Pride Post #71

Dear Pride,

I want to start by sharing a few words that Richard Barth sent out after the School Leader/Executive Director Retreat.

This is part of a larger message I hope you also heard from me these past two ways.  We have some of the most incredible people in the world working at KIPP.  Our people are truly our strength.    As we have now grown to 66 schools, , we have an opportunity to not just be world class at sharing, but to be world class at sharing the load when it come to wanted to get this out there, as it is such an amazing way to leverage our Team and Family to make the biggest difference for our kids. continuous improvement and innovation. Over the coming weeks, we will be introducing a roadmap to do just this, one in which schools and regions are given the opportunity to decide if they want to be pioneers in key efforts, or they want to follow the lead of others and benefit from lessons learned.   (if this sounds stressful….please relax…this is purely a voluntary, opt in approach).   This roadmap will also ensure that we ‘discover’ any significant initiatives being taken on by a region or school about which the rest of us in the network should be aware.  The idea is simple:  if we have key work to take on (which you all are telling us we do indeed have to do)  we can create a true leapfrog effect by having different people in the network take the lead on specific efforts in any given year.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say this many times to come.  You are the very America has to offer….the salt that flavors this earth.   One of the greatest blessings of my life – and I’ve been blessed many times – is being given the opportunity to work for all of you.

With love and appreciation,


I certainly share Richard’s last sentiment and his awe at what is possible.  Richard also sent out an inspiring slideshow that is too large to attach; I will try to show it sometime soon.  One of the biggest and most amazing takeaways in 2028 KIPP could serve over 200,000 kids and be the 7th largest system in the United States. This perspective reinforces how grateful I am to do work and be part of a movement that has both an incredible personal impact on lives and a stunning systemic effect on our country.

After twelve hours of sleep and a little too much morning coffee here are a few more thoughts:

Christine and I were on a very interesting KIPP call with Rick Stiggins, one of the national gurus of assessment.  Two ideas Stiggins raised continue to resonate.  He pointed out “We, as Americans and people, have a deep fear of assessment because we assume it’s judgment,” versus believing that assessment is a key to growth.  Secondly he passionately argued that balanced assessment can help raise student’s efficacy by allowing them to see how their own behaviors control progress and learning.  Teaching students to use and love assessment data is something many of us are already doing well and this is what can transform us into what Stiggins called “merchants of hope”.

There are few more beautiful sights than watching kids come into school before a trip.  The buzz of excitement is something I never get tired of.

Another one of my favorite places and times is morning work in part because it reminds me how much we can expand our locus of control by being intentional. Adjusting a few tables and enforcing not leaning on walls has transformed the look and feel of the cafeteria.  Often a few small changes have an exponential impact.

One of the more powerful conversations from last weekend’s work with Saphier was around orientation and calling on behaviors.  Several KIPP schools are really tracking these teacher patterns beyond just gender including:

Do I call on certain sides of the rooms more than others?

Do I call on certain students (high-performers, struggling students) more than others?

Do I call on light-skinned students more than dark-skinned students?

Do I call on kids who are perceived to be attractive more than kids who are perceived to be unattractive?

It’s easy to be scared of this data; facing our biases and foibles is never fun.   However gathering the information is relatively simple.  Saphier loved Emily’s use of student helpers to track who has been called on.   Raising awareness of who we call on is the first step towards growth in this arena.

Many thanks and much love,


To Dos and To Thinks

* Experiment and expand your skillful teaching and learning repertoire.

* Check out the Pride Post for parents and let me know if there are any additions or corrections.

* Please, please, please check out at least a couple of times a week.  This blog makes me giddy with possibility every time I read it.  Just check out this or this

and you will get sense of how helpful this site is at directing us as teachers towards powerful resources.

* Send out third quarter progress reports and follow up on second quarter parent meetings. How are we growing?

* Hype the new incentives you created on Friday.  Let’s make EOG spirit week happen.

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. *

Ongoing reminders

* Take care of yourself and have fun with kids and teammates.

* Plan and teach thoughtfully.

