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Monday, October 27, 2014

5 C's to Build a Great Team
As posted by Jon Gordon author of The Energy Bus

High performing teams don’t happen by accident. They are built and developed by leaders who focus on building a great team and team members who strive to be part of a great team. In this spirit I want to share 5 C’s leaders and teams can focus on to build a great team.

1. Communicate - Most teams, including teams at home, break down because of poor communication. As I wrote in Soup, where there is a void in communication negativity fills it. Frequent and positive communication fills the void and begins the process of building trust. You can’t have a great team without strong relationships and you can’t have strong relationships without great communication and trust. Leaders must communicate with team members individually and collectivity as a team and team members must enhance their communication with each other.

2. Connect - While communicating begins the process of building trust, connecting is what creates a bond of trust. Many teams communicate but the great ones also connect. (Tweet This) They form bonds of trust that strengthen relationships and the team. They go deeper, below the surface level of communication, and communicate and connect in a more intimate and powerful way. Getting to know your team members, being vulnerable, sharing experiences together, facing challenges together, and working on projects together are a few ways to connect.

3. Commitment - Without communication, connection and commitment your team will not perform at a high level. Communication and connection build the trust that generates the commitment that fosters the teamwork that delivers results. Great teams are not only committed to doing great work. They are also committed to each other. They put the team first and are willing to serve and sacrifice for the benefit of the team.

4. Care - When you care you give a little more time, a little more effort, a little more energy, and a little more love to the things and the people you care about. You may be a good team but to be a great team I encourage you to care just a little more. Care about the work you do and how it contributes to the team. Care about the people you work with. Care about the mission of your team. Those who care build great things that others care about. (Tweet This)

5. Contagious Energy - Of course I’m talking about contagious positive energy. Great teams are filled with positive energy and it’s important for each person on the team to know that they are contagious. If you’re moody your negative energy is contagious and makes it hard for others to trust and feel comfortable around you. If you are positively contagious you make everyone around you better. There’s no "i" in team but there are two "i" in positive. This means "I" must be positive to be my best and "I" must be positive to help my team be our best. As a team member you can be a germ or a big dose of vitamin C to your team. Choose to be positively contagious.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

An inspirational teaching story:
How much do we notice as we go through a day? 

Lisa Beamer on Good Morning America - 
    If you remember, she's the wife of Todd Beamer who said 
'Let's Roll!' and helped take down the plane over Pennsylvania
that was heading for Washington, DC back on 9/11- 
she said it's the little things that she misses most about Todd, 
such as hearing the garage door open as he came home, 
and her children running to meet him. 
 Lisa recalled this story: 
    "I had a very special teacher in high school many years 
    ago whose husband died suddenly of a heart attack. 
    About a week after his death, she shared some of her 
    insight with a classroom of students. As the late 
    afternoon sunlight came streaming in through the classroom windows 
    andthe class was nearly over, she moved a few things aside 
    on the edge of her desk and sat down there. 
    With a gentle look of reflection on her face, she paused 
    and said, 'Class is over, I would like to share with all of 
    you, a thought that is unrelated to class, but which I feel Is very 
    important. Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, 
    appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic 
    experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment. 
    Perhaps this is God's way of telling us that we 
    must make the most out of every single day. Her eyes, 
    beginning to water, she went on, 'So I would like you all 
    to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school, 
    or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. 
    It doesn't have to be something you see, it could be a 
    scent, perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of 
    someone's house, or it could be the sound of the 
    breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the 
    way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it 
    falls gently to the ground. Please look for these things, 
    and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, 
    these things are the "stuff" of life. 
    The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. 
    The things we often take for granted. 
    The class was completely quiet. We all picked up our 
    books and filed out of the room silently. That afternoon, 
    I noticed more things on my way home from school 
    than I had that whole semester. Every once in a while, 
    I think of that teacher and remember what an impression 
    she made on all of us, and I try to appreciate all of those 
    things that sometimes we all overlook. 
    Take notice of something special you see on your lunch 
    hour today. Go barefoot. Or walk on the beach at sunset. 
    Stop off on the way home tonight to get a double dip ice cream cone. 
    For as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, 
    but the things we didn't do. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Miscellaneous Reflections HS

