Last week I had the pleasure and honor to present online to the #Leadership20 MOOC, organized by George Couros and situated in a sense upon the Connected Principals Platform, with a session keyed to theAlberta Education Principal Quality Standardnumber 3, Leading a Learning Community.

Above you can see the slides; click here to open (it takes a couple of steps, including a download) the recorded session on elluminate complete with my audio and the chat commentary.

Below are my resources– books, articles, posts– referred to in the presentation.

Books:

  • Dweck, Carol, Mindset
  • Megan Tschannen-Moran, Trust Matters
  • Bryk and Schneider, Trust in Schools
  • Tough, Paul, How Children Succeed


Articles and Posts

Lessons Learned from the Good High School Project

Grant Lichtman Learning Pond educational journey blog

HBR article: Are You Learning as Fast as the World is Changing? Bill Taylor

Why I Blog: A Principal’s 13 reasons

Smackdown: Sharing Technology uses among the St. Gregory Faculty, 2012

Faculty Meeting Edcamp, Richard Kassissieh

Cale Birk  Collegial Conversations

9 Suggestions for the Welcome Back to School letter from the Principal

Michael Thompson article for parent conversation, Peer Pleasure Peer Pain.

Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision-Making, Recommendation 2, Teach Students to Examine their own data and set learning goals

St. Gregory “Egg” 21st century skills and character Report Card

KIPP character report card

Awards posts:

With this post I come to the end of  three terrific years as Head of School for St. Gregory College Preparatory School in Tucson, Arizona.  It has been an honor to serve, and I know I will treasure always these years as an extraordinarily high point in my educational leadership career.

In our three years together, we’ve seen enrollment stabilize and grow (after ten years of nearly continuous decline), and expanded external financial support to the annual financial aid/scholarship funding by several hundreds of thousand dollars– allowing us to considerably diversify enrollment and provide new opportunities to students who otherwise wouldn’t have this chance.  Each of the three years has ended financially with a good, positive balance sheet.

From the St. Gregory 2012 yearbook.

I am most pleased about the ambitious twin initiatives,  “Roots and Wings:” Advisory and Laptops, which we launched in 2010.   First, we dramatically overhauled what was previously a small homeroom program into our new, teacher-student advisory program, strengthening student “rooted-ness” with a home base over the course of each week and strengthened relationship with a teacher and other students.   Advisory has also become a new home for service learning, teacher mentoring of students, parent-student-adviser conferencing,  and much more.  We’ve also, especially in the middle school, developed several new bullying prevention programs, which brought a national award from Teaching Tolerance, and significantly revamped our bullying and harassment policy for the entire school.

Wings” is our nickname for our 1:1 laptop program, which has had two years of fine success, with students doing great project-based learning, developing fine research skills, practicing terrific on-line collaboration, and exploiting social media and other tools to connect, share, and learn together.  This project also demanded a significant expansion of the campus WiFi infrastructure and fiber-optic bandwidth.   Students need to learn how to use digital tools responsibly, and we developed and implement a fine, three day, digital citizenship “boot camp.”

We launched a trio of new student outcome measurements, CWRA, HSSSE, and MAP, and I believe we are the only one of the 1400 NAIS member schools to be using and learning from all three of these fine new tools.   We use them because we are more serious than ever about academic outcomes, and want to use the best tools we can to track, monitor, and intervene to improve our educational program.  Believing that we must assess what matters to us, new report card extension, providing goal-setting and formative feedback for our students on a set of 21st century  and mission-central skills we call the EGG: the Essential Goals for Gregorians.  We’ve also worked in both the middle school and upper school to increase and enlarge academic requirements: now 8th graders must take 8, rather than 7, classes, and our graduation requirements for high school students include four years of math and history (up from three), and have gone from 24 to 26 credits in total.

