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How to Save Time and Money Lesson Planning (Calculator)

How to Save Time and Money Lesson Planning (Calculator)

In this first article of a 3-part series, we explore a number of ways schools and districts could save money as they enter peak budgeting season. You can read the other articles as published here:

One of the greatest inefficiencies in today’s schools might be in the hours we ask teachers to spend on planning quality lessons for students, without giving them the proper tools to do so.

This is not to say teachers aren’t given enough tools to do their jobs — a recent report cites the average district uses 548 applications (Learn Platform). Rather, they aren’t often given the right tools. Tools that actually save them time and effort, rather than hold them to unrealistic demands of double data entry and prescriptive pedagogy.

 

Bettering Lessons … at What Cost?

Beyond the tools we use to plan, many other factors affect lesson planning for today’s teachers, including brave new initiatives like differentiation, standards based grading, and blended learning, to name a few.

Chart showing 87% of teachers say Classroom Environment should accommodate different learning styles

While these initiatives hold a lot of promise for our students, they can really stack up the workload for our teachers, making an already challenging task of lesson planning even more complex and stressful.

In fact, most teachers now report spending 12 hours a week finding and creating teaching resources for their students (Education World). Much of this time is spent finding, vetting, and/or actually creating their own high-quality teaching resources.

This number might seem reasonable enough, within the confines of a regular work week — but this is no regular work week. As evidenced by a recent study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, teachers typically work over 10 hours per day, averaging 53 hours per work week (Washington Post). At Kiddom, we’re determined to bring this number down.

Calculate how much time and money your teachers could save on lesson planning with Kiddom here:

Let’s Talk Teacher ROI — Return on Investment

As you see in the calculator above, by taking $59,660 as the average teacher salary and dividing it by A. the number of weeks worked in a year (let’s use 40, for example) by B. the total hours in a typical week (53), this gives teachers a true hourly wage of $28.14. 

With Kiddom, teachers spend an average of four hours a week finding resources, rather than twelve. We can say this leads to a total work week of 45 hours. Dividing that from the average teacher salary, the math now comes out to a true hourly wage of $33.14.

While it’s impactful to see the exact time and money saved in numbers, the monetary value doesn’t account for the mental value. The number of out-of-school hours teachers work, and the level of support they feel from admin is part of what Doctor Brad Johnson calls a teacher’s ROI for the work they do.  

Tweet from Dr. Brad Johnson related to teachers getting a good ROI

 

When teachers spend more time outside of school finding resources and planning lessons, they recognize their real hourly wage is decreasing. However, when you provide teachers the tools they need to work efficiently, you increase their true hourly wage and improve their emotional return on investment.

How does Kiddom save teachers time in lesson planning?

Our team of mostly developers, designers and former teachers built this platform with one end goal in mind: improving the lives of teachers and learners. Below are five ways we’ve brought those 12 hours lesson planning down to 4:

1. Free content library of 70,000+ resources from your favorite providers

Teachers can use our library of resources from trusted favorites like Khan Academy and Newsela. These resources are searchable by standard, grade, subject, and content type, saving teachers hours every week with the ability to save directly to their lesson planner within Kiddom.

2. Curated blended learning lesson plans for those weeks you’re in a pinch

These teaching playlists are designed by Kiddom’s specialists to give teachers a headstart by providing a collection of vetted, socially responsible resources. These mixed media resources are perfect for blended learning classrooms and discoverable by theme, subject, or grade band. You can also access these collections within the free app.

3. Streamlined instructional workflow

Teachers can easily save their favorite resources from the previous two points into their Planner, or add directly as assignments into the student Timeline. Because Kiddom is also a gradebook, this sets them up nicely for assessing and reporting. With an upgrade to Kiddom Academy, they will be able to send report cards automatically and frequently to parents.

Here you see a view of the units in Academy, our product for administrators.

4. Collaborative tools for seamless alignment and less rework

With responsive curriculum management, curriculum directors and teachers can align on scope and sequence so curriculum can be measured and responded to in a timely manner. This brings the best lessons to surface, and also shaves off days of planning for the following semester, when the entire scope and sequence can be reproduced at the click of a button.

Click the image to visit our new On-Demand PD Portal

5. World-class school success team to support you on your way

We believe that technology and processes are only tools at the end of the day, and that it takes a human connection to bring the magic of those tools to life. Schools and districts who choose Academy have access to our world-class success team who are passionate about helping your school community thrive. They will guide you through the process of streamlining the full instructional workflow for your school or district’s unique needs. This includes admin and teacher launch trainings, unlimited access to our on-demand professional development and analytics, live support, and 1:1 ‘office hours’ and biweekly calls with your dedicated success manager.

 

Where to go from here?

Schools often trick themselves into thinking that new tooling is a problem they don’t have time to fix. Rather than solving the technical debt we’ve already accrued, we build on top of the mess. And at the end of the day, teachers are the ones filling the gaps. They deserve better.

Ultimately, the decision of tooling should be up to the stakeholders — particularly those using them the most. Who would know better than the teachers themselves

Are you a teacher or an administrator who would like to learn more about Academy? Book a consultation at the link below. 

Kiddom Academy picks up where the LMS leaves off, offering an operating system for K-12 schools and districts to measure and act on classroom intelligence. We define a K-12 operating system as a set of interconnected tools to enable schools to operate more productively, increase student outcomes, and improve upon their respective instructional models.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it’s very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

You might also be interested in these articles:

Curriculum is Culture

Responding to a recent shift from curriculum analysis to culture change, author Geoffrey Schmidt argues that the two cannot be separated.

