Impact of a Teacher – #112Leads

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
– Benjamin Franklin

With this school year coming to a close on June 4, 2020 I was reflecting on the power of a teacher, and in February 2017 I shared a similar story about one of the most impactful educators in my life. I thought it would be a good time to reflect on Dr. McFarland and share his impact on me again as we prepare to bring the most unprecedented school year to a close! Originally shared in February, 2017 I shared some thoughts about how a college professor from an undergraduate course on the American Presidency from many years ago impacted my life and my professional journey. A journey that currently has some powerful meaning/relevance with our district’s move to remote e-Learning. With this blog post, I’ll draw the connections!

As a former 6th and 8th grade social studies teacher (U.S. history, civics, law, world history, reading, etc.) I have a deep interest in our nation’s culture, history, values, beliefs, celebrations, etc. In addition, I hold a degree in political science, so I have been a “policy wonk” for many years, and to this day I follow the news, politics, etc.

While I was a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, UIC, I had some of the best teachers in my life. The late Dr. Twiley Barker Jr., Dr. Kevin Lyles, and Dr. Andrew McFarland, to name a few. During a course on the American Presidency, POLS 229, an event took place in my life that impacted my philosophies, beliefs, and actions as a teacher and educational leader over the past 30 years. In some ways it likely shaped my philosophies and impact as a teacher and as an educational leader so many years later. Right now there is a current challenging transition from the abrupt changes to remote e-Learning and how teachers have to “report progress” in this unusual time. Looking back at my personal educational history, I’m reminded of why meaningful feedback, teacher /student relationships, and the mastery of content and the flexibility of instruction supersedes any percentage grade or mark in terms of meaningful feedback and communication about learning.

With this blog post, I’m reflecting on the congruity of an impactful event in my life during an undergraduate course, and the realization that this impactful event has impacted my beliefs whether I consciously knew about it or not. This is an “aha” moment for me – this is partially why I so strongly believe the growing pains and transition are worth the time, effort, energy, and extra work involved in pupil progress reporting.

 


Change is hard (I’ve written a lot about the change process) – Unlearning is hard (I have also written about this concept).

My college professor Dr. Andrew McFarland gave me a chance in the “real world” -when I was in college. Because he knew me, he knew what kind of student I was – he knew my passion for political science he treated me like I was more than a percentage or a score. Dr. McFarland also taught so that students would learn. He had high standards for each and every student and he held himself to high standards too.

So what is this all about? What is this big event that caused me an “aha” moment? Dr. McFarland called me one night while I was eating dinner with my parents; it was 5:30pm – I don’t know how I remember this fact, but I do. This event took place in 1988 or 1989 and I still vividly remember our call!

He called me that night because earlier that day when I took the final exam, I inadvertently forgot to answer one or two additional questions. If Dr. McFarland graded or assessed based on the “old” system I would have received an F. Dr. McFarland, though, was using standards based learning and instruction (whether he or I knew it or not). He called me on the phone and asked me to respond to the final exam question prompts – for 30 maybe 60 minutes. Because he cared about learning – not about percentages or “harsh” lessons, I was able to demonstrate mastery and competency of the American Presidency course (in which I did earn an A, not only because of what I learned, but more importantly, because my professor cared about discovering what his students knew).

He assessed my knowledge acquisition in an alternative learning setting because my teacher was more concerned about assessing my learning and mastery than he was about issuing a grade or a percentage. Had this caring professor used traditional methods I would have failed the exam. In my opinion and in my experiences, standards based grading, reporting, learning, and assessment actually prepares people for real life by holding them accountable to learn. Thank you Dr. McFarland!

Our district will transition through this remote e-Learning to next year (whatever that may be … ideally safe, healthy, and in person). Through this transformational experience for our schooling and for our society, we have all shown how quickly we can unlearn when we must, we have shown how we can relearn schooling, and we will show that we can learn how to create a new reality as necessary.

Dr. McFarland unlearned old school and rigid grading and assessment practices and I consider him to be remarkable and gifted, he was a leader who impacted me and my practice. Let’s use modern instructional strategies to maximize the impact and effect of learning whether we’re in person or remote, or in a hybrid combination of both. Let’s help people unlearn practices that make no sense other than to have been used in their past school experiences.

