Why Use a School #Hashtag? [VIDEO 2:09]

So you have a school Twitter account. Now what? How about a school hashtag to help develop your brand both in and beyond your community? A hashtag can help de-privatise practice, boost classroom transparency and connect your school with the world. This video provides a quick insight into the ways it could transform your learning community, from showcasing success to building a buzz, backchanneling PD, boosting recruitment and opening the door to a new world of professional learning. Your hashtag is a reflection of your trust, agency and support of all stakeholders in your school community!

The Status of Trust in Education


Reposted from Work on the Work:

I want to start a conversation. I want to explore what I have seen and have experienced as a deeply rooted problem that will not be easily fixed nor entirely addressed in this single blog-post (I’m hoping that this becomes one in a series dealing with this subject).  The teaching profession is suffering from a vexing issue of professional trust.  While that term may be ambiguous and unclear, I hope to make it less so as we continue to think, talk, and discuss the phenomena.  Professional trust consistently arises in all venues of my work. Whether it’s the implementation of standards, adopting curriculum, new evaluation systems, assessment processes, student-centered classrooms, Project-Based Learning (PBL) and on and on and on, the yeah, but mentality of the professionals in the room is as predictable as the sun rising in the east. (One could make the argument that society as a whole has lost trust in our public school systems, but for now, I ask you to hold that thought at bay.)

The typical response, whether it’s with teachers, principals, administrators, departments of education, looks something like, “Yeah, I get x (insert new thing here), but the y (student, teacher, school, district, or state) down the way will NEVVVERR be able to do it”.

The more I work with and talk to education professionals across the country, more frequently I hear this type of declaration.  How did we get to this place?  Is my experience unique? Could this be a barrier that impairs student success? Does the mentality of yeah, but keep each student from being successful?

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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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Teaching is a Matter of Trust


Reposted from the Center for Teaching Quality:

I had a difficult time establishing trust with Amber. She was defiant at times, and she seemed to resent the fact that I cared about my students as people. For instance, I often call students at home when they are absent to make sure everything’s ok. Most of my students love this, but Amber once remarked that “teachers shouldn’t waste time on that sort of thing when they should be teaching.”

Teachers often forget how easily our words and actions can affect children. It’s scary how powerful that is.  Turning a kid’s life around in a positive way…..or negative.  Teaching involves so much more than simply teaching subjects.  We teach students, and we become their coaches, mentors, and cheerleaders.  When we show students we care about them, not just as students, but as humans, it builds trust.  When that happens, the students seem to work harder because they believe in themselves. Why?  Because someone else does.

Amber was never absent—and I soon found out why. The school counselor told me that Amber lived with an alcoholic father. No mom around.  No wonder she came to school everyday. It was her haven. And not trusting adults in her life? It totally made sense now…

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Trust Your Gut


Reposted from Pushing the Edge with Greg Curran:

In moving forward and disrupting the path that was clearly injurious to my health and relationships, I had to confront three key ways of thinking:

  • Work is not your life. There needs to be more to your life than work.
  • It’s not all about YOU. You can’t do it all. Step back, detach.
  • You need to be okay with it not working out – with it being less than perfect or with it failing – and not keep on pushing.

It took a while… but I did get a grip and disrupt my taken for granted ways in taking on board these ways of thinking. Or perhaps more appropriately, these ways of being or living. It took a while….but I rebuilt and found me again – And I began to trust in taking a risk or chance once more.

Where I am today – the myriad of pathways I’m exploring – the communities that I’m part of – are no doubt influenced by this turbulently challenging period. And as I reflect, there are clear shifts in my business as usual approaches…

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Social Capital: Who We Are Together And How We Work


Reposted from Learning & Leading:

“Social capital is highly dependent upon nurturing trust at all levels of the organization. Trust doesn’t happen overnight and needs to be cultivated. While trust needs time to develop, it has to be developed with intentionality. Hargreaves put it best when he said, “Trust doesn’t come from micromanagement or leaving people alone. It comes from engaging with people about their work.” This engagement has to be intentional, thoughtfully planned, and monitored by all involved.

Each of us experience roadblocks to enhancing social capital within our teams.  In my current professional life, the size of the organization is a challenge.  The elementary school where I proudly serve as principal has nearly 140 staff members serving over 1,000 students.  In an international setting, we experience a lot of staff attrition.  Any time a new staff member joins, the whole dynamic of the team changes.

By team, I really mean teams – grade level teams, curricular teams, and the entire elementary school team.  Of course, time is a challenge.  How do you create opportunities to build trust at grade levels, between grade levels, horizontally and vertically?  How do you work to establish a culture of trust that, regardless of staff movement, permeates the building so that anyone who enters feels that trust is high, honored, revered, respected, and cultivated?  How do you help newcomers realize that trust is not just earned, but it’s given and supported?  How do you help everyone within the organization understand that levels of trust are constantly changing and that the only way to get trust moving in the right direction is to be vulnerable about practice and to communicate openly and professionally?”

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Putting Trust Back in Education


Reposted from Talking Points Memo:

U.S. policy — especially education — is dominated by trust in procedures rather than trust in basic human judgment. That is, instead of letting principals hire and fire their own staff, we build enormously complex and contested teacher evaluation systems. Then we build an appeals process on top of those to deal with efforts to dismiss teachers. And beyond that, it leaks into the checks and balances of the courts.

Is it any wonder that teachers feel more like industrial widgets than valued, empowered professionals? For a while, they respond to new reform proposals wearily. But after a while, after innumerable intrusions into their professional sphere, they lash out.

This is no way to run effective organizations, let alone a national education system. Boser’s book is full of examples that offer guidance for how we might start rebuilding social capital in education politics. Consider, Boser’s account of former UK prime minister Tony Blair’s turn of the century domestic reforms: Blair set clear, measurable, specific targets for various government agencies, and then largely let them work out how to reach those. Outside of the charter school movement, that flexibility is unheard of in American education.

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