Principal Shameka Gerald: The Inspirational Leader

Principal Shameka Gerald: The Inspirational Leader

Principal Shameka Gerald

Principal Shameka Gerald

The Inspirational Leader, Star School Leader Recipient

Principal Shameka Gerald shares her tips on how to drum up excitement about learning and create close-knit community. This is the second spotlight in a series of twelve, in which we feature the winning recipients of Kiddom’s annual Star School Leader Award. Look for the others over the coming months by signing up for our newsletter, or check out our School Leadership page, which we will update with each new spotlight.

 

The Makings of a Star School Leader

Principal Gerald, a former math teacher, wasn’t always a star at school. Believe it or not, she says, her younger self was “not the best student. I started out not loving math at all — actually, hating it.” After failing math in nearly every year of high school, her early math experience nearly threatened her ability to graduate. It wasn’t until she got to college that she found a professor who helped her turn it all around.  

Professor Kirby taught me the steps in the process that I was missing. Once I got the process, I was like, “Oh, I can do this… this is easy.” After that, I did really well in math. I was in school to be a computer engineer until one of my math professors was like, “You know, you should consider teaching math, because you’re really good at explaining the process to folks.” And I think that came from me not understanding before. So I went and got my degree in applied mathematics, with a minor in education. I decided that I was willing to do for other kids what hadn’t been done for me.

— Principal Shameka Gerald, Heritage High School

Having a teacher who took the time to break the processes down so that Mrs. Gerald actually understood the logic behind the math helped her apply math in her everyday life. And so Principal Gerald made it a point to bring that understanding to her students. As she shares her story with the Kiddom team, we can feel the excitement and authenticity her school community likely feels on a daily basis.

What inspired Principal Gerald to take the leap from teacher to administrator?

At first, Mrs. Gerald had no interest in being a school leader — or so she thought.

As a ninth grade teacher at Booker T. Washington High School, she was asked by her principal to be the freshman team lead. She kindly declined the offer.

So it must have come as a surprise when about two weeks later Mrs. Gerald’s then-principal introduced her to their executive director as the freshman team lead. In that sink-or-swim moment, Mrs. Gerald decided she didn’t have much of a choice! And so the journey began.

It didn’t take long before Principal Gerald realized how much she enjoyed having an impact, not just on her classroom, but on the whole grade level. At that point, she says, she stepped back and thought, “Okay, this is pretty cool. If I can take this, what next?”

She knew she wanted to continue building relationships with the kids and teachers. At one point she thought she was going to be a curriculum supervisor, but that drive to build relationships took her on the path towards becoming a building-level administrator instead.

I’m trying to figure out how to have more of an impact on kids’ lives every single day. Having been the principal for five years, I’ve probably had somewhere around ten thousand kids come through this school, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing teachers who’ve made some big differences in kids’ lives.

— Principal Shameka Gerald

Impacting the lives of children is no easy task, but it continues to be the driving force behind Principal Gerald’s career. Her long-range goal is to be the US Secretary of Education, she shares. “You impact every kid in the United States of America’s education. That’s our job, too.”

What does Mrs. Gerald enjoy the most about being Principal?

“The best part about being principal is that I get to play with kids every day,” Mrs. Gerald shares. “I was just in the cafeteria with them today singing Lauryn Hill, ‘Killing Me Softly’ as loudly as I could, with them as my backup singers.”

Being able to see kids grow every single day, in a different capacity than she ever could before — and being able to inspire teachers to inspire those students to grow — is what Mrs. Gerald likes the best about being a principal.

But she does miss being in the classroom. “A lot of people miss it when they leave,” she says. But she believes it helps her be better at her job to have that exposure.

I make it every part of my job every day to be around the kids, because that reminds me why I’m back in the office, doing the things I’m doing. It reminds me why I’m going in and doing the observations with teachers, and helping teachers help their students’ needs. I think the best part is watching kids grow and getting to learn from them every single day.

— Principal Shameka Gerald

 

All About Heritage High School

“We’re a school of twelve hundred forty-eight. I try to keep my finger on that number every day,” says Principal Gerald.

The educators at Heritage High School serve what they consider an underserved community in the southeast end of Newport News. As the first in their school district to become a 1:1 Chromebook school, one of their greatest initiatives is to create a learning environment in which kids and teachers can thrive. “Because Heritage High is a school where everyone excels, and that means not just the kids but the teachers have to grow too — as well as myself and the administrative team,” she adds.

In an effort to build that community of learning, Principal Gerald makes sure her school stays very active on social media. This sends a message of inclusion that extends beyond the walls of the school to the parents and families of students, and all stakeholders in her community.

We’re making sure we tell our story and that it’s our own narrative about that story, because we have an excellent community built around us who want to hear it. We’ve had some negative press prior to my arrival, and even when I got here, but we choose to use social media as an outlet for sharing all of the positive things that are happening. If you follow us, you’ll see we have our own hashtag #5800family — because we really do operate as a family.

— Principal Shameka Gerald

One look at the school’s socials and we find just that — an overwhelming sense of family and community. It’s almost like a living year book of photos from school meetings, encouraging messages from various sporting events (Go Canes!), and even images of Principal Gerald running in a race with students. “I go running with my students every Tuesday!” she shares excitedly.

Mrs. Gerald is an amazing leader that inspires both students and staff. She is very caring and seeks to meet the needs of everyone. Mrs. Gerald’s leadership has allowed faculty and staff to go above and beyond in many areas. This includes teachers being leaders in and out of the classroom. Over the past five years as our leader, she has instilled many leadership qualities in teachers to be an effective teacher leader. This has allowed many to step out of the normal box and try new things in the classroom. Her leadership is very unique in that a few teachers have moved on to higher positions.

— Tiffanie Smith, Teacher at Heritage High School

“Blatant Transparency:” How to Create the School Environment That Thrives?

“The first thing I had to do is get the kids’ buy in,” says Principal Gerald, matter-of-factly. “If you can get the kids to buy in and change their mindset, that’s where it all starts.” Mrs. Gerald also recalls the first faculty meeting where a discussion was started around shared goals and initiatives. She believes that blatant transparency was a driving force behind the change — “Like, we don’t hide anything.”

Our data is our data. Our numbers are our numbers. If we don’t put it out there, we can’t fix it. So one of the first things I did is put the numbers in front of the kids and said, “People are judging our school based on these numbers.” I did the same thing with the staff. “Here are our numbers. — this is what people buy.”

Principal Gerald made it clear to her staff and students that if what the state report card says is not reflective of who you are as a school, you have the power to change that. One initiative that supported this line of thinking was the Youth Development Team, which put a lot of trust in students to lead. “We have so many student leadership initiatives, and we have used them to model for the division what student leadership looks like,” says Mrs. Gerald.

By giving students the responsibility, as well as laying out the steps on what was needed to do, Heritage has achieved new levels of transparency and growth — they are now a fully accredited school, and have been for two years.

Teachers are now holding students accountable and students are holding teachers accountable, as well as each other, for the work they do every day. And it all began with changing the culture and mindset of the students — letting them know they can do absolutely anything. “You know, us grown folks, we’re tough to crack. Sometimes it’s harder to change the adults than the kids,” she shares with a grin. 

But when you start with changing the mindset of the child, and the teachers can see the child’s mindset is changing, it’s easier for them to take calculated risks. Because they see that the kids are buying into what we’re telling them; they’re giving their support. So then the teachers know they can move forward and take this risk and feel less afraid that they might fail.

What does Principal Gerald believe technology’s role should be in the classroom?

Principal Gerald has many opinions on this topic — and well-studied opinions, at that. In fact, she’s currently writing a doctorate dissertation on the impact of school leaders on 1:1 implementation and initiatives. “This is where I’m going to get real nerdy on you,” she tells us. (Of course, we’re all for it!)

Principal Gerald shares that we’re all moving from where we used to be agrarian or industrial — in terms of design, we’re now global. She believes that having technology like 1:1 Chromebooks in class helps to build global, real-world skills like how to be a good digital citizen, and how to conduct yourself in a digital meeting.

“Like, you can’t just show up in your jammies and have music playing in the background,” she jokes. “But also how do you collaborate with people who might not be from the same areas as you, and How do you use technology for research? Because a lot of our kids — the jobs they’re going to have don’t exist right now.”

 

Our kids are going to create their own space, and the way that they’re going to do that is through technology. Technology skills are just as important, if not more important, as the research shows, to those kids who don’t have parents in the home who are familiar with technology. If you don’t know how to use technology when you go into a job interview you might not have the skill set to thrive. You can’t not know how to send an email and use appropriate email editing. You can’t not know how to access the resources to teach yourself when you don’t know how to do something.

Principal Gerald’s perception of technology’s role in education shines a positive light, in that technology will likely be used as an enabler and not a replacement for students who grow on to join the work force. From her view, technology can help educators create an environment that fosters learning, not just for today, but life-long learning. On that note, we had to ask:

 

How does a principal writing her dissertation find time to sleep?

“Oh, I do get sleep. I go to bed around 9:00 every night or else I just get tired — I have a five year old, I’m married, it’s a lot!” she says, with a laugh. But Principal Gerald believes that doing the research helps her become a better school leader.

One thing she’s finding particularly helpful in her research is the topic of leadership styles. She’s very interested in how a school leader’s comfort level with technology can play out in school-wide implementation. And she’s certainly in the right environment to see that first-hand, as she leads the effort in bringing technology to her own school.

I love technology. I will take any risk. I get up in the morning and I come to work and I go to class, and use my weekends to work on my dissertation. The dissertation is something I’m passionate about, and I think it’s valuable; It’s very applicable to my job.

— Principal Shameka Gerald, Heritage High School

Recap: What Makes a Star School Leader?

Great school leaders empower their teachers. What teachers do is one of the most difficult, and often thankless jobs. And while we all agree that teachers are the true heroes of every school system, it takes a special kind of leader to enable their teachers with the right support to focus on the important things. Like teaching.

The Star School Leader rubric stands on three pillars, hanging from one common theme:

  1.  Empowering others by setting a positive attitude, culture, and environment.
  2.  Empowering others with the right use of technology as a means and not an end. 
  3.  Empowering others through supportive coaching and access to professional development. 

To read about the rest of the Star School Leaders, visit our recipient announcement page.

 

Kiddom + Open Up Resources: Best-in-Class Digital Curriculum

We’re excited to announce a partnership with Open Up Resources (OUR) to offer schools and districts best-in-class curriculum delivered via the Kiddom education platform.

Building a Web of Support for Students: What We Learned

Merging data with qualitative instincts should be the standard in education—not a privilege. A visit to Greenville, SC gave us a glimpse into that future.

Principal Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez: The Collaborative Leader

Former Principal & Superintendent Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez has had a lengthy career of advocating for teachers and using technology to enhance education.

Back to School Checklist: Are You Ready?

Some teachers may be waving a white flag in October, while others decorate it with Sharpie! Find out which one you’ll be with this back to school quiz.

Welcome Back to School: A Letter From Our CAO

This week all Kiddom employees (many of whom are former educators) received the following letter from our CAO. We were so inspired, we had to share!

More From the Star School Leader Series

Principal Rodney Ivey: The Teacher Enabler

Principal Rodney Ivey: The Teacher Enabler

Principal Rodney Ivey

Principal Rodney Ivey

The Teacher Enabler, Star School Leader Recipient

We spoke to Principal Rodney Ivey about how to make sure every teacher feels supported. This is the first spotlight in a series of twelve, in which we feature the winning recipients of Kiddom’s annual Star School Leader Award. Look for the others over the coming months by signing up for our newsletter, or check out our School Leadership page, which we will update with each new spotlight.

 

The Makings of a Star School Leader

Growing up as the son of a teacher, Mr. Ivey has always been in the realm of education. From 1977 to just two years ago, his father taught at the elementary school where Rodney himself attended. This gave Rodney an early view of the ins and outs of the career, seeing his father’s passion and excitement especially built around educating students in the environmental sciences. Though his father taught all subjects as a fifth grade teacher, he created a nature trail and organized fun field trips, even inviting other schools in on the festivities.

Getting such a great behind-the-scenes view as the teacher’s kid, it’s no surprise that Principal Ivey would develop a passion of his own for education. Although he did lean toward the medical field in college, even starting with premed in Health Sciences in his early years at University of North Florida, half-way through he made a switch towards education — and hasn’t looked back since. 

He started out teaching Earth and Space Sciences (Honors) for Junior High and Eighth Grade, teaching about five classes of around 20 kids. About four years later he moved into physical education, where his class sizes grew to 40 kids, five times a day. Shortly after that, he was an athletic director where he headed programs of 5-600 students, including the intramural program that was developed at the time.

He soon found himself moving into the administration level, moving to become vice principal at a neighboring school in Clay County before obtaining his current principalship at Swimming Pen Creek Elementary School, where it has been, in his own words, “A-mazing. I’ve loved it… I love watching the progression of kids, from four years old, all the way up until they graduate and move on as sixth graders to the next school. It’s been a lot of fun.”

His frequent walks through our classrooms are welcomed, as he joins in our lessons alongside students; we love it when he photographs engaging lessons and shares them out with the staff. Under his leadership, our campus is a very happy inclusive place, with a supportive family-like atmosphere that encompasses parents, kids, teachers, and staff.

— Janet Shaw, Teacher at Swimming Pen Creek Elementary

What does Mr. Ivey enjoy the most about being Principal?

Unfortunately, he admits, it’s been a bit of a catch-22. When he started as a teacher, he had 20 kids at any given time that he could work with one-on-one. But as he progressed through his career, he was promoted to head larger and larger populations and began to miss the smaller group setting. To that, he says:

I guess the bad thing is I don’t build as many of those personal, I try to build as many as I can, relationships with kids that you get as a teacher in the classroom. But you do have a larger and greater impact — in this case, you know, over 500 students — which has been certainly a blessing, and one that I take very seriously.

Let’s talk about servant leadership.

He does what needs to be done, even vacuuming my classroom when the custodians were busy on another project. His kind, accepting demeanor inspires students and teachers alike to be kind and considerate.

— Janet Shaw, Teacher at Swimming Pen Creek Elementary

After we mentioned the above quote to Mr. Rodney, he gave a big grin. To this quality, he attributes his time working at Wilkinson Junior High School. Under Dr. David McDonald, Mr. Ivey learned his most valuable lesson of leadership: servant leadership. “You know certainly we have the instructional leadership; that’s incredibly important,” he explains. “Then there’s operational leadership; but both of those have to come underneath a larger umbrella: Servant Leadership.” 

I fully believe that my job as an administrator is to make teachers’ jobs easier because they have the hardest jobs. You know, they’re dealing with all of these personalities, with all of these backgrounds these kids are coming from each and every day. Those family connections and building those relationships with parents (are important) and so my job as administrator is to knock down every possible barrier that might get into this teacher’s ways of being the most effective for kids. And that means whatever that means, if it means helping them get their classroom ready.

— Principal Rodney Ivey

Recently, Mr. Ivey’s school opened a new program. They had some some neighboring schools opening up offering Student Choice, so they wanted to offer Choice at his school as well. But to do so, he had to get innovative. After meeting with district leadership, a School Choice program was created within Swimming Pen Creek Elementary. The school still has a traditional pathway for students, but have now also opened a Montessori program this year in four classrooms. They plan to open it to two more next year, then to a total of eight as they build it all the way out. About a third of the student population at Swimming Pen Creek can choose to make that choice. And they also bring in about 25 percent of that population in from other schools.

During this time, they were getting materials up into the minute before school started, and as more classroom materials coming in, there were many chores to tackle — unpacking boxes, organizing, and getting the new classrooms ready. Mr. Ivey saw this as an important moment to take the extra stress off of teachers, as they were focusing on getting ready for the kids. “I’ll take whatever role — you know, I’m not too far removed from being in that position. And I remember the stress and and how hard it is. I’ll do whatever I can to help a teacher get ready.”

 

Mr. Ivey finds ways to boost students and staff, from a shout out bulletin board to eating lunch with children. He squeezes every penny out of a tight budget to gets his teachers what they need, even planning and manning fundraisers to accomplish his goals. While most of us stay late planning and preparing, many times, his car is the last in the parking lot.

— Janet Shaw, Teacher at Swimming Pen Creek Elementary

What makes Mr. Ivey the most proud of Swimming Pen Creek?

“I’m very proud of our teachers’ and students’ growth over the last three years,” says Mr. Ivey. He adds that when he first came into the position he had very big shoes to fill, with a “great, great principal who was here before, who took a different position in another county.”

There was a bit of turnover during the transition, between new hires and retirements. Naturally, this created a mix of inexperienced new educators and accomplished teachers who had been around since the school opened 15 years ago — but there was also a mix of children coming from very different households. It was clear to Mr. Ivey that the population could present some challenges.

To top that, when he arrived the school was a “C” school — “I don’t think that’s a really good representation, but that’s how Florida labels it,” Mr. Ivey shares. But despite all odds, Swimming Pen has been able to move the label to a high “B”, with highly achievable targets on an “A” this year.

