Sunday, April 18, 2021

High school students deserve to know the complete story about America

The Chauvin trial and high school: What does all of this say about the future of American democracy?

Minneapolis Public Schools announced Friday that school would be remote this week in anticipation of the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. MPS is providing resources for teachers to help students process their feelings while the potential for civil unrest grips the nation.

Chauvin, accused of using unreasonable force, leading to the death of George Floyd, faces up to forty years in prison if found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder. 

Regardless of the demographics of your school community, high school educators across the nation should be preparing for the Chauvin verdict with student’s needs in mind. Waiting for the national reaction of the verdict to start the conversation in classrooms would be a missed learning opportunity.  

The temptation to avoid the messy truth laid out in the trial of Derek Chauvin helps explain where we are today. 

 Teachers need support and advice 

The building culture, the norms and guidelines established in classrooms, and the level of support teachers have from colleagues, building administration, and district leadership should always be considered before tackling controversial issues in school. To have a learning environment rich with student voice, teachers should cultivate a safe space for students to ask questions, express fears, and learn from different perspectives.

Teacher Considerations:

  • Proactively meet with a building administrator for guidance and to potentially plan your classroom activities together. Consider inviting an administrator to be a part of the lesson. 
  • Do your research, and have a clear purpose for the lesson(s). Link the lesson to specific standards ahead of time. Explicitly state the reason for addressing the death of George Floyd and the relevance of the trial to student learning. Share the learning goals with students ahead of time.
  • Collaborate with colleagues to talk through ideas. Whether it’s tying in art, music, literature, history, or current events - teachers are great resources for finding ways to connect contemporary issues to students’ lives. There are excellent lesson ideas and strategies out there; it doesn’t make sense to go it alone.  
  • Allow time after any discussion and class activities to debrief and plan the next steps with your students. 
  • While the political climate may be polarized, students will benefit from a professional who models a caring and empathetic approach to navigating complex topics. A series of reflection activities will encourage students to explore the subject, consider new ideas and participate. 
  • Consider assigning pre-reading that provides facts, context, and careful treatment of the issue. Allow time for students to interact with facts and to have devoted class time to write and map out their questions before sharing ideas in class. 
  • Some students have experienced trauma and racism, making it critically important that students feel safe and valued in school. Seek guidance from your SEL or trauma-informed team at your school.   
  • Be prepared to learn from your students as they learn from one another. Students and adults who model the ability to change their minds in light of new learning provide hope for progress. 

Where this fits for today’s high school student

Playing it “safe” and ignoring George Floyd’s death in American high schools is quite dangerous. The temptation to avoid the messy truth laid out in the trial of Derek Chauvin helps explain where we are today. Learning how to share space with unresolved and contentious issues provides a path forward for a healthier democracy.

Regardless of the result of this trial, the United States has a troubled history with race and the justice system. Meeting this moment with honesty is an opportunity to help students recognize the complexity of our challenges as a nation.

Today’s high school seniors were in middle school when Eric Garner died at the hands of police in New York City and when Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. Since that time, most high school students also saw headlines related to Freddie Gray (Baltimore, 2015), Walter Scott (North Charleston SC, 2015), Philando Castile (Falcon Heights MN, 2016), Breonna Taylor (Louisville, 2016), and more recently George Floyd (Minneapolis, 2020), Daunte Wright (Brooklyn Center MN, 2021), and Adam Toledo (Chicago, 2021).

Students and educators are allies. Honesty about how we got here encourages students to grasp a more complete story of America. Informed citizens who can both admire and admonish the United States strengthens our democracy. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Are You Hurting Your School by Helping it Survive?

How focusing on the finish line creates a negative school culture

January 2019
LINK to Published Story on Medium

The intersection of American political culture, sexual misconduct, and schools

Justice Kavanaugh was at the center of another sexual misconduct conversation, and we barely noticed

Racism or coincidence?

If you think talking about racism is difficult in the age of Trump, imagine our future if today’s students can’t recognize racism

Teachers have earned the benefit of the doubt

Be patient during the COVID-19 pandemic

By Nick Gregory 
As schools throughout the nation close for the remainder of the year, take a minute to consider what this will mean for thousands of teachers who are doing their best to educate our children. School leaders and local officials are scrambling to “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is our top priority, and as we retrofit our education system on the fly to meet the needs of millions of students, we ask for your patience and understanding. 

