Efficient use faculty meetings

The article found here resonated with me and made me reflect about how we conduct our faculty/district meetings. Time is precious and as administrators it is important to utilize that time wisely. As I read the article I started thinking about how we typically structure faculty meetings. Most of the time there is a laundry list of items that we go over to make sure staff members are “in the know.” Most of those items can be shared through an email. The idea of using the flipped classroom model for faculty meetings does interest me. I have tried it a few time this year by utilizing programs such as voicethread and other measures. I hope to try and model this more at the district level so principals will try it in their buildings. A goal for any faculty meeting/professional development session should be rich discussion with staff members about important topics/vision/goals.

Every time we talk about professional development, teachers always mention that the best PD occurs when they get to meet and discuss important topics together. In a short faculty meeting you could have some rich conversations about RTI, data teams, subgroup gaps, literacy strategies, etc.

Here are some sample questions you could send out to teachers prior to a faculty meeting about RTI.
1. Why do we have RTI?
2. What is Tier I, II, and III?
3. How does it work in my building? How are students identified? What is my role in this process?
4. What is the difference in Tier II students and students that receive additional instruction scheduled during your 30 minute intervention time?
5. What is working? What is not working? How can we make it better?

Then when you have a faculty meeting, divide your staff into groups and facilitate discussion regarding the questions above. After ample discussion time you can bring the groups back together to develop a consensus for the school and share that in document form with the staff.

“Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.” John Maxwell

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The big, ever-changing world

Most days I like to think of myself as a “connected” educator. I blog, albeit rarely, tweet, and keep up with articles using RSS readers. This gives me a chance to access and connect with educators and leaders across the world. The problem I have is that the more I reach out and read, the more I realize that I have a long way to go. There are some people that are doing some amazing things in their district individualizing professional development for their teachers using technology and social connections. We aren’t there yet and I need to do a better job being a model for this type of development.

The article that got me to thinking about all of this can be found here. It was an article by William M. Ferriter and Nicholas Provenzano. I started thinking about how even though I am “connected” I don’t really use those connections to make specific improvements. I will keep up to date on the important events that are going on in Tennessee and will retweet a few noteworthy items. I will also read an article that grabs my attention. However, I don’t get many things that I act on. I use the resources to develop myself but if I don’t put those into action and help share or improve my district then I might as well have been watching reruns on TV.

Hopefully as I keep reaching out and opening doors like the authors mentioned I will get closer to where I want to be as a “connected educator.”

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To call or not to call

I find that one of the most stressful times that I deal with is whether to cancel school during inclement weather. Many decisions I make are not so public. However, cancelling school could be a major PR fiasco. Usually no matter what decision is made, some people will be happy and some won’t.

We are in the job of educating children. If they aren’t in school that can’t happen. However, we also have to make sure we provide a safe learning environment. A day of lost instruction is one that we can’t get back. Therefore it is important to make sure to use our snow days appropriately. That creates a delicate balancing act. It would break my heart to know that someone got hurt travelling to school because we chose not to cancel school. It would also break my heart to know we missed out on a day of instruction that would help our students graduate college and career ready.

This past weather event definitely showed the possibility for some bad weather and we still haven’t gotten to the coldest part of the weather yet. The timing of the event plays a big part of the decision making process. There is nothing worse than having parents drop off their kids and then two hours later we cancel school and they have to make plans to pick them up. I will be honest I like to try and wait as long as I can before calling school off, however, you have to remember that parents have to scramble when decisions are made last minute.

I know that over the years there will be times that we will miss the call. I hope that when we do “miss it,” we err on the side of safety. I hope that everyone stays safe today and this weekend. Rest up and be ready to hit the ground running when we start back, hopefully on Monday.

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Safety at GCSSD

As a parent of two young boys, today’s events at Newtown Connecticut made me want to immediately go to their school and give them a big hug. I can’t imagine what those parents and community members are going through right now. My heart goes out to them.

I want you all to know that the safety of the children and employees at Gibson County Special School District is our highest priority at all times. Each school has a safety plan in place which is reviewed, updated, and practiced regularly.

