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Principal's Message

11 hours ago

Week Ahead, October 16-20

As so often happens when I write here about a particular topic, related articles seem to pop up all over the place.

And so, following up on last week's article, this Q + A with a neurologist who studies teenage brains goes a bit more in depth on both the biology of the brain development and on the implications of this developmental reality.  

Although some of this information overlaps with what I sent last week, I was particularly struck by Dr. Jensen pointing out repeatedly that teenagers love to think about and learn about themselves.  The question worth repeating for the rest of us non-teenagers is, how do we leverage that interest into ensuring that our students know all they need to know about how their brains work and how best to develop them?

Here's the calendar for the week:

Note picture retake day on Friday.

Faculty Council will meet tomorrow from 2:15 to 3:30.

Have a great week.
A. Erik Good

Week Ahead, October 10-13

I hope everyone enjoyed the extra long weekend.  Even if the weather wasn't as pleasant as was originally felt forecast, I definitely felt a decrease in stress.

Last week I asked about how we should talk to students about stress, and empower them to overcome it.  One key factor in any answer we develop is how we understand--how WELL we understand--how the teenage brain works.

Perhaps the most common lament among the school- and home-based adults who work with teenagers is that "they just don't think ahead."  This observation is, sadly, true--it is also, unfortunately, not really within the control of the teenagers in question.  

For all their ability to hold intelligent, reasonable conversations with us, and sometimes to backtalk us in ways that we wish they wouldn't, there's plenty of science to say that, developmentally, the teenage brain is actually not fully formed in the regions that would allow them to consider things like long-term consequences.

This reality about adolescent brain development has major implications for schooling and school policy, as this commentary notes.  I have spoken often in these messages about the research regarding school start time, but the realities of teenage brains call into question many other aspects of our high school program.

What would high school look like if we designed it to match what we know about how teenage brains develop?  How well are we doing at teaching students how their brains work, how to set goals, how to self-reflect?  How are we honoring the emotional development of students' brains and supporting what needs to happen to grow their executive functioning capacity?

Perhaps we start this week, by asking--what have you accomplished so far this year?  What are your goals for the next month?

Here's the schedule: 

No faculty meeting this week; faculty council meets next Monday.

Have a great week.​

A. Erik GoodPrincipal

Week ahead, october 2-5

The magic of Homecoming is officially done, and this Homecoming was particularly magical.  On top of the great student participation in decorating, skits, and dressing up, each and every Laker team notched a victory during Homecoming week.  Great work, everyone!

Last week I shared an article arguing that teenagers today are "growing up" more slowly than previous generations, and wondering, as always, what that might mean for our work as a school.  One corollary to that argument is the statistical rise in reports of anxiety and "stress" in teenagers, and a concern that students today are not well-equipped to handle their stress.

Certainly, we get reports of--or see with our own eyes, in many cases--the impact of stress on our students.  Many comments in last year's student survey mentioned stress, and particularly landed on the idea that as a school we are not supporting students in dealing with the stress they face in and out of school.

How do we talk to students about stress, and how do we best support them in feeling like they can overcome it?  This article has some suggestions for all of us (students too!) to consider--and it just happens to fit nicely with the work we are doing this year in developing students' abilities to work through their problems independently, rather than looking to adults to solve them.

Perhaps everyone's stress will be reduced a bit because there is no school for students on Friday?  Monday through Thursday looks like this:

Faculty will meet from 2:15 to 3:30 in 161/162; we will be refining SOP's and proficiency based classroom practices.

The athletics schedule for the week is here.

Everyone have a great week!

A. Erik Good

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Homecoming Week Ahead, September 25-29

As we continue forward with developing our Proficiency Based Diploma practices at LRHS, an ongoing focus has been our work in developing "student agency"--the skills, habits, and mindsets that students are responsible for their own learning and able to manage it independently for the rest of their lives.

Developing this independence is arguably our most important task as an educational institution--the greatest marker of whether we have been successful with our students or not.  The challenge of that--as this article (thanks to Roger Smith for sharing something he is using in Psychology!) discusses--is that what we mean by independence is in many ways culturally and contextually determined.  

For example--I know many parents have communicated to me that they don't want their student present in conversations about the student's academic progress, for various reasons.  There are certainly conditions and situations where not including a high school student in a discussion of his or her progress might be appropriate, but it is certainly not a strategy that promotes the student's independence or agency.  

A "slower" growing up process should inform our efforts to develop student agency, and may actually cause us to pull back on some efforts, but the overall question is the one implied by the article--How do we make sure that teens eventually get the opportunity to develop the skills they will need as adults: independence, along with social and decision-making skills?

It is Homecoming week, with tons of activities scheduled throughout.  

Some of the particulars follow.