Our faculty culture of collaboration and planning has been greatly improved by the addition of two hours weekly (previously it was one monthly) for time dedicated to this, and the valuable work of our new Critical Friends groups.    I should add that an important priority of my leadership, and a critical recommendation to us from our accrediting association, was that we progress in diversifying racial/ethnically our faculty and administration, and we’ve done that significantly,  taking the percentage of professionals of color in three years from under 3% to about 15%.   In these three years we’ve also doubled the number of Ph.D’s on our faculty, from 3 to 6, with the appointment of three new Ph.D’s to our upper school.    Knowing that a high performing and always-growing faculty is of the highest priority, we worked as joint admin-faculty team to completely revamp our teacher evaluation system, taking it from every four years to annual, and building into it a stronger goal-setting and growth orientation.   I also implemented in 2011 St. Gregory’s first ever annual written evaluation for senior administrators.

A major theme for educational program development has been developing innovative mindsets and habits for our students, and we’ve developed several new elective courses, new project-based learning units, new experiential education elements, and a new special diploma program, to advance this important theme.   Dennis Connor in particularly has built his physics lab into a robotics and engineering lab, and it is a very exciting place, complete with a 3D printer.   (Some of our initiatives on this front are featured in a forthcoming book (July, 2012) by Suzie Boss, Bringing Innovation to School).

We’ve installed more than 600 solar panels on the roofs of 5 of our buildings,  providing more than 30% of our energy usage, and re-engineered air conditioning for our gymnasium, dramatically reducing our carbon footprint.  We’ve built out a new community garden on campus, and a new goat and chicken pen in the middle school.    Through a variety of initiatives, including the new Youth Leadership Summit for 7th graders from 20+ schools, the continuation of the Rotary Car show, hosting a new 5K/10K charity run,  new speaker and film events, and other activities, we’ve made good progress in better sharing our campus resources with the wider Tucson community.   Summer at St. Gregory has also been transformed; we brought back to campus the elementary day-camp Summer Fine Arts, which had left us in 2008, and we launched a brand new, now thriving,  academic enrichment summer day-camp for middle school students called Minds Alive: Leadership and Innovation camp.

Looking forward, I’m anticipating a very different and very exciting several years learning, writing, sharing, speaking, and consulting on the topic and cause I am most passionate about: advancing 21st century learning and schools of the future.   I’ll be blogging regularly, and I have several other writing projects in the works.  I’ll be keynoting and speaking at educational conferences and for faculties, boards and parents at schools around the country and beyond; I’ve already confirmed about eight  such “gigs” for the coming year and new invitations and opportunities are arriving each week.

To expand the breadth of the work I do supporting schools, districts and associations, I’m developing and promoting my new educational consulting practice, JonathanEMartin Ed. Services.  At the same time, I’m forming affiliations, formal and informal, with a wide variety of national educational organizations and consulting firms, including Educational Collaborators,  for whom I’ll do some consulting on strategic planning, technology integration, and professional development.

As a family, we are staying here in Tucson, most of all because both my sons are happily enrolled in schools which suit them well, including my older son, who will be entering the 9th grade right here at St. Gregory, which my wife and I believe is a perfect match for him.   My wife, Carman Ryken, has accepted a terrific appointment as a math teacher at an exciting, dynamic, progressive charter school here in Tucson, Paolo Freire Freedom School, a middle school of about 75 students.   The school is a great match for her educational philosophy and ideals and also for my own views:  the school uses a very interesting and exciting problem-based learning math curriculum called “Connected Math,” out of Michigan State University. I’ll surely blog about the qualities of this math curriculum in the months to come.   With my wife employed full-time, I’ll be, happily, picking up a larger share of the household management and parenting.   As a family, we’ll also continue hosting in our home international students enrolled at St. Gregory, something we enjoy greatly.

We’ve relocated to a home closer to both boys’ schools and within walking distance of shops and cafes, so we’ve downsized to just one car and are happy to be conducting a relatively more urban lifestyle, walking and cycling around Fort Lowell neighborhood.  I have a home office, but I expect I’ll spend as much time working at the two nearby Starbucks (Swan/Camp Lowell in the Basha’s, and Swan/Grant) as I do in my office, so Tucsonans can look for me there and say “hello.”

