Whittaker talks about the "bag of tricks" available to every teacher and that all teachers have the same "bag of tricks" available to them in dealing with student behavior. Who is the variable???? TEACHER! Great teachers select wisely from their "bag of tricks." Students know the difference between right and wrong and want the teacher to address inappropriate behavior in a dignified and respectful manner.
Identify two SPECIFIC teacher behaviors in every teacher's bag of tricks that great teachers NEVER exhibit (no fair listing the ones the person above you listed!). Now list two SPECIFIC teacher behaviors in every teacher's bag of tricks that great teachers would exhibit (again, no fair listing the ones the person above you listed!).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chapters 1 & 2

In chapter 1, the author states, "no program inherently leads to school improvement. It is the people who implement sound programs and determine the success of the school. Programs are never the solution, and they are never the problem." Do you agree or disagree with Whitaker? Why? Blog about it.
Chapter 2 discusses people not programs! Wow! You will remember we began our year with a quick look at Jim Collins's work on Good to Great where Collins maintains that good is actually the enemy of great; that is, we have so few great companies because so many are willing to settle for being good companies. Collins extends his example to include schools, indicating we have so few great schools primarily because we are happy with good schools. Furthermore, the book speaks to the shade of difference between good and great teachers, stating that most teachers do about as well as they know how to do. Think of two teachers who you have known (in a system far, far away--NO NAMES or identifying remarks!!!) who were settling for being good and two teachers who always strive for greatness. Blog about the obvious difference between the two pairs. Write your insights and reflect in the blog on what the great teachers are doing differently as those classified as merely "good."