Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Strategic Leadership: Developing a Mission and Vision

Developing a mission and vision begins with strategic leadership.  A truly shared mission and vision is co-created by community stakeholders.  If not, these documents will have little impact.  A superintendent should not impose personal philosophies on a community, but rather develop, and then trust, a process to identify common causes, beliefs, interests, goals, and aspirations (PLC, Richard DuFour).   That is not to say the school leader turns the process over to others, instead the superintendent must work to organize the meeting spaces, provide relevant background information, frame discussion points, and synthesize the data collected into a coherent collective message. It is a prominent, crucial role in which the district administrator should model the characteristics of a servant leader.  Servant leaders are not focused on the advancement of their own personal agendas, instead acting as a steward for the local educational community (Greenleaf).

Analysis of Kettle Moraine's Transformation TaskforceHudson School District’s HSD 2025, DeForest’s Future Search 2.0, and Cashton’s Cashton 2024 provide a strong blueprint for other districts to follow. However, the actions and format should be unique to the character, demographics, and climate of the district.

The revision of a mission statement must start with analysis of current educational trends and a "state of the district" review.  If you do not provide stakeholders with adequate information it limits their ability to make informed decisions.  Once relevant background is explored, strategic leaders set clear goals for the the process. The goals that I would set would look similar to the framework developed by Deforest.  1.) Provide an opportunity for citizens to participate in future planning.  2.) Identify the issues and trends that shape our community.  3.) Explore the knowledge, skills, and attributes that will be necessary to be a responsible citizen, have a good quality of life, and be successful in the future.  4.) Identify ways that our district can be effective in creating a learning environment that will enable our children to thrive in the future (DeForest).

Successful leaders create an environment in which all voices have an opportunity to participate.  To accomplish this task I would mimic the work completed by Cashton 2024.  To elicit participation in community engagement sessions, I would ask each board member to nominate one community member to be part of the Vision Element Study Team (VEST).  I would also implement a means for other interested citizens to participate on the team.  VEST team members would facilitate community engagement sessions and then meet to synthesize the feedback provided in these sessions. Web-based resources such as Wordle and Themseekr are helpful tools that expedite the analysis process.  Finally I would invite VEST team members to a board meeting to present their findings.  While playing an important role throughout the process, I would avoid the perception that I am dictating the outcomes of the process. However, the VEST team will need guidance in framing the mission and vision of the district that aligns to the the data collected.

Once the vision is established and approved the real work begins.  To honor the process leaders must "walk the walk".  Decisions must be made not out of personal interest, teacher preference, or to ease political agendas.  Resources, both human and fiscal, should be allocated in a manner the supports the achievement of the district vision. Aligned goals and specific action plans have to be implemented at the district, school, and classroom levels.  Goals must assessed for completion on a yearly basis.  While this level of accountability may be stressful, if the mission and vision of the district you work for aligns to your personal professional goals, the result is a fulfilling and valued career.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cashton Middle/High School Teacher Resources

We are fortunate to have a five new staff members starting this fall.   One challenge for a new staff member is   organizing and accessing the teacher resources available to them.  In an effort to ease this transition I created an online 3-ring binder for our new teachers.  The site that hosts the binder is  The online-cloud based format allows access to all of these documents from any computer.  Throughout the year, I will  update, adjust, and add contributors to the binder.  Most of the documents on the site are uploaded directly from my Google Docs account.  I can control access levels to the documents and, when applicable, it allows certain teachers the ability to edit documents. I personally favor the tab format of live binder versus simply sharing a collection via Docs.  Thank you to Mrs. Julie Lundeen for helping me organize the binder.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Analysis of District and MS/HS Goals for 2011-12

District Goals 

HIGH QUALITY EDUCATIONAL AND EXTRA-CURRICULAR PROGRAMMING.  The district will offer and sustain engaging, challenging, and diverse learning opportunities for all students.  4K-12 curriculum will be reviewed and aligned to national and state guidelines.

  • Teachers and staff attend professional development workshops/conferences at the CESA, state, and national levels.

  • Planning time with curriculum director to analyze student date and set student achievement goals.  Language arts teams met bi-weekly in vertical teams to prepare common core implementation.

