Destination for Learning…Student Goal Setting

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Making Assessments Useful

As we all know,  for assessments to become an integral part of the instructional process, we need to approach it in three important ways:

1.       Use assessments as sources of information for both students and teachers
2.       Follow assessments with high-quality corrective instruction
3.       Give students second chances to demonstrate success

For years we have used assessment as a source of information for teachers as a way to  drive instruction.  Trainings were developed and implemented to help teachers sort through all the data, meetings were arranged to enhance communication.  Although we were making strides and student achievement was increasing, we weren’t finding the success we knew we should be.  What were we missing?  What more could we do?  What piece of the puzzle still was not in place?  The answer was simple and right before our eyes and ears.  STUDENTS!  We had not included the most important aspect of the equation.  So you can bet we started.  Teachers began to make goals with students, carve out time in their schedule to dialogue about strengths and weaknesses.  We created data walls to help students track the objectives they still needed to work on and from that, the students created goals.  One day on a walk-through with a member from our district educational services division, we randomly pulled a student out of her line to ask about the data board.  She explained what it meant and what her plan was to master the items she still needed.   It has been amazing this year to hear other conversations our youngest to the oldest students on campus are having about their learning and the fact they have taken the lead on ensuring their own success was a hidden benefit.

I tip my hat to my staff members for embracing this concept and applaud our students for taking the lead!


Ahead of the Curve, edited by Douglas Reeves, is a great read to get the ideas flowing about the power of assessment to help transform teaching and learning!  How are you using assessment as sources of information for your students?


Be joyful in your thoughts!









Walking the Talk-Collaboration

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Making a commitment to really becoming that 21st Century School has to start with the adults in the building.  Turning our good intentions into reality by collaborating, communicating, being creative, and to think critically about what we are doing and why we are doing it.

We all know the most important people in a school are the students.  As a leader, it is essential to look for ways to improve student learning. When thinking about Collaboration, I believe it to be one of the most effective ways to improve instructional practice. If  we want teachers to improve instruction, we must make a commitment in helping them improve current skills but also be introduced to new skills.  It is hard to envision what effective instructional practices can look like without actually seeing it.  Therefore, it is my vision to create an atmosphere where  collaboration through teachers visiting classrooms is a part of our daily routine.  It isn’t something we have to schedule, remind, or reinforce, it just happens because we embrace the ideas behind it.

What better way to encourage collaboration in our students than to model for them what that looks like and sounds like.  What does collaboration look like and sound like for you?

As always, be joyful in your thoughts.




Standing on the Edge

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Do you remember when you dove off the high dive for the first time?  While climbing the endless steps, knees shaking, adrenaline pumping, moments of fear and doubt, excitement propelling you upward.  Mid-way, even if you wanted to, you couldn’t step back down without asking everyone that was following in your tracks to step down as well.  Your confidence is boosted after looking into the eyes of the individuals on the steps behind you.  Fear and doubt clearly visible but excitement and anticipation shining through.  A few well placed steps, and you find yourself standing on the edge of the board; what a view you see!  You inhale and take the leap…

I have asked my faculty to stand on the edge with me for a great adventure we will begin in the new school year.  Will there be fear? Certainly.  Will there be doubt? Most likely.  Will there be excitement and anticipation? Most definitely!  When you stand on the edge with a vision, what a view you will see!

When was the last time you dove off the high dive?

Be joyful in your thoughts,



Teacher Evaluation: From Ominous to Oblivious

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Evaluation has been and always will be a natural process in every aspect of life- from deciding on which type of car to buy, to choosing
what we want for dinner.  Unfortunately, often times in education, teacher evaluation is treated as a singular ominous “event”: a scheduled day and time, a formal lesson plan, and quite possibly a new power-suit to wear.  As an instructional leader, it is imperative to create an environment where
evaluation is valued and embraced as a daily learning opportunity for both the teacher and the administrator.  We must create a process for peer and self evaluation, listen to our staff, be in classrooms daily, and initiate discussions and collaboration within our learning community to the point where our teachers are oblivious to the fact that in all of this, valuable evaluation is taking place.   We must be seen as not solely an “evaluator” but also a learner. What better to way to motivate a child to learn than to have him/her see the adults in the building learning from each other?

Be joyful in your thoughts,


The Dreaded Faculty Meeting…

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Yes, I am sure we have all experienced one, or even worse, led one.  Time is such a precious commodity these days that we can’t afford to spend it frivolously.  No longer should our faculty meetings be a checklist of “to do’s” or “don’ts”.  For the past several years my focus has shifted, and I’ve learned to use our time together more wisely and productively.  I’ve made it a priority to cultivate a collaborative environment and it is paying off!  So move over Dreaded Faculty Meeting, make way for:

F acing brutal facts based on data

A cknowledging and celebrating each other

C reating innovative lessons

U nderstanding the standards

L istening to each other’s ideas

T ime for reflection

Y ummy snacks


M aking time for fun

E xperts sharing their knowledge

E ngaging discussions

T echnology integration and training with Collaboration Coaches

I STE discussions and planning

N eeds assessments

G oal setting

How would your teachers describe your faculty meetings:  Dreaded or Delightful?

Be joyful in your thoughts,



Leading by Example

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Often times leaders will ask their teachers to step out of their comfort zones to learn something new. I know I  certainly have asked it of my teachers during my tenure as a Principal.  Having said that, I also know how important it is to step out of my own comfort zone and lead by example…  Hence the blog.

I felt very vulnerable as I began this process.  I had many questions and often times I had to be shown more than once which window to close or tab to click.  Mrs. Tracy Watanabe walked me step by step through the process, knowing when to provide guidance and knowing when to step back and allow me the opportunity to do it on my own.  It made me once again realize the importance of providing our staff with mentors and coaches, and creating an environment of collaboration so that feeling vulnerable doesn’t stop us in our tracks and hinder our forward movement.

My goal with this blog is to write often and begin networking with others to share my experiences as well as learn and grow with the best and brightest.

In closing, I ask you to reflect: when was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone to learn something new…


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