Over the course of what potentially will be 25-30 more years of professional work are many possible career paths and projects, I anticipate: among them are returning, almost certainly at some point, to independent school leadership positions; joining a national educational reform organization on a full-time basis;  and taking on state/regional or national association management roles for independent schools or other school groups.

To my St. Gregory colleagues, parents, students, and supporters, thank you very, very much for inviting me to join this community and serve this school’s excellent and extraordinary mission.  To my readers, please know that the blog carries on and the best is yet to come.    Onwards.

Our new policy is below, after the top few paragraphs and videos.

It has been great to see the swiftly growing national attention to and concern about bullying in our schools in the past year, although the attention brings some increasingly challenging management issues.   As school leaders, we must take stronger action to elevate our vigilance; communicate emphatically our disapprobation; educate our students, teachers, administrators and parents;  facilitate and advance intentional, pro-active, bullying prevention programs; and respond to acts of bullying with vigor and consistency.   That said, there are many, many grey areas in evaluating and judging events that appear very differently to different observers.

Among those deserving praise and appreciation for leadership in this movement are Dan Savage and the team of danah boyd and John Palfrey at Harvard’s Berkman Center.  Dan Savage is the creator of the youtube “It Gets Better” campaign (video below), and was a featured speaker at the NAIS annual conference in Seattle this past March.   At that convention, Savage spoke with tremendous compassion for all, gay, straight, and everyone else, who is bullied, and directly confronted and challenged school administrators to take a stronger stance, suggesting that we have betrayed the trust families put in us to provide a safe school environment.  (President Obama’s  video contribution to the “It Gets Better” project is available here.)

Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society has a new project which offers some valuable resources, the Kinder and Braver World Project, with funding and support from Lady Gaga’s Born this Way foundation.   In preparing our new policy here at St. Gregory, we reviewed these resources closely, and took especially from the paper What You Must Know to Help COmbat Youth Cruelty, Meanness and Bullying, co-authored by Law Professor (and the new Headmaster of Andover), John Palfrey and the terrific social thinker about social media and new technologies, danah boyd.  A few key quotes:

Bullying is a serious issue.  It leaves scars and makes learning hard.  Both those who are victims of bullying and those who bully others face serious  educational, social, and psychological challenges.  We need to address bullying in order to make certain that all youth have the ability to grow up healthy and happy.

Not all aggression is bullying. Bullying refers to repeated psychological, social, and physical aggression propagated by those who are more physically or socially powerful.

“Zero tolerance” school policies are ineffective. They sound good, but they do tremendous damage in schools and are often correlated with a rise in bullying and other forms of aggression.  Consequences for bullying should be clear, but support structures must also be put in place to help youth learn from their mistakes.

Cyberbullying is not a discrete practice. It should not be addressed separately. While digitally mediated interactions can complicate bullying dynamics, what happens online is often deeply entangled with what happens offline.

Cyberbullying is more visible, but not more common.  Studies consistently show that face-to-face bullying is still more common – and youth consistently report that it has a greater negative impact – than what happens online. Technology can be a valuable venue to communicate messages of love, acceptance, and bravery and to engage youth who are struggling at home  or in school.

We must create a positive youth culture that reinforces kindness and bravery. And we must help encourage youth to be courageous and loving, respectful, and tolerant. This is hard, but it starts with each of us.

At St. Gregory, we have taken new, sincere, and I think significant action to enhance our efforts to prevent and combat bullying.   Our terrific new school counselor, Kim Peace-Steimer, has teamed with our (also terrific) Middle School head to launch several new programs in the middle school, one of which garnered a national award as can be seen in this video below.

We also have worked hard this spring to review and revise our anti-bullying policy, which is pasted in below and which will be published in our 2012-13 parent and student handbooks.  Note that at bottom of the policy is a set of references and resources, most of them which links to online published documents, which readers might find valuable.

