Week Ahead, May 8-12
I hope everyone is enjoying this brief sunshine prior to what is forecast to be a gray and wet week.

As the school year draws inexorably to its close, I am starting to see the increased flutter of students scrambling to up their effort to finish strong (and in more than one case, to catch up from being way, way, way behind). It's always somewhat heartening to see this uptick in engagement and energy, at the same time that it prompts us to think--how do we get students to be this engaged and concerned about their learning (not their grades) all the time?

Particularly as we prepare for our full transition to Proficiency Based Learning next year, the question of how to increase students' "agency"--their investment in, ownership of, and power over their learning--is coming front and center as a priority for our (teachers', parents', and students') work. As I have thought about it, I have come to see--as this article argues--that there are many, many ways that our practices and programs unintentionally keep the students from exercising their agency.

What are the practices in place that, in keep teachers in command of learning, as opposed to students? And how would we change those practices to release responsibility back to students?

Note 8th Grade Step Up Night Wednesday at 5:15.

Faculty Council meets Monday, 2:15-3:30 in the Library Classroom. As previously determined, we will be reviewing the backwards planning unit design template and a resource that will help to develop solid scoring criteria.

Everyone, have a great week.
Week Ahead, March 27-31
Welcome to 4th Quarter--let's finish strong, shall we?

It's grading time again, and so it seems a good time to continue stirring the pot I have been stirring with some thinking about grades.

In my time in education, I have come to have two main overarching concerns about grades as they are done right now:

1) Because grades are aligned with credits (you must have a 70 to "pass" and get credit--unless you're in Connecticut, where you need a 60 !), some students focus on the grade ("I just need a 70 so I can get my credit and graduate") rather than on learning what we want them to learn to prepare themselves for the future. Depending on how their class grades work, these students can cheat the math of grades to get the 70 without learning.

2) Because grades are used to sort and rank students (Which student has the highest average grade?), some students only care about getting a high grade, often, again, to the exclusion of paying attention to what they are learning, and why. These students may choose easier courses or easier academic paths to boost their grades, in addition to being more focused on the competition for highest grade than on learning and developing a love of learning--they engage learning activities only to get a grade.

3) Because grades are tied to credits and promotion as well as sorting and ranking, schools sometimes (perhaps even often) use grades to try to motivate students both negatively and positively ("If you don't do this, you won't get a good grade" or "If you do this, you will get a better grade"). I, for one, have seen little evidence that this works as it is intended to work. For students failing multiple classes, grades are clearly not motivational--something else needs to be done. And while it may motivate students who like to compete for grades to do more or different work, I think, again, what we are teaching those students to value is winning the competition, and not the learning.

So, here is an argument about whether we should be giving grades in the first place, and, if we are, whether we should eliminate some kinds of grades (0, for example) that may not give an accurate reflection of what students know or what they have actually done.

As you are entering or reflecting on your 3rd quarter grades--What is the purpose and value of grades at Lake Region? Do our practices reflect our beliefs about grades, and are they working as we intend them to?

The schedule, for the first week of 4th Quarter:

​Teachers, 3rd quarter grades are due at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday. Please notify Mrs. Watkins when your grades are done.

Everyone, have a great week.
Teacher Appreciation and AP Week Ahead, May 1-5
Here's to the end of extra hour days!

It is Teacher Appreciation week. Thank you, teachers, for all you do, this week and every week!

This week also begins Advanced Placement exams for our students who are taking AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP Government, AP Psychology, AP US History, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP Calculus, and AP Chemistry. This year, Lake Region students will take over 3 times as many AP exams as they did last year (64 this year, compared to 21 last year). I take as a small but hopeful sign that more LRHS students opted to challenge themselves--and had the opportunity to challenge themselves--this year. As I was taught way back in my teacher training, I won't wish those students good luck, because their success will not come due to good luck; it will come due to the continuous effort they put in this year, and due to their initial willingness to say yes to a college level course.