Please help us keep our campuses safe by making sure you check in the front office when arriving on campus. If you see any safety concerns at your school please contact your school principal. At GCSSD, we will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to keep students and employees on our campuses safe.

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I had three groups that I wanted to recognize. I appreciate all that they have done to make GCSSD a great learning community.

  1. Medina Elementary School – The school was one of the preliminary reward schools selected by the Tennessee Department of Education. They achieved this status based on being in the top 5% in academic achievement.
  2. Kenton Elementary School – The state selected 10 schools in the state of Tennessee because of high academic achievement, value-added scores, and excellent results from a school climate survey. The state will be interviewing teachers and the administration to determine best practices that are occurring at Kenton Elementary.
  3. Dyer School – Boys basketball team won the TNT State Championship.

Congratulations and keep up the good work!

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Local Option Sales Tax, Your help is needed!

Gibson County Special School District is asking for your help. Right now out 136 school districts, Gibson County Special School District spends less per pupil than any other district in the state of Tennessee. We have tried to be good stewards with the tax dollars that are entrusted to us. Even though we are consistently spending less than other districts, we are consistently scoring higher on our end of year tests. This is a testament to the hard work of our teachers, students, parents, and community members. In the March election there will be a chance to vote on an issue that will help all schools in the county. Please see below for more information. We appreciate your support.


Why vote “FOR” the referendum to increase the Local Option Sales Tax Rate in Gibson County from 2.25% to 2.75%?

  • Redistributes” Local Option Sales Tax Dollars collected in the cities of Humboldt, Milan, and Trenton back to “ALL School Districts” in the county.
    • How does this redistribution occur?  Humboldt, Milan, and Trenton already have a 2.75% Local Option Sales Tax Rate.  However, only 2.25% is being split evenly between school districts and the point of sale (city or county).  The difference of .5% (one-half of one percent) is NOT being distributed. That .5% (one-half of one percent) is staying in Humboldt, Milan, and Trenton.  Citizens located within Gibson County Special School District and Bradford Special School District spend the majority of their hard earned money in the cities of Humboldt, Milan, and Trenton because that is where the majority of the retail businesses (Wal-Mart, Lowes), restaurants, and service establishments are located.  These funds should be redistributed back to the school districts for our students’ education.
    • What affect does this have on school districts?  This will increase funding for “ALL School Districts” (Bradford, Gibson County, Humboldt, Milan, and Trenton).
    • Provides much needed revenue for the education of our students.
    • Increases County Revenue.
    • Increases City Revenue for Bradford, Dyer, Gibson, Rutherford, and Yorkville.
    • MINIMIZES” the need for Property Tax Increases.
    • How does this affect the citizens in the affected areas?  It will cost you $.50 (fifty cents) per $100 spent for goods or services.  However, you are already spending the extra $.50 (fifty cents) per $100 on goods and services if purchased in Humboldt, Milan, Trenton, or surrounding counties.
    • By voting “FOR” the referendum to increase the Gibson County Local Option Sales Tax Rate from 2.25% to 2.75% and it passes, the whole amount of 2.75% will then be distributed per T.C.A. Code 67-6-712, 50% (1/2) to school districts, and 50% (1/2) to point of sale (city or county).

For additional information visit the Gibson County Special School District website at www.gcssd.org and click on “Local Option Sales Tax” located under “News” and listen to a “Narrated Presentation” or contact Terry Cunningham at (731) 692-3803.

If you are a “Registered Voter” and you live in the Bradford, Dyer, Gibson, Rutherford, and Yorkville, or County areas, vote “FOR” the referendum during early voting February 15 – February 28 or on March 6, 2012.  Your vote is very important!

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New Year

I hope everyone had a great break over the holidays. I always enjoy the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends. As we get ready for the spring semester, I am excited about the opportunities each student has when they walk through one of our school buildings. Our job is to provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in the next phase of their life, whatever that might entail. This is not an easy feat and our teachers and administrators have to work hand in hand with all the stakeholders in order to achieve success.

Tuesday, I was able to spend some time listening to conversations teachers were having about best practices, power standards, common core standards, and common assessments. It was so invigorating to hear the professional conversations taking place amongst the staff. It is this type of environment that leads to continued success and achievement for our students.

I hope you have a great 2012!

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