Author: marytk

Improving Outcomes for Students with Disabilities: Identifying Characteristics of Successful Districts

Improving Outcomes for Students with Disabilities: Identifying Characteristics of Successful Districts

The common characteristics among Arizona districts and charters with high academic outcomes for student disabilities were identified in a qualitative study involving site visits and interviews.  In 2014, the Arizona Department of Education examined over three years of state testing data to identify districts and charter schools that closed the academic achievement gap between students with disabilities and their non-disabled peers. Click to read more.

Special Leaders for All Kids

Special Leaders for All Kids

I’ll admit it.  When I first started in educational leadership as a charter school director, I saw student needs in terms of the “regular” student population and then those with “special needs.” But after many different educational experiences over the years with students, parents and advocates, including working in the Exceptional Student Services Division of the Arizona Department of Education, studying characteristics of effective districts, and now implementing professional learning systems at the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, I am a firm believer that these students do not have special needs–they have the same needs as every other child: educators who believe in them, who hold them to high expectations, and who care enough to give them the specialized, individual supports needed to succeed. Click to read more.

Sustaining Change: Cheerleaders and Bulldozers

Sustaining Change: Cheerleaders and Bulldozers

Every January 1, many people create a New Year’s resolution with the intention of making major life improvements. My resolutions were to eat better, exercise more, and lose 10 pounds. It is now July, and I only have 15 pounds to go.

This upcoming school year, you may have some big changes planned, and articulating what to change and why you want to change it is the easiest part. Fully implementing and sustaining the change is more difficult, especially because it requires other people’s investment and cooperation. Click to read more.

The Leaders Among Us – Mining the Leaders in Your School

The Leaders Among Us – Mining the Leaders in Your School

One of my most eye-opening experiences occurred following an in-service on school improvement that I thought went really well.  Most of the staff were engaged and the discussions were productive and badly needed.  I was anxious for the responses to the post-session survey to come in and validate my high expectations.  The first response arrived in my inbox almost immediately, and it read, “I’m really disappointed that we spent time on this.  I need to spend time in my classroom preparing; I prefer to work alone in my content area.  Very dissatisfied.” Click to read more.

I’m Sorry I Failed You: Taking an Outcome-Based Approach to Student Learning in a Traditional Classroom

I’m Sorry I Failed You: Taking an Outcome-Based Approach to Student Learning in a Traditional Classroom

“Do no harm,” was my grad school professor’s advice about being an educator. When I reflect on some of the decisions I have made as a teacher since then, I know that although my intentions were good, I actually did some harm. I had to make daily judgments that could affect a student’s future, and since I am human and make mistakes just as my students do, I have often asked myself, “Did I do the right thing?” Click to read more.

Changing the System from Within: Using Competency-Based Education to Transform Teaching

Changing the System from Within: Using Competency-Based Education to Transform Teaching

Many educators can relate to the uncomfortable feeling of “passing” students while knowing that they are not ready to advance to whatever comes next: a higher-level course, college, or a career. Many have also had to “fail” students and make them repeat an entire course when perhaps those students might have learned and succeeded had they had more time and individualized support. Click to read more.

Leading the Learning: Tips to Providing an Effective In-Service to Peers

Leading the Learning: Tips to Providing an Effective In-Service to Peers

Research has shown that when teachers work together and learn from each other, this collaboration results in rising student achievement (Leana, 2011; NCTE, 2010).  Because of the demonstrated benefits of teachers as leaders of school improvement, teachers are more often asked to present to their colleagues on professional development days or after returning from a conference. Click to read more.

How Teachers Can Make Competency-Based Education the New Normal

How Teachers Can Make Competency-Based Education the New Normal

I failed every math class that I took in high school the first time around. I was not a bad student, but I struggled with mathematics and became less motivated with each poor test score. When my teachers forced me to retake the classes during summer school, something revolutionary happened: I became an A-plus student. Being able to focus solely on one subject gave me more time to process the concepts, and I had different teachers who presented the material in new ways. Click to read more.

A Three Step Process to Improve School Culture

A Three Step Process to Improve School Culture

In his book Start with Why (2009), Simon Sinek explained that every organization knows what they do, some organizations know how they do it, but very few organizations know why they do what they do.  That last part, knowing why an organization does what it does, creates the mission of the organization.   How that mission is carried out on a day to day basis will create the culture. Click to read more.