The article I shared last week described one Washington high school's efforts to increase AP enrollment in a school where taking on additional challenges is not an established part of the culture. Given that this week is really AP week, another article about AP efforts seemed in order. This time, the story is about a relatively "high performing" school that does have a strong AP culture that they have struggled to provide equitably for all different kinds of students.

From both articles, the questions arise: How do we make sure that we are asking every single Lake Region student to rise to appropriate challenges, whether they be in AP classes, early college classes, Vocational certifications, or in Honors challenges in our regular program? And, even though we may not have the range of diversity that Wheaton North has, how do we measure and ensure that we are offering challenges equitably, and leaving no one out of opportunities?

There will be a faculty meeting in rooms 208/209 (that's Ian and Chris's room) from 2:15 to 3:30. As requested in the last meeting, the 9th-grade PBL transition team will be presenting their successes and obstacles for your consideration.

Everyone, have a great week.
Extra Long, 3:00 dismissal Week Ahead, March 13-17
What weather?

I will wrap up this current string of articles about "changes to consider" with a topic that has been, for me, a recurring theme--the school start time for high school students.

Start time for high school has really emerged as part of a national conversation, so much so that, as some of you know, the Maine Legislature's Education Committee is currently considering a bill that would require high schools to start no earlier than 8:30.

It has also been a conversation in Lake Region, as several of you have shared articles with me through the course of the year about other districts who have made or are considering the change. This article
https://goo.gl/8cK8R3 about "mixed results" is one of them that came recently, and the Marshall Memo recently summarized an article about more research findings on the question. (FYI--you can find all of the articles I have seen on the topic this year at lrhs.lakeregionschools.org in the "Links to Stories and Research about Later School Start Times" box.)

There are certainly different views on this question--here, in the rest of the state, and in the country as a whole. Regardless of whether we, or the state, ever actually decide to make a change, I am glad to know that we are having reasoned discussion, and invite us all to consider: How do we balance our values, our lifestyle, and our understanding of science, to identify the start time that is right for our students?

DON'T FORGET THAT SCHOOL ENDS AT 3:00 FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS as we work to make up two snow days.
Winter Carnival Week Ahead, March 6-10
Winter Carnival Week Ahead, March 6-10
​Wasn't it thoughtful of Mother Nature to give us a last blast of winter cold to set the mood for Winter Carnival?

Over the last several week ahead messages, I have shared some thought provoking (perhaps, controversial?) arguments about some of the chestnuts of American schooling--ranking students, and calculating their Grade Point Averages; requiring Algebra for graduation; assigning homework.

In the follow-up to the NEASC accreditation process we just completed, it is incumbent on us to make sure that any answers we develop to these questions, and to any other questions that may arise in the future, are aligned with the "core values and beliefs" of our district. To that end, we are launching a process to review and revise our existing statements of value, belief, and principle. (If you are interested in being a part of that work, you can contact jamie.riel@lakeregionschools.org or linda.freese@lakeregionschools.org to find out when and how to join.)

In thinking about approaching this vital work for our future, I have been clipping and saving snippets that I think might be worth considering as we design a new statement of values. So, while I have been no fan of the work of the US Department of Education (or of the Secretaries of Education) through the past few administrations, I was surprised to find some food for thought in this exit dispatch by John King, the former EdSec. I share it with you this week, and ask--What ideas, if any, do you find useful in King's vision of education, that might inform a Lake Region statement of values and beliefs?
Prom Week Ahead, May 15-19
Prom Week Ahead, May 15-19
Speaking to the great turnout of 8th-grade students and their parents on Wednesday evening, we strongly emphasized this theme of student agency, suggesting, I think correctly, that the biggest shift between middle and high school is (should be) an increase in student responsibility and agency at the high school.