See also my post:  “Stand Up to Homophobic Bullying” An important, effective video for schools

ST. GREGORY’s new and revised Anti-Bullying Policy. 

Bullying/Harassment

One of the principal statements in the philosophy of St. Gregory is that the school community values the dignity, self-worth, and potential of each individual.  Bullying/harassment will not be tolerated.  The school will become involved in cases which occur at school or at a school event, or which substantially disrupt the orderly operation of the school and/or the learning environment for any individual regardless of where they occur.

(more…)

Welcome to Middle School Curriculum Night—it is great to have you here, and I hope you enjoy a wonderful evening visiting classrooms .

As you change classes every ten minutes, and remember you need to follow the schedule, you might find yourself feeling two different emotions at once:  this is hard, keeping track of the schedule and staying on track and gathering all this information and processing all these new ideas and, at the very same time, you might feel, this is exhilarating and self-affirming; I am figuring out how to make this schedule work and how to manage this complexity.

For most of you, and for most of our students, this is an experience of stress that is more positive than negative.   We worry about stress, of course we do, for our kids, and we should.  We worry sometimes that they are overwhelmed, or too anxious or burdened, or that they are suffering deep disappointments.

We want to ensure students feel safe, and we know that when they feel deeply at risk of pain or humiliation, their reptile brains kick in and,  often, their learning opportunity narrows accordingly: they simply can’t and don’t learn as much.  That is why we want to work so hard through advisory and our kindness campaigns and our mission days, and many additional ways to ensure students feel safe.

But stress is not evil.  There is a form of stress called “eustress”, that is described as

the type of ‘positive’ stress that keeps us vital and excited about life.

The excitement of a roller-coaster ride, a scary movie, or a fun challenge are all examples of eustress.

Eustress is actually important for us to have in our lives.   Without it, we would become depressed and perhaps feel a lack of meaning in life.  Not striving for goals, not overcoming challenges, not having a reason to wake up in the morning would be damaging to us, so eustress is considered ‘good’ stress.  It keeps us healthy and happy.

But there’s more.  Eustress is positive, but we need to also remember that even distress has its value—in the right amount.  One of the best books on parenting in the past decade, is actually a pair of books by a Los Angeles psychologist named Wendy Mogel—have any of you read her books?-: The Blessings of a Skinned Knee, which is about raising younger children, and for raising teenagers, the Blessings of a B-(more…)

At this morning’s Family Association meeting, which was our annual “sign up to volunteer” event, I had the opportunity to make a short presentation, and I chose to read the following passage from this fine 2009 book by Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist.   At the meeting I was asked by several parents if I could make the quote and book information more available.  (Click on the image to see more about the book).

My children attended a public elementary school that brought both parents and children into a kind of moral community.   Interactions with teachers, school events, posters on walls, and communications from our principal worked to connect parents both to one another and to the school.

The communications expressed a set of moral commitments– that both parents and children are members of a community and have responsibility for all members of that community; that every student has intellectual and personal contributions to make to the learning of the whole community and that the school has responsibilities to recognize and support those contributions; that school is preparation not only for a career but for many facets of citizenship; that diversity is a high value and that diverse opinions will be engaged and tested; that students should be taught to identify and address social inequalities and injustice.

Often homework was connected to issues of equity and fairness, and sometimes children were asked to engage parents in this homework.

Teachers felt responsibility for all children in the building– not just children in their classroom.

Because there are trusting, caring relationships between teachers and students at this school, children are also more likely to value what teachers value, including classic virtues such as honesty and courage.  At the same time, as the principal observes “Many parents challenge the larger community to believe in and value each of our students and families.  This initiative by families reinforces and sometimes leads the school to live up to its values.”

If there is interest, we may try to start and facilitate a book discussion group in the Family Association about this book.   St. Gregory parents should let me know if they are interested, either by conversation “on the curb,” email, or by leaving a comment below.