Schools are not designed to adapt quickly 

Be kind to teachers who are on the front lines navigating school closures in an education system that is, like so many institutions, incapable of meeting the demands placed upon it by the outbreak. At best, the expectations for most teachers right now are loosely defined by school leaders. Many teachers are trying to patch together inadequate distance learning programs without guidance. This is not the time for parents to use social media platforms to compare teachers or to publicly complain about a teacher who is slow to adapt. Our nation's teachers have earned the benefit of the doubt, so please show some grace if you are irritated.
During normal times, school districts take several months, even years, to institute changes in curriculum and instructional methods. Expecting teachers to do this at a high level, with no time to prepare, during a national emergency is ridiculous. If you feel the need to share feedback with an educator, consider what would be helpful before you hit send. Negativity toward a teacher at this time will bruise deeply and could limit the creativity of teachers trying their best to meet student needs. A measured tone is imperative if you feel discouraged as a parent and wish to share your frustration. Trust me, teachers wish they could meet the needs of every student and family they serve. 

More than the internet

Connecting and teaching students in a distance-learning environment is not akin to a teacher simply jumping online and presenting academic material to students. Conducting meaningful virtual instruction requires dedicated professional coaching for staff, and it also requires significant training and practice for students and families. Most teachers have never been expected to integrate remote learning into their curriculum. The instinctive knowledge teachers have spent their respective careers amassing has a vastly different application online, and most educators have never been trained to deliver robust instruction in that format. In addition, the inequity of student access to technology and broadband internet service is woven into the challenge of teaching students remotely. 

Teachers are pros at building relationships

Teachers are well versed in building relationships with students so be grateful for the teachers who are trying to maintain their connection to students. This connection — virtual or in-person — is critical for academic and social-emotional growth. Our best educators specialize in making those human connections and they are experts at molding positive relationships, devoting their talent to create a culture of learning, and contributing to the school culture. Those indelible skills for expressing care and demonstrating a commanding presence may translate online for some teachers, but it is unfair to expect it to happen naturally. 

Teachers are stuck waiting

Many of our teachers can’t share with you that they are at the whim of school leaders and state mandates that are not always communicated to them effectively. While teachers are on the front lines of most communication with parents and students, they are not always armed with the information parents seek. Your child’s teacher understands your concerns about assessments and grades, your child falling behind and your desire to have access to more resources. Teachers are trying to be flexible and they do not want to throw their school leaders under the bus by voicing their misgivings to you and fueling the anxiety parents are feeling. 

Uncertainty and sadness  

Educators lament the loss of the celebrations, getting that last high five, hug or final word of encouragement to students. Teachers have been working hard to get your child to the finish line, and in a career that has always included clear beginnings and ends each school year, this new reality is bewildering. Many educators are helping their own children cope with the loss of a traditional school year while they also cope with the same reality as a professional. Not being able to grieve the loss of the school year together is tough on the children and the adults who serve them. Teachers wonder if their current efforts are making much of an impact on students. In some cases, only a handful of students are still connected to school and that is disheartening. Teachers are used to receiving regular feedback from students and adjusting their teaching strategies accordingly.

Moving forward 

The best thing you can do to help teachers is to unite with them and let them know you appreciate them. If you feel the need to share your concerns about school district policies and local programs, reach out to school leaders. Our educators are committed to serving all children and we know that we’re in this together. Teachers and school leaders throughout the country care deeply about the health, safety, and engagement of their students. Right now our teachers need your support.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

When Teachers Reach Their Breaking Point

Pushing through isn’t easy, but the alternative is much worse

One of the best teachers I know recently told me that she feels depleted and exhausted at school. The work is piling up, she’s tired, and she said the staff had reached their breaking point. She wondered aloud that if she was losing her way as a veteran teacher, how must new hires feel.

Photo by Nate Neelson on Unsplash
Teaching is tricky. A bad stretch in the first semester could be fleeting, or it could spiral beyond winter break. Less experienced teachers are more likely to fall prey to a drawn-out collapse, but experienced teachers are not immune.

I was not completely surprised by my conversation with this respected and talented teacher. In our world, the month leading to Thanksgiving represents the second leg of our marathon. With falling temperatures outside, we show up to school in the dark, leave in the dark and fall into routines. By Halloween, the anticipation and excitement of the new school year can give way to disillusionment and anxiety. Staff meetings seem longer, grading demands ramp up, and parents start checking in more.

