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Learning from Success

November 18, 2016

This week I had the opportunity to work with several administrators and teachers regarding how Saline Area Schools can continue to make progress in our  efforts to improve.  Basically, we were living our motto, “The Pursuit of Excellence”  and we explored issues related to leadership, instructional models, modern curriculum, digital ecosystems, and professional learning.

When we were discussing leadership and the ability to change culture – we talked about how we actually like the culture of Saline Area Schools.  How we are in a good place to focus on continuous improvement.  I was struck by how this is a different conversation than when there is a crisis or a clear indication of under-performance.  I was reminded about a conversation our administrative team had with Bob Quinn this summer, when he asked what is the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher?

This led me to a lecture from Ryan Quinn (Yes, Bob’s son), where he explores the findings of his research on “Learning from Success” and the potential negative impact success can have on an organization.  Thankfully, he talks about how to avoid the negative.

Gen Z in the Classroom

November 17, 2016

Gen Z - Creativity

Recently, Adobe asked 1000+ U.S. Gen Z students aged 11-17, and 400+ Gen Z teachers to tell us how they feel about learning, creativity and the future.  Their findings were interesting.  I can see alignment with our district focus that is represented in our Learner Profile.

Here is the full infographic that highlights their findings – Gen Z in the Classroom

 

Parent/Teacher Conference Tips

November 16, 2016
I have posted this before, however, with conferences coming up – I feel it’s worth revisiting.
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The role of the parent/teacher conference is to provide the opportunity to foster the “team approach” and provide direct face-to-face time to discuss the whole child.  This provides parents and staff the opportunity to look at the strengths of the individual child and the individual areas for growth.   It is a time to revel in the student’s successes and determine ways to best support the individual child in their areas of weaknesses in the academic, social and behavioral arenas.

A few tips:

  • Prior to the parent/teacher conference, talk to your child to know your student’s teachers, classes and their perspective of the course(s).  This allows the education discussion to begin at home and fosters the family and school partnership.
  • To best utilize your time, prepare your prioritized questions for discussion.
  • Arrive on time or a few minutes early.
  • Take notes to allow you to review the conference with your child.
  • Do not stay beyond your allotted time.  Future conference opportunities can be discussed to continue important discussions.

From all sides, communication is the key to continued success and less stress.  The more we can effectively communicate with each other, the greater the odds of helping the individual child maximize their entire Saline Area Schools educational experience.

Great teams are behind great schools

November 14, 2016

In Saline, we are on a constant quest for the pursuit of excellence. As superintendent, I am grateful to have the privilege of working with a tremendous team of professionals who support our students, community and each other every day.

However, across the country and in our own backyard, there is a shortage of people that we rely on everyday to make the system work.  This includes:

  •      Substitute teachers
  •      Custodians
  •      Paraeducators
  •      Bus drivers
  •      Food service workers

We are not immune to the national shortage of talented, qualified and committed individuals whom we need to work in our district and be a part of our success.  So I am asking you, the Saline community, to help identify a few outstanding candidates, who are qualified and want to work in the community, supporting our students and our schools.  Can you to identify your friends, family and neighbors, who may be looking for new employment opportunities and a chance to make a difference in a child’s life?

Individuals hired in the above-mentioned positions become Saline Area Schools employees, earn service credit toward a pension and, depending upon the number of hours worked, may also have access to other district benefits such as health care, dental, vision, and life insurance. Additionally, thanks to the bonds approved last fall, we have seen and will continue to see significant improvement to our district’s infrastructure, various facility upgrades and new buses, making for a fun, fresh and safe environment in which to work. Finally, our paraeducators, food service employees and bus drivers work almost exclusively on school days, making these positions ideal for parents of school age children.

We are also on a constant quest for qualified substitute teachers and substitute paraeducators. For more information about the qualification requirements as well as the employment arrangement please visit http://www.salineschools.org/district/human-resources/ and click on “Working as a Substitute.”

There is no doubt, that we have a great team in place now to support our students. I am proud and excited to come to work everyday. I relish the fact, that we are a community school district. That our staff can be seen in the community eating at local restaurants and shopping along Michigan Ave., or walking on the street and in the park. We are a community watching over our students and looking out for one another.  It is for that reason that I am looking to our community to find the best people to fill these jobs.

While our jobs can be challenging at times, I believe the rewards far outweighs the challenges. Our community continues to grow, as do additional opportunities to grow within the district.  If you know of anyone who is interested, please let them know about the current job openings and encourage them to visit www.salineschools.org/district/human-resources and click on “Job Postings” to apply.

Communication requires listening….

November 13, 2016

Earlier tonight, I sent the message below to the Saline Area Schools community:

SAS Community,

I want to take this opportunity to reach out and assure you that as a district we are being particularly sensitive relative to our students and their perceptions of the recent campaign and election.

We remain firmly committed to making sure that every student and every member of our community is valued and welcome. We will continue to work against bullying and toward resolution of conflict in all of our interactions.  As always, we encourage open dialogue regarding issues that are concerning for our students.

Our mission remains:

We will equip all students with the knowledge, technological proficiency, and personal skills necessary to succeed in an increasingly complex society. Our ultimate goal is to instill in our students a desire for lifelong learning.

As a school district and community, it is up to all of us to ensure that our students become strong and active citizens. We will continue to model, teach, and reinforce critical thinking and appropriate conflict resolution skills, as well as, how to disagree respectfully.

Sincerely,

Scot Graden

When having conversations about the recent election (or most other topics) I encourage us to remember the following ideas:

  • We agree to set aside the desire to persuade the other and instead focus on developing a better understanding of each other’s perspectives, and the hopes, fears, and values that underlie them.
  • We agree to be curious and to avoid the pattern of attack and defend.
  • We choose to ask questions and move beyond stereotypes and assumptions.

School is only a few days away… We want your feedback!

August 31, 2016

Welcome back to another exciting year in Saline Area Schools!

Whether you’re a parent whose child is entering our schools for the first time or the veteran parents of a soon-to-graduate senior, I want you to be involved and help make this year our best one yet.

But I also know how busy you are — and, as the school year continues, there are going to be even more demands on your time and attention.

That’s why we offer Let’s Talk!  It is a great way for you to ask questions or submit comments about the issues that matter most to you, whenever it’s convenient — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Many of you used the system last fall during our successful bond campaign.

I hope to repeat that successful community engagement this year.

Questions about a district program? Have something to share about your child’s school?  Want to weigh in on our district budget or school safety? Whatever’s on your mind, we want to hear it!

Simply open the Let’s Talk! tab at http://www.salineschools.org, or click here to start a conversation. You may remain anonymous, but if you leave your contact information you’re guaranteed a personal response.

We want to help all of our students find success and realize their potential. And we can do it by working together — one conversation at a time!

Summer Reading…

July 16, 2016

Summer is well underway and, while my intentions are sincere, I have yet to get very far with my list of books!  

This summer I am reading Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal. McChrystal is a retired 4-star General, who devoted thirty-four years in government service with the US Army. As commander of all US forces in Afghanistan, he managed teams under the most severe of conditions. The book uses examples from recent military missions to highlight the need for organizations to be agile and adaptable.  Much of what McChrystal learned from his military experience is portrayed in the book as solid leadership for any organization.  It points out how old rules no longer apply. Old principles of leadership do not keep pace with the rapid flow of information and the lifestyle of a digital generation.

I am also looking to finish  Brown Dog by Jim Harrison.  Harrison passed away last year and it reminded me that the book follows a character named Brown Dog who rescues a preserved body of an Indian from Lake Superior’s cold waters. He lives a simple life, but overindulges in food and drink while just scraping by in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula’s summer. It’s a novel that is intense and well written, and brings home my love of the UP and the simple things in life.   

The two books that I have chosen to read this summer are in stark contrast to one another, but each has something of great interest to me, first as an organizational leader, and second, as a man that loves the out-of doors and being close to nature. That is the beauty of reading. There is no end to the journeys that we can takeReading through the written word and the mind’s imagination. Summer is a wonderful time for students (and adults!) to read.  The Saline District Library is an incredible community asset – stop by and check out their collection! A young adult fiction section shelves titles that will interest even the most reluctant reader. The District Library has a vast collection of eBooks and downlo
adable titles for those that prefer to listen to good literature. A library card is one of the best investments that you can make in your child’s future.

 

Everyday is a day to learn something new. Reading gives everyone that opportunity.

 

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