Preparing students for the future world requires teaching them content that is meaningful in learning environments that are powerfully purposeful and full of clear, regular, meaningful feedback and opportunities to learn and demonstrate learning. As we bring the school year to a close, we are reminded of the impact and power of a teacher and his or her feedback. Thank you to all educators — and thank you again, Dr. McFarland!

District Updates and Information – #112Leads

“You’ve only got 3 choices in life: Give up, Give in, or Give it all you’ve got!”– Anonymous

Through this blog, I share information about leadership, the superintendent position, education, policy, general trends in society, the future, and news and information about North Shore School District 112. In this blog post, I’m recapping some Long-Range Planning information driving success and change in the District! #112Leads is our Twitter Hashtag (click the link and see what’s happening at any time in all of our schools).

North Shore School District 112’s Long-Range Planning Actions

Our Long-Range Plan, Phase I is in full force! As we’ve shared in the past, the Phase I Long Range Plan was approved by the Board of Education at its meeting on Nov. 27.

The measures approved are as follows:

  • Investments in Northwood and Edgewood schools with costs not to exceed $75 Million
  • The use of up to $20 Million from the district’s fund balance
  • The issuance of $55 Million of Alternate Revenue Bonds
  • The formation of a citizen advisory committee  

Visit www.nssd112.org/Long-RangePlanning for more information and links to presentations, video archives of meetings, and more!

Facility Planning and Execution – In order to achieve fiscal responsibility and educational excellence, we must have a strong and responsible long-range facility plan that is flexible and yet fiscally responsible. Members of the Superintendent’s Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC)  have reviewed the work of previous groups and input from many — past and present — show as our current realities in the current recommendations. The point of the facility plan is the improvement of education for our students and for our communities. The use of alternate revenue bonds, to be paid for out of operating funds does not trigger or cause an automatic tax increase from the bond & interest fund which is a benefit to the community; and the use of reserves from the fund balances also do not increase the tax burden to the community. The plans are fiscally responsible and within the means of the School District. The Superintendent and Board will select five citizens for the Superintendent’s Citizen Advisory Committee for Construction Projects to provide advice and insights into the upcoming construction projects.

The chart below shows the major milestones and activities involved in this phase of the plan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our “WHY” – Equity/Equality – During our work and our recent study, we’ve talked a great deal about equity and equality. What is equity? Why is equity preferred to equality? Our aim is equitable educational opportunities for every child — equitable, not necessarily equal — equity is fair, equality is the same. Individuals need what is best for them. Our dream includes personalized learning opportunities for all children; it’s a lofty dream yet systematically and with fidelity to guaranteed & viable curriculum opportunities and expectations, with improvement, gains, and growth, it is possible. Our “WHY” is equitable educational opportunities and access for all students in all schools — every day! The eyes on the prize call for us to remember the prize is student success and educational excellence. The point of the facility upgrades is to improve educational input and output and working and learning conditions for our employees and students.

Last year the District operated 12 schools, this year and next year, the District will operate 10 schools. We’ll operate two middle schools: Northwood (students to attend at Elm Place), and Edgewood. Seven K-5 schools: Braeside, Indian Trail, Oak Terrace, Ravinia, Red Oak, Sherwood, & Wayne Thomas. And we’ll operate one preschool at the Green Bay Early Childhood Center (location of District Offices as well). Lincoln School remains closed.

District 112 Artwork – At the September 24, 2018, meeting of the Superintendent’s Long-Range Planning Committee, the land assets and historical artwork assets of the District were reviewed.  

The District has a unique collection of artwork and historic material throughout the schools. The Board and administration are committed to preserving the rich and unique history as it makes changes in facilities, land usage, and planning. Some of the historic artwork is in the form of historic Works Progress Administration (WPA), an example is “Flora and Fauna” on display at the Green Bay Road Early Childhood Center and Administrative Offices.

Looking Back/Moving Forward
The bullets below recap our community engagement and public meeting timeline as part of the District 112 Long Range Planning Phase I – Middle School Reconstruction & Modernization process. All of our meetings and presentations are posted and most meetings are videotaped and broadcast live. Our effort is for transparent, regular, public, relevant communication.

  • New Superintendent started on July 1, 2018
  • Thought Exchange I (online community engagement) – July 3-July 15, 2018
  • Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) Meetings July 28, Sept 12 & 24, & Oct 4, 2018
  • Thought Exchange II (online community engagement) – August 8-August 22, 2018
  • FAKO Telephone Polling – August 7 – 11, 2018
  • Board meetings with informational updates: ○ Regular Meetings July 17, August 21, September 25, October 2, October 23, November 27 ○ Finance Committee October 2, 2018 ○ Facilities Committee October 9, 2018, ○ Joint Facilities & Finance Committee October 30, 2018

In addition to the construction projects and land usage, the District is also planning for the implementation of before and after school programming options at all seven K-5 schools starting in the 2019-20 school year. This would mark the first time that all elementary school buildings would have before and after care options for families.

Phase II, the modernization of the elementary schools and the dissolution of land assets will be considered, contemplated, and planned in the next few years. The chart below highlights the timeframe for the next phase. Meantime, the District will focus on teaching, learning, student success, and continuous improvement!

In the next few months, the District will also share success metrics and the data in support of the positive return on the investment from the focus of a guaranteed & viable curriculum. The data supports that our teachers are teaching and our students are learning and we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing: Inspiring…Innovating…Engaging all students every day!

If you would like to be informed about District events, please visit www.nssd112.org/News

You can also find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nssd112/ and on Twitter @NSSD112 and at #112Leads, the District Hashtag

Check out our newest form of communication the Lighthouse 112 Podcast https://anchor.fm/michael-lubelfeld

Spring 2019 Video Update – English audio Spanish Subtitles – #112Leads

“Greatness is not primarily a matter of circumstance; greatness is first and foremost a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”
– Jim Collins, Great by Choice

We are very proud of the past year’s worth of work in North Shore School District 112! Daily, for all, we Inspire…Innovate…Engage; with this post, I’m sharing a 5-minute video message about the state of the District – Spring 2019 – as always, comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged.

Here is the LINK in case the player does not open in full screen: https://youtu.be/NvztRKNIjzs

Measurement of Success – #112Leads

Let’s all strategize how the job can get done, versus informing each other why it can’t be done.”– Melissa Gonzales

So what is success? How do we know we are successful? What are the elements of success? What are the metrics? How do we show a positive return on investment (ROI) or academic return on investment (AROI)? How does the public know that its public school system is successful? How do superintendents show success in leadership? These are some of the questions I’m pondering and writing about today!

Nations measure success through economic measures like jobless rates, gross domestic product, imports/exports, crime, etc. For-profit businesses measure success via profit margins, efficiencies, production, etc. Libraries measure success using measures such as book checkouts and attendance at events. Doctors measure success using diagnosis, recovery, health metrics. Success for someone improving their health can include frequency of exercise, weight loss (or gain) muscle mass. Success for a NASCAR racer can be speed, time in the pit stop area, fuel efficiency. There are many ways we can measure success! According to the dictionary (online via Google), success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

Spring (which is finally here in the Northern Hemisphere of Earth) is the time in Illinois public education for evaluation, annual reviews, testing, essentially the time we measure our success. We measure the accomplishment of our aims and purposes.

As a system and systems leader, as a school superintendent, as a public school leader, it’s an ongoing effort to implement a multi-faceted measurement of success and to report and share what success actually is with respect to our public school district.  When looking at the success of our school system, we look at multiple measures and metrics.  We look at culture and climate, we look at engagement, we look at satisfaction, we look at creativity, we look at growth and gains and we also look at student achievement. These are many of the metrics and measures we use to measure success. We analyze these measures to determine if we are fulfilling our mission, vision, goals, aims, and purposes.

