Monday, August 21, 2017

Purpose Statements > Goal Setting

I often equate the beginning of a new school year to the process of setting new goals for myself, both personally and professionally.  Already, I have shared that dreaded “2017-18 Goal Setting” form with our team and asked them to return to me by September 15th.

I say "dreaded" because,

“What does this really mean?  
Will this be a form that is completed for compliance purposes or will it be a true reflection of who they are and how they identify with their purpose?  
By setting goals, do we get too caught up in the result rather than the process?”  

Maybe we should set purpose statements that include timeline processes and checkpoints along the way to measure our growth.  Our value as leaders comes from getting lost in the work with others. It’s about maximizing our own learning and collaborating with others to help the organization succeed.  It’s about building capacity in others through trusting relationships.  It’s about collectively growing our students and our organization.  It’s about developing our identity as a leader, over time, not in whether or not we reach a goal at the end of 12 month period.

Think about others whom you admire.  How would you describe them?  Which of these leadership qualities do you hope for in yourself?  

Developing a purpose statement as leaders seems to make more sense than developing goals in isolation.  A purpose statement will help us reflect on the process and focus less on the outcome.  I care more about the process leaders take to reach their goals.  In the end, no one will remember whether or not we achieved our yearly goal, but they will remember how we persevered along the way.  As leaders, we all want to reach the top of the mountain, but what good does it do if we are at the top of the mountain alone?  The end goal doesn’t matter much if the camaraderie of team hasn’t developed along the way.  It’s about the process and those who band together during that process.  The process is personal.  Through processes, others get to know us and understand what we value.  Let’s also not forget the important role failure plays in this process.  I’d much rather work alongside someone who has failed a few times, knows how to navigate the bumpy road and lead our team to success. From failure, we grow.  Goals are boring in isolation, but a purpose statement allows us to focus on the process, keep our perspective and keep moving the organization forward.

So, if you have already started your Goal Statements that are DUE by September 15th, please HOLD, we have a few changes to make!😀

Monday, August 14, 2017

ALL teachers working together to better understand and grow ALL learners!

It is my honor and privilege to introduce you to Alison Palermo, a very talented Worthington City Schools Literacy Coach and guest blogger for "Dream Big!". I had the pleasure of learning from and with Alison and group of our teachers last week during a Wilson Reading System workshop and I was amazed, yet not surprised by the amount of deep learning and collaboration that took place.
ALL teachers are working together to better understand and grow ALL of our learners.



Worthington’s Framework for Literacy Instruction, Wilson Reading System and The Culper Spy Ring

This week I had the privilege of hosting a Wilson Reading System workshop for Worthington teachers.  In attendance at the workshop were Intervention Specialists, Reading Specialists and general education teachers.  You might be asking yourself why in the world would Reading Specialists and general education teachers want to attend a Wilson Reading System workshop? Isn’t that only for students receiving special education services?  

As teachers- whether general education teachers, reading specialists or intervention specialists- we are all responsible for instructing the Ohio State Standards.  The Ohio State Standards that were the focus of our workshop (and are the focus of Wilson Reading System instruction) are found in the areas of Reading Foundations and Language Standards.  

RF.K.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
a. Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one grapheme (letter)-sound correspondences by producing the primary sound or many of the most frequent sounds for each consonant.
RF.1.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
a. Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.
b. Decode regularly spelled one-syllable words.
c. Know final -e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.
d. Use knowledge that every syllable must have a vowel sound to determine the number of syllables in a printed word.
e. Decode two-syllable words following basic patterns by breaking the words into syllables.
RF.2.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
a. Distinguish long and short vowels when reading regularly spelled one-syllable words.
b. Know spelling-sound correspondences for additional common vowel teams.
c. Decode regularly spelled two-syllable words with long vowels.
d. Decode words with common prefixes and suffixes.
e. Identify words with inconsistent but common spelling-sound correspondences.
RF.3.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
a. Identify and know the meaning of the most common prefixes and derivational suffixes.
b. Decode words with common Latin suffixes.
c. Decode multi-syllable words.
RF.4.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words by using combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context
L.K.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
c. Write a letter or letters for most consonant and short-vowel phonemes (sounds).
d. Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships
L.1.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
d. Use conventional spelling for words with common spelling patterns and for frequently occurring irregular words.
e. Spell untaught words phonetically, drawing on phonemic awareness and spelling conventions
L.2.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
d. Generalize learned spelling patterns when writing words (e.g., cage -> badge; boy -> boil).
L.3.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
e. Use conventional spelling for high-frequency and other studied words and for adding suffixes to base words (e.g., sitting, smiled, cries, happiness).
f. Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g., word families, position-based spellings, syllable patterns, ending rules, meaningful word parts) in writing words.
L.4.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
d. Spell grade-appropriate words correctly

