Category Archives: Learning

Alternative Certified Program Teachers – ACP

As the summer quickly fades away and the start of school is on the horizon, hiring an Alternative Certified Program Teacher “might” be a better choice than hiring someone from the Traditional Certified Teacher route.

Bad Attitude – When I was in graduate school, we had someone from the district office present to our class.  I can’t remember her name or what position she held…probably because I wasn’t impressed and she made a claim that wasn’t true!  In her presentation, she made a negative comment about Alternative Certified Program Teachers.  When I pressed on the topic, what she said would apply to any first year teacher struggling with “the first year.”  But this attitude is one that I have encountered many times.

The truth is that I have seen good and bad ACP teachers.  I have also seen good and bad Traditional Route Teachers.  I have heard numerous conversations on how the education program at the university didn’t “prepare” the teacher to do the job they were required to do in the classroom.  And I have seen ACP teachers come in and handle a classroom with ease and be very successful.

The key is personality and character!  You can always teach curriculum to someone.  You can’t teach someone how to get a long with others, how to team plan, how to put in the extra time that is needed to be successful, etc…

If you find yourself hiring an ACP teacher, these are some things to consider.


I have seen ACP teachers come in and teach English/Language Arts very successfully.  But, it might be a smoother transition to teach Math, Science, Social Studies/History or something concrete.  By focusing on something more black and white, the teacher can focus a little more on classroom management techniques and procedures.


It is always a good idea to assign a mentor to a new teacher.  It is a real good idea to assign a mentor to an ACP teacher, preferably someone who has the “heart” of a teacher.  And if you have a successful ACP teacher on your campus, that would be good too! That teacher will know exactly what the new teacher is going through.


Check up on the ACP teacher.  Not to spy and bring down the hammer.  But to offer guidance, help and set some expectations and goals.  Administrators should already be doing this anyway.  But it is a good practice to spend some extra time with a new teacher.


ACP teachers with a little bit of life experience decided to make the move into education out of a desire to teach and help kids learn.  They didn’t go to school, get stuck in a degree plan and followed that plan to the conclusion – teaching.

Most successful ACP teachers I know have had some sort of management background.  They know how to communicate effectively with people.  This is a highly desirable skill on a campus that values team planning and a positive school atmosphere.

ACP teachers are usually very familiar with technology.  The business world requires you to learn and know their software.  In education, we offer a staff development, then re-offer it, then talk about how others are using it, then re-offer it, then somewhere a long the line, when the software is obsolete, we force teachers to start using it.  (I’ve helped teachers with computer problems and glanced at hundreds and hundreds of unopened email!)

Ultimately, you have to pick the right candidate for the position.  But don’t count out an ACP teacher!  You might be losing out on the next teacher of the year!


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RRR Conference – Day 1

RRR Conference – Day 1

The Rigor, Relevance and Relationship Conference was held in Cyfair @ The Berry Center on June 9-11, 2010.  We had some really great speakers and a lot of interesting things to ponder…

Dr. Bob Dagget kicked off the conference.  He shared some advice and scary insights with us…

• We should be thinking 3-5 years out.  What is our plan?

• Our job is to move successful practices to next practices.

• We are about to take a trip down a steep cliff….

–         this year, 42% of every dollar spent is borrowed

–         the US is about to hit a cultural war between baby boomers up for Social Security and the rest of us…especially kids in school

–         as the economy got worse, education didn’t feel it because of the huge amount of dollars from the federal stimulus…but we can’t do business as usual.

• Equity and Excellence are in conflict

–         We educate EVERYONE in the US. Dagget spoke about his daughter with disabilities.  However, the rest of the world doesn’t do this. (side note – I’ve always said it isn’t fair to compare our educational system with the rest of the world!)

• We need to take a look at new initiatives in education….

–         Every state but Alaska and Texas signed on for these new assurances: grants, etc…

Breakout Session with Dr. Robert Brooks – Creating A Positive School Climate

• A person’s mindset is very important – Expectations and Assumptions

• Resilient people ask “what can I do differently to change?”

• What is the mindset leaders should promote to nurture and motivate resilience in staff and students?

• We must be Charismatic Adults – a person whom a child/adolescent gathers strength.

• Features of a Positive Mindset:

–         To believe that all children, from birth want to learn and be successful

–         Believe all students are motivated, but unfortunately, some are dominated by “avoidance motivation” as a way of protecting themselves from situations that they believe will lead to failure and humiliation

–         Believe that if the strategies we are using with students are not effective, we must ask “What is it that we can do differently to help the situation?” rather than wait for the student to change first – this should not be seen as blaming but rather empowering ourselves.