During the year we take surveys, report the data gleaned from the surveys, make and share action plans related to the surveys, measure again – see where we gained, see where we still need to gain and “rinse and repeat”. Our organization is committed to continuous improvement and the collection, sharing, review, interpretation, and acting on data is a core part of our journey of continuous improvement.

Examples of our success measures include Organizational Culture (as shown in the image, 72.41% of all employees who took the survey (72.41% of 438) report that they are highly engaged and satisfied working in North Shore School District 112. This is a baseline metric since it’s the first report on the 15 dimensions of culture measured. For example, we’ll now measure our success in terms of organizational culture using subsequent administrations of this survey instrument (next will be in April, following in August, etc.). We measure, share data results, plan actions around dimensions of culture, re-measure, re-share and continue the process of improvement. 

Our continuous improvement model does the same for student engagement, implementation of the 4Cs (Communication, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration). Student achievement, student growth, financial projecting, fulfillment of plans, etc.

We look at growth and gain metrics (how well did our students show growth from point a to point b to point c) and how well our students perform on achievement tests. We then measure or compare their success to national, state, local “norms” — what are other students scoring on these tests or assessments as compared to our students similarly situated.

Back to the original questions posed in this blog post … So what is success? How do we know we are successful? What are the elements of success? What are the metrics? How do we show a positive return on investment (ROI) or academic return on investment (AROI)? How does the public know that its public school system is successful? How do superintendents show success in leadership? These are some of the questions I’m pondering and writing about today!

In North Shore School District 112 we measure success through various metrics (many shared in this post). We take the data gathered and make people-centered decisions to Inspire…Innovate…and Engage our students, staff, administrators, Board members, community, and the world!

Please follow along with our journey:

If you have not yet downloaded the District app, please do so. If you have not yet viewed the curriculum department informational video, please do so. If you have not yet listened to the Lighthouse 112 Podcast, please do so too – you can listen on multiple platforms (iOS (Apple), Google, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and more). Be sure to check out #112Leads on Twitter. Our Long Range Planning web pages have been updated as well!

 

An Interview with Dr. Kevin Ryan – Podcast Episode #2

“For our own success to be real, it must contribute to the success of others.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Sharing podcast episode 2, an interview with Dr. Kevin Ryan, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning!

Podcast Episode 2 – An Interview with Dr. Kevin Ryan, the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning. In this episode, we’re going to learn more from Dr. Ryan about the top initiatives in the Department of Teaching & Learning as well as a preview of a major recommendation he’s about to make to the superintendent and the Board of Education regarding instructional coaches.

This podcast is from the superintendent of schools in the north shore school district 112; a Pk-8 public school district in northeast Illinois. It is a source of information about the school district, its leadership, its teachers, its students, and its community. It is another source of updates and an additional source of news regarding the changing narrative of public education. Inspire…Innovate…Engage

 

The podcast is available on multiple formats:

On Spotify

On Stitcher

On Radio Public

On Pocket 
Casts

On Breaker

 

Launching a Podcast: Lighthouse 112 – #112Leads

“Success in life comes when you simply refuse to give up, with goals so strong that obstacles, failure, and loss only act as motivation.”
– Unknown

In North Shore School District 112, we’re committed to changing the narrative of public education to one of despair to one of distinguished excellence. In our historic school system, we’re proud of our mission, motto, and current reality.

Our mission is: The Mission of North Shore School District 112, a community partnership committed to a world ­class education, is to nurture every child to become an inspired learner, a well ­rounded individual and contributing member of a global community by striving for excellence within an environment that fosters innovation, respect, engagement and intellectual inquiry.

Our motto is: Inspire…Innovate…Engage

Our Current Reality is: Excellence in Education! The Future Starts NOW.

One of the main ways we can get our messages out is finding out where people are getting their information and meeting them there. We use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and now we’re launching Lighthouse112, a podcast! in this blog post I’m sharing a video promo about the Podcast as well as an embedded link to the first Podcast Episode.

With effort, commitment, courage, joy, appropriate risk taking, modeling the way, and inspiring a shared vision for excellence and innovation, we show the world that what we do matters on behalf of ALL students, staff, and one another.