The wins, the bad days, and the average days meld together into a fragile normal.
For teachers who stay in the profession long enough, some school years feel heavier, more taxing than others. When teaching feels constricting and burdensome, hitting the reset button requires a personal resilience that is tough to access when doubt lingers all the time. Sometimes November feels like an uphill trek into gale-force winds, and that’s what I saw in this teacher’s face when she admitted there was nothing left in the tank.

Her desperation and sense of defeat gave me pause, and I thought more about my role in the school culture where I serve as an administrator. While it is dangerous to accept the notion that “everyone” is feeling one way or another in a school, the culture is the thread that connects everyone in the school. At any given time, the ebb and flow of how one feels as an educator can be vastly different from one teacher to the next or from one week to the next.

Since that conversation, I have checked in with teachers and members of our administrative team to get a better pulse on how people are feeling where I work. My discussions, along with my experiences as a teacher, brought some big ideas into focus for me.

We are allies

We all need to lean on our colleagues from time to time, and that vulnerability and willingness to seek help rather than to go it alone will make a rough stretch more tolerable. Sometimes as a school administrator, I feel like I am caught in the middle, trying to balance my ambition to make gains in specific areas while also understanding that some staff members lack the stamina to dive in on some challenges. High-quality teaching and adapting to challenges requires a unique skill set and a team-first approach. We have work to do, and we need one another to make it happen.

Compliments are not scarce commodities

The best superintendent I worked under taught me that a perfectly timed compliment could do more to help a teacher or student than anything else during a rough patch. Giving sincere, positive recognition to others is easy, and it’s free. Sometimes, I think we hold back on compliments unnecessarily, or we assume that people know we appreciate the value they bring to the school. Let’s face it; frequently, we don’t have a sense of how we’re doing in this profession, and it can become disorienting. It never hurts to remind people about the difference they make for us and others. The worse we feel, the more gratitude we ought to dole out to others. It helps. A little love at the right time can go a long way.

Lean on your “go-to” people

We all need our go-to people who will straighten us out, give us the truth, and hold us to account. Tired, sad, happy, mad — our go-to people keep us upright and never let us off the hook. If your go-to people start to poison the well, be careful because that type of toxicity is a tough spell to break. If you don’t have positive go-to people, you better find them because it’s only a matter of time before you will need their support.

Remain student-centered. Always.

When all of that effort to stay afloat during challenging times comes back to one center — students — the rest will work out. Sure, educators have to take care of themselves to serve students, but I am talking about the work. Our struggle is anchored in the people who matter most when students are the focus. We can build out from that point.
In my career, I have endured times when I felt overwhelmed, bored, underappreciated, and not supported. The only constant that saw me through all of it was my commitment to the students and families I serve. The only thing more exhausting and counterproductive than excuses in the education profession is assigning blame to every challenge. Give yourself a chance to pull through tough stretches by focusing on students rather than getting swallowed up by negativity and cynicism.
#   #   #  
* This story is based on a composite of experiences throughout my career, and it was originally published on Medium in November 2019.
I am a fierce advocate for education. I taught for eighteen years, and I am currently serving as a high school assistant principal. I am a fan of ideas, bold action & learning from failure. Views expressed here are all mine. I am not repping my employer.

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Spark for my Civic Engagement

In a world where plenty of people have something to say, my mom finds something to do

My brother (left) and I joined my mom at her most recent
School Board Election Night celebration. My mom has 
earned people's trust because she listens and is clear about 
what she thinks. There's no mystery about where she stands.  

I suppose some people operate unconventionally by necessity and for others, it’s just who they are. My mom wants you to believe that her unorthodox nature is due to necessity, but I’m not buying it. I am qualified to call her bluff and tell the world that one of my mom’s greatest gifts is that she unabashedly does things her way and the world is more colorful because of it.

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I would like to share a tribute to the most compelling person I know. My mom influences me to follow my passion and serve others.

When it came to raising us, my mom was poised to try just about anything. In elementary school, there was a phase when she dressed us for school the night before so getting out of the house in the morning would be less stressful. As a parent, she operated like a mad scientist. At one point she gave up trying to keep me and my brother from fighting and set up a ring in our living room and refereed until we tired. I remember being bent over the arm of a chair squirming for air in my brother’s headlock while he argued with my mom about the rules.

My mom’s entire parenting experience was a case study in resourcefulness. 