  • The increase of co-taught classes, the implementation of literacy planning time, and specific intervention expectations for all teachers supported the sustained commitment to the full inclusion and development of a rigorous course of study for all students.  

  • District technology initiatives and associated training have improved student engagement, increased students access to fundamental learning tools, and enhanced the quality of instructional activities.  

  • A district-wide career cluster analysis was completed.  The results of this analysis will be used in assessing current course offerings and developing career/college counseling opportunities.

  • A committee of community stakeholders researched the conditions under which students excel in co-curricular activities.  The results were compiled in to a strategic plan.  All-In: A New Era of Cashton Co-Curricular Programming empowers students, parents, coaches, administration, and community members to create the optimal conditions for student growth and achievement.

  • A new speed, strength, and conditioning coach was hired.  The primary objective of this position will be to develop and implement comprehensive weightlifting and conditioning programs for all student athletes.

  • SAFE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT.   The district will provide a safe school environment that promotes global citizenship, respect for others, and personal accountability.

  • Wellness Day 2011 promoted positive and healthy decision-making for middle/high school students.

  • Emergency response actions were reviewed.  Updates to the emergency response plan helped clarify any confusion among staff.
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS AND PARENT INVOLVEMENT.  Create and improve communication practices between  students, staff, parents, and community that support positive partnerships that allow support the growth of our learning community.

  • District and school blogs (MS/HS and Elementary) and websites (MS/HS and Elementary) were developed to inform parents and community members of school events.  These actions supplemented the practice of distributing quarterly newsletters.

  • The district created a partnership with Scenic Bluffs Health Center and Scenic Rivers AHEC to form a Health Careers Academy.   The HCA provides opportunities for students interested in pursuing medical or health science careers.

  • The middle school conducted a parents satisfaction survey. The responses will be used to set improvement goals for the 2012-13 school year.
FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY In light of declining financial support from the state, the district will closely monitor and manage finances in a manner that sustains educational priorities.

  • District staffing decisions aligned to school vision and purpose.

  • Requisitions and purchases were evaluated according to curricular and school need.

  • Community access to school resources continued to be a priority.

MS/HS Goals
ASSESSMENT AND GRADING.  Design consistent, fair, accurate, and efficient assessment and grading guidelines. Course grades will measure student achievement relative to district curricular goals and objectives.  Grades will serve to inform students, parents, teachers, and administrators of the degree to which mastery has been attained and to help teachers adjust instruction to meet the individual needs of all students. Grades help students understand their current level of performance and how to achieve the next level of performance.

  • Traditional pen/paper exams were replaced by authentic project based assessments.

  • Technology was used to improve the quality, frequency, and timeliness of student feedback.

  • The use of formative assessment was increased.  These assessment supported the adjustment and adaption of instructional techniques prior to “final” or summative assessments.

  • Remediation/retake opportunities were offered in all subject areas.

  • Adjustments have led to grades more accurately reflecting students achievement levels.  A comparison of grades from 2010-11 to 2011-12 was completed and shared with staff.

Goal 1 Action Steps for 2012-13
1.  Develop assessments that are authentic and aligned to instructional objectives.  

2.  The increase use of formative assessments has improved teachers ability to recognize areas in of student deficiencies.  The development responsive intervention instruction is still an area of need.  We must try a develop diverse instructional techniques during the remediation process.

3. Unit pacing.  Students who struggle were overwhelmed with remediation time versus learning the current instructional objectives.  Teachers were stressed with balancing a class full of students at varying levels of mastery.  

4. Alignment of common core instructional practices with district grading guidelines.

SAFE AND RESPECTFUL ENVIRONMENT.  A continued commitment to providing students equal educational opportunities within a safe and respectful learning environment that prevents incidents of bullying, allows for diverse cultures and opinions, and holds students accountable for their actions.

  • Teachers implemented proactive classroom management tactics in an effort to establish and consistently enforce rules

  • Hallways, stairwells, and other high traffic areas were supervise by faculty or covered with security cameras.

  • Incidents of negative social interactions (both face to face and virtual) were addressed and communicated to parents.  If issues were repetitive or harassing in nature, disciplinary actions were taken.

  • Emergency response actions were reviewed.  Updates to the ERP helped clarify any confusion among staff.

  • A significant increase in staff attendance at student events was observed.

