5842494234_7140f3e862_o

When I discuss school leadership I often refer to the Sam Walton and the principle of Managing By Wandering Around. I first read about MBWA in Tom Peter’s management book, “In Search of Excellence“.

Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, was an advocate of MBWA and required his managers to practice it, because “nothing important ever happened in head office”. Walton would make impromptu visits to stores to chat with floor staff, ask them how things were going and what he could do to help.

“Managers don’t do anything productive” Walton explained. “We don’t sell one product or stock one shelf. The actual productive work is done by the store staff and as managers the best thing we can do is to help them, and then get out of their way”. Read More

1342_freeamina_1_460x230

The story of Amina Abdallah Arraf al Omari is fascinating.

Amina, born in the US to an American mother and a Syrian father, grew up spending time in both countries. She “came out” at 26 years of age and shortly after returned to Syria where she taught English and wrote on her blog “A Gay Girl In Damascus”.

Amina was an outspoken advocate for gay rights in the muslim world, women’s right and an articulate critic of the Syrian regime. Because she was politically well-connected in Syria through her father, and a foreign national, she had more freedom to speak out in a country where it was officially illegal to be gay.

Read More

Weird Al Moran

I generally enjoy “Weird Al” Yankovic. I don’t think he’s a comedic genius, but I enjoy some of his songs, and I like that there’s someone making a sincere effort at real parody.

Parody is imitating a piece of creative work in order to trivialize or or comment on it. We live in age of parody where any successful song has dozens of parody videos on YouTube.

“Weird Al” admits this is a problem for someone who makes a living from parody. “Weird Al” said “When I do my parodies, because of YouTube, I’m never the first person to do a parody of a certain song,” in an NPR interview. “And all the obvious ideas seem to be taken already, so nowadays when I do a parody I try to think of an angle that might be a little bit different or left-of-center that somebody else hasn’t thought of already.”

Read More

Classroom_with_students_and_teachers_-_NARA_-_285702

Each spring, as they craft an organizational plan for the next year, our school administrators ask us what we value about our school. Whenever this happens I take it as an opportunity to survey my colleagues with a single question. When I first asked this question I was genuinely pondering the answer, but the unanimity of responses surprised me. Ever since I’ve asked to see if I still get the same responses, and I usually do.

The question I ask is: “Would you choose a larger single grade class or a smaller split grade class?”. I rarely find a teacher who prefers a smaller multi-grade class, with most preferring the larger single grade class. This may indicate how much teachers generally dislike split-grade classes, but I think it mostly demonstrates that the question of class size is more complicated that it seems.

Read More

cant-see-forest-for-the-trees

Belief in the “bad school” is at the heart of modern school reform and accountability methods. We don’t always call them bad schools of course (failing schools?) but the concept is always the same. These are the schools that are failing students, that need to be fixed and that good parents need to avoid.

Standardized testing is a tool often used to identify which are the bad schools and which are the good ones. Education systems differ with how they respond to this information. Some try to help the bad schools while others simply close them and open up newer (better?) schools. But this is all predicated on the idea that we can identify which are the bad schools.

Read More

%d bloggers like this: