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10 Summer Reading Recommendations for Educators

10 Summer Reading Recommendations for Educators

With school back in session, it’s more important than ever for educators to carve out some time to themselves. What better way to broaden your horizons and find inner calm than by cracking open a book! The Kiddom team is delighted to share the reads that caught their attention this summer. With topics ranging from neuroscience to sociology to octopuses, this syllabus of summer reading recommendations is sure to sustain your busy and curious mind in between meetings and lessons. Enjoy, and let us know what you’ve been reading – on social, or in the comments below!

For the Science Teacher

Kym Hawkins

Kym Hawkins

Content Marketing Manager, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #1:

I’m reading The Soul of an Octopus. After watching a lot of The Blue Planet on Netflix this past month, I was pretty mesmerized by these creatures. They are so much smarter than we give them credit for… and they are helping us understand animal consciousness at an entirely new level.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

 

Ti-Fen Pan

Ti-Fen Pan

Software Engineer, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #2:

This summer I read The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance. It is an interesting book to see how the mind can control behaviors practically.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

For the Social Studies Teacher

Abbas Manjee

Abbas Manjee

Chief Academic Officer, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #3:

I am reading The Pragmatist: Bill de Blasio’s Quest to Save the Soul of New York. It’s mostly about the history of NYC mayors and posits the question, “Does NYC have a soul?”

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

 

Rik Walters

Rik Walters

Head of Marketing, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #4:

My mother lost her parents in the Holocaust, so I was compelled to read the incredible story of Lale Sokolov, who was interned at Auschwitz for two and a half years. Almost immediately he is put to work as a tattooist, tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners. Risking his own life, he uses his position to feed fellow prisoners, help others escape death, and he even finds love. I couldn’t put this book down.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

 

Nicole Plante

Nicole Plante

Associate Product Designer, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #5:

This summer I read a book about three of the 276 young women abducted from their school dorms by the militant Boko Haram group in Nigeria:  Beneath the Tamarind Tree. It is beautifully written and brings the reader there with Ms. Sesay.  An important book that touches on empathy, global issues for equality and human rights, current events, the terror one can inflict on humanity and the horror of being forgotten.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

 

 

Jessica Hunsinger

Jessica Hunsinger

Product Manager, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #6:

I’m currently reading Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration. I like that it provides an in-depth look at each step of a prosecution by diving deep into a case study of two individuals. I also like how it provides an extension into understanding our criminal justice system while I wait for the Serial Podcast to cook up its next season.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

For the English Teacher

Raheel Ahmad

Raheel Ahmad

iOS Engineering Lead, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #7:

Reader Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World delves into the value of deep reading, with a lot of research to back it up. This book was a good reminder in the age of digital devices and bite-size information consumption.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

Summer Reading Recommendation #8:

Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Arundhati Roy is back with fiction, and it has a lot of her linguistic brilliance, but also reflects her fight against jingoism and oppression.

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

 

For Every Educator and School Leader

Nicole Plante

Nicole Plante

Associate Product Designer, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #9:

This summer I read School Leadership That Works: From Research to Results. The book raises several important questions for educators: what are the effects of school leadership on student achievement? What specific leadership practices make a real difference in school effectiveness? How can we apply these findings to benefit our learning communities?

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

Vivi Hyacinthe

Vivi Hyacinthe

Marketing Copywriter, Kiddom

Summer Reading Recommendation #10:

As the title would suggest, this quick and easy read is a great introduction to gender-neutral pronouns. Written by a genderqueer artist and their best friend, this comic book is an accessible way to introduce gender neutral pronouns to any classroom or workspace. 

Read the full synopsis and reviews here.

 

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.

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 Corey Crochet: The Lifelong Learner

Principal Corey Crochet: The Lifelong Learner

Principal Corey Crochet

Principal Corey Crochet

The Lifelong Learner, Star School Leader Recipient

Principal Corey Crochet’s passion for learning has followed him from school yards to construction sites and back again. This is the seventh 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.

 

 

Great leaders are remembered for how they depart from the norm. But the most effective leaders often have experiences that allow them to blend in with their dependents and peers. Such is the case at Labadieville Middle School in Assumption Parish, Louisiana, where Principal Corey Crochet has presided over the last seven years. 

Built in 1939, Labadieville Middle School is a relic of the Roosevelt administration. But unlike other historical artifacts, the public schools of this nation aren’t always nurtured with the same amount of care. Assumption Parish, where Labadieville is located, is very close to the district line, making it hard to retain students and teachers. “We compete with higher wages and higher salaries all around us,” Principal Crochet says. “My assistant principal and I both started as teachers in 2004, and we were the only two out of a group of nine to return the following year.”

The students affected by this teacher turnover are 48% Black, 48% White, and 4% Hispanic. In state evaluations, Labadieville oscillates between a C and D School Improvement score, which summarizes how well the school is preparing its students for the next level of study. “The vision is to eventually get to a B status and stay there. Last year, we were 8/10ths of a point away from a C (a score of 60).”

“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.”

Cathy Martinez, teacher at Labadieville Middle School

From a certain vantage point, the school’s chances look promising. Labadieville Middle earned a B on the Progress Score during the 2017-2018 school year. Two feeder schools provide a continuous flow of investment from neighboring communities. And many Labadieville students readily demonstrate their preparedness by earning high school credits before they move on. 

But an “overall score” doesn’t tell the full story of what goes on behind Labadieville’s doors. And the same can be said of the school’s sitting principal.

 

The Building Blocks of an Educator

For Corey Crochet, the path toward education took a few detours. In his words, “my attitude in high school was a bit unbecoming of an educator.” He failed the 10th grade as a student, leading to a stint in construction.

But it was there that he discovered his knack for instruction. “My first teaching job was teaching pipefitting to a group of guys that were all older than me, but didn’t have the knowledge of the trade that I did.”

“Mr. Crochet is constantly learning and because of this, he inspires his teachers to do the same …Whether it is working to improve classroom instruction, or creating a culture of learning, Mr. Crochet models his love of learning every day.”

Cathy Martinez, teacher at Labadieville Middle School

This passion led him back to school, where he is finishing up his Doctor of Education. When Corey finally returned in the classroom as a teacher, it was kismet. He taught social studies at Labadieville for seven years before following the administrative track to his hometown. Inspiringly, he served there as an assistant principal not too far from the school out of which he once flunked. After one year as an AP, Crochet applied for the principal opening at LMS, and began his post in 2012. 

Although most of his years in education have been at the same school, Principal Crochet recognizes that every unique learning community has valuable lessons to impart. During his early years as a principal, Crochet had the opportunity to visit other schools across the nation, including Dr. Steve Perry’s Capital Prep in Hartford, CT and White Pines Middle School in Ely, NV. From these environments, Principal Crochet gained inspiration for how to persistently pursue goals with students. 

“I really enjoy having conversations with students and helping them solve problems that are getting in the way of their learning. Being in a position to help students and teachers makes it a very, very rewarding job.”

— Principal Corey Crochet, Labadieville Middle School

What Principal Crochet most enjoys about being a principal is witnessing a student’s growth during their four years at LMS. His personal motto, emblazoned on the school website is, “Every student. Every day. Whatever it takes.” And that is exactly the approach Corey takes in steering LMS to new heights.

 

 

A Beaming Foundation

In addition to visiting schools in other states, Crochet stays connected with mentors in his own community. Every Wednesday morning, he has coffee with his former principal, who retired while Crochet was in the fourth grade.

 

When progress runs stale at Labadieville, getting perspective from principals who have been there helps Corey stay positive and focused. 

“One thing [my mentor] tells me is that sometimes you have to imagine progress is being made just to keep moving forward.”

— Principal Corey Crochet, Labadieville Middle School

The students, of course, are another source of inspiration for Principal Crochet. “There are a few scenarios where they go above and beyond and do things that really stand out.” One of the proudest moments of his time at Labadieville came last year, during the final game of the Hornets’ football season. The other team had a player with spina bifida, and they put him in to play quarterback. Without prompting, the LMS Hornets surrounded the kid to congratulate him after his play.  