[cross-posted from Connected Principals]

Jen ratio: the total positive interactions among people in a shared environment divided by the negative interactions; a measurement of the social well being of any shared environment.  (Dacher Keltner, What’s your Jen ratio?).

Promoting positive and supportive school cultures and environments is among the very highest of our priorities as principals and school leaders.  We all believe strongly that a happy and safe school is a prerequisite for learning, and we recognize that this is characterized by positive social interactions that lift our moods and enhance our joy and motivation for learning.

Jane McGonigal‘s excellent and inspiring new book, Reality is Broken,  delves into the intersection of positive psychology (the happiness movement) and gaming, and offers many ways we can consider bring gaming into reality and improve it.

In one of the book’s many sections I know will be fascinating and compelling for educators and “connected principals,” a chapter entitled  Happiness Hacking,”  she writes about “transitory public sociality,” and for this reader it spoke directly to our goal for our schools to be positive places of support, encouragement, and good will.

We experience it in all kinds of public places: sidewalks, parks, trains, restaurants, for example.  These transitory social interactions, when they happen, are usually brief and anonymous: we catch another’s eyes, we smile, we make room for someone else, we pick up something someone has dropped, we go on our own way.  But these brief encounters, taken cumulatively, have an aggregate impact on our mood over time. (more…)

John Maeda is President of RISD.   His new (2011) book proclaims to be Redesigning Leadership: Design, Technology, Business, Life, but the narrative tone is far different from that grand title.

Shortly after his appointment he became quickly recognized and admired as the leading tweeting, blogging and social media proficient college or university president, and then, just as quickly, got a painful comeuppance when his faculty voted a heavy no-confidence vote in him and his presidency nearly foundered.  One has to wonder whether the book was commissioned and titled before his difficulties, and written or completed after them, such that halfway through its development Maeda’s confidence in his ability to genuinely “redesign leadership” was dramatically altered.  Indeed, at times this is almost a painful read: Maeda seems to be paying public penance for his mistakes, and we the readers are uncomfortable witnesses to it.

Ever since I’ve become President, people often approach me and ask, How are you doing?  My answer is generally a simple but honest, I’m learning.  Then comes the inevitable moment of confusion, as they were expecting the usual upbeat perspective of a CEO.  They say something like, Oh, it’s that bad?  The exchange forces me to clarify how excited I am to be a leader right now because I love to learn.  There is nothing I’d rather be doing than learning.  It often isn’t easy and I’ve made mistakes. (more…)

This is a tiny bit outside my normal range of topics, but two of my intellectual influences, blogger Andrew Sullivan and Slate writer Emily Bazelon, have both written about it in recent weeks, and I am impressed by their argument.   Many, too many, anti-bullying videos dramatize bullying and its effects in ways which make bullies look powerful and victims look weak and defenseless.

Bazelon, in her piece “How Not to Prevent Bullying”   points to other current videos in circulation which really go the wrong direction. In them the bullies often look attractive in their social power, in a way almost akin to the way some anti-cigarette advertising can actually romanticize the practice that it seeks to condemn.   Even more problematic, videos which show bullied students resorting to suicide only reinforces their sense of powerlessness.  As Bazelon says about one of them,

But the video has nothing in it about how Jenna could have gotten help, no models of kids or adults reaching out to her, nothing to help kids remember that however awful bullying feels in the moment, high school doesn’t last forever. It’s like the dark opposite of Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project, offering hopelessness instead of hope.

The video provided above, on the other hand, shows the power bystanders have, and the way students can stand up, be strong, and make bullying behavior look anything but cool– instead, her it looks kind of pathetic.  The denouement here, reminiscent of that wonderful climactic scene in the Kevin Kline film In and Out, is heartwarming and inspiring: we all have in our power opportunities to stand up and make clear we don’t stand for homophobia.    It is a great bit, and worthy of showing in our schools.

Above are the 49 slides from my keynote presentation to the NCAIS Innovate (North Carolina Association of Independent Schools) and the VAIS Tech (Virginia Association of Independent Schools) conferences.

