More effective teachers start with good leadership
I am a firm believer that a teacher’s working conditions are a student’s learning conditions. A good principal can create a culture of achievement and empower the teachers. More effective teaching starts with good leadership at the building level.
From Good to Great
According to Oklahoma Best Practices What Works printed by the Oklahoma Commission for Education Leadership in 2005, here are some key attributes of high-challenge (low-income, varied ethnicity and limited English proficiency) high-performing schools in Oklahoma:
• Instructional autonomy. In the past, the school principal has been viewed as the instructional leader. Today, teachers are assuming ownership of the development and application of the curriculum while principals are becoming facilitators of instruction.
• Encouragement. In great schools, the principal looks for the strengths of each teacher and builds on those strengths.
• Shared accountability. Accountability is shared by both the principal and the teachers across all disciplines including special education and English language learners.
• Instructional support. The principal provides time for teachers to plan together and provides instructional support such as support personnel to help in the classroom.
A Model that Works
The National Center for Educational Accountability named Huston 4th-5th Grade Center in Blackwell, Oklahoma as a high performing school based on their challenges and achievements in 2005. During the time of the study, nearly 70 percent of students qualified for free or reduced lunch.
Consistent Higher Performance
Huston Center Elementary School was higher performing than demographically similar schools in mathematics, reading, U.S. History, and science in an analysis that included all fifth-grade achievement data from 2002 to2004. Huston Center Elementary School demonstrated overall performance ranks of 97.1 in mathematics, 94.4 in reading, 85.1 in U.S. History, and 98.7 in science on state tests.
According to the case study, it started with the leadership of their superintendent. District teachers referred to her as someone who truly understood instructional leadership. Her leadership style included team-based curriculum development and shared responsibility for student success. The assistant superintendent identified people and programs whose methods and materials were researched-based and pertinent to the challenge of educating a changing population. Teachers district-wide worked as grade level teams. Teachers were in and out of each other’s classrooms sharing best practices. Eventually, Huston teachers started vertical curriculum planning with another grade center. District support was listed as a key ingredient for teacher retention and appreciation for instructional support was abundant.
Last year, the Huston Center Elementary School had a total Academic Performance Index of 1486.
For more information on the Huston case study, visit http://www.nc4ea.org/files/Oklahoma_Best_Practice_Executive_Summary_2004-05-06-01-06.pdf.
For years we have had models in our state of collaborative and effective relationships between superintendents, building principals and teachers that are centered on student achievement.
In a time where the pressures of “reform” and testing are at an all-time high, we must remember the key to transformational learning is for school leaders to trust, support and build the capacity of the teachers.
-Becky Felts is president of the Oklahoma Education Association
Jimmy Fallon, comedian and late night talk show host, and country music rocker Jason Aldean will headine Oklahoma State University’s Orange Peel festival in Stillwater on Friday, Oct. 3, in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Tickets are available online at shopokstate.com, by telephone at (877) OSU-PEEL, and at the Student Union Bookstore.
Orange Peel is a concert and pep rally organized by selected student leaders each year to provide the OSU family with national and local headline entertainment. Since its inception, more than 200,000 people have attended Orange Peel. It is now the largest student produced and student run event in the country, with almost 200 students contributing to the annual program.
“Saturday Night Live” alumnus Fallon, known for his dead-on impressions of Jerry Seinfield, John Travolta, Adam Sandler and Justin Timberlake, was recently tapped by NBC as the replacement for Conan O’Brien on “Late Night,” which is also produced by Lorne Michaels.
Country star Aldean, a native of Georgia, sold more than two million copies of his first two albums, hitting the top of the charts with five hits. His third album hit the stores in April. His album “Wide Open” went gold, and his song “Big Green Tractor” is a radio and retail hit.
Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City added 110 class sections to its fall schedule to accommodate student population growth, school officials said.
There were 7,200 students enrolled at the university Tuesday, compared to 6,033 a year ago.
The arts and science and human resources divisions increased by 24 percent, and the science and engineering division had a 43 percent increase in enrollment from fall 2008.
“When the economy is bad, people go back to school,” Larry Edwards, vice president of academic affairs, said in a news release.
Edwards said the increase in enrollment also can be attributed to the university’s “buy two get one free” scholarship campaign.
