Use Thank You Notes to Recognize Exemplary Colleagues

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There are many ways to recognize exemplary colleagues. Last week at Studer Education we sent handwritten thank you notes from our team to colleagues within our organization or team that made a meaningful contribution to the work that we do. Below is a photo of the card we sent to TeacherReady® program director Dr. Sarah Miller; her efforts and assistance were recognized by two colleagues within the education division.

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We recommend that leaders share handwritten thank you notes with their teachers and staff. The notes should specifically identify the behavior that was recognized by others or by the leader. In the video clip below, Drs. Karen Schulte and Steve Sperry from the School District of Janesville share how their district leaders utilize thank you notes to recognize colleagues.

 

Everyone likes to be recognized and rewarded when they do something good or are helpful. Take the lead and write a quick “thank you” to a colleague; let them know as one of our colleagues recently wrote, “you are a life saver!” or “you provide perspectives from the lens of the total organization, but focus on the individual in the process…” Thank you notes are one way to harvest employee wins. Write one today!

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Video clip is from a presentation by Dr. Karen Schulte, Superintendent, and Dr. Steve Sperry, Director of Administrative Services and Human Resources in the School District of Janesville, Wisconsin, at What’s Right in Education Atlanta. What’s Right in Education is an opportunity for educational leaders to connect with other high performing educational leaders, and discuss how to set board and superintendent measures and cascade those across all levels of leadership in the district; identify what “right” looks like in service excellence; and become part of a district leadership collaborative. Join us for the next What’s Right in Education on August 6, 2014, in Chicago, IL. To learn more and to register visit http://eblk12.com/evidence-based-leadership-excellence/.

Our mission at Studer Education is to help education systems achieve measurable results that produce positive outcomes in student achievement, employee engagement, support services, and financial efficiencies and productivity. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, ranked for the sixth straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Do you have a plan for engaging parents? “Absolutely!” Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, Superintendent

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“We are very specific and deliberate,” says Superintendent Cavazos, “about the type of training we’re doing with parents… to help them help their children meet their learning objectives” (WRIE Atlanta). In the video clip below Dr. Cavazos shares about how his district engages parents; the important thing, he says, is that “it is not just for certain parents, it’s for all parents.”

 

Parents may not be accustomed to being asked if they are satisfied with their children’s educational experience. Therefore, school leaders and teachers must work to build trust with parents. Pilcher and Largue suggest one of the best ways to do that is by rolling out student learning results and parent satisfaction data, and by making parents partners in their children’s learning (pp. 130-131). The goal? School leaders, teachers, and parents working together to help students manage their behavior, improve their learning, and recognize and reward success.

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Dr. Marcelo Cavazos is the Superintendent of Arlington Independent School District (TX). The video clip is his response to a question about parent engagement in his school district during his presentation at What’s Right in Education Atlanta. What’s Right in Education is an opportunity for educational leaders to connect with other high performing educational leaders, and discuss how to set board and superintendent measures and cascade those across all levels of leadership in the district; identify what “right” looks like in service excellence; and become part of a district leadership collaborative. For more information about our next What’s Right in Education visit http://eblk12.com.

Pilcher, Janet, and Largue, Robin. 2012. How to Lead Teachers to Become Great. Gulf Breeze, FL: Fire Starter Publishing.

Our mission at Studer Education is to help education systems achieve measurable results that produce positive outcomes in student achievement, employee engagement, support services, and financial efficiencies and productivity. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, ranked for the sixth straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

“As a farm kid who was only destined to farm… education taught me what it meant to improve myself…” Dr. Matarazzo

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This is what happens when we – educators and educational leaders – believe in kids and in folks who want to make a difference in the lives of kids. The quote is from one of Harvard University’s newly minted doctors after successfully defending her dissertation yesterday. Below is the introduction of an article/post from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education leading up to this time of year when its doctoral candidates begin defending their work, the last step to earning the title “doctor.” Following the introduction is the dissertation topic for Studer Education Research Fellow (and now doctor) Melissa Matarazzo.

MMdoc3Dr. Matarazzo shared a bit of her dissertation defense day experience with our team:

… I commented to someone today that, as a farm kid who was only destined to farm, I never even knew what an advanced degree was. Education taught me what it meant to improve myself, and what titles I would need to make a difference for the learning of others. With you, I’m getting to influence what farm, city, suburb, and other kids need, because folks like you believed in me….

Powerful message. Share it with every student, every teacher, every leader that you know. Let them know you believe in them. Connect them to purpose. Let them know they are destined to be great and to do great things.

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Harvard Graduate School of Education Headlines retrieved 4.17.2014 online from: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news-impact/2014/04/ed-d-and-ed-l-d-candidates-present-dissertation-defenses/.

