This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the National Association of Secondary Principals Conference in San Francisco, CA. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the West Coast, I was most moved by the opportunity to meet principals from all across the country. I spent time talking with principals from New Jersey, Michigan, Alabama, Texas, California, South Dakota, and even Canada. It was energizing discussing programming, and class offerings, curriculum and instruction, schedules, and professional development with these administrators. Although educators are in the “people business”, it can also be a very isolating profession. This time away gave me a chance to take all those balls I juggle on a daily basis, pull them out of the air, and look at them a little closer. I would like to share just some of the quotes, statements, and tidbits of information that I took away from the conference that really challenged my thinking.
*32 states currently have virtual schools.
*8 states have online learning initiatives.
*2 states require online courses for graduation (Alabama and Michigan).
*“Our goal should be to close the gap between what we know we should be doing and what we are doing.” Tim Westerberg
*“If you want different results, do things differently.” Spence Rogers
*Changing our grading system is not an incremental change, but a fundamental shift.
*What does a B- mean to you? to a parent? to a student?
*Homework has be assessed - it can’t just be a completion number
otherwise the student never receives any feedback on his/her learning.
*How can compliance and behavior be a part of a grade that is supposed to reflect learning?
*“In many classes there are grades based on work habits such as doing
work on time and complying with teacher requests as opposed to verifying
that learning did take place for a specific target.” Excerpts from Grades Don’t Matter
*Our current grading system allows teachers to be able to speak to student completion rates instead of student mastery. Tony Donen
*Learning is developmental and will grow with time and repeated
opportunities. New evidence of learning should replace old evidence of
learning. Billie Donegan
*Zeroes should never be used in averaging on a 100 point scale (poor practice and poor math). Billie Donegan
*Information in grading reports should be organized by evidence of
performance standards and learning goals, rather than by assessment
methods (quizzes, tests, homework etc.) Billie Donegan
*“We are faced with the irony that a policy that may be grounded in the
belief of holding students accountable, actually allows students to
escape accountability for learning.” Billie Donegan
*“The most real and most lasting learning comes not in doing, but in re-doing!”
*“There is little or no evidence that repeated failure makes people more responsible (or motivated).” Billie Donegan
*The threat of a low grade is much more likely to motivate high
achieving students (often for the wrong reasons) than low achieving
students. Billie Donegan
*“I am overwhelmed, but not challenged.” quote from an AP student
*“Knowing nothing is very different from doing nothing.”
*“Don’t show me what students are doing - show me what students are learning.”
*“If we believe all children can learn, we must also believe that all educators can learn too.”
This conference was definitely a learning experience for me! As you can
see, I attended several sessions on grading practices. After our
district spent an afternoon of professional development with Matt
Townsley, Director of Instruction in Solon, IA, I know this is an area
we need to focus on in the near future.
By the end of the conference, I felt invigorated, but I also felt a
little overwhelmed. I know we still have a lot of work to do, but I am
also confident that our teachers are dedicated and committed to
providing the highest quality of education for our students. I am lucky
to be a part of a district that supports the professional development
of its people, and although I enjoyed the Frisco Bay, I am very glad to
be back home at Newell-Fonda.