This continues the theme of student agency for me. In last week's message, I asked the questions "What are the practices in place that keep teachers in command of learning, as opposed to students? And how would we change those practices to release responsibility back to students?" (Actually, I asked it with a typo that I didn't catch, which is mortifying--but what I wrote here is what I MEANT to ask.)

This week's article profiles a school in Michigan that works to put a vision of student agency front and center, or, as one of them puts it "teaching kids to teach themselves." Doing so requires a transformation of practices that will shift the work--especially the thinking work--on to students. On the students is exactly where that responsibility should be, and yet, as I am walking the building observing this class or that, I have to sometimes wonder--Who is doing the work in this class? Is the teacher working harder than the students? Are the students doing anything but sitting and listening? If students are working--what sorts of work are they doing?

As you teach or learn in classes this week, I invite you to observe through the lens of "Who's doing the work, and what kinds of work are being done?", and if you find that the teacher is working harder than the students, to ask, what would it look like to flip this script?

A couple of big events this week:

-The District Budget Meeting is Tuesday evening at 6:30 in the LRHS gym.

-The K-12 Arts Festival is happening in the gym on Thursday and Friday.

-Prom is Saturday.

The schedule for the week is above.

And--we are finally going to have some sunny and warm days! Enjoy the week.

A. Erik Good
Lake Region High School
1877 Roosevelt Trail
Naples, ME 04055
(207) 693.6221 x 230

We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us.
We already know more than we need to do that.
Whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven't so far.
--Ronald Edmonds
Week Ahead, February 27-March 3
I hope we all enjoyed the February break, along with the February thaw. Hard to believe that two weeks ago we were stuck in an interminable round of snowstorms!

Continuing my sharing of game-changing (if not controversial) ideas...

As the first step of our transition to the Proficiency system, we have had a lot of conversations about exactly what it is that students need to know and be able to do in order to prove that they are "college and career ready". The recently developed (and poorly understood by the general population) standards in English, Math, and Science represent some groups' attempts to define those expectations. They are poorly understood and controversial, at least in part, because what they are attempting to define is not easily defined. Do college and career ready mean the same thing for every single student, or does each student deserve a slightly (or even greatly) different definition, based on interests, strengths, challenges, ambitions?

Algebra is perhaps the most common area of dispute in the college and career readiness discussion. And so I ask, as do the authors of this article--Is algebra an unnecessary stumbling block in US schools? Do students need algebra to be prepared for success in college and career?

While you ponder that, I also have this follow-up article (
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2016/0523/Is-it-wrong-to-recognize-a-valedictorian-One-school-says-yes. ) on the question of whether schools should determine class rank, for those who are interested in that discussion.

The schedule for this week, including the re-added Friday, which will be Blue. Note that Monday is our last winter late arrival day.
Week Ahead, February 5-9
Any bets on the snow forecast for this week?

The definition of Proficiency-Based Learning I shared earlier this year in presentations, listed four sets of school systems that PBL thinking entails: teaching, learning, grading, and reporting. Taken altogether, those four essentially encompass all of the academic functions of a school. Put another way--we need to transform everything we do to (re)create systems focused on students proving what they know and are able to do.

As we continue forward with our transition, this is (to me) both exciting and daunting. On the one hand, we HAVE to change everything, and on the other, we GET to change everything. What needs to stay, and what needs to go? What is working as we want it to, and what has intended or unintended repercussions or consequences that we might be able to address?

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share--one at a time, so that they can be considered in isolation--some articles that explore some of the "everythings" we can change. I'll say upfront, and again each week, that I don't subscribe 100% to anything that I will share, but, if it hasn't become evident yet, I certainly value the questions raised by these articles and all the articles I share.

To begin: Class ranks and GPAs. What do we think about the argument discussed in this article that ranks and GPAs are not only unnecessary but actually harmful? What values and beliefs about learning are involved in using or not using class ranks and GPAs?