“I’m excited to see the growth, whether it be the interpersonal relationships that the teachers have built with each other, or the introduction of significantly more parent involvement than we had when I got here,” says Mr. Ivey.

Before Mr. Ivey became principal, Swimming Pen Creek didn’t have a PFA — nor did they have the quarterly events that are playing a huge role in getting parents involved on campus. “I’m very, very proud to see that movement and that change and growth, not only happening in the classrooms, but around the whole campus over the last three years,” he says.

Mr. Ivey’s positive leadership and vision for doing what is in the best interests of our children sets the tone for all of our faculty and staff to be positive, enthusiastic, and productive . He sees the best in people, therefore young and old rise to his expectations. Rather than micromanage, he works collaboratively with his staff to plan programs and events. He collects data for us, looking for trends and meeting with us on teams to focus on ways to help individual students. 

— Janet Shaw, Teacher at Swimming Pen Creek Elementary

What does Mr. Ivey believe technology’s role should be in the classroom?

The question has come up in a study Mr. Ivey did recently with the Montessori program. “You know, when Dr. Montessori was developing, I figure there wasn’t much technology. So we had to kind of build a schema for what that would look like — what would she have done?” he shares, with a laugh. 

Principal Ivey thinks it’s vitally important to use every tool that’s available to make the educational experience more meaningful, “and certainly more poignant to what the student needs in order to be successful, as they leave elementary school and go into junior high and high school, and out into the world.”

You know we’re preparing kids right now — it’s kind of crazy to think about — for jobs that aren’t even invented yet. They’re going to be asked to do things, to enter careers that haven’t even been thought of yet. And so the innovation and the creativity that our teachers need to build into these students to help them be successful… It can’t be the same way it’s been in the past. They need to understand how to use technology, they need to know how to interact with it.

— Principal Rodney Ivey

Principal Ivey acknowledges the fact that technology has shifted the importance of skills we’re learning in today’s schools, such as the memorization of certain acts and places. “I still think there’s an important role to play that isn’t the end-all, be-all in education like it was, even when I went through school. You know, memorize the states and their capitals or you need to know all of these Russian czars …now you can look that up at the touch of a button,” he says. “How much further can we take a student’s education using the internet and technology?”

Mr. Ivey believes many doors are opened by technology. “It allows kids to get so much deeper into their learning to understand the whys and hows and how to prevents. And how to shape and mold, not only their future but the future of their communities.” He adds that technology also opens a lot of doors for those who can’t travel:

You know, we’re a lower socio-economic community. We certainly fundraise as much as we can, to go on trips. We have families whose kids have never seen the beach, and we live right here in Florida. Who have never seen snow, never seen the mountains. Even though it’s not the same as being there, they can experience a lot of this thanks to technology. So there are just so many ways to utilize technology and to make a full experience for a kid as they’re going through their education.

His advice for other administrators who seek to develop a similar school culture and system:

Mr. Ivey’s advice comes in three parts. Part one is around innovation. “I would say don’t be afraid to go out there and innovate, you know pilot different things, pilot different programs.”

Part two of Principal Ivey’s advice is simple: listen to your teachers. “They’re on the front lines. Your teachers are in the classroom with these kids. You know, we don’t see everything, we can’t know everything, we can’t hear everything. Your teachers know well what things your kids need. And so listen to your teachers, provide as many opportunities as you can, and then learn it along side of them.”

The third bit of his advice is about where great change starts. He believes a movement can’t simply come simply from the top-down, but has to come from the bottom-up, too.

It can’t be something that you do to a school. You’ve got to be a part of it. There has to be buy-in, and that buy-in comes from you sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with your teachers, learning the process, going through the implementation, sitting with the kids while they go through the implementation, hearing what the challenges are that they’re facing, what the challenges are that the teachers are facing, helping to bring people together to troubleshoot this problem solving. If you do that, you know you’re going to get so much more creativity, so much more dynamic change, because it’ll just grow on itself. Because everybody is going to get more and more passionate when they feel they have a voice, when they feel they’re being listened to and that their input is driving some of the decision making.

— Principal Rodney Ivey

 

Recap: What Makes a Star School Leader?

Great school leaders empower their teachers. What teachers do is one of the most difficult, and often thankless jobs. And while we all agree that teachers are the true heroes of every school system, it takes a special kind of leader to enable their teachers with the right support to focus on the important things. Like teaching.

The Star School Leader rubric stands on three pillars, hanging from one common theme:

  1.  Empowering others by setting a positive attitude, culture, and environment.
  2.  Empowering others with the right use of technology as a means and not an end. 
  3.  Empowering others through supportive coaching and access to professional development. 

To read about the rest of the Star School Leaders, visit our recipient announcement page.

 

Kiddom + Open Up Resources: Best-in-Class Digital Curriculum

We’re excited to announce a partnership with Open Up Resources (OUR) to offer schools and districts best-in-class curriculum delivered via the Kiddom education platform.

Building a Web of Support for Students: What We Learned

Merging data with qualitative instincts should be the standard in education—not a privilege. A visit to Greenville, SC gave us a glimpse into that future.

Principal Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez: The Collaborative Leader

Former Principal & Superintendent Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez has had a lengthy career of advocating for teachers and using technology to enhance education.

Back to School Checklist: Are You Ready?

Some teachers may be waving a white flag in October, while others decorate it with Sharpie! Find out which one you’ll be with this back to school quiz.

Welcome Back to School: A Letter From Our CAO

This week all Kiddom employees (many of whom are former educators) received the following letter from our CAO. We were so inspired, we had to share!

More From the Star School Leader Series

What is Keeping Administrators up at Night?

What is Keeping Administrators up at Night?