 

When students exhibit their potential in thoughtful ways such as these, it makes being a principal well worth the effort. The teacher who nominated Principal Crochet for this award wrote to us about Corey’s winter hours:

“Mr. Crochet worked very hard to improve the School Improvement Score. He worked through the Christmas holidays, and was at school when it was closed due to extreme cold weather, all to change our students’ enhancement classes and curriculum. While the students did show growth, we missed the score we needed by just a few points. Not to be discouraged, Mr. Crochet congratulated the students and teachers on their efforts, and back to the drawing board he went.”

 

 

Cathy Martinez, teacher at Labadieville Middle School

The most compelling way for adults to reach students is to demonstrate that they have also been students (and still are). Principal Crochet is a regular presence in the classrooms at his school, as he strives to make LMS more student-centric. “Being in those classrooms is a huge part of knowing what’s going on in your school.” 

While technology facilitates ongoing communication between teachers and school leadership, nothing can compare to real time in the classroom. Principal Crochet believes that ed tech can be assistive, but never a substitute for human interaction. “But it does have its place,” he declares. “When it comes to technology, we’re preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet.”

Through a certain lens, the principal’s task can be daunting. But from the perspective of a student in Corey’s very first class — pipefitting on a construction site — it’s not hard to imagine the talent in front of you thriving in another, unknowable context.

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.

Teaching Greatest Hits: Meet the Winners!

Following Teacher Appreciation Week in 2019, the Kiddom team is proud to honor FIVE spectacular teachers with personalized awards in instruction.

How One School Does Data-Driven Instruction with Kiddom

We spoke to the Literacy Department Chair at Williamsburg Charter High School about how they used Kiddom data to create a scalable intervention framework.

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 Carol Leveillee: The Culture Builder

When we spoke with Principal Carol Leveillee of Frederick Douglass Elementary School, she shared some tips on how to reinvent a school's reputation. This is the sixth spotlight...

Professional Development for Teachers: Bring Kiddom to your school

The first place a teacher will look for support is down the hall. Benefit your team by introducing a collaborative tool that brings your goals within reach.

More From the Star School Leader Series

Principal Carol Leveillee: The Culture Builder

When we spoke with Principal Carol Leveillee of Frederick Douglass Elementary School, she shared some tips on how to reinvent a school's reputation. This is the sixth spotlight in a series of twelve, in which we feature the winning recipients of Kiddom's annual Star...

Principal Sarah Hays: The Motivational Coach

Principal Sarah Hays shared her tips on how to bridge the gap between school and community. This is the fifth 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...

Principal Carol Leveillee: The Culture Builder

Principal Carol Leveillee: The Culture Builder

Principal Carol Leveillee

Principal Carol Leveillee

The Culture Builder, Star School Leader Recipient

When we spoke with Principal Carol Leveillee of Frederick Douglass Elementary School, she shared some tips on how to reinvent a school’s reputation. This is the sixth 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.

 

In a healthy environment, and with a little imagination, children begin to construct the lives they want to lead. Teddy bears can serve as patients in their play clinic, and emerge with a toddler’s solution to whatever ails them: Play-doh, maybe, or a sticker. These remedies hold as much weight as do complex procedures. When you’re young, the means to an end is always within reach.

For some kids, there’s less of a stretch to make when dreaming of their future lives. Principal Carol Leveillee’s favorite toys growing up were a chalkboard slate, a red pen, and stickers. The seats of her classroom were eagerly filled by stuffed animals until she left them behind for an audience of 5th-grade children. Leveillee taught for 11 years before moving into an administrative role. Her warmest memories still come from the classroom.

“When I left (teaching), I made myself a promise that every single thing I do, I’ll never forget what it’s like to be a teacher because it’s the best job ever.”

— Principal Carol Leveillee, Frederick Douglass Elementary School 

Her fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Peretti, inspired Leveillee to go into education. She had early exposure to the ways a teacher can enrich your life with more than practical skills and assessable information. From her teacher, Leveillee learned how to be comfortable in her own skin. “I had to start wearing glasses when I was in fourth grade and she wore glasses too. I remember that she made me feel that it was OK to wear glasses, that they made me look smarter—that kind of thing.”

A Star School Leader Spotlight from Kiddom is hardly the first award Leveillee has earned in her 36-year career. Before being called to the principal’s office, she won the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award from the Washington Post, as well as Teacher of the Year. This caught the attention of the principal at the second school she taught in. Fresh from completing a Master’s degree in reading, Carol was somewhat disappointed to realize that she “wasn’t able to do anything with it other than grow my mind.” The principal of her school approached her with a 75% scholarship to another Master’s program, more closely related to school administration. “They need good teachers to be administrators,” her mentor told her. “You should think about it.”

Their investment in Leveillee reared commendable results. She was later honored by the Washington Post once again when she was given the Distinguished Educational Leadership Award in 2006. On a national level, she represented the state of Maryland as a National Distinguished Principal in 2008.

It has been a long time since stuffed animals filled her classroom seats. Today, her awards and honors could do the trick!

 

Mastering the Winds of Change

Since stepping into the role of principal at Frederick Douglass Elementary School in Seaford, DE (nicknamed “Fred”), Mrs. Leveillee has certainly done her community proud. Of the 200 elementary schools in Delaware, Fred was performing in the bottom 5% when Principal Leveillee came onboard four years ago. Data on climate, academics, assessment, and more painted Fred as an undesirable place–even the current parents didn’t want their kids there.

Principal Leveillee’s ambition and pragmatism came up with a clear place to begin: the climate. “It was toxic. Staff didn’t like kids, kids didn’t like staff, front office didn’t want the phone to ring or people to come to our window. I knew that climate had to be the first place to start. Knowing that instruction is how we’re judged, but until I got the mindset of a lot of key players to change, stellar lessons weren’t going to make a difference.”

The first step Leveillee took to turn the school culture around was to do a book study: ‘The Energy Bus’ by Jon Gordon. “I spent a year and a half drilling that in. That was our mission every day: are we going to be a Negative Nelly or are we going to be on that bus working together for the good of our school?”

In addition to the principles covered in Gordon’s book, Principal Leveillee introduced Fred to the three R’s: respect, responsibility, and the right to learn. “I said the three Rs so many times that I would have dreams about it. But it really helped. Our climate is a much better place. We’re no longer a Focus Plus school. We just missed exceeding expectations by 0.4%.”

Of course, you don’t see results like that by simply hanging a few inspirational posters. Once the atmosphere and people’s feelings toward the school improved, Principal Leveillee targeted math as Fred’s next area for improvement. At the time, instruction relied heavily on worksheets and didn’t allow for engagement or even conversation between teachers and students.

“We burned the math workbooks.”

Principal Carol Leveillee, Frederick Douglass Elementary School 

Three years into her tenure, Principal Leveillee made Fred’s lesson planning more standards-based. Gradually, she showed the teachers how to teach in small groups and use technology to make class more interactive. Rather than accepting conventions, Leveillee reviewed how paraeducators were being used in the classroom. Eventually, the state of Fred’s math got to a much better place.

Of all the work that she has poured into Frederick Douglass Elementary, Principal Leveillee says that it’s the small successes that make her the most proud. “You know, the child that maybe didn’t want to get out of their car, and is now coming in. Or the teacher that said, ‘Nope I’m going to do my worksheets and you’re not going to tell me otherwise.’ And now I walk in their room and kids are in small groups with the teacher facilitating the learning.” Seeing the culture change infused into daily encounters provides more affirmation than an assessment rubric could hope to.

 

Disowning “On Your Own Time”

In order to create lasting change in a learning community, you might have to unlearn what you’ve been taught. Traditional practices might not be as constructive or even straightforward as they could be with a new perspective.

When asked how she created a school culture that enabled teachers to collaborate and support each other, Principal Leveillee gave us the rundown on her way of reinventing the seven-hour school day:

“One of the first things I did was totally recreate the schedule. I wanted to make sure that every teacher was free for 90 minutes, at least once a week, to collaborate, to plan, to talk, to kid-talk, to brainstorm, to score papers, to edit.”

With this new schedule, educators are able to complete important professional development on contract time, rather than putting in unpaid hours that decrease their job satisfaction as well as their return on emotional investment. Meanwhile, the students have 90 minutes each week to practice new hobbies and skills, including Pokemon Masters, drumming, coding, kindness club, calligraphy, cheerleading, and chess. “The nice thing is that kids aren’t just on busy work and people aren’t just babysitting while the teachers are collaborating.”

In my heart, we’ve got to do what’s right for kids and for staff. That’s the way I’ll always be.

— Principal Carol Leveillee, Frederick Douglass Elementary School

Teachers also use this time to share what they’ve learned at recent conferences. “It just has to be that way because no one person can do it all.”

 

 

Tools for Success

Through patient coaching and innovative thinking, Principal Leveillee has implemented changes that demonstrate care for every member of the community. The general perception of technology is that it cannot do the same. Despite that, she has fit it into the mold.

Every student at Frederick Douglass has a Chromebook that allows them to do research, create projects, and design artwork. Much like a differentiated assignment, the Chromebooks allow Fred students to complete work that reflects who they are just as much as it demonstrates what they’ve learned.

While the Chromebooks foster independence, Principal Leveillee employs other technology to bring the community together. “We start every day here with live-stream morning announcements, and it’s not just the pledge and the menu. I go on and talk to the kids about kindness or caring, or I’ll take kids on with me and they’ll share a goal that they’re working on.” Voicing their goals in front of their peers might just get students closer to reaching them.

With technology, Principal Leveillee has also reduced printing costs and saved time at the start of a new school year. Meeting notes and other important information is stored and easily accessible on Google Drive. Gone are the days when she and her secretary would assemble two-inch binders for each staff member at the beginning of the year. “Now I can spend that time looking for training camps or other things that teachers don’t know about.”

“[Principal Leveillee] 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 numerous ideas. 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.”

–Jacqueline Allman, teacher at Frederick Douglass Elementary School

It wasn’t long ago that parents were concerned about sending their kids to Frederick Douglass Elementary. In less than four years under Principal Leveillee’s leadership, Fred has improved its academic performance as well as its reception by the surrounding community. Regardless of what a formal evaluation would say, Fred exceeds expectations by offering kids a chance to explore new interests, and by showing teachers that their time and contributions are valued.

While she laments the fact that she didn’t start a blog on her first day to help other principals, Principal Leveillee offers this advice to administrators that may be taking charge at a school like Fred. “Have a 3-5 year plan: don’t expect change to happen overnight.” With hindsight, she notes that her own ambitious plans at the start of the new jobs were a little unrealistic.

Leveillee also advises new administrators to surround themselves with strong people—which could mean rearranging the people you have into positions that suit their strengths. “If you were to look at my roster from July 2015 and compare it to my roster today, there’s a lot of people that have been counseled to a different job. It’s what our kids expect us to do as principals.”

As quickly as things change, there are plenty of community staples that stay the same. Principal Leveillee tends to leave the door of her office open so that a particular first grader can get their daily hug.

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.

 

Teaching Greatest Hits: Meet the Winners!

Following Teacher Appreciation Week in 2019, the Kiddom team is proud to honor FIVE spectacular teachers with personalized awards in instruction.

How One School Does Data-Driven Instruction with Kiddom

We spoke to the Literacy Department Chair at Williamsburg Charter High School about how they used Kiddom data to create a scalable intervention framework.

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 Carol Leveillee: The Culture Builder

When we spoke with Principal Carol Leveillee of Frederick Douglass Elementary School, she shared some tips on how to reinvent a school's reputation. This is the sixth spotlight...

Professional Development for Teachers: Bring Kiddom to your school

The first place a teacher will look for support is down the hall. Benefit your team by introducing a collaborative tool that brings your goals within reach.

More From the Star School Leader Series

Principal Carol Leveillee: The Culture Builder

When we spoke with Principal Carol Leveillee of Frederick Douglass Elementary School, she shared some tips on how to reinvent a school's reputation. This is the sixth spotlight in a series of twelve, in which we feature the winning recipients of Kiddom's annual Star...

Principal Sarah Hays: The Motivational Coach

Principal Sarah Hays shared her tips on how to bridge the gap between school and community. This is the fifth 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...

Schools Could Save Money by Connecting Three Workflows on One Platform

Schools Could Save Money by Connecting Three Workflows on One Platform

This is the second article of a 3-part series on how to save time and money throughout the school year. This post discusses the often overlooked side effect of relying on multiple paid services to complete multiple key functions–all of which fall under your job description. You can read the other articles as published here:

Let’s talk about efficiency. If we were to ask you to name the best educational tool your school actively uses, it might be tough to know where to start. Before you could name a winner, you might need to categorize your apps by what they do. Most schools use at least 3 different educational apps to create, approach, and track progress on their goals for the academic year: school leaders will use one system to oversee curriculum management, another to coordinate learning and instruction, and a third for data assessment.

But the problem is, having three tools that don’t interact isn’t cost-effective.

Case in point: Say a curriculum director wants to measure a school-wide initiative like standards based grading. To do so, that curriculum director might want to see the full story of information from their curriculum, learning management system, and data assessment tool. This creates a technical challenge when either that curriculum director or their fellow teachers must now use their time bridging the gap between the workflows. Ask any teacher today if they are doing double data entry from tool to tool — the majority do! Weren’t these tools meant to make your school run more efficiently?

Fortunately, schools now have the opportunity to replace these piecemeal systems with one that can address all of their curriculum, instructional, and assessment needs. 

With so many variables to student achievement, you need a baseline curriculum so you can make adjustments to instructional practices and materials. But this is no good if it isn’t responsive—like an at-risk alert system, you can use Kiddom to discover students whose grades are slipping early and provide them with personalized support. When all stakeholders can access the same platform and collaborate in real time, you also have less time wasted on meetings.

With all workflows on one platform, imagine the following scenarios:

Teacher using Kiddom resources to prepare a teaching curriculum

Curriculum planning becomes responsive:

These sessions would be much more efficient if every teacher and supervisor walked into the room with a full understanding of which curriculum resources are working, which ones can be cut, and where common leverage points exist.

Kiddom allows admins and teachers to collaborate as they build curriculum together and iterate as soon as results come in. This way, they’re able to scale best practices to other classrooms and reuse for new semesters. 

Teacher observations become informed:

Administrators have to do less digging and teachers have to do less justifying when all of the artifacts of student learning are organized right along side the curriculum. This allows administrators and teachers to spend more time on collaborative efforts rather than repetitive explanations.

Kiddom keeps administrators caught up on what’s happening in the classroom so observations can be planned at a time that is better for teachers and students.

 

Teacher and administrator using Kiddom teaching resources to collaborate and understand curriculum
A successful Student-Teacher Conference thanks to Kiddom assessment and instructional resources

Parent-teacher conferences become proactive:

Despite every teacher’s best intentions, eventually a parent may take issue with an assessment or instructional decision made in class. When a parent feels their child has been wronged in some way, the conversations can quickly become emotional. But imagine having all of the reporting and assessment data at your fingertips at any given moment. Now administrators won’t have to call a teacher from class to gather pertinent information about a student, but can access all necessary records as needed.

You have a clear view of your entire school or district’s progress towards your new social emotional initiative and you know exactly which classrooms need more support. You’re able to reallocate funding to those who need it the most. Lucky for you, your Monday morning dashboard just got a serious upgrade.

Schools could save serious money by connecting three workflows

Beyond the obvious cost-savings earned by creating more efficient scenarios for collaboration, replacing three workflow tools with one can be much more affordable when it comes to pricing.

Use this calculator to determine how much you’re spending currently on tools for your school’s curriculum, instruction, and assessment workflows. And then, let’s chat about how centralizing school-wide initiative data with Kiddom could help your school’s wallet, too.

How much could your school could save? Find out here:

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.

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

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Principal Sarah Hays: The Motivational Coach

Principal Sarah Hays: The Motivational Coach

Principal Sarah Hays

Principal Sarah Hays

The Motivational Coach, Star School Leader Recipient

Principal Sarah Hays shared her tips on how to bridge the gap between school and community. This is the fifth 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.

 

“Emily Dickinson has grit.” An elementary school in Bozeman, Montana brings new life to a dead poet’s name with a motto that pulls no punches. At its helm, Principal Sarah Hays brings more than two decades of classroom experience to the front office, making sure every teacher has the support they need to excel at their work. And their students are all the better for it.

“[Our teachers] want the very best for [our students]. And our kids do well: they score well, and I think they love school. That’s one of the most important things.”

— Principal Sarah Hays, Emily Dickinson Elementary

For Principal Hays, education has always felt like home. She taught English and math at the high school level for sixteen years, and “loved everything about it.” But over time, her connection to the classroom stretched as she stepped into more administrative roles. Though she had never felt the desire to become an administrator, she has crafted a new home for herself in a different part of the school building.

 

The Principal is a Teacher’s Pal

In her current role, Mrs. Hays communicates with her staff frequently in order to advocate for them as best she can. During her own classroom years, she experienced first hand the way a teacher’s motivation can crumble without the proper feedback and support.

Today, Principal Hays creates a sturdier foundation for her teachers than the one she once stood upon. “I really work to make sure that they feel like they can come to me with concerns, that I’ll have their back when a parent comes to me, that I recognize their strengths.”

The payoff comes when teachers feel confident enough to bring innovative solutions to the table: “We help support them so that they can continue to learn and grow and then that spreads across the school.”

Sarah encourages us to set personal and student goals (short and long term). She encourages teachers to work together to help find a way to help all learners. Working with a variety of personalities, Sarah is able to meet all of our needs and to encourage all of us to be the best educators we can be. She wears many hats and is always positive with the staff, parents and most of all our students.

— Tina Martin, teacher, Emily Dickinson Elementary 

 

From Cursive to Coding: Education’s Evolution

Aside from being a champion of teachers’ needs, what’s most remarkable about Principal Hays is her willingness to embrace change. As technology progresses into the classroom, the landscape of a lesson has shifted as well.

Over the course of her 25 years in education, the average K-12 classroom has evolved: fewer templates and worksheets survive from year to year, and more assignments can be tailored to fit the needs of a particular student.

Principal Hays holds one truth certain: “Technology should be helping us gain the information, and then do something great with [it].” She calls her school of 530 students a “Google school,” referring to the apps they use in their 3-5 classrooms.

Emily Dickinson Elementary has implemented curricula from Project Lead the Way, a non-profit that introduces kids to coursework in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. In this way, technology has become a tool not just for sleek email and chat integration, but also for students to create and imagine new paths for themselves beyond school.

Technology is definitely a tool. To me, it’s a lot like the pencil was when we were younger. It’s a tool that we’re using to learn and explore and produce.”

— Principal Sarah Hays, Emily Dickinson Elementary

The Bozeman, Montana school district uses standards to ensure that technology is being used effectively. All teachers have been trained on using Chromebooks in the classroom, and K-2 students have access to iPads for production. The school library features a 3D printer that students can use to create monuments and bring other historical figures from the textbook to the trophy shelf.

Students at Emily Dickinson use 3D printers to build statues and monuments, but how does Principal Hays go about creating the foundation they stand on? That relies on the foundations that support students at home. “Build investment in the school by getting to know your teachers and your families.”

After all, a school without parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, and caregivers would not go by the same name. “Once you can build those relationships you can go a long way in steering different things. But it doesn’t happen without that commitment to building relationships with people.”

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.

 

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