Sharpen the Pencils

Timing is everything. As I worked in schools this week, it felt like the absolute right time to talk about ‘sharpening our pencils’.  There were great conversations about students and learning. There were questions asked (to me and by me) about what adults actions were needed to ensure that we were doing all that we could do to meet the needs of students.  As one teacher said to me, it is a good time to park the excuses and truly focus on what can be done to help each and every student get to the finish line this year.

A great deal of my time was spent this week helping teachers and administrators understand the kind of questions that we need to be asking students to help them develop more critical thinking skills.  There is much talk about assessing students. The most important reason to assess students is so that we understand what they know and can do.  We have to know where they are on their learning journey; what they are proficient at and what they are struggling with.  We need this information often so that we can take action on what needs to be done, immediately, to help them.

Sometimes, we fail to ask the right questions. In other words, the information that we gather really doesn’t provide the evidence of learning that we need.  How we word our questions and what skills we ask students to do is directly related to the level of thinking that the student will do to respond.  We control this and it takes “sharpening our pencils” and being intentional colored-pencils-686679__340with our questioning skills to be sure that what we are challenging them to think critically. Our questions, for example, should provide opportunity for students to have to reason, to justify their answers, to apply knowledge, to compare and contrast, to write about what they are reading.  If we only ask them to recall facts we miss an opportunity to really have them think.

At several schools this week, we practiced writing assessment questions that would progressively become more complex.  We recognized that if we only give students more work to do, we will not increase the level of difficulty expected.  State and provincial assessments create opportunities for students to be challenged. They also provide opportunities and challenges for educators to ensure that students can think.  It takes stamina and confidence for our students to sit and take these large-scale assessments.  There is a great deal of academic vocabulary that they have to understand to be able to be successful.  Think about it- just understanding what it means to “justify” an answer or how to think through the process of answering a multiple-choice question are skills of success.

A shout-out to Northside High School in Lafayette, LA and Rivercrest Elementary School in Wilson, AR. In two of my sessions this week, teachers of ‘speciality’ subjects, for example, music, art, physical education, rocked it! They were totally engaged in learning more about what they could do differently to create more “thinking” opportunities. I was inspired by their questions of me and how they were willing to support what the core subject teachers were working so hard to do.   “It takes a village to raise a child” and “all means all” is alive and well in these schools!

And lastly, I ended the week at an amazing Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor concert. Two great musicians with lots of energy and care for their audience. It was so obvious that they both appreciate their fans and still love what they do.  Reminds me of our school improvement world- what our students need… to be appreciated and have educators stand before them who love what they do.  Have a great week. Ask intentional questions. See you next Saturday.

 

On the road again…

I know that this is the start of a great song and I can almost hear you all humming along. It really represents my thinking this week… I have been off work since December and getting ready to be “on the road again” on Monday. Three schools, two states and lots of time in the car and in the air.  And, here are my wonders about getting back at it…

As a school improvement coach, I wonder what I will find when I am back in my schools. Even though I have been able to stay in touch, I am anxious to see what work has been done and the progress that each school is making.  I wonder what we will celebrate? What accomplishments (small or big) and what progress that they have made.  It is really, really important that you stop and celebrate any positive changes in schools.  The work is hard and educators and students deserve to stop and appreciate their efforts.

I know that I have expectations that my schools have stayed the course- collaboratively focusing on evidence-based decisions and most importantly, identifying what each student needs and doing all that they can to meet their needs.  I also know that, they likely have had set-backs; school canceled due to weather, teachers out due to sickness, more expectations piled on them from outside influences and distractors that take their time and energy. In some cases, we may have to hit the “restart” button and that is ok, as long as we keep moving forward.

One thing for sure happens in February every year, the time starts to slip by.  In August and September, it seems that the school year is miles long and we will have all the time in the world to ensure learning happens with all students.  By this month, we are starting to realize that the year is moving fast and will soon be over.  It is a great month to really look at where we are and what we want to accomplish.  With the weeks left, what do we need to prioritize and really spend time doing.  Which learning outcomes are the most important and who are the students that need extra time and support and what are we doing about it?  We know that not all students learn at the same rate or in the same way.  It is the best time to really examine what we are doing with our time and support.  Is it effective?  Are we sure what we are doing is making a difference?  Or, it is time to step it up with both time and effective strategies and interventions?  There should be a sense of urgency about the year right now and if it isn’t happening in your school, how can you help it along?

