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Principal's Message

over 2 years ago

Happy New Year Week Ahead, January 2-5
The classic new year's tune asks

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

Both in the song, and, I believe, in our approach to the holidays, the new year always begs the question: should we forget old acquaintances and old times, or should we hold onto them?  

This question is at the heart of this recent musing on what schools have let go and held on to over the years, considering decades and even centuries of schooling.  

Steven Wolk laments that school has not changed nearly as much as it should have in order to keep up with the changes in the wider world.  But I wonder, as we move into a new year--and without pushing change simply for the sake of changing--what is worth keeping from the past, and what should be let go?  How does school need to change in order to prepare students for the world we live in now?

The perseveringly cold week ahead will follow this schedule:

Be sure to check out the athletic schedule for the coming week at this link.

Everyone, whether you are hanging on or letting go to auld acquaintance and auld lang syne, stay warm, and have a happy, safe, and prosperous New Year, beginning with a great week!

A. Erik Good

Last Week of 2017 Ahead, December 18-22

​For many of us, the end of the year triggers reflection on the past and setting goals for the future--specific "resolutions" for the new year, or maybe just (re)commitment to where we would like to be a year from now.

It was, obviously, with eyes to the future that I shared the article last week about expanded learning opportunities at Traip Academy, and suggested that, as we increase students' specific understanding of what we want them to know and be able to do before they graduate, we empower them develop their own ways of developing the knowledge and skills we want them to demonstrate.

Expanding learning opportunities beyond the walls of the school goes hand in hand with expanding learning opportunities within the walls of the school, and within the walls of the classroom, as the New Hampshire school profiled in this radio story has attempted to do.

If one of our overall goals as a high school is to prepare students to manage their learning and lives independently, it seems to me that we have to become more personalized in our classrooms.  In the coming year(s), how will we build more opportunities (or should it be requirements?) for students to pursue and achieve learning goals independently before they graduate, rather than marching them through a one-size-fits-all program for 13 years and hoping for the best once they have their diplomas in hand?  

A year from now, I hope LRHS will have made some steps towards answering that question.

Our schedule for this last week of 2017 is as follows:

​Everyone, make the most of this last week, and have a safe, relaxing, and happy holiday!
A. Erik Good

Week Ahead, December 11-15

For those who may be interested in follow ups to the NPR story I shared last week about Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., this article talks about how the district is responding, and contains links to other pieces examining the tension between graduation rates and college and career readiness.

I debated whether or not to send the Ballou story last week.  On the one hand, the story raised questions that are important for the Lake Region community, and all school communities, to discuss--particularly inasmuch as it exposed the unspoken consequences of an intense focus on graduation rates as a measure of schools.  

On the other hand, I am also wary of contributing to narratives that demonize schools.  Whatever actually happened at Ballou, it seems clear to me that the people involved on all sides were trying to do what they thought was best for students.  It is an indicator of the complexity of education that there can be such strongly competing views of what's right and what's important.  Stories like Ballou's can contribute powerfully to the idea that public schools are failing, and that those who work in public schools are reckless, irresponsible, or incompetent.

Advancing that idea is the last thing I would ever want to do, so it seems time now to pick up a more positive narrative, about a school closer to home. 

One of the the main advantages of the proficiency system is that it is driven, first and foremost, by making learning expectations clear and transparent.  This clarity helps students and homes understand exactly what successful learning looks like.  Improved understanding can empower students, homes, and schools to identify different, extended options for reaching learning expectations--as it has in the expanded learning opportunities program at Traip Academy discussed in this article

As we polish and refine our own transition to the clear learning expectations of the LRHS proficiency model, we, too, will be asking the questions underlying the ELO program at Traip and other schools who have adopted the model:  What opportunities outside of traditional classes exist for students to show what they know and are able to do?  Where do the expectations of our standards intersect with individual student's interests and strengths, and how can we integrate them?

In the meantime--the schedule this week is as follows:

Faculty Council meets Monday from 2:15 to 3:30 in the library classroom.  Agenda includes conversations about Pace Marks, report cards, and bell schedule.​

Everyone, have a great week.
A. Erik Good

Week Ahead, December 4-8

To begin, a reminder and a small correction:

We have updated Schoology to improve the clarity of the pace marks.  As a result of the update, the previously entered pace marks are not currently accurate.

Teachers will be updating Schoology today and tomorrow, and by 2:00 p.m. Monday (this is a correction of the originally communicated time), pace marks will be accurate again.

As you may have heard me say before, as a former English teacher, I believe strongly in the power of narrative.  The stories we hear and tell have an enormous impact on our beliefs in both conscious and unconscious ways.  One such narrative in the education world is the story of graduation rates.