The grandkids are building their own collection of 
KK stories that add to the lore.
I think she was entertained by finding new ways to teach us life lessons. Or maybe she was just flying by the seat of her pants? When I was twelve, my mom basically made us join her in assisting elderly blind people around the Grand Rapids Art Festival. I’m pretty sure she waited until we got to the volunteer tent to check-in before she told us how we would be spending our day. Then there was the all-nighter she pulled completing my brother’s high school biology project by finding and pinning insects to a pizza box and swearing every step of the way. My mom’s entire parenting experience was a case study in resourcefulness.

Growing up under my mom’s watch meant that we spent time with people from different walks of life. Whether it was having dinner with the elderly parents of her out-of-town friend or going to a Michael Jackson concert with her black friends from Grand Rapids, I grew up noticing there wasn’t anything that made my mom uncomfortable. And the best part of all - we tagged along on a lot of her adventures.

My mom and her trademark sun-
glasses. My mom has always had a
flair for style. Uniquely KK.
I guess I have never known anyone who balances a little bit of crazy and a lot of devotion the same way as my mom. We get to joke about the crazy, but it’s the devotion that makes my mom special to so many people. Truly.

When I was a boy about Kavaun’s age my mom would shoot hoops with us and play H-O-R-S-E. She never hesitated to grab her ball glove and call balls and strikes. It’s just what she did, and most of the time it was her idea. My mom was the perfect match for two boys with a lot of energy.

My most colorful memories growing up with KK involved sports. I have shared the golf course with my mom and on occasion, I winced as she would exchange golf tips with my brother. I remember snickering at her frustration when she would play tennis with Ryan and I would marvel at how the pins would jump when she punished them with her bowling ball.

Bowling alleys. Softball and baseball fields. Golf courses. Gyms. For most of the 80’s that’s where you could find our family when we weren’t at my grandparents. Listening to my mom and grandpa carry on passionately is something I miss from my childhood. For me, it reinforced that having some fire is a good thing.

Given my mom's fierce sense of advocacy, my most valuable lessons about civic engagement were learned watching her when I was a teenager. Intensity, determination and an unwillingness to back down - that's my mom. 

We all have stories about my mom that make us
laugh, and most of them reference either her re- 
sourceful nature or her intensity.  Here, I brought 
my mom to tears by reminding her about one of 
her creative parenting methods.
I have a ton of memories that reveal a spirit and energy that is unique to my mom. The best part is when my children and my nephews unwittingly reveal KK’s special brand of vitality.

With my mom, there is a push and pull dynamic at play. She is hard-wired for independence and on the other hand, she is deeply devoted to friends and family. Her friendships and love - especially for her grandchildren - are as much a part of who she is as our funny stories about the questionable babysitters she hired and her tendency to fall asleep on the couch. In the dozen or so years when my brother and I played organized sports, my mom never missed our games and I am a better parent because my mom was so dependable. I appreciate the remarkable difference my mom’s dependability has made in my life.
This photo of my grandparents was taken ten 
years before I was born. My grandparents taught 
us about the value of giving back to others and 
serving your communityI am mindful that their 
lessons can reach my children by the example we set.

When I suffered a serious knee injury in junior high my mom reached out to college and pro athletes so they would send me autographs and words of encouragement. She endured my mood swings and prodded me to become a better student. Because of my mom and grandparents (my entire extended family really), I always knew that whoever I was at any given time - including when I was a smartass teen - I had enough space to grow and enough eyes on me to stay grounded.

My mom ran her first school board campaign when I was sixteen and she won.  She has strung together five or six election victories over three

In 1992 when my mom was elected to the school
board for the first time, Bill Clinton and George
HW Bush were campaigning for president.
My introduction to politics came at an
exciting time.

decades, evidence that she is a trusted voice in her community.  In a world where plenty of people have something to say, my mom always finds something to do. She is the most determined person I have ever known. Given her resolve and her fierce sense of advocacy, and my front-row seat for all of it - it makes sense that my most valuable lessons about civic engagement were learned watching her. Joining her fight for meaningful causes and witnessing how she engages in the political fray continues to make an impression on me.

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I proudly acknowledge that my mom taught me why it is critical to care and how to use my talents to help others. She showed me very early in life that my voice matters and fighting to be heard is worthy of praise, not condemnation.