I had a great conversation with a principal this week. She reminded me of the value of  the “community of learners” that the educators are in the building.  Schools are all about student learning; that is why we go to work each day, so that student learning is maximized and that we do all we can to ensure it.  While we are focused on this, we also need to remember, that as adults, we need to be constantly learning and stopping to celebrate our successes.  Coming together in community to honor each other and notice what is happening and having a little fun is important.  February is a great time to sharpen our saws, to truly consider our learning needs and take the time to reflect, renew and to learn. On the road this week, I will have the chance to work with close to two hundred educators.  Their commitment to a continuous learning journey and their own professional development is inspiring and I am so thankful to be a part of this journey with them. They know that my expectation is implementation. I want them to take back what they learn and apply it to their practices. If we don’t take action and implement, then our students do not benefit from our work.  That is true accountability for the time that we spend together.

I would be misleading you if I also didn’t say that I am nervous about being on the road.  Because I was not working for health reasons, fullsizeoutput_1023I am really hoping that I have the energy and stamina that I know I need to do this work. I am sure that I will feel exhausted at the end of the days (just like the teachers and administrators that I work with do every single day) and I know that my energy level will only stay high if I keep a positive outlook and mindset about the task at hand.  I have to continue to believe in the adults so that they can believe in the students.  I will need to remind myself that, despite my own setbacks and distractors, as long as I am working on the right work, we will move forward.

My challenge to you this week is to reflect on what this time of the year means to you. Is it a good time for you to really look at your student by student/skill by skill support?  Is there a need to change some of the ways that students are being supported?  Do you have a fear that you might get to the end of the year and not be sure that you did what you needed to do to meet the needs of students?  Checking, double-checking and triple-checking what is working or not is always a great idea.  We know that hope is not a strategy. We want to be doing all that we can to be sure of student success.  Have a great week. See you next Saturday.

Let’s Talk

As January came to a close this week, many conversations were focused on the extreme cold and brutal winter weather in Canada and the United States.  For those of us who are road warriors working with schools, these are the weeks we learn the most patience and stamina from.  We have to prepare for canceled flights and school closures; heading out in case we can make it and actually can be on site in schools and districts  that are open. We take clothes with us for all seasons and, if you are like me, you still don’t have what you really need to wear with you.  I talked with many schools and districts this week that were closed because of the cold and many friends who were stranded from missed or canceled flights.  Personally, I avoided it all as I am still recovering from my surgery (the silver lining?).  And, because I was off, I had a great opportunity to learn more about an annual event in Canada.

On January 30, Bell Canada held its annual,”Bell Let’s Talk”.  This initiative started in 2010 with the goal of increasing the conversations needed about mental health. Dedicated to moving mental health forward in Canada, Bell Let’s Talk promotes awareness and action with a strategy built on 4 key pillars: Fighting the stigma, improving access to care, supporting world-class research and leading by example in workplace mental health. For weeks leading up to the day, increased awareness is built through media sources, community initiatives and focused conversations about mental health.  People courageously share their personal stories and encourage others to boldly seek the support that is needed.  Nationally, this pulls Canadians together and we seem to become a small, close-knit community of 36.7 million people.

In 2015, I had the honor of co-chairing the writing of recommendations for a ten-year education plan in the province of New Brunswick.  As I listened to the testimonials this week of adults and children struggling with the stigma of mental health, I was reminded of very important conversations that I had during the research for the recommendations that we had to write for the plan.  During town hall meetings, focus groups and community events throughout my province, mental health found its way to almost every agenda.  Needs were identified that included ensuring that schools had ample support to meet the mental health needs of students and their families.  During many conversations, the struggles associated with poverty were closely aligned to the roadblocks of being able to seek support for mental health.  And, over and over again, I heard the simple request for more conversations, connections, relationships in our schools.

