College Readiness

I had that privilege to speak with the team from Schoolinks a few weeks ago about how my school structures our college readiness systems.

College

I wanted to share the podcast with you below, and also thank the people at Schoolinks for inviting me to join them. If you work at the secondary level and have not checked their site out – you should. It is one of the most simple (and powerful) college search platforms available to students.

Check out my podcast interview here.

While you’re at it… be sure to check out Raise.me (and prepare to have your mind blown).

Michael Meechin, M.Ed.
@mikemeechin

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Michael Meechin is a high school principal, writer and speaker. Mike works with schools and districts by providing grassroots professional development, high impact speaking topics, and consulting services on education reform initiatives. For more information check out our Work, or Contact Us.

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Shame

Disclaimer:

This is not a political post. This is an “I am passionate about education and kids” post. I am an independent and selfish voter. Meaning I vote based on candidates views on issues important to my life and my family.

I was in my car the other day listening to the White House press briefing from Mick Mulvaney about the proposed budget cuts.

A photo by frank mckenna. unsplash.com/photos/EgB1uSU5tRA

As I was listening to the piece there came a point where I almost drove my vehicle off the road. Mulvaney was speaking about proposed cuts in the HUD Department by way of block grants being defunded.

Block grants are provided to states to fund programs such as school based free meal programs and other services to special citizen groups such as Meals on Wheels. The states decide how to use these block grants; so the federal government’s claim is that they technically are not defunding the programs – but rather the block grants. Spin zone.

Mulvaney said, “They’re supposed to be educational programs, right? Guess what? There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually doing that. There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually helping results, they’re helping kids do better in school.”

He went on to say, “The way we justified it was: these programs are going to help these kids do better in school and get better jobs. And we can’t prove that that’s happening.”

My mind was blown. Clearly Mulvaney has never set foot in a public school where there are high numbers of students on free and reduced lunch.

Well… I have. I lead one of those schools. I see it every day.

When he spoke about “demonstrable evidence” – I am left to wonder what he is looking for? Did we (the United States) begin feeding students at school because we thought that it was going to increase test scores? (which there is research to back – but I digress)

How about the fact that regardless of test scores – there are students in this country that are fed by our federal government through their public school. For many, this may be the only meal that they get. We are looking at defunding this type of support – because there is no demonstrable evidence that shows it works!?

How about the real fact that millions of students are served each day through our school breakfast, lunch and after-school programs – their only source of food.

I ask Director Mulvaney to really think before he speaks. I would challenge him to visit any of the Title I schools in DC and speak with the students whose only source of food come from those schools. And, I recommend he brings Betsy DeVos along for the visit.

This is an issue that we need to challenge. I would recommend that you call your Representative and/or Senator to ask them to challenge this thinking.

To find your Senator or Representative please visit: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

To Director Mulvaney… #Shame.

Michael Meechin, M.Ed.
@mikemeechin

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Michael Meechin is a high school principal, writer and speaker. Mike works with schools and districts by providing grassroots professional development, high impact speaking topics, and consulting services on education reform initiatives. For more information check out our Work, or Contact Us.

Failure to Launch

Failure to launch… it’s a complex problem, that can end with catastrophic results.

I have been hooked on these space analogies lately because they seem to fit the education space so well. The concept of “failure to launch” is one that is so real for us in classrooms across this nation.

The disastrous results that are outlined so profoundly in the video above equate to the struggle that many educators, schools, districts, and administrators, like myself, deal with on the regular. #thestruggleisreal

Imagine with me for a moment that our students are the rocket. Schools and districts play the role of design, engineering, manufacture. States and the Federal Government, they are command and control.

When these systems do not work together…

141029045534-nasa-rocket-explodes-on-launch-virginia-00003006-story-top

Disaster.

Mars Ready

Are our systems aligned so that our students are Mars Ready?

I recently was speaking to a group of educators at the Future of Educational Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando, Florida. During my talk I outlined, as I often do, that our students change by the second. They do that as a form of survival. The world around them changes so quickly that they are forced to adapt.

Sadly, one area that has greatest impact (and on in which they spend a great deal of time) on our children – schooling – has not really experienced major changes.

Lets look at recent history.

The United States launched the Space Shuttle Program into service in the early 1980s. Thousands of technological advancements took place in the decades that the program was in place. After the Program was shut down, private companies, driven by many young innovators, do things like this…

SpaceX… launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral and landed that same first stage rocket back to Cape Canaveral less than 15 minutes later.

My question is – are our schools and districts using systems that are build up the future innovators that will take us to Mars? Or, are we on a path to “failure to launch”?

Is your school or district getting your students #MarsReady?

Our schools and districts need to reflect on how we engage kids; how we immerse them in technology rich, problem-based environments; how we align systems to avoid “failure to launch”.

At the surface, there are easy things that we can do. Like I shared with my friends at FETC we can begin exploring tools that can engage students and help us take them to higher levels.

Check out my 60 Instructional Technologies in 60 Minutes Master List here.

At deeper levels, these questions lead us to a path of reform. A path that will force us to reflect on how we do school.

A path that will prevent “failure to launch”?

Are our students #MarsReady?

mars_2445397b

And… will you help me get us there?

Michael Meechin, M.Ed.
@mikemeechin

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Michael Meechin is a high school principal, writer and speaker. Mike works with schools and districts by providing grassroots professional development, high impact speaking topics, and consulting services on education reform initiatives. For more information check out our Work, or Contact Us.

Power of Immediate Feedback

The most important support that I can provide to my faculty is feedback. It is essential in all that we do in my building. It is something that I work to do more – provide faculty with quality, timely feedback on what I see in their classrooms.

Like many schools, out leadership team focuses on getting into many classrooms per week. Because time is something that is an issue in every school – we developed a system that we think meets everyone’s needs. We developed a Google Form, which you can see a demo of below. The form is customized to what we need for our teachers, students and school. We love Google Forms for two major reasons:

  1. The form is 100% customizable and can be adapted as our needs change
  2. The analytics and metrics that we receive are invaluable; we can walk classrooms and look at data in our admin meeting the same afternoon

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 10.28.39 PM

However, we had a major issue. While the administration was getting the data, the teachers were not getting the feedback. We were often having to do additional work by sending an email or typing feedback into our evaluation system to get it to the teacher. This process takes too long and required double the work.

Enter, autoCrat; an add-on that lives in Google Drive.

This add-on takes a feedback form template that we created and merges all of the data from the Google Form right into that document and emails it to us as soon as we click submit. We can then simply forward the email to the teacher of the classroom that we walked and done. Often, the teachers have a PDF document sitting in their inbox before I ever leave the classroom.

It is like magic. You can try it out below. Click the link and complete the Google Form, which is modeled off of the WT protocol that we use in my building. Once you submit, you will receive an email with the PDF feedback form instantly.

Link to Demo Walkthrough Protocol Form: http://bit.ly/demowtprotocol

I work with schools and districts to customize this process to meet their needs and train their administrators on the process. For more info check out: http://www.meechincg.com.

For DIYers, you can check out @principaldurham and his article that details the process here.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
@mikemeechin

For more information about having Mike speak at your school or district, click the “Book Mike” link under Work With Me.

Stop the Cycle

So, as I begin this post, I am still not really sure how I want to craft this entry. However, it has been weighing heavy on me.

I have worked my entire career in schools that serve students of low socioeconomic status and high minority rates. In my more recent role over the past few years in administration, I have spent that time in Title I schools exclusively. I am also a product of a very diverse public education in similar settings.

Public education as a whole is broken. Education is not on the radar of any politician in this country. Let me clarify, I mean really on the radar of any politician in this country. Talking about it from time to time does not cut it. Saying you want improved test scores when you would not last five seconds in front of a classroom full of school-aged children is an empty message.

Public education within underserved communities is even further broken. I have been there. I have been a leader in a building where less than 50% of students graduate on time. Those schools exist. Every day, students, teachers, and administrators serve in these schoolhouses. For many, the process is simply cyclical. Others may from time to time be impacted by a great leader and have a chance to turn it around.

For most, however, the cyclical land of missed opportunity continues day after day. Because I believe that education can set you free – this bothers me.

How will these schools succeed?

I have heard over the past couple of weeks several politicians spout off about school choice. School choice is not how these schools will succeed. It is clear that anyone that would suggest that as an answer does not understand the logistics of schooling. For example, students from low performing school F choose to go to high performing school A. But, high performing school A is at capacity and does not have any remaining seats. So, where do you go from there? Terrible idea.

How about we spend time and money in low performing schools? I caught this tweet over the weekend…

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 10.05.41 PM

How do we make this happen? As a school leader, I try to hire with a purpose. I make it plain that I need educators that want to be at my school. It is not easy, but I need them to want to be there. Highly effective educators and leaders are leaving low performing schools. As @tgrierisd tweeted, “we must stop this cycle”.

If you know any great educators looking to serve in low performing schools please reach out and connect with me. If you have best practices or other strategies about hiring highly effective educators in low performing schools please share them here on this post – I look forward to reading them.

Thank you to all of those who serve in low performing schools and stay committed to those students, schools and communities.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
@mikemeechin

For more information about having Mike speak at your school or district, click the “Book Mike” link under Work With Me.

Teachin’ Ain’t Easy

This thing we do. It ain’t easy.

I am unapologetic about making that statement too.

I believe that education is what sets you free with every fiber of my being. The effective educator pours every thing that have into their students every day they are in the schoolhouse. I know this, because I see it every day in the classrooms of my teachers.

“Those who can’t do, teach.” Remember that.

It is actually quite the opposite. I meet potential candidates every year that are going to light up the world by dropping knowledge on wave after wave of students in their classroom. Those candidates often think that the profession is so easy… “I have a passion for “X” subject,” they say. Then you ask about the craft and they know nothing of the sort. I often know how these conversations end.

#Fail

You know, I was recently at a meeting with a high level District official who made a statement that was profound. He stated, “there are no more career teachers.” I was like – huh? At first, I though my hearing had gone – then I was overcome by anger. I took offense to that comment… great offense. I am a career educator. I am married to a career educator. Many members of my family, many of my friends are all career educators.

But, I thought, is he right?

Look, teaching’ ain’t easy. But, the answer is no. There are so many amazing career educators out there. My Twitter feed if full of passionate educators that live and breathe this craft that we call teaching. We, the career educators, constantly work at the art and the science of educating the masses. Many of us have devoted our lives to this. Many step into classrooms filled with students that are off grade level, have social/emotional issues, come from broken homes, and on and on and on.

These students need us. They need career educators. They need us to be there so they can go on to graduate and set themselves free of the chains that bound them. Education, and more importantly the career educator, has set them free.

We need career educators. I encourage you to talk to young people, talk to those students in your classrooms each day, talk to those potential career educators. We are the disciples for this profession and we need to encourage those that can do – to teach.

Reach out today and have that conversation. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic… be sure to include me in on the conversation on Twitter @mikemeechin, #careereducator.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
@mikemeechin

For more information about having Mike speak at your school or district, click the “Book Mike” link under Work With Me.

What We’re Doing With Remind101

I have the privilege of working with some amazing educators in my schoolhouse, and I wanted to share what we’re doing with Remind101.

Remind101 is a technology that allows educators to provide one way communication to students, parents, etc… via text message simply and efficiently.

My teachers began using Remind101 last school year in sporadic fashion. So, this year we focused on bringing Remind 101 school wide and ensuring that our teachers were taking advantage of this powerful communication tool. But, that wasn’t enough for us…

We felt that there were other areas that we could use Remind101 to communicate in several ways with our students and parents. We would like to outline a few ways that we are making Remind101 work for us @poincianahigh.

Remind101 Stakeholders via School Website

We have posted our Remind101 subscription code on our school’s website that allows stakeholders to subscribe to our feed. We publish important school information, announcements, and shout-outs on our Remind101. The feedback we have received has been great. Stakeholders really enjoy receiving the information via text message and we love the ability to be able to schedule reminders ahead of time.

State Assessment Review

EOC ReviewAs a school, we were looking to engage our students outside of the classroom to encourage them prep for state assessments. We also wanted them to use technology… enter Remind101. My Science Coach developed signs that outlined how students could Remind101 Biology End of Course Assessment practice right to their mobile device.

We posted signage throughout the school that outlined the quick how-to. After that my Science Coach would Remind101 practice questions to our students enrolled in the group. Students would have to come and explain the answer to us during lunch. Students ate it up – they were coming down and having higher level discussions about Biology during their lunch. The response was impactful for our students – we like that.

Attendance Intervention

Remind101 Wake UpLike most at-risk schools, we have attendance issues. We decided after reading about and idea on the Remind101 blog to use this technology as an intervention to address our attendance issues.

What we did was use data to identify our most at-risk attendance issues. We met with these students and enrolled them in our Remind101 wake-up program. We send out three reminders each morning, beginning at 5:45A, waking our attendance issues and hopefully encouraging them to get to school.

Our reminders are witty comments or inspirational quotes meant to motivate our students to get to school that day. We follow up our first Remind101 with two additional wake-ups each morning. We like the data that we are seeing in return. In our first semester using Remind101 for this purpose, we got an increase in attendance for 83% of students in our pilot cohort – we like that.

These are just some of the ways that we are using Remind101 @poincianahigh. I hope that this helps you to use this powerful technology in your school, with your students.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
@mikemeechin

Using Evernote for Classroom Walkthroughs

I wanted to share a brief video that I created to show you how my team uses Evernote for classroom walkthroughs.

Evernote is an amazing company that is devoted to a quality product (which at its basic level is free) for education. One of the strongest benefits for me is that Evernote is available on all of my devices and it auto synchs. This allows me to have my data whenever, and wherever I need it.

You can download Evernote at www.evernote.com, or for your iOS or Android device.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
mike.meechin[at]gmail[dot]com
@innovateed