Graduation rates are an important component in determining school quality.  (If you're wondering, our most recently calculated, for the class of 2016, was 86%, roughly on par with the state of Maine.)  We want all of our students to graduate, and spend a lot of time and energy supporting students in walking across the stage.  It's easy, even, to say that getting students to graduation is our first and most important goal.

But, as graduation rates have been discussed more and more, and more and more meaning--including rewards and punishments--has been assigned to that number, an inevitable problem has emerged, as this recent radio story about a high school in Washington, DC highlights.

I remembering hearing about Ballou High School before, in a story celebrating their 100% graduation rate and college acceptance rate.  I also remember thinking when I heard it, I don't hear anyone asking if 100% of those graduates have the academic and executive functioning skills to be successful in college.  

As I said above--we want all of our students to graduate.  I believe we also want all of our graduates to be equipped with knowledge, skills, and habits that will enable them to succeed once they leave us.  Given the intense scrutiny of graduation rates, it would be easy for us at Lake Region to do what Ballou seems to have done--essentially, to invent reasons for students to graduate, no matter what they have or have not learned.  It's not clear to me, however, that doing this is in the best interest of students, or the school, or the community.  

What should be our first priority as a school--getting students to graduate, or getting students prepared for what is next?  When we have to choose between one or the other, which should give way?

This week, we will pursue our paths to graduation on the following schedule:


Note the Holiday Concert on Thursday evening from 7-9.
Our boys and girls basketball teams begin their regular season schedules on Friday night in the LRHS gym against Gray-New Gloucester, beginning at 5:30.
Faculty will meet Monday from 2:15 to 3:30.  Agenda to follow.
Everyone, have a great week!
A. Erik Good

Week Ahead, November 27-December 1

A few weeks back, I referenced a comment taken from the student survey administered last year, which raised questions about how we build relationships with students that take into account issues they bring to school from their lives.  
The other main theme running through those survey comments had to do with how well LRHS is preparing students for "real world" proficiencies--managing a budget, managing a home, etc.  Many students expressed concern at feeling unprepared for life after high school, and questioned why we don't do more real world preparation.
It stands to reason that students who are on the verge of leaving the familiar (if not pleasant or comfortable) world of high school are feeling anxious about their level of preparation--I certainly remember feeling the same way at that age, as, I imagine, did all of us who have been through it.  To some extent, it's just part of the reality of transitioning from high school to after high school--a rite of passage, almost.  On the other hand, our students preparedness--including how prepared they feel--is certainly front and center in our thinking on a daily basis.  
Aside from the work we do daily in English, Math, Social Studies, Science, the Arts, PE, Languages, and Health--what are the skills that LRHS should commit to building in students to enable them to feel prepared for entering the real world?  This short article from a college dean suggests "Eight Skills Every Student Needs by 18."  Are these the skills on our students minds?  Are these the skills we value?  And, whose job is it to guide children in developing these skills?  Should the high school be responsible for them all, or is this an effort that extends to homes and the community?
Schedule for this week:

Faculty Council will meet Monday from 2:15 to 3:30.  Agenda includes reviewing SLOs of FC members in preparation for department review, and update on Core Values and Beliefs work.
Everyone, have a great week back.
A. Erik Good

Thanksgiving Week Ahead, November 23-24

Thanksgiving week marks the beginning of the winter holiday season.  The different religious and national holidays each carry their own themes--thankfulness, plenty, generosity, sacrifice, miracles, beginnings, etc.--but taken together, it seems to me they represent a time when we are encouraged to be especially reflective:  Who and what do I value?  With whom and where will I celebrate?  What is good, and not so good, in my life, and what might I do about it?

We've been reflecting on the school year thus far, too.  Our student/teacher/home conferences of last week featured, on initial count, at least one school/home conversation for about 25% of our students--not a bad number, but one we definitely have room to grow.  In addition to the conferences on student learning progress, the LRHS leadership team also reflected on our progress towards the many goals we have set for ourselves--including the goal of improving the quality of relationships between teachers and students, which I mentioned two weeks ago as well.

Relationship building is probably both the most complex and the most important thing we can do as a school.  It takes time to see and interact with every single student as an individual, but the payoff of that relationship is among the highest leverage instructional practices we can use.  

As we continue, in the coming weeks and throughout the rest of the year, to reflect on the practices and energy we spend on building relationships, this article by a community college professor about "What My Struggling Students Wanted Me to Understand" has some helpful feedback from students.  Although the article focuses particularly on responses college students in remedial classes, the takeaways feel important for all of us.  In particular, I was struck by what is probably the key question in relationship building:

"What do you really wish that I knew or understood?" 

Our short Thanksgiving week looks like this:

Faculty, as announced, there will be no formal meeting on Monday, but support and clarification will be available after school for finishing your Infinite Campus reporting for quarter 1.