  • Wellness day 2011 and the pre-prom mock crash 2012 promoted healthy, positive decisions.

Goal 2 Action Steps for 2012-13
1. Teachers have identified the need for the development of specific school-wide system for establishing positive behaviors and academic habits, rewarding students who implement these behaviors, and providing effective support students whose academic performance is being negatively affected by misalignment of their behaviors.

2.  A system to address the need for continuity of behavior expectations between classes.   The maintenance of common expectations between classes will strengthen its effectiveness and lessen students confusion over rules.

Response to Intervention.  A collaborative approach to the comprehensive implementation of a Response to Intervention program that is used to identify, monitor, and support all students meeting curricular outcomes.

  • Professional development and training was provided to help teachers increase their understanding of the RtI model.

  • Staff training to help differentiate between Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions.

  • A universal system was developed to track the interventions provided and  to monitor the progress of students at-risk for failure.  

  • Lunch-time supervised study was established for students at-risk for failing multiple classes.

Goal 3 Action Steps for 2012-13
1.  The development of more intensive Tier 3 support for students failing in a number of academic subjects.

2.  Remedial instruction and remediation training

3.  Improved use of student data  

4.  Adjust the EBLOCK schedule to make the time more academically efficient.
-Imbalance of teachers needed during EBLOCK
-Methods to address students who are failing multiple classes
-Addressing who assigns classes
-Maximize the timing the mornings.
-Improve the quality of enrichment activities offered

CURRICULUM ALIGNMENT TO STANDARDS.  Review and adjust current curricular and instructional practices to assure alignment with Common Core, state standards, and college/career readiness guidelines.

  • Teachers analyzed current course units of study and identified current practices that are misaligned to Common Core and/or state standards.

  • District-wide introduction to Curriculum Companion software that will be used to document alignment of the common core standards.

  • District-wide training on enhancing text complexity in all content areas.

  • Common planning time for language arts teachers and curriculum director to reflect on current instructional practices and prepare curricular adjustments.

  • Teachers completed a curriculum map reflection for each unit of study.

Goal 4 Action Steps for 2012-13
1. Content specific vertical planning teams must meet to improve understanding of surrounding curriculum and to identify areas of misalignment to the common core and/or state standards.

2. The use of the curriculum companion will be adopted to document course alignment to the common core math and language arts standards.

3. Additional disciplinary literacy support training must be provided to all teachers.

4. As new science and social studies standards are formally adopted training will be provided to teachers to accurately align course curriculum.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Three Regional Championships In A Week

Cashton student athletes have had an impressive spring.  Over the past week we have collected three regional championships.  On Tuesday, May 22nd the girls track and field team won their fourth consecutive regional championship.  Led by a balanced group of contributors the girls won the regional with an impressive score of 154 points.  The girls scored 58 points more than the next closest competitor.  On Thursday, May 24th the girls competed in the sectional meet.  Despite some rough weather that caused a long delay six girls qualified for the state track and field meet.  Best of luck to Sarah Gronemus (4x800, 1600 M), Amerila Korn (4x800), Betsy Schreier (Triple Jump, 4x800), Chloe Kaiser (4x800), Amber Dahl (100H, 300H, and 4x800), and Marisa Schaldach (4x800) as they travel to state competition today.  If you can not attend the meet it can be followed live on

The next team to raise some hardware was the baseball team.  The team completed the regular season as Scenic Bluffs Conference champions.  So far in the playoffs the team has posted wins over Royall (18-4) and Brookwood (12-2). The sectional tournament will be held on Tuesday, June 5th.  The Eagles will play Pittsville at 10 am in Wilton.  If they win, the sectional final is at 4:00 pm.

The softball team has come on very strong at the end of the season.  They finished second in the Scenic Bluffs conference and entered the regional as the third seed.  Their playoff run has included wins for Royall (10-0), Wonewoc-Center (3-1), and New Lisbon (5-2).  The win over top-seeded New Lisbon was especially sweet because it avenged two previous losses this year to the Rockets.  The sectional tournament will be held on Monday, June 4th.  The Eagles will play Cochran-Fountain City at 4:00 pm in Pepin.  If they win the sectional final is Thursday, June 7th at 4:00 pm in Boscobel.