As a school improvement coach/consultant, I am expected to bring effective practices to schools and districts. I work with educators to improve so every student is able to succeed. That is what my goal is each and every time that I leave home to go to work.  The tricky part for me is just what I wrote about in the earlier paragraphs.  How do I help with the overall mental health of the student?  I am not on site long enough to really get to know students. I am not personally responsible for their education.  I don’t really have an opportunity to build relationships with very many of them in the buildings that I am in.  What I can do though, is encourage the adults in my care to care for the students in their care.  You know, take care of the teachers and they will take care of the students. That kind of thinking…

So much is written about how we need connections and relationships in our lives.  I recently read about a “young” lady who turned 102 years old.  She talked about the one thing that matters the most to her… talking to someone every day.  She said even if it is her mailman or a delivery person, she makes sure that she has a conversation or two with people, face to face, every day.  She invites people to come and talk to her. She asks for what she needs. And, what might seem to be meaningless conversations about trivial things, these can be the most important time in someone else’s day.  I know for a fact, that I get energy from other people.  I need that in my life.  I always will. And, I know that we have students and staff in our schools just like me. They need conversations, connections and relationships to stay mentally healthy.

Bell Let’s Talk really made me think about my life and my work.  I appreciate this initiative and the opportunity that it gave me and others to openly consider our mental health.  I know that I can share great educational practices with teachers and administrators but I cannot “make” them build relationships or have conversations.  This has to come from a place of deep understanding of the impact that you can have on others. You may not know your immediate influence, but each conversation and relationship could be just what the student or teacher needs to get through their day.  Because we really don’t know, we have to work from positive intent.  Knowing that each of us has the ability to increase the mental health of others should be enough for us to do what’s right- to take the time to talk, to connect, to support.

This week, I challenge you to consider your conversations and connections. IMG_1780.JPGWhat can you do to increase the opportunities you have with others?  Will you purposefully build and nurture a healthy relationship?  How will you show that dialogue matters? As you stay warm by a cozy fire, know that others need you.  And, perhaps you need them too. Have a great week.

Chaos

In a world that, sometimes, appears chaotic, it is a great blessing when organization prevails. You know, when things make sense and seem easier than you could imagine.  When competency and expertise are in abundance and decisions are made based on evidence and facts. What a wonderful feeling that is when you just know that things are being done right.  Thankfully, that was my experience this week. Here is the story…

On Monday I had surgery.  It was planned so expected and necessary.  Being off the road, not in my schools and back in Canada waiting for the surgery for the past couple of weeks, caused lots of moments for reflection and maybe, just maybe, a bit of anxiety.  Being someone who likes to be in control of their own decisions and life, it is somewhat stressful to know that you are going to be completely dependent on the work of others. telephone-1822040__480 Over and over, I thought of how the surgery would go, what to expect when I was at the hospital, and, of course what the weeks of recovery would be like. And, as this week has progressed and my recovery is going well, I recognized that I was well cared for and now the work is up to me…which brings me to the work of improving schools…

Picture this- a new family moves in to your school neighborhood.  The children are nervous about starting a brand new school in the middle of the year.  You are the principal. The family comes in to meet you prior to their first official day (that would be my pre-operational visit last week for blood work, tests, etc) and from this very first experience they have a feeling about what being in your school might be like. Were they met with organization or chaos when they arrived? Were they expected or did it seem that there may have been a communication mix up and someone didn’t know or forgot that you were coming? Did they feel confident in your ability to lead the school? How would we want both the parents and students to feel leaving after this initial meeting?

My pre-op visit set the stage for me to feel confident in what was going to happen the following week. When I arrived, I was greeted with expectation and a plan was in place for the tests and sharing of information that I needed. Every health professional demonstrated competence and expertise.  I left feeling confident in their ability to take care of my needs. And, this continued on the day of my surgery.  Like the children arriving for their first day, I was a bit nervous and excited at the same time.  I haven’t been feeling my best for a long time so the excitement for me was the anticipation of how my health would improve once this was over.  For the first timers to your school, the wonder of how that first day will go with other students and staff causes many mixed emotions. For many, the excitement of a fresh start, new friends and the very important perception that they have of how your school “is” based on their “pre-op” visit and critically important to their success.  You want them to come with a positive mindset and be open and ready to learn.  For me, this was about me going with my “homework” done. I did what was asked to prepare, the experts worked with me and now the “learning” (recovery) is up to me. I have to own the responsibility for the work now.  And, isn’t that what we want with our students? We set the stage, we share our expertise, we build confidence with our practices and then we ask them to share in the responsibility by taking ownership of their learning (my healing)?