Bigger than the struggles and more meaningful than any single mission, my mom has shown me that taking risks and challenging the status quo requires humility, grit and the commitment to stay true to yourself.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Taking Bold Action on Difficult Issues is Required to Lead

Reflecting after a job interview: Tackling Chronic Absenteeism requires Strong Relationships and Making a Meaningful School Experience for Every Student the Top Priority

In a recent job interview for a role serving as an assistant principal I bungled an opportunity to highlight my expertise about a topic close to my heart.

The gist of the question concerned chronic student absenteeism and how I would aim to help the school improve in this area. The question lingered long after I hung my suit back up in the closet and it compelled me to find a better answer in preparation for a leadership role. 

"How would I, as the new assistant principal in a school plagued with student attendance issues, prioritize and implement a program to improve?" 

Everything connected to any answer about the topic of student attendance comes back to three key principles: 

1) Relationships are the most important aspect of any school. Engagement in school begins with relationships.

"The conditions that students living in poverty face exacerbate poor attendance. 
And slipping school attendance often leads a person back down the poverty 
path. The good news is that by taking an all-in approach to the problem, we 
can begin to close the attendance gap, bend the overall attendance curve, and 
help our most vulnerable students and families."  Ned W. Lauver     
PHOTO: Nick Gregory
2) Focusing on instruction and learning guides staff and students in their effort to rally around meaningful goals.

3) Doing nothing is not a wise option, especially when we can drill down to the root of the problem and help children succeed.

Sharing my philosophy and theorizing about possible solutions in my interview was sincere, but my response never got beneath the surface. My answer lacked the type of bold ideas necessary to support lasting change. (I can only hope that a second interview will provide the opportunity to articulate my ideas better.)

My devotion to equity demands that I think more about student attendance as a leader and not merely as a candidate for the job. 

As a leader, I will need to put my heart and passion into actions aimed at addressing student attendance because it is one of the foundational principles for education reform. We know that poor attendance in school leads to lower achievement and negative outcomes for children after high school. The research indicates that socioeconomic status and health problems predict poor attendance so how we approach our understanding of both of those topics in our community requires expertise and a team effort. Leading with empathy will help me understand the complexity of the challenge, and leading with courage is necessary to work toward changing outcomes for children. 

"A national rate of 10 percent chronic absenteeism seems 
conservative and it could be as high as 15 percent, meaning 
that 5 million to 7.5 million students are chronically absent."  
SOURCE: Balfanz, R., & Byrnes, V. (2012). Chronic 
Absenteeism: Summarizing What We Know From 
Nationally Available Data.    PHOTO: Nick Gregory
There are so many factors tied into student attendance including the sense of belonging in a school community (for students and teachers), the family backgrounds of individual students and the past school experiences for individual students. With knowledge about about different learning styles and the onset of technological and social media advances, educators are charged with evolving to meet new needs for an ever changing student population. By the time we add employee engagement and confidence in the building leadership to the mix, it is inescapable that positively impacting student attendance involves a myriad of factors. All of this needs to be acknowledged as a part of improving the building culture. Staff and community buy-in requires bold leadership that is equipped to adapt to the changing school landscape.

There is not a one-size-fits-all answer so knowing what is currently being done to tackle the attendance challenge and the history of successful efforts will help me hone in on specific actions and align any new initiatives with best past practices.

Seven of my ideas to begin the brainstorming process are included below. These are the key points I should have stated in my interview.  (Sources are cited at the bottom of this blog entry for your review)

Prioritize the specific needs of the school 

With guidance from the principal, counselors and teachers, figure out the specific problems in regard to chronic absenteeism. Agree on the problems before working on the solutions. What is the priority?

The home of every student at-risk of missing out on graduation gets a personal contact from the school before we start the school year

As the AP, most of these calls would be made by me. By finding out how many students in next years senior class are in jeopardy of missing out on graduation and tracking attendance data to find important trends among that population, we can begin to get a clearer picture of how to set realistic and ambitious goals.

The "Welcome back to School!" phone call includes an introduction, the reason for the call and the interventions in place to help the student succeed. The call will include our interest in enlisting ideas from parents and guardians. This is also a great time to make a personal invite the school open house, take note of any concerns, etc. This information comes in handy as the year progresses. This could be just the beginning of something more that includes check-ins with mentors and regular contacts to homes. These students are on my radar as a building leader and noticing positive attendance trends and improvement will become a major part of what I do each day in my leadership role. We will determine measures for positive recognition and spread the opportunities among staff to deliver the good news to our students and families.

