Monday, July 30, 2012

Pioneers of Education

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education annually recognizes pioneers in education at its back to school conference.  The recipients this year are William H. Danforth, Martha Fennewald, Frankie Freeman, and Russell V. Thompson.


Marzano and Teacher Evaluation

Listening to Marzano speak on teacher evaluation at our state department conference.

Started off with lots of statistics that bring up some interesting conversation about the reliability of education measurements. Seems that a teacher quiz has similar reliability to sub-scores on standardized tests.

Can you reward status and growth at the teacher level?  An interesting question for our table to discuss and one with no quick consensus.  How to measure defines part of the problem?

Thinking about looking at a teacher over their career, does effective in year two of one's career look the same as effective in year 12?  Missouri is considering a model that takes this into account.  Large scale piloting is to take place this year.

I don't know what the answer to teacher evaluation is but do know what we currently do is not effective.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


The area Chamber of Commerce hosted a meet the candidate night earlier this week.  The event was attended by numerous candidates, or their surrogates, for national, state, and local elections.

The political speak and meaningless talking points were out in full force.  It was an amicable event, but there was a lack of substance.  Unfortunately, attendance by the general public was quite low.  Was the hot weather keeping people at home?  Is it general apathy?  Or, have people made their choice for the August 7 primary?

Friday, July 20, 2012


Just finished our summer AASA Governing Board meeting. When I came onto the Board the association was facing dire financial straits, like many associations were and continue to be. The situation has been remedied, with significant staff reductions, and we've come out the other side a leaner, more efficient organization. Thanks to the AASA staff for their hard work.

The association still faces significant challenges. The most prominent is a decline in membership. Surely the economy is a cause, but we must also consider the outright attacks on superintendents as a cause as well. Regardless, our charge is to engage current members as well as gaining new members.

As we talked in our regions this morning it was amazing to learn of some of the ways school leaders are getting attacked across the county. I have to wonder if we've lost all civility sometimes. Anyway, it was great to visit with colleagues from the midwest and Canada. We will gather again in February.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Awe and Reverence

I'm in Washington, DC for the summer AASA Governing Board meeting. Each year I find it an interesting trip and get taken aback by the history that surrounds me. I was again in awed reverence as I walked in front of the Capitol this morning. The early morning sun on the monuments is an inspiring site. Perhaps our elected officials will take some time to soak in the reverence around them and then get down to doing the people's business. We need solutions, not the talking points and rhetoric that we get in the news each day.

Energy Bills

Yesterday I checked into a hotel for meeting. I had some time before the first meeting so I did some reading then sat down with my iPad for some catching up. After a while I noticed that I was getting quite cold. Considering the outside temperatures were near 100 degrees, that must have meant the air conditioning must have been on at a high level. I checked the thermostat to find it set at 68. That may not seem an odd setting, but we keep our house much warmer than that. Usually our summer thermostat is program to go no lower than 76. We are used to the higher temperature so I tend to get a little cold when in other buildings. A couple of years ago when we were doing budget cuts at school we estimated that a 1 degree change in our thermostats would save us $6,000 in utility costs. How much would this hotel save if gave patrons less of range to manipulate the temperatures? And how much lower would the rack rate be?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Scouting Weekend

Zack and I spent some time this weekend at Camp Gamble on the S-F Scout Ranch attending Dad and Lad.  The event is for Cub Scouts and their dads.

We arrived after lunch on Saturday.  After a brief camp tour and gear drop off it was off to the various program areas to have some fund.  We had opportunties for archery, BB guns, swimming, canoeing, hiking, and fishing.

The hot weather on Saturday (10th day in a row over 100 degrees) sent us swimming in Nims Lake to keep cool.  While we did some other things, the lake was most refreshing.  After dinner we spent some time exploring before heading off to a most entertaining campfire.  The energy level of the staff was suprisingly high given the sweltering summer they have endured guiding hundreds of Scouts.

This was the first time Zack slept in a canvas wall tent.  The openness of the tent surprised him as did the volume of the insects and frogs at night.  It didn't keep him from sleeping through the thunderstorm that hit around midnight though.  That was the first rain I've seen in about a month.

Overall it was a good weekend.  We'll try a different camp next year and try to get more boys from the pack and den to join us.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

ASCD Summer Conference Day 2

At least the rooms weren't as cold on day 2. Listened to Bob Marzano talk about having a common language of instruction. Good to know that we're implementing several items he discussed. The afternoon session I attended didn't deliver what was expected. Did learn about some cool web tools though. Most of us went to the Cardinals game after the sessions. Good win for the Cards.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

ASCD Summer Conference Day 1

Nice to have a national conference so close to home. With a common core theme, we are sending our administrative team and most of our common core transition team to the event. The morning 3-hour session I attended was on standards based grading. We have been working on this for some time and two of our teachers leading the project were in attendance as well. We'll need to consider brining the presenter(Dr. Cathy Vatterott) out for some help. Thankfully, she is based in St. Louis. The session was helpful but the room was very cold. The afternoon 3-hour session I attended was on resistance to rigor presented by Robyn Jackson. Rigor in curriculum, instruction, and assessment is a big part of our instructional improvement plan This room was also quite cold, but got to be at a table with a diverse group of educators. Always interesting to talk to educators across the country. Hopefully the rooms won't be so cold tomorrow.