Shall we have a meeting?

Meeting Image

Meetings are a cornerstone of the shared decision making process in education. And yet, it has been my experience that meetings are often thrown together at the last minute. I am of the belief that EVERY meeting of any importance should have one or more goals, and a written agenda. With that in mind, here is a great link about Planning Meeting Agendas and another discussing The Seven Sins of Deadly Meetings. I believe a little planning goes a long way toward making meetings shorter and more productive.  A favorite quote:

“If circulated before the meeting, the agenda allows members time to prepare to participate more effectively at the meeting.”

School Culture Survey

School Culture Survey

While visiting the Education World website, I happened upon this great School Culture Triage survey. The idea behind this survey is to quickly and accurately evaluate a school’s culture. According to the article containing the survey:

“In every case, the higher the school culture score, the better the school was ranked. The lower the survey score, the lower the school’s ranking.”

This fall, I will suggest implementing this survey with our staff, and use the results as a starting point for staff development.

MBWA: Management By Walking Around

Management By Walking Around

The term MBWA is a “strategic management” term dating back decades. Apparently, it originated with the Hewlett Packard company, where HP Managers would seldom be at their desks. Instead, they would be found out with their employees, walking around the company. This idea of MBWA is having a revival of sorts in education, where managers are being encouraged to regularly visit classrooms via “Walk Throughs“.  In particular, principals are being encouraged to regularly visit many classrooms in sequence. The key here is that the visits are non-threatening and have specific goals in mind.

For example, the visits might check classroom security, or check the lighting in classrooms, or checking for textbook use and availability. Also, these visits can be directed toward particular teaching strategies, perhaps as followup to a recent inservice. The key to these walk throughs is that they are not putative, and that teachers and staff know up front that the principal will be performing walk throughs on a consistent basis.

Here are Twelve Guidelines for Management by Walking Around.

Step away from the computer

Student Outdoors

One of the great worries I have regarding my computer science students is that they spend way too much time sitting at their computers indoors.  I always joke to them that their lack of tans and muscle tone is an obvious sign that they are computer geeks.  It turns out that studies have been done showing that natural lighting and outdoor learning BOTH improve student test scores.  Now if I can just figure a way to teach PowerPoint outdoors, I’ll be set 🙂

The WHY of Moral/Ethical Dilemmas

Train Dilemma

“A train is heading toward five workers standing on the tracks. They will die if the train is not diverted. Their only hope is for you to throw a switch that will divert the train. The only problem is, by diverting the train, one person will die on the alternate track.”

According to an interesting study on Moral/Ethical Dilemmas by Marc Hauser et al published this year, almost 90 percent of people will say, YES, throwing the switch in the above scenario and save the larger group of workers. However, note how the scenario has been modified below:

“A train is heading toward five workers on the tracks. They will die if the train is not diverted. Their only hope is for you to push a person off a bridge above the train tracks to block the train. The person you push on to the tracks will die, but will save the workers.”

In this second scenario, as in the first, one person will die. And yet, only 10 percent of people will throw the person off of a bridge to save the five men on the tracks!

The net result of both scenarios is saving five workers and the loss of one person, but the willingness to undertake the necessary action is dramatically different. The real bomb shell of this study is that, few (if any) of the respondents could explain WHY they would act differently in each scenario. When pressed, most respondents had no clear explanation. That is, they clearly knew how to act, but had no explanation as to why. The study concludes stating:

“our results challenge the view that moral judgments are solely the product of conscious reasoning on the basis of explicitly understood moral principles

What implication does a study like this have on student discipline at schools? Should we be asking students more often, WHY did they select a particular action?