A recent study about teacher confidence in educational technology (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) found that 99% of all teachers and school leaders are using digital technology in their classrooms. It also found that nearly 96% have seen benefits from the technology they’re using, including improvement in student achievement, cited by 32% of all participants.

But seen is a key word here. How can we gain visibility on how digital technology is improving student achievement when so many factors go into a student’s education? Hopefully this is something we’re considering when choosing technology for our schools.

We recently conducted our own study to learn more about how and why administrators are deciding upon educational technology used in the classroom. What we hoped to gain from our study was some understanding of the most effective methods administrators use to conduct research for tools and solutions used in their school systems. 

Let’s be clear — we know humans to be the real problem solvers in education, and that we can never rely too much on the method as a means to an end. But we were interested in learning more about the research behind the tools and systems that our greatest resource of all — educators — are using to solve those problems. We invite you to follow along in our findings here.

How do admins stay up-to-date on innovative instructional models in 2019?

Perhaps like us, it was no news to you that 74% of all participants cited “education conferences and meetups” as a source for staying up-to-date on innovative instructional models. We were a bit surprised at how unpopular “books and research papers” (1%) were, but not so much about the low score for “PD from the district” (1%).

 

Graph showing 74% Education Meetups 62% Education Websites and 56% Email/newsletter
A breakdown of where Administrators talk about new instructional model

Where do admins discuss new instructional models within their network?

Again, we found that meetups and conferences were very popular for discussion here. “A lot of administrators end up going to at least one educational conference/event every year. A lot of them walk away with great information, so this isn’t surprising to me,” says Amanda Glover, our partnerships lead at Kiddom.

While it’s no shock to discover educators love to share their knowledge with others, what was surprising to us were the chat groups (38%) and social communities (26%) built around such conversations.

 

Are admins satisfied with the effectiveness of those discussion mediums?

At 72%, the trend suggests a high satisfaction with the discussion mediums administrators are having around innovative instructional models.

Of the administrators who weren’t satisfied with said mediums, nearly half (44%) cited “lack of proactive systems were keeping them up at night” and “lack of timelines of academic performance reporting”.

Graphical representation of  admins that are satisfied with the effectiveness of those discussion mediums

 

Graphical representation of what keeps school administrators up at night

What’s keeping admins up at night?

We all know working in education can keep you up at night with a million things running through your mind. But what are the top concerns?

When asked, administrators said the top three topics are “lack of human resources to improve student achievement” (56%), “lack of financial resources to meet district demand” (53%), and “lack of proactive systems to improve student outcomes” (34%).

 

How have admins tried to remedy the above concerns?

Our study found that nearly ⅓ of all participants are requesting more funding to address the problems keeping them up at night.

What is very telling about the current state of education is the use of creative staffing, intervention, and systems adjustment — these cost saving efforts are likely a direct result of increased budget cuts across the board.

We were surprised to see such a low effort to use tools and technology, considering the fact that technology can save schools so much time and money!  

Graphical representation of How have admins tried to remedy the above concerns
How school admin vet tech: 56% as fellow administrators, 41 Visit review sites, 42% Search Google or Bing

How do admins vet technology they purchase to support their remedies and address concerns?

While it is no surprise that word of mouth is still one of the most common ways administrators vet technology, one trend evident across the board is that administrators are rarely relying on just one place to make their decisions, and are often vetting across multiple sources. 

 

And that concludes our study — we hope this gives you a fresh perspective of how educators are making decisions around the educational technology and systems applied in the classroom.

As educators make these decisions, we hope to see more steps towards measuring the success of the tools in place. So often this data is siloed — grading and mastery data sits in the LMS. Curriculum data sits in curriculum management systems, and even there it may be scattered across spreadsheets and hard drives. Cloud-based platforms have helped a lot here — but they’re not ultimately designed with educators in mind, with a way to calibrate and measure the success of curriculum across a school system.

We’ve designed the K-12 OS to do just that, because we believe that in today’s educational climate, many schools and districts don’t have the time or money to make decisions without data. To learn more about Kiddom Academy, book a demo with us today.

At a typical Kiddom school, hands are in the air, there’s a buzz in the room, and teachers and students are energized. Kiddom was designed to help improve teacher retention and increase student performance and graduation rates.

For the first time, the most important parts of teaching and learning are connected and simplified in Kiddom. Curriculum lives in one place and is easily measured and refined, instruction is personalized to meet the needs of each student, and data serves as a powerful system of support for every member of the learning community to keep students on track.

Star School Leader Award: Recipient Announcement

Star School Leader Award: Recipient Announcement

What is the Star School Leader Award?

In lieu of National Principals Month, this award was created to honor principals who are the greatest school leaders — and who better to ask than those on the frontlines; teachers?

The nomination period lasted a little over two months, from Oct 14 until Dec 19. During this time, we received hundreds of stories from teachers across the country who were inspired by their principals.

To all those who submitted, we sincerely thank you for your contribution to this award. Your responses were a delight to read — you made us laugh, smile and even cry a bit, at times. But more importantly, your voices instilled in us a vast hope for the future of education, and a sense of how great leadership can pave the path to success for schools, teachers, and students.

You sent so many stories of exemplary school leadership that we were compelled to expand the contest to include multiple winners. In other words, we began with the goal to find a star, but we ended up with a constellation 😉 — of twelve recipients.

So, What Makes a Star School Leader?

Great school leaders empower their teachers. What teachers do is one of the most difficult, and often thankless jobs. And while we all agree that teachers are the true heroes of every school system, it takes a special kind of leader to enable their teachers with the right support to focus on the important things. Like teaching.

The Star School Leader rubric stands on three pillars, hanging from one common theme:

  1.  Empowering others by setting a positive attitude, culture, and environment.
  2.  Empowering others with the right use of technology as a means and not an end. 
  3.  Empowering others through supportive coaching and access to professional development.