MatarazzoDr. Melissa Matarrazo’s profile from the Harvard Graduate School of Education as a member of the 20th cohort of the Urban Superintendent’s Program: Melissa began her careers as a middle school teacher and assistant principal in Derry, New Hampshire. Following her completion of the EdM in School Leadership at HGSE, Melissa became the principal of the J. Henry Higgins Middle School, in Peabody, Massachusetts, the state’s largest middle school. Melissa also instructed graduate students in an administrative cohort through the American International College of Springfield, MA. and led groups at HGSE’s “Art of Leadership” summer institutes. Melissa has developed a deep curiosity about effective professional development for teachers and significant dedication to the importance of high expectations for all students. Education: B.A. in History, Brown University. Ed.M. in School Leadership, HGSE. Available online here. Dr. Matarazzo is a Research Fellow at Studer Education. Prior to joining Studer Education, Dr. Matarazzo served as the Executive Director for Achievement and Accountability in the Charleston County (SC) School District. She has served as a supervisor of teacher interns at the College of Charleston, SC and an adjunct instructor at American International College in Springfield, MA. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @LrngLdr.

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, ranked for the sixth straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Happiness is a Willingness to…

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“Harass our spirits,” my colleague Rich Bluni says, which allows us to “hone the inner resources we need to face whatever life sends our way with courage and commitment” (back cover). In his book Oh No… Not More of That Fluffy Stuff! The Power of Engagement, Rich tells us:

The challenges we face in healthcare are tough, and our work is not likely to get easier.

The same is true for education. What does it take to “overcome obstacles and tap into the passion that fuels our best work” as educational leaders and teachers? Consider Bluni’s solution for workplace culture (adapted from healthcare to education):

Peace. Love. Forgiveness. Gratitude. To cynics, these words might as well read puffy clouds, candy hearts, teddy bears, and frolicking kittens. Yet the so-called “fluffy stuff” is powerful. It gets us engaged—and engaged employees provide excellent [opportunities for learning], drive dramatic change, and keep [schools] alive so they serve [students and parents] another day… Andgood newsIt might change your life!

So, here’s to our friends at Oakcrest who recently “harassed their spirits” to let their kids know just how much they mean to them; a short video clip from the school’s pep rally:

Oakcrest leaders, teachers, and staff do a great job of representing their school. They are their best advertisement; along with improved student achievement… and their Happy T-shirts!

Happy T-Shirts (Oakcrest)

Some final words from Bluni:

There are many things that can lead us to being more engaged when it comes to work. While many of those things are “out there” for you to go get and bring back, even more of them are “in here” to retrieve and bring out of yourself… (p. 152). We are all hungry for engagement. The very meaning of the word shows us it is about emotional involvement, connection, presence. These are, by their nature, fulfilling things, and we need more of them at workheck, in life! (p. 167).

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Special thanks to Oakcrest Elementary School principal Denny Wilson for sharing his school’s Happy FCAT Pep Rally video. Principal Denny Wilson is an Escambia County School District (FL) Principal of the Year and leads a school-full of great teachers and support staff at Oakcrest Elementary School. Visit the Oakcrest Elementary School website.

Bluni, Rich. 2013. Oh No… Not More of That Fluffy Stuff! The Power of Engagement. Gulf Breeze, FL: Fire Starter Publishing. Available online here.

Our mission at Studer Education is to help education systems achieve measurable results that produce positive outcomes in student achievement, employee engagement, support services, and financial efficiencies and productivity. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, ranked for the sixth straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Leader Rounding: Diagnosing, Acting and Validating

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High and middle performing district leaders want to work in a place they enjoy and where they can prosper and learn. Most importantly, they want to work in a place that lends them every opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their colleagues and students. In order for district leaders to meet each of these needs, they must be attentive and must care about the issues school leaders are facing in their schools. In the video clip below, Dr. Steve Sperry, Director of Administrative Services and Human Resources, in the School district of Janesville (WI), discusses how Rounding aligns to these needs and to the needs in his district.

Leader Rounding is a way for district leaders to gather valuable information from school leaders; information that when addressed makes it easier for everyone to do a great job. In the following video clip, Dr. Karen Schulte, Superintendent of the School District of Janesville, shares how Rounding assists communication in her district.

Many leaders say that Rounding provides them an effective way to engage with their colleagues and is the number one tactic that improves performance. Dr. Sperry shared the benefits to his district in a presentation at What’s Right in Education.

Rounding can yield positive results in a school district. Rounding allows district leaders to gain insight on what is working for school leaders, which teachers and leaders deserve recognition, and what tools/support school leaders need in order to do their jobs in the best way possible. Rounding for outcomes on school leaders provides district leaders with a way to establish genuine relationships with them; they gain an opportunity to learn what is occurring in their colleagues’ lives and in their schools. Remember, when school districts recruit great leaders, they want to keep them. Rounding can help them do just that.

StuderEducation

 

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Video clips from a presentation by Dr. Karen Schulte, Superintendent, and Dr. Steve Sperry, Director of Administrative Services and Human Resources in the School District of Janesville, Wisconsin, at What’s Right in Education 2013. What’s Right in Education is an opportunity for educational leaders to connect with other high performing educational leaders, and discuss how to set board and superintendent measures and cascade those across all levels of leadership in the district; identify what “right” looks like in service excellence; and become part of a district leadership collaborative. Join us for the next What’s Right in Education on August 6, 2014, in Chicago, IL. To learn more and to register visit http://eblk12.com/evidence-based-leadership-excellence/.

Our mission at Studer Education is to help education systems achieve measurable results that produce positive outcomes in student achievement, employee engagement, support services, and financial efficiencies and productivity. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, ranked for the sixth straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

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