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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Learning Links for August 2017 - Back to School Edition

We started this series two months ago with the premise that what we focus on is what we get. So instead of accepting the media’s narrative of low test scores, broken budgets, and poor morale, Thriving Schools has decided to go in the opposite direction (and to focus on all the amazing things taking place in education). We’re excited to present our “back to school” edition of this list – stories and articles that our Thriving Schools network read and shared with us this past month! We hope you find a few nuggets of inspiration and intrigue!

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How to bring surprise into the classroom!

Today, we’re doing something a little different . . . To celebrate the start of another school year, we’re sharing a few excerpts from the book Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected. Though the book is about bringing curiosity and wonder back into all aspects of life (relationships, responsibilities, and routines), its conclusions can be readily applied in the classroom. In fact, the book gives many examples of how its principles are used to engineer the unexpected at school. Enjoy these stories of surprise! And we wish you a strong and successful start to the new school year!

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TalkingPoints - A must-have tool for Back-to-School!

Today’s piece explores an exciting new tool that promises to solve one of the largest problems in the domain of parental engagement – communication between teachers and parents across language barriers. TalkingPoints is a multilingual texting platform that elegantly connects teachers and families in more than 20 different languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, French, Hmong, and Haitian Creole.

Given that the ELL student population is expected to triple by 2030, this is exactly the type of platform educators will need to ensure that families and parents are engaged in their child’s education. And best of all, it's free! If you’re teaching ELL students, TalkingPoints is a must-have tool for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year!

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Restorative Justice at Bright Star Schools - Part 2

We’re excited to bring you Part 2 in our discussion with Bright Star Schools about restorative justice! Today, we speak with Marni Parsons, Bright Star’s Vice President of Student and Family Services about the specific programs and practices use in its schools. Throughout our conversation, Marni makes it very clear that any successful restorative program has its foundation in strong community. She tells us, “The foundation of being a restorative community is that you’ve actually taken the time to build community. If you don’t already have a community built, you have nothing to restore when a harm is done.”

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Restorative Justice at Bright Star Schools - Part 1

Earlier this spring, we had the pleasure of bringing you several pieces on the Bright Star Schools network. This week, we return to Los Angeles to ask the Bright Star team about their use of restorative practices. Today’s piece is a discussion with Hrag Hamalian, Chief Executive Officer at Bright Star Schools, about the importance of having a restorative justice program. We discuss the pitfalls of traditional discipline models in schools, how Bright Star has gone about implementing restorative practices, and the improvement in school culture they’re seeing as a result. Later in the week, we’ll follow-up with Marni Parsons, Bright Star’s Vice President of Student and Family Services, about specific programs and practices used in its schools.

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Learning Links for July 2017

We started this series last month with the premise that we focus on is what we get. So instead of accepting the media’s narrative of low test scores, broken budgets, and poor morale, Thriving Schools has decided to go in the opposite direction (to focus on all the positives and the amazing individuals who make them happen). This is the list of stories and articles that our Thriving Schools network read and shared with us this month! We hope you find a few nuggets of inspiration and intrigue!

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Continuous coaching with Mike McKenna

Good school leaders know the importance of coaching and developing their teachers. However, finding the time to do so is often very challenging. Today, we speak with Mike McKenna, the Founding School Leader of Memphis Delta Preparatory Charter School, about how he strives to spend 100% of his time coaching staff. In this piece we ask Mike about the tradeoffs he makes to spend more time on development, the difference between short-term and long-term fixes, and some of the coaching drills he uses to provide effective feedback.

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