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Tom Schimmer's Blog (20)

We are THE SYSTEM!

Throughout my career I have been privy to a number of conversations, debates, and discussions amongst educators on various educational initiatives and approaches.  During these discussions I have heard people refer to "The System" or "The District" in ways such as, "The System needs to change" or "The District ought to do something about that!"  It's as though "The…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on September 29, 2011 at 7:14pm — No Comments

Inspired by Anna

This is Anna.  My family and I met Anna during our 10 day trip to Vietnam this past August.  We were in Vietnam as part of a working vacation.  I had conducted a 2-day workshop for the East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS) and also worked specifically with the Saigon South International School.  After four days in Ho Chi Minh City we flew up to the resort town of Hoi…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on September 16, 2011 at 1:43pm — No Comments

Over-Prepare 'Em

Although many schools/districts have had students in session for a while now, this week, for many, marks the second week of school. As such, it is likely that many of you are preparing your students for their first summative assessment/moment in your class (maybe it's already happened).  Back in January - in my first blog post no less - I wrote that "It's all about Confidence."  While a new school year can provide…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on September 12, 2011 at 1:46pm — No Comments

Function over Format

In all of the discussion and debate regarding summative and formative assessments, there is one misunderstanding that seems to be revealing itself more and more.

Too often, the discussion regarding summative v. formative assessment seems to navigate toward a critique of certain assessment formats and their place in either the summative or formative camp.  For me, this is an irrelevant discussion and can distract us from developing balanced assessment systems that seek to match…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on September 5, 2011 at 12:09pm — No Comments

Discipline is not a four-letter word

Somewhere along the way the word discipline has, for some, become a four-letter word.  Isn't discipline a good thing?  Don't I need discipline to sustain a habit, change my lifestyle, or excel at anything I do.  Isn't it important that I learn self-discipline so I can monitor my own progress toward any goal.  If I don't have it or know what it looks like, isn't it important that I have someone to help guide me there? Now, I know that's probably not what is often meant when people…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on June 16, 2011 at 2:06pm — 2 Comments

I Trust you Intentions

Over the better part of the last decade I have had the good fortune of presenting in schools & school districts, and at a variety of workshops & conferences across North America. The topics have varied, but the message has always been similar: Some things in our system need to change or improve and here are some ways in which I think we can accomplish that goal.

 

Anyone who knows me knows that my presentation style is fairly…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on June 2, 2011 at 12:33pm — No Comments

Practice without Penalty

Somewhere along the way we created an educational mindset around practice and homework that determined that if we don’t count it, the students won’t do it. This idea that everything counts is wrought with misrules and situation that make accurate grades a near impossibility. In so many other aspects of life – fine arts, athletics - we value the impact and importance of practice.  It seems odd that in…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on May 24, 2011 at 4:30pm — No Comments

Enough with the Late Penalties!

Here is my issue with Late Penalties being applied to student work. If we are going to reduce an entire course worth of work down to one symbol for the purpose of reporting, should we not at the very least ensure that the grade is accurate?  Late Penalties lead to inaccuracy, which leads to deflated grades, which distorts the students’ achievement; their true ability to meet the intended learning outcomes.  In most…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on May 22, 2011 at 4:30pm — 1 Comment

What educators sometimes say...

…that you wouldn’t hear in any other profession!

Every profession has a way of doing business that makes the profession unique; education is no different.  That said, every profession can also become insulated, then isolated and then develop habitual ways of thinking that don’t make sense in other walks of life.

Over the years I’ve thought about a few of things we say as educators (not all of us, of course) that don’t really make sense in other professions.   These examples are…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on May 20, 2011 at 4:39pm — No Comments

"0" Influence - "0" Gained!

Zeros don’t work; never have, never will!  While a good number of schools/districts have already addressed this issue through a shift in policy or practice, two questions come to mind: (1) Why hasn’t everyone, and (2) What took us so long?  For some of us, our reaction to this post would be, “Ya we know that already. We did ‘no zeros’ three years ago!” However, the knowing-doing gap is still alive and well in some places which is why I think the topic is still important to… Continue

Added by Tom Schimmer on May 12, 2011 at 12:21pm — No Comments

Envision the "Best-Case" Scenario

I've often wondered why - when faced with the prospect of professional or personal change - people often defer to the worst-case scenario or predominantly envision why something won't work.

