October 9th Edition

Transforming School Discipline: Shifting from Power and Control to Collaboration and Problem Solving

by Ross W. Greene Founding Director, Lives in the Balance; Department of Psychology, Virginia Tech; Faculty of Science, University of Technology Sydney

The statistics are staggering. Every school year in the United States, there are 3 million out-of-school suspensions, 3 million in-school suspensions, and dozens of millions of detentions. Every year, over 100,000 students are expelled and there are several hundred thousand paddlings, restraints, and locked- or blocked-door seclusions.

Students with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges are those most frequently on the receiving end of these increasingly archaic interventions. The most obvious distinguishing characteristic of these students is the fact that their behavior is more extreme: screaming, swearing, hitting, kicking, spitting, biting, throwing, running, destroying property, and worse. Of course, archaic discipline strategies typically aren’t administered to students whose behavior is less extreme: using their words (the holy grail of adaptive responses), whining, pouting, sulking, withdrawing, or crying. But regardless of whether a student’s behavior is more or less extreme, the field of developmental psychopathology is quite clear on the fact that the behavior is communicating that the child is having difficulty meeting certain expectations. us, behavior is simply the signal, the fever.

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Complete the Professional Concerns Survey: The Source to Answer Member Questions

Every day, AWSA members ask questions like:
  • Q: What % of members have a "rolling contract? A: 41%
  • Q: What % of districts reimburse for graduate credit? A: 82%
  • Q: What is the most common personal contribution towards health insurance? A: 11-15%
AWSA staff are in a position to answer those questions with data from the AWSA Professional Concerns Survey that is conducted every two years.  The survey has been conducted for over twenty years so it provides longitudinal data for AWSA to track trends impacting the professional lives of school leaders and to act to positively impact those trends. 
Please complete the survey by clicking on the following link by October 23rd: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LZLRSSS. If this link does not work, simply cut and paste or type the link into your web browser. Individual responses will be kept strictly confidential. A field test indicated that it takes approximately 15 minutes to complete the survey.  Note: One of the questions in the survey references the AWSA Sample Contract. That sample can be found here on the AWSA website

Student Voice is a Necessary Piece to Safe Schools

by Dr. Michelle McGrath WASC, Executive Director

For most people, when they hear the words “student voice”, they immediately envision a forum filled with unrealistic demands, unorganized chaos, and a lot of noise that they are hopeful will be short lived.  My 22 years in education, along with what we’ve witnessed the past several weeks in light of the tragedies in Parkland, FL, prove much differently.    Student voice on my journey has always been filled with an abundance of authentic examples of purposeful, meaningful, student voice and engagement.  Connected and engaged students are a necessary piece to safe schools.

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The Attitude of the Leader

by Baruti K. Kafele

For the 14 years that I served as an urban principal in New Jersey, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the notion that the achievement gap was my primary issue. Although it existed and it was rather wide, I did not see a change in instructional practices being the solution to closing this gap. I was convinced that the problem was deeper than achievement yet within our grasp to correct. It was my strong contention then, as it continues to be today, that the attitudes of students, staff, and administrators matter. As I say regularly, attitude is everything!

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October 24th Edition

Ensuring the Continuation of a Free Appropriate Public Education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

by Anita Castro, Consultant, Special Education Team and Patricia Williams, Assistant Director, Special Education Team

Principals and associate principals serve an important role in ensuring the continuation of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). But what is “FAPE” and how can administrators help ensure it is provided? Has the understanding of FAPE changed since the United States Supreme Court issued their ruling in the case of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District? This article will help answer these questions and provide resources to support your school in ensuring FAPE for your students with disabilities. 

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Teaching Others to Fish:  Ruminations of a Recovering “Fixer”

by Joe Schroeder, PhD, AWSA Associate Executive Director

“Hi, Everyone.  My name is Joe, and I’m a fixer. ”  

“Hi, Joe!” those seated around the circle replied. . . .

If you are a servant leader, chances are that you also are a “fixer.” And while being a fixer may often make things a bit more tidy, doing so doesn’t often really serve others or the institution all that well. That’s because fixing things for others typically stymies development and diminishes potential in them -- and in you! And as leaders, our biggest ultimate legacy are those we leave behind. So for these reasons, I now consider myself a recovering fixer, who will need to work on this for the rest of my life. And that’s because our own perfectionistic tendencies and habitual service to “the urgent” can keep us locked into such an unproductive routine that underserves others. So if this moniker of “fixer” might describe you as well, welcome to my little intervention group today. You are among friends!  

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Leading 2018-2019 with (More) Balance

by Jessica Johnson and Sarah Johnson

There is no question that every school leader faces challenges on the job with ever increasing demands that lead to stress and put us all at risk for burnout.  School leaders often define themselves through servant leadership, tending to put others’ needs above their own and even end up sacrificing much of their personal and family time for their careers.  The truth is servant leadership is a great attitude for leadership, but it doesn’t make for a good lifestyle in which the leader is balanced. We are convicted in our belief that leaders cannot take care of others without also taking care of self as we cannot pour from an empty cup.

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