Bringing Courage and Love to the Classroom with Verta Maloney

Today we’re excited to present Round 2 with Verta Maloney! In our first piece with Verta, she explained her process for guiding school teams through their personal stories on race. In Part 2, we shift our focus to how teachers can have these courageous conversations at the classroom level. Specifically, we discuss what teachers can do to personally prepare themselves, how to include diverse viewpoints in classroom discourse, and Verta’s excellent resource recommendations for reading and reflection. We also close with Verta’s personal mantras for bringing love to the work that we all do!

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How to Personalize Learning - 6 Findings from Silicon Schools

Silicon Schools provides the funding to launch or redesign schools that are laboratories of innovation and proof points for personalized learning. It’s portfolio of charter, district, and independent schools serves a diverse mix of students in the San Francisco Bay Area. Back in August, it released a report titled All That We’ve Learned which discusses its findings on personalized learning from the last five years. In this piece, we take a look at 6 important conclusions from the report and provide several suggestions for how educators can modify them for any school setting. Be sure not to miss item #4 which includes excellent resources on helping students set and reflect on goals.

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Learning Links for December 2017 - Holiday Break Edition

As you find yourself relaxing next to the fireplace this holiday season, hot cocoa in hand, we thought you’d like to know we’ve been thinking of you! Here are this month’s best articles, analyses, and stories in education from across the web! This month you’ll learn about 12 educators who are delivering big changes to their communities, how principals are building the skills to motivate their school teams, and strategies for effective discussion in the classroom. And in keeping with the holiday spirit, you’ll also get the story of how kindness can be taught to students everywhere. Enjoy our special holiday edition of Learning Links!

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Creating Teacher Evaluation Systems with Sarah Rosskamm

Today we’re speaking with Sarah Rosskamm, President and Founder of Hendy Avenue Consulting, about designing strong teacher evaluation frameworks. Sarah was responsible for the development of the Achievement First Teacher Career Pathway and has now helped countless other schools and districts create and implement their own. In this piece, Sarah explains why coaching and development need to be at the heart of an evaluation system, how schools can intelligently implement such systems, and provides several examples of strong rubrics and frameworks. If you’re looking to improve how your teachers are evaluated, this is a must-read!

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Harmony Project LA - The Power of the Community Music Movement

At Thriving Schools, we love learning how the best educational programs for kids work! And that’s why we’re excited today to be speaking with Paloma Ramos, Program Director at the Harmony Project, about how the Los Angeles based organization brings music (and joy) to its students. We’ll provide an overview of the program, see how it finds (and funds) its musicians, and learn how it works with families to achieve strong student retention. Even if you’re not involved in music instruction, you’ll still walk away feeling inspired by the power of the community-based music movement (and hopefully a few ideas on how you can strengthen community in your own neighborhood).

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Defining Excellence in Teaching with Shyam Kumar

Previously, we shared Part 1 of our conversation with Shyam Kumar, Founder and CEO of NorthStar Education Partners and former Executive Director of Teach for America – Atlanta. In that piece, Shyam explained why effective teachers often leave the classroom and why schools’ retention efforts have come up short. In Part 2, we dig in deeper! You’ll learn the process Shyam uses to define excellence in teaching, how to go about designing effective extended-teaching roles, and get ideas for distributing leadership at your school. We also include a few of Shyam’s favorite resources for implementing these ideas! Enjoy Part 2!

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Learning Links for November 2017

Here are this month’s best articles, analyses, and stories in education from across the web! This month you’ll learn about the power of trauma-informed teaching, how cities across the country are rethinking classrooms for the 21st century, and explore the 3 styles of classroom writing. We’ll also examine the inequitable distribution of teachers and what we can do about it! Enjoy!

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Planning for Performance with Tim Schwarz

In this piece we chat with Tim Schwarz, expert educator and instructional leadership coach. We cover a wide range of topics on how to get crystal clear with what you want students to learn. Specifically, we discuss how you can improve your planning (by writing better key points), crafting engaging question prompts and exit tickets, and planning out a well-sequenced unit. Consider this piece a 10-minute consultation with Tim on how to become a world-class planner!

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7 Questions to Improve Your Coaching!

It’s clear that effective coaching needs to be at the heart of how we develop teachers. And that’s why we at Thriving Schools have presented several conversations and resources on how best to do this (check out our pieces with Chris O’Brien, Paul Dean, and Mike McKenna). It’s in the same spirit that we present the following seven questions from The Coaching Habit. These seven questions will allow you to say less, ask more, and empower your colleagues to find the right answers on their own. And because we all put on the coaching hat at some point (as school leaders, instructional coaches, or teachers who plan together), we all could improve the questions that we ask.

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Undoing Racism, One Conversation At A Time with Verta Maloney

Today we’re presenting the first part of our conversation with Verta Maloney about having responsible discourse on race in schools. In this piece, you’ll hear exactly how Verta guides a school team through courageous conversations while respecting the unique experiences that everyone brings to the table. Verta’s process includes an honest assessment of school culture, sharing personal stories on race, and respecting all decisions that are agreed upon as a team. We conclude with Verta’s amazing list of resources for delving into these topics further, including her favorite podcasts, films, and organizations.

