Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Promoting Students To Be Lifelong Learners

I have spent way too much time away from blogging and reflecting on what I do and learn everyday. Now that the hectic portion of my year is over I am going to devote much more time to my blogging which I had gotten away from over the course of the past two months.
Today I came across an interesting post by David Warlick on his 2 Cents Worth blog - "10 Ways to Promote Learning Lifestyle in Your School" As an instructor I am always asking students what they learned last hour or what I personally read or saw on t.v. to help promote student engagement and a desire to be lifelong learners within my students. As an administrator I think I would want to take this a step further and promote it within my building. Some of the ideas that David Warlick proposes are excellent ways to promote student learning within the building. What are we as educators doing to promote and encourage a learning lifestyle within our buildings and homes?

Friday, March 12, 2010

21st Century Leadership

It's been way too long since my last post. Between teaching, coaching baseball, running my business, taking ed admin classes, and selling my house I have failed to find the time to blog. I'm currently in a course which focuses on leadership. Below are a few of my findings and thoughts on what the leader in the 21st looks like.

The role and characteristics of effective leaders have greatly evolved over the years. The 20th Century leader once ruled unchallenged, made all decisions with a firm hand, and was authoritative in nature. These leaders were seen as being “born” to be in these roles or positions and to lead others. As we moved into the 21st Century the role of the leader drastically changed and evolved into a more collaborative and staff centered role. The new 21st Century leader is much different and needs to possess a different skill set and ideals to lead their group to meet their goals and ultimately experience success within their school or organization.

What does this new 21st Century leader look like? This leader plays a much broader role than being the ultimate decision maker. Part of being an effective leader is having the ability to initiate change within schools. The leader must have the ability to inspire and motivate fellow staff to be active participating members of the school or organization and the decisions and changes that may be taking place. In order to effectively accomplish change the leader must be able to first develop and convey the shared vision of the collaborative change. Once the vision has been shared the leader must take the steps to provide resources and professional development opportunities to help carry out the change. Throughout the process effective leaders assess and monitor progress and are a source of assistance when needed. A supportive environment for the change is necessary for the set goals to be achieved. Forced changes very rarely end in accomplishing goals rather they end in hostility, low staff morale, and a general feeling of helplessness. Successful change is directly tied to the degree that the facilitators and implementers are involved in a collaborative effort.

The 21st Century leader must also be flexible, understand how to function within a group setting, and base decisions on current research, best practices, and collaborative efforts from staff. The leader must also posse’s great people skills, allow staff to do their job, and ultimately be staff centered. In order to accomplish great things the leader must be able to delegate effectively, get advice from experts within the school, work towards goals, adapt well, and most importantly be able to deal with adversity. In combination with all of these skills and characteristics they also must be respected by staff as an expert in a facet of the school. The role of leader requires a very vast skill set.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

High Expectations = Achievement

This week I really challenged my Career Explorations class. Over the course of the week students completed a college comparison webquest, began to fill out their FAFSA, started ACT and Acuplacer prep within our class, and completed their initial brainstorming for their personal biography. What impressed me most was not what my "at-risk" students had completed in class but what they had initiated on their own outside of school hours due to the expectations that had been set within the class. After a week of discussing how they wanted to live their lives and how education was the key to obtaining the standard of living that they desired, the students took some big steps in preparing for their future. These students who had seen very little success in the "general education" setting were now talking about college and taking the ACT. Discussion had spread home where they were asking their parents when they would file their taxes so they could complete FAFSA. Students were not only completing applications for various college's and trade schools but were even setting up appointments to meet with officials from the schools. Prior to this week many of these students had very little direction and were quite confused about what graduating from high school would bring. This really made me think about my students and the low expectations that may have previously been put on them. Had anyone ever encouraged them to think about college? Had their lack of prior success lead them to believe that college was not an option? Did other teachers as well as parents believe in them?
In order for schools to reach each and every student and strive for academic and social success we must establish high expectations for all students every day and provide the support necessary for them to achieve these expectations. How can we do this? We must begin by working to improve academic achievement through clear expectations and encouragement from all stakeholders. We must encourage student, teacher, parent, and administrator participation. The most powerful way we can meet the high expectations within our buildings is through the personal relationships we develop with the students. If students do not see adults that believe they can achieve then why should they?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Are We Leaders?

It has been way too long since my last post. I have been busy with many things going on in my life but a particular quote came across my Twitter PLN today that made me think I needed to make time to blog about it. Thanks to Ron Karr who tweeted "Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it." -John Naisbitt. The quote really made me think. As teachers are we being leaders to our students? Are we displaying great character traits, strong work ethic, a passion for learning, civic responsibility, and high standards for all? As aspiring principals are we being leaders to our colleagues? Are we collaborating with staff members to improve instruction, mentoring, promoting positive relationships within our building, and striving to get everyone "on the same page" to meet our school mission and goals? As we enter our schools lets all take a moment to reflect on whether or not we are truly being leaders and doing what it takes to accomplish our ultimate goal of academic success and character development for ALL students.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

How Are Students Learning?

