Tag Archives: feedback

Leadership, Motivation, Emotional Intelligence and Innovative Education… click.click.click.

From Alex Ragone's Flickr stream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ alexragone/3461563518/ No changes made.

From Alex Ragone’s Flickr stream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ alexragone/3461563518/
No changes made.

Here’s what I love about the internet (one thing, anyway)… it’s amazing how, if you just browse, your thoughts really can lead to anywhere through a series of mouse-clicks.

Case in point – I was reading “5 Habits of Innovative Educators” on the Huffington Post site (which I, of course, clicked my way to) and I thought, these are good ideas to share…  When I got to “4. They are passionately curious.” It made me think about an article title I had seen in my mail inbox but hadn’t read yet, “Why Recognizing Emotions Is a School Leadership Necessity“. Click. Click. That article ended with a references to a school’s emotional tone and school climate… hmmm, I just received ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine for February centered on “Building School Morale“. Instead of trying to find the hard-copy of the magazine I just… Click… Went to ASCD’s website and clicked on the Educational Leadership tab to remind me about the various articles.

Common strands: Leadership, Motivation and Emotional Intelligence.

School leaders owe it to themselves and those they are surrounded by to develop habits that support innovation. In doing so they will inevitably engage on an emotional level with like-minded learners because they will be showing they are passionately curious, seeking feedback to improve and believe in their students. It is that emotional engagement and connection with others that helps keep motivation high. School climate is a direct responsibility of leaders. The interesting thing is, from my experience, once a leader acknowledges their role and contributes positively to the school climate, those around the leader also take responsibility for a positive school climate.  In a high morale, positive school climate, educators and learners feel safe taking risks, being creative and making more connections… voilà! Celebrate the cycle of innovation!


REPOST: Don’t Evaluate Teachers, Coach Them

REPOST: In the same spirit that Coach G identifies from Harry Wong’s CASE Method (copy and steal everything)…

Don’t Evaluate Teachers, Coach Them

Certainly, positive, clear, meaningful feedback is far more effective in helping teachers improve than simple ‘evaluation’. However, I’ve learned that this is something that must become the culture of the school and it must be implemented in a consistent, systematic manner to be truly effective.

Teachers ARE Leaders!

The fact is, (supported by research provided by Robert Marzano, John Hattie, William Sanders, Sandra Horn and S. Paul Wright)  individual teachers can have a profound impact on student learning. For me, the operative word here is “can”. I’ve been reflecting recently on how to link this possibility with a concrete reality. How can we empower our teachers to develop the traits that will have a positive impact on learning? What are the key traits? Marzano (2003, What Works in Schools: Translating Research Into Action) identifies three key, interdependent, areas that, when employed effectively by teachers, have a positive impact on learning:

  • Instructional Strategies
  • Classroom Management
  • Classroom Curriculum Design

All three “teacher-level factors” must be effectively combined to improve student learning. Think about the expert teachers you have known (and, I distinguish ‘expert’ from ‘experienced’ – they’re not the same)… they are highly committed to improving themselves, seeking and offering feedback and helping fellow teachers. They are also thinkers! They model problem-solving and risk-taking, trying new assessment, instructional and behavioral strategies as needed.  They are, typically, recognized as informal leaders amongst fellow faculty.

These teacher-leaders model the traits that most agree education is supposed to develop in students: lifelong learning, tolerance, responsibility, and effective communication. Teachers ARE leaders! So… how do we empower ALL teachers to develop these traits? How can we build teacher leadership?

I read an article recently that highlighted the importance of having dynamic administrators or other role models during a teacher’s early ‘formative’ career years demonstrate those traits. It has a huge impact on whether they develop as teacher leaders. It made me think back to the role models, mentors and occasional excellent principals that I had when I first started teaching.

It’s simple, really…

Encourage and actively model the traits of teacher leadership that are so important for schools to develop and focus on those teachers who are still in their ‘formative’ years. Encourage the risk-taking, reflection, commitment to being involved and help teachers refine any areas of curriculum design, classroom management or instructional strategies that can be improved. Feedback, the number one factor influencing student learning… also can have an amazing impact on teacher learning and empowering teachers as leaders!

Feedback… AGAIN! Quick post on formative assessments

ImageI’ve been a bit behind on my ‘ten minutes a day’ favorite blog readings and in my efforts to catch up I came across a comment by Rick DuFour on the AllThingsPLC blog regarding formative assessments.

Math Teachers!!! This one’s for you:

… Benjamin Bloom’s research in the teaching of math found that teachers get better results when they begin the course with a brief pre-assessment of the skills students must  have in order to be successful in the unit they are about to teach. They discover areas where students are lacking those skills, and then instead of beginning new content, the begin with several days of instruction aimed at the prerequisite skills. They repeat this process for every unit, asking “which skills must students have in order to be successful in this unit and how do I know if they have them.” The process works best when it is done by a collaborative team of teachers and the schedule is designed to have some of them teaching in the same period. They give the pre-assessment, look at the results, and then divide the students between them. One might take the group that needs support in learning the new skills, another works some students to practice those skills, and another presents practical problems to students who are called upon to apply the skills. After several days of this, the students return to their homeroom teacher and the new unit begins.

One might think that this process would have an adverse impact on student achievement because teachers couldn’t cover as much content. In fact, Bloom found just that opposite. The fact that students had acquired the necessary skills enabled teachers to move through the content more quickly and the results were dramatically higher. You can read about this in an article Bloom wrote years ago for Phi Delta Kappan magazine called, “The two-sigma effect.”

There’s ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT that formative assessments are powerful teaching/learning tools!

Here’s a related article by Benjamin Bloom

Quick Post – Feedback follow-up


I just came across two different sources of information on feedback… from a recent McRel e-News email that I received. One is a podcast which you can access from McRel’s site OR from Classroom Instruction that Works: Insights from a next generation of research. The other is an interesting article on praise that highlights the effects of praising achievement versus praising effort.

There’s also an amazing (many TED Talks are) talk from a 13-year old on what adults can learn from kids…

Just thought I would share! Enjoy… (I’m planning a follow-up post on Fox News, related to my previous post… stay-tuned!).

By the way… the blog that I found cartoon on feedback from… Kevin Eikenberry’s blog, is also really good!

Positive Energy – Positive Expectations

Students in classes, once again.  The cycle restarts. Positive energy abounds.

In fact, I’m feeling pretty positive for two main reasons: I’m back in the classroom again… as a teacher, AND despite work being… well… WORK, it’s going pretty smoothly so far.  Orientation was short, a bit intense but IMHO went well. I think the core message – what we’re here for as educators – came through loud and clear.  Light that fire, encourage those questions, help the students meet learning goals (feedback in the form of formative assessments and trying new strategies, helps) really embrace our role as educators/guides/mentors and COLLABORATE and learn together.

I feel amazingly relaxed for having such a full plate (leading school accreditation, setting up MAP testing, guiding school-wide curriculum work, managing Professional Development for faculty, empowering HODs to facilitate learning on all levels, and teaching that class). I’ve talked about presuming positive intentions – something I regularly remind myself of.  An extension of that is establishing positive expectations. To me, that means expectations that are realistic and help us all move forward – learning together. Positive expectations for me and what I can offer – realistically. Positive expectations for my students and what they can achieve.  Positive expectations for faculty in what they can achieve.

The start of a new year SHOULD be positive… let’s keep that energy going through the entire year!