Sunday, November 29, 2015

Data Shouldn’t be a Dirty Word

As educators, we use the D-word a lot, I mean a LOT!  Then, when we get the data, we do a lot with it.  Fill in the blank, I am going to _______ the data.  Did any of the following come to mind?  Look at, analyze, use, dig into, scan, evaluate, organize, share, cite…you get the picture.

Lately data has been a large part of my life.  Personally, with some recent home improvements I've been looking at our budget to determine what we can and cannot afford.  And of course professionally data continues to be a driving force behind many of the decisions we have to make.  Just like I am not going to make a huge purchase because I have a feeling I can afford it, I can't make any instructional decisions based on hunches either.

This brings me to my list.  When I sit down and go through data, it helps me to approach the task with certain prerequisites. I find that if I keep the following in mind, the task of analyzing data becomes less intimidating and far more productive.

It is always important to check and recheck the numbers

When you decide to sit down with the data, be sure to give yourself enough time

It’s always a good idea to talk it out with a colleague

If your findings aren’t favorable, don't take it personally

Look at the results as a first step towards action

Don't ignore what the data is telling you

They are more than just numbers, the data represents learners whose needs we must meet

The positives need to be looked at as much as the negatives

It is okay to come away with more answers than questions (you probably will

Get to it and keep it timely because data doesn't age well

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

10 Parent Conference Dos and Don'ts

Parent conferences is a time to report the progress of your students to the adults that know them best.  The time allotted for these conversations is often short, which makes it very important to be prepared and stay focused.  This list will help you to avoid many of the traps you may fall in to that can derail your parent conferences
  • Do everything you can to make parents feel comfortable, they are probably more nervous than you are 
  • Don't compare the student to other children or siblings you may have had in the past
  • Do tell the parents how you plan to help the student meet and exceed their goals and document your plans
  • Don't become defensive or take it personally if there are disagreements
  • Do share as much relevant information you can in the amount of time you have including data, work samples, anecdotal evidence, and test results
  • Don't make any speculations or diagnosis that you are not qualified to make
  • Do adjust your style and delivery to meet the needs of the parents you are speaking with
  • Don't downplay any concerns you or the parents have, this is the opportunity to create a plan to address them
  • Do respect the confidentiality of these very private conversations
  • Don't comment on or speak for other colleagues that work with the child or may have taught them in the past

Saturday, August 15, 2015

10 Things that will probably happen to you on the first day of school

  • You will be reminded why you chose this profession 
  • You will meet a student that needs you
  • You will have to adjust to a new schedule
  • You will be introduced to new colleagues
  • You will be exhausted by the end of the day
  • You will be the highlight of someone's day
  • You will not get to everything you planned
  • You will be amazed at how clean everything is
  • You will be faced with an unforeseen problem and you will solve it
  • You will be reminded why this profession chose you

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Thank a Librarian Today!

I was recently given the opportunity to speak at the School Librarians of Rhode Island's (SLRI) annual conference.  The topic of my session was "Tips on Fostering a Relationship with Administrators".  I have been an administrator for 7 whole months, not very long of course, but my 12 years as a student, 20 years in education, and 14 years as a parent, have certainly given me ample opportunity to work along side with some amazing library/media specialists.  So here is a modified version of my presentation re-titled...

Ten Reasons to Thank a
Library/Media Specialist

  • They create and maintain a space that is the hub of your school
  • Their work impacts your entire school's culture in positive ways
  • They know how to utilize parent volunteers
  • Their versatility is an asset to your school
  • They promote literacy
  • Library/media specialists are pioneers when it comes to integrating technology
  • They are accessible and always extremely helpful
  • They share the wonderful things happening in your school
  • You can count on them to push and challenge you
  • They embody professionalism

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

School Culture: THIS is who we are!

We have all heard the phrase it takes a village, but what role do those villagers have to assume in order to achieve success?  And how is that success measured?  For me, the success of a learning community begins with the culture that is created by the "villagers".  As I walked the halls of my school this week and interacted with students and staff, a phrase kept popping into my head, "THIS is what makes us who we are!"

School Culture: THIS is who we are!

  • Custodians who are always ready to respond to a crisis
  • Veteran teachers who support and mentor those entering the profession and who have the courage to advocate for their students
  • Administrators who lead by example
  • Beginning and student teachers full of energy and enthusiasm
  • Parent volunteers who give their time so generously
  • Administrative assistants who are always able to locate and provide us with whatever is needed
  • Central office personnel that supports our school and raises.the bar to help us become the best we can be
  • Students who are the reason we all do what we do and our number 1 priority
  • Teacher assistants who provide for the safety and supervision for our students during lunch, recess, and offer support to whenever it is needed
  • School nurses who help children with their bumps and bruises and always keep parents and teachers informed about the well being of the youngsters

Note:  The format of this blog is a top 10 so I would like to acknowledge that this list could have easily gone on and on. There are many other roles essential to creating the learning community we strive for.  FIND SOMEONE WHO CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SCHOOL'S CULTURE AND THANK THEM!