Let’s Rethink “Kindergarten Readiness”

Let’s Rethink “Kindergarten Readiness”.

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A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned

Granted, and...

The following account comes from a veteran HS teacher who just became a Coach in her building. Because her experience is so vivid and sobering I have kept her identity anonymous. But nothing she describes is any different than my own experience in sitting in HS classes for long periods of time. And this report of course accords fully with the results of our student surveys. 

I have made a terrible mistake.

I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!

This is the first year I am working in a school but not teaching…

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Eliminate clutter that depletes energy and anchors the status quo…

Dennis Sparks on re·sil·ience

Dennis Sparks

Mental clutter interferes with the clarity of our thought and depletes our energy.

The clutter of too many items on our “to-do lists” and appointments on our calendars interferes with our focus and efficiency.

Ron Sherman takes this idea to another level in a blog post by describing the challenges caused when clutter clogs a school:

”…a building that couldn’t breathe under the weight of all the stuff in it.  And at a deeper level, I understood that it was a school that couldn’t develop it’s own culture and identity, it couldn’t move forward into it’s own future, because in many ways it served as a museum, and repository for others’ long-forgotten materials.”

Just as our minds can be museums of outdated ideas, our offices, classrooms, and schools can be repositories of objects that anchor the status quo.

What clutters your mind, office, classroom, or school, and what steps can you take…

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Culture eats your structure for lunch

Thoughts on management

English: Burkle Building, Peter F. Drucker and... English: Burkle Building, Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management, Claremont Graduate University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Peter Drucker famously said that culture eats strategy for breakfast.  If strategy is for breakfast then your structure is for lunch.  Culture will overcome any structural chart or any reorganisation. Companies fail because they believe that a restructure will change the culture of the company.  Even if a restructure creates temporary success, culture will reassert itself. Often senior managers ignore organisational culture because it works for them, by ignoring culture; the senior managers indicate that the organisation cannot learn because they engage in single loop learning. If senior managers cannot talk about culture, they are incapable of double loop learning.  Culture refers to “the way we do things around here” , which means it requires double loop learning. Culture cannot be fixed by simply fixing mistakes. Culture is what creates…

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Play to your Strengths

As we near the end of the school year and begin organizing for next, we are having conversations about teaching assignments and preferences.  For me as a leader, there’s a fine balance at play when I think about configuring my school to ensure kids have the best chance for success.  On the one hand, I hear the teachers and their desire to teach a certain grade or class.  On the other, I have a sense of what their strengths are, and a desire on my part to put them in positions where they play to these.

As the work of Marcus Buckingham and others shows, we are much better to focus on our strengths than to mitigate our weaknesses.  Given the chance, do what you’re good at; his is advice we hear in various forms all the time.

We want all our learners to be in a place where their strengths are accessed all the time, where they learn to use them effectively, and understand this is the way to success.  For so many of us, it’s the route to improved job satisfaction and general contentedness.

Our Superintendent talks about people’s Type and Temperment, how these are relatively unchangable. I know this of myself. Who I was when I was 15 is quite similar to who I am now that I’m 50.  My beliefs, values, goals and preferred styles are relatively unchanged. I have signature strengths (and weaknesses) which define who I am.  My work is to keep the focus on the strengths, to use these in all situations, and build from my position of power.

I can do the same for my staff as well.  By assessing their strengths, and tailoring their assignments to these, I can ensure all our learners will be in a position to succeed.

And we are all learners


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Unfinished Business

Here’s a blog from our Superintendent, describing 4 shifts in our District.

Sharing My View

Recently, the journals I kept during my practicum experiences as an emerging teacher surfaced from a dusty box.  As I spent time scanning through the hand-written observations, reflections, lesson plans and stories of successes and failures, I began a journey down memory lane through the past almost 30 years.  This opportunity gave me pause as I considered how much I have shifted in my thinking about pedagogy.    As well, it gave me a wonderful sense of how much our world has changed since those years.

The children I taught then, in grades 1, 2 and 4, would now be in their 30’s and early 40’s.  They are adults in today’s world.  Yet nowhere in my thinking of the time did I consider the world into which they would emerge as adults.  Computers in the classroom weren’t a consideration, never mind the internet and ubiquitous access to an array of technologies. …

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Everything you know about curriculum may be wrong. Really.

Granted, and...

UPDATE: Cool. This post was nominated and made the shortlist for Most Influential Post of 2012 by edublog. I’m really honored!


What if the earth moves and the sun is at rest? What if gravity is just a special case of space-time? Following both counter-intuitive premises revolutionized science and ushered in the modern world. Could a similar counter-intuitive thought experiment advance education from where I believe we are currently stuck? I believe so.

The educational thought experiment I wish to undertake concerns curriculum. Not the specific content of curriculum, but the idea of curriculum, what any curriculum is, regardless of subject. Like Copernicus, I propose that for the sake of better results we need to turn conventional wisdom on it is head:  let’s see what results if we think of action, not knowledge, as the essence of an education; let’s see what results from thinking of future ability, not knowledge…

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