Building Professional Capital

Yay, the East Side Monday Focus is back in print.  Yes, we all have been busy with the opening of school, change in schedule, and challenges of getting our rooms and environments in place, but I have to reflect on an area that I am most proud of, and that is building the professional capital of our East Side staff.

One of my favorite authors and researcher that I am “living with” is Michael Fullan.  He authored many books about leadership, about change processes, about technology as well as the principalship.  Dr. Fullan is based in Toronto, Canada and is professor emeritus at the University of Toronto and is one of the leading experts in whole system reform.  He and his cohort of researchers, alongside with some distinguished researchers such as John Hattie and Andy Hargreaves, travel the world to help schools, districts, cities, provinces, states, and nations place “right” drivers in whole-system-reform.  You can say I am a big fan of his because what he is researching on topics that make sense, one being to build the people in the system.  (Right now I am quoting from Professional Capital:  Transforming Teaching in Every School co-authored with Andy Hargreaves.  It is the basis for this post.)

Here it is in a nutshell.  Building professional capital is about building the professionalism and being a professional in any profession, including teaching.  It is about building the teaching core, not only being a professional, but teaching like a pro.  It’s building your craft – your practice.

Professional capital is about developing teachers to “teach like a pro”.   This means, we work together to be the best.  We gear professional development around the common themes and areas that need to be tweaked and we work in professional learning communities.  It is that adage, “The smartest person in the room IS the room.”    Sharing will only build us as professionals in all capacities.

Whole system change does not work unless you build the professionals.  You cannot shove or “push” mandates down to people and say “do this or else.”  It doesn’t work.  What does work is to have a system of “push, pull, nudge”.   I find we are more in a system of pushing and hence, why we get results the way we do statewide.  Like the carrot and the stick type of thing.  It still too early to tell.  With any change, there will always will be implementation dips,  and we really need to be careful with comparisons meaning who’s better, who’s not.  That isn’t what the Regents Reform Agenda is about, believe it or not, but it sure feels it, doesn’t it?

Building the teacher core and professional capital  is part of  my job.   I try to work with you to  create conditions to make this happen and if I don’t, you always tell me.  As we move forward, what I ask is for you to continue to be the best of the best.  Be reflective with what works and what doesn’t.  Work together and share your knowledge.  I’ll leave you with this from the book as it will help make sense of what I am trying to emulate:

“In sum, professional capital is a cornerstone concept that brings together and defines the critical elements of what it takes to create high quality and high performance in all professional practice – including teaching.  It is about what you know and can do individually, with whom you know it and do it collectively, and how long you have known it and done it and deliberately gotten better at doing it over time.  Professional capital is vital for the future of the teaching profession and of society.

You can read this short synopsis of the book here.  Continue to be the best of the best.  See you soon!


Other News

  • Bus Duty for Sept 22- Oct 3  Team 2: Paula Bates, Marcie Tyler, Sarah Pawananon  Upcoming bus duty:  Oct 6-Oct 17  Team 3: Erin Gates, Beth Siebels, Gina Taylor, Pat Williams
  • Please respond to my email regarding arrival/dismissal procedures, especially if you are working the system in the office, outside and have been on bus duty.  Thank you for your feedback.
  • My friend Carol Burris was on CBS Sunday Morning in a segment called The Debate over Common Core.
  • Make sure to schedule a time with Lisa Sheen to meet with me on your goals, then upload them into the iObservation program.
  • Thank you Paula and Todd Bates for hosting us yet again for our East Side get together.  That was fun!!
  • I will be out Friday to travel and attend the Bammy awards Saturday in Washington D.C.  It will be streamed live here   My friends Tony Sinanis and Joe Sanfellipo are doing the red carpet thing.  Oh boy.  I’m a little nervous!  I know Tony, he’ll target me oh geez….
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!

 Other Items of Interest

  • The Board of Regents was briefed about the Social Studies Framework at their September meeting. Soon we’ll have the Field Guide which will be followed by a Toolkit in the spring. Included in the Field Guide will be a first glimpse of an “Inquiry” which will be an example of a unit guide/resource collection. Many more “inquiries” will follow.
  • PBISworld is a site where you can match observed student behaviors with strategies.
  • Procedures for when there is a substitute teacher are very important. Time is too precious to waste a single day. If you teach your students what to do when there is a substitute teacher then it is much more likely that things will go well. Here’s an editable “cheat sheet” to get you started, and here’s an example of one filled out.
  • In this post, a high school principal talks about the changes that PBL brought to his high school.
  • This Scientific American article considers the potential impact of video games on education.
  • Before the school year progresses too much, consider the effectiveness of the positive (and sometimes preemptive) phone call home.
  • Here are some ideas for providing time for teachers to collaborate. Some are more innovative than others, but we have to find more time, somehow, for teachers to collaborate on the right work.
  • Teacher teams need the support of their principal. These suggestions can help support your teams and help them collaborate on the right work.
  • This blog post (and the subsequent discussion thread) can help you understand how the Daily Five can help you effectively structure your class while ensuring a focus on student outcomes.
  • At the beginning of the year, lab safety is often a part of science class. This silly little video can be used to illustrate the “what not to do” of lab safety.
  • These two posters compare the growth mindset with the fixed mindset using Star Wars and “The Force” compared to “The Dark Side.” Yes… Yoda vs. Darth…
  • Physical activity translates to higher academic achievement… especially for boys.

A Touch of Humor

Back to school


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