Two students, one with a pink brain, and one with a blue brain

Coaches, Remember: Gender Equity is for Everyone!

Categories: School Improvement

Based on Step In, Step Up: Empowering Women for the School Leadership Journey

At the age of five, girls believe that girls and boys are equally likely to be “really, really smart.” Just a year later, though, at age six, girls are less likely than boys to believe that members of their own gender are “really, really smart.” And then, they begin avoiding games and activities that are labeled as being for the “really, really smart” (Bian, Leslie, and Campion, 2017).

Instructional coaches—not to mention school leaders—should be alarmed that this change in self-efficacy takes place during a girl’s first year of formal schooling. Gina Rippon (2019), in her book The Gendered Brain, documents more studies showing that teachers give higher grades to boys than girls, compared to when the same work is scored by objective, outside graders. Girls, by age nine, are less likely than boys to say that they may take advanced math classes, even though their math scores indicate they are doing just as well as or better than boys, and that boys overrate their science and math skills while girls underrate theirs. We have a gender gap, and it starts early. Read more

books, pencil, students, sitting

RTI and Parents

Categories: Authors, RTI

Based on Starting a Movement: Building Culture From the Inside Out in Professional Learning Communities.

Response to intervention, or RTI, is a structured, multitiered approach to help identify and support struggling students. It is one of the most research-based, effective practices that schools can employ to ensure all students learn and at high levels.

In the book Starting a Movement: Building Culture From the Inside Out in Professional Learning Communities, Williams and Hierck (2015) talk about this being an effective tool, a part of the “how” phase of being an effective professional learning community (PLC). It only becomes an effective tool, however, when schools have purpose clarity, the “why” stage of being a PLC. Once schools are clear on their purpose and mission, the tools are used by all members of the school community and known by all members of the school community. An important part of that community is the parent body. Read more

Three Critical Phases of Common Assessment Practice: Before, During, After

The Three Critical Phases of Common Assessment Practice: Before, During, and After


Based on Simplifying Common Assessment

In the book Learning by Doing (DuFour, et al., 2016), the authors define professional learning communities as “an ongoing process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve.”

In practice, the collective inquiry and action research process they describe is driven by team-developed common formative assessments. Common formative assessments are the way teams answer the guiding question, “How will we know they have learned it?” and when used well, empower teams to improve their students’ learning.

Whether a team is just getting started or working to refine their collaborative practice, it can think of the common assessment process in three major phases: before, during, and after. Let’s look at the considerations and actions teams must take within each phase. Read more

A picture of three resumes

The Teacher Recruitment and Retention Crisis: What Can Principals Do?


Based on Building Your Building: How to Hire and Retain Great Teachers

How many decisions do you think principals make in one day? From morning to night, principals are faced with constant situations that require their decision-making skills. And with all those decisions that principals make in a day—the most important decision he or she will ever make is about the people he or she hires. It’s pretty simple—just think about the impact teachers make on students. In fact, just think about the monumental impact teachers make on student achievement. Doesn’t it make sense that principals make the right decisions when it comes to deciding who they bring into their buildings? Read more

Self-Care for Busy Educators

Planning Self-Care in Busy Times


Based on 180 Days of Self-Care for Busy Educators

Let me start by painting a picture for you: it’s 2015, and my life is pretty amazing.

I live in the heart of Denver, where we have over 300 days of sunshine and over 80 miles of bike trails within city limits. I have a husband who supports me and loves me relentlessly. I have a puppy who’s astonishingly cute, and I enjoy leisurely brunches with my girlfriends on a regular basis. I also have my dream career. I’m working for Dr. Robert J. Marzano, an educational hero of mine for years, and I’m conducting workshops in cities I’ve never visited before, for educators who inspire me. I’m earning airline miles and status and hotel points, and it’s all so incredible.

Or, to be more honest, that’s the life I’m posting on my social media accounts, and none of that is a lie, but there’s also this hidden truth: I’m actually struggling—right below that shiny surface. Read more