Assistant Principal Corner #8 SEL Viewpoints

Ap Rocks

There are so many thoughts, ideas, and concerns regarding SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) in schools these days that many can feel very overwhelmed by it all. Many students are coming to school with an array of social and emotional issues and schools are trying very hard to meet their needs but it can be difficult. With tight budgets and soaring costs, many schools struggle to meet all the educational needs and provide their students will fully funded programs and staffs. I can honestly say with over 25 years in education, I have never seen so many students diagnosed with anxiety or depression. We always talk about providing quality interventions and SEL programs for our students which is very justified but what about the root cause of all these issues? I am certainly not an expert in SEL but Here are a few ideas that can possibly help.

  1. 10 Tips to help raise more resilient kids 
  2. A ink between too much cell phone use and teen anxiety
  3. Help kids with self-regulation
  4. Social and Emotional Learning Strategies for Parents-Edutopia
  5. Ensure kids are getting enough free play

 

I certainly hope these ideas from several experts are helpful and through comprehensive education and school-wide education, we can SEL learningstart to reduce the social emotional problems facing so many young students today.

Welcome Back New & Veteran Teachers

Teach Learn

With another school year upon us, I was thinking about all the great educators I have had the pleasure working with during my career and how much the teaching profession has changed. Certainly, the academia learned in our college/university education classes helps build a foundation, but in my opinion there is no substitute for full-time teaching experience and the ongoing interactions with faculty, students, and parents/guardians. Parents have always wanted the best for their kids and as educators we must deliver. I honestly believe a great teacher is worth their weight in gold and although it is a tough job, it is extremely rewarding.

I have been very fortunate to interact with many dynamic school administrators over the years and am fortunate so many were willing to help me provide both new and returning teachers with some good advice/tips for this upcoming school year. Thank you very much to all those listed below. Personally, I wish all new and returning teachers the very best and will share these two tips; Always model what you want to see from your students such as being a life-long learner and be fair and consistent with them. They really understand when the proverbial playing field is not level. 

William Burkhead- Principal Monomy Regional H.S. -“School’s should be places where we treat kids like they are our own.  A place where they are loved, disciplined, respected, trusted & challenged with high expectations.”

Sam Francera- Asst. Professor, Ed. Leadership, William Paterson University-“Getting better requires patience, persistence, and professionalism. Model these attributes in your daily interactions with students, parents, and colleagues to improve learning for all students.”

Eileen Donahue- Assistant Principal Auburn H.S.-“It all comes down to the 3 R’s: Relationships, Relationships,Relationships. Build them early and build them often. Build them with your students, with their parents, with community stake holders and with fellow faculty members and staff. They will pay dividends tenfold when the time comes to have difficult conversations. It is much easier to broach difficult topics when it is not the first time that you have ever really spoken to someone.”

George M. Farro-Assistant Superintendent Whitman-Hanson RSD-“Always be who you are bc the job of a teaching and loving students is hard enough.”

Ross Thibault-Principal Dartmouth High School-“Never lose track of the “why”—the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the lives of young people and always remember that success is a mindset!”

Lytania Mackey- Director of Technology Swampscott Public Schools-“Classroom management starts day one by building relationships and reinforcing expectations. If you don’t do this you’ll pay for it in December. Don’t worry about the content – worry about getting to know them and them know you.”

Brian McCann-Principal Case High School-Here are two of my mantras: 1. “Make decisions involving students like they were your own children.” 2. “You do not need anyone’s permission to be awesome today.”

Patrick Larkin-Assistant Superintendent Burlington Public Schools-“Have a self-care plan worked out prior to the start of school with attention to sleep and wellness time prioritized in your week. It’s like the analogy on the airplane, adults need to take the oxygen first or they will not be able to take care of the children. If you are not ensuring your own physical and mental health first then you won’t be able to fully support your students.”

Paul Vieira-Assistant Superintendent Ashland Public Schools-Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate, we ask our kids to do it, we want you to do it too. Your success and that of our kids rests on your ability to communicate when you need help or are unsure of things.”

Henry Turner- Principal Newton North High School-“Spend more time listening than talking. Get out of your office and be with people. Spend time with kids outside of the classroom…Go to the cafeteria and go on a field trip. Have fun.”

Joe Scozzaro- Assistant Principal Duxbury High School-“Be transparent with your students about what you don’t know and embrace the role of learner. Your job is to create and manage the conditions in which students learn—not to know everything about your content.”

Chris Jones- Principal Whitman Hanson Regional High School-“Education is not all about you teaching. It’s about students learning. Remember that learning is a personal experience so let students have that experience by offering relevant, engaging topics. Give choice and support student agency because standardized assessments and curriculum are not always a completely accurate measurement or creator of growth and learning.”