Winter Sports preseason begins Monday, as another set of Laker teams gears up for competition and successful seasons.

Everyone, have a great week, and a happy Thanksgiving.

A. Erik Good

Week Ahead, November 13-17

This week, we are holding our first student/teacher/home conferences of the year.  The formulation may be strange to you (whatever happened to parent/teacher conferences?)--but the change is deliberate.

We put students first in the list because high school is the time--looking ahead to their graduation and the ceremonial, if not official, transition to adulthood--when we most consciously build up students' independence.  We want them to become responsible for recognizing their own progress, and for being able to plan for supports and assistance when they are needed.  To have conferences without students is to miss the opportunity to have that structured conversation with young adults about their academic progress.  We strongly encourage you to come to conferences with your student to help build that responsibility and independence!

The word "home" is a conscious replacement for "parent" because, as noted last week, for many students, home may not necessarily mean parents.  For many of our students, home is with parents; for others, home is with an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent, a sibling, or even with people who are not relatives but fill a supportive role.  All of these "home" people are important factors in our students' lives.

This conference will also be the first using Proficiency Based grades at the high school.  Many of you are already familiar with reporting on proficiencies from elementary and middle school, and if you are among those who regularly check student progress on Schoology, you have already begun to see them at the high school as well.  (NOTE:  Home folks--if you're not sure how to set up your Schoology account, please reach out to for guidance--she will also be available during conferences to do in person setup!).

This recent article about the expanding "competency" based system in New Hampshire contains an easy to follow explanation of the philosophy behind the change (New Hampshire uses the word competency instead of proficiency, but otherwise, the thinking is the same) . It also notes, at the end, the answer to what has always been the most urgent question asked by high school parents about the switch--what happens to college admissions?  I will quote Robert McGann, the director of admissions at the University of New Hampshire:

[Proficiency]-based transcripts are “not a pro or con in the admissions process...When I talk to my colleagues at different institutions, they uniformly tend to be very supportive of the concept behind it – the idea being that high schools are not going to be moving kids along until they’ve demonstrated a mastery of the topic at hand.”

I can tell you firsthand that I have seen students with PBL transcripts admitted at Ivy League schools; as McGann says, it's not a factor.  

We are already seeing the change in performance of students who are focused on learning what they need to know, as opposed to just averaging out to a passing grade, and we trust you will as well.  

What questions do you have about the Proficiency Based Learning system at LRHS?  Mrs. Thornton and I will be on hand to answer any questions at conferences on Tuesday from 2:30 to 6:00, and Thursday for 4:30 to 8:00.  We look forward to seeing you all there.

The schedule for this week:

Note that the fall drama production of The Man Who Came to Dinner opens this week as well.
Faculty Council meets Monday from 2:15-3:30 to review 1st quarter progress on our school improvement goals.
Everyone, have a great week!
A. Erik Good

Week Ahead, November 6-9

First off--If you haven't heard by now, we did reset the end of the quarter to this coming Tuesday, to accommodate the two days we were unexpectedly out of school last week.  All student work to be considered in the first quarter progress report must be submitted by 2:00 p.m. Tuesday.

I am sorry to see that CMP is still reporting about 250 customers in our four towns without power as of a few minutes ago.  I know you all join me in hoping for a speedy restoration of electricity for those last few of us.

I think I fully realized Friday just how much the aftermath of last Sunday night's storm had impacted me.  I was grouchy, I was pessimistic, I couldn't sit still, and I realized I had felt all week like I was not being productive.  I was always at least half focused on wondering if I would have heat and light and water when I got home, and dreading another evening of candlelight and cold and leftovers reheated on the grill if I didn't, so that I never felt like I was accomplishing anything.

Among the many takeaways from that (like how much we take electricity for granted!) were two big ones for our work as a school.

First, it is difficult to overestimate the impact that instability at home can have on our work at school.  I have read a lot in the past six years or so about "trauma informed" educational practices--about being aware of the difficult situations students may be experiencing outside the walls of the school, and building strategies for them to put those outside anxieties and stressors away (or at least to help reduce their impact) for the six and a half hours they are in school.  One of the most powerful comments on last year's student survey included a long and energetic accusation that we as a staff do not consider or care about the "real world" baggage students bring in with them every day.  It is certainly easy to forget, and its impact is easy to underestimate.  Last week reminded me of exactly what that baggage can mean as we try to get students to care about rhetorical analysis or chemical equations or supply and demand or conjugating French verbs.  What mechanisms and structures can we put in place to help us always remember to think about what's going on for students that we don't see?