What do they win? Recipients will receive a physical Star School Leader award, an Amazon giftcard, free professional development guides, and an upcoming spotlight feature on the Teacher Voice blog — so be sure to check in to view the spotlights in the upcoming months!

And now, without further ado… we present to you:

 

The Star School Leaders

Shameka Gerald

The Inspirational Leader, Star School Leader Recipient

Shameka Gerald is the principal at Heritage High School, Virginia. Nominated by Tiffanie Smith.

Mrs. Gerald is an amazing leader that inspires both students and staff.  She is very caring and seeks to meet the needs of everyone. Mrs. Gerald’s leadership has allowed faculty and staff to go above and beyond in many areas.  This includes teachers being leaders in and out of the classroom. Over the past four years as our leader, she has instilled many leadership qualities in teachers to be an effective teacher leader.  This has allowed many to step out of the normal box and try new things in the classroom. Her leadership is very unique in that a few teachers have moved on to higher positions.”

Read Principal Gerald’s Star School Leader Spotlight here.

Priscilla Salinas

The Life-Long Mentor, Star School Leader Recipient

Priscilla Salinas is the principal at Henry Ford Elementary, Texas. Nominated by Narda Lugo.

Mrs. Salinas inspired me to continue to move forward in my education by always encouraging me to attain my masters.  I worked with her for seven years as a teacher before entering back to school to attain my Masters in Library Science.  I will forever be grateful towards Mrs. Salinas for giving my first teaching position then for hiring me again as a librarian.  I love my job and I could not have done it if Mrs. Salinas had not encouraged me to continue my education. She is a role model to many and continues to encourage everyone to continue to educate ourselves in a daily basis, even if that means losing one of her educators.  She says, “She might lose a teacher, but gain a role model to others.” She is always looking for ways to encourage us to continue to grow which makes us continue to want to.”

Principal Salinas’s Star School Leader Spotlight is coming soon.

Keith Nemlich

The Thoughtful Leader, Star School Leader Recipient

Keith Nemlich is the principal at Central Elementary School, Vermont. Nominated by Judy Verespy.

Mr. Keith Nemlich is a principal who truly prioritizes children’s needs. He is a caring, compassionate, thoughtful, inspiring leader who models patience, persistence and playfulness… He encourages mindfulness breaks in the classroom. He encourages teachers to share our expertise with one another at staff meetings, and to briefly observe colleagues at work when we can. Keith researches new, more effective ways to accomplish something he believes in, and patiently, persistently works to get administrative support from the district. I could go on and on about the joy of working for a principal who is intelligent, thoughtful, supportive and inspiring. With tighter school budgets, more stringent standards, plentiful new initiatives cutting into already rigorous school day schedules, teaching has become more stressful. Keith Nemlich makes the teachers, para professionals and students at our school want to go to work each day, and be the best we can!”

Principal Nemlich’s Star School Leader Spotlight is coming soon.

Carol Leveillee

The Culture Builder, Star School Leader Recipient

Carol Leveillee is the principal at Frederick Douglass Elementary, Delaware. Nominated by Jacqueline Allman.

In the four years that she has been our principal she has turned our failing title 1 school around and now we are thriving! She has brought so many ideas to our school through book studies and motivational speakers. Most recently she took a few staff members to a “Get Your Teach On” conference where staff brought back numbers ideas and now she is allowing us to share and implement new engagement strategies school wide. She also has inspired us to build those meaningful relationships with each other and our students and I believe that has helped us turn our school around.”

Read Principal Leveillee’s Star School Leader Spotlight here.

Corey Crochet

The Life-Long Learner, Star School Leader Recipient

Corey Crochet is the principal at Labadieville Middle School, Louisiana. Nominated by Cathy Martinez.

Mr. Crochet has a difficult job; how do you inspire students of poverty to value learning? The answer; go back to school to get your PHD in Education.  Mr. Crochet is constantly learning and because of this, he inspires his teachers to do the same. Teachers meet twice a week during the school day, and often meet after school on their own time to study and learn how to make LMS reflect the efforts of the students, teachers and administration. LMS can be a challenging place to work. However, Mr. Crochet’s attitude of removing all obstacles that get in the way of learning is evident  across the campus. He tackles problems and is not afraid to go back to the drawing board when something is not working. His motto is “”Every Student. Every Day, Whatever it takes””. AND he will do whatever it takes through the lens of education and learning.”

Read Principal Crochet’s Star School Leader Spotlight here.

Tammy Taylor

The Teacher's Advocate, Star School Leader Recipient

Tammy Taylor is the principal at Wellton Elementary School District, Arizona. Nominated by Lisa Jameson. 

“Before she became principal, Mrs. Taylor worked with Donors Choose to get sewing machines for our school. Now as our Principal, she helps teachers apply for donations through Donors Choose. This is just one of the ways that Mrs. Taylor has inspired teachers and staff members at Wellton Elementary. With her positive attitude and incredible energy, she has been an excellent role model for our teachers and staff.”

Read Principal Taylor’s Star School Leader Spotlight here.

Tamara Jones-Jackson

The Analytical Leader, Star School Leader Recipient

Tamara Jones-Jackson is the principal at Ralph J. Bunche Academy in Ecorse, Michigan. Nominated by Sandra Fuoco.

In 3 short months, she has created a functioning PTO where we never had one before, allowed teachers to take leadership roles for the betterment of the school, changed policies and procedures so that every day processes run smoother, provided guidance and instruction on how to use our data more effectively so that we can better serve our students, and created positive relationships with students, staff and parents.  But what astonishes me the most is she somehow, someway gets things done! In a struggling district without extra income, we now have a communication system in the building, ceiling tiles and bleachers are fixed (which haven’t been in years), teachers are getting much needed resources, etc. AND she does this all with a smile and positive attitude. In my 2 decades of teaching, she is truly the most inspirational, motivational, and believable leader I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

Principal Jones-Jackson’s Star School Leader Spotlight is coming soon.