Invest time and resources in a simple communication system 

A system that makes parents aware of absences in real time can help the school deliver on its mission of reducing chronic absenteeism. Communicating the importance of attendance to students and parents as part of the school culture will improve attendance, and it may take some time to see the results of these actions. Communication involves celebrating successes and building on struggles with regular feedback to staff. Educators struggle when being asked to implement strategies that are not couched in a specific vision with measurable goals. An initiative like this one will involve the entire staff working on this and a tireless effort by me to monitor and evaluate so I can lead our improvement.

Monitor new students to develop strategies and check our impact

By collecting data on all of the chronically absent eighth grade students from the previous year, we can identify and begin a process of tracking attendance and other measures for success in real time.

We should add a second tier of incoming ninth grade students who are close to "chronically absent status" in order to broaden our reach and invest the resources necessary to assist those students and families before they might fall through the cracks (school leadership can determine cut-off points).

We will begin the process of specific interventions with the incoming ninth grade class before school begins in August. Just like with incoming seniors, these students get a phone call and invite to the open house. This means my July and August just got a lot busier, but the payoff will be students and families recognizing that we care about student success and attendance. We serve our students when we show them we are invested in their success.

Many students feel that school is not relevant in their 
lives. "While having dedicated mentors to work with students 
and families on school connection is one strategy for improving 
attendance, mentors are not the only adults in the building who 
can be a part of the solution. There is a role for classroom 
teachers." - The Hamilton Project          PHOTO: Nick Gregory
We can track cohorts from previous years using the same "chronically absent" criteria and we can measure whether our interventions appear to be having an impact. Naturally, this process requires staff input and the expertise of experienced leaders in the school district. Reaching out county-wide at the ISD level and even statewide to discover best practices will become a critical part of my responsibility and it is a charge worth leading for our kids. With a seminar class and other possibilities for mentoring at the high school, we could eventually scale our communication plan to work with students and families and also include their input for strategies.

Provide mentorship to students who are chronically absent 

Through a seminar or student resource class in which students are assigned to a specific teacher for four years important relationships can be built in the school setting. There are models in existence to learn from and we can choose to implement plans that meet our needs and budget. Our goal is constant: Increase the likelihood of student success by decreasing the level of chronically absent students.

Give the experts in the school district a voice! 

Reform efforts warrant the space and time to bounce ideas around, leaving out the "buts" and reasons/excuses for why success is unattainable aside. These conversations are not confined to administrators. In my experience teachers and other staff are waiting to be asked for ideas. Education will always be a team effort and those who "go it alone" rarely succeed at bringing solutions to scale.

Chronic absenteeism among students usually endures over a long period of time so the pattern is predictable for many of our students. A cursory review of best practices reveals that we have to find the root of the problem, learn from trends and create realistic goals and strategies that can be effectively measured. 

We cannot lose sight of the fact that we are working together to reverse a negative attendance trend that seems to have gained momentum in recent years. Improving in the area of student attendance has an impact on everything we do in our school.

Measure the impact and share the results, even if the goals are not met

If the initiative is done with fidelity and the support exists to succeed then the staff and community deserve to see the progress. School improvement goals should reflect the priority of reducing chronic absenteeism and the message about attendance leading to success needs to exist year round, not just when we notice dips and slides.

The cliche, "what gets measured gets done" applies to the attendance challenge. Our progress will require more than a measure to understand if we are solving this problem however. We will need to look at metrics that provide a baseline for us to make comparisons. Reviewing performance metrics and outcome metrics will be a necessary and important part of the leadership mission. Collective responsibility for progress should be noted and celebrated as we make progress.

As a leader, I will be prepared to take ownership of our shortcomings and give credit to the staff and students when we are successful. My role is to keep trying and to move the needle on progress by working with others with a focus on student learning.

Sources that inspired my ideas are included below:

Source: Attendance Works

ABOUT THE AUTHOR of CIVICS ENGAGED: Nick Gregory has been a social studies and journalism teacher in Michigan since 2000 and he has been a National Writing Project Teacher consultant and a junior varsity basketball coach since 2003. Gregory is a Michigan Education Voice Fellow and he has exhibited photography related to Detroit and social justice causes since 2011. Gregory, who has a Masters degree in Educational Leadership, believes that building positive relationships helps students find their passion for learning. You can follow him on Twitter @CivicsEngaged.