Friday, November 14, 2008

Great News

I hope your year is going well and you are looking forward to a learning filled November and December.

Several weeks ago we applied for a grant through the Loveday Foundation for Innovative Teaching. The grant is given yearly to one elementary school, one middle school and one high school that are members of the GISA . This includes not only the schools we compete against interscholastically but also independent schools that compete in GHSA. The grant rewards innovative teaching which the Foundation defines as ” containing original and innovative ideas and involving significant numbers of students. The proposal should also have an impact which continues over time.”

Tuesday, November 11th, we were notified that our proposal for the creation of an “Outdoor Living Laboratory” had been awarded the $1000.00 grant as this year’s elementary winner. We are very excited not only about the opportunities this will provide for all of our lower school students but to be selected from such an elite pool of independent schools from all over the state is also very rewarding .

Past winners can be viewed at this website-

This project was the brainchild of a collaborative Lower School with many of us contributing to the final plan. The plan for a garden” laboratory” will begin to take shape in the coming weeks and more information will be forthcoming but I wanted to share this great news with all of you.

The holiday season is fast approaching and that is definitely an extra special time with the K-5 presentation of Thanksgiving at chapel, November 19th, the Lower School Christmas Musical December 4th, the Band Concert December 11th, and Kids Yule Love December 12th, just to name a few of the upcoming events. I encourage you to join us at these traditional events as we demonstrate our true Christmas spirit. Thanks for being a part of our academic community.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

We're Back !!!

The end of the summer break has for all intents and purposes already arrived. The schedule, barring personnel surprises, is in the final stages. My colleagues I need but don't see often during the summer are returning and of course the heat and humidity are unbearable. I've read many excellent educational and thought provoking articles and books and am ready to put into motion several new ideas dealing with instruction, technology and curriculum.

I hope the buzzwords for the year include wikis, blogs and backward design. Teachers and students should be excited about these 21st century tools. Technology plays an integral role in most student's lives, they shouldn't have to check that at the door when they enter school. We are the digital immigrants they are the digital natives. We are preparing them for careers that may not even exist at this time. Teaching them to be problem solvers is the key.
I've also inherited a new position in addition to the Academic Coordinator and that is Lower School Principal. I'm looking forward to the challenge but at present I reside in the first stage of awareness, I don't know that I don't know. Everything is uncharted territory but hopefully with the help of an energetic faculty I can progress to the second level soon.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The most important habit of the mind

This is cross posted at The Faculty Room

Be a solutionist

“Persist and you shall succeed” was a saying I heard early and often in my educational career and this habit of the mind was of paramount importance to me. Whether it was my parents or teachers early in life or my colleagues later in life, modeling the behavior, I became a disciple of persistence. This quality provided me with the ability to search for alternative solutions and not become flustered when the initial strategy was unsuccessful. I learned early on in education you not only may need plan B but C, D and sometimes E.

As I began focusing on this blog entry I realized examples of persistence and the lack of it are everywhere. A good portion of my time during the summer involves creating the schedule for the middle and high school. Persistence is required to deal with the multitude of elective choices, teacher preferences and graduation requirements, all which play key roles in the endless puzzle. However, persistence guides me to the completion of this task each and every summer. On the other end of the spectrum, teachers who dismiss technology as something that isn’t necessary and couldn’t possibly enhance their instruction could be an example of a lack of persistence. They have tried it, encountered obstacles and seem to have surrendered to mediocrity. Yet they expect their students to continue the effort and” give it your best.” Does the teacher work through daily problems or do they become disconcerted when obstacles to learning enter the classroom? Teachers, and parents, must continually model persistence for it to carry over to our students.

Persistence is a higher level skill that must first be observed, then taught and reinforced through problem solving activities. Teaching students to persist requires teaching them to understand. Students need to be active participants in the learning process and this requires our instruction to include relevant, engaging performance tasks which sometimes necessitate thinking outside the realm of the textbook. Simplicity resides in most texts, for true understanding we must teach outside the text and that requires the persistence on the part of teachers to find solutions for whatever obstacles they encounter. We want our students to be able to do this also, find alternative solutions to problems, and become solutionists


It is frustrating when this stick-to-it-tiveness seems to be lacking in the current generation of students. To overcome this we too must become solutionists and find ways to challenge and motivate our students towards acquiring this habit of the mind.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Leadership 2008

Check out my contribution to Scott Mcleod's Leadership 2008 on his blog Dangerously Irrelevant.

Utilizing the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for administrators seems like the ideal place to establish effective technology leadership. Administrators should be able to provide guidance in a variety of situations, and implementation of technology throughout the curriculum is no different. Administrators must also possess an enthusiasm about technology and the benefits it can bring to a 21st century classroom. In the absence of this interest, teachers often view technology as a passing fad that can’t possibly be better than the methods they have used for the past twenty years. Teachers need to realize effective teaching combines these traditional methods with technology to bring about more student engagement. This is most successful when there is strong administrative support and leaders create learning communities that empower teachers to collaborate and learn together.
The main emphasis for an administrator should be to establish, articulate, and bring clarity to the technological vision for the school. How will we utilize this technology to better educate our students? Are we being proactive in our planning by scheduling training for the teachers? These are important questions to consider beforehand. Possessing the technology is not enough in itself; professional learning opportunities must be provided for the faculty. In some cases, the actual acquisition of the newer technology is the chief goal, with little planning for the uses in the future. There are countless stories of money being spent for new technologies, yet little time being invested to train teachers in the actual classroom use of it. Planning for the acquisition and the implementation of the technology is of paramount importance and the administrator should be an active leader.
Technology plays a vital role in the education of our 21st century students. Eight years ago we entered into a new century; unfortunately, some teachers are still unwilling to adjust the status quo of the past. Administrators hold the responsibility to redirect these teachers toward current methodology and the eventual incorporation of technology in their curriculum.
(Leadership Day 2008)
Tags: Technology Leadership

Friday, July 18, 2008


Guidelines and Targets

Webster defines a standard as “something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model.” Standards, by my definition, are guidelines, models and meant to be used as a foundation for instructional design. By utilizing standards in this way, teachers become less reliant on outdated material, have a clear and current view of the objectives for their course and still have the flexibility to adapt their instructional planning to the needs of their students. However, as the federal government has become more involved in the direction of public schools with NCLB, the standards and the tests that follow, have been overemphasized to the point of frustration.
The standards based tests have become the ultimate high stakes chip in the assessment of students and their schools. The test scores allow for unfair and unequal comparisons of student to student and school to school. An ‘A’ student can fail the exit exam and be held back or required to attend summer school for “remediation” despite the fact that they can explain, interpret and apply what they’ve learned in school.
This over reliance on summative assessment is the ultimate example of the assumption “works well in theory.” However, in reality this practice leaves much to be desired. This square peg into a square box mentality hinders a teacher’s ability to adapt to an ever changing classroom environment. Some teachers are amazed that of the 25 students in their class, there are varied learning styles each requiring different methodology. How will they cover all the material for the end of the year tests? What will determine the pace at which they move from concept to concept in their class? Hopefully it’s not a pacing guide provided by state officials dictating that they cover this on this specific date. It should consist of two interrelated factors. How well you have taught the material and more importantly the proficiency level of the students, how well they understand the concept. When our students are on chapter four and we’ve paced ahead to chapter seven to cover the material, how can we justify this to the students left behind? Coverage never equals understanding.
Teachers must have the ability to teach to the needs of their students and this responsibility should be enhanced not hindered by the standards and high stakes tests.

Mr. Gerry Kosater

There are two paths you can choose but there's always time to change the one you choose