So while we are all teaching the same content, for students who need the additional support from either a reading specialist or an intervention specialist- what changes is not the content being taught, but the instructional methods we use.  

The Framework for Literacy Instruction we use in Worthington has three main components:
  • reading
  • writing
  • word study  

Word Study consists of:
  • phonemic awareness
  • phonics
  • vocabulary
  • word analysis
  • spelling

Within the context of the Framework for Literacy Instruction, we as teachers have to differentiate our instruction to meet the unique needs of each learner.  

The group of learners who were the focus of our workshop this week are those learners who (for various reasons) have a documented deficit in the area(s) of: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, word analysis and spelling.  These are students who are struggling to acquire the necessary skills to be able to read in order to fully grasp the writer’s message and write to send their own message.  Upon in-depth analysis, we discover that at the core of these student’s reading and writing deficit is an inability to decipher and use the code of the English language.

Now to the Culper Spy Ring- (Washington’s spy ring during the Revolutionary War and made popular again by the A&E show Turn) their success was rooted in the development of a code only understood and utilized by those in the spy ring.  For students with deficits in the area of phonological processing (which means once they visually decipher the symbols we use in English, attach the symbols to the sounds of our language, and finally blend those sounds together to form words that have meaning) anytime they read or write they feel as if they are trying to decipher a secret code that everyone else in their life completely understands (and uses easily and effortlessly) but for some reason- they cannot break.

So for our students who feel like they are on the outside looking in as we all use this “secret code” when we read and write- we owe them nothing less than being able to instruct them at their point of need using methods that make sense to them.  I love the title of the resource Words Their Way.   It is a good reminder for us as educators that our responsibility is to teach skills and content- not our way, relying on our preferences, and teaching within our comfort zone- but their way.  We have to know each student’s unique learning profile and then differentiate our instruction so that we are teaching skills and content THEIR way.

For the group of teachers that gathered this week and spent three full days exploring a method of instruction to teach phonics, word analysis skills and spelling to students who  just can’t seem to break the code- they will now head into their classrooms this week with a deepened ability to teach each student THEIR way.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Power of Positivity

I am just returning from some time away from work and it is amazing how a week away with family and friends allows for our heads to clear and our minds to be refreshed.  While the month of July is a different pace for me, it is refreshing because it is a time where I am able to be more creative.  More creative to dream and to really process the "What If's" for a new school year.  July is a time where I feel like I can dig deeper into my own personal beliefs and reflections.  I've already had some time to read a few books and yes, most of my reading has been either leadership focused or personal transformation related.  My friends tend to make fun of me for not being able to just get lost in a murder mystery or a romance novel.  I'm not going to lie and say I don't think there is some merit behind this, but I guess it's just not my thing.

For several years now, author and speaker, Jon Gordon has been a part of my July learning.  After reading and rereading his most recent book, "The Power of Positive Leadership," I continue to reflect on the importance of such a simple word...POSITIVITY.  Being positive, be it in the work place or that time away with family and friends, makes you better and more importantly, makes everyone around you better.  People (co-workers, friends and family) are our most important assets and if we take care of each other, others will feel your care for them and keep the organization moving forward.  I certainly understand that not all days are happy days and that in life, bad things can and will happen, but I do believe that we are in control of our own behaviors and that the commitment and love for those around us is where differences are made.  We must be committed to people as this is where trust is built and this trust is necessary in any successful relationship. We achieve with people not with fancy programs and expensive resources.  People create the positive energy that is necessary for a positive culture.

