Thursday, March 10, 2016

Why Wait, Be More Dog

Our Compelled Tribe theme this week revolves around a presentation given by Jennifer Hogan and Craig Vroom at NASSP’s (National Association of Secondary School Principals) Ignite Conference: Be More Dog.

In the video a cat has a eureka moment; decides that his life is boring and takes on the role of a dog. In essence the cat stepped out of his comfort zone, did the unexpected, and was rewarded with a life of excitement by being more dog.

To dogs life is amazing
Carpe diem, grab the Frisbee
There are many things to explore and experience.

Like most of us, I’ve had a handful of Be More Dog moments where I’ve seized the moment, but most recently I took a new job in a new city. After two decades of living and working in Warrenton, Virginia a distant exburb of Washington, DC, I took an assistant principal position in Charlottesville, Virginia. While professionally the move was essentially a parallel move from one assistant principalship to another, I realized there were many new things to explore and experience both professionally and personally.

Like the life of a cat, my “previous” life was fine. I was comfortable--maybe too comfortable. But professionally I was ready for a new challenge. Personally, I was ready to hit the restart button.

My new position presented several unique opportunities. As Dr. Moran, my new superintendent, told me several times, “We do things differently here.” I left behind a very high-performing, but very traditional school, for one with more challenges but one that was always looking to push the envelope. Simply put, there’s a recognition in Albemarle County that the traditional way isn’t what’s best and risk-taking is encouraged. Of course, inherent to risk-taking are failures but by embracing this innovator’s mindset, Monticello High School is at the forefront of technology, non-traditional learning, maker spaces and so much more. This new professional chapter of my life, while being overwhelming at times, has been exciting.

Being recently divorced, the move meant being farther from my children and this weighed heavily in my “don’t move” thinking. But ultimately I saw the move as an opportunity to experience and explore. Honestly, I knew little of Charlottesville, other than it being about 2 hours away from my previous home. Friends spoke highly of it. A couple web searches revealed that for a small city, it played big. As John Wooden said, “It’s not how big you are, it’s how big you play,” and Charlottesville played big. Indeed, I’ve fallen in love with Charlottesville. 

Eight months in, I’m still learning, adjusting and improving. I’m glad I took the risk. The rewards have been incredible and I’m a better person because of it.

Why wait? Be more dog.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

10 Take-Away Statements From Engaging Students With Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen

  1. 50% of student outcomes come from What a Teacher Does
  2. Learning is social. Half the class should be spent with social interaction, cooperative learning. 
  3. Students can only respond with emotions they know and have
  4. Students from lower socio-economic status are less likely to have positive interactions with their parents. In higher-income families the ratio of positive conversations to negative conversations was 6 to 1. The numbers shifted dramatically for middle-income families to 2:1 (positive to negative). For lower-income families, the ratio shifted to 1:2 (positive-to-negative). 3 to 1 is considered optimal for human growth. 
  5. Schools with low trust have a 1 in 7 chance of student growth in reading and math. Schools with strong climates of trust have a 1 in chance. 
  6. Building a strong working memory takes only 5-10 minutes of practice a day for 8-12 weeks. 
  7. Low SES students are more likely than their higher-SES peers to have auditory processing and language deficits. 
  8. There's no such thing as an unmotivated student; there are only students in unmotivated states, sitting in demotivating classrooms. 
  9. Teachers who score high in "life satisfaction," meaning they feel content with their personal and professional lives, are a whopping 43 percent more likely to produce significant achievement gains in the classroom than their less satisfied peers. 
  10. And as always: Students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. 

Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen