Author: joelpedersen33

Let’s Embrace the Opportunities in Differentiated Accountability

Great article to share with legislators!

Jon's Blog

Later this week, Iowa’s Department of Education will be releasing its first set of attendance center rankings.  The first iteration of these rankings will include only a subset of three of the nine healthy school indicators that will ultimately be used to rank schools and education agencies.  The first three indicators in this subset are academic proficiency, academic growth, and closing the achievement gap for students with disabilities.  These, initially, will be based on annual, standardized measures and may, therefore, seem to be just an extension of the old NCLB system of sanctions based on standardized data.

I would argue, though, that we are on the cusp of an encouraging opportunity in Iowa education.  I say that because we are looking at a new accountability system in Iowa that needs to be viewed in its entirety.  Yes, there will be an annual release of rankings and those of us in…

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I need your vote!

I Need Your Help!

 

Friends,

I’m asking for your help. There is 24 hours left in the voting for the edublog award for administrator blogs. If you have not already, I am asking for your vote. It takes about 30 seconds. Keep in mind that clicking on the “thumbs up” does complete the vote. You must do one last thing with Listly. I have not received any annoying emails from Listly if you were wondering.

Thanks for consideration. You can see if your vote went through by checking the likes.

http://edublogawards.com/2014-awards/best-administrator-blog-2014/

 

 

 Thanks

 

Increase your Influence

5 levels of leadership

Increase Your Influence

About 2 years ago, I read the book, Five Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell. Recently, I have been reflecting on the importance of level 4. Level 4 is all about developing people within your organization. You have reached level 4 when people grow into leaders. Leaders must put aside their own egos to allow others to grow into leaders. This post is about challenging the importance you place on developing future leaders. The great leaders increase their influence by empowering others to be great!

Hayden Fry – Developer of Talent

First of all, I must admit that I am a lifelong Hawkeye Football fan. Having said that, I cannot think of a better example of a leader who understood the importance of growing leaders. Please take a look at all the college football coaches Hayden Fry directly or indirectly impacted (see below). While Coach Fry’s success in the win column was impressive, his legacy of developing leaders continues to make a huge impact. The number of universities who have benefitted from Fry’s belief in developing leaders cannot truly be measured.

Question:

What will your leadership tree look like when you retire?

 Leadership Flow Chart

Coach Fry career record: 37 Years, 230-180-10, .560 winning pct.

Great leaders realize their success comes from creating a team with spirited individuals ready to learn, follow and/or take the lead. Those selected individuals who wish to lead have to be fueled, empowered, recognized, and allowed to take risks so they can grow. The leader of a team must allow his or her people to take ownership and develop their own skills, so the whole organization can flourish.

If you are asking for teammates to support the mission then you must realize that you have to be ready and willing to add value to their personal development too. Sometimes this may mean you have to support them even if they outgrow your own mentoring or coaching capabilities. However, do not let this discourage you from pouring your heart and soul into creating passionate, bold, and influential leaders. After all, Hayden Fry created leaders who eventually grew beyond his field, but he can say he has had a hand in changing the world because of his coaching and mentoring.

JAck Welch

As always, I leave you with an exercise that you can do with your school staff to help remind educators why we are in the business of making the world a better place.

#Oneperson Action Item

If you are looking for a fun way to start or end a faculty meeting or professional development session, try the link below. This link allows you to do a quick game with your staff. We need more fun in our schools!

http://www.classtools.net/random-name-picker/index.php

Somebody Should Fire This Guy – Part 2

My last post was by far my most popular post since I started blogging 3 months ago.  The post seemed to resonate with school leaders in a very personal way. It also resonated with news media across the state of Iowa. Finally, the decision to put Wifi in school buses resonated with citizens across the state.  I have republished an editorial piece that appeared in the Ottumwa Courier on Saturday, Sept. 27th edition.   I thank my friend, Mark Newman for sharing his thoughts about change in the following article.

A Newsman Finds The Facts

WiFi on Cardinal Buses Creates a Buzz

 

ELDON, IA— Is it easy to criticize educators, or just fun?

As a kid, it was a little bit of both. While teachers, school boards and administrators always receive their share of insults, they can make it worse on themselves. Change does it, as does being the first to do something new.

One of Wapello County’s school boards and their superintendent received a lesson in how an attempt at improvement will raise the hackles of folks more than 100 miles away.

In case you haven’t guessed by now, I’m talking about Cardinal of Eldon: Out in rural Iowa, the kids don’t always have access to the internet. Superintendent Joel Pedersen decided to put WiFi hot spots on each bus. All grade 6-12 Cardinal students are given a laptop for the year.

Local media reported, but then the story broke state wide.

Pedersen told us that it was possible kids would play games. He knows that, and so does the board. But one thing was sure; his students, he said, deserve at least the opportunity to study. If kids did want to do internet research (a big part of today’s school curriculum), they had to have access to the internet.

They get to choose how to use that time. Keep in mind, however, one of the other innovations at Cardinal: Mandatory homework. There are no “incomplete” grades. You will do your school work. If you don’t get homework done, children are ordered back to school over the weekend; teachers oversee homework completion — outside of their contract days, which is to say, without pay.

For many of the rural kids, Pedersen said, that 45 minutes spent sitting on the bus for the ride home is the last chance to hook up to the ‘net. They certainly can’t access the broadband from their house.

“The infrastructure just isn’t there,” he said of his largely rural district.

The Eldon kids thought it was a great idea. The parents … well, they were hesitant, though generally said they’d wait and see. The concern was that rather than doing research or homework, the children would play with their laptop computers or, perhaps, watch funny cat videos.

Viewers watching Des Moines television used Facebook to judge the small community’s decision on Facebook. Some opinions, even negative, were well thought out. With others, it was hard to tell whether they’d read (or watched) any of the interviews with Pedersen. I will never say which category any of the following fall into.

Jenna Rozinek  queried “Couldn’t the money be used for something better, like maybe new books …?

Shelley McGuire Nelson suggested we “have them open their textbooks and do homework … Waste of money.”

Jennifer Zagar inquired, “If the computer is what is teaching them [why] do we need teacher?”

Amanda Stone-Janssen “My first reaction was omg that’s dumb, who is really going to use the WiFi for homework? But then I actually thought my response through….. While the schools provide the laptops [to take home], they do not provide the Internet it takes to use them. Not all of us are blessed enough to have the Internet at home, financially or simply because affordable Internet isn’t available in some rural areas … If this gives those kids, however few, time and resources to get their work done, then so be it.”

Jamie Blakley said that if the rides were shorter, she would ask why they’d bother. But at up to two hours on a bus, the addition “is a very nice thing for the school district to do. Especially if some of these kids don’t have it at home. The instinct is to say ‘back in my day we didn’t’ but we aren’t [in] those days…”

Nick Hansen wrote, “I rode the bus all the time when I was a kid … we didn’t have it then and we were fine.”

Theresa McDonald Dowd stated, “I rode the bus for 2 hours every day when I was a kid. I did not have wireless internet and I still managed to get my homework done. What a waste of tax dollars.”

This week, Pedersen used his blog to address the criticism. He showed the Facebook posts, but did not criticize any poster individually.

“My post is not about convincing anyone about the merits of adding WiFi on school buses. I’m sure arguments could be made for both sides of this implementation. I do want to mention the challenges we face as leaders when moving into uncharted territory.”

There’s the crux of the matter for me: As the world changes, do we prepare students for the former world or for the one we’re sending them into?

Kevin Schlomer wrote a long post on Facebook; I had to shorten it so it would fit.

“The world is changing. We have to prepare kids for their future, not 1985. Many curriculum materials are moving entirely online. They are more current, more interactive and much cheaper than trying to constantly update paper textbooks. If kids sit on a bus for 2 hours why not give them a chance to work on homework? I think it’s a great chance for all districts to watch and learn from this school.”

— Ottumwa Courier reporter Mark Newman can be contacted via mnewman@ottumwacourier.com

Somebody Should Fire This Guy?

 

 

Cardinal CSD recently made the decision to add high speed Internet on our bus fleet. My school board vetted the idea and decided that the need was there for our students. The 3 main reasons the board cited were:

  1. Many of our students ride up to 2 hours a day on the bus because of our rural bus routes.
  2. Many students do not have access to high speed Internet because of low family income or lack of Internet infrastructure in our district.
  3. Our students would have access to Internet to help with school assignments especially on long activity trips during the week.

Change Is Scary

My post is not about convincing anyone about the merits of adding Wifi on school buses. I’m sure arguments could be made for both sides of this implementation. I do want to mention the challenges we face as leaders when moving into uncharted territory. I have posted a few of the nearly 60 comments that have been posted on KCCI Facebook page since the story aired last Friday. Please note the post by AJ Lewis:

jp2

Leaders must be prepared for harsh critics who see the world differently than you. Don’t take it personally and also believe in what you are doing.

jp3

My challenge to YOU!

Leading change takes guts and perseverance to challenge the status quo. Taking risks is what moves the human race forward. Some people will “call for your head,” while others will applaud you. It is always about doing what is best for kids! This thought will always guide you and allow you to take risks.

Remember to find your champions during the “dark days” of implementation. The post below is a champion post. Remember to look for champions like Jamie. By the way, I have never met Jamie Blakely but I appreciate her!

jp4


#Oneperson Action Item

As always, I leave you with an exercise that you can do with your school staff to help remind educators why we are in the business of making the world a better place.

A Toast for Culture

Starting a new initiative or has your school worked extremely hard to improve student achievement? If so, the toast for culture might be just what you need to do as the “Lead Learner” of your district of school.

Steps

  1. Find some plastic flute glasses. They are sold at most grocery stores.
  2. Order sparking grape juice (white or purple)
  3. Keep in mind that the store may pack your bottles in wine boxes because of the weight of the bottles… don’t panic!
  4. Have the glasses on the table and make an awesome toast. Don’t forget to Tweet out a picture.
  5. This is a great activity to start or end a professional development day.

jp5

How Full Is Your Bucket?

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 9.15.45 PM

I recently had the privilege of spending a day at Meskwaki Settlement School in Tama, IA. I was asked to speak about the importance of school climate. Hopefully, I shared a few tips that my new friends can use. While I was speaking, a longtime teacher asked if I knew about the “Theory of the Bucket and the Dipper.” This is a simple but powerful theory, which actually formed the foundation for the culture building at Davis County Middle School in Bloomfield, IA several years ago. This post is for anyone who has never heard of this theory created by the late Donald Clifton.

I will take the description right from the Gallup poll website:

The Theory of the Dipper and the Bucket

Each of us has an invisible bucket. It is constantly emptied or filled, depending on what others say or do to us. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful.

Each of us has an invisible dipper. When we use that dipper to fill other people’s buckets — by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions — we also fill our own bucket. But when we use that dipper to dip from others’ buckets — by saying or doing things that decrease their positive emotions — we diminish ourselves.

Like the cup that runneth over, a full bucket gives us a positive outlook and renewed energy. Every drop in that bucket makes us stronger and more optimistic.

But an empty bucket poisons our outlook, saps our energy, and undermines our will. That’s why every time someone dips from our bucket it hurts us.

So we face a choice every moment of every day: We can fill one another’s buckets, or we can dip from them. It’s an important choice, one that profoundly influences our relationships, productivity, health, and happiness.

The challenge:

  • How could you implement this theory into the culture of your school?
  • Would this make sense to staff and students?
  • Did you know students could write drops to their teachers?
  • As a leader, will you confront staff members who are always dipping from others?
  • Do you thank staff members who are constantly filling students’ bucket?
  • Have you considered students who come to school with empty buckets due to their home situation?
  • Would it help to your school culture if you increased the amount of bucket filling happening at your school?
  • Could a positive phone call home fill our parents’ buckets?

See Java with Joel video for a bucket filling opportunity!

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 9.18.24 PM

As always, I leave you with an exercise that you can do with your school staff to help remind educators why we are in the business of making the world a better place.

#Oneperson Action Item

Java with Joel

Could you do something like this?

Btw…. My tech coach, Alecia Gardner, helped me with this video: http://aleciagardner.blogspot.com/

Bucket Filling is all about Emotional Intelligence!

What Conversation Are You Putting Off?

 Be that #Oneperson

Untitled

As many of you have noticed, I enjoy blogging about the importance of school culture. Most posts are focusing on the fun side of building culture, which is very important in developing trust. I find that many school administers are fairly proficient at this because it brings joy and smiles to the faces of their team.

There is another side of school leadership, which many administrators tend to avoid, the Fierce Conversation.   Early in my career, I found myself in this position because, quite frankly, I was scared to have these kinds of discussions. I feared these tough conversations because I wanted to “be liked” Little did I know I was damaging my school culture by not confronting toxic situations or toxic people.

Gradually, I gained more confidence and courage to have these discussions when needed. However, during these discussions I often felt the “flow” of the conversations were disjointed and were sometimes ineffective. Upon further reflection, I realized a need to improve in two specific areas during these difficult conversations.

Problem Area 1 – Inconsistent Preparation

I did not prepare for my conversations at the level I needed to. The lack of preparation typical showed up when I missed significant details, which should have been included in the discussion. Luckily, I found a tool that has made all the difference for me. It is called the,“60 second opener,” created by Susan Scott. I have used this protocol a number of times and the process is magical. If you try the protocol, make sure to follow the steps exactly as they are written. The opener is magical and is the cure for inconsistent preparation. I also role-play my conversations with my colleagues. This allows me to practice and provides me with an opportunity to make adjustments if needed.

Get the 60-second opener here: http://bit.ly/1tzJYek

Problem Area 2 – Too Many Pillows

This is an area, which can cause a leader issues. Strong leaders begin a meeting with good intentions. They desire to confront a problem area or correct a behavior; however, the conversation becomes problematic when the administrator tries to soften the conversation. This softening of the intended conversation is called “pillowing.” This happens when the administrator becomes distracted, tries to cushion the inappropriate behavior, and allows the participant to deflect the conversation or make excuses. Please control the conversation and end with phrases like:

  1. “Do you have any questions about my expectations?”
  2. “Your behavior was unacceptable and I expect it to change.”

Culture is a constant balance between accountability and culture. Administrators cannot shy away from challenging situations. Your solid employees are counting on you to tackle toxicity within your school culture.

Our work, our relationships, and our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time. While no single conversation is guaranteed to transform a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can. – Susan Scott

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As always, I leave you with an exercise you can do with your school staff to help remind educators why we are in the business of making the world a better place.

#Oneperson Action Item:

Theme Emails

  1. Turns mundane and routine emails into appointment viewing
  2. Pick any theme you want…. It may depend on the age of your staff !

Few Sample Emails…

Hey You Guys,

A reminder that Sloth loves Chunk, and Sloth also loves when you submit your semester grades in on time! Remember grades are due Friday, January 11th by 3:45.

chunk

 

Team,

Please remember to take attendance each period within 5 minutes of class starting, so our attendance office can save Ferris if he is absent.

Ferris

 

School Improvement Starts with Culture

Be that #oneperson

Great companies that build an enduring brand have an emotional relationship with customers that have no barrier. And that emotional relationship is built on the most important characteristic, which is trust. Howard Schultz – Starbucks CEO

Leaders, One simple question: “How much time do you spend on shaping the culture of your organization?” You see- your culture is being formed with or without you. Visitors to your school can feel your culture within seconds of entering your building. Simple cultural distinctions like:

  1. What do the walls in your school communicate?
  2. How does the building secretary greet visitors?
  3. How do students greet fellow students in the hallways?

There are thousands of different definitions of organizational culture. Most of them I am not smart enough to understand and explain to my staff. I simply say to my staff our culture is defined by “How we do things around here.” This simple definition allows our school district to keep a “laser like focus” on maintaining and creating a positive school culture. I will share 2 strategies that I use to shape school culture. Please feel to “pushback” on any of these ideas. I will be sharing more ideas at the School Administrators of Iowa Conference on Wednesday, August 6th. I would love to see you at my session.

Strategy 1

No Complaining Rule

We have an expectation that everyone looks for solutions. In many situations, teachers have the best solutions to issues at school. This agreement has empowered teachers to share those solutions to building principals. This rule has also lowered the amount of mindless complaining, which adds to the toxicity of school culture.

The No Complaining Rule

“Employees are not allowed to mindlessly complain to their co-workers. If they have a complaint they can take it to the principal/superintendent or someone who can do something about the problem, BUT they must also offer one or two possible solutions.”

The intention is to eliminate mindless complaining which leads to a toxic work environment and encourage justified complaints that lead to new ideas, innovation and success.

Strategy 2

The second strategy comes from the work of Jamie Vollmer, and his book, Schools Can’t Do It Alone. The words below appear in page 185. We remind our entire staff about the importance of the thoughts below. Five years ago, bad mouthing was a prevalent problem. However, over time as we focused heavily on this strategy, the pride, morale and commitment in our district has grown.

Stop bad-mouthing
one another in public

(See page 185.)

Teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, administrators, and board members must stop bad-mouthing one another and their schools in public. This destructive behavior is pervasive, and it is the epitome of lose-lose behavior: it undermines the reputation of the speaker while simultaneously grinding down the public’s opinion of their local schools.

There is no doubt that many educators have reasons to complain. They struggle with an ever-increasing list of academic, social, and medical responsibilities. They resent being forced to raise America’s kids without adequate support, and they are bitter about the growing disrespect displayed by students, parents, and the public. There are times when the fury and frustration become too much to bear. But venting in public is a nasty habit that solves nothing. If silence and restraint become impossible to maintain, there is an acceptable release: Gripe to your spouse. That’s why we have them.