STUDENTS AND TEACHERS: Remember that from 10-11 tomorrow morning (the beginning of the student day) we will be in Advisory for the MIYHS survey. That will be followed by a slightly shortened C PERIOD and a regular D PERIOD.

TEACHERS: We will reconvene in the cafeteria tomorrow morning for a bit more on Scoring Criteria, before breaking into departments.

FACULTY COUNCIL: We will meet Monday from 2:15-3:30 in the library conference room. To discuss: class rank and GPA in a PBL system. As a reminder, all are welcome to Faculty Council.

Have a great week.
WEEK AHEAD, October 31-November 4
WEEK AHEAD, October 31-November 4
We are already one quarter of the way through the 16-17 school year. How did that happen?

Putting what's best for students gets a lot of mention in school management. In my last district, "Kids First" was literally the motto of the district, although it often felt to us that what was best for kids was actually the last consideration on anyone's mind.

In last week's email about changing to a later start time, I teased this article that goes even further into the question of what it would look like to design schooling in order to match what we know about how teenagers' developing brains work.

What strikes us in Armstrong's arguments about what we should and shouldn't be doing? What changes can and should we make to put what's best for students first?

Today is Halloween, of course, which means that many of us will be coming in the spirit of the holiday. I invite everyone to embrace that spirit in his or her own way, bearing in mind that the dress code speaks specifically to clothing that does not disrupt the learning environment. And please, make sure we can recognize your faces.

Faculty Council meets Monday from 2:15 to 3:30 in the library. On the agenda: Review of Later Start surveys and next steps; Honors and Honors Challenge proposal; Review of department PD plans; planning for student PBL presentations; preparing to use 4 Cs rubrics; tech needs by departments.

1st quarter grade snapshot for all students is due in Infinite Campus by 8:00 Wednesday morning.

Over 1300 people at Trunk or Treat Saturday, but who was counting (oh, that's right, I was!). Thanks to all who organized and participated.

Have a great week!
Week Ahead, January 9-13
Week Ahead, January 9-13
We began the school year this year talking about the idea of engagement, and asking the question "What is the best way to engage students?"

The midpoint of the year seems like a good time to check in on engagement again. I certainly saw an uptick in engagement this past week, as we all gear up for midyear exams and semester 1 progress reports. Plus, with the short days and the cold weather, the energy for solid engagement can be harder to muster.

In that light, I thought I would share something that I found inspirational this past week--Michelle Obama's speech at the 2017 School Counselor of the Year recognition ceremony. If you want to skip the overtly political portion of the speech, you can start at about 7:30, when she begins to address the students and educators on the subjects of engagement, hard work, and hope.

As we transition this week into the second half of the school year, I invite all of us to think about engagement again, and to consider: How are we building and supporting hope at Lake Region?

The schedule is different this week, all the way around. Remember that tomorrow is a Blue Day, but also a late arrival day.

As a reminder, all work to be considered part of the semester 1 grade must be submitted by 2:00 p.m. on Friday, January 13, to give teachers time to grade it. Teachers, grades are due at 8:00 a.m. on January 18.

​As announced, tomorrow morning teachers will be working with the middle school ​faculty on developing a common understanding of the standards and performance indicators we are using, and on scoring criteria that measure students' proficiency in those indicators.

There is also a faculty meeting tomorrow afternoon from 2:15 to 3:30. On the agenda: Analysis of SAT data from 2016 test administration, and planning for next steps.

Have an engaging and engaged week.
Week Ahead, December 12-16
Week Ahead, December 12-16
It certainly looks like we will be adding some snow to the cold tonight. I won't be foolish enough to make a prediction on how much snow, and what impact it might have on tomorrow's school day. I will just remind us all--the Blue/Gold calendar has been set for the year--so when you get to the part of this message that's about the rotation for the week, please remember that the schedule you see there remains in place, snow or not. (If you're confused--even if we are canceled tomorrow, Tuesday will still be a Gold day.)

