Monday, September 23, 2019

3 Steps to Every Student’s Excellence

Student success is an aspiration for everyone of us educators. In some cases students reach excellence, while in other cases they do not. How do we ensure that more students find excellence and fewer students fall through the cracks?

 The answer is simple. It is a support system that guarantees all students succeed. So how do we develop a support system that ensures that all students learn, grow, and excel?  

The Student Excellence Support System
 In my new book, “A Teacher’s Guide to Excellence in Every  Classroom” (click here), I developed an Excellent Support System that teachers can use to support all students. This support system marries the collaborative concepts of a PLC at Work (professional learning community) with the responsive work in RTI (Response to intervention).  This system is a three-step approach to supporting all kids. 
  1. Teacher Team Supports - Teacher teams collaborate about the supports necessary to help every child close their gaps by asking all teachers to develop the knowledge and skills to help every student succeed. 
  2. Class-Wide Supports - Teachers personalize the team supports to match both their teaching style and learning needs of their students. 
  3. Individual Student Supports - Students will struggle in spite of teacher team and class-wide supports, and in these cases, Tier 1 interventions are specifically developed to meet the child’s greatest area of need.

How many steps are currently in place for all aspects of student support in your school?  How many steps are left to be taken? If you focus on everything, you focus on nothing, and great teachers take the necessary step to close learning gaps for all kids by taking them one step at at time, one day at a time. Excellence in every child is within your reach, and when you and your teammates commit to taking 3 very important steps, a strong system of supports will be guarantee success for all kids in every classroom every day. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

6 Tricks to Get Rid of Your Old Dog Syndrome

Entering my 25th year in education, I’m pretty proud of this tremendous milestone. As I reflect, I can’t help but think of all the initiatives I’ve experienced or been a part of, how many changes I have witnessed personally, and how many new things I’ve been asked to undertake. With all that I’ve experienced in my career, it could have been easy to use my age, experience, lack of knowledge, or my personal comfort as the reason why I couldn’t take part in a change initiative.

The benefit of age and experience is that they allow us have a plethora of knowledge that we can draw upon to grow as educators. The downside of age and experience is that they cause us to develop the “Old Dog Syndrome”.  My abilities allow me to be strong in areas, but also play tricks on my mind that I’m not smart enough to make a change, this another symptom of “Old Dog Syndrome”.  Finally, our “Old Dog Syndrome” is reinforced every day by our comfort levels. 


Young adults and even students can become affected by “Old Dog Syndrome”, it’s easy to spot symptoms of Old Dog Syndrome, which include but are not limited to the following statements:
  • I can’t learn this. 
  • I’m too old to learn this stuff,
  • I’m not tech savvy enough,
  • I’ve done it this way so long that I’ll never be able to change,
  • I’m not as good as (insert name or group of people to wrongly compare yourself),
  • This is too difficult,
  • I’ll never be able to (insert task). 

To combat Old Dog Syndrome, we can take on the following  actions. 
  • Ask for help from others,
  • Tell leaders where the challenge is within the change,
  • Accept the fact that change is part of every facet in our world,
  • Make a daily commitment to learn one new thing each day,
  • Never use age as the barrier to growth. 
  • Never accept difficulties as a reason to stop growing and learning. 
“Old Dog Syndrome” does not apply to older people. It applies everyone of us when we believe that we can’t learn new things. It essentially petrifies the mind into its current state, thus new learning fails to take root. If we aim to end “Old Dog Syndrome”, we must recognize and reinforce that learning is not based on the age. It’s based on a deep desire for continuous improvement.