Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Water and Rocks

It is inevitable that we paddle streams previously paddled.  When we do I'm always amazed at how the stream has changed.  Seasonal flooding changes so many things about a river.  Two recent examples come to mind.

The first was a short paddling trip we took on the St. Francis at the end of April.  I've paddled the lower stretch of this section more times than I care to count, but had not done so in a few years.  I was amazed that the river had taken a completely new route for about 1/4 mile.  From what I remember about the area, the river would have had to go uphill to cut through.  The area had seen record setting flooding in 2011.  Water is a powerful force.

The second example from trip on Current River.  Up and down the stream one can find large rocks/boulders with part in the water and part out, kind of like a stationary iceberg.  While flooding changed the river in the previous example, these rocks tend to stand the test of time.  Flash flood after flash flood and they stay in place.

I think about this concept as I consider education reform.  A flood of reform measures (vouchers, tuition tax credits, charters, virtual charters, performance pay, tenure changes, etc.) are pushing against the rock of public education.  There's plenty of evidence showing that these reforms don't yield significant results.  What we, as educators, fail to grasp is that these efforts are not about quality -- they are about choice.  Once parents are given choice, the education marketplace is supposed to take care of itself.  Don't like your kid's school?  You've only yourself to blame because you get to choose.

In the midst of this flood is the rock of public education.  Schools have stood the test of time, making changes along the way to provide a quality education for millions of students. There are good schools, bad schools and everything in between.  Public perception data on public schools is actually quite good, but you don't hear that on the evening news.

But the flood of education reform is on a steady rise and there is no end in sight.  Will public education hold firm, making changes that provide better opportunities for all kids?  Will the money behind the flood continue to flow?  Will public education be wiped clean by the flood of reform/choice?

Only time will tell.  In the meantime my colleagues and I will continue to lead public school districts along a path of continuous improvement.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Paddling Monthly

I recently updated my simple paddling log.  I've only been keeping it since I set a goal of paddling monthly.  That was in June of 2007. 

In reviewing the log I found that I've only missed two months since that time.  There was no paddling in July of 2008 because I had changed districts and moving got the best of our time.  The second one was in January of 2011 when were frozen out.  It wasn't too cold to paddle, but our prime and back-up locations were frozen.

I look forward to these monthly outings.  Where will we go in July?  Better start planning.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Teacher Evaluation Pilot

Two of our administrators to talk about our teacher evaluation pilot in a webinar on June 26.

Join Us to Hear What Your Colleagues Have to Say About Their First-year Pilot
Learning Sciences International and the Marzano Center for Teacher and Leadership Evaluation invite you to join a live informational webinar event for Missouri school districts on June 26, at 10:00 a.m. CDT.  The purpose is for districts to hear first-hand from administrators in Missouri districts that participated in the pilot of the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model. Dr. Beverly Carbaugh will host the discussion with Independence Elementary Principal, Laura LaCroix, Springfield Facilitator of Operations, Secondary Schools, Dr. Cathy Galland, Wright City Middle School Principal Jeff Haug, and Assistant Superintendent, David Buck.
The Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model is unique in that it identifies a direct cause-and-effect relationship between elements in the model and positive gains in student learning.  Over 500 studies have validated that the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model helps teachers raise student achievement in rural, suburban, and urban environments. Developed over five decades of research, the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model is both expansive enough to reflect the complexity of teaching and focused enough to encourage targeted feedback about classroom behaviors.
Register online to attend this live webinar on June 26, at 10:00 AM CDT.

Monday, June 18, 2012

June Paddling Trip

June 2-5, 2012

The paddle of the month was on the Current River.  This was a leisurely four-day family trip from Akers Ferry to the confluence with the Jack's Fork at Two Rivers.  We took our time on this 40-mile or so trip because it was the first time Zack (age 7) would be paddling his own boat for more than a couple of hours.

We arrived at Akers Ferry just around lunch on a Saturday.  Lunch was eaten at the put-in while the boats were loaded.  Zack was in his kayak with his little dry bag of goodies.  Debbie was in her boat with a little bit of gear.  I was in our gray canoe with most of the supplies.  After lunch, arranging a shuttle, and restroom breaks we hit the water.  The first night was spent on a nice gravel bar just above Pulltite.

On Sunday we made an early morning stop at Pulltite to get a weather update, use flush toilets, and get a treat.  Storms had been in the forecast for Sunday afternoon when we left home -- that was still the case.  We found a nice camping spot high above the river level and set camp very early in the day.
It rained some in the late afternoon.  Zack spent most of the afternoon gathering firewood and practicing his rock throwing skills.  We had camped near a cave, so we got to see lots of bats in the early evening.

Monday was to be our long day.  We stopped at the store at the Round Spring bridge early in the morning to check the weather and get a treat.  The temperature was a bit warmer, causing us to spend more time in the water than the previous two days.  Zack referenced how good of a swimming hole one of our stops was -- all while his teeth chattering behind bluish lips.

Another great camping spot for Monday night.  Zack built a rock wall on the edge of the water and must have thrown a gazillion rocks.  His accuracy is improving.

On into Two Rivers on Tuesday around lunch to complete the trip.  Zack did very well on his first trip of this length in his own boat.  One of us would tow him from time to time, but overall he did surprisingly well.

Where to next month?