“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.

StuderEducation

 

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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).

StuderEducation

 

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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.

Collect and Analyze Student Data. Re-Teach Content, Provide More Practice, and Coach More.

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One of the elementary schools in Escambia County, Florida, enjoyed a visit from an elementary school principal and teacher from the School District of Menomonee Falls (WI) to learn more about “Plan. Do. Study. Act.” The principal and teacher from SDMF focused on how they engage students in regular and frequent evaluation and improvement of classroom learning processes. About one week after the visit, the curriculum coordinator at the school visited shared a few photos from classrooms:

The first photo shows a 3rd grade classroom using the dots to compare student growth from formative assessment A to formative assessment B. Each student has a sticker and the stickers have letters that correspond to a name.

photo 1-7 photo 2-7 photo 3-2

The photo with the bar graphs is from a 1st grade classroom and shows formative assessment data and current probe results. This 1st grade classroom also has the chart (second photo) that shows student responses and signatures about how to move the red and yellow students to green and blue! In her correspondence, the curriculum coordinator noted that during the lesson she observed the first grade teacher also referred to this chart.

In performance-driven classrooms, teachers constantly reflect on how well their students are learning; they collect and analyze information about student learning, and the data help them know if and when they need to re-teach the content, provide more practice, and coach more. Teachers also serve as coaches to each other and engage in focused conversations about their strategies for reinforcing student learning in their classrooms.

StuderEducation

 

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Visit the School District of Menomonee Falls website at http://www.sdmfschools.org/. Learn more about how its teachers build performance-driven classrooms at PDSA.

Our mission at Studer Education’s EBL K12 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. To do this we partner with teachers and leaders to create results-oriented school cultures. Visit us online at http://eblk12.com to learn more about Studer Education and Evidence-Based Leadership in K12. 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.

Book Studies for Professional Development

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It’s National Library Week #NLW14 and if you’re like me, you were introduced to your love of books and learning through a library. To celebrate Day 1 of NLW14, today’s focus is on book studies for professional development. At Studer Group one of our eight factors that motivate and engage employees is “providing opportunities for development.” Studer Group’s 2010 Baldrige application included:

SG is highly attuned to the needs and desires of its workforce, including but not limited to…. professional development.

As a member of Studer Group’s Education division I experience this company commitment via colleague (expert) insights, Lunch and Learns, and opportunities for book studies. One book study included colleagues from across the company joining together during specified lunches to discuss the content and application of concepts from The Great Employee Handbook (2012). Our Education division uses book studies as an opportunity for not only extending our learning of new skills (e.g., social media and marketing), but to also build relationships across our team and with partners (e.g., Results That Last). Check out the video below of Dr. JoAnn Sternke, Superintendent of Pewaukee Schools (WI), sharing how the book Hardwiring Excellence led to new professional relationships and became the first of many book studies for this 2013 Baldrige Award winning district.

 

Superintendent Sternke and her colleagues are not alone in the K12 arena in using book studies to engage leaders and teachers in professional development or to create new professional partnerships. The following texts were identified by other school leaders as being used for book studies in districts:

Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success in Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time (Scott)

Student Centered Leadership (Robinson)

Visible Learning (and Visible Learning for Teachers) (Hattie)

Professional Learning Communities at Work: Best Practices for Enhancing Student Achievement (DuFour and Eaker)

Focus (Schmoker)

Delivering on the Promise (DeLorenzo, Battino, Schreiber, and Gaddy)

School Leadership That Works: From Research to Results (Marzano)

Becoming a Learning School (and another book Change Leader) (Fullan)

You Don’t Have To Be Bad To Get Better (McKay)

Having Hard Conversations (Abrams)

Talk About Teaching (Danielson)

A Sense of Urgency (Kotter)

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question (Miller)

A leap to focus on book studies and professional development as a means of celebrating National Library Week? “Libraries and librarians have a powerful and positive impact on the lives of Americans on a daily basis. Their stories are key to communicating the value of libraries” (ALA website). In addition to communicating the value of the library, my childhood community librarian was the one who challenged me to think critically about the book(s) I was reading… and selecting. And, she always engaged me in conversations about the book’s content. Sounds like the initial steps to a great book study and opportunity for learning!

StuderEducation

 

 

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Dr. JoAnn Sternke is Superintendent of Pewaukee School District (WI) which earned the 2013 Baldrige Award. Prior to the Baldrige, Sternke led the school district to receive the state’s highest award, the Wisconsin Forward Award. All schools in the district have an “excellence” distinction. Video clip is from the beginning of Sternke’s presentation at Studer Education’s What’s Right in Education conference titled “Creating a Culture of Excellence.” Dr. Sternke shared the continuous improvement process that set the stage for Baldrige recognition. Read our What’s Right post highlighting her presentation here and about the celebration of the district’s Baldrige award here. Follow Dr. Sternke on Twitter at @jsternke. For more information about Pewaukee School District check out its website at http://pewaukeeschools.schoolfusion.us/. Follow the school district on Twitter at @PewaukeeSD.

Our mission at Studer Education’s EBL K12 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. To do this we partner with teachers and leaders to create results-oriented school cultures. Visit us online at http://eblk12.com to learn more about Studer Education and Evidence-Based Leadership in K12. 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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