November 2019, Vol.7

Unpacking High Priority Standards: A Free Resource from the OSI

By: Sarah Rush, School Improvement Specialist

What is the most requested training offered by School Improvement Specialists? The answer: identifying and unpacking high priority standards.

When considering areas to target in school improvement, school leaders are prioritizing teacher professional development in the area of instructional time management and unpacking content standards. This professional development resource, offered by the Department, provides a step-by-step approach to empower teachers to identify and unpack the most critical standards.

If you would like to utilize our training in PLCs or instructional team meetings, please click here to for full access to the presentation. Please contact a School Improvement Specialist with any questions!

Family Engagement Toolkit

By: Diane Vielee, School Improvement Specialist

When caregivers and schools work together, students benefit. Close collaboration between the adults who are influential in young people’s lives increases the probability that those children will earn higher grades, adapt better to school, and develop positive social skills. While district leaders, principals, and teachers possess a deep understanding of the teaching and learning process, caregivers know their students. Caregivers hold a deep understanding of the needs and strengths unique to their student(s). When working together, school personnel and caregivers have the potential to empower students to achieve success in school and in life. The Family Engagement Toolkit provides resources to foster such relationships. Click here for more information!

A PLC Focus: Knowing and Doing

By: John Purcell, School Improvement Specialist

Without a doubt, educators want the best for their students. They want children to experience academic success in a positive and safe environment. In reality, students want this too. But sometimes, we fall short of doing what it takes to get what we want.

Effective principals concentrate on people first. They build relationships with parents, students, and staff, all-the-while keeping their eyes on their all-important responsibility of ensuring high levels of learning for all students. Such relationships are the vehicle school leaders use to foster this same level of commitment by all who have a vested interested in “doing better.”

True professional learning communities (PLCs) are built on shared leadership and collective commitment. In PLCs, educators recognize that such commitment involves knowing and doing. They accept the fact that high levels of learning rely on the collective expertise of all. PLC educators recognize that building such expertise requires them to continuously improve their professional practice. And, they accept that challenge to continually know better so they may continually do better.

For more information on PLCs, see The School Leader’s Guide to Professional Learning Communities at Work by Richard and Rebecca DuFour.

The Benefits of a Prosocial Principal

By: Sarah Rush, School Improvement Specialist

A new report from Penn State outlines the importance of principals' social and emotional competence in creating caring schools. Prosocial leaders are those whose mission is to ensure that all staff, students, parents, and community members feel safe, cared for, respected, and valued in the school climate. Because of this, the personal and professional development of principals is key in creating an environment where adults and children feel welcomed and cared for. Learn more about the study and the benefits of prosocial principals here.

Ambitious Instruction-Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback

By: Diane Vielee, School Improvement Specialist

Just like adults, students want guidelines for the direction their learning is headed. When Marzano's Seventh Strategy is used effectively, it is possible to see a 23 percentile gain in student achievement. There are a few guidelines to keep in mind with this strategy. Those guidelines are:

  • Objectives should be written so that they are specific, yet flexible for individualization.

  • There is no such thing as too much positive feedback, as long as teacher feedback is corrective, timely, and specific to a criterion.

  • The more specific feedback can be, the better.

This can be accomplished in many ways in the classroom. A few of these ways include:

  • Articulating and displaying learning goals

  • KWL charts

  • Contract learning goals

Teachers can display objectives and follow-up on the mastery of the objective at the end of the lesson. More information on this strategy can be found here.

Native American Heritage Month

By: Tarrell Berry, School Improvement Specialist

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.

One of the first proponents of American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans”. Throughout the 20th century, different versions of Native American Heritage have transpired.

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared by the New York governor on the second Saturday in May, 1916. President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name have been issued each year since 1994.

To learn more about Native American Heritage Month, click here.

Math and Literacy Frameworks

Is your school or district looking for additional math and literacy resources? The Indiana Department of Education math and literacy frameworks are great resources for educators. The frameworks were created by curriculum specialists and Indiana educators. Use the frameworks to dive into the Indiana academic standards using question stems, objectives, practical examples, clarifying examples, and an expansive list of student accommodations. Utilize the Literacy Framework and Math Framework to plan for next semester.

Leadership Spotlight

Mindy Dablow - Principal, Clarksville Elementary School

Mindy Dablow has served as Principal of Clarksville Elementary School since 2013. She loves the family atmosphere which has evolved from "family groups" created by the staff. These groups include students of every grade level as well as various staff members. Mindy and her staff have invested a significant amount of time in the PBIS program and excitedly, they are seeing the fruits of their labor. Her greatest accomplishment as principal was being a part of the team who increased the school letter grade from a C to an A. Her school has emphasized relationship building which has been vital to the success. Mindy’s advice for other leaders is prioritize the building of relationships with your staff. She regularly meets with new staff members and encourages teachers to take on leadership roles in the building. Mindy loves to recognize the successes of Clarksville Elementary and their community partnerships.

Dr. Matt Maple - Principal, Sunman-Dearborn Middle School

Dr. Matt Maple has served as the principal of Sunman-Dearborn Middle School since 2014. He believes the school is the heart of the community and loves the fantastic group of students in his building. One of Dr. Maple’s largest accomplishments was the national accreditation of being named a “School To Watch”. His advice for other leaders is that everything is about relationships. If teachers and leaders build relationships with the students first, everything else falls into place. At Sunman-Dearborn Middle school, developing relationships stars on day one. Dr. Maple is an excellent example of servant leadership and has been spotted working alongside the custodians in his building. He believes that if you are going to ask someone to do something, then you should be prepared to do it yourself. Dr. Maple is very proud of his staff and loves the community feel in his building.

Carrie Alday - Director of Elementary Curriculum and Talent Development, Westfield Washington Schools

Carrie Alday has served in her role at Westfield Washington Schools since 2016. Westfield Washington is one of the fastest growing school districts in the state, and she finds this period of growth very exciting. The district has created a strategic plan to move themselves forward and are seeing results. Her district focuses on the connection of the work and how everything fits together as a system. They are highly engaged in social emotional learning and meeting the needs of the whole child. One of Carrie's largest accomplishments in her current role is the development of a program for instructional coaches. Carrie has amazing coaches who partner with classroom teachers in a true collaborative and student-centered process. Carrie believes in the importance of empowering those around her and developing leaders at all levels. She loves being a part of the Westfield-Washington team.

Nominate a Leader!

We are going to spotlight assistant principals, principals, assistant superintendents, and superintendents every month. Nominate an exceptional leader by filling out this form.

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