Friday, April 11, 2014

#lovemyschoolday reflection

As I sit in an ER with an injured soccer player, I'm taking the time to reflect on how much I love my school. #lovemyschoolday. Our school is diverse, academically rigorous, and competition oriented, all the while helping to create young men and women of character.

During our 2 hour drive to the game, I had 4 students in my car. Our charter school does not have busses. I enjoy spending this time in conversation with our students. If we were on a bus, these conversations simply would not occur.  Today, 4 guys jumped in the car.   We began a conversation about the diversity present in the team, and more specifically at LISA Academy.  None of the boys identified as being from our state. They did self-identify as from Mexico, Palestine, Phillipine Islands, and Tennessee. We were diverse In our languages as well. While we all spoke English, it was a 2nd language for 3 students.  Our religious affiliations were also diverse. Two Catholics, 1 Episcopalian, 1 Muslim , and 1 Methodist.  We were very diverse, yet all enjoy our experience at LISA. We also had an in depth talk about the writing process and how to tie their passions into their writing to make it a more enjoyable experience.

As the evening continued, the boys began to score goal after incredible goal during the soccer game. This diverse group of young men banded together to share, rather than hog the glory. 6 people scored 7 points. They carefully set each other up to score. Awesome game with a wonderfully diverse group of athletes.  Toward the end of the game. Mohammed was knocked around and his knee was harmed. Teammates swarmed with concern. After parents were consulted, Mohammed was carried to my car for the short trip to the local ER. Two young men volunteered to accompany us, knowing that it would be very late when could begin our 2 hour drive home.  Rad and Marco (young men of fine character) kept Mohammed's thoughts off his injury during our trip to the ER.  One contacted Mohammed's brother and helped explain where we were located.

On the return trip, Rad spoke joyfully about the impending birth of a new family member. Surprisingly, the baby was born upon our arrival back at school, shortly before midnight. Rad was excitedly texting his family about potential names for the newborn.  He also spoke about his academic choices for The next morning. Leadership group, APUSH review, or Science Olympiad.  He sincerely wished he could attend all of these school events. He settled on the competition at a local university for his Science Olympiad team.

Of course, our school is not perfect, but this was the perfect end to what could have been a harrowing evening. A new life, a student recovering, a student focusing on academics, an athletic win for the entire team, and most importantly, a group of young men who continue to amaze me with their fine character. I love my school!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Documenting Learning

Learning is my passion. Many things about the schooling process are important to parents. Parents are trained from daycare or preschool by the schools to care about grades and behavior, as well as, activities and field trips.  But, my passion is learning. We need to activate our parents concern for the actual academic learning taking place in each classroom, particularly in middle school and high school.

More importantly, as educators, we need to retrain ourselves to document learning, and to talk about the actual learning.  Preschool programs such as Montessori and Reggio Emilia are meticulous about documenting learning. MS and HS teachers are meticulous about grading.  Is SBG the answer
(look to @drjolly and @garnet_hilman)? Perhaps. Even if a school uses a standard grading scale with mandatory weighting, grades are still subjective. As teachers we also need to hold students accountable for documenting their own learning. Are student-led conferences the answer? Perhaps. Could Interactive Notebooking become part of the process for students (thanks @acaciatc), perhaps.  Are portfolios the way to go? Perhaps. Retraining teachers, students, and parents to question the learning, rather than the grade or the behavior is a noble starting goal.

Thankfully, teachers across the US are implementing the Common Core Standards. These common standards will help teachers begin to see beyond the scope of their own communities. Educators can learn best practices from each other for documenting and sharing learning. Some schools began implementing SBG many years ago.

I am passionate about learning. Please do share the ways that your community documents learning in your middle schools and high schools.

Suzanne Rogers, M.Ed.

Resources for learning how to document learning.
Reggio Emilia
Interactive Student Notebooks

Sunday, March 9, 2014

This is a test. This is only a test of the American Education System.

 "This is a test. This is only a test of the American Education System"

As an Arkansan Educator, I read with interest @Edusanity's recent blog post by +Jason Endacott who blogged about the +NWEA  MAP data craze at his son's school.  As a fellow #Eduparent, I share a similar concern, as do all parents. We want our children to be recognized as special, unique individuals. More importantly, as an #Eduparent, we owe it to our schools to be the voice of reason. 

Last July I blogged about the #Unitedoptout plan. I urged reason then, and I continue to urge reason in the rising tide of testing angst. This is only a test. Your child is not a number.

 "My child is NOT a number."  I remember hearing that same refrain from a parent of one of my first grade students at @HolyFamilyAcademy in Honolulu, HI.  My students were assigned a number so they could put their papers in order by number, line up in a specific number order, and imagine this...think numerically! I knew that this child's name was +Christine Gibo. I knew that her mother taught in the classroom beside me. I knew their family history and how they left from California to become Keiki O Ka 'Aina.  I wanted my students to not be afraid of numbers. I wanted them to think numerically at an early age. We could math games by calling out a number! The students could move and think numerically at the same time. How wonderful! #5 could join hands with #8 and #13 would join them. They could line up by odd numbers or even numbers.

Fun memory aside, I know that some parents worry about the Social Security number assigned to their baby prior to leaving the hospital. I remember the concern when numbers were put on packaging for inventory purposes. I remember when there was some concern that immunizations put the mark of the devil on children. (Really?Truth!) 

So, as  an #Eduparent how do I calm parents regarding the upcoming 8-9 hours of PARCC testing? Perhaps we need to sound the Klaxon and remind parents "This is a Test. This only a test."
"This is a test of the American Education System. The Administrators of your school in voluntary cooperation with the Federal, State and local authorities have developed this system to keep you informed.  This is only a test of the American Education System.

All joking aside, 8-9 hours of testing each year is only two half days of school. Most parents have their children out of school that much for family activities such as dental appointments, picking up Grandma from the airport, big sister's graduation, and other important events. These test scores are not currently recorded and shared with colleges and universities. We must tame the fires. We must help our parents understand that these test scores are not the "be all and end all" of their children's educational lives. This test score does not truly define their child for all time. This is one brief moment that will provide information regarding the education of their child.  Remember, "This is only a test of the American Education System."

Suzanne M. Rogers, M.Ed.

Endacott, J. (2014, March 07). [Web log message]. Retrieved from
Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). Macbeth Time Quotes Page 2. Retrieved March 9, 2014    from

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What is Power?
Today, I had the honor and pleasure to attend +Hendrix College  #TEDxHC.  We all think we recognize power.  
But, do we really?

According to Barb Allen, Powerful leadership is moral leadership.
According to Todd Brogdon, @WestrockCoffee, Powerful companies are for profit, but reinvest in their people/communities because they ask the right questions.
According to Amy Cuddy, @Amyjcuddy, Power poses can be faked until they BECOME real. Interestingly enough, the Science supports this idea.
Hendrix College junior, Sami Kennedy, suggests that collaboration is powerful.
Hen Mazzig, @HenMazzig, used the childhood experience of violence to shape a future built on #HOPE and #ThePowerofGood.
1992 Hendrix alumnus, Stacy Sells, @stacysells, talked about the power of a great college.
Bryan Stevenson's TED talk suggested that Power is just.
To wrap up the event, Mark Gilman talked about the connectedness of humanity to the earth. Our decisions have an impact. Humanity can choose to be powerful or destructive.

So, how does this all translate to education? Education should be moral, questioning, collaborative, humane, and  just,  which should be faked until it BECOMES real.  As long as we continue to evaluate test scores by subgroups we are continuing to see our world with blinders. Let's take off the blinders and see the wholeness of our schools and communities. Perhaps, then, education will finally become humanely powerful.

I welcome comments! Please share your ideas for powerful education communities.

Suzanne Rogers

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What if? Blogpost- What if our nation had a patriotic zeal for education? #GoTeamUSAEducation

#GOTEAMUSA   #GoTeamUSAEducation

Today, I read with interest "Biggest Lugers" ( the  +ESPN  article written by +Chris Jones @Mysecondempire. I think that Tucker West, @TuckerWest1 US Olympic Luge team member, is blessed with a father who believes in the Olympic dream.  As a former college athlete, each Olympic season rekindles the thrill of patriotic zeal. Today, however, I pondered more deeply. WHAT IF?

WHAT IF parents/guardians spent as much time and money concentrating on the education of their students as they do on their recreational activities? I do realize that often it is the college athletics that can keep a college afloat due to the perception of a great athletic dynasty. Athletics adds fun and spice to any school. BUT...

WHAT IF parents/guardians/administrations cared more about the academic outcomes of their students?

WHAT IF students cared more about their academic outcomes than about the Friday night game, or what dress they wore to homecoming, or who would be homecoming queen?

WHAT IF diversity in school was more about the diverse schools to which our students were accepted, than about the race of the students in the school?

WHAT IF more parents/guardians/administrations were willing to extravagantly invest their time and money into academic outcomes as Brett West invested in creating a backyard luge?

Somewhere along the educational pathway in the USA, athletics and other non-academic activities became the way to keep students in school. National educational mandates now force accountability for test scores and graduation rates. Hopefully, we'll see our nation expressing patriotic zeal for #teamUSAEducation

What are your what ifs?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

EdcampHOME and Paleo/Primal are tied together?  YES! (at least in my mind)

There is a certain primitive feeling to the education sphere currently.  It is a certain undeniable desperate feeling.   There are the defenders of #commoncore and the #edureform movement that seem to be battling each other when we should really be working together for the good of all of our students.

The Edcamp format is about teachers having choice and voice. EdcampHOME is an online Edcamp format that harnesses the power of Google through G+ and Ghangouts. Participants post their ideas for discussions/session ideas. The sessions were voted upon by the members and then moderators created a hangout for participants. The technological aspects can be a bit bewildering to those new to the power of Google. I, myself struggled-but still managed to ask questions in an On Air segment about Rebellion in education, and Hangout with a fellow curriculum director in my state. Huge shoutout to the organizers and moderators of @EdcampHOME!

So, how does the Paleo/Primal part tie in?  Great question!  As educators were scurrying about hunting and gathering connections and hangouts- the primitive met the 21st century. This year, I've noticed that a number of educators in my local sphere and my virtual sphere like @twhitford and @JessicaMPitts are on the Paleo/primal bandwagon.  These educators are powering their bodies with densely packed nutrients. I've also realized that these same Paleo/Primal educators deeply desire the best for their students and are willing to go the extra mile. It is this primal educational feeling that empowers Edcamps.  I find it strangely akin to our first one room school house teachers. They did it all! They did not sit passively waiting for someone on high to provide curriculum, supplies, or professional development on classroom management. These one room schoolhouse teachers were primitive, but knew how to help their students achieve.

As educators, we need to reach back to our primitive roots in the one room schoolhouse and make the connections within our community to power our classrooms and our profession.  Let's be Paleo/Primal educators!

 @Rogers_suzanne on Twitter
Suzanne Rogers on G+