Dress up days:Monday 9/25 'Merica Day (red,white,blue)

Tuesday 9/26 - Tourist Day

Wednesday 9/27 - PJ Day

Thursday 9/28 - Trick or Treat Day (must be able to see face)

Friday 9/29 - Blue & Gold Day

Other Events:Parade is Thursday 9/28 at 6:30 at Highland Lake Beach to Stevens Brook Elementary with bonfire at 7:00 and back to high school for gym decorating until 10:30 PM

Pep Rally will be Friday at 12:50 in the gym

Dance is Saturday, September 30 from 7 - 10 PMT

Faculty Council will meet from 2:15 to 3:30, to hammer out action steps for the initiatives listed on the Vision and Growth Plan.

It will be a busy and fun week--everyone, have a great one!

A. Erik Good


Lake Region High School

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One week ago, at almost exactly this time, I was hiking with the seniors up South Baldface.  For those who haven't been, it's a fairly strenuous hike, especially when you get to the part that is all rock.  At some point, I made a joking comment about being done climbing, and needing to be carried up the rest of the way.  One of the seniors in that moment through my opening day words back at me.  For those who weren't present, those words were these:

This is important.  You can do it.  I won't give up on you.  It's okay to make mistakes here.

The first three of these statements come from the Skillful Teacher course that many SAD 61 teachers have taken, and are intended to represent the fundamental messaging we want to establish from teacher to student.

The fourth I encountered in a workshop last May, and it stuck with me.  On the one hand, it doesn't quite fit with the simple boosterism of the other three; on the other hand, its message is in some ways the key to making the other three work.  

That is the central point of this article about studies showing the power of mistakes in the learning process--basically, that making mistakes actually increases our absorption of knowledge and skills.  

Of course, like everything in education, much depends on how we experience and process our mistake making.  Are we focused on the embarrassment (hopefully not the humiliation) of the moment, or are we focused on giving and receiving feedback that will help us move forward?  What does that kind of feedback look like, and what is required of us to help all the members of our community be okay with making mistakes, learning from them, and moving on?

Here's our daily schedule for the week:

TEACHERS:  We will meet from 2:15 to 3:30 in the LRVC Great Room; you will want your laptops.  Agenda forthcoming tonight.

PARENTS:  Parent Advisory meets Thursday at 3:30 in the Guidance Conference Room.

OTHER ACTIVITIES:  Schedule for the Week.​

Homecoming next week!

Everyone, have a great week.

Week Ahead, September 15-21

In a recent conversation, someone (I can't remember who, or I would be giving credit where it is due) told me that a recent report had suggested that sitting was the new smoking--meaning, the widely dispersed human behavior with terrible impact on our overall health and wellbeing.

I have seen lots of recent reports (none of which I can find now, of course) on research saying that teenagers should not sit for more than 15 minutes at a time, and adults for not more than 20.  The frequent physical activity keeps not only the body but the mind working effectively--cognition, achievement, and overall wellbeing are improved by frequent movement breaks.  

I have tried to keep the need for movement in mind not only for myself in my workday, but in my planning for both student and adult events to start the year.  It is a completely different way of thinking about how to organize time, for sure, but not as difficult as I thought it might be to incorporate movement without completing disrupting the flow of our work.  

I don't know that it's necessary or even feasible to go as far as the schools in this article have gone to ensure that students have regular movement opportunities, but I have to wonder, as I did last week--to what extent is the lack of scheduled movement in the traditional schoolday impairing cognition and achievement in ways that we don't even realize?

I also wanted to follow up with one more article about projections of the vast economic benefits of changing to a later start time for school, just for another point of view.

This week ahead is a day ahead, because I will be moving with the seniors on senior awareness tomorrow and Monday; for the rest of us, the schedule will be as follows:

Faculty Council WILL meet Monday, 2:15-3:30.  I will send the agenda from the previous meeting, which featured many unfinished tasks, just as a reminder.

Don't forget Open House on Wednesday from 5:30-7:30 in the gym.

Everyone, have a great week.​

Week Ahead, September 5-8

As we all adjust to the reintroduction of "school time" at the commencement of another school year, I am always prompted to think about time and how we use it.

In particular, it wouldn't really be the beginning of a school year if I didn't talk about the issue of school start time.  At this point, as most of you know, many districts in Maine have transitioned to a later start time for high school, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control.  Articles about these start time changes at many different locations are collected on the LRHS website, and I add these two new ones for your consideration as well: Pediatricians say teens should sleep in. Schools won’t let them and, lest I be accused of only sharing one side of the story, Many Parents not Happy with Later School Start Times.

Change is certainly uncomfortable, if not painful, and I do understand that this change would ripple through with impact on other parts of our community.  I just can't help but come back, over and over, to the fact that this isn't a matter of preference--it's a matter of recommendations about health and wellness from doctors.  The current start time is longstanding, and many might contend that it has always worked fine--but I wonder--what impact are we having on students and learning by going against this medical advice?

