Six Steps of Leadership

We educators can learn about courage in leadership from seasoned business executives.  This one is from G.J. Hart, CEO of California Pizza.

In the context of sufficient courage, Hart believes there are six steps to leading others within an organization:

1.      as a leader/person, be the very best you can be

2.     dream and dream big

3.     lead with your heart first

4.     trust the people you lead

5.     do the right thing, always

6.     make your work ultimately about the people you serve; putting the cause before yourself


Insightful and inspiring!

Better Value Proposition for Middle Schoolers via Common Core

Have you seen what is required through the Common Core in Literacy in subjects such as Social Studies, Science, and Technical Courses for Middle Schoolers?

1.     Distinguishing among fact, opinion and reasoned judgment in a text.

2.     Supporting claims with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of a topic or text, using credible sources.

3.     Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Infusing these skills immediately into middle school lessons in Science, Social Studies and other subjects is a good idea.  There is no need to wait until Common Core Standards are officially upon us.

Education Spending on Common Core Implementation

Fordham Institute suggests that states adopting the Common Core State Standards will (collectively) spend around $1.2 billion on the transition.
No argument that the Common Core State Standards will be good for our kids, our schools and our economic health (think, more kids ready for high wage jobs and college).  As I have stated before, so much of this cost will be borne out by spending lavishly and foolishly on big box, paper-based materials provided by the big publishers.  It is foolish!
Map to the new curriculum, those materials your school, your district, or your network already have, and purchase strategically against the gaps that exist, decided upon by master teachers who completed the curriculum mapping.  Millions can be saved and reinvested on other things that we know make a difference.
I am surprised this idea has not gotten more widespread acceptance?  Is it because we we have become addicted to the big publishers well-financed propaganda, and endless supply of “free” worksheets?  I wonder and I worry!

Mathematics and shifting to the Common Core Standards

I hear little chatter on this topic as I travel from state to state. The silence is deafening, so I fear that our guard may be down when our sense of urgency needs to be up.

Given that roughly 40% of the states are generally below or well below the Mathematics standards by which the NAEP (National Assessment of Academic Progress) is calibrated and given the generally-alarming state of student performance in Mathematics, it seems that when we shift from state-driven to national (common core) standards, we will have more than a little dilemma on our hands in America’s school and classrooms.

If we are going to ratchet-up standards in Mathematics, and prepare students for full-fledged Algebra by 8th grade in states where this is not already the standard, we must look beyond simply mapping the existing gaps. We must also focus and deliver teacher supports as follows:

1. Schedule students in performance bands to accommodate better remedial and accelerated strategies to get all kids moving more rapidly through the work of skill and concept building. We need to abandon simple organization by traditional grade levels. NWEA schools can use RIT bands to organize kids and teachers with great confidence.

2. Better differentiate teacher professional development according to where each teacher’s Mathematics competence reveals just like we should be providing for students. This must be coupled with as much content training as training in teacher pedagogy.

3. Abandon traditional approaches to spiraling so that time is not wasted on thin revisiting of already-learned skills. Take time to go deep when new skills are learned.

4. Listen to the best Mathematics teachers–they know where the text book will and will not work. They must serve as the main informers of curriculum mapping, teacher professional development, and teaching strategies.

The shift to Common Core Standards is upon us, except where politicians in a few states (such as Texas) have used their ideology to fight the feds by blocking the Common Core Standards at the expense of their own kids. Will we be ready? Will we win for kids or waste time?

What did I miss?


The Role of Specials and Student Services Educators in College and Career Ready Focused Schools

A team of writers has assisted me in documenting some phenomenal work by a group of Music, Art, Physical Education, and other Specials teachers and staff on how their classroom work can best link to the work of core-content teachers.  Find a copy of the article at link:

My congratulations and appreciation to these teachers and staff members and to co-authors Scott Frauenheim, Karin Breo, and Rob Betz for help is preparing the article. Verbatim comments from participating teachers can also be found at link:

In these times when the important work and roles of Music, Art and other “Specials” area teachers are becoming increasingly under-valued and harder to fund, this article may also prove useful to you for advocacy purposes.  Feel free to share as you see fit.


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