* Save $ and resources creatively.  Savings means the paper in the copier, the napkins in the kitchen, towels in the bathroom, and the temperature in our rooms.  Thanks to Stallings and the leadership team for saving over $10,000 so far on end of year trips.

* Seek out additional funding and resources. Donorshoose is a great way to make this happen.  I wrote proposal in under an hour. A sample proposal that was funded is attached.

* Draft your next unit and assessment according to the due dates you established.  Seek feedback from all of the brilliant folks around you.

This week I will try to…

ì Plan better conferences and debriefs after observations.  Special thanks to Andrew for taping his debrief and Christine for giving me feedback.  I am attaching a shock collar to prevent myself from over-nodding.

ì Write the yearbook dedication by February 25.

ì Start Observation round #6.

ì Participate in recruitment, licensure, ops, rookie, and leadership team meetings.

ì Participate in a Monday call with KIPP about KIPP NC

ì Teach History/Writing to 2013.

ì Work on mastery case study for RBT with Kelly.

ì Develop Kippster of the Year Selection process.  Creative help is appreciated.

ì Plan an April Fool’s Day prank on the kids.

ì Follow-up on benchmark meetings with math, reading, and science teachers.  These meetings have been super informative and driven by what the kids need.  Here are the follow-up actions so far:


Homework and Class Work with Answers as well as a shift in grading to focus on work habits for those issues

Some kids stay until the work is done.


Develop and institute study routines with the “crew”.  The crew is the five, no more than ten kids, who have major skill issues.  They should be able to review content and vocabulary and summarize the day’s lesson without direct teacher presence.

Consider how kids could form independent study groups.

Prepare for mastery quizzes and immediate re-teaching during the cumulative review in the month prior to EOGs.  This will help kids who have content gaps.


Co-observe Carice’s remediation to determine routines for remediation.

Input questions from the benchmark into the spreadsheet to identify most-missed questions.

Do a weekly assessment with a new text to get more real time data about skills.


Plan and grade a daily quiz or formal check for classroom mastery.

Institute classroom competitions for weekly growth and mastery

Post benchmark results as a check for self and others.  Post daily quiz results as well.


Re-block remediation with the fifth grade team to get access to the No Shortcuts kids.

Teach analogies and poetry and enforce those skills across the grade level.

Do error analysis of the main idea/most likely questions to determine how kids are mis-stepping.

Upcoming Events and Due Dates

KIPP Writing Project Meetings at GCP

March 6-8

FAB (The University of Florida) spring break group arrives.

March 7-14

William and Mary spring break group arrives

March 9-13

DPI team visits for the Title II monitoring visit.

March 10-11

This visit is cancelled due to DPI’s budget cuts.

End of 3rd Grading Period

March 20

All juniors take the SAT

March 14

Grades Due

March 23

Grade Verifications Out to Teachers

March 24

Grade Verifications Due Back

March 25

Report Cards Printed

March 27

The 5K

March 28

NC teaching fellows visit.

Monday, May 18, 2009

2016 EOY Trip

Tuesday May, 26-Friday May 29

2015 EOY Trip

Tuesday May, 26-Friday May 29

2014 EOY Trip

Saturday, May 30-Wednesday, June 3

2013 EOY Trip

Friday, May 29-Monday, June 1 (Williamsburg)

End of 4th Grading Period

June 5th

2009’s Commencement Ceremony

June 6

Grades Due

June 8

Grade Verifications Out to Teachers

June 9

Grade Verifications Due Back

June 10

Report Cards Printed

June 12

Readings, Links, and Other ways to get smarter

1. Teaching and learning is an art and a science.

In light of Shaif and Taffie’s recent plunge into the blogosphere and my own struggles with having 2013 actually do research for their debates, this podcast was particularly interesting. . One line that stood out to me was “world class education is now beyond on text book, one classroom, and one teacher.” If we want to teach our kids effective effort then it seems we have to teach them how to use the “sum of human knowledge” promised by Google and the rest of the on-line world.  The podcast is three minutes long and worth a listen.  As a follow up check out which describes how blogs and wikis can help with professional learning.  I don’t believe our school fits his description of most schools’ environment for adult learning but after the ponderous intro the article lists some very helpful resources.

