Seniors, for nearly every school day the last two years, we began with the daily Words of Wisdom. It’s been a pleasure to serve as your principal these last two years and to show my appreciation, I cannot let you go before you hear this all too familiar phrase one last time:
Good morning, New Albany High School Class of 2016. This is Mr. Carter with a few parting words of wisdom.
• Don’t worry so much about what could happen, who likes you or not, and what you have to do. Focus on being present in the moment.
• It is impossible to be envious and happy at the same time.
• One of the greatest lessons in life is learning to be happy without the things we cannot or should not have.
• Remember the three H’s each time you greet others: a handshake, high five, or a hug.
• Instead of making a “to-do” list, make a “to-be” list and then become it.
• Make every effort to not talk about others behind their backs.
• Remember to think on your feet, respond and not react, and perform under pressure.
• Experience life beyond the screen of your phone, laptop, or computer.
• Understand that life is not fair.
• Present yourself in appearance, word, and deed how you want others to treat you.
• A person makes a name, not the name a person.
• Consistency is far greater than perfection.
• You really don’t have to post, tag, tweet, snap chat, record, ping, or Kik every aspect of your life. Make time to disconnect in order to reconnect.
With something to think about, this is Mr. Carter. Make it a great life… or not. The choice is yours.
*Italicized statements taken from 8,789 Words of Wisdom by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Matthew Wawiorka
Outside of school, most people apply learning across disciplines, scenarios, and experiences. For a majority of our lives as students, we are taught in a system that creates blocks of time for learning specific content, much like the factory model of production. However, learning should be life and there is nothing linear about life.
Life is irregular—thus, learning is irregular.
We are in the midst of one of the most disruptive, yet exciting times in history: The Information Age. The rate of change has increased exponentially due to the rapid creation of new content that is produced as technology and life have become seamless. The rate of change continues to have an impact on our education system because students today, or Generation Z, have only known life with touch screen technology. Vast amounts of information is readily available to them with the touch of a button or finger swipe across a screen. They are also creating more content than any generation in history, thus they learn in some fundamentally different ways than we are used to.
The linear, factory system of education is counter to the messy, irregular, and creative learning process that our students have grown accustomed to outside of school. Following are three key points to consider as we are challenged to meet the needs of Generation Z.
1. Asynchronous technology makes learning a constant activity. With the emergence of online learning platforms and social networking, students are able to connect, communicate, and collaborate with their teachers and peers to extend learning beyond the walls of the schoolhouse and school day. Time, space, and location are now variables in the learning process whereas they used to be constants. Author Daniel Pink wrote in the Foreword to the book, The New Social Learning,
The use of technology greatly enhances students’ power to learn on their own time, in their own space, and in much deeper ways than ever before. So, let’s embrace it!
2. We must change how we deliver content due to shorter attention spans. We have quickly become a “sound-bite” society in that we are used to chunks of information shared in a compelling manner. Gen Z takes in thousands of digital images and messages a day, so to make learning more relevant to them, we must not only incorporate all forms of multimedia, but empower students to create and integrate multimedia to demonstrate their learning. If we adopt the use of technology in the classroom, this is a natural byproduct.
3. Focus on global skills development through the content we teach. It is often said that Gen Z will change careers 10-14 times before they retire. If this is true, it is impossible to teach them all the content they will need to be prepared for life. We must consider ways to develop the four key global skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking through our specific content areas. Another approach would be to create interdisciplinary courses that provide students the opportunity to apply content in meaningful ways. We should also integrate technology to help students determine what local, regional, national, and global problems they want to solve. This will, without a doubt, create the conditions for students to develop the necessary skills that transcend careers and jobs.
As we grapple with how to catch up to the changing times that occur in every industry outside of our own, we must consider the messy, irregular, and nonlinear learning process and embrace strategies that empower students to demonstrate their learning in meaningful ways.
Ideas from What’s in Your Space? 5 Steps for Better Schools and Classrooms by Dwight Carter, Gary Sebach, and Mark White, to be published by Corwin Press in March 2016; available at Amazon
As a follow up to our rigor and relationships in-service on September 14th, we used our Faculty meeting to continue to examine what rigor means and looks like at NAHS. We have and will continue to maintain high expectations for students and Staffulty (staff and faculty) in regards to academic standards, effort, and professionalism. We are coming to understand that rigor in the classroom is based on a continuum of low to high levels of critical thinking. When examining the International Center for Leadership in Education Rigor/Relevance Framework, we understand that one quadrant is not better than the others because all quadrants are necessary for student learning. However, the overall goal is to create more Quadrant D learning experiences for students where they do the work, the thinking, and are asking questions.