If students commit to the university for two semesters, they will receive a scholarship to cover the cost of tuition, fees and textbooks for their third semester.
Classes at OSU-OKC began Monday.
Some of our fondest memories growing up involve grandparents—the smell of fresh baked pies, big family dinners and lively rounds of board games. I certainly wouldn’t trade anything for that time together or all of the lessons learned.
Times have changed of course, and Americans live longer, commute easier and faster, and technology allows us to stay in touch instantly by phone, email, and even video. The traditional grandparent-child relationship also has changed.
Today, more than six million children in the United States are being raised by grandparents, a dramatic increase in the last 20 years. In Oklahoma, more than 57,000 or 6 percent of all children live in grandparent-headed households. There are only a handful of states with a higher rate than ours, which is attributed to the shocking number of mothers in this state who are incarcerated and/or who are substance-abusers.
While the role of grandparent has changed through the years, senior Oklahomans are an even more essential part of families and it is important as ever we honor them.
A special day has been set aside to celebrate. Sunday, September 13, is National Grandparents Day. It has been observed annually on the first Sunday following Labor Day since 1978.
The day was first proclaimed by President Jimmy Carter and founded by Marian McQuade, a West Virginia housewife to honor grandparents, give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and help children become aware of the strength and guidance older people can offer.
Here are some helpful reminders (from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) for grandparents raising grandchildren that are also great for caregivers of all types:
Ø Daily routines for meals, bedtime or other activities help everyone.
Ø Children need to know that they can always talk to you about problems they have.
Ø Doing things such as reading, walking and playing let children know you value your time with them.
Ø And, don’t forget to take care of yourself by attending a support group, enrolling in a parenting class and taking breaks to relax.
Resources for “grandfamilies” are also available online at www.aarp.org, www.okdhs.org and www.usa.gov/Topics/Grandparents.shtml.
Whether celebrating together as a small group or at a large family reunion, I hope all Oklahomans will honor grandparents for all that they have done and all they continue to do.
Read to a child – the benefits last a lifetime!
The old saying, “everything I needed to know about life, I learned in kindergarten” holds a good amount of truth to it.
As I scan my bookshelf, I still have the old books my mother used to read to me before I was in school. In my office, are the “Becky” books my aunt bought for me. Bless her heart, whenever she saw a book with my name Becky on it, she bought it and signed it with an inscription that said “As the twig is bent so the tree grows.”
These childhood books remind me of the enriched family environment in which I was raised. An environment surrounded by special books just for me, stimulating places that provided spontaneous learning and rich conversations and words that my three-year-old mind soaked up like a dry sponge. My childhood was filled with love and learning for which I am grateful.
I am proud to say that in Oklahoma, we recognize and acknowledge the value of early childhood education. By January 2011, every district must offer full-day kindergarten and many of our schools will have four-year-old programs.
Economically disadvantaged families are least likely to have monetary or social resources to provide the development every child needs as a BASIC opportunity for success in school.
The problems start early if they are not addressed early. According to PAES, Partnership for America’s Economic Success (www.partnershipforsuccess.org),
• By age 3, children of parents using social services like public housing or food stamps have a vocabulary of about 500 words compared to 1,200 words for children of college-educated parents.
• By age 5, a child’s brain reaches 85% of its adult weight and develops 700 neural synapses every second-the connections that help him learn.
Providing that development through early childhood programs pays dividends by providing better social and economic productivity later in life. Quality early childhood education for at-risk children can produce an annual rate of return as high as 16%, according to Art Rolnick, Senior Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
All children should have effective early childhood development. Not all families are able to provide that development at home. That’s where, together as a public, we step in.
Here’s what a quality early childhood program looks like:
• A learning environment staffed by four-year degree teachers with specific training in early childhood education.
• Families and teachers exchanging information about the child’s development and learning progress.
• Well-balanced nourishing meals and snacks.
• Small teacher child ratios
• Teachers on bended knee speaking to children at eye-level and showing appropriate affection
• Children receiving a variety of stimuli in their daily routine using indoor and outdoor spaces, appropriate language, literacy, math, science, art, music, movement and dramatic play experiences.
• Children participating with teachers in individual, small-group and large-group activities.
