Ron Berger’s comprehensive companion guide to his landmark 2014 book Leaders of Their Own Learning has been eagerly anticipated by educators in ABPC’s Powerful Conversations Networks. Cathy Gassenheimer highlights the impact of LOTOL on student-engaged assessment in Alabama and her own role in writing the Foreword to the just-released Leaders of Their Own Learning Companion.
The ABPC Blog
“One of our parents walked up to a staff member and said ‘Thank you for coming into our community,’” writes principal Debbie Brooks. “It was then that I realized that to build and maintain lasting relationships with our families, we have to do more than offer THEM the experiences. We have to have the experiences WITH them.”
“When we heard about the idea of a book vending machine last year, we were intrigued, to say the least!” writes Pete Forster, principal of Yarbrough Elementary in Auburn City Schools. “We researched and found a vending machine company in New York that could provide exactly what we wanted to support our culture of reading.”
In a time when the teacher workforce is rapidly evolving and schools are under great pressure to strengthen their systems for professional learning and collaboration, what better topics for a learning “retreat” than cross-generation communication and “hard conversations” about professional growth. Cathy Gassenheimer reports on ABPC’s two-day Hard Conversations Institute with expert Jennifer Abrams.
Over the summer, Cathy Gassenheimer had the chance to ask Greg Edge, principal of Attalla Elementary School, why he continues to be involved in ABPC’s professional learning opportunities. “I told him about the questions we often hear from potential funders, who want to know how ABPC programs differ from what Alabama educators might otherwise experience.” Here’s what Greg (and some other KLN participants) told us.
Tables were turned when Cathy Gassenheimer introduced members of the A+ Education Partnership Board of Directors to a visioning protocol the Alabama Best Practices Center uses in our Key Leaders Networks. Our board members, accustomed to listening to reports and asking strategic questions, found themselves in the collaborative learning mode. And they liked it!
With half our population thought to be introverted to some degree, it’s important for educators to pay attention and adjust our lesson plans and teaching styles to better support our “quiet” kids, writes professed introvert and assistant principal DeAnna Miller. “Learning to help both extroverted and introverted students understand more about themselves and each other will only enhance our learning environments.”
In 4th grade Cathy Gassenheimer was excited to draw her map of Norway and color it with bright pencils she cajoled her mom into buying. She drew and colored “until my illustrated map shifted from a work of beauty to a cluttered mess.” It was her first lesson in “less is more” — the key message she shares from Mike Schmoker’s book Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning.
Without a doubt, this was our best “first meeting” with new Key Leaders Network members ever, writes ABPC leader Cathy Gassenheimer. These educators were really open to our process and they engaged deeply throughout the day, with support from our more “veteran” participants. School and system leaders are hungry to talk about their challenges and dreams with colleagues who “really get it.”
Reading is really about accessing knowledge and expanding our understanding. Whether it’s to gather facts and information – or insights into the human condition and our relationship with the world – reading continues to be the most important skill of all. Cathy Gassenheimer shares some thoughts about why and how we can read more!