English teacher Lynette Turner shared this one page article that provides more clarity. I forwarded this to Staffulty (staff and faculty) over the weekend to review. Our next steps include further examination of rigor by looking at it through the lens of thoughtful work, high leveling questioning, and academic work.
Intervention Specialist Lori Cheney is currently mentoring one of her former students who is now teaching English to students in Japan. He is struggling with some behavior issues with his students, and also how to give constructive feedback. Lori shared how she and English teacher Katie Roberts uses “First Five” with their classes, discussing their and the students’ lives outside of school each day at the start of class for five or so minutes. He has implemented this in his class with great results. She also shared with him the list of relationship strategies generated from our in-service! So, not only are we adding to our own teaching repertoire, we are helping an alum and a teacher halfway around the world!
Several teachers continue to tell our story by posting classroom updates on Twitter or Instagram using our hashtag, #NAHSCommUNITY. Please click here to see week 6 at a glance!
Students As Learners
NHS member M. Pine painted faces for free at the home football game last Friday. She collected $30 in donations to benefit an NHS charity of their choice! It was a wonderful community building opportunity as she interacted with several elementary school students. Students Cassidy Platte, Jamie Schroer, and Sophie Ungless assisted her with this project!
Library Aide David Mitchell shared how he enjoyed having English teacher Jacqui Loughry’s AP English 12 class in the library Friday morning. They familiarized themselves with the space and other resources such as out databases, new book titles, and more!
Our House Deans and House Leaders participated in a National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) student leadership training program called Raising Student Voice and Participation (RSVP). They worked through a number of activities focused on team building, taking initiative, and strategies to get input from all students to improve school climate and culture. The House Leaders seemed to grow in confidence throughout the day as they implemented a variety of strategies and dialogued about how to serve the student body!
Upcoming Events: Homecoming Spirit Week!
Monday, September 28th- Favorite Sports Team Day; State of the Schools Address 7:00 PM at the McCoy
Tuesday, September 29th- Class Color Day
Wednesday, September 30th-House Shirt Day/Powder Puff Game/Bonfire
Thursday, October 1st-PJ Day
Friday, October 2nd- White Out Day or Eagle Spirit Wear
Saturday, October 3rd- Homecoming Dance 8:00 PM-11:00 PM in the Gym
During our in-service on Monday, we learned the value of creating a safe and welcoming classroom environment in connection with dopamine release and increased learning. As I continue to reflect on the in-service about rigor and relationships, I stumbled upon a brief video that further explains why establishing positive relationships with students can lead to increased achievement. I shared this video with the NAHS Staffulty and asked them to think about how this relates to the importance of rigorous and relevant learning experiences for our students.
We understand that as we develop trust, presume positive intentions, and seek to understand others before being understood, we will create a positive and welcoming learning environment for students and parents. Last week illustrated this in a number of ways, from the nearly 1500 parent/teacher conferences, to the Hollister Company “All Equal” assembly and performance by Echosmith! For more information about what our students and Staffulty experienced, please click here!
Please keep Administrative Assistant Beth Johnston in your prayers as she and her family mourn the loss of their 12-year-old Golden Labrador Retriever, Casey. She passed away last Saturday.
Congratulations to Math teacher Chrissie Bolan and her husband, who are expecting their second child! The baby is due to arrive in March!
Congratulations to Assistant Principal Steve Gehlert and his wife Tarin, who celebrated their 11th Wedding Anniversary on Friday!
Science teacher Jessica Whitehead proactively sent a letter of introduction to her students’ parents and to share pertinent information about her classes. Since some of her parents weren’t able to sign up for a conference, the letter provided another opportunity for her to inform parents of her teaching philosophy and course design. Click here if you are interested in reading it! Many of our teachers did this as well, and I appreciate them making connections with parents in a variety of ways! Additionally, several teachers scheduled appointments with parents who weren’t able to come in on the designated nights.
Intervention Specialist Mike Covey created a progress report for each of his students that included their quarterly goals, strengths, and areas of improvement to send to parents via email. Since he didn’t have any parent conferences scheduled, he used the time to send the goals sheets to his students’ parents! This is an excellent way to update them on their child’s progress.
Students As Learners
Many of our students, by nature, are service-oriented. They seek out and thrive on opportunities to serve for the sake of making the lives of others a little better. We have several seniors who volunteer at the Eagles Nest, which is an after school service for students who are 6 to 12 years old. These are some of New Albany’s finest who are sharing their talents with Eagles Nest students after school. They work as tutors, game players, supervisors and “all things creative” in the world of 6 through 12 year olds.
I received the following email from an Ohio High School Athletic Association referee about our JVB Boys Soccer coach and team after they lost to Thomas Worthington on September 8th:
“In an evenly played game that was tied 1-1, New Albany was called for handling in the box in the last seconds of the game. A (Penalty Kick) PK was granted to Thomas Worthington that would essentially decide the game. As a New Albany player was escorted to the sideline due to receiving a yellow card, the New Albany head coach told the officials that the PK call was the correct call and he understood, and he helped calm down his players frustrations with losing a game at the last second. His excellent sportsmanship was a great example for the student athletes, who modeled that behavior themselves in the post game handshake line as well after losing the game. It was nice to see everyone, both coaches and athletes, being very respectful and gracious to all involved after a physical game.”
Congratulations to Coach Cody Thomas for being a positive role model and teacher for his team during a difficult situation!
Wednesday, September 23rd- Comp Day No School
Friday, September 25th- Interim Progress Reports
Monday, September 28th- State of the Schools Address
Before I joined the Twitterverse, I was critical of its use and, quite frankly, was turned off by the concept all together. I often read and watched what seemed like ridiculous stories of what celebrities shared about their lives from the foods they ate, who they had lunch with, or whom they were dating. I saw no purpose for it all. However, all that changed about four years ago when my former district embarked on a digital journey.
I had the opportunity to participate in an intense, three-day social media boot camp facilitated by Debra Jasper and Betsy Hubbard, founders of Mindset Digital. They showed the participants a number of ways to harness the power of Web 2.0 tools to share stories, improve communication strategies, engage students, and improve instruction to meet the needs of today’s learners. What was even more significant is that they showed us how other educators were using these tools on a daily basis to make their teaching and learning visible to the world. It was overwhelming and exciting at the same time. I gravitated towards Twitter and have learned 10 ways I could use it as a building principal:
1. Visible Learning– Concise and thoughtful messages posted on Twitter in real-time about what teachers and students are experiencing in classrooms, in extracurricular activities, or in service-learning projects creates a window into the world of your school. It increases the level of transparency that removes the mystery of school.
2. Highlight teachers– What gets recognized gets repeated, so sending out tweets about the amazing lesson ideas that teachers come up with shines a much deserved light on those whom positively change lives and impact futures.
3. Storytelling– We learn best through story, and Twitter gives a principal a chance to tell brief stories about the activities that go on daily. To enhance visibility, simply create a hashtag for your school, encourage others to use it, and begin posting to Twitter.
4. Expand One’s Personal Learning Network– It is often said that, “The smartest person in the room is the room.” Twitter gives a principal the opportunity to connect with educators outside of the school to learn about pedagogical strategies, connect with educational thought leaders, and communicate with other principals who are doing similar work.
5. Participate in Twitter Chats– A Twitter chat is an easy way to engage a meaningful exchange of ideas, approaches, and hot topics in education. There are a number of chats nearly every day of the week!
6. Start a Twitter Chat For Your Building and/or District-Principals can set up a Twitter chat for his/her school or district as a way to extend staff meeting conversations, discuss relevant articles, or have a book study. The possibilities are endless! Ask a few teachers to join in and off you go!
7. Communicate/Interact With Students– Besides interacting with students in the hallways, classrooms, and events, sharing daily messages via Twitter is an easy way to connect with a large group of students in a short amount of time. Remember to pause before you post.
8. Share Daily Words of Wisdom– I start nearly every day with a brief tweet of words of wisdom. I get the daily messages from a book entitled, 8,789 Words of Wisdom. It starts the day on a positive note for me and for those who receive them.
9. Provide Extracurricular Updates– Principals attend many extra-curricular events and one of the best ways to promote your school is to tweet highlights while at a sporting event, Science Olympiad, etc. Students, parents, and other staff members appreciate the real-time updates. The participants in the activities really appreciate it as well!
10. Post Links To Articles/Blogs– Share articles and blogs that are aligned with building goals, professional goals, or that challenge your thinking. This is one the best ways to contribute to others’ learning as well because what you post may spark an idea, provide the support they need to press on, or launch a new initiative.
I didn’t begin by doing all 10 of the strategies listed, nor should you. Pick one and try it out. Over time, using Twitter will become a part of your daily routine because you will recognize the positive impact it has on creating a culture of learning, sharing, connecting, and story telling.