A month or so ago I included mention of the "Screenagers" documentary, which explores the role of technology in the lives of teenagers today. We are still exploring a way to bring that documentary to Lake Region, and we are still talking, as parents, teachers, students, and a community, about the appropriate role of devices in students' lives.

This recent article about the impact of blue screens on sleep adds another perspective on that question. I know at least one parent has banned phones from her kids' bedrooms and makes them plug them in in another room. Given the findings mentioned in this article, I wonder if I should do the same with mine? Maybe we should consider a whole school event where we have phone-free nights for a week and see what happens?

The aforementioned rotation for the week. Again--remember that these days WILL NOT CHANGE in the event of a cancellation.

Faculty Council will meet tomorrow if we are in. Agenda: Follow up on Home/School Communication; Flex Time planning; preparation for upcoming late arrival days.
As we wave goodbye to Homecoming for another year, I want to make one more plug for us all to consider what we can learn about engagement in schooling from events like those of last week. Spectating at the various activities and events, I was struck again and again by the energy of students, and in particular by the energy of students who sometimes struggle to maintain interest or enthusiasm for everyday academics.

Certainly, events like Homecoming ask students to utilize modern day crosscurricular skills like creativity, collaboration, and communication, and that is part of their power. So, too, is the element of authentic community mindedness. I invite us all to think, again, about what other elements drove our engagement last week--not necessarily with an eye to recreating them absolutely, but at least to considering how the impulses and thinking behind them might infuse our everyday work.

Engagement is a theme this year, of course, and it is the theme of two pieces for your consideration this week--one of which is reflected in an image/article that is very personal for me.
​The time capsule my classmates and I buried, referred to in the article, is being exhumed this month. Crazy! My friend Kristi and I were trying to remember what might be in there--so far, the only thing we have come up with is a memory of making a video inspired by Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun".

The second piece is about an initiative in DC public schools to have all students experience two study-abroad trips before graduation.

Just to reiterate-- the point is not to argue that we should be doing either of these things in Lake Region (but wouldn't it be nice to be taking everyone abroad twice????). The point is--what is it that is represented in this thinking that we might use to inform our own planning about providing engaging experiences for students?

The schedule for this week:

Students, note that you don't have school on Friday, or on Monday of next week.

Teachers, our day on Friday will run from 8:00 to 3:00. More info coming later this week.

Everyone, have an engaging week.
Good morning! As many of you are probably already aware, after discussions with the superintendent and leadership team for the district, Lake Region is taking the first of what will be many steps to explore changing the start time at the middle and high schools.

If this research (click anywhere on this message to access the link) from the American Academy of Pediatrics is right, most of the teenagers receiving this email are still asleep at 9:30 on Sunday morning, or perhaps just waking up.

Late sleep on the weekends is one of those stereotypical "teenager" phenomenons our society recognizes and, in many cases, links to bad decision making or laziness in teenagers. Scientific evidence demonstrates that teenagers do, in fact, make bad decisions, based on the developmental progress of their brains (more on that topic next week!); however, scientific evidence also demonstrates that teenagers experience a shift in sleep cycle and circadian rhythm that makes it difficult for them to fall asleep early enough to get a solid 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep prior to a morning wake up time that will get them to school ready to learn at 7:30 a.m.

In my first week ahead of the year, I shared a story about schools in Colorado that have changed their start time in the light of the research findings I summarized above. Since then, people in the LRHS community have shared articles with me about similar shifts that have occured or are being explored much closer to home--in Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Yarmouth, Cumberland, North Yarmouth, and Oxford Hills. The rumors I hear say that Bonny Eagle is planning to make the change as well.

All of those stories highlight a set of concerns that we will certainly need to consider if we are to make a change, including transportation, athletics, and family based scheduling and child care issues.

