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

The Pride of East Side

     I would like to share my reflection about the afternoon event this past Friday at our Staff Development Day with Frank Pastizzo.
I know some folks were not there, but you’ll get the gist of what was shared with us.
     Maybe you felt the same thing – maybe not.  But as the leader of our school, I have to say, there was a sense of pride regarding our school and our work environment.  Frank stated that we have a “work life” and a “personal life” but that the majority of our time is spent in our “work life”.  He asked if we looked forward to coming to work.  He also talked about the attitude we bring to work and that we are the moral compass for our kids.  And, at the end of the day, it is about what is best for our kids.
     I felt that  many of the things that Frank talked about, we do already at East Side.  At East Side, we are not perfect.  We agree to disagree, we state our passions, our beliefs of what we think in a manner to not insult or demean each other.  As a staff, East Side holds no punches and you tell it like it is, without holding grudges.  What we  have to put in the forefront and remember is that what we do needs to be what is best for our kids. is it best for our kids?    We have lots of change happening around us and I have asked you to be open-minded and work together as a team.  It truly is a team atmosphere and we always come together to find solutions to our problems.
      As I was sitting in the front, laughing and tearing up at times, I couldn’t be more proud as your principal to have such a devoted team and think, “Yes, we do that!”  Thank you everyone! Remember, you are more than a score and you are the best of the best.  Enjoy the week.
Other News
  • Bus Duty for Mar 24 – April 4  Team 4:  Jennifer Prevost, Marci Woods, Kathy Buell.  Upcoming bus duty:  April 7 – April 25 Team 5: Gina Caldwell, Kate Spriggs, Megan Weldon
  • The ELA NYSED Tests for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders is April 1, 2, and 3.  All tests will start at 8:30a.m.    We need to start at this time to get extended time in prior to specials.  We need to change the special area schedule.  First Grade will move  into the 5th grade spot, and 5th grade into the 1st grade spot.  Please mark this on your calendar.
  • The pie in the face assembly is Friday, March 28th at 1:55p.m.
Things in the Blogosphere
  • Mike Hynes, Superintendent of Shelter Island CSD on Long Island guest blogs on Peter DeWitt’s blog about Professional Capital.
  • The Buck Institute is using Google Hangout on Air to help with professional development for teachers to implement Project Based Learning in the classroom.  Check  out this post about Managing Projects in Elementary Schools.
  • 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
  • This SED memo describes the impact of the February Board of Regents action on APPR regulations.  
  • The research about starting school later is making schools consider a change to their schedules.   Here are 20 tips for managing projects, including the application of social media.  
  • This series of videos helps to explain the Common Core – from unpacking to application.
  • Even in the midst of a transition to the CCLS these videos can help.    
  • Here are ten quick questions to ask yourself before giving an assessment.  
  • This interactive story about the completion of the new World Trade Center in New York from Time is informative and pretty darn cool – especially the zoomable 360˚ view.  
  • This article describes one school where they eliminated faculty meetings in favor of comprehensive professional development.   Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP) is a coordinated approach for schools to create multiple opportunities where students can be physically active and develop skills to last a lifetime. This free webinar will help you get started.
A Touch of Humor
Close to Home

Shared Leadership

As we started the first day of school, I am always amazed how everyone pulls together as a team at East Side.  This is a big school, and the principal alone cannot manage every little thing in such a big school.  This is why I am blessed with such an amazing staff at East Side and share the leadership.  You are all professionals and it was such a wonderful thing to watch everyone take leadership roles in the opening two days of school.  This is how an effective school runs because it is not about “I” but about “we”.  My friend, colleague and mentor, Tony Sinanis writes about shared leadership and distributed leadership and has set goals to improve how he will work with his staff that I love and have adopted them.  Here they are:

  • I want to ensure that our teachers feel supported and empowered. 
  • I want to ensure that our teachers know that taking risks and failing is considered a good thing – go for it! 
  • I want our teachers to know that if they have an idea, there is always a forum for them to share their ideas and eventually put them into action. 
  • I want our teachers to know that I trust them. 
  • I want our teachers to know that there isn’t just ONE way to do things and that they can try different things in their spaces. 
  • I want to ensure that our teachers feel heard, valued and respected.
  • I want to ensure that our teachers have the opportunity to collaborate – there is power in numbers (in a good way).
  • I want our teachers to know that I would be honored to “set the stage” for them to assume leadership roles.
  • I want our teachers to know that I learn from them EVERY SINGLE DAY!
  • I want our teachers to know they are the true leaders of our space and that our children’s growth and development is because of their daily efforts!

You are all the best of the best and I cannot ask for anything more.  Thank you for a wonderful opening to our first week of school!  Be a champion for our kids!


  • There is a staff meeting on Monday, September 9th in the computer lab room 47.  Please sign-up by midnight Monday to enroll and get professional development hours.
  • Please make sure you are using the correct goals sheet form that I will update and email on Monday and please set-up a time to meet with me through Lisa Sheen.,  The sheet will be emailed Monday morning.
  • Just a reminder that group 1 lesson plans are due to me by Friday, Sept. 13.
  • I will be pushing out information and “to do’s” via email and any updates.  Communication needs to be key!  Please be checking your emails.
  • We are working on having a plan in place for Common Core Math Modules.  Please be patient because we need to poll you folks.  When the email arrives, please do the poll.  There will be a deadline so we can move forward.  (We are listening to you!)
  • Make sure that you are using Formative Assessments in your daily instruction.  The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has a great position paper that I highlighted. 
  • Please check the East Side Announcement page for updated dates, announcements etc.  Lisa is updating this continually!  http://gouverneurcentralschool.org/esannounce/
  • 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:

We have been told that the Commissioner’s next edition of News and Notesis due out Monday and it will include updated information about which curriculum modules are complete, which remain under revision, and when to expect the others.

Teach students to use public domain pictures in their presentations. Here are seven sources to use.


If you are wondering about how to assess the 4Cs (communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking) you might want to join this September 17th webinar from EdLeader21 and P21.


Description: 'Constitution of the United States, Page 4/4' photo (c) 1787, The U.S. National Archives - license: http://www.flickr.com/commons/usage/
September 17th is US Constitution Day. As you might expect, Larry Ferlazzo has collected many resources to help you observe the day.
The Hero’s Journey, the Common Core, Star Wars, and Project-Based LearningThis video makes the connections.

Rick Wormeli’s YouTube channel addresses many topics, including short videos about grading,late work, homework, and worthwhile assignments. He helps us understand a different paradigm deadlines, zeros, and multiple opportunities. This one is a good starting point.


LogoShould you start off right away with PBL? The answerdepends on how whether a foundation needs to be laid, first.

Don’t expect students to spontaneously work well in groups. It takes deliberate instruction and scaffolding. You have to build a foundation for collaboration.


new ASCD book identifies the three distinguishing characteristics of highly effective teachers:
  1. Highly effective teachers challenge their students.
  2. Highly effective teachers create positive classroom environments.
  3. Highly effective teachers are intentional about their teaching.


The New York Times published a special section about science and math education, including information about standards, instruction, technology, and more.

Engaging academics, effective management, and positive community intersect in The Responsive Classroom model. If you want these three characteristics to be true of your school and your classrooms, read more.

A Touch of Humor
Close to Home