Tagged “Professional Learning Communities”

David Culberhouse

Build School Morale by Attending to the 5 Cs

Morale isn't built in isolation ... and neither is it something tangible that we can point to and say, "There it is!" Rather, it is a force that builds and rises out of the ashes of our daily actions and interactions.

As educators and educational leaders, words such as data, accountability, and achievement have been ingrained into our daily vocabulary. We look for the tangible ... the visible, those things that we can monitor and measure. As educators, very seldom have we been able to avoid the words of W. Edwards Deming's famous quote, "In God we trust; all others must bring data."

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Kevin Parr

Keep Students and Parents (and Teachers) Initiative Fatigue Free

Last week I entered a meeting feeling pretty good about my teaching life. I was sticking with my goals for the year, trying some new things outside my comfort zone, and achieving some success doing them, but soon my head was fixed on all of the things I wasn't doing. All I could think about were the things other people were doing or telling me I should be doing that I wasn't. I was feeling inadequate and I just couldn't shake it. I was, as ASCD CEO and Executive Director Dr. Gene R. Carter recently phrased it on a panel discussing developing teacher leaders, experiencing "initiative fatigue." There was too much, too fast, and with too little time for me to evaluate or prioritize the ideas coming at me, let alone do anything with them. I was overwhelmed and anxious. I was lost.

Assuming that I was not the only teacher in the room feeling that way (and I doubt I was), what was the collective effect of those feelings having on the atmosphere of our school? Were all of these well-intentioned ideas empowering teachers or disenfranchising them?

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Klea Scharberg

Insights on Using Assessments Thoughtfully

Using Assessments Thoughtfully - ASCD Educational LeadershipAssessment is about more than numbers. It's about discerning where students are and planning accordingly. The March 2014 issue of Educational Leadership explores the many ways teachers can use assessments to help students learn. Articles in this issue look at how educators can use assessments thoughtfully to help students move forward.

In her "Perspectives" column, Editor-in-Chief Marge Scherer notes that it's not a revelation that teachers' daily assessment practices improve learning more than standardized tests. She writes

From building relationships to delivering a lesson that is challenging, engaging, and, sometimes, entertaining, teaching is very much a performance art that must be practiced on one's feet. Formative assessment presents another challenge—and requires sophisticated but quieter skills: observation, questioning, reflection. Teachers' daily ongoing practice puts the pieces together—and this practice has more potential to improve learning than all the high-stakes tests put together. It's no revelation, but something we have known all along.

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Kit Harris, ASCD Research

ED Pulse Poll Results: Which Digital PD Tool Is Most Useful?

ASCD continually seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that face educators of all levels. A recent ASCD SmartBrief ED Pulse poll asked readers which technology tools and approaches are most useful for their professional development.

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Rich McKinney

Low Morale in Your School? Nothing a Little Teacher Empowerment Can’t Fix

Pick up a newspaper or spend a few moments watching the evening news and you will find evidence that many schools across the country are in the midst of a morale crisis. In many states, revised standards for Common Core State Standards implementation are taking a toll on teachers who feel as if they are losing the autonomy to plan lessons as they see fit. In some communities, budget difficulties are leading to job loss and stagnant pay. Increased accountability and new methods of evaluating teachers are also discussed as problems facing educators today. Often what frustrates teachers the most is the perception that their voice is not heard in public discussions about these issues. In describing this state of mind, a friend of mine quips, "Teachers are like France. We know that we don't have any real power but we want to be treated as if we do." In some ways, my friend is right, but I don't think the solution to today's morale problem will be found in treating teachers as if they have power, but rather in truly empowering them to be leaders in and out of the school and contributing members of education policy discussions.

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Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Bring Yourself to Work Every Day to Build Trust, Morale, and Culture

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Educators working in a positive school culture experience collegiality, trust, and tangible support as leaders and peers, creating an environment where there are high expectations, involvement in decision making, and open communication. Students entering a positive school culture feel safe, engaged, and connected and see school as a place where they can learn and contribute to the world around them. A positive school culture—morale—is the cornerstone of a good school and the foundation for school improvement.