Some of these discussions and decisions may be challenging and even emotional, and, unfortunately, there is no option in front of us that will work universally well for all stakeholders. That includes keeping things "as is", which shortchanges about 1000 students from accessing their educations at a learning time that is optimal for their brains, not to mention those families for whom the 6:30 pickup/3:00 drop off is not ideal.

This leaves us at a place where some of the NEASC work that culminated in the visiting team work last week has also taken us--to the need for us to (re)consider our core values and beliefs as a district. What are our values and beliefs in regard to decisions like changing the time of school? Do we believe, at one extreme, that we should follow absolutely the established routines and wishes of the community? Or do we believe, at the other extreme, that we should pursue, irregardless of conflicts, what works best for students? Or do we find a way to compromise?

Later this week, I will be emailing parents, students, and board members a quick, one question survey to gauge where we are as a school community in supporting this change (staff have already responded to the survey). That survey will point you to a box at lrhs.lakeregionschools.org, where you can find links to a handful of articles about the question of what time school should start. I hope you will all take the time to consider them, and to weigh in on the survey with your initial feelings about this question.


Schedule for the week. Note that, for the first time this month, we are beginning the week on a gold day!


Students, this means, all work that you want included in the quarter one progress snapshot must be turned in by 2:00 p.m. on Friday.

Teachers, the meeting Monday will occur in departments. Leaders will receive materials for that work later today.

Thursday is picture retake day.

Have a great and productive week.
Homecoming is here!

But, before I communicate a bit about the traditions and events of this week, I want to expand some on the question I brought up last week of how to approach the design of the high school experience to bring it up to 21st century standards.

The article I shared used the metaphor of the cookie cutter, and argued that high schools should no longer be (or maybe, should never have been) focused on stamping education out with a cookie cutter--making every student the same. The idea of the cookie cutter seems to carry with it the idea of an "average" student we should use to drive all of our decisions.

This TEDx Talk--"The Myth of Average"--makes a compelling argument that designing high school to meet the needs of the average student means, essentially, that we have designed high school for no one, because there is no student who fits into the idea of average.

What would we change if we were to follow Todd Rose's argument and design "to the edges"--trying to meet the needs of our most successful and our most struggling students at the same time? What is the high school equivalent of adjustable seats? Would we, by planning to the extremes, find ourselves doing better by all students?

Here's the Gold/Blue rotation for the week.

The dress up days are as follows:
Monday, September 26 PJ Monday
Tuesday, September 27 Tie Dye Tees
Wednesday, September 28 America ~ Red, White & Blue (No Flags)
Thursday, September 29 Black Out Day
Friday, September 30 Blue & Gold Day

Faculty Council meets Monday, 2:15-3:30 in the Library Classroom. Agenda to follow.

The NEASC Visiting Committee chair, Mickey Beebe, will be with us Monday for her previsit check-in.

I'd like to challenge everyone to check out at least one Homecoming athletic event this week. You can find the complete list of those competitions here:


Have a great Homecoming week!
Last week in our first student cabinet meeting of the year, I asked students to give feedback on what have been the four main areas of school improvement focus thus far: Proficiency Based Diploma, educator development, stakeholder engagement, and culture/climate. I will share the results of their feedback when I can add the notes from the conversation we had afterwards.

As always, I thought the students were impressively thoughtful and surprisingly insightful and observant, particularly about what instructional strategies were most engaging and effective for them. Our students can tell you about the general flow of their classes, and about educator choices that work well for them as well as about choices that don't...

Which is why I don't feel at all guilty sharing a summary of an article (I'm still working on getting access to the actual article, if anyone wants to see it) this week that speaks explicitly to questions of teaching practice. As educators, we want students to know things, but we also know that knowledge is important because knowledge allows you to DO things. Getting Students Thinking At Higher Levels addresses the question: How do we ensure that we are asking students to do more than remember or understand? How do we ensure that students can do things with what we teach them?

The schedule for the week is as below

For those who are able to give, the Blood Drive is happening Friday.