Rodney Ivey

The Teacher Enabler, Star School Leader Recipient

Rodney Ivey is the principal at Swimming Pen Creek Elementary, Florida. Nominated by Janet Shaw.

Mr. Ivey’s positive leadership and vision for doing what is in the best interests of our children sets the tone for all of our faculty and staff to be positive, enthusiastic, and productive . He sees the best in people, therefore young and old rise to his expectations. Rather than micromanage, he works collaboratively with his staff to plan programs and events. He collects data for us, looking for trends and meeting with us on teams to focus on ways to help individual students. Mr. Ivey finds ways to boost students and staff, from a shout out bulletin board to eating lunch with children. He squeezes every penny out of a tight budget to gets his teachers what they need, even planning and manning fundraisers to accomplish his goals. While most of us stay late planning and preparing, many times, his car is the last in the parking lot. He does what needs to be done, even vacuuming my classroom when the custodians were busy on another project. His kind, accepting demeanor inspires students and teachers alike to be kind and considerate. His frequent walks through our classrooms are welcomed, as he joins in our lessons alongside students; we love it when he photographs engaging lessons and shares them out with the staff. Under his leadership, our campus is a very happy inclusive place, with a supportive family-like atmosphere that encompasses parents, kids, teachers, and staff.”

Read Principal Ivey’s Star School Leader Spotlight here.

Traci O. Filiss

The Technology Pioneer, Star School Leader Recipient

Traci Filiss is the principal at Taos Academy, New Mexico. Nominated by Elizabeth LeBlanc.

Ms. Filiss is an inspirational leader because she shares decision-making responsibilities with her staff. Her expectations and her trust in their expertise is tremendous. For example, Taos Academy’s Leadership Team is made up of teacher leaders, many of whom also take on administrative roles. She works hard to empower all stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, and families) to be leaders in our school setting.”

Principal Filiss’s Star School Leader Spotlight is coming soon.

Faith Stroud

The Passionate Leader, Star School Leader Recipient

Faith Shroud is the principal at Robert Frost Sixth-Grade Academy, Kentucky. Nominated by Sandra Stinson.

Mrs. Stroud is a very strong leader and true advocate for our scholars and our staff. She doesn’t ask anything of us that she is not willing to do herself. She goes into work on the weekends, yes that includes Sundays and works for the improvement of our school to benefit our scholars. She has worked to put a Chromebook in every scholar’s hands at our school. Which for our district is not the case every where else. She works and budgets to set up field trips for our scholars that have real world ties to their curriculum and provides them with experiences that they may not be able to have otherwise. She is a fully transparent leader. She does not hide things from the staff and expects the same from us. She works diligently to provide our scholars with the best educators in their field and strives to improve us as teachers with embedded PD and opportunities to attend seminars and workshops whenever possible. She is a true inspiration to me as a teacher and I think that our scholars feel the same way.”

Read Principal Stroud’s Star School Leader Spotlight here.

Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez

The Collaborative Leader, Star School Leader Recipient

Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez is the Superintendent/Principal at San Antonio Union School District, California. Nominated by Diane Stensrud.

Mrs. Hernandez continually seeks to better herself by reading, participating in professional groups for book discussions, attending conferences, taking classes to remain current, and classes to push the boundaries of education. She focuses on 21 Century Future Ready Skills, and encourages the staff to do the same. I love it when she hears us talking about an opportunity for professional development, and says, “Go for it! Let’s make this happen!” She attends as many conferences as possible with us, and makes every effort to provide team-building opportunities. She also makes every effort to equip us to reach our professional goals. Despite the challenges of working in a small district, and wearing many hats, Mrs. Hernandez continues to grow as a learner, as well as a leader. She is an inspiration to me!”

Read Principal Gildersleeve-Hernandez’s Star School Leader Spotlight here.

Sarah Hays

The Motivational Coach, Star School Leader Recipient

Sarah Hays is the principal at Emily Dickinson Elementary School, Montana. Nominated by Tina Martin.

“Each school year Sarah finds a way to motivate us as a staff. This year with the start of a new year with a lot of new staff members and an extra 75 students, we had a lot of movement (rooms, and locations of support staff). This did not stop Sarah from being positive and sharing her passion and goals for us as a staff. At the kick off meeting, Sarah talked about how we all came together and continue to do what is best for the children. She encouraged us and looked at the positives that are happening and not that we are a school bursting at the seams and there is no extra spaces. She shared copies of “The Energy Bus” and had us work break into groups to read each section of the book and come back to summarize what we read to the rest of the staff. Sarah modeled how we too as classroom teachers can share this strategy with our own students.”

Read Principal Hays’s Star School Leader Spotlight here.

Kiddom + Open Up Resources: Best-in-Class Digital Curriculum

We’re excited to announce a partnership with Open Up Resources (OUR) to offer schools and districts best-in-class curriculum delivered via the Kiddom education platform.

Building a Web of Support for Students: What We Learned

Merging data with qualitative instincts should be the standard in education—not a privilege. A visit to Greenville, SC gave us a glimpse into that future.

Principal Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez: The Collaborative Leader

Former Principal & Superintendent Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez has had a lengthy career of advocating for teachers and using technology to enhance education.

Back to School Checklist: Are You Ready?

Some teachers may be waving a white flag in October, while others decorate it with Sharpie! Find out which one you’ll be with this back to school quiz.

Welcome Back to School: A Letter From Our CAO

This week all Kiddom employees (many of whom are former educators) received the following letter from our CAO. We were so inspired, we had to share!

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