We enter 2019 confident of our past, present, and future success! Success in financial prudence, fiscal responsibility and responsiveness. With a focus on guaranteed & viable curriculum, enhanced instructional methods, construction projects with insights and input from experts within the district and within the community – – and so much more!

North Shore School District 112 is back on the block as an Inspired, Innovative, and Engaged place to raise your children and educate our youth!

Please listen, share, offer feedback, and share the stories of education — the narrative of public education is positive, powerful, and here to stay!

Check a brief video promo for the Podcast, then take about 10 minutes and check out the Lighthouse 112 Podcast’s first episode.

Happy & Healthy 2019 to one and all!

Listen to the first Podcast Episode here:

Survey Says — Ask, Listen, Plan, Engage, Monitor — #112Leads

Team effort goes vain when individual effort is in the wrong direction.”
– Ram Mohan

https://goo.gl/images/AVZPDW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This blog post content is also published in the Highland Park Neighbors magazine December 2018 issue on page 11 (Best Version Media)

Survey Says …

In North Shore School District 112 we take community engagement and stakeholder input very seriously!

As part of the Long Range Planning process, the District worked with a telephone research partner (Fako group) as well as with an online community engagement service called Thought Exchange to solicit community input and thoughts. People are encouraged to visit the District’s Long Range Planning Web page for more information: https://www.nssd112.org/Long-RangePlanning Those efforts in addition to the 25 member Superintendent’s Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) gathered for several months to review, refine, draft, question, and advise the superintendent of schools.

In addition to community engagement for facilities and finance, we seek input on a regular basis to learn and grow as an organization. We believe that what you respect you inspect. We respect input and voice and we take action on an ongoing basis.

In addition to the statewide survey of school climate and learning conditions, 5Essentials Survey, we also conduct additional engagement surveys. It is essential for the leadership team to know what families think, what students think, and what teachers and support staff members think about the school district.

This year we conducted an INSIGHTeX organizational survey of all employees, and we have set goals by school and administrative department to act on and improve culture. The image shows that 72.41% of the 438 employees who took the survey indicate they are completely engaged and satisfied in the work they do in the school district. That survey measures culture on 15 dimensions (including communication, pride, growth, mission, quality, communication, recognition, etc.)

Starting in December, the District will be sharing the results of the student and family engagement surveys. Student voice, in addition to teacher and parent voice, is instrumental in leading the district on behalf of and with the people most impacted. Sometimes school districts overlook the voice and input of students; in our District we make it a priority to engage and involve students in our leadership. To that end, any facilities upgrades or improvements will include student and teacher voice (as well as community input) as part of the refinement process.

In addition, the District will also share the results of the Bright Bytes innovation and creative practices survey. The results of these surveys continue to drive change, improvement, and quality in our local school system. The Bright Bytes survey asks questions related to four major areas of technology impact: Classroom, Access, Skills, Environment. By learning what our stakeholders perceive, we’re able to see if there are gaps between perceptions, reality, and desired outcomes. Using survey data and the voice of the people so to speak, allows the District to lead in an inclusive and open manner.

District 112 sent information to students, teachers, and parents for completion of the Illinois mandated 5Essentials survey during the first week of December. The Illinois 5Essentials Survey provides a comprehensive picture of a school’s organizational culture in an individualized report measuring five “essentials” critical for school success:

  • Effective Leaders
  • Collaborative Teachers
  • Involved Families
  • Supportive Environment
  • Ambitious Instruction

From the U Chicago Impact site: Twenty years of research at the University of Chicago in more than 400 schools has shown that schools that were strong on at least three of the 5Essentials were 10 times more likely to make substantial gains in improving student reading and math than schools that were weak on three or more of the Essentials. Those differences remained true even after controlling for student and school characteristics, including poverty, race, gender, and neighborhood characteristics.

The survey was deemed an important component to balanced accountability under the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan by stakeholders, which resulted in state legislative changes requiring the survey annually. Principals and superintendents will receive 5Essentials Reports in March 2019. Survey results will also be reported publicly on the 5Essentials reporting site in Spring 2019 and on the State School Report Card website in Fall 2019. On behalf of the Illinois State Board of Education, UChicago Impact is providing Illinois 5Essentials to schools statewide.

