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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?

Episode 054: The Power of PLC

For this episode of Passing Notes I interviewed Dr. Keely Frayser. Keely is the Executive Director of Curriculum in the Putnam City School District. Keely and I discussed in depth the power of a PLC community within a school and a district and how PLCs can help change the narrative and community of a school.

Reflection Questions:

  • What does your curtain PLC practice looks like?
  • What are the expectations for PLC and collaboration in your school?
  • What drives your school’s PLC conversation?
  • What data is important for your teachers to discuss during PLC meetings?
  • How does PLC and regular collaboration impact your school environment?
  • Who has ownership of PLCs?

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 051: The Role of Superintendent

This is episode 1 of the Leadership Series. This series will focus on the multifaceted work of school leaders. To kick of this series, I interviewed Dr. April Grace, Superintendent of Shawnee Public Schools, on the role of the superintendency and the importance of civic engagement. You can contact Dr. Grace on Twitter @ShawneeSup.

Reflection Guide:

  • What is your leadership philosophy?
  • How has your views on leadership or your view of yourself as a leader changed during your years as an educator?
  • How do you find balance between leadership and administrative duties?
  • What guides you through the larger challenges of school/district leadership?
  • How does leadership impact your engagement in advocacy?
  • How does engaging in the community build your leadership capacity?
  • What role does accountability play in your leadership position?

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?

Episode 049: Partners in Education

This episode of Passing Notes is focused on how partners support education and instructional practices in the classroom! I interviewed members of OKC Midtown Rotary Club Laura Nauman, Emily Duncan, and Matt Murphy about the projects they have completed in partnership with a variety of schools across the metro and how educators can engage with them in the process.

OKC Midtown Rotary Club was chartered in 2009 with the goal of involving young professionals in in the service and ideals of Rotary International with a focus on Arts and Education in Oklahoma City. You can find out more information about OKC Midtown Rotary Club by visiting their Facebook page, Twitter, or their website.

Reflection Questions:

  • What is a need in your classroom or school that could be fulfilled by connecting with a partner?
  • What is a major project that you would like to work on during this school year?
  • What organizations could you partner with to see this project completed?
  • What first steps do you need to take?
  • In what ways can you engage partners throughout the coming school year in your classroom?

Episode 048: Education Foundations

Education Foundations, large and small, exist all over the nation to support schools and teachers with a focus on meeting school needs where gaps exist. OKCPS has an exceptional foundation that, like other foundations, is working to address many of the educational challenges that our district faces. I visited with Mary Mélon, who is the president of the OKCPS Foundation. You can find more information at their website www.okckids.com, on their Facebook page, or on Twitter.