On Overall Professional Development:
The design of the PD was effective I believe. Any time we have a choice in what we learn about, we are going to own it more and be more involved in our learning. I think this works in the classroom as well. When you can give the students a choice in how they show their learning, they are more motivated and invested in it.
The pd plans falter however when they are so spread out that we lose the connectedness of the learning. Too much time is spent reviewing and not learning new information.
- Mrs. Smith

Using the Power-School assessment area to show students their Iowa Assessment was a useful, visual tool. The students were able to "see" their scores on a graph and compare it quickly to the norm. This is helpful because students don't like using the traditional score sheet.
I enjoy having the time during PD to relate my lessons to our focus area for the PD school year. It allows me time to connect my elective courses to relevant educational material. I can show how my classes assist the student in learning the Core Curriculum.
- Mrs. Kilgard

Most of my kids did a pretty good job and they were very conscientious about whether they 
improved or not. 
- Mrs. Frimml

I was able to learn a lot from the staff in my group. Being a counselor we don't grade so what I have been doing is asking questions at the end of my lesson to see what and if they learned anything. If they did I will move on to another social skill or remain on the same skill as needed. 
I believe this will help students learn the content of a social skill rather than sitting back waiting for the next lesson. 
- Mr. Marshall

As I was looking at the scores and comparing them to last year, it appears that our work in the professional development is getting positive results. Our scores for the kids are improving and more students are moving into the higher categories of proficiency.
We need to work on computation scores. My question is how does this relate to our No Child Left Behind, and being on a school that needs assistance list.
- Mr. Schwarting

Standards-Based Grading Classroom Reflections HS

I have been using Main Idea Grading (Standards Based Grading) in my classroom for almost all classes this year.  It has been a good experience and I plan to continue using it in the future.  It has made me a better teacher in that I have been focused on what are the most important ideas for the students to learn.  I have also been more reflective in assessing students work.   I think it has been good for the students in that they are more responsible for their learning during the course of the year.  
- Mr. Megchelsen

This year I investigated Standards Based Grading. I was more concerned about learning about
what Standards Based Grading entailed and if it was applicable in my classroom. It sounds great
and super applicable to math and science, but I'm still not sure how to make it work in my
curriculum. My attempt in taking a step toward Standards Based Grading has been to increase
the usage of feedback, providing clearer expectations, and really being selective about the
types of assignments I give out and grade analyzing their importance to the value of learning.
This area has enabled me to develop an action research plan looking at giving students a dual
grade and the importance of increasing feedback. I want students to know what they do well
and the areas when they need to improve on for the future. Hopefully the future of my
classroom will include specific standards and no zero grading.
- Mrs. Driscoll

Reflections on Standards Based Grading - I think letting a student work at something until they get it correct is important, as long as they are really trying. One problem is sometimes the students need to put in extra time and they aren't willing to do it. 
- Mr. Loftus

I was working with standard base grading during the school year. For the students that I was able to work with individually on a consistent basis I had some success. I was working with one student today that I was able to see dramatic improvement from the beginning of the year. I was able to see the standards that are required for their grade level being accomplished. But the issue is if I do not have the chance to work with the individual student I can’t see where they began, current or where they are going in their path of accomplishing the current standards. This is a great direction but what will we be willing to do so it is effective?
- Mr. Redington

Reflections on Technology in the Classroom HS

In my class I tried to incorporate as much technology in each unit.  I used Keynote for presentations of Earth history.  The students enjoy the projects because they can work on them at their own speed.  They can show their creative side in the project.  They also use Pages to make graphs and tables to sum up labs information.  Over all it's been positive.
- Mr. Svare

Using technology in the classroom improves student engagement especially in regards to sharing of information and student work.  Students show pride in their output when they know others will see their work.  Also, technology can help with student/teacher communication and student organization.
- Mrs. Megchelsen

I used more technology in P.E. iPads were used in class lessons. Technology helped students by improving knowledge about usage of iPads in the P.E. setting. Students could make video presentations ahead of time and then show to the class. It was easier on some students. 
- Mr. Cooling

Students are getting better at using their iPad apps.  I have used notability, iMovies, and Keynote throughout the year.  At this time of year they are more proficient using the apps.  The students are great in helping other students, as well as myself.   They are also learning that technology doesn't always work and we have to be patient.
- Mrs. Frank