I encourage all of us, looking ahead to the furor of the visit from the NEASC accreditation visiting team next week, to take some time this week to relax, look at the leaves, and, of course, support our athletic teams in their efforts this week, which you can find a schedule for here:


Have a great week!
I have, in the past, shared my impatience with the "failing schools" narrative that has prevailed for at least 30 years now in talk about education in America (the narrative has probably existed longer than that--but I think the modern era of failing schools rhetoric begins with A Nation at Risk in 1983).

That narrative has had a particularly pernicious impact on the recent history of Lake Region High School, as well as on that of High School in the Community in New Haven, where I worked before I came here. My dislike of it is personal, then, at least in part, but I hope it is also pragmatic. Having had direct experience with two schools identified as "failing" and consequently subjected to intensive and painful interventions, I have deep doubts about the balance of positive and negative changes that ensued after these "failing school turnarounds". What's more, the shamefully limited research that has been done on other schools that have endured (and I choose that word deliberately) a failing schools turnaround suggests that the money and effort have had dubious results.

I am all for change. I am all for an honest accounting of a school's challenges and successes (I am, in fact, far more likely to focus on the challenges than I am on the successes, which is not ultimately a good thing). I am all for using our identification of successes and challenges to develop a plan for creating positive change.

I can't help but notice, though, that despite all the talk about failing schools (turnaround and otherwise)--high schools still operate on very much the same systems and premises as they have since at least the end of World War II, if not since the Progressive Era reforms of 100 years ago. For my money--If there's any failure that has occurred in schooling in my lifetime, it's that we are now solidly into the 21st century and are still offering a largely 20th century educational model.

This past Monday was the second convening of the White House Summit on Next Generation High Schools, which purports to be tackling this very problem. You can read a bit about one organization's take on the idea of Next Generation schools here. I, for one, applaud the idea of getting rid of the cookie cutters, and thinking more about personalization, new definitions of proficiency/mastery, and an increased focus on individual student development--and I ask you to consider:

What should 21st century schools look like? How are we using what we know about how teenagers learn, what they should learn, why they should learn, etc., to create a better schooling opportunity for them?
And so, with the threat of another wet Senior Awareness hike before me, I send the Week Ahead a little earlier than usual...

Thanks to all who weighed in on the question of trying to institute a later start time for LRHS next year--particularly to those who shared other articles of more local interest. If you didn't catch those, you can find them here: http://bangordailynews.com/2016/09/09/the-point/teens-in-southern-maine-are-starting-class-later-heres-how-we-made-830-a-m-work/?ref=The%20PointBox

and here: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/04/later-school-start-times-yield-teachable-moments/

This question--like most of the questions I pose and articles I post in these weekly messages--goes to the challenge our superintendent gave us on the first day: How do we engage students? What can we do to make the high school experience more meaningful and successful for them?

It is an essential challenge in the schooling enterprise, no doubt--and one not made any easier by the fact that, as tempting as it is to believe that what happens at school is the only factor in the education of students, they live in the world and they live in homes and with families, and that living outside of school also plays a major, and even a direct, role in whether or not students engage their educations.

Which leads to another perennial favorite topic for these messages--the ongoing research about the impacts of outside events and realities on students' ability to learn. A couple of recent pieces on this topic can be found at




Without overselling or overdramatizing, I will say that we have certainly seen our share of students in the first two weeks of school whose lives outside of school have created an educational context that has made it difficult for them to engage with us right now. And, of course, these are the students whose situations are acute enough that we know about them...which leaves the questions:

How many of our students are struggling with issues that make educational engagement a secondary challenge?

As we work in the coming months to meet this year's engagement challenge, what can we do to address the outside-of-school factors that impact what is happening in school?

