Thursday, August 25, 2016

2016.17 Opening Day Message

Welcome to the 2016.17 school year.  

Myself and some of the administrative team in Mechanicsburg have previewed the concept of Event + Response = Outcomes, that is best known from Urban Meyer’s book Above the Line. For those of you that know me, even a Michigan fan can appreciate a book that references the buckeyes.   

The E+R=O process begins with the 20 square feet of the organization’s culture and strategy that each of us owns.  Within this 20 square feet, you choose how you will think, interact, and behave in order to prioritize the learning of students.  These responses place us either above the line or below the line.  But wherever we choose to fall, our responses do have an impact on our students, our grade level team or our department, our own professional development, our building and ultimately the district at large.  This is both a powerful and scary notion.

What our team wants to stress throughout the year, is that when you feel the weight of that 20 square feet, you are still in the driver’s seat and we are here to lift you up.  Through our use of formative assessments, strategies for instruction, intervention and extension, knowledge of content standards, experience with state assessments, and collaboration with our TBTs and BLTs, we will determine the outcomes for our students.  Our above the line responses to events such as less than desirable state assessments results, online testing, etc, do have the largest impact on what happens in classrooms, buildings, and across the district.  This impact is even bigger than our students home environment and socioeconomic status.  

As we move through the school year, we will begin with a deep dive into our district, building, and student data.  It won’t take long to see that our data includes strengths, patterns and trends, and most importantly opportunities for adult action.  Remember that “great moments are born from great opportunity”.  All these events and ultimately our responses are crucial to where we must end up at the end of the 2016.17 school year......higher student growth and achievement outcomes.  

To define this year and our conscious efforts to manage our responses, the hashtag #LeadLikeaLifeguard seems most appropriate.  Dr. Reeves, a leading researcher and author, challenges educators to think about themselves as lifeguards.  Lifeguards have just a handful of priorities that they must remain focused on.  Like lifeguards, we are faced with many distractions and much is at stake if we don’t keep focused on those priorities.  All of us must commit to leading like a lifeguard in our classrooms, departments, and buildings.  

I know the work is hard, the reflection on adult strategies is often emotional, but most importantly, I know your commitment to leading like a lifeguard will be genuine and heartfelt.  Thank you for your service to our students and community.  I wish all of you a wonderful school year.  On behalf of myself, the board of education, and the administrative team, welcome back.  

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Is summer over already?

Welcome back to 2016.17
As Mid- August approaches you must be asking yourselves “Is summer over already?”.  Though the county fair and a few weeks of summer vacation remain, the start of the 2016.17 school year is just around the corner.  Whether you stayed local, traveled, or worked this summer, I hope you as educators have been able to spend quality time with family and friends.  I have spent the majority of my weekends and evenings at the ballpark, enjoying great baseball and softball with Alden, Avery and Brennan.  Their adventures and antics translate into family memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  Great times with family and friends will help all of us find purpose as we reflect and plan for the work we will do for students when we return in August.  That work is important, challenging, and ever changing!

As I write this post, schools all across the state and nation pour over student data from last year.  Test data is just one piece of information that we use to inform our purpose.  Though the data may not be as strong as we are accustomed to,  it is crucial to remember that this “event” and our response to the data will determine our outcomes.  This is called the R Factor: E + R = O.  We must take the time and invest the energy to guarantee the outcomes our students and community deserve.  After all, our #1 goal is  Prioritizing the learning of ALL students.  As a district, our “above the line” responses will impact student achievement and growth.  

As an administrative team and in many buildings, we will be talking about Above the Line by Urban Meyer and discussing its implications for our organization. There will be more entries to follow, that is for sure! Good luck to those opening school and let it be another great year.