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

—–

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.

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

A Different Take on Transparency

In education we read, speak, receive PD about transparency and its place in our profession altogether too often. Now, having said that – I am all for transparency (check the blog title) in the public education system. In fact I would argue that it is imperative in our schools.

Today, however I want to write about a different take on transparency; a take that deals with how we put in place the leaders of our education systems across the nation. I would also propose a plan (that is being carried out in some districts) that requires transparency in the hiring process.

Superintendent positions often require community review of a candidate. My argument is that we need to replicate this process for school principals and assistant principals. Too often in the public education system it is about “who you know”… and in this business, where our commodity is children – we can not allow decisions to be made on who one knows.

The hiring process of school leadership must be transparent and open to members of the community that a school serves. I know that there are those out there that will argue for the sake of time. I would argue that we must find the time – and the time to take a stand and demand transparency in the hiring process at all levels is now.

School based leadership is essential to student, school and community success.

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

Honesty.

I love American Idol. I hate to admit it, but I do.

One of my favorite parts of the show are the train wrecks who attempt to belt out Christina Aguilera at the top of their lungs. They think they’re great – and they’re not. When you think about it – it’s actually kind of cruel. People have not been truthful with these poor souls and they are allowed to embarrass themselves on national television. I sometimes wish someone had been honest with them.

Crazy part is this. This scenario is played out in schools all the time. We are allowing teachers to do the same thing that these wanna-be idols do. When you think about it – it’s actually kind of cruel. People have not been truthful with these poor souls and they allowed to embarrass themselves in front of our children. I sometimes wish someone had been honest with them.

I have had several arguments discussions over the past couple of months about having tough conversations with teachers. I know that these educators exist in most schools across the country and often times we are not honest with them. Why not?

When we’re talking reality television it’s at the expense of me laughing my ass off. When it is educators standing in front of a classroom it is at the expense of kids. That to me is unacceptable.

You see, I am a believer that not all people are cut out to be educators. I know first-hand that this profession requires a boatload of knowledge and skill to survive on a daily basis. When people don’t have it we need to be honest with them. We must remember that our capital is children.

As we head into a new year, be honest. Be honest with yourself, be honest with your colleagues – it is what our profession is in need of.

Remember… there is a lot at stake.

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

Hope.

So, I was battling the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season and popped into my local Apple store while perusing the mall. As I checked out – it got me to thinking about what I am calling the apple question.

What would Steve Jobs do [with education]?

This question came to me as I checked out with the Apple employee. I blinked and it was over. Apple [behind the tutelage of Steve Jobs] created something in their retail stores that all others should envy. The Apple employee checked me out using her iPhone – she swiped my debit card, emailed me my receipt and wished me a “Happy Holidays” as I ventured back out. It was a “whoa” moment for me.

Streamlined, efficient, purposeful, and amazing. Something that public education [for the most part] is not. So, what would Steve Jobs have done with public education?

If you are hoping for an answer in this post you are going to be disappointed. I do not have one. I just think it fun to think about having Steve Jobs as my superintendent – what things would have been different?

As I search for a purpose for this post I guess it is this… We need Steve Jobs’ in positions of power in public education. We need innovators who lead schools that when people visit and walk out the door – they have a “whoa” moment.

I guess that is all. I am working toward becoming that leader and I know that there are others out there as well. I read your work, I blog about you, I converse with you, and I work with you. So, at this time of year, here is to hope – that more innovative educators will take the lead in schools across the country and think to themselves – what would Steve Jobs do?

Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year.

More to come…

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