The picture above is just another example of a great resource that I have obtained because of my PLN via Twitter. The photo and quote really made me think about how teachers are integrating technology to enhance student learning inside the classroom and how students are learning when they are not inside school walls. Not sure why students are not engaged and excited about learning within some classrooms? We must encourage all in education to embrace these tools and to show them how they can be used to increase academic achievement, student engagement, and interest in course content.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What Type of Educational Leader Are You?

If you have never heard of or checked out www.slideshare.net you really should. Slideshare is a community to share PPT presentaions and even download them. Recently I came across a great PPT presentation on Slideshare that really made me reflect on my educational leadership style and the leadership style of those around me. The presentation is not only a great resource for aspiring principals but also a way for current leaders to reflect on their leadership style and approaches as well as the direction of their school. I hope you find it beneficial.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Service Learning

Service learning can best be defined as an educational method where participants learn and develop through active participation in service that meets curricular, character, and community needs. Meaningful service learning is an integral part of the educational process that not only extends the schools curriculum goals and takes it outside the walls of the school but also teaches students civic responsibility and prepares them to be productive members of a global society. Through this participation in service learning students will additionally improve character traits, develop skills needed in future endeavors, and increase academic achievement. Service learning is a win/win for all involved. Instructors, students, schools, and the community all benefit when meaningful service learning projects are developed and carried out by stakeholders. Each school should aim to engage itself and stay connected with its community. As an administrator one must actively work to advance not only the students and the school but also the community.

As an instructor at Lindbergh High School - Academy I regularly incorporate service learning projects into my classes to enhance students curriculum knowledge, to help them apply this knowledge in a meaningful way, and to promote relationships with the community. As an administrator I hope to encourage instructors and the school to collaborate with students to design and implement service learning projects that enhance curriculum and develop students. Below you will find an example of a service learning project that my health classes participate in annually around Thanksgiving time. The letter below is what went out to parents explaining the project and its goals. The letter is followed by an article in the local newspaper with a brief explanation of the project. This project is an example of a meaningful service learning project that meets the needs of staff, students, school, and community.

Dear Parents and or Guardians,

As the holiday season grows near many schools and families will take part in canned food drives, toy drives, or coat drives to benefit those in need. These drives serve a great cause and purpose within the community but often overlook valuable teaching moments for students, staff, parents, and the community at large. Your child has been given the unique opportunity to participate in a collaborative service learning project with students in Coach Erwin’s Lindbergh High School-Academy health classes as well as eight Truman Elementary classes. Your child will be engaged in activities that not only teach responsibility but also teach them to be contributing citizens within our Lindbergh community. Both elementary and high school students will have the opportunity to use their Health curriculum knowledge and apply it in a meaningful way to promote a positive relationship with a charity within the Lindbergh community. This collaborative project allows for the utilization of knowledge to better serve the Lindbergh community.

On Friday November 13th your child took part in a Health lesson presented by Lindbergh High School-Academy health students. The lesson taught students about the importance of physical activity, nutrition, and the USDA’s “MyPyramid Plan.” Students discovered what a healthy meal consists of based on the guidelines within the “MyPyramid Plan.” As part of this lesson, students have been asked as a class to create one day worth of meals based on the “MyPyramid Plan” which will be given to Angels Arms. Angels Arms is a foster home in the Lindbergh district that keeps brothers and sisters together within the home until a forever home is found. The home currently consists of nine family members.

Your child has already developed a days worth of meals and two snacks based on the “MyPyramid Plan” within his/her class. What we are now asking of students in the high school and elementary classes is to donate a small portion of the meals that have been developed. Your child has chosen to contribute ______________________________________________________

We would appreciate if you were able to make this small contribution so that we can meet our class goal of providing one day worth of nutritious meals and snacks. Our goal is to have all food collected by November 20th so that it may be delivered before Thanksgiving. If you could have your child bring in the above item(s) before this date it would be greatly appreciated. In all Truman and Lindbergh High School-Academy students will be donating over two weeks worth of nutritious meals to Angels Arms. Knowing that your child has mastered health curriculum as well as helped those within our community is what truly makes service learning wonderful. We appreciate your help and participation in this collaborative project.


Sean Erwin, Pam Staetter, Becky Joy, Teresa Keutzer, Sarah Valter, Christine Bushman, Angie Moehlmann, Karen Beckman

School News
Students use health lesson to help feed others
December 16, 2009 - Lindbergh High School Academy health students recently used a teaching opportunity at Truman Elementary School to help youngsters in need during the holiday season, according to a district news release. The students developed activities for Truman related to the MyPyramid nutrition plan and taught eight classes at the school. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid Plan stresses the importance of physical activity and nutrition.
Following the lesson, each elementary school group developed one day's worth of meals based on the MyPyramid Plan, and the high schoolers delivered those meals to Angels' Arms. Angels' Arms is a foster home in the Lindbergh district that keeps brothers and sisters together within the home until a forever home is found. The home currently is comprised of nine family members.

"Together, our Lindbergh students developed close to three weeks' worth of nutritious meals for children living at Angels' Arms," Lindbergh High School Academy teacher Sean Erwin stated in the news release. "This activity gave our elementary and high school students an opportunity to use their health curriculum knowledge and apply it in a meaningful way to help others in our community.