New Beginnings – #112Leads

July 1, 2018

Welcome to my new blog!

My old blogs can be found at: Blog from 2013-2018 and

Blog 2009-2013

I’ve been blogging in one form or another since 2009. Today I start my 26th year in public education, my 9th as a public school superintendent, and my 14th (with an eight year gap) in North Shore School District 112 in Highland Park, Illinois. Since December 2017 I have been engaged in a transition from the Deerfield Public Schools District 109 to the North Shore School District 112. During the transition from one district to another I took a few months off from blogging.

Why do I blog?? Communication is an evolving process reflective of the needs of the community, and as such, this blog and the district’s methods of communication – pushing and pulling – speaking and listening – are likely going to change and evolve as a result of needs and actions of the district and the superintendent’s office. I blog to communicate, share, reflect, listen, learn and grow as a leader.

I welcome and encourage comments and input! I am grateful to be a part of the educational system and the community. I am grateful to work with an outstanding group of educators, community members, parents, students, etc. I am grateful to learn and grow and support the learning and growth of others as the chief educational leader in the community!

As a superintendent, there are multiple ways in which I communicate. I communicate via the District website, via blogs from our teachers and administrators, via Twitter and Facebook, via the District app, via surveys and phone calls, and of course via personal, face to face communication, one on one and in group settings, like in a Town Hall Meeting. On Twitter, the new hashtag, or bookmark, for the district is #112Leads – check the hashtag on Twitter or via a web search to see messages with the district tag. I have also written a few books and published a number of magazine and journal articles. Communication is essential for a leader and I look for multiple ways to share our messages of educational excellence. On this blog I’ll mix personal thoughts and ideas, district initiatives, updates, and business, and links to content I believe will be of interest to readers.

For example, the short  Video Montage of Pictures from Puerto Rico Relief Through Leadership Mission June 2018  highlights a recent service trip in which I was a part. A group of Lake and Cook County, IL superintendents, principals, business partners went to Rio Grande, Puerto Rico to launch a service and relief partnership. From painting, light concrete work, supply donations and computer donations, we also started to form relationships with teachers, administrators, and community members. Our aim is to connect teachers in our districts with teachers in the school La Escuela Rafael de Jesus for an ongoing partnership. We plan to come back and continue our work and support. Members of our team me with representatives in the Puerto Rican House of Representatives. More on this later…

This week in our district we’ll be launching a Thought Exchange community engagement survey/engagement as we’re going to hit the ground running in terms of listening and learning.

Once “live” the Thought Exchange will be seeking communication on district configuration (priorities, potential school closures, potential boundary changes, etc.) — from the welcome message:

The configuration of our District is one of my first priorities as your new Superintendent. Although the reality of budget constraints and closing schools presents challenges, I believe by drawing on the strengths of our District and working together, we can address these challenges head on. I know you have engaged over configuration many times over the past several years. It’s time to arrive at some decisions. To this end, we’d like to bring our community together again with this Thoughtexchange to seek your perspectives on change and as well as your hopes for our district.

On July 28th, our Long-Range Planning Committee will look at the results of this exchange along with feedback we have gathered previously. Our goal is to synthesize all findings and arrive at several configuration options for D112. By the fall, we will share specific configuration plans for you to provide input on.

The Thought Exchange will be live this week:

For more information on Long Range Planning, please visit: https://www.nssd112.org/Long-RangePlanning

It would be very helpful for the committee to hear your thoughts on the factors that should be considered in the development of our plans.

The Transition In this time I have started to meet with members of the Board and administration, local government officials, civic leaders, foundation leaders, and others. I have also conducted a great deal of research on the last few years’ worth of configuration and reconfiguration efforts launched by previous administrators and boards. Click on the link below:

Recent video the district shared regarding our upcoming work and leadership

We will continue to use video, photos, and other forms of media to communicate and share our messages and to listen and learn as well.

Please check back or subscribe to the blog for automatic updates.

Please share your thoughts and feedback.

Inspire…Innovate…Engage

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