Sharing ideas on Education, Leadership and Life

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pyramid for Success

Here is John Wooden's pyramid for success. I hope over the next few weeks to take each of his blocks and relate to something that we as educators could use in the classroom helping our students as well as ourselves achieve success.
Have a Great Weekend

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How Do We Define Success

In all areas of life we want to be successful. As adults we want to be successful in our jobs and with raising a family . We want our children to be successful in school and as educational leaders we want our students and our teachers to be successful.
However who and how do we define success. Is it Wall Street's definition or in the classroom is it getting straight A's or perhaps for our teachers it might raising his /her students test scores. All of these possibilities have one major flaw ( at least) and that is that depend on someone else or the definition of what someone else believes to be success . What cooperate America may define as success may not fit my value system, does that mean that I am not successful. As much as teachers give tests and have other data it has been my experience that the same student can be an A student for Teacher X and a B student for Teacher Y. Is that student not successful. And finally our teachers there has been much debate over test scores so should that define a successful teacher.
Therefore I believe that success is something personal and needs to be measured by each individual. For the C student who pulled himself up a got a B, that student was very successful.
Therefore I happen to like Coach Wooden's definition of success he says the following; "Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming".

As many of us are preparing for the new school year and who doesn't want it to be a successful one let us keep this definition in mind in thinking about our own growth as educators and more importantly when looking at our students. If we want our students to be successful then we have to help them maximize their potential and become the best that they are capable of and for some students that might be an A but for others that might be a C.

May we all become the best that we are capable of and have successful school year

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Student's concerns

Here is a quote from "How To Deal with Parents who Are Angry, Troubled, Afraid or Just Plain Crazy", By Elaine McEwan:
“Don’t try to pass off complaints as unimportant or a figment of a child’s imagination. My experience…. Has shown me that children and sensitive human beings with important perceptions about their schooling experience. If for any reason they are not happy in school we need to do all we can to get to the bottom of their anxiety. Any problem faced by a child at school is a real problem that must be addressed. Sometimes, all we need to do is listen and empathize.”

I know through out my teaching career I have been guilty of doing this by telling a student not to worry it is nothing. However for them it is something and it has to be taken seriously. Often it could be as simple as saying I am sorry to hear that give me a few minutes and we can talk about it.
The following is a true story. Note: the teacher's first language is not English.
A student got a cut in class and asked the teachers if he/she could go to the office. The teacher who was in the middle of teaching told the student in dismissive way " OK good go to the office."
That night I got a call from the parent asking me why the teacher would say that is was good that my child got hurt. After investigating the situation I came to the following conclusion what the teacher wanted to say was OK you may go to the office but due to the language barrier used the word good. however it gave me the opportunity to mention to the teacher ( who was not having a successful year that year) that the students need to feel that you care about them and perhaps a more appropriate response would have been " Oh I am sorry do you want to go to the office"

So lets remember that our student's concern matter and if they are important to them then those concerns should be important to us.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is there a connection between Academic achievement and Behavior?

By no means am I a psychologist nor is what I am about to write scientific or proven. It has been my experience that often there is a correlation between academic achievement and behavior in that the students who tend to cause the most trouble in class are also the ones who are doing poorly academically. We all have our reasons for this and one of the more popular answers is that since they don't understand what is going on in class or it is too hard they tend to tune out and become distracted and bored and the only thing they have left to do is to act out.

However I started reading the book "Switch; How to change things when change is hard" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. They propose the following which I think could explain the correlation between academics and behavior. They write that, "Self- control is a exhaustible resource....The research shows that we burn self control in a wide variety of situations... trying to focus on simple instructions...."
Based on this I think the correlation is clear, we and especially our students don't have a limitless amount of self control to control our emotions and our behavior. Therefore the more one needs to burn this resource on understand the simple and basic academic questions the less they have for being able to sit in their seat and raise their hands.
What can we do with this. Well first of all I think we need to look at students who don't behave differently and in some cases it is not that they don't want to be respectful or that they are just rude or lazy but rather they have used up their resource of self-control and perhaps that would help us think of them in a different light. Secondly I think it requires us to help those students succeed academically so that they don't use up all of their resources and they can feel success and have a bit of easier time.
This also helps me answer a personal dilemma that I have had. working in a religious school we have a dual program. Half the day is spent on General Studies and the other half on Judaic studies. There are a number of students who are well behaved in their General Studies classes but offer a challenge in their Judaic classes. Granted a number of our Judaic studies teachers come from different cultures and have a different style of teaching but I believe this concept of viewing self control as a resource can also answer this discrepancy. The student uses up less self control on the academic side in his math and history class and therefore has more self- control with regard to his behavior however in the Judaic classes taught mostly in Hebrew they use up more resources on the academic side and therefore less is left for the behavioral side.

As always I appreciate your comments and feedback

Monday, July 26, 2010

Is your Best Teacher the Best Teacher No matter What Grade

I am currently reading the book "What Great Principals Do Differently" by Todd Whitaker.

There are many points in the book that I agree with but there are a number of points that I disagree with. One of those points is that Whitaker says that your best and highly effective second grade teacher will still be your best and highly effective teacher if you move that teacher to fifth grade.

My experience has been that certain teachers may be highly effective in lower elementary and once you move them up they are no longer as effective.
What are your experiences? Please share

Opening Blog

Why create a blog? An excellent question. Lately I have been exposed to the world of twitter and all that it can offer an educator and a educational leader. So therefore I thought I would share some of my thoughts for those that would be interested. Granted my thoughts come from perhaps a very different perspective than most. I have been in the field of education for over 20 years but always in the private sector and in a Jewish Day School.

As I sit here and write this opening to my blog I do ask myself what I can offer. I look at my shelves and I see the books that I read from Authors like; Collins, Fullan, Covey, Maxwell, McEwan, Marshal and Lencioni, and ask what can I add? The truth of the matter is that we all have our unique experiences and each see things in our own way and perhaps others could learn from those experiences. By no means do I or for that matter anyone have all the answers but if I could help someone as many others have helped me than it is all worth it.
In our prayers each week we ask G-D to give a spacial blessing for those who are involved in communal service. I cant think of a greater communal service than educating the leaders of tomorrow my G-D bless us all.