Now, while I don't pretend to be an expert on all of humanity, I do believe that it is primarily a way to prevent ourselves from looking foolish.  There are few things in life more aversive than the idea that you didn't think it through or were, in some way, naive about…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on April 28, 2011 at 5:24pm — No Comments

"Can't do" vs. "Won't do"

This is something I’ve wondered about for a long time.  Why is it that when students are unable to meet academic expectations we typically consider it an issue of what the student can’t do, but when a student is unable to meet behavioral expectations we typically consider it an issue of what the student won’t do?

Now, I know that is an overgeneralization, but I do think our collective outlook toward behavioral challenges is very different from academic challenges;…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on April 20, 2011 at 5:03pm — No Comments

Math still takes their Lunch Money!

As a subject, math is still the academic bully that many kids face everyday.  It corners them, pressures them, intimidates them, and leaves their confidence shattered.  Math still takes some kids’ lunch money and I am struggling with how we can put an end to it.

It seems as though you either get math or you don’t.  It also seems to be the only subject where it’s permitted for adults to admit they’re not very good at it either. As Kyle asked/commented on my blog about confidence…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on April 15, 2011 at 4:36pm — 1 Comment

The Invisible Leader

Sounds like an oxymoron, but all leaders will face the dilemma between the true purpose of leadership (empowering others) and the ego of leadership (getting credit) at least once in their careers.  Admittedly, this is one I have struggled with.  The struggle between humility and ego is one that all leaders must come to terms with.  Being an invisible leader is what we all know great leadership is about, but it can be challenging - even privately - to park our egos and allow others to… Continue

Added by Tom Schimmer on April 12, 2011 at 4:46pm — 1 Comment

Classroom Management is about "Predictability"

The other day I came a cross a tweet that asked what they key to classroom management was.  The first word that came to my mind was predictability.

Now before I explain...a little disclaimer.  This is not about "control" - it's about creating "conditions."  The word management seems to have fallen so far out of favor that it feels necessary to use "air quotes" each time we…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on April 8, 2011 at 5:14pm — 2 Comments

The Strength of Being Soft

Over the last few years I have spent a fair amount of time reading the Tao Te Ching, a collection of verses authored by the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu. Now I have been aware of this book for a long time, however, it's only in the last few years that I've really come to know it, study it, and reflect on the profound messages within it.  It is a very short book - it can be read in one sitting - but the messages last forever.  This is a book written 2500 years ago that is still relevant…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on April 5, 2011 at 5:51pm — 4 Comments

How Systems support Practices



My previous post (Leadership FOR Confidence) emphasized that leaders need to balance the hard and the soft – the structure and the soul – of leadership.  Too much hard and we end up pushing at all costs; too much soft and we feel great about going nowhere.  This is especially true when we consider implementing a new practice, policy, or routine. 

Whenever something new is being implemented, it is important to make sure that the…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on April 4, 2011 at 9:13am — No Comments

Leadership FOR Confidence!

If it’s all about confidence then what role do leaders play in creating the foundation for confidence? In Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End, Rosabeth Moss Kanter suggests that as leaders, we are responsible for both the hard and the soft of leadership – the structure and the soul as she puts it.  As school or district leaders, this is how we create the foundation of confidence for our teachers.  Kanter…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on April 1, 2011 at 10:30am — 4 Comments

It's all about CONFIDENCE!





It’s all about confidence…everything else is just details.  The book Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End by Rosabeth Moss Kanter is, without question, one of the most influential books on my career as an educator.  Kanter is not an education writer per se – she is a professor at the Harvard Business School – however, her work helped me realize that confidence is the key that unlocks the door to maximizing student…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on March 30, 2011 at 9:30am — No Comments

What "Rules" do you have?

Another one of my favorite books over the last few years is Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.  For those who haven't read it, Gladwell tells the untold stories of success. Rather than telling the typical story of intelligence and/or ambition, Gladwell argues that the true story of success can found by spending more time looking around those who have succeeded - their family, where they were born, even their birth date.  He argues that the story of success…

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Added by Tom Schimmer on March 29, 2011 at 11:15am — No Comments

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