When I was a boy, I loved to walk the garden where my grandparents grew summer vegetables.
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My grandfather had an interesting way of planting tomatoes. He would dig a deep hole, scatter a small handful of fertilizer in the bottom of the hole, and then place a tomato plant in while gathering the rich soil around the plant till it was secure. Then he’d water the plant and place a bucket over it. He would alternate times when the plants were covered or open to the sun until they were well established and ready to start blossoming.
Creating a strong environment for learning involves a lot of care and attention. In addition to being instructional leaders, school leaders have to be aware of how we are cultivating the soil of our schools. Sometimes this requires consistently managing various demands, dealing with difficult conversations, and planting seeds of positive school culture. Continue reading →
I know a lot of schools have creative ways to celebrate the positive behaviors they want students showing on a daily basis.
This school year, our student council and their sponsor, Ms. Franklin, launched plans to award a Class Cup to the grade of students who show the most participation in good deeds and school spirit throughout the school year.
Similar to the award given to students in the fictional world of Hogwarts, the wizardry school in the Harry Potter series, students will be tracked throughout the year in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12. Based on which class earns the most points, one class will be awarded the big trophy and bragging rights at the end of the school year.
When I met with our student leaders earlier in the semester to talk about their plans, they explained some of the steps they would follow to introduce the idea, track points among students, and recognize merits as the momentum builds. If you’re thinking about starting a new initiative for improving school culture, consider three simple ideas from the Class Cup implementation: Continue reading →
When I was a boy, one day my dad walked me to the back pasture of our farm.
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At the end of long rows of corn, he had set aside an area that he had tilled and planted with potato cuttings. The plants had grown and died. In this patch, I couldn’t see any sign of life.
“Get down on your hands and knees,” he said, as he squatted on all fours. So I followed suit.
“Now start digging down below the top layer of soil until you feel something,” he told me as he began moving dirt.
Soon I felt the warm topsoil give way to the cool, rich dirt below. And before long I was digging up dozens of new, red potatoes. We made piles of them, loaded them up and carried them home to clean. Continue reading →
The other day, I sat in a conversation with a student and a DHS worker who had come to take her into custody.
She was no longer able to stay at her host home and would be moving back to a shelter till a new home could be found. In the meantime, she would go to a different school.
As she sat in tears listening to the news, she said to the DHS worker, “No offense, lady, but DHS has done nothing for me. I’ve been from home to home, in and out the shelter, and from school to school. This was supposed to be my fresh start.” Continue reading →