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Catching Fire - 3.5 Strategies to Keep the Odds Ever in Your Favor this Hiring Season

In case you're not paying......attention, the third of four Hunger Games movies came out over the holiday season to great acclaim. As we've turned the corner in the school year, two things are on the minds of school leaders.

AssessmentTalent acquisitionAs was reported earlier, over 250 teacher openings have haunted charter and district schools in Maricopa County for the 2014-15 year.  250.
That's. A. Lot. of open spots. Teachers have the pick of the litter. Closer to home? More $? Leadership? Those are all factors. How do organizations compete for the best and brightest?
3.5 strategies to keep the odds ever in your favorAssess your organizational strengths by asking your stakeholders what you're good at. Whatever they say, brand it and sell it.Think advantage rather than deficit. We're a small district = we're offering a family atmosphere. We're a large district = no matter your interest in teaching, we've got a place for you. Our schools aren't perfor…
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1.5 Reasons to Take a Different Path - The Hippy-Cow Way

The Hippy-Cow WayI remember early in my career asking a question something like, "Why don't we try [insert idea here]?"  And the quick reply, "Because this is the way we've always done it."

Yeah.  The age-old rut that can trap us all. Frustrating isn't it?

As a child growing up in the Aspen Valley, I remember traveling many miles along Highway 82.  Glenwood to Carbondale, then to Basalt, and on to Aspen.  Two lanes most of the way, it was and is the main route connecting all of these Rocky  Mountain towns.  The drive can be breath-taking in the Fall. And most take this route because, well, it's the route we always take. It's familiar. Safe. Known. Well traveled. You get the idea.

There are other ways to get where you're going. Roads less traveled that hold great sites and great reward. One of my favorites is the Hippy-Cow Way. Known only to our family by this takes you down valley the other side of the Roaring Fork River, and winds al…

The Merits of Arizona's New Standardized Test - Principles of Principals

On November 3, 2014, behind the distractions of the mid-term elections; the Arizona State Board of Education approved the RFP from SAGE Testing Company for full implementation of the AzMERIT for Spring 2015.

If you're a parent, student, or employed in education you need to know some things about this test.

In it's entirety, the test is computer based.  Instead of asking your child to select the correct graph from a menu of choices, they will be asked to create a graphic representation on their own.

Admittedly, it's a much DEEPER look into applied knowledge.  

Utah took the test last school year with startling results.  Less than half tested proficient.

Less than half.

Either it's a distilled look at UT children's abilities, or the results are skewed by rapid implementation of new standards, new measures of accountability, and new testing protocols.

Is Arizona ready?

District's who were preparing, have had a minor shift in preparation towards the new test. They will see…

2.5 Solutions for Superintendents - Principles of Principals

Hier semain, we addressed three point five solutions for school boards that would help sustain meaningful reform.  Today, we tackle the school executive, the superintendent.
The school superintendent.  All at once the educational ambassador to the community, and the policy advocate to the stakeholders.  It's a tenuous post, often held only for a short time - but all the same, quite influential.  While the $ is contextually high, and by that I mean higher than a principal, yet considerably lower for job a-likes in the private sector, the average 2.5 year stay impedes sustainable reform.  Sup's have narrow windows of opportunity.
They say that all a superintendent needs is a majority board, and they get to keep their jobs.  Bullocks.  What a red herring.  A very loathsome way to regard the role of an educational executive.  And yet, private sector executives face the same conditions.  Just ask me.  I'll tell you.  But perhaps some other time.
Besides the archaic board majority,…

3.5 Solutions for School Boards - Principles of Principals

Last week we tossed some wet blankets on the school reform fire.  Stirred the pot if you will.

In the spirit of TNTP's recent request for more solution-oriented dialogue, versus ad-hominem attacks, we're going to work with the embers we have, beginning with the most powerfully elected body in the United States.  The School Board.

You heard me correctly.  At the true grass roots level, there's not a more influential group of people than a school board.  In all their diversity of membership and governance, they select leaders, respond to community needs, and sometimes follow policy...but I digress.

To be brief in writing, here are 4.5 solutions for school boards who want to sustain school reform measures;

BE AUTHENTIC - In a recent LDS conference talk, Dieter Uchtdorf told an anecdote about lemon juice. In it, this person robs a bank believing no one can see his face.  You see he applied lemon juice to it, believing it would hide him.  Too often Governing Boards are at the gates…

3.5 Lies of School Reform - Principles for Principals

Lies.  That's a heavy word.  But I mean to get your attention - after reading, I invite you to decide if they're lies or if you've just been the billions of tax-payer dollars.

I've been out of the education game since March, but I'd love to get back in to stir things up a bit.
Not quite long enough for the searing memories of 2 hour meetings and 300+ hours of Learning Observation Instruments (LOI's).  Never you  mind the looks of terror on my colleagues' faces when they forgot to enter them; neigh dear reader...the looks of horror on my staffs' faces when they came in for the post-observation final score.  They wanted to know "How did I do?".
We just wrapped up my 9 yr. old daughter's parent-teacher conference.  15 minutes of "here's how she's doing" followed by "thanks, see you soon."  In my son's words, lame sauce compared to what they could be.

Anyhow, The Lovely and Talented Mrs. Sharp and I ven…

Running with My Dad - 3.5 Principles of Principals

As a youngster of 9 or 10, I decided that I wanted to join my Dad, and his running partner Steve, on their jogs.  I fancied myself capable, and they were kind enough to indulge me.

My Dad, for his bit, had completed the erstwhile running bible by Jim Fixx, and had added the complete Rocky (cue the music) workout wardrobe to his exercise paraphernalia.  Dad was all grey sweats, oatmeal & raw eggs. Committed to personal fitness. I was hooked.

Our first jaunt took us outside the Aspen Glen trailer park, down a fairly steep, paved grade, and on to the gravel shoulder of Highway 82 towards Aspen (more on this in an upcoming post).  I pedaled my stubby legs as hard as they would go in an effort to keep up.

Easily distracted by passing traffic, actually afraid I was going to die of a burst lung or at the bumper of an oncoming Chevy Vega, I fell forward - hands out - into the cinders.  The meat grinder of runners and cyclists alike.

Barking your hands on the cinders is no bueno.  My Dad heard…