Bill Chaplin- Principal Shepard Hill Regional High School– “Always begins and end with relationships – with students, Fellow Staff,and community – Connect passion with content and mastery, and how this all connects to your students real world today.”

John Clements-Principal Nipmuc Regional High School-“Keep your focus on creating a culture of learning, not a culture of teaching. Although this may sound challenging, remember that little action steps have a huge impact. Simple ideas like tracking your talk time, trading a dominant teaching wall for a “wonder wall”, putting lessons “on-demand” so kids can choose the lesson they want/need, and creating formal ways for kids to give you feedback on your lessons are great starting points to create learning environments defined by reflection, growth, agency, and inquiry for all!”

Lucas Giguere- Assistant Superintendent Franklin Public Schools-“In my experience, the best classroom management strategies aren’t founded on strict rules but through establishing positive relationships between and among students, modeling high expectations for the respectful behavior you expect of your students and providing high-quality instruction that engages them in authentic tasks. The rest will take care of itself. My mentor told me to keep ”Next Year” notes in the form of a running log to capture the lessons learned and ideas to improve moving forward. It served me well. Best of luck!”

Kip Lewis- Assistant Principal King Phillip Regional High School-“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” ~Wilma Rudolph

Vaping In Schools

No smoking No Vaping

As a school administrator, it’s important to not just help prevent unwanted and/or illegal substances from coming into and being used in your building but also to inform and educate students, parents, and your community about these various substances and the negative impact they can have on students. During my career, I have unfortunately had to deal with several young men and women trying various substances in school. It is difficult to stay ahead of new trends as students try new drugs and the various methods in which to take them.

In my opinion, students that willingly use drugs in school and/or are in possession of drug paraphernalia need consistent and firm consequences to send a message to others that school buildings will not be a place for this type of behavior. Schools need to be a professional environment where students learn the skills needed to be college/career ready and successful and productive citizens that demonstrate respect for themselves and for others.

From doing reasearch and speaking with several colleagues that are school administrators in other districts in Massachusetts and from my own experience, I would say that E-Cigarettes/Vapes are the latest trend that students are trying to use unwanted, harmful, or illicit substances in schools. These E-Cigarettes/Vapes really started coming on the school scene about 3-5 years ago even though they have been around the U.S market since around 2008. People first started trying these E-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking to help them eventually quit. The problem is that many kids who never smoked cigarettes use these E-cigarettes/Vapes with nicotine added to the propylene glycol and/or glycerin fluid. As science has proven, nicotine is very addictive and we don’t fully know the long-term health issues associated with Vaping the “e-liquid” or e-juice with or without the nicotine. The CDC reports that use among youth in the U.S. for these products has increased significantly. With the recent surge in use among our youth, more studies are being conducted to shed some light on the effects of these products such as mouth sores, possible gum disease, irritated trachea and lungs, a persistent cough, bronchitis, and possible carcinogens (cancer causing agents) such as formaldehyde (For-MAAL-de-hide) and acetaldehyde (Ass-et-AAL-de-hide) are being released into their bodies from the E-fluid being heated by metal coils.

Dripping- What is it?

dripping

Some users want to get a greater high from the E-fluid  with nicotine in it so they remove the cover to the E-cigarette/Vape and drop the oil directly onto the heated coils which creates more smoke to inhale and a greater hit to that person’s throat. With the increase in heat, greater level of toxins can also be released into the user’s body.

E-Cigarettes/Vapes used for Illegal Substances

Here is a news report on how these devices can be altered to use various drugs and synthetic substances. The most common illicit drug used in them is a sticky marijuana oil called Dabs which usually has higher levels of THC (primary intoxicant in marijuana and hash). Dabs-are concentrated doses of cannabis that are made by extracting THC and other cannabinoids using solvents  like butane or carbon dioxide, resulting in this sticky oil also commonly referred to as wax or butter.

Dabbing

 

Other drugs being smoked from E-cigarettes/Vapes

As if it wasn’t bad enough that marijuana and nicotine are being smoked through these devices, several other substances are being added to the fluids such as GHB, heroin, Special K (ketamine), cocaine, magic mushrooms, spices, peyote, percocet, hash oil, amphetamines, ritalin, LSD,MDMA Xanax, Lorazepam, Here is a video from CNN on the rise of synthetic drugs like Flakka.

Why should schools change their handbooks to include E-Cigarettes/Vapes as drug paraphernalia instead of being listed as a Nicotine/Tobacco infraction? Because students can possibly use a variety of chemicals/drugs in these E-fluids, we as administrators don’t have the ability to tell exactly what is in them and don’t have the resources to test for all the possible drugs. If students are brazen enough to bring these into our schools, in my opinion, the Vapes/E-Cigarettes need to be treated as drug paraphernalia. Would it be Ok for a student to be smoking hash oil in class and our teachers not be able to tell what it is because the Vape-fluids are scented? These devices are also becoming smaller and harder to detect. An example are JUUL’s (which look like a thumb drive and can be charged in USB drives in school and some.