The Marshall Memo article on Peer Assessment is a must-read for anyone who is thinking about how to get kids more feedback on their writing and anyone who wants kids to use rubrics to guide their work.  The article reminded me how important and powerful student to student feedback should be and how much scaffolding is required for it to be effective. There’s also an article about a computer program that accurately? provides feedback to student writing.  This seemed Terminator-esque.

2. All students leave GCP with the desire and skills to choose the life they want and become the people they want to be.

Adding to our field trips will be hard in the current recessive times but ED Week suggests these virtual field trips.

• The Virtual Smithsonian –

• Jet Propulsion Lab at NASA –

• National Geographic Expeditions –

• Ball State University, including the Buffalo Soldiers, Florida Everglades, gray whale migration, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

• Colonial Williamsburg (best for grades 4-8) –

3. The students and teachers are passionate about ideas, their school, their community, and their growth.

This has nothing to do with teaching but the idea is fascinating A Voucher System for Investigative Reporting

Get your ice-skating shots online. Don’t keep those amazing pictures of classes, Pride times, and trips to yourself.  Share them on our shutterfly account.  I am looking for some high quality shots to frame for the front lobby.  If your shot is selected I will make you a free extra copy;

You can upload your photos at                                        Password: pride

4.  Our school embraces the idea that this is a long term struggle to build strong people and an enduring community institution.

Joey shared this email from MIT’s president.  It’s a powerful institutional vision

Almost 70 years ago, in the midst of another national economic downturn and on the eve of the nation’s entry into WWII, then-MIT President Karl Taylor Compton framed MIT’s role and captured our enduring purpose and aspirations:
“To make democratic government workable [our forefathers] established a great system of education. We of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are a part of this system. While our immediate objectives are to discover and to teach the truth, especially in the realm of the physical world and man’s adjustment to it, our ultimate objectives are those of our nation: to promote freedom and opportunity … For truth, in the form of exact knowledge, brings freedom and opportunity to those who gain it. Our task is to implement this vision on a global scale.”
I am more convinced than ever of the profound importance of MIT’s mission in education and research. These are difficult times, times that call for leadership in values, integrity and aspirations. It is a kind of leadership that MIT can and will provide, both here on our campus and in building a network of global engagements in service to the world.

Susan Hockfield

Interesting article about Wake and Charlotte schools: Different approaches to achievement gaps produce similar results North Carolina’s two largest districts have taken divergent approaches to educating economically disadvantaged students: one buses students to prevent high-poverty schools from forming, while the other accepts economically stratified neighborhood schools but invests millions into those with high poverty levels in the hopes of boosting student achievement. The results are mixed: The performance by low-income and black students is virtually equal in the two districts. The Charlotte Observer (N.C.)

Some more Subject Specific sites


The Contemporary Science center in Durham offers grants to support field trips.  Its Executive Director Pamela Blizzard is also a good friend of the school.  Check out the link and see if it fits your plans.



Young Writers Program gives students confidence In 2007, teacher Luke Perry introduced his sixth graders to the idea of writing a novel in one month. The idea became extremely popular, and last year in the school district there were roughly 250 participating students, who happily typed away during lunch to finish their books, which they proudly read for community leaders and over the school’s public-address system at the end of the month. “I can’t gush enough about it,” Perry said, calling it the best experience of his 10 years in teaching. “I’ll never teach the same way again.” Edutopia magazine


Check out the site suggested in the Marshall Memo



One Response to “Pride Post #71”

  1. jsmith6 Says:

    I think RIchard’s message about sharing is an exciting one, and would be curious to hear where GCP stands. If nothing else, this blog is a way to encourage sharing ideas in a slightly different format.

    Keep it up- I enjoy reading and would to hear highlights from observations, and what great things are going on in the classrooms of GCP 🙂

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