As always, I leave you with an exercise that you can do with your school staff to help remind educators why we are in the business of making the world a better place.

#Oneperson Action Item:

  1. Copy and paste this definition to a document and hand out to all staff

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/organizational-culture.html#ixzz39FfEnnFD

  1. Please give you staff five minutes to read and discuss the definition. Maintain a straight face, and tell your staff that “This is a very important document and everyone needs to try to memorize this!”
  1. Have this clip ready to go… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjHORRHXtyI Ask your staff to pay close attention to this clip as it will help them understand the definition above.
  1. After the clip, smile and tell your staff to make a paper ball with the definition and throw it across the room. We don’t need fancy definitions- culture is simply, “The way we do things around here”  This is fun to watch
  1. This activity should conclude with a quick discussion about school culture and why it is important.

Hope to see you!

School Administrators of Iowa Annual Conference

 Presenter- Joel Pedersen

 Topic – School Improvement Starts with School Culture

Meeting Rooms – 302-304

Date and Time – Wednesday, Aug. 6 from 2:05-2:45

Why did you decide to make a difference?

Be that #oneperson

Why did you decide to make a difference?

As I reflect on why I became an educator, 3 goals keep coming to the top of my list. First, I wanted to give children the same kind of hope that many of my teachers gave me. Secondly, I wanted to build relationships and inspire people to be great. Lastly, my goal was to make the world a better place one action at a time. Some days I fall short with those goals, but I also have those magical days when my goals are fulfilled. I hope that my blog will help you reflect on the question: Why did I decide to make a difference?

Goal 1

Give Hope

 I remember that I wanted to play in the NBA when I was in 3rd grade. My wonderful teacher, Mrs. Welsh, encouraged me to reach for that goal, but in a very gentle way reminded me that I may want to focus on my studies as well. She gave me hope but also wanted to make sure that I stayed focused on my grades. I’m glad I listened; I am 6’1” and my vertical jump was very low. I did however become the first person in my immediate and extended family to graduate from college.

As educators, we have the ability to give children hope everyday. Many of our students come from households where desperation and despair rules the conversation around the kitchen table. Our students can often feel as if they must accept their future, but as educators we can offer a brighter outlook. Educators should instill the values of hard work within their students, so they can see that a great education can open new doors in life. One success may lead to another and this helps our students gain a sense of hope. Always give your students hope in the classroom because there will be plenty of despair in other areas of their lives.

 Goal 2

Build Relationships

As I begin my 15th year as an educator, the importance of building relationships is becoming more distinct. My former students are starting their careers and families. They are very proud to introduce their children to me. I have even talked to a few who have become educators.

What I hear from my former students over and over again is this, “You cared about me. You also taught me some stuff, which I know was important, but above all you cared about me!” WOW- you see content is never more important than the child and we must remember that. Never stop working to connect with everyone in the schoolhouse. You will be remembered by how many relationships you built not how many Powerpoints you created.

 Goal 3

Make the World a Better Place

The last reason was made very clear to me at the Cardinal Junior/Senior Prom this past April. The video below is perhaps one of my proudest moments as an educational leader. While I had nothing to do with the students’ votes, I hope that I have modeled an environment that Todd Whitaker states “makes it cool to care.” I watched my students rise to their feet and applaud their classmate who they have known since kindergarten. I observed my community clapping and crying during this moment. You see if you fight to make your culture special, your students will follow the examples of the leader. That night the world became a better place!

As always, I leave you with an exercise that you can do with your school staff to help remind educators why we are in the business of making the world a better place.

#Oneperson Action Item:

  1. Have your staff write down someone who made a difference in their life on a postcard
  2. Have your staff include the address of that someone on the postcard
  3. Collect the postcards and store in a safe place until December 10th
  4. Send a letter to your staff member’s #oneperson identified on the postcard
  5. Step back and let the magic happen

 

Sample letter

December 19, 2011

 

Dear Jane Doe,

This letter of appreciation is being sent to you because John Doe mentioned you as a person who has had a positive influence on his life. John works at Cardinal Community School District and makes a similar contribution to a number of students here daily. As a way of thanking him for making a difference, I thank you for the role you have played in his development.

May your holidays be filled with love, laughter, and fulfillment.

 

Sincerely,

Joel Pedersen

Superintendent

Cardinal Community School District

 

 

Excellence can be achieved if you:

Care more than others think is wise.

Risk more than others think is safe.

Dream more than others think is practical.

Expect more than others think is possible.

-Roland Barth