Second, I thought about how much we rely on routines and systems and being able to count on knowing how things work, and how frustrating it can be to have those counted on understandings disrupted in any way.  Disruptions like last week's can be valuable--they help recalibrate our perspective on what is really important, and help us realize unhealthy dependencies that we may not have known we had.  When down becomes up, and up becomes down, and lights no longer turn on, we have to learn to adapt--and we do adapt, no longer how long it takes.  It reminded me of a video I had seen a while back about a "backwards bike"--where you steer right to go left, and left to go right--and how accommodating that disruption can make you smarter.  So, perhaps it's a bit too early to ask this, with some still waiting for the lights to come back on, but I invite all of us to think--How (How well?) did you tolerate disruption?  How did you adapt in ways that made you a little bit smarter, or more efficient, or more generous, or less wasteful?  What else do we take for granted, that might be luxury and not necessity?

This week's schedule looks like this:

Note that, in observance of Veteran's Day, there is no school on Friday.  On Thursday, we will have our annual Veteran's Day assembly in the gym at 12:45.  Classes will be called down after attendance is taken.

Everyone, have a great week.

End of Quarter 1 Week Ahead, October 30-November 3

First quarter ends this Friday, November 3, at 2:00.

What does that mean, exactly?

We will be preparing our quarterly snapshot of student progress.  You can, of course, always track student progress on Schoology (Folks at home, I highly recommend looking at progress WITH your student, especially for those of you who are not nimble with technology), but the quarterly mark allows us to get an overview of student progress as a school, as well as to begin to make the progress submissions that will eventually be reported on the transcript.

The deadline is the cutoff mark for work to be scored and reported on for first quarter.  In order for work to be included in the quarter 1 progress report, it must be submitted by 2:00 on Friday.  Teachers will not be required to include any work submitted after the deadline in the 1st quarter report; that work will be included next quarter.

This quarter will be the first time the high school will report solely proficiency based scores (about which I will say more next week).  We are, at long last, joining the elementary and middle schools in reporting on proficiency--what students have proven that they know and are able to do--instead of on a percentage of points earned out of an arbitrarily determined number of points possible.  

This switch is the most powerful component of the proficiency based transformation, and one that we have already seen in the transition of last year's freshmen.  Reporting on proficiency scores means students begin to talk to us (and to each other, and to people at home) about what they have learned and what they need to learn in order to have knowledge and capabilities for their futures.  This change of conversation replaces the talk that used to prevail at the end of the quarter, which was how to get enough points to be passing instead of failing.

It is a profound narrative shift, and one that I believe is inexorably changing the high school at experience at Lake Region very much for the better.  I don't have to tell you that there are many narratives about the high school out there--about the success of boys vs. girls, about communications between school and homes and homes and school, about the overall quality of the school--that could all stand to see some improvement.   

As a former English teacher, and as a voracious consumer of words, I know how much words and narratives matter. They help to shape not only our opinions, but our progress--just as they have in this video about a principal in Virginia who has worked to change the narrative at the schools he has led (thanks to Mr. Carlson for drawing it to my attention).

I personally find his style a bit intimidating--on top of his Paul True-like speaking style, I would definitely hurt myself if I tried to skateboard around the school!--but I like his focus on messages and words, and on the responses that we have to narrative.  He uses the word "relentless," which I think is a good word, but maybe not quite right for us?  What should our word be?  What are the words and thoughts that will drive our narrative shift, and support our improvement?

The schedule for the last week of the quarter is as follows:

Faculty Council will meet from 2:15 to 3:30 in the library classroom.  Agenda:  Continued work on the SIP.

Be sure to check out the calendar of upcoming events on the LRHS website--a Math Meet, and some field trips this week.

Everyone, have a great week.

Week Ahead, October 23-27

As you all may have seen, the results of last year's state testing were presented to the school board this past Monday evening, as they are every year around this time.

These results (if you missed them--5 point gains in both Reading + Writing and Mathematics) are one of many important indicators for us of whether our high school program is creating the outcomes we want to see.  They can feel particularly important, in fact, when the news is good, as it is this year.  Of course, they can also feel particularly important when the news is not good--which is difficult to remember sometimes.

Whether our test results are communicating good news or bad, they are not necessarily the best, and certainly should not be the only, indicator we look at in evaluating our school-- as this article reminds us.

This year, student, parent, and teacher groups are each looking at, and eventually choosing from, a range of indicators that will help to create a fuller picture of what's working well and what needs work at LRHS.  The goal setting and conferencing mentioned in the article are a key part of the proficiency transition and of the work that we committed to this year, and will definitely become a part of the full picture, but we will also be reaching out, in various ways, to all LRHS stakeholders, to ask: What else do we value, and believe should be measured and reported, in our evaluation of our school?  What's most important to students, to parents, to teachers, to the community?

Our program moves forward this week on the following schedule:

Faculty will meet from 2:15 to 3:30 in the LRVC Great Room.
A. Erik Good

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

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


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 increase 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 school day 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

over 2 years 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.