Posts

Superintendent's Message: Reaffirming Our Mission and Vision

For my latest blog update, I am sharing with you my letter of June 6, 2020, to our D205 staff and families.
Dear D205 Staff and Families,
I hope you are safe and staying well amid what can only be described as trying and troubling times. The news of recent days is both disturbing and intolerable. Our District 205 Vision ensures that all students graduate life ready. Life ready graduates in today’s world must embrace tolerance and diversity. Our mission and belief statements articulate our commitment to all students. Today, we reaffirm our vision, mission and beliefs in the wake of the murder of George Floyd which has left the nation hurt, confused, and searching for answers. But, our vision, mission, and beliefs alone will not bring about the changes needed to help our students understand each other or create a culture where colleagues are treated with respect, and where an equitable education is a reality for all of our students regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orient…

The Bright Side--Four Hopes for a Post-COVID-19 World

Allow me to begin by thanking our first responders and health care professionals for their dedication and sacrifice and the D205 community and its professional educators for their cooperation, patience, and spirit of giving.  I would also like to express my condolences to anybody who has lost someone to this terrible virus or has experienced any pain or suffering associated with it.

While we take a pause for now, we will also move on from this at some point.  Here are my four hopes for a better world and educational landscape when we do.

Hope Number One:  Renewed respect for Teachers and the Education Profession

As the move to privatization has gained momentum, so, too, has a belief that "anybody" can teach.  All of the funny recent memes aside, that was never true.  Teaching is hard and becoming increasingly complex all the time.  So is leading a system in which one is held accountable for a wide array of variables beyond one's control.  

The vicious cycle of a shrinking m…

Getting Reacquainted

Hello D205 community and beyond.

It has been a while since I checked in.  These past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind for everybody, but I thought it was past time I reached out, and I have something important to say--THANK YOU!

COVID-19 has rocked everybody's world.  It has affected everybody differently.  So, the best way for me to make sense of all of it is to recognize the good that has come out of this extremely difficult situation.

I have been a member of teams my entire life.  With no disrespect to my 1989 WIAA State Summer Championship team at North High School in my hometown of Sheboygan, WI, or our Sheboygan A'sWisconsin State League championship teams of 1991 and 1997, this experience has been the most gratifying team experience that I have ever been associated with.  So, my first thank you goes out to my D205 administrators, instructional coaches, tech staff, the Elmhurst Teachers Council, and the Board of Education for its support in getting E-Learning off th…

Some Thoughts on Supervision of Instruction

Image
This year our administrative team has been working on improving and ensuring consistency among administrators and buildings in their teacher evaluation practices.  One element of this work is standardizing pre-conference questioning such as verifying the level of rigor as defined by the International Center for Leadership in Education's Rigor and Relevance Framework, how learning will be assessed, the extent to which the 6Cs will be reflected in the assignments and activities, and evidence of Danielson 3C:  Engaging Students in Learning.  Another area of emphasis includes providing formal feedback using the language of the Danielson Framework.

While formal teacher evaluation can serve as a lever for improvement in an aligned system, in and of itself, it is not a driver of instructional improvement.  In their book Professional Capital, Hargraeves and Fullan (2012) rightly point out that purposeful teacher collaboration, such as that observed in high functioning Professional Learnin…

Developing a Shared Understanding of Instructional Effectiveness

Image
In District 205, we view our principal "meetings" as opportunities to learn alongside of one another.  As we work on developing a collaborative culture of inquiry, we believe that we should model what we expect of our teachers and use this time for professional learning.  A major theme for this year is Supervision of Instruction.

Our First Team (Cabinet, lead and assistant principals, directors, assistant directors, and coordinators) is both expanding its definition of supervision to move beyond formal teacher evaluation and working to improve its actual evaluation practices.  Part of the work includes developing "look fors" that can best leverage student growth.

Dr. Rich Voltz, the Illinois Association of School Administrator's Associate Director for Professional Development, recently visited the District and led an Administrator Academy for our administrators and Department Chairs.  He makes a compelling case that focusing on Danielson 3C:  Engaging Students …

'Tis the Season

'Tis the Season--Finals Season that is.  It's December, and that great twice/yearly American tradition of final exams is again rearing its head.

Many students learn how to play the school game at an early age, and those who master these lessons typically perfect the art of studying/cramming/stressing out over/and conquering final exams in multiple subjects.

In a recent phone conversation with Ray McNulty, President of the Successful Practices Network, he recounted how during his time as the Dean of Education at Southern New Hampshire University, an institution renowned for its innovative practices, the school did away with the practice of final exams.

The vision of District 205 is to ensure that all students graduate college, career and life ready.  While important, in today's world, college readiness is not automatically career ready, and certainly no guarantee of life readiness. 

In fact, as technology continues its assault on the economy and the job market, the traditio…

Autumn

Image
"How beautifully leaves grow old.  How full of light and color are their last days."
--John Burrows, American Essayist and Naturalist
In the Talking Heads song "Once in a Lifetime," from the 1980 album Remain in Light, lead singer David Byrne sings, "And you may ask yourself, well/How did I get here?"
God bless anybody who has an answer.
Once upon a time, I was a baseball guy.  Let those who were there, then, debate the extent to which I was worth a salt.
Then, all of a sudden, for various reasons, I wasn't.  Like that, I became a school administrator on a path to get a doctorate and become a superintendent.  Again, let history decide what it will.
I was an athletic director at Huntley, and then I got an assistant principal job at Rock Falls.  Somebody had to give me a chance to be a principal, and, in 2003, somebody did.  That somebody was Phil Hintz.
I was late for my interview.  I believe my first statement was something like, "Randall Road wil…