"Positivity is a difference-maker and investing in relationships builds a strong culture.  Driving your culture is not something you can delegate.  Culture beats strategy!" 

Thanks for making a difference in my growth as a leader and as a person.  I will continue to invest in relationships and lead with the positive energy that is necessary to keep our organization moving forward.  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer Reading Camp

Today a READER, tomorrow a LEADER!”

Friday, June 23rd was a great day because I had the opportunity to visit teachers and students at our Summer Reading Camp, a Leveled Literacy Intervention Program for grades K-3.  This is an intensive, 4-week, summer reading intervention program that takes place at Worthington Estates Elementary.  One might think, “It’s Summer, does learning really happen in the Summer? What does it look like?”  

WOW! I was so impressed.  As I walked around and toured the building with Tricia Palko, our Coordinator of ELA and Social Studies, I was impressed with the focus and structure.  Our teachers and students were so engaged in the learning that I might as well have been a poster on the wall.  I walked in and out of classrooms to observe and finally realized that if the students were going to know I was present, I’d have to introduce myself and engage in the learning with them.  There was no time for small talk because they were there to learn!  Our teachers care about our students and go above and beyond to help them discover success.  They have created a culture of learning and our students are happy to be there because they know their teachers care about them.  Thanks to all of our teachers for doing what you do best...Taking Care of our Worthington Students.


Katie Eschliman, Kindergarten teacher at Colonial Hills Elementary,  and Sarah Tsung, 5th grade teacher at Liberty Elementary, helps students to develop skills in phonics, decoding, vocabulary acquisition, fluency, comprehension and writing.  

Katrina Turner,  1st grade teacher at Brookside Elementary, monitors progress of students through running records and leveled text assignments.  

A big “Shout-Out” to Worthington Estates Elementary School for hosting this outstanding learning experience for our Worthington students.  Friday, June 23rd was a great day for me as I begin my new role as Worthington Schools Chief Academic Officer!


“To empower a community of learners who will change the world.”

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"The gift of family is incomparable."

Dear WKHS Family,
“The gift of family is incomparable.”  
As I sat down to write my final Worthington Kilbourne High School newsletter, these six simple yet powerful words kept running through my head -“The gift of family is incomparable.”   I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve as your building principal….six years as your principal and six simple, yet powerful words to truly describe what it takes to help our students experience success in school and in life.  As a community, you are the source of strength and sustenance for our entire school family.  Thank you for your devotion, moral support and loyalty to our entire school system.   
While this professional move for me was not an easy decision due to the fact that I love the work I “get” to do every day, I was also presented with an opportunity to stay in the district and continue to serve our students and families in the Worthington City Schools.  As many of you already know, I have accepted the position as Chief Academic Officer and I am grateful to have the opportunity to now work with our amazing Academic Achievement and Professional Development team at our Worthington Education Center.  
I would be remiss if I did not give a “Shout-Out” to our entire staff and student body.  From that first day in August of 2011, I was welcomed with open arms and it took very little time to build those trusting relationships that are necessary for any organization to be successful.  We have great kids in Worthington and while I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again, “Teacher quality is the single most important school-based factor in student achievement, followed closely by school leadership quality.”  Again, thanks for all that you do to support our work with our students and your children.  
With that being said, I’d like to informally introduce you to your new WKHS leader, Mr. Aric Thomas.  Aric is currently the principal at Groveport Madison High School.  He has served as their principal for 7 years with a total of 11 years in that district.  He has already had the opportunity to meet and speak casually with our staff and take part in a WKHS News interview.  Aric will also be making a transition this summer and begin to make himself available for introductions.  Please welcome Aric to our school are going to appreciate what he has to offer our school and our school district. I am excited that I get to work with and learn from him.
The best part about this sign-off is that it’s not final.  I look forward to continuing our work together, just from a different “seat” in the district.  Much love and appreciation to all of you. Continue to “take care of each other,” that’s what make our school so very special.
Kilbourne Proud,
Principal Adrean


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A message to our WKHS Family...Be Present!