Differentiation Classroom Reflections HS

Differentiation has helped me with the pacing for most students, and therefore gives me more time to help individual students. But, I have to be conscientious to make sure I have avenues for all students to explore the content.
With differentiation, I think the students have got something out of the different groups. For instance, some of my lowest students are starting to engage themselves in the class work because differentiation allows them to be both the student and teacher at times. I have been trying to differentiate the type of lessons, how information is conveyed, have hands-on activities, projects, as well as tests. I think in this way every one can show their strengths. Just the other day, I had a young man go against peer pressure to thoroughly complete a test, it was quite something to witness such a transformation.
- Mrs. Turner

I think differentiation has definitely helped in my class. Being a non-core area teacher it has been helpful to use differentiation in terms of pacing. When we work on projects, students would often finish early. By using differentiation, I am able to more effectively challenge the advanced students and also have time to work with those students who need more assistance. I would say students are learning more and are more willing to go above and beyond. Because differentiation has become common in my classroom, they are becoming used to it. I have noticed that students have more pride in their work and want to show it off more. Part of this is because differentiation has allowed for more student choice, so they are able to pursue what interests them within the given confines of the learning situation. 
- Mrs. Linnell

Creating a project that allows students to go about it in different ways. You give the students the opportunity to work at their own pace, but you clearly state your intent of what the expectations are. Being in a differentiated class has its advantages.
- Mr. Schwarting

Student-Centered Classroom Reflections HS

Student-Centered Learning has always been something I have utilized to help differentiate learning for individual students. With the implementation of the iPads, a student-centered classroom became a daily reality. When students leave the classroom, they are now still connected to class lessons, assignments, and resources. They can solve problems using those resources without the teacher directing them through every step. Students are able to take further initiative in their learning, but like everything, students still must provide some motivation. As a teacher, I am now more focused on giving them some energy to help spark that motivation. 
 -Ms. Manternach

This year I implemented my version of a student centered classroom with my seniors in Business Math.  At first, it was a slow process and I had to work with them step by step.  But after modeling the process for a few weeks I started to pull away and let the students take over.   It has been a great surprise to see how well they have done.  They come in, teach themselves the lesson for the day through doing Frayer Models, get their assignment and have their work completed by the end of the period.  They have learned how to answer their own questions, work together and have become very independent.  They are performing as well on quizzes and tests as past classes.  I have also been finding myself using some of these same methods in my junior high classes.  I look forward to continuing this in all of my classes.
 - Mr. Wieck

I have enjoyed running a partial student centered classroom this year. Our older students do a great job of taking responsibility and pride in their work.  I have seen a lot of students become leaders and you can see who really understands the concepts.  Those students step up and help the ones that are leaders.  I am hoping to become an even more student centered program in the future.  Students have to take ownership of their own work and hopefully all of the students gain a since of pride in their work.
- Mr. Bowlin

I feel that my special education students enjoyed the student centered aspect for the most part because they didn't feel like they were on their own when completing assignments/activities.  They would ask peers for assistance when needed, and it would put someone in a leadership role that normally wouldn't be in there.
The problems I had are that they wouldn't take the initiative to lead the group even when they knew the content.  There were many times that students were not monitored at different times and they would settle with just copying other group members work.
- Mr. Kriegel

Reflections on Student-Centered Classrooms - Some of the classes have been showing improvement by working in groups with me working as a guide rather than a lecturer.  This has given multiple students a chance to lead, rather than sitting back and being a spectator.  There has been a lot more discussions between students over the content.
-Mr. Snitker

Monday, February 24, 2014

Shared PD Day (DISTRICT)

Today we had a PD day shared with Iowa Valley and English Valley teachers.  Our guest speaker was Jimmy Casas, Secondary Principal at Bettendorf High School and the 2012 Iowa Secondary Principal of the Year.  We were given a challenge to inspire students and build relationships on a daily basis. Jimmy was very honest and forthright in telling us, as leaders and educators, that we have to take on the responsibility to touch the lives of every student and staff member. I especially was impressed with Jimmy's positive attitude as a great leader and his comment that we are all leaders and we should not to let others bring us down when we also inspire to be great.