 

A few links on the Dangers of Vape Battery explosions

Vape explosion in backpack

Teen burned by Vape

Vape explodes in Canadian teen’s face

 

Other pics of various Vapes/E Cigarettes

vapes diffgernces

Building Resiliency/GRIT in Kids

Passorfail_small

 

It is a fact that educators are hearing the words positive growth mindset, GRIT, and resiliency a lot these days but what does it all mean? I don’t remember these words being emphasized so much several years ago so why now? As a child, it was instilled in me that hard work leads to success, and I was accountable for my actions which were not always positive. A phone call home meant that I was in trouble not my teachers or school administrators. It was not acceptable coming to school or work late, not doing my homework, and not studying hard. I learned that it was my actions that led to consequences. As a typical teenager, I certainly disagreed with certain decisions based on my actions, but I owned them and the adults in my life did not allow me to project them on to others. I wasn’t rewarded for not living up to certain obligations and expectations. Parenting and teaching students isn’t easy, but we must educate them about character and perseverance when things go wrong.

Students may want the best grade with the least amount of effort but what are the long term consequences for this? It seems there is a definite disconnect between  high schools and colleges. Many high school graduates need to take remedial courses because of sub par reading and writing skills. Is this because they are being passed through the system so graduation rates look higher than the actual skill level of the students? We have many hard working and bright students in the U.S. that compete on a world-wide level but many students are not reaching their potential. So what do colleges say about declining student resiliency?

We also have a huge increase in mental health issues and according to the 2014 Pisa Study, students in the United States are below average in resiliency>>Study on resiliency-student input. The definition basically is one’s ability to recover quickly from misfortune without being totally overwhelmed. An example would be a student gets a C on a test that they studied hard for, discussed it with his/her teacher, listens to feedback, and then proceeds to work harder or smarter to do better on the next test. Poor resiliency would be blaming everyone for this grade, shutting down, making hurtful statements, and not working hard to make necessary changes. Teachers often complain they feel pressured not to  give poor or low grades. Some do this to avoid any meltdowns or calls from angry parents which only enables the poor effort. Sometimes the teachers are wrong in their grading practices and this can usually be discussed in a professional manner, but what does it teach the child if every time they complain, rant, rave, they get their way? Does this build resiliency? Will this be acceptable behavior in college, future jobs, or relationships?

 perserverance

What about GRIT and a positive growth mindset? Grit is essentially persistence and sticking with difficult tasks. A person with a positive growth mindset believes they can improve their abilities through hard work. Someone with a fixed mindset believes they are born with certain abilities and they are limited by these fixed attributes and can only improve minimally. Carol Dweck has written several publications on positive growth mindsets. Another excellent resource is this video from TED Talks GRIT. Angela Lee Duckworth explains “that IQ is not as important as hard work and educators need to learn more about student motivation.”

So how can educators Improve and cultivate resiliency? Students need to learn from an early age that the process of learning and trying is more important than the immediate outcome. Failure can lead to growth as long as one keeps on trying and refuses to settle for less. Think about people that have failed the LSAT, GRE, MTEL, or other exams but worked harder and finally passed them. Those that fail after several tries can be proud of their effort but then must pick themselves up and move in another direction. What other positive options do they have?

As a school administrator, one thing is clear to me, we all have to work together and be on the same page to improve student growth and outcomes. Teachers, students, parents, and administrators all have an important role to play and consistency and follow through is key. Work together and support each other to teach students resiliency and don’t give in and bend every time a student complains or doesn’t want to work hard. My parents, teachers, principals, and coaches sure didn’t make it easy for me, and I appreciate them very much for pushing and encouraging me while being there to help when I took a step back. Don’t we owe this to our students as well?