In the book, Leading with Intention (Spiller and Power, Solution Tree Press, 2019), Jeanne and I write about establishing and maintaining organization as one of the eight critically important areas in leading successful schools. Chapter 2 is dedicated to reflecting on and understanding the systems and practices that are necessary for a sense of order to prevail. We shared a story of a school in Georgia that moved from a school of chaos and disorganization with one simple change… a new principal.  This new principal started with the overall culture and introduced protocols and expectations for both staff and students that made sense.  Little things like morning routines, transitions between classes, consistent expectations by staff, increased visibility of the adults in the building and a very important expectation that the students begin self-regulating their own behaviors. In other words, they had to accept responsibility for their actions.

When we think about improving schools, our number one priority is ensuring that every single student’s needs are being met.  Sometimes, we have to get the other things in place first so the positive learning environment that we expect in the classrooms starts in the halls, the gymnasium, the cafeteria and on the bus.  It starts when we walk through that first door or have the first conversation on the telephone with someone. It starts with the on-line presence or messaging that we share. To create confidence in what we offer, we have to pay attention to the decisions that we make, the sense of order that we establish and  the messages that we are sending.   Students know when we are disorganized, when we lack the confidence or competence in what we are doing. We are not fooling them when it isn’t there.

My experience this week at the Moncton Hospital, part of the Horizon Health Network in New Brunswick, Canada was extremely positive. The health professionals and the overall system created a feeling of confidence in me and left me wanting to ensure that I now do my part to heal properly. The work of improving schools is not “one person’s” role. It takes a team with expertise to really figure out the needs of students and move forward with the right “prescription”.  It takes proven practices, caring relationships, patience and a willingness to find the cure for each and every student.

I will close this week by asking you to consider how others would describe your world. Does it seem chaotic or organized?  Do you create a feeling of confidence with others or is there more work to be done to be more competency-based in your practices?  Are you providing clarity in your messages with focus and intention?  Are you sharing the “how” and “why” so others understand the expertise behind decisions and actions? What could you do to improve these practices?  Have a great week. Thanks again for reading and I look forward to being with you next Saturday.

Passion

What defines passion? How do you know when you are passionate about something?  Does it drive your actions? Or, make you think differently?  What is created from this passion?  And most importantly, how can your passion impact others?follow_your_passion-300x300 Do you ever have conversations or spend time with others when you just know, right away, that they are passionate about something? Their work, their habits, their relationships?  Do you sense the intensity just by listening to them for a few minutes?  Have you walked away from a conversation with someone confidently understanding what they truly embrace?  Doesn’t it energize you when someone else is that passionate?

I walked away from a recent conversation feeling just this way.  A school administrator, whom I have never met, energized me in one very short discussion.  His passion for his work vibrated off the telephone lines.  His energy and belief in staff and students was apparent and even though he had moved on to a new job and different school and was talking to me about his past assignment in a different school, the passion was still there.  Here is his story…

Harold Freiter is the Vice Principal at Lord Selkirk Secondary School in Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada.  He is new to the job and position moving there from his principalship at St. Andrews School in St. Andrews, Manitoba.  I am working on a project and asked him to talk with me about his principalship and experiences at St. Andrews and, I have to say, his passion for the staff and students at the school made the call with him so positive. He was able to describe the vision and goals that he had for the school, and, throughout the call, it was about “our” vision and “our” goals; he never once took personal credit for all that has been accomplished at the school but clearly wanted to make sure that I understood that, the entire staff had done the heavy lifting to improve the school.

I first stumbled across St. Andrews School on the http://www.allthingsplc.info website as a model school for the implementation of  the professional learning community process. This is a great site to go to for resources and examples of amazing ways to improve your school practices. It is fun to read the success stories of so many schools who are represented as model schools. I always get great ideas and know how much work has gone in to becoming an exemplary school of continuous improvement. In order to be a model school, the following criteria must be met:

  • Demonstrate a commitment to PLC concepts.
  • Implement those concepts for at least three years.
  • Present clear evidence of improved student learning.
  • Explain the culture, practices, and structures of the school or district, and submit it for consideration to the PLC Review Committee using our online submission process.
  • Update school or district information on the site each year to show your data continues to meet the criteria of the PLC at Work process.

So, back to Harold.  As he talked to me about the need to create more equity at his school in the way that resources were used to meet the needs of all students, he continuously referred to the conversations and thinking that was done with all staff.  He went to the school as a new principal and clearly had a vision and a plan for what he wanted to create but, instead of marching in and insisting that he change things, he smartly observed and talked with teachers and students to truly learn what was working and what needed some tweaking for improvement.  He took the time to build common understanding of the right work to be done. He provided staff with opportunities to learn and over time, changes were made as needed to create more equitable support to all students.