Quality early childhood education is essential and helps give every child the firm foundation needed to be successful at each stage of their education and life. The love and learning I was exposed to early in my life has no doubt helped facilitate my success as an adult. This school year, support a great public school for every child.
- Felts is the Oklahoma Education Association president.
Oklahoma City Community College is implementing new fitness programs to the fall curriculum in the recreation and fitness department.
The new classes are Active Adults Strength Training, Walk Fit Club, Zumba Gold, Water Exercise, Total Body Work Out, Spin Class and Holiday Boot Camp.
New classes also were added to the Kids Fitness Series. They are Yoga and Pilates, Vitamins and Vegetables, Tiny Tot Tumbling, Kid Fit and Recess.
For more information, go to www.occc.edu/rf or call 682-7860.
MIDWEST CITY – Rose State College officials received a plaque from G.I. Jobs magazine after the publication named the college to its list of military-friendly schools for 2010.
Rose State ranks in the magazine’s top 15 percent of colleges and trade schools nationwide.
College President Terry Britton said the award recognizes the school’s close relationship with Tinker Air Force Base and other state military personnel.
In September, the college will be featured in the magazine’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.
SHAWNEE – A free community art day will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday in the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art at St. Gregory’s University, 1900 W MacArthur.
Participants can create their own work during the event. Also, an exhibit titled “A Few of our Favorite Things: Rarely Seen Treasures from the Permanent Collection” will be on display.
The exhibit is funded by the Oklahoma Arts Council, Allied Arts and National Endowment for the Arts.
For more information, call 878-5300.
Kids Count focus: The well-being of children By Sandy Garrett, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Friday, August 14, 2009
As school bells ring and classroom doors open for the new school year, the quality of life for boys and girls in our state takes center stage with the national release of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s “2009 Kids Count Data Book.”
This is a much-anticipated annual report that gives state and national comparisons for children’s well-being. And, unfortunately, what is considered the overall well-being of children in Oklahoma has fallen to a ranking of 44th in the nation; we ranked 38th just four years ago.
Of the 10 key measures studied in every state, we have improved in three, remained unchanged in one and worsened in six since 2000.
• Fewer teens (aged 16-19) are dropping out of high school in Oklahoma,
down from 14 percent to 8 percent in the most recent report.
• The number of teens not in school or working decreased from 11 percent
to 9 percent in Oklahoma.
• The infant mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) has slightly
decreased from 8.5 percent in 2000 to 8.0 percent in 2006.
• The teen birth rate (births per 1,000 females aged 15-19) has stayed the
same since 2000.
• More Oklahoma children are living in homes where no parent has full-time
or year-round employment, rising to 35 percent from 33 percent in 2000.
• Single-parent homes are the norm for 33 percent of Oklahoma children, a
3 percent increase since 2000.
• Children living in poverty—with a family income below $21,027—has risen
from 19 percent in 2000 to 22 percent.
• An increase of low-birth weight babies from 7.5 percent in 2000 to 8.3
• Child deaths (children aged 1-14 per 100,000) have gone from 25 percent
in 2000 to 29 percent.
• Teen deaths (teens aged 15-19 per 100,000) increased from 77 percent in
2000 to 85 percent.
Study after study has shown that family and economic factors such as enjoying regular meals, getting plenty of sleep, and feeling safe and secure impact children’s academic performance. These are not excuses; these are the facts of life. The better we take care of and invest in our children, the more opportunity for success they will have.
While state and national comparisons on the 10 “Kids Count” measures are helpful, data on how each county performs on these measures also is available here or by contacting the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is our state’s point of contact for a variety of public awareness and engagement activities related to the status of children and families.
Every school day, no matter the situation in which children live and learn, school faculty and staff will continue providing academic instruction, nutritious meals and a caring heart to the children who enroll in Oklahoma public schools. We know that kids count!
Rose State College will host the play “Love Letters” on Sept. 11 in the H.B. Atkinson Theatre, 6420 SE 15.
Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and the play will begin at 7:30 p.m. The cost is $75 per person, or $575 for a table of eight.
“Love Letters” centers on two characters who read letters and discuss their ambitions, dreams, disappointments, victories and defeats.
The characters will be played by Betsy Palmer and Jon Finch. Palmer is known for her role as Jason Vorhees’ mother in horror film “Friday the 13th.”
For ticket information, call 736-0315 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.