A crisis not to be wasted

During this very difficult time where no individuals or institutions, certainly not schools, are unaffected by the implications of the Coronavirus, I have turned for inspiration to the speeches of great leaders – Churchill, Obama, Reagan – during the crises they had to manage. (YouTube, of course, is a wonderful resource, allowing us to actually see such leaders speak.) Winston …

Education in 2020: Fashionable vs fruitful

A No-nonsense perspective Last summer, while visiting a friend, I picked up a novel from the bookshelf.  The protagonist was a kindergarten teacher whose school shared a building with a prestigious “progressive” elementary school.  Ten years previously, its progressiveness was defined by its unstructured approach where students were free to discover their own interests and choose their activities.  Ten years …

Culture fit vs culture add

There is little doubt that a start-of-the-year best practice list for educational leaders would include helping new faculty fit into the culture of the school. Indeed it’s important that new teachers, whether experienced or novices, are given the lay of the land. But, as opposed to simply fitting in, new teachers can, in fact, meaningfully add to a school’s culture. …

7 Ways to demotivate teachers

Some times the best way to achieve positive results is to consider the most negative possibilities and do the opposite. Much has been said and written about how to motivate teachers. Perhaps more can be learned by thinking about how to avoid the negative. In that spirit, here are seven ways that are sure to demotivate teachers. Be unsupportive when dealing …

Displine, Diversity & Teacher Satisfaction

In my last post, I wrote of the importance for any school to have faculty who are respected, fulfilled, satisfied and proud to be teaching where they are. I shared some of what I had learned through a teacher satisfaction study I recently completed and promised to share more insights.   Two issues emerged as being most important to the teachers …

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8 ways to make teachers feel valued

Successful schools have faculty who are respected, fulfilled, satisfied and proud to be teaching where they are. That is one of my conclusions having recently completed a comprehensive study of teachers’ attitudes and impressions about the schools at which they work. Teachers want to feel pleased to be employed by their school, like their jobs, and feel well supported in …

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Heads: In crisis, position yourself for success

Two recent events in renowned, highly reputable institutions have reverberated through the independent school community.  Both resulted in the Heads of their respective schools leaving their positions. The first was at the Bishop Strachan School in Toronto. Some members of the school community felt that students had not been properly prepared for a theatre performance based on Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. …

Teacher evaluations and the case for specialization

Achieving top-quality teaching, as determined by merit and significance, requires subject specialization from both teachers and evaluators. Michel Scriven defines teacher evaluation as “the process of determining merit, worth or significance.” Merit refers to the quality of the work. Worth is the value of the individual to the organization, which may be greater or less than his merit. In a …

Teacher Evaluations: Merit, Worth and the Courage to Act

One of the greatest influences on my thinking about evaluation is the work of Michael Scriven.  Currently Director of the Claremont Graduate University Claremont Evaluation Center, he has a research, teaching and consulting career extending more than 60 years. I first encountered his ideas when writing my doctoral dissertation in the 90’s, and, after all these years, still find hiswork, whether …

Conversation is essential to evaluation

Conversations make the evaluation process rich, meaningful, and credible. When evaluating teaching, the evaluator must work to understand and appreciate, what the teacher is doing, and the reasons for the choices the teacher has made. While the reasons for some may seem obvious, many will not be. It is in the post-observation conversations that these will be explored. Teaching is …