Stopping The Bus To Get It Right


Reposted from Getting Smart:

Our faculty had decided that we would focus on improving student engagement for the month of December. The first week of this initiative was inspiring. Teachers crafted fun and fascinating lessons that engaged students like never before. During the second week, I did a morning walk-through and noticed a substantial drop in the quality of lesson engagement; teachers had clearly taken their feet off the pedal. The backward slide concerned me. So, I called an emergency meeting at lunch that day. I told my teachers that I had observed a decrease in student engagement. I took a moment to express gratitude and empathy: I appreciated their diligence and understood that “let downs” were natural. Still, we had to honor our commitment to engagement. Our students deserved better lessons. Teachers acknowledged that they had let the ball drop, and then took five minutes to brainstorm engagement tactics for their afternoon lessons.

On my afternoon walk-through, every teacher was back on fire, and kids were smiling again. The emergency meeting proved powerful. Teachers understood that engagement was something I was willing to stop for. As a result, they more consistently attended to engagement in their lesson planning, which permanently raised the baseline level of enthusiasm in our school. This was not easy for me. I adore my staff and I am constantly in awe of their hard work and commitment. It was uncomfortable for me to address them in a severe and sudden manner. But, it was absolutely worth it. “Stopping the bus” not only turned these situations around, but also strengthened my identity as a leader. My staff came to understand that I not only hold high standards, but also enforce high standards. They describe these “stop the bus” moments as times when they most came to respect and trust my leadership.

Building up the courage and will to address your team is the hardest part of “stopping the bus.” I genuinely believe it’s one of the most important and most underused tactics in school leadership. Here are a few other tips to consider when engineering a “stop the bus” moment…

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Equity in Education: Where to Begin?


Reposted from Edutopia:

Equity is at the student level rather than the demographic level because demographics only exist on paper. Every student experiences commonality and difference — what’s shared (a student needing knowledge) and what’s distinct (urban, rural, white, black, male, female). This never stops. We can revise our schools, curriculum, pedagogy, and technology until it’s inclusive, fair, and accessible to every student, but that ongoing effort continues to represent a kind of basement for our goals.

Why not consider something more ambitious? New thinking about the terms and definitions of gender emphasize both the characteristics and the fluidity of any culture. If we insist on standardizing content, maybe we can avoid standardizing education. How many different answers are there to the question, “Why learn?” Fantastic! Let’s iterate ourselves until we can honor that.

The work before us, then, may not be to level an academic playing field for which there is no even, but rather to create new terms for why we learn, how, and where — and then change the expectation for what we do with what we know.

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Expect More

expect nothing

Have you seen these memes saying something to the effect of, “Don’t expect anything and you’ll never be disappointed!” Who’s buying this? I’m not.

Sure, if all you want out of life is to never be disappointed, a “no expectations” mindset will do the trick. But do you order at a restaurant anticipating a bland meal? Cheer on your sports team assuming they can’t win? Take a vacation thinking it’s going to be a waste of time and money?

Of course not. That would be like driving with your eyes focused just past your car’s hood ornament, trying to keep track of the road right in front of you. Everything you feel under your wheels would startle you…you’re not looking ahead to anticipate traffic or potholes or pedestrians. No one drives that way!

So why would anyone live that way? A hood ornament optimism is reckless and foolish. It may create an illusion of driving excitedly in the moment, but in reality it leaves you exposed to all kinds of dangerous and unnecessary surprises. If you’re never disappointed, you’re never looking beyond your own bumper.


Shake off false-feel-good gratefulness and artificially-induced optimism. Think like a pedestrian: raise the bar high enough that you won’t trip over it. Finding yourself repeatedly unexpectedly face-down on the ground dazed and confused is no way to go through life. <smirk>

Here is a mindset to celebrate the end of this year and embrace the next:

  • Care.
  • Live with passion.
  • Embrace positive energy.
  • Make the world a better place.
  • Give your best and expect as much in return.
  • Believe everyday the world is better than the day before.
  • Live reflectively, thoughtfully, and deliberately with intention.
  • Touch others in ways that have a positive impact on both you and them.
  • Consciously choose who and what you keep in your life.
  • Keep your eyes on where you’re headed.
  • Give 100% in everything you do.
  • Be patient with your self.
  • Live without regrets.
  • Make no excuses.
  • Raise the bar.
  • Never settle.

Are there letdowns? Of course. Disappointment is just the difference between where you set the bar and where you find your footing. It’s necessary…a gut check that helps you reassess and recommit to do better. It’s not based on what anyone else does…it’s defined by you and the standards to which you hold yourself. If you’re never disappointed, you’re not expecting enough.

And when you surpass your expectations…faster…higher…stronger…you are genuinely gratified, fulfilled and proud that you have grown and made a measurable difference. No kidding. No low-balling No settling.


Set high expectations for yourself beginning now…right now. Keep your eye on where you want to be…not on your hood ornament…and drive towards that destination. Expect more!