7 Steps to Becoming a Data-Driven School

At New Mexico School for the Arts, we tried a variety of approaches for using data to improve student achievement, and we didn't get it right at first. This is what we learned:

What Didn't Work For Us
We gathered as a faculty to pore over data from state reading and math tests. We printed out student-by-student reports from a commercial short-cycle assessment and dissected them trying to find information that we could use to inform instruction.

Unfortunately, the most focused prescription we could usually cull from the data sounded like: "This student needs more practice with informational texts," or "This student needs more work on statistics." The data told us which students were strong and which were weak in a given subject, but we couldn't find the details we needed for meaningfully adjusting our instruction to move student achievement. This type of data gave us the what (in what general skill is this group of students not proficient?), but not the why (why did they not get it?) or how (how might we reteach the skill in a way that sticks?).    >>READ MORE

3 Ways to Create a Rich 21st Century Classroom Experience

Classrooms in the 21 st century should look vastly different than their 20 th century counterparts as teachers now have a difficult task to face. They must prepare students for careers that do not even exist as future technologies create new industries and occupations. Giving students the ability to communicate, collaborate, create and critically think (the 4C's) are crucial skills students must leverage in order compete in tomorrow's workforce.

When teachers implement a blended learning approach of technology alongside sound teaching methodologies, students develop the tools which allow them to make the leap to future success. Blended learning environments not only expose students to the 4C's but also boost the classroom's engagement when preparing for high-stakes standardized testing.

There are many tools in the education technology industry that make the 21 st century classroom possible. Here are three that I use:   >>READ MORE
6 Top Inspirational Books for Educators

What is the essence of being a succesful teacher? According to Parker J. Palmer, it is to be able to make connections between themselves, their students and their curriculum. Truly an inspiration, this book takes a different look at teaching by giving educators a chance to reflect on their profession and themselves.
Help remind the educator in your life why they entered the ' noble profession ' of teaching. This book is loaded with inspirational and humorous stories that highlight the joys and rewards of teaching without ignoring the realities of the job.

3. Ordinary Children, Extraordinary Teachers
When people ask me what I do for a living, it is interesting to hear their reaction to my answer. In fact, many people pity teachers for their 'low-reward' jobs. Worse, some even blame teachers for all the ills in society. This book reveals the extraordinary effects that teachers have.

4. Teaching from the Heart: Reflections, Encouragement, and Inspiration
Help remind the educator in your life why they entered the 'noble profession' of teaching. This book is loaded with inspirational and humorous stories that highlight the joys and rewards of teaching without ignoring the realities of the job.

5. To a Very Special Teacher (To Give and to Keep)
Wonderful, little book that is meant to be given from a student to a teacher. However, it is much more than that. This book can truly make an educator feel like they are having a positive effect on the world around them

6. No Place But Here: A Teacher’s Vocation in a Rural Community
This little book is full of beautiful illustrations and poetry written from the perspective of the parent to the teacher. It is truly touching and inspirational.

Boost Online Safety in K-12 Schools with the Help of Technology

As a tool for schools, the internet can be fantastic for encouraging collaboration and accessing resources, but it can also be ripe with threats. Cyberbullying. Scams. Hackers. Technological advances, like "safe search" tools and devices with built-in security protocols, have done much to help combat these issues.

However, as  ISTE notes, the first step is teaching kids and teens how to make the most of digital resources while staying safe.

survey from the Pew Research Center reported that 24 percent of teens say they are online "almost constantly." The  National Center for Education Statistics found that in 2013, 71 percent of the U.S. population aged 3 and over had used the internet. That percentage is likely even higher today.    >>READ MORE
2  Fantastic, Upcoming Education Conferences
3  Tongue Twisters

Cranberry Cookies Crammed Carrie Crane's Closet

Barry Better Bet Big Blue Balloons

Hannah Hurt Inherited Harry Hatter's Hat
Diversity Talks: What Happens When Students Lead Uncomfortable Conversations?

Change within the education system begins to take form once a level of discomfort is reached. But in order for this change to take place, it is the responsibility of the educator and student to start a conversation that includes all voices within the classroom. Educators must be willing to relinquish their power by allowing students to have a voice in their learning, an opportunity to have conversations as it pertains to diversity, and ultimately, a seat at the table.

On Sept. 23, 2016,  Startup Weekend Education Providence provided an opportunity for educators and students to share ideas and come up with solutions that address educational disparities. Two students, Taiwo Demola and Taliq Tillman, joined forces with two educators,  Kiara Butler and  Chiquita Adams, to develop a platform that would give students of color a voice that has been silenced for centuries.    >>READ MORE
4  Inspiring Quotes

You can learn something new everyday if you listen.
- Unknown

The most certain way to succeed is to just try one more time.
- Thomas Edison

What's wrong with just being you?
 - Unknown

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.
- Les Brown
Professional Development Toolkit for Teachers
(Leadership, Teamwork, Communication, Customer Service, Building Relationships)

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M. H. West & Co., Inc. | 804.782.1938 | consulting@mhwest.com