School Improvement

Bus driving past a school

The Heart of the Matter: Cultivating Compassionate and Mindful School Communities

Categories: School Improvement

Based on Mindful School Communities, scheduled for release in February 2020.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” —The Dalai Lama

Compassion and love are needed in all areas of our lives. Quite simply, people are hurting and in need of healing. Schools are no different.

Students, teachers, and whole school communities are wrestling with how best to understand and respond to the impactful nature of trauma and stress and how it collides with our ability to function, teach, learn, live, and just be. Sometimes, “students are too scared to learn” (Lacoe, 2013). For many of our students, the impact of stress and trauma is formidable, compromising their physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being and academic development (SAMHSA, 2014), playing out in the form of their physiological response system of fight, flight, or freeze (Schwartz, 2016). Read more

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

Preventing Teacher Burnout

Teacher Burnout: The Role of the Principal and the PLC

Categories: School Improvement

Ten years ago, I had twins. They were premature by several months, and suddenly my entire world became the NICU and the hospital waiting room. As I gradually emerged from the haze of new parenting, I read parenting books and blogs about how to reintegrate into real life after having children. One piece of advice seemed particularly ludicrous to me, as I was covered with babies 24 hours a day: “Put your marriage first, and your kids will prosper as a result of it.” Read more