I have more thoughts on time next week, but for this week, it's time to share the blue/gold calendar, and to note that we start our "regular" schedule this week:

Note Picture Days Thursday and Friday.

The schedule for athletics is attached below, but it does look like it will be a pretty stormy week, so watch out for cancellations.

Have a great "first week" of school!

Week Ahead, August 28-31

Is everyone excited for the start of the 2017-2018 school year?

While I definitely feel that my summer could have been longer and featured a LOT more relaxation, I am monumentally pumped for what we are going to accomplish this year in our first year of a true proficiency based system.

There are lots of pieces to that, and part of me feels like I should be using this time to try to convey them all to everyone--but in the Faculty Council meeting Wednesday, as we were talking through different ideas for what we might do on the first day with students, someone commented that we should KEEP IT SIMPLE.

There isn't much simple about what we have in front of us, but that reminder is potent, all the same.  And so, if I think about the simplest but most powerful piece of what's ahead, I would say, this year we are going to work hard to build powerful positive relationships with every student.  

We do this both because I have always believed in the power of relationships, and because their importance was reinforced for me recently in an email and infographic that was shared with me from Search Institute.

Many of us already feel the benefit of strong relationships; too many of us may feel that we are not really connected in a meaningful way with anyone at LRHS.  

What will it take for you to improve your relationship status?

Ok, on to schedule:


Monday, 7:30-11:30  Districtwide meeting, Auditorium and Gym

Monday, 12:00-3:00  LRHS staff meeting, LRVC Great Room.  Agenda to follow.

Tuesday, 12:30-3:00  LRHS staff meeting, LRVC Great Room.  Agenda to follow tomorrow.

Students and teachers:

Wednesday:  All students and teachers begin in gym; shift to advisory, and then to brief ~15 minutes) visits to all 8 periods.  Exact schedule to come.

Thursday:  All 8 periods will meet again, for ~35 minutes.  Exact schedule to come.

Regular class schedule--Blue Day--begins Tuesday, September 5, after the holiday weekend.

Looking forward to a great week!

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Proficiency Based Learning

5 days ago

Transforming to Proficiency:  Element 1

Standards and Indicators

What are graduation standards and performance indicators?

Graduation standards reflect the broad, integrated concepts of each discipline and require students to demonstrate, apply, and evaluate knowledge in multiple ways—what we refer to as “transfer.” Performance indicators break down the more comprehensive graduation standards into learnable and measurable targets. They target knowledge applications from classroom assignments, projects, and assessments over a range of courses and throughout a student’s high school years. Over time, Demonstration Tasks on performance indicators are used to certify achievement of a graduation standard.

You can see samples of the relationship between standards, performance indicators, and learning targets here.

Why are graduation standards and performance indicators important?

The work of identifying standards and performance indicators is the foundation of the first three Principles of Proficiency Based Learning:  Clear Learning Expectations; Common Standards; and Standards-Based Reporting.  Identifying the standards and performance indicators we will work with allows us to communicate clear and consistent learning expectations with each other, and to students and families.  It ensures that all students will be measured on knowing and being able to do the same things, and that reports on learning will be based on their progress towards a clear and common end result.

What supports and resources will help to create and house the identification of standards and performance indicators?

For a broad overview of the work entailed in developing standards and performance indicators, you can check out this webinar:

Webinar:  Proficiency-Based Learning Simplified: Developing Effective Graduation Standards and Performance Indicators

Additionally, these resources will support the process of developing standards and performance indicators:

Development Resources: 

And, these resources represent the existing bank of standards and performance indicators from which you can draw:

Standards Resources:

Once identified, standards and performance indicators will be uploaded to the platforms we use to document curriculum and instruction and to report grades.  Right now, that list includes Infinite Campus, Rubicon Atlas, and Schoology.

If I wanted to learn more about this, what other learning opportunities could I look for to deepen my understanding?

The Great Schools Partnership ( and the League of Innovative Schools (LIS) member site at the New England Secondary Schools Consortium (; username: lakeregionme; password: nessc1) have tons of resources available on every aspect of Proficiency Based Learning.  

To better grasp the context, meaning, and implications of content area standards, there are any number of workshops and conferences devoted to disseminating and unpacking those standards.  The standards websites listed above may contain links to those learning opportunities; so too will the websites and publications for the content area professional associations.

And, of course, many schools in Maine are doing this work.  You can always check out the websites of other schools and districts in the area, and from the list of schools on the LIS website, for examples of how others have identified their standards and indicators.

If I have more questions or need support, whom can I ask at LRHS?

At this point, most of the content leaders have had at least some exposure to the concepts of standards and performance indicators in a professional learning context.  If they don’t have the answer, you should bring your questions right to Erik and Maggie.

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