–         To be empathetic: We must see the world through the eyes of the staff and students with whom we work and implement ways to obtain feedback. (Report Cards for Teachers? How do we get regular feedback from students?)

–         To create “motivating environments” that nurture learning and “resilient mindsets.”

• Deci – focus on basic needs that apply to admin., staff and students

–         Need to belong, feel connected and welcome

–         Need for self-determination and autonomy, which are significant features of a sense of ownership and resilience

  • What kind of decisions and choices do we provide staff and students?
  • Do our disciplinary practices promote self-discipline and self-control as well as nurturing a safe environment?

–         Need to feel competent

  • Minimize the fear of failure
  • Do we provide students with an opportunity to contribute and make a difference?

Effective Management Techniques for Every Classroom

I didn’t take too many notes here.

• There is a fine line between leader and ring-leader!

• Stress kills twice as many brain cells as alcohol!

• What are you going to do in regards to Mirror Neurons? –

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Rigor, Relevance & Relationships

The Rigor, Relevance and Relationships 2010 conference is coming to Cyfair in early June.  I’m really excited…. I’m excited about the technology use that will be incorporated this year.  But the learning…info….is going to be awesome!  I was looking over my notes from last year.  Just in looking at Dr. Dagget’s sessions, there was a lot of stuff, that I should have looked at a little bit more often throughout the year.  Here are some great points from my notes:

Lessons Learned:
1. The key is instruction NOT structure.
2. We must address both efficiency and effectiveness
3. You’ll never change anything until you change the culture (good pressure).
4. There are NO formulas! But there are 8 characteristics of effective schools…

8 Components of Excellence
1. Create culture
2. Build and use data to guide and reform
3. Create and support leadership teams
4. Define what expectations you want
5. Concentrate on effective instructional practices
6. Address organizational structures
7. Monitor student progress
8. Consistently review and refine the process

The most innovative schools…
1. Have focused professional development
2. Empower staff
3. Loop kids (I can’t really remember what he was talking about here)
4. Move electives to 9th grade (give students time to mature)
5. Use technology effectively
6. Have an early childhood program

8 Brain Compatible Elements (that should go on in the classroom)
1. Absence of threat – A nurturing effect – reflection
2. Meaningful content
3. Movement – to enhance learning
4. Choices
5. Adequate time
6. Immediate feedback
7. Collaboration
8. Mastery and application

During your lesson…
After your direct instruction (10-15 min.), while you’re active monitoring, if a student doesn’t seem to “get it,” you should ask, “What are you thinking?”  Then you can move from there to reteaching if it is needed.

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Lifelong Learning Pt. 2b

Part 2b of my video series.

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Lifelong Learning Pt 2a

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more about “Lifelong Learning Pt 2a“, posted with vodpod

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Lifelong Learning Pt. 1

Do you see yourself as a professional?  How does that effect what you/when you learn?

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more about “TechSmith |, online vi…“, posted with vodpod

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Learning On Contract Time?

Should educators take the time to learn on contract time?

If I had a nickle for everyone who believed that educators left work at 3:30 p.m……..  My dad often reminds me, as I’m driving home from another long day, that I could work the same hours in downtown Houston and earn double what I’m making as an assistant principal.  He’s probably right.  But then, it’s not about the money.  He knows that.

But I do put in my time, come home to a family, have other obligations and then crash to start it all over.  Is it OK to take 20-30 minutes of my time at school to catch up on blogs, hit some links on Twitter, read some articles or such?  We encourage Professional Learning Communities, staff development and life long learning – does that include the administrators?

I hope no one looks at me as just the “discipline guy.”  That’s part of it.  But isn’t it part of my job to be one of the instructional leaders on campus?  How can we be instructional leaders if we are not learning and taking the time to stay current?  It kind of goes back to my idea of educators as professionals.  We like to call ourselves professionals, but don’t always act the part.  Would you go to a doctor who hasn’t been reading the latest medical journals and is current on the best medical practices?  Would you want advice, encouragement, feedback from an administrator who hasn’t taken the time to stay current?

I believe that it is OK for me to take 20-30 minutes of my day to put some good ideas inside my brain.  Most of the time I’m doing that during my lunch time.  However, I think it would be more than acceptable to do it on contract time.  If you need permission….here you go….

Your official permission to learn!

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