Common Sense

Thomas Jefferson Feeder Pattern News - November 16, 2015

About the Title

Common Sense was a pamphlet authored by Thomas Paine in 1775-76. It was written to inspire American colonists to declare independence from British Rule at the beginning of The Revolution. This weekly, modern, online relative of that pamphlet documents the news, events, updates, and celebrations of the TJ Revolution - the educational sensation sweeping through northwest Dallas.

TJ Feeder Pattern News in Brief

Executive Director's Message

Team TJ,

This week, I will begin visiting with school leaders to discuss current levels of student achievement, as revealed by the 2nd Six Weeks Common Assessments.

Be prepared to discuss the following:

  • What grades/content areas have shown high achievement and/or growth since the beginning of the school year?
  • What "hot spots" are on your radar and may be in need of additional attention or intervention?
  • How are you utilizing common assessment data to impact the students you and your teachers are targeting for tutoring and/or Saturday School?

By focusing on data, you can work efficiently to support students at teachers in their efforts to achieve classroom and schoolwide goals.

Have a great week with students!

Timothy J. Hise

Executive Director, Thomas Jefferson Feeder Pattern

Why Your Feedback Might Be Getting Ignored

from Marshall Memo #611

“Most employees want to do a good job,” says consultant Karin Hurt in this Let’s Grow Leaders article. “If your feedback is being ignored, dig deeper to get to the root cause.”

  1. Too much advice – “I’m trying to do better, I really am,” says the plaintive employee. “But it’s all just too much. Every time we meet, he’s giving me something else to work on. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get it right, so I’ve learned to just block him out and do the best I can.” To bring about real change, says Hurt, take one behavior at a time.
  2. Hypocrisy – “If you want your employees to hear your feedback, be sure you’re following your own standards,” she says. “If there are reasons you make exceptions, be sure you clearly differentiate and explain the thought process, so they can follow consistent parameters.”
  3. Skill, not will – “Be sure your feedback is specific and actionable,” says Hurt. “Explain what success looks like in terms of specific behaviors.”
  4. Real disagreement – “Sure, we all have to implement policies we may not agree with,” she says. “The important factor here is to really listen to the concerns and explain why. Just shutting down the conversation may lead to compliance, but not always. And it certainly won’t lead to commitment.”

“4 Reasons Your Feedback Is Being Ignored” by Karin Hurt in Let’s Grow Leaders, November 6, 2015,

Small Group Guided Reading for All Grade Levels

Spending More Time on the Right Stuff - and less on the Wrong!

from Marshall Memo #610

In this Journal of Staff Development article, William Powell and Ochan Kusuma-Powell (Education Across Frontiers) grapple with the perennial issue of time management in schools. “Unfortunately,” they say, “busy-ness doesn’t always equate with high-quality learning. In fact, once a school becomes too busy, that overload of activity often serves as a barrier to deep learning – for both students and adults. Some well-meaning schools suffer from organizational attention deficit disorder.”

The authors believe Stephen Covey’s four quadrants (1989) are a helpful model for thinking about time and priorities:

  • Quadrant 1: Important and urgent – Pressing issues and problems, genuine crises, deadline-driven projects, health and safety issues;
  • Quadrant 2: Important, not urgent – Personal professional learning, inquiry, structured reflection, preventive activities, relationship building, planning, recreation;
  • Quadrant 3: Not important, urgent – Interruptions, some meetings, many phone calls, e-mails, and social media interactions;
  • Quadrant 4: Not important, not urgent – Trivia, some mail and e-mail, some phone calls, time wasters.

Quadrant 1 activities demand our attention and can be all-consuming, but spending too much time there leads to unhealthy stress and burnout. “Quadrants 3 and 4 are the domains of those who live irresponsible lives,” say Powell and Kusuma-Powell. “The tasks in these arenas are simply not important, and, in Quadrant 3, the urgency is coming from someone else – not from our own deeply held values and beliefs.” Quadrant 2 is the time management sweet spot, where we get control of the torrent of urgent activities and focus on long-term accomplishments. It’s hard to force Quadrant 2 activities into our calendars, but that’s where “our actions are deeply aligned and congruent with our values. It is the home of responsibility and integrity.”

Powell and Kusuma-Powell go on to identify three supremely unproductive activities that take up far too much time in schools:

  • Giving students feedback that isn’t used – Conscientious teachers spend countless hours writing comments on students’ papers and projects, only to see students glance at the grade and toss the work aside. “Teacher feedback that isn’t used by students squanders billions of hours of teacher time each year,” say the authors.
  • Poorly-run meetings – “Many of the meetings we attend are enormous wastes of time,” say Powell and Kusuma-Powell. Their suggestions: First, come to grips with the fact that some tasks, such as drafting a document, don’t lend themselves to group collaboration (better to have one person create a draft and then edit it as a group). Second, meetings need to be guided by protocols “that focus the group’s attention and provide structure to the conversation.”
  • The traditional teacher-evaluation process – Powell and Kusuma-Powell have asked hundreds of teacher groups if significant professional learning and growth has ever resulted from a formal evaluation. “The positive response is minuscule,” they say. “Most teachers (and many administrators) have come to perceive the annual process of teacher evaluation as an enormous waste of time – something mindlessly forced upon the evaluator and the evaluated. If the purpose of traditional teacher evaluation is to develop professional learning that results in enhanced performance in the classroom, it has been a miserable failure. Not only has it not produced meaningful professional learning and not enhanced student learning, it has served to create dependency relationships and has infantilized teachers. It has also done much to undermine the vital culture of relational trust that must form the fabric of culture in high-quality schools.”

Taking a hard look at time-wasting activities is difficult, conclude Powell and Kusuma-Powell. Many educators are too busy to step back and see the bigger picture. But, as Bob Garmston and Bruce Wellman have said, “Any group that is too busy to reflect on how it is working together is a group that is too busy to improve.”

“Make the Most of Every Day” by William Powell and Ochan Kusuma-Powell in Journal of Staff Development, October 2015 (Vol. 36, #5, p. 40-43, 46),; the authors can be reached at and

Leadership Quote of the Week

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Week At-a-Glance

Monday, November 16
  • Coaching Cycle 3 @ Medrnao MS (8:30-11am)
  • Coaching Cycle 3 @ Sudie Williams ES (12-2:30pm)
  • Meeting with community partner @ TJHS (3:30-4:15pm) (TJH)

Tuesday, November 17

  • School Leadership Meeting @ Haskell 7:30-8:30am (TJH)
  • Coaching Cycle 3 @ Longfellow MS (12:30-3 pm)
  • Public School Choice Meeting @ Administration Bldg 4-5pm (TJH)
  • Community Meeting - Joe May ES Attendance Boundaries @ Medrano MS (6-7pm)

Wednesday, November 18

  • Summer School Mtg w/ Rand @ Administration Bldg 9-10am (TJH)
  • TJ Feeder Literacy Training w/ Susan Walker @ Hulcy (11:45am-12:45pm)
  • Districtwide Principals' Meeting @ Hulcy (1-5pm)

Thursday, November 19

  • Coaching Cycle 3 @ Saldivar ES (8-11 am)
  • Coaching Cycle 3 @ Foster ES (12:30-3pm)
  • Communications Messaging Debrief @ Haskell 4-5pm (TJH)

Friday, November 20

  • ED Meeting @ Haskell 7:30-8:30am (TJH)
  • School Leadership 'B' Team Weekly Meeting @ Haskell 8:30-10:30am (TJH)
  • Coaching Cycle 3 @ Knight ES (12-2:15pm)