The reason that I reached out to Harold was because of the evidence of his successful work at the school that I read about in his model school application.  But, once I talked to him, as impressive as the work was, I was most impressed with his passion.  Not once in the conversation did I hear any sign of the work being difficult, depleting his energy, or frustrating him.  Never did he complain about the challenges of school improvement or the bumps along the way.  From all of my experiences though, I know that this had to be part of his reality.  We don’t improve schools without some frustrations and roadblocks. We don’t just find solutions to all that we need to do without some trial and error.  We don’t have pockets of money to provide more resources when we absolutely need them.  And we all get tired.

Passion…when we have it like Harold does for his work, it can lift us up (and everyone around us).  A passionate leader is NOT hard to follow. It is really difficult to argue with someone who truly believes in us and in the work at hand.  I have never been to Harold’s current school or to St. Andrews School, but I know that his passion for the adults and students makes a difference.

So, this week, I would like to leave you with this challenge.  What are you passionate about? Do you truly know?  How would others describe this?  Are you sharing your passion and allowing it to impact others?  What might you do differently to create more energy and enthusiasm for your work? Your life? Have a great week. See you next Saturday.

“East” of the west

For the next few weeks, I want to use my school improvement blog to introduce you to a few principals, their schools and the turnaround work that they are doing (or have done) to make a difference in the lives of students.  It is my absolute honor to know them and to have worked with these amazing leaders. Today, we are going to start in Gresham, Oregon and my friends at East Gresham Elementary School. I may have included a few snippets from the school over the last year so I am apologizing up front about repeating myself… some great things are just worth repeating, right??

I met Kimberly Miles, Principal at East Gresham Elementary almost five years ago.  My first work with her was quite simply to conduct a needs assessment and provide a little bit of leadership coaching for her.  We identified areas in need of improvement to really grow her school and quite honestly, at the first, it was a little bit (or a whole lot) of everything.  Kimberly was new to the school and so were many of the staff. They had just received a school improvement grant and a team of us (well, two of us) were assigned to the school to support the work needed.

My colleague, Polly Patrick tackled the heavy lifting right away with the school.  Polly led the staff on a journey of growth mindset; working to establish a more positive culture that was focused on believing in student ability and supporting that same confidence in the students themselves. They did book studies and had deep conversations about purpose, values, beliefs and what they truly wanted the school to become. Picture2 GRIT became part of the culture at the school and refusing to accept failure soon took on a life of its own at the school.

In the meantime, I was working with the staff to establish a collaborative culture. Teachers initiated collaborative team meetings, forming professional learning communities as the way of their work in the school. They learned to agree on what were truly essential learnings for students, how they would assess and they became very, very good at using their data as evidence of learning.  It was such a pleasure to watch their conversations grow over the years to very focused discussions about what students needed to know and, most important, what the adults had to do to make this happen.

I wish that I could tell you that this all happened overnight and that the staff found it really easy to work differently with us.  I sure know that they persevered and stayed the course but the bumps and roadblocks that I often refer to in school improvement were alive and well at the school.  Not every single teacher always loves working in collaborative teams (well, for the most part, in my experience, they do once they see the benefits of the work but maybe not at first) and sometimes they do not get the increase in student achievement right away that they so desire from all of their hard work.  Changing practice is complex for many so as we are working on new ways to work together and better ways to be evidence-based and working hard to build confident learners, we still need to know what we are doing in the classroom is the most effective work. And, so, at East Gresham, instructional strategies were addressed and expectations of what great classrooms looked like were identified. Eventually, teachers owned the process of change and were continuous learners of the critical work needed to improve. And, here are their results:

Smarter Balanced Assessment (National Assessment)

  ELA Meets or Exceeds Math Meets or Exceeds
2014-15* (1styear SBAC) 27.07% 20.45%
2015-16 27.9% 20.1%
2016-17 28.77% 19.86%
2017-18 41.78% 32.85%
2018-19     

ODE Report Card (Oregon State Report Card)

Year Academic Achievement Level Academic Growth Level Student Group Growth Level
NCLB Waiver ratings, Percentages plus 1-5 levels
2014-15 20% 1 20% 1 22.5% 1
2015-16 30% 2 60% 3 42.5% 2
2016-17 40% 2 70% 4 52.5% 3