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Learning Links for October 2017

Here are this month’s best articles, analyses, and stories in education from across the web! This month you’ll learn about Republic’s use of social-emotional learning resources, how to roll out discussion procedures in class, and how you can build resilience as a teacher. You’ll also get a list of 25 words and phrases that can help you instill a growth mindset in your students. Enjoy!

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Effective Differentiation with Ruhi Khan

Today we chat with Ruhi Khan, a Clinical Assistant Professor at Arizona State University. In addition to having nearly two decades worth of classroom experience, Ruhi now works to train and support dual-certification, special-education and elementary teachers. We begin our conversation by discussing why so many teachers struggle to understand the proper function of an IEP. From there, we dive into the proper use of differentiation for special education students. Ruhi provides a framework for effectively differentiating tasks in the classroom and several great resources to help teachers implement them.

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Improving Teacher Retention with Shyam Kumar

Today, we’re excited to sit down and chat with Shyam Kumar, the Founder and CEO of NorthStar Education Partners and former Executive Director of Teach for America – Atlanta. In this conversation, we’ll talk about the main reasons effective teachers leave the classroom, ways to determine if your school might have a long-term retention problem, and how to increase the transparency of hiring systems. Along the way, Shyam will also explain why our appreciation efforts often come up short for teachers who pour their hearts into the classroom.

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4 Challenges from Naval Ravikant

In today’s piece, we share 4 challenges to the current education system from one of Silicon Valley’s top insiders. Naval Ravikant is the outspoken CEO and co-founder of AngelList, a platform for connecting startups and investors. He’s also an active angel investor who has invested in companies like Twitter, Uber, and Stack Overflow. So why should you care about his views on education? As one of Silicon Valley’s best investors, Naval has spent countless hours with the world’s top innovators and entrepreneurs. And as a result, he’s in a unique position to tell us about the skills and mindsets that our most creative employees (think – our current students) will need in the future.

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Confident Delegation with Mike McKenna

Today we speak with Mike McKenna, Founding School Leader of Memphis Delta Preparatory Charter School, about how leaders can delegate tasks in a way that allows everyone to play to their strengths. Mike tells us how tasks are delegated at his school, how this frees him up to focus on instructional excellence, and how avoiding distractions allows him to better execute on past decisions. Mike also tells us why more leaders need to be “recklessly confident.” Hint – this has less to do with carelessness and more to do with having a growth mindset.

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Learning Links for September 2017

Once again, our network has scoured the internet to find you this month’s best articles, analyses, and stories in education. This month’s pieces include key insights from both the Rocketship and BASIS networks, a review of 11 research-based classroom management strategies, and how to effectively implement cold-calling to start the year. Oh, and 600 elementary kiddos in Tennessee would like to share with you an idea on how you and your students can spread kindness in your community . . .

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Creating College Culture at YES Prep with Ashleigh Fritz, Part 2

At the start of the week, we began a conversation with Ashleigh Fritz, School Director at YES Prep Southside in Houston, TX, about how the network creates student commitment to college. Ashleigh told us that for a school to be successful in its efforts, a college-bound culture needs to be at the very foundation of why it exists. Today, in Part 2, we dig deeper into several other programs used at YES Prep, including senior signing day, college readiness seminars, and how school staff supports college preparation. Enjoy round 2 with Ashleigh Fritz!

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Committing to College at YES Prep with Ashleigh Fritz

This week, we’re focusing our energy on how to build a college-bound culture. And we’re thrilled to have Ashleigh Fritz, School Director at YES Prep Southside (in Houston, TX), along to show us how it's done. YES Prep is routinely praised for its college initiatives and results, and so we wanted to ask Ashleigh about the programs and systems that make it work. Specifically, we ask her about YES Prep’s success in sending its students to college, the commitment process that students and families participate in, and how to think about the range of post-secondary options that are available to students.

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Does Your PD Do This?

As we start the current school year, we thought it’d be fun to review the Gates Foundation Report on Professional Development. In Teachers Know Best, published in 2015, the Boston Consulting Group surveyed more than 1,300 teachers to determine what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to the development of educators. In this piece, we present the report’s 3 most surprising findings and what teachers say the best PD programming accomplishes!

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When Problem Based Learning Comes Alive . . .

In this piece, we do round 2 with Natasha Nethero, who has taught for the last 9 years in South Phoenix. Last time, Natasha shared with us planning strategies and resources to help teachers give problem-based learning a “go” in the classroom. This time, we dig in deeper to ask about the classroom structures and culture-building she uses to make PBL “click.” You’ll learn about modifying cooperative learning structures, get a few great ideas for start-of-the-year culture lessons, and hear what books have most influenced Natasha’s holistic approach. Along the way, Natasha also describes how to implement a lesser-known (but very powerful) Kagan structure. Enjoy round 2 with Natasha Nethero!

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