Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ten Little Monkeys Telling Time

     Everyone has their own way of tracking time. I use monkey time. One monkey equals one year. Two monkeys, two years. You get the picture. From my school office chair, I can now count 10 different stuffed monkeys hiding in plain site around my office. One for each year I have been a principal.  Each one different. Each one a silent, unjudging witness to the myriad of events, decisions, and happenings of a "normal" school office day. Most days happy, some sad, some easy, some hard. If the monkeys could give advice or talk just on the subject of curriculum, assessment, and instruction over the years, this is what they might share:

Monkey 1: Don't rock the boat. Do what the principal did last year. Listen and learn. Survive the first year of principalship!  Discuss the need for new school buildings. You get more questions than you have answers for.

Monkey 2: Teachers have really strong opinions about grading policies. Tough discussions this year on the topic of grading. Explore the use of data folders and student goal setting and tracking.  Remember Baldridge and Guskey?  Begin making adjustments to building routines and procedures. Make waves by making minor personnel adjustments. Discuss the need for new school buildings.

Monkey 3: Task Force team meetings about something called formative assessments and instructional practices. Argue more about what is the best grading policy. Discuss the need for new school buildings.

Monkey 4: Create unit designs templates and I can statements, unwrap standards for something new called common core, of course more grading policy discussion, and investigate something called Google Apps for Education. Discuss the need for new school buildings.

Monkey 5: Draft a grading policy, focus on expanding formative assessments and flexible grouping for something called differentiation, write and post I can statements. Write and receive a grant for a new tech device that just came out called an "ipad" so other principals could ask you what you would do with something like that and also procure a new funky web-based laptop called a chromebook just to see what it was about and if it had any value to a student. They'll call that being an early adopter. Begin using Google products. Discuss the need for new school buildings.

Monkey 6: Grading policy finally approved, sustained pd on formative instructional practices (Dylan), technology integration discussions and hiring of a tech coach because it's a mystery about how to actually integrate technology in a school. Discuss the need for new school buildings.  

Monkey 7:   Begin discussions about the need for standards based grading and begin the grading debate all over again. Officially become a Google Apps for Education school. Discuss the need for new school buildings.

Monkey 8: Emphasis on Value-added data, BFK learning tools, differentiation, exploring the use and role of social media in schools, limited discussion on standards based grading. Discuss the need for new school buildings.

Monkey 9: Don't worry about what everyone else is doing. Innovate,  K/1 Fusion personalized  learning journey, relocate ten classrooms and assign staff accordingly this time without making hardly any waves at all,  Chromebooks, mini i-pads and Google are in the hands of every student. Some discussions about standards based grading, Discuss the need for new school buildings.

Monkey 10: Staff pd on personalized learning. Begin discussions on poverty, Share our school stories on Facebook and Twitter. Should we be using standards based grades? Traditional, Differentiated, Personalized, Independent Studies....Go on the ballot for new school buildings and... You still don't have all of the answers.

Next year, will begin year 11.  I wonder what next year's monkey will be a witness to?