Monthly Musings

Tips & Tidbits from Your School Advocate

November Greetings!

Thank you for the feedback from last month's newletter. I appreciate hearing your constructive feedback and praise! As we progress throughout the year, please feel free to drop a line in response to a "Monthly Musing" or the information contained within.

Snippets this Month...

Where's your Checklist?

A colleague of mine recently reminded me of Atul Gawande's book, The Checklist Manifesto. If his name is unfamiliar to you, it's most likely because he's a surgeon, not an educator. Gawande spent considerable time researching successful hospitals, airline companies, and skyscraper construction crews. He found they all had one thing in common: well-designed checklists. These checklists are used to complete complex tasks that often become routine; so routine that we neglect vital steps, thus decreasing effectiveness. What he concludes is that experts need checklists–literally–written guides that walk them through the key steps in any complex procedure. This book relates well to the leadership and school improvement efforts within our school. Where is your checklist?


'Tis the season for holiday plays, holiday parties, and holiday hoopla! While the next few weeks will undoubtedly be busy for all of you, please remember to continue to check in on school improvement efforts. While postponing PLCs, leadership team meetings, or other efforts might feel good for the interim, you'll feel much better come January if you continue to plug away. Consistency creates a culture of continuous improvement which in turn leads to sustainablity of efforts. Please don't hesitate to contact me for support (either in person or virtual) as you navigate the next few hectic weeks!

Common Core Instructional Shifts

An aim of the Common Core State Standards is to prepare students to be College and Career Ready. This being said, the way we taught students in the past simply does not prepare them for the higher demands of college and careers today and in the future. The CCSS demand six shifts in instruction:

Balancing Informational & Literacy Text: Students read a true balance of informational and literary texts.

Knowledge in the Disciplines: Students build knowledge about the world through TEXT rather than the teacher or activities.

Staircase of Complexity: Students read the central, grade appropriate text around which instruction is centered. Teachers are patient, create more time, space, and support in the curriculum for close reading.

Text-based Answers: Students engage in rich and rigorous evidence based conversations about text.

Writing from Sources: Writing emphasizes use of evidence from sources to inform or make an argument.

Academic Vocabulary: Students constantly build the transferable vocabulary they need to access grade level complex texts. This can be done effectively by spiraling like content in increasingly complex texts.

Are you seeing shifts in instruction within your school? If not, let's talk about how to help this happen!

Kudos to...

a couple of our schools who requested team training from this past summer! Their leadership teams were unable to attend the August Institute and these teams asked for that training to be done at their site! Kudos to them for seeing an opportunity for leadership and growth and making it happen!

Contact Information

Feel free to contact me using the information below. My office is located at Resource Training & Solutions in Sartell (we've moved!). However, most of my time is spent in the field so the email and phone information listed below are the best methods for contact.