Good Morning WKHS,

As I work to catch up on email; answering questions and adding dates to my calendar to make sure I am where I am suppose to be at all times, I opened an email with the following blog:
(Thanks to Omid Safi @OSTADJAAN for giving me perspective today.)

Of course, I became distracted and opened the email, took the time to read it and am now sharing it with all of you because the message needs to be shared.  This means I have stopped answering email and completing my "to-do" list.  LOL!😀

It's definitely a busy time of the year and like myself, I need reminders to stay focused and keep people as the focus of our work.  Our students, our parents, our colleagues and our family members must be our focus.  Certainly, email is a means of communication for all of us and there is no doubt it works.  However, nothing is more important than "Being Present" with people, face to face and with emotion.  

In this busy time of the school year, avoid the "busy disease" by taking time with each other to laugh, reflect and appreciate what we have.

I am forever grateful for what I "get" to do everyday at WKHS.

Have a great day, Kilbourne!
-Principal Adrean

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Purpose in Learning Provides Reflective Feedback for School Improvement

Each year, our Worthington Kilbourne High School Business and Keyboarding teacher, Susan Lively, plans an engaging lesson that provides excellent reflective feedback for me and for the overall success of our school.  I enjoying reading each letter and writing back to every single student.  This practice has led to individual student meetings where student voices were heard and plans were made to make changes to enhance our school learning environment.  This reflective “Student Memo” assignment is a great example of providing purpose in learning.  Students are learning the skills of keyboarding and letter writing while also integrating their voice in learning to compliment and make suggestions that will improve the school environment.  It has definitely helped me to build stronger connections with our students, which I believe is key in creating a successful school culture.  
"Worthington Kilbourne is truly something amazing and I am so proud and happy to become Alumni of this great school.  This school harnesses some of my greatest memories, memories that I will hold for a life time."  
-Carson Van Lynn, WKHS Senior
Here is what our Business and Keyboarding students has to say!

We are thankful for the following;
  1. The personal connections and caring attitudes of our teachers, coaches and staff.  The school is welcoming and I feel comfortable when talking with my teachers and asking for extra help.  The academic assistants in The Teaching and Learning Center (Room 209) are awesome!
  2. Our school is safe.  I appreciate the diversity and acceptance of all students, specifically those with disabilities.   There is a strong sense of “togetherness” and we are definitely a strong school family.
  3. I love our school spirit and appreciate the opportunity for all students to be involved in extracurricular activities.  
  4. Thanks to our our cafeteria staff, we have good and healthy food options.  
  5. I am challenged academically in our school and while it is difficult, I am thankful for the education I am receiving.  
  6. Our school is 26 years old and still looks brand new because we have hard-working custodial staff who take care of the building.

We’d like to see the following improved upon;
  1. We need more hands-on/experiential learning opportunities.
  2. Too many students are using drugs and alcohol on the weekends.  I hear about weekend parties every Monday morning.
  3. The Junior and Senior balcony is too crowded and this makes it difficult to get to class on time.
  4. We need more food choices in our cafeteria and the vending machines are always broken.
  5. I wish we had more electives to choose from or at least, more teachers to teach the classes.  I always get closed out of these classes.
  6. The heating and cooling in our school needs repaired.

Thanks again to Mrs. Lively and our students for taking the time to share their voice with me. While this practice may not necessarily be a targeted school improvement plan initiative nor is it a tested State Report Card benchmark, I believe the value of student voice and creating positive student relationships through purposeful reflections, builds a strong school culture that is necessary for overall school improvement.  
Reflection must become a natural part of student learning and always remember that student voice matters!