October 27 - October 31, 2014

Categories of Leaderhip - Bret

In high-functioning schools, leadership is widely shared. Furjes (2014) provides practitioners with a matrix that assists school leadership teams in making decisions. The matrix consists of 4 categories by which potential issues are funneled and include:

1. Category 1: Principal “only” decisions which might include personnel, teacher evaluations, student discipline, etc.

2. Category 2: Principal “staff input” decisions which might include budget expenditures, master schedules, etc. In short, teacher leaders provide recommendations for final approval by the principal.

3. Category 3: Staff “principal input” decisions which might include recess schedules, para time/schedules, field trip schedules, etc. In this category, staff provides vital feedback to the principal. The principal’s role is to provide feedback and direction, not to make the decision.

4. Category 4: Staff “only” decisions which might include conference night schedules, open house dates, recess duty rotations, etc. This category will help build the largest capacity for ownership because teachers feel empowered to make “big” decisions.

Before these matrix can be used, principals have to view building leadership capacity as a role they value. Questions to ask yourself include: (1) how am I building the leadership capacity of teachers who I see as potential leaders within the system, and (2) is my leadership team high-functioning and engaged in decisions that matter?

Checking in with the Hub (Brian)

Setting up any station or activity you expect students to do while you are working with small reading groups requires:

· Establishing expectations

· Teacher modeling and creating stations that are standards based/purposeful/differentiated

· Anticipating problems that may arise

· Thinking of ways to keep some stations going throughout the year

· How to assess/keep students accountable

Creating an anchor chart WITH input from students establishes expectations. What will it look like and sound like at this station? Have a couple of students model those procedures while the rest of the class judges. Time spent on procedures is an investment that pays off later.

What needs to be modeled? Start with procedures for the station. Then, move on to the activity. Rather than just having students read at the classroom library, a mini lesson on how to chose a book or how to write in your reading log will make the station much more focused and meaningful. For example, the Common Core State Standards say a 2nd grader should be able to describe the connection between a series of historical events. First, is this an issue for your class? If so, it could be an activity for their reading log in the library center. Second, is your library arranged so students can find multiple historical texts? Third, have you modeled what an entry into the reading log should look like? And, finally, is the activity differentiated? Are there historical texts on multiple reading levels. Can you differentiate what a log entry will look like for struggling students versus those that need enrichment? Show examples before asking students to do the activity.

Anticipate problems that may arise, or have already risen. Basically, if it is becoming an issue, or you think it might be, take time to have a mini-lesson to clarify expectations. You can later smile when you work with your reading group and you look up and see everything going smoothly with the other students. You’ll know it was because you anticipated and addressed issues before they became a big deal.

Your classroom library as well as some other stations will be around all year. Your students and your teaching change throughout the year. So, you need to have stations that can adapt to that. You may need more higher level texts, or more informational or poetry books. As you study different content in science and social studies, you will want books that pertain to those topics. Be sure the station is designed to meet the needs of each student.

Stations provide time for practice and application. However, it is important to monitor what is produced as well as what students are doing in each station. If students are writing log entries, then, have a process for looking at them and responding to them. Pull good examples, and share them with students. This, again, models your expectations for student work.

Until next time, stay purposeful my friends!

Parent Teacher Conferences and the Gradecard - J's one cent

With Parent-Teacher Conference week approaching at the end of October, some frontloading now may go along way. 15-20 minutes is a ridiculously short amount of time to paint a picture of any student. However, an accurate snapshot can be achieved. Consider, discuss, and then add to the following thoughts.

Parents can read. Please avoid reading the entire report card to them. This time could be used to highlight student successes & concerns. Consider this the prime opportunity to share what the grades can't. Because time is so limited, a focus could be given in terms of STARS (where the student is just rocking it) and STAIRS (what are the immediate next steps for learning).

Equally important is using this time as an opportunity to demonstrate genuine care to the parent for their student. Knowing that Teacher-Student relationships are in the top dozen of influences that impact learning (Hattie), including the parent in on this aspect is a game-changer. Similar to the thought of kid's don't know care how much you know until they know how much you care, parent's often base a teacher's effectiveness on what their student says at home about the teacher. Relationships matter.

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Maximizing Parent-Teacher Conferences- from parent's lens

Looking for a resource to send to parents before the PT conference? Consider this Report to Parents from NAESP:


Monday, Nov. 3rd, 8am

SPS High Schools

In preparation for SPSNow and ensuring we have enough handouts & seats for leaders to join their staff, please register here:

Registration needs to be completed by Wed, Oct 29

PerformancePLUS Update - IT & QIA

Usage statistics show, after system administrator logins are removed, 1,090 people have used PerformancePLUS since it went live last spring. 853 have used the system this school year, with logins ranging from one time to 117 times.

To continue to move forward effectively, we now need principals to provide meaningful feedback and identify examples to highlight exemplary use of PerformancePLUS to personalize learning and drive instruction in a meaningful way. To that end, we have set up a survey with the following questions:

Questions & Thoughts:

· How have you used PerformancePLUS in your work this school year?

· Share ways you have seen teachers and leaders in your building use PerformancePLUS to enhance their work (please include names to help us identify people using the system in an exemplary way).

· What opportunities for improvement have you identified tied to PerformancePLUS, the rollout, training modules in Glass Classroom, etc.?

After feedback is gathered, we plan to contact individuals who have been using the system effectively and work with the eLearning Department to improve the Glass Classroom modules tied to PerformancePLUS.

As a principal, please help us gather valuable feedback by answering the survey questions noted above by going to and answering the questions. Please complete the survey by the end of the workday on Wednesday, November 5th.

Thank you for your support and participation!

Arkansas Literacy Conference

Sunday, Oct. 26th, 12pm to Wednesday, Oct. 29th, 6pm

LIttle Rock, AR

Ben, Brian, Bret & J will be attending the Literacy Conference. They will not be in their offices through midweek, but will be available by phone and email.
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