After an introduction on the topic of why innovate, and an argument that independent schools are not innovative enough, the presentation shares seven conceptual approaches by which schools can better facilitate innovative mindsets among educators and students both.  Although the presentation draws on many sources, Steven B. Johnson’s recent book, Where Good Ideas Come From: A Natural History of Innovation is especially influential.

Time limitations made it impossible to spend as much time as I would have liked to discuss specific, concrete as it were, applications of each of the seven concepts, but the slides below offer suggestions for each.   I’d be delighted, of course, if readers were to offer their own suggested specific applications of these concepts to school cultures.

Click more to view the three videos shared  in the presentation.  (more…)

Last Thursday night we hosted a screening of the new film, Race to Nowhere, and a panel afterwards.  I have already shared my own reactions to the film; here I want to share those of our panelists and from our students.

Michelle Berry, Ph.D, History Department Chair, St. Gregory

There is a critique in the film that the educational system is reactionary, comparing us to other countries, like: we are not doing as well as Finland.  I think that one of the things we need to do is figure out what we want education to be. What is the point of education?  I heard the “H word” a lot,  happy– what does it mean to be happy?   That is the point of education: to get students excited about what they are learning even if means working at home.

I am not sure why in this film why reading seems to be such a really  rough thing which nobody wants to do: that they’d rather do skateboarding than reading.

This is partly because we  made it homework instead of home-fun. (more…)

Thursday evening, our school hosted a screening of the documentary film Race to Nowhere and a panel discussion afterwards.  Here I am offering my own first reactions to the film; in subsequent posts I intend to share some of our panelists’ responses and explore the suggestions from the film’s website, End the Race.

The film asks and addresses what are for this parent and educator some of the most central and essential questions about K-12 education and child-raising; it does so in ways stimulating, provocative, compelling, redundant, one-sided, and emotionally manipulative.

The essential questions, then, to my observation, in the film include the following:

  • What is K-12 education’s  ultimate purpose?
  • What is the role of happiness and self-fulfillment (or self-actualization as our panelist Dr. Davis asked) in the priorities of K-12 education? (more…)

Dear members of the St. Gregory community:

Recognizing our students for their unique talents as outstanding individuals, creative and compassionate community contributors, and extraordinary intellects is something important to us all.

Important also is that we make choices which strengthen and enhance the quality of our supportive and collaborative learning community.  We know that students thrive most and learn most when they believe that the growth and the contributions of each of them are valued deeply, greatly, and equitably by their teachers.

As each school year ends, it is especially important that we take strong strides to value every learner and enhance our learning community.   Traditionally, in the middle school, each and every 8th grade student is individually recognized, appreciated, and honored by a teacher at the lovely promotional ceremony.

In the past, our high school graduation ceremonies have only included the naming of each graduate as he or she is welcomed to the stage and awarded a diploma.   This year, for the first time, we will initiate a new tradition at graduation in which each and every graduate is personally introduced by a faculty member with thoughtful remarks valuing the graduate’s qualities and contributions. (more…)

David Brooks is an old faithful for me, an inspiration for his ability to bring wisdom and broader understanding to the daily events of our time, and to draw from our society trends of larger sociological or even philosophical significance.  I don’t always agree with him, often I don’t, but I am nearly always intrigued by what he has to say. If you haven’t read his recent piece in the New Yorker,   Social Animal, How the New Science of Human Nature Can Help Make Sense of a Life, stop reading this post and go read it now!

In the piece, there is a small subsection of particular interest to educators; Brooks draws upon his wide reading of recently published research in social psychology, happiness pyschology, and human development to articulate a vision of effective secondary education, and in doing so, he offers two strong assertions about excellence in education.

1. Connections matter:  Students need to feel a deep and strong connection with their teachers.

One of [a successful student's] key skills in school is his ability to bond with teachers. We’ve spent a generation trying to reorganize schools to make them better, but the truth is that people learn from the people they love. (more…)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,800 other followers