The rotation for the week is as follows:

Parents, we look forward to seeing you at Open House on Wednesday from 5:00 to 8:00!
Laker Week Ahead, September 6-9
Laker Week Ahead, September 6-9
NOTE: I don't usually update these--but I became aware after I sent this that another article had appeared in the Portland Press Herald on the same subject, but talking about changes that have happened much closer to home. You can find that article at http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/04/later-school-start-times-yield-teachable-moments/


I must say--I think it is nice that the calendar allows us the time to ease back in to the hard work of classes every day. Is everyone ready to try 4 days this week? ☺

And speaking of time--it is the subject about which I have probably shared more articles than any other. I know that at least once last year I shared an article about the research basis for starting high school later, and since it is that time of year when the start time of high school is on everyone's mind, the articles are winding around again. You can read about what's behind the scenes in two Colorado districts contemplating a later start time in this article.

This is a favorite issue for me--one many of you have probably heard me talk about. There are certainly big and important obstacles to making a change--family schedules, school buses, athletics and extracurriculars, etc.--and I am not insensitive to those issues. Making a change would be difficult, and have repercussions beyond the bells of the high school.

I do feel that it is my obligation to come back to it, however, because there is a big issue on the other side that seems to me to trump everything--namely, that research shows that teenagers learn better and more later in the day than they do at earlier start times. Any change that we can make that will improve students' engagement and achievement, and that can bring our practices in line with researched best practice, bears deep examination.

What changes are we willing to accept to get that result?

August 28, 2016
August 28, 2016
The 16-17 school year is upon us! Is it just me--or did the summer fly by too quickly? I hope it was at least replenishing for everyone, and that we are ready to come back with fresh attitudes, energy, and ambitions for ourselves and for each other.

On the last day for teachers last year, the LRHS faculty sat together and reflected on our successes from last year. Hearing that list of accomplishments is always powerful, and there was much to celebrate in the work that we did, as well, of course, as hints and teases of what we might like to accomplish in the future.

One comment in that reflection that stuck with me was from a teacher who talked about how her experience with a particular group of students had been far more productive and positive than she had first expected it might be, given the perceptions of that group that had been shared with her as they have progressed through school.

I have thought a lot about what that teacher's experience means for all of us and for the work that we undertake every day. I don't need to tell anyone, I suppose, that living in a small community like Lake Region can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we know each other well, and I firmly believe those kinds of relationship bonds are essential in a successful educational program. On the other hand, that broad knowledge can lead us sometimes to assume that our perceptions, and the shared perceptions of others, are the end of the story. Without meaning to, we might prejudge--a student, a group, a situation--and forget the first rule of working with people: there are always at least two sides to any story.

Shortly after that reflective exercise, I came across this blog post (
http://smartbrief.com/original/2016/06/tale-two-stories) on the topic of how we think about students and their stories, and I earmarked it as a great reading to start the year.

It speaks volumes of our commitment, and of our reflective and ever improving practice, to acknowledge another side of the story, as that teacher did last year--so much so that I want to challenge all of us--teachers, students, parents, and community--to commit to a "multiple stories" mindset throughout the year, and to continue to ask ourselves: What is the other side of this story? What is another way of thinking about this?

Here's the story for this week:


--Teachers and staff return to work.

--8:30-12:30 Districtwide Opening Day Activities--see attached Opening Sessions calendar

--12:30-2:45 Educator directed preparation and collaboration work


--7:15-10:30 Educator directed preparation and collaboration work

--10:30-1:00ish LRHS Faculty Meeting (agenda to follow--lunch provided)

--1:00-3:00 Educator directed preparation and collaboration work


--Students return to school!

--7:30 All students and teachers in gym for opening convocation

--8:15-2:00 Schedule to follow--All classes, including Advisory, will meet. (Classes will meet for approximately 25 minutes each.)


--BLUE DAY; Advisory activity in Acceleration Block


--NO SCHOOL! Enjoy your holiday weekend.

If you haven't yet--be sure to check out the updated website at lrhs.lakeregionschools.org, for information on upcoming school and athletic events.

Have a great week!
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