"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…

Innovation and Interdisciplinary Learning Keys to Future Ready Learning in D205

In Deep Learning Michael Fullan, et. al. (2018), delve into the 6Cs of Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Character, and Citizenship.  This work is especially prescient in light of the World Economic Forum's 2018 Future of Jobs Report, which projected the Top 10 Job Skills for 2022 to be 1) Analytical Thinking and Innovation; 2) Active Learning and Learning Strategies; 3) Creativity, Originality, and Initiative; 4) Technology Design and Programming; 5) Critical Thinking and Analysis; 6) Complex Problem Solving; 7) Leadership and Social Influence; 8) Emotional Intelligence; 9) Reasoning, Problem Solving, and Ideation; and 10) Systems Analysis and Evaluation.

At the recent Illinois Association of School Administrators Fall Conference, my assistant superintendents, Nikki Tammaru and Scott Grens, and I were privileged to present on the topic Scaling Innovation in Your District:  A Systems Approach.

In Elmhurst we believe in the importance of establishing comm…

Assessment Check

I spent this morning reading "How High the Bar?," a January 2018 report of the National Superintendents Roundtable and the Horace Mann League.  What can I tell you?  It's just what I do.

The report includes fascinating information that needs to become part of the public discourse.  As a disclaimer, I truly believe that standardized testing, as part of a balanced assessment system, with proper perspective, and when results are used for appropriate purposes, is valuable and has its place.  However, I believe more strongly that America's obsession with standardized testing is harming children.

Take for example the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is administered every other year to samples of students form across the country.  The National Center for Education Statistics considers NAEP results to be the "Nation's Report Card."  Though participation is technically voluntary, Federal law requires participation in states that receive …

In 2019-20, It's Relationships First

This year, the District 205 will engage in a project called Thrive D205:  A School and Community Wellness Partnership.  The purpose of the project is to devise a comprehensive approach to minimize the stress and anxiety prevalent in many of our young learners.

A steering committee comprised of parents, Board members, administrators, student services personnel, clergy, a local psychiatrist, and a representative from the Elmhurst Hospital Foundation has been formed and met for the first time on August 20.  This committee will coordinate the various aspects of Thrive D205, including community engagement efforts, D205's MTSS committee, its work to embed SEL standards in the curriculum and instructional practices, and specific work of the student services team.

Work began last spring in various areas, including a student, parent, and teacher survey about perceived stressors, including such things as homework, sleep, and extra and co-curricular involvement.

Already, many community partners…

Building Leadership Capacity to Lead Change and Sustain Innovation

District 205 has been clear about its goal of securing its place as A National Leader in Future Ready Learning.  A significant part of that journey is a commitment to attracting, investing in, and growing high quality leadership at all levels of the organization.

Most school districts that take professional learning seriously invest in their teachers, and there is no question that this is essential.  But is it sufficient?  D205 considers itself a learning organization.  If learning is the work, administrators must learn alongside teachers and take professional growth seriously, collaborating effectively and modeling organizational expectations.

In D205 the District First Team, all EC-12 and District Office administrators, considers all of its time together as professional learning time designed to support the District's Learning and Teaching priorities.  Very little time is spent on business agenda, management-driven topics.  .

In District Leadership That Works, Marzano and Waters…

D205 Board Approves Three-Year Operational Plan

After four years of intense community engagement, which resulted in clearly identifying learning and teaching priorities, such as All-Day Kindergarten, increased STEM opportunities for students, two-way immersion Dual Language programming in Spanish, intervention and enrichment opportunities for students, the addition of instructional coaches, and the development of a Master Facilities Plan that resulted in the successful passage of a $168.5M referendum in November of 2018, the administration developed an Operational Plan that will guide decision making, professional learning, and resource allocation for the next three years.
On Tuesday, July 16, 2019, the D205 Board of Education unanimously approved the plan.
The plan includes the following:
·Vision:All students graduate college, career, and life ready; ·Mission:Accelerate learning for all students; ·Belief Statements:1) ALL students must learn and grown, 2) We accept shared responsibility for student growth, 3) We make decisions based on…

Where to Start? Don't Ignore the Obvious

Well, July is coming around the corner, and that means that the 2019-20 school year isn't far behind.  Educators across the country are, or have been, constructing their start up activities in multiple areas:  school improvement planning, new teacher induction, late arrivals, faculty meetings, grade level meetings, and the like, depending on how they structure their work.

As they do this, multiple variables will come into play.  There will be new teachers, Board members, and administrators in place everywhere, and administrators, especially those who are new to their district, may be asking themselves where to start as they begin to develop focus areas for the year.  Here is my suggestion, which I consider both obvious and too often neglected.


Many of us claim to embrace the Professional Learning Communities' Model.  Question one is always some variation of what do we want students to know and be able to do.  The number one shift in PLCs that can transform a distric…