Episode 061: Social Emotional Learning

For this episode I interviewed Dr. Giordana Cote. Dr. Cote currently works for Tools of the Mind as the Director of Partnership Development. She has a long career in teaching early childhood and coaching teachers. She completed her dissertation in Social Emotional Learning and uses her expertise in the area to consult for local and regional school districts in Massachusetts. Social Emotional Learning or SEL has become an important part of our professional development and regular discourse around the current climate of education. How we connect with students and develop their SEL skills are an important part of the daily classroom experience and Dr. Cote provides us with some practical tools and reflections for meeting students’ and teachers’ needs.

Reflection Questions:

  • What are the SEL skills that you want to develop in your students? Make a list.
  • How can you purposefully embed those skills throughout the school day?
  • Which of your own experiences can you share with students to develop SEL conversations?
  • What are some practical ways that you can involve families and the larger community to develop SEL skills in your classroom
  • What supports do you need from administration at your site? Make a list.

Episode 060: Advocacy & Covid 19

Whew! This last month has been… so many things but normal. As I’m sitting in my home office thinking about everything that has happened, I’m truly overwhelmed. Like many educators, I’m concerned about our families and their children. I’m worried about my teachers and how they are adjusting. I’m thinking about week 3 of our Continuous Learning Plan, when week 1 came out yesterday. I’m amazed by our SNS team who continues to serve more meals everyday and our instructional staff who handed out thousands of learning packets to families. This. This has truly been adjustment but I have seen the best in others and a community of people come together.

I had been planning an episode about advocacy for awhile. I had wanted to release it in February with the new legislative season occurring but life happened and it hit the list of things I was going to get to eventually. A few weeks ago Dr. April Grace, Shari Gateley, and I were reflecting on all that had been happening when Dr. Grace announced we should podcast about this and so we did. If you don’t know Dr. April Grace, she is the Superintendent of Shawnee Public Schools and you can find her on Twitter @ShawneeSup. Shari Gateley, currently an Assistant Principal at Irving Middle School in Norman and 2019 OK TOY Finalist, is also a parent to a PreK and K student, and you can find her on Twitter @ShariGateley.

Hope you enjoy our conversation and that you are staying safe and healthy!

Episode 059: An Update from the State Superintendent

Another year, another legislative session which means the OSDE and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister are gearing up for another season of new bills and finalized budgets. I sat down with Superintendent Hofmeister to reflect on the past year of her superintendency and look ahead to the coming year. You can find Superintendent Hofmeister on Twitter @joy4ok.

058: School TurnAround

For this episode of Passing Notes I had the opportunity to interview my previous principal, Mr. Lee Roland. Lee Roland is a former teacher, principal, district-level administrator, and the author of the book Fantastic Voyage: a Story of School Turnaround and Achievement by Overcoming Poverty and Addressing Race. Lee Roland is known for his work at Tulakes Elementary in Putnam City Schools. In this episode we explored the topics he covers in his book and his experiences of school turnaround at Tulakes Elementary.

Reflective Questions:

  • What does your current culture/climate look like?
  • What areas of growth are needed in your current sphere (school or district)? Suspension rates? Academic? Attendance?
  • What are your plans to engage parents and students throughout the school year?
  • What support do you currently need to grow your school? Who do you need to support you? What do you need from your team?
  • What metrics will you look at to measure your school’s growth this year?
  • What are you most proud of that is happening in your school community?

Episode 057: School Culture

For this episode of Passing Notes I interviewed recently retired educator, Kevin Lynch. Kevin is a former teacher, university professor, has provided support to teachers through grants across the state, and a former school administrator. I know Kevin because he was one of my teachers at East Central University. From the first day in his class I was amazed at his ability to create a culture of safety and acceptance where students felt comfortable to share their thoughts, ideas, hopes, and dreams about education. I of course had to visit with him about building culture as an educational leader.

Reflection Questions:

  • What does culture look like in your current position? Where does growth or change need to occur?
  • What does your school community value? How are those values represented in the culture, mission, and vision of the school?
  • What are the subcultures at your school site? How do they impact the entire school?
  • How does your school culture impact your students’ success?
  • Who are the community stakeholders that are important to developing school culture?
  • What steps can you take to cultivate a strong, positive school culture?

Episode 056: Equity

For this episode of Passing Notes I interviewed William Stubbs. William is the Managing Director with Uplift Education in Dallas, Texas and is a co-moderator for #BMEsTalk. William and I discussed the importance of equity in education and what districts need to do to keep the conversation going. You can find William on Twitter @WmStubbs.

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you define equity?
  • What practices are in place in your classroom or district to ensure that equity is a part of the conversation?
  • What practices are in place in your classroom or district that are not ensuring equity for each student in your classroom or district?
  • Do students feel included in the classroom and apart of the conversation? Do teachers feel included in the school and feel apart of the conversation?
  • Which members of your district’s community have been historically left out of the conversation? In what ways, are you ensuring that their voices are heard at the decision-making table?

Episode 055: Strategic Planning

For this episode of Passing Notes I interviewed Melonie Hau, the Superintendent of Newcastle Public Schools. Superintendent Hau has worked with multiple districts and the K20 Center on strategic planning. Through this she has learned and led districts in how to create a strategic plan that drives district decisions and student achievement. You can find Superintendent Hau on Twitter @melhau11 and the K20 Center on their website or on Twitter @k20center

Reflection Questions:

  • Does your district currently have a strategic plan?
  • How do you implement the strategic plan in your role within the district?
  • To update or start strategic planning, who needs to be at the table to move the conversation forward?
  • What are your district’s priorities that need to be considered in the strategic planning process?
  • What steps does your district need to take to ensure that the current strategic plan is in motion and applicable to the work that the district is doing to improve student achievement?
  • What does your leadership team need to be successful at strategic planning?