Saturday, April 28, 2012
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Quote of the Week: "Don't tell me the horse is blind...just load the cart." -Paul Rhodes
Ulrich Apples: Mrs. Dau and Mrs. Fredericksen for having two of my favorite rooms in the entire district! Where else can you go to find kids always happy?
Thought of the Week: I had the privilege to listen to Paul Rhodes this week at the AEA superintendent meeting. The focus of his talk was centered around how he turned the ISU football program around in the past four years (I guess miracles do happen). I thought his answer was as simple. He told us that when the coaches were meeting to develop a game plan, evaluate players, and develop the program...a simple poster hanging on the wall guided their thoughts: "Don't tell me the horse is blind...just load the cart."
Coach Rhodes refused to accept excuses. He doesn't allow his coaches to make them and he doesn't allow the players to use them. The concept is built on trust. Players know the coaches are going to care and give 100% of themselves to help the player be successful. In contrast, the coaches hold high expectations for all players and hold them accountable to those expectations.
Imagine in education if all meant all. Imagine in education if we stopped making excuses. Imagine in education if we eliminated the word "if". There is no suggestion that all kids will learn IF they are conscientious, responsible, attentive, developmentally ready, fluent in English, and come from homes with concerned parents who take an interest in their education. There is no hint that staff members believe they can help all kids learn IF class sizes are reduced, more resources are made available, new textbooks are purchased, or more support staff are hired. (DuFour, Whatever It Takes 2004).
ALL means all. All students can learn. All teachers will care about kids. The fundamental purpose of the school is to ensure high levels of learning for ALL students.
All students can learn...that is our cart...lets start loading...trust me, the horse is fine...
Thanks for believing in our kids,
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Thought of the Week: I was listening to "The Dave Ramsey Show" the other day. He stated a quote that stuck with me, he said that failure is not the result of one single catastrophic event...failure arises from a culmination of bad decisions over time. He then went on to use the analogy of money. People don't just suddenly wake up and find themselves broke with no money. Rarely does is just "happen". Becoming broke happens with several bad money decisions that added up. In example...buying vehicles when you can't afford them, buying houses with no money down, buying "stuff" that you don't need, buying starbucks coffee rather than making it yourself, and having the habit of living beyond your wage for a period of time.
Wealth happens the same way. Years of making good financial decisions add up to being financially stable. Years of sticking to a budget, only paying for items with cash, and (when you don't have debt) investing for retirement. Again, wealth didn't happen over night, it was a culmination of good financial decisions that paid off (no pun intended) over time.
I was reflecting on this statement in relation to education. Ineffective instruction and poor classroom management don't just happen over night. It is a continual lack of expectations, procedures, professional development, poor attitudes about students/parents, and a lack of work ethic over time that add up to a less than stellar classroom experience for the student and the teacher.
In contrast, effective instruction doesn't magically appear! Effective teachers make many good decisions everyday to positively impact their instruction. They build relationships with students, set clear expectations, holds students accountable, contact parents, spend time planning/researching, and assessing what students have learned that makes effective teaching.
Education is not a microwave...its a crock pot. Its about good decisions and small victories day after day.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Thought of the Week: One of the greatest challenges we face as teachers is to make students think. I'm not being sarcastic or witty. But truly, the hardest thing for students is to research, formulate an opinion, and give rationale for the decision they made based on research.
Truth be told, this is also one of the hardest things for teachers to do as well. We live in a "real time" world for information. Everyone on twitter has an opinion, facebook post are all true and evidence based (slight sarcasm there, sorry), and newspapers only give a snapshot of reality. It this type of world, deep critical thinking based on true reliable research is fading. It is our obligation as educators to stop this trend.
My challenge to us as educators is to do our own research. Formulate our own opinions. Create our own rationale. Start telling people what we are doing and why. If we can't do this, then we can't ask our students to do this either.
Through this critical thinking process, we will learn about ourselves and more importantly, be able to look parents, the community, and each other in the eye and say: this is whats best for our kids...and this is why...
Thanks for what you do,
Jesse Ulrich, Principal