Granger Model

grangermodel

Some other Excellent Resources

 Healthy Coping

Colleges confront lack of Grit/Resiliency

MGH Resilient Youth Program

grit

Technology to Improve Student Engagement

student tech pic

There are so many tools that are available to educators that can really help improve student engagement in their classes. As a school administrator, I have to wear many hats with one of them conducting frequent classroom observations. Although other job requirements can sometimes reduce the amount of time I spend in classes, watching fun and engaging lessons is my favorite part of my day. Observing well-prepared lessons that meet student learning needs and improves student achievement is paramount for school administrators. We are supposed to be instructional leaders within our buildings. To fully understand what a well-prepared and engaging lesson looks like, we first need to understand what engagement really means. George Couros discusses some areas to look for during observations in this article: http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/3586

Technology is a great tool that helps make learning fun, helps differentiate and personalize learning, creates more student centered instruction, helps students communicate more, improves collaboration, and helps connect them to other students in other towns, cities, states, and countries. Technology plays an important role in accelerating pedagogy which will help transform education. Teachers can try incorporating a flipped model: 

School administrators need to model various technologies to teachers so they understand the relevance and use it as an important tool to improve teaching and learning. I am enclosing a Video Scribe and PowerPoint presentation on how school administrators can help model the use of technology to improve student engagement. This was presented to other school administrators at the MSSAA Summer Institute in Hyannis Massachusetts on July 30, 2015. I hope it is helpful to both teachers and administrators. I want to recognize and thank my principal Tara Bennett for introducing me to Kahoot and its excellent and fun formative assessment capabilities. There are several administrators I have learned from, but I really want to recognize and thank principal Bill Bulkhead for showing me how to create a blog and modeling the use of technology. One year later, I feel much more connected. To learn more about Video Scribe, please click the link above or email me at tambres@comcast.net.

MSSAASI Presentation 2015

Becoming A More Connected Educator

 

connected educator

 

My Definition of a Connected Educator

1. Being able to learn and share ideas with many other educators from various towns, cities, states, and countries.

2. A connected educator is as much a learner as they are a teacher. They practice and model lifelong learning.

Growth

It is important for every educator and administrator to continuously seek professional growth in order to best provide our students with the best education possible. We must model what we expect our students to be able to do and remain relevant in education by demonstrating our openness to change. To be transformational, school teachers and administrators must be change agents.

7 Ways to Become More Connected

1. Attend various professional developments each year and at different places.

2. Use more interdisciplinary units with colleagues in your school.

3. Be a reflective educator.

4. Be more open to explore, collaborate, and question current educational practices.

5. Learn more about Web 2.0 tools Ex: blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

6. Join a social network and create a PLN.

7. Slowly integrate more technology into classes and school: HoverCam, QR Codes, Vimeo, iMovie, Digital Newspaper, etc.

 

***See below and click link for full presentation given to Assistant Principals at MSSAA Conference on 4/6/15

Connected Educator Presentation

Good Read

Connect Book

Personalized Learning – Bring Out The Genius In Kids

genius 3

So what is Personalized Learning and how does it differ from Individualized Learning and Differentiated Learning? http://education.ky.gov/school/innov/Documents/BB-KM-Personalizedlearningchart-2012.pdf Differentiated instruction is adapting to the various learning styles of students, but the learning goal usually remains the same. Individualized instruction is explicitly designed to accommodate individual learning needs, but students are dependent on teachers to support their learning. Personalized learning allows the student to choose what they want to learn and the method in which they want to learn it. There can be some 1:1 help by the instructor if the student needs it but it is not required. These students learn according to their preferred method which helps improve engagement. All three instructional strategies have their place.

It’s no secret that engaged students tend to do better in school and have less attendance and discipline issues. Students that are not engaged tend to loath school and are more likely to become a drop out. This can significantly reduce their chance for success. This is a segue from my last article on blended learning which tends to be more student centered and thus more engaging. Teachers need to use multiple modalities including using technologies, PBL, flipped classrooms, and collaborative problem solving to reach a wide audience of students.

Google was one of the pioneers in creative thinking by creating a Genius Hour for its employees. Google dedicated 20% of the work time so employees could brainstorm, be curious, and develop new ideas which helped improve Google’s status as a technological giant. So what is a Genius Hour? This is an hour set aside during a class once a week where students can work on anything they are interested in. A couple of questions teachers have regarding using this strategy are; what about all the content I have to squeeze in, and how do I get ready for those standardized tests if I allow students to choose what they want to learn? Genius Hour can be used many different ways by teachers and students. The big question is “how do you engage more learners and make their education more authentic?” By using a Genius Hour, students can become experts in anything they want or are interested in. It allows them to explore their passions and helps them realize that failure is a part of learning. This helps develop true growth. Several schools have already implemented a Genius Hour into their curriculum. http://www.greenwichschools.org/page.cfm?p=11586 By no means am I suggesting this is the only relevant activity, but it definitely helps engage students and gives them a deeper connection to their learning. I believe balance, creativity, fun and defined expectations helps students stay engaged. Here are some excellent links if you want to learn more about implementing a Genius Hour.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/09/living/genius-hour-education-schools/

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/genius-hour-essentials-personalized-education-nichole-carter

http://www.thenerdyteacher.com/2013/10/20time-makes-difference-edchat.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMFQUtHsWhc

http://cybraryman.com/geniushour.html

genius 2