My proudest accomplishment at the school, (ok, not really my accomplishment but Principal Kimberly’s accomplishment) was the growth in leadership at the school.  Dr. Miles learned to work with a shared leadership model. She created a guiding coalition/leadership team that met consistently.  The teachers on her team truly became the school leaders.  Their agendas developed from business/administrative issues to student-centered problems to address and solve.  They learned to use school wide data as evidence of what they needed to do next.  And, I truly should not be writing here in the past tense because this is still “the way they work” at East Gresham School.  I have to say, when I first met Kimberly, I wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to authentically share the leadership at her school.  As most principals will say, that is a hard thing to do.  You are a new principal and you want to lead.  You were hired to lead the school and given the great responsibility to lead.  So, when someone comes along and asks you to create a shared leadership model and to bring real decisions to the team on a regular basis, that is often too big a mountain for many to climb. Kimberly learned that autonomy and empowerment did not mean giving away anything. It simply created more opportunities for others to provide expertise and discuss and think about their current reality and vision for improvement in a very collaborative way.

I watched Kimberly grow in so many ways over the years and I am most proud of her ability to share leadership.  This style of leading has led her school to successful growth and has provided the framework for a positive, truly collaborative school culture.  One sure sign that things have changed was shared with me this past week. Kimberly told me that she has had few teachers leave in the past year… anyone in a school turnaround situation knows that it is really, really hard to keep great teachers in these challenging schools. Kimberly knows that she has turned the page as staff now want to work at the school.

In closing, I invite you to visit Dr. Miles own blog- https://afewthingsworthreading.blogspot.com/2019/01/a-must-read-for-each-school-leader.html?spref=tw.  I appreciated that she used her blog space to write about a book that I co-authored.  Her ability to continuously read, study and want to learn inspires me  to do all that I can to improve schools.  Have a great week. I look forward to seeing you next Saturday.

 

Reset

During the holidays, I had the great opportunity to ride the “Rock ‘n’ Roller Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  I have been known to love my share of roller coasters but I have to say that this is always my favorite one to return to.  It might be that it features a high-speed launch of 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds… or that it has three inversions, two rollover loops and one corkscrew!!  Or maybe it is really because it is also my daughters’ favorite ride so I have to love it too!  And, as I return to writing this weekly blog that is supposed to be about improving schools, it might just remind me of our school improvement work just a little bit…

As we all return to work this week, there is renewed energy, positive mindsets and lots of  hard work ahead of us.  It is a time to reset our priorities and focus our actions.  There are commitments to revisit, goals to address and a sense of starting over prevails.  It is similar to the very start of the roller coaster… when you first get in, things are quiet and you calmly consider what will happen next.  The first days back to school after any break can feel the same.  You are prepared, and even though you have been there before and know what to expect, you are still anxious to see what will happen next.  You want to feel comfortable and confident and you hope that you are ready to handle anything that comes along.  And, then the ride starts.  To Aerosmith music, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coasterrockin_outside wastes no time twisting you, turning you and sending you upside down.  It is loud and it is fast and it causes you just enough stress to recognize that you are on a thrill ride.  And, just when you think that you cannot take another second, it quickly comes to an end. If you hang around long enough, the entire ride resets and you can go again. Same start-up, same speed, same thrill.

The school year can feel the same for teachers and leaders.  There are times when all appears calm; when plans are ready, goals are set and we are waiting for students and families to fill the halls and classrooms.  The ride itself can give us enormous positive energy and, at the very same time, be exhausting.  And, just when we think we have handled all that we can handle, it comes to an abrupt end.

Here is my new year’s challenge to you.  Use this time of calm and renewed energy as your “reset”. Reset your systems and practices to ensure you have taken care of the details that will make your ride feel smoother. Take the time to ensure that your actions align with your priorities and that you are truly putting the student first.  Reset your goals to match your focus and take the time to address how you will monitor and celebrate your successes.  Identify what needs to change and take care of these things.   Be evidence-based in all of your decisions and remember that, before you know it, this ride (or, as it really should be called, this school year) will end. Don’t run out of time before you have taken care of the things that are important to you and your students.

Have a great week. As always, I appreciate my readers and love to hear from you. If you want to receive this blog automatically every week in your inbox, please click on “follow” on the right side at the top of the blog.  Help me reach my goal of doubling my number of followers this month! Thanks and I look forward to seeing you next Saturday.