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!

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 053: Developing School Community

For this episode of Passing Notes I interviewed Greg Frederick. Greg is the principal of the U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City Public Schools. In this role he and his staff have worked hard to develop a place where students can come learn, grow, explore their passions, and make connections.

Reflection Questions:

  • What programs/partnerships do you currently have in your school?
  • What gaps do you see that need to be filled to support students in your school? How might partnerships help?
  • How does your school build community for your students?
  • What values/priorities does the staff at your school have that guide your decision making?
  • What plans do you have to create a stronger school community for your students?

Episode 052: Building Relationships

For this episode of Passing Notes, in the Leadership Series, I visited with retired educator Pam Hibbs on building relationships. Pam Hibbs is the former Director of Early Childhood and my old boss in OKCPS. During her time with OKCPS she developed relationships with community partners, families, and students in order to build opportunities for families.

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you build relationships with your students and parents?
  • How do you build relationships with partners to provide opportunities for your students?
  • How does your school engage the community/parents to participate in instruction?
  • What strategies do you use to encourage family participation?
  • What impact does engaging partners/families in the classroom have on instruction? Building community?

Episode 050: The Partner Effect

For this episode of Passing Notes I interviewed Principal of Shidler Elementary in Oklahoma City, Armando Ayala. Mr. Ayala is known for his ability to connect the community to his school, providing numerous resources and opportunities for his students and their families. Mr. Ayala shared with Passing Notes the importance of relationships and how to build a community.

Reflection Questions:

  • What are the needs at your school that are not being met? What are the student needs?
  • Who are the community members or stakeholders that your school could be partnering with?
  • What steps do you need to take to connect with a partner to fill a need that is present in your school/classroom?
  • If currently connected to the community, what are your successes? Areas for growth?