School cultures should support, reinforce, and reflect the well-being of everyone in it, ensuring that students and adults feel valued, respected, and cared for and are motivated to learn, lead, and teach. In this episode, we take a look at how we build school morale so that administrators, teachers, students, and parents are energized and positive about learning. You'll hear from

  • Dave Burgess, award-winning U.S. history teacher at West Hills High School in San Diego, California; semi-professional magician; highly sought-after professional development speaker; and author of Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator;
  • David Culberhouse, former teacher and principal of a California Distinguished School, currently senior director of elementary education for the Rialto Unified School District in southern California and co-moderator of the West Coast #satchat, weekly Twitter discussions about education and leadership held Saturday mornings;
  • Joe Mazza, former teacher, principal, and technology integration coach, currently project manager for Connected Teaching, Learning, and Leadership in the North Penn School District in Lansdale, Pennsylvania; innovation coach at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education; and producer of #ptchat, another weekly Twitter chat—this one for transparent and collaborative dialogue between parents, family engagement practitioners, and teachers—held Wednesday nights; and
  • Angela Hamilton, assistant principal, and Eric Russo, special education co-teacher who specializes in reading and language arts, at Drew Freeman Middle School of Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland. Drew Freeman is a member of ASCD's Whole Child Network of Schools and is in its second year of a three-year, comprehensive school improvement process using the tenets of the Whole Child Initiative—healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged—as a sustainable whole child approach to educating their students.

Connect with us @WholeChildASCD and our guests Dave Burgess @burgessdave, David Culberhouse @DCulberhouse, Joe Mazza @Joe_Mazza, Angela Hamilton @Ahamilton1994, and Eric Russo @erusso78 on Twitter.

What is the link between school morale and learning?

Kevin Scott

Everything Is Not Always Awesome, But It Can Be

A positive school culture is critical to the success of any school. As educators, we know that staying positive in the wake of planning, paperwork, meetings, grading, and all of the other administrative tasks is tough, especially when we got into this business because we love to work with students. It takes more effort than simply "putting on a happy face," as the musical number goes. The bigger question is always, "How do you do it?"

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Celina Brennan

Personalized Professional Development Elements: Supporting the CCSS Transition

Personalized learning has proven effective for empowering students to monitor their learning, establish goals, and reflect on progress. As the the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have become a target of focus for educators, we must consider how we are embarking on this learning journey as adults. Providing a professional atmosphere for personalized learning is essential in supporting teachers through the CCSS transition.

Each educator brings forth a unique background based on professional style, years of experience, and depth of CCSS understanding. As learners embracing this educational mind-shift, we each inevitably need something different as we engage in trainings and conversations related to the CCSS. Our learning experiences should not be a one-size-fits-all approach. Nor should professional development send us into information overload. As learners, we should be inspired to interact with the knowledge and perspective of the CCSS in order to find our own place within the transition.

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Klea Scharberg

Throughout February and March: Building School Morale

Educators working in a positive school culture experience collegiality, trust, and tangible support as leaders and peers, creating an environment where there are high expectations, involvement in decision making, and open communication. Students entering a positive school culture feel safe, engaged, and connected and see school as a place where they can learn and contribute to the world around them. A positive school culture—morale—is the cornerstone of a good school and the foundation for school improvement.

School cultures should support, reinforce, and reflect the well-being of everyone in it, ensuring that students and adults feel valued, respected, and cared for and are motivated to learn, lead, and teach. Join us throughout February and March as we discuss how to build school morale so that administrators, teachers, students, and parents are energized and positive about learning. What practices build morale; empower leaders; and promote trust, mutual respect, and celebration? How can the demands of accountability and high expectations be realized without affecting a positive culture?

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Kit Harris, ASCD Research

ED Pulse Poll Results: What Types of PLCs Are Most Effective?

ASCD continually seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that face educators of all levels. A recent ASCD SmartBrief ED Pulse poll asked readers asked readers to identify which new type of personalized learning communities for educators is most effective.

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