Welcome to our school, new student

We visited a school that mentioned an interesting (at least to me) policy for their new students.

When a new student comes to the high school one of the orientation stops that they make is with the principal. They get to know each other a bit and they get to talk expectations of the student while they are a member of the school system.

This may be something that you do and everyone else does or it might be a best practice that needs to be shared. Either way I thought the process of sitting down with a student, talking about expectations and welcoming them to their new school was a good one and one that I want to remember if I am ever in that position. 


Young Professionals of CareerTech

Monday night of summer conference I had the opportunity to attend something that I believe will be special, the first event of the Young Professionals of CareerTech.

I am excited about this new initiative from OKACTE and honored to be a part of getting it off the ground. We have only held an organizational meeting to get it started and the first social but I think it has the potential to engage those new to our system and empower them and ignite them and their passions.

I hope you will look for us as we grow this new organization and will consider being a part. Together we will continue to make our system of career and technical education in Oklahoma one of the premier systems in the world.

PS - There is an ACTE Young Professionals group as well: https://www.acteonline.org/youngprofessionals


49th Annual Summer Conference Wrapup

This week was a great week to catch up with old friends, make a few new and be reminded that I am a part of something great! Why, because earlier this week was the kickoff to our year – Summer Conference!

This year was the 49th annual conference held at the beginning of August each year. It is the largest professional development of the year for our teachers, administrators and staff. Annually educators from comprehensive schools, technology centers, colleges, Skills Centers, the state agency and retires gather to begin another year and to learn how to make the educational opportunities our students are engaged in more meaningful. 

The first day was filled with opening sessions, general sessions, closing sessions, breakout sessions and more. Those in attendance heard from legislators, Duane Cummings, awesome “TED” style presentations from students and more. We had the opportunity to hear remarks from the state director and the executive director of OKACTE. We celebrated with our colleagues as they were recognized with various awards and we Tweeted! 

The second day I spent with the Student Services Division and had a great time learning and gaining new insight. The morning kicked off with Andy Masters as he shared how we can Stress More, Be Late for Everything and Die Young! Then I attended sessions on Time Management, Learning Styles, Economic Development in the 21st Century and Employability Skills. Each session provided me with an opportunity to bring something back personally or professionally and I think my work will be improved because of what I was able to pick up. 

In 2011 I started the #OKACTE hashtag and each year it seems to grow. Again this year we trended in Oklahoma City and Oklahoma! 2011 was also the first year we added the live Twitter feed and it has gotten better every year. Recently we added a social media wall before and after the sessions and we fill it with pictures from Twitter and Instagram that have been hashtagged. A couple of weeks ago a trip to Texas and a stay in a hotel sparked an idea for this years newest addition - the Summer Conference frame! Numerous pictures shared this week included those taken in the "selfie booth" and and everyone who took a picture in it looked amazing!

It has been great being a part of helping you interact with your colleagues at conference and I look forward to doing it for years to come. Watch for something great next year as we celebrate the 50th annual summer conference and share our fun with the world! 


Cell Phones in Class

How do you manage cell phones in class?

One school that I recently visited decided it was time to open up the school wi-fi and give students open access. Of course they still use filters and social media is not accessible but students can now use the school resources when they are in class.

If a teacher needs time without the cell phones they have a card system. Red is teachers time - put up the cell phone and pay attention. Green is student time - students can have their cell phones out and use them in class. They simply printed some cards with a cell phone on them, put the red and green sides together and laminated them. Some teachers tape them to the dry erase board, others use a magnet to hold them up and others have other ways. The cards can switch back and forth several times throughout the day.

This has cut down on "discipline problems" related to students having their phones on them at all and has allowed staff to concentrate on teaching and learning instead of who might have a cell phone in their pocket.

What do you think about this policy? What is your school policy? What do you think a good cell phone policy should include?

Red = Teacher Time, No Cell Phones
Green = Student Time, Cell Phones Allowed


STEAMmaker and Girls Coding - No Cost Professional Development

CareerTech is offering two camps in June for teachers to learn strategies on implementing project based learning in their classrooms.

We are offering our third STEAMmaker Camp and introducing Girls Coding. These camps are being offered at no cost to instructors and students that they bring with them. Teachers must apply and commit to attending the entire camp. Teachers who attend receive high quality and immersive professional development and get to implement strategies that they learn into practice immediately with their students who get to attend a cool summer camp.

Teachers do not have to be STEM teachers and we are encouraging anyone who has a desire to do project based learning to apply.

STEAMmaker Camp
WHERE: Francis Tuttle Technology Center’s Portland Campus located at 3500 NW 150th Street in Oklahoma City
WHEN: June 7-10, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (optional)
  • June 7-9 with teams of students
  • June 10 - teachers only for a one-day project based learning training (no optional evening portion)
WHO: Teams of 2 teachers and 5-8 students, in grades 6-10 (rising)
WHAT: Come learn, play, and invent in this super-awesome camp using littleBits, Makey Makeys, ArtSnacks (and more), and kids’ awesome summertime imaginations!
WHY: It’s super fun to geek out with your friends and a have great summer camp experience! And teachers will get high-quality, hands-on experience on how to make and run their own MakerEd space.
Girls Coding
WHERE: Metro Technology Center's Springlake Campus located at 1900 Springlake Drive in Oklahoma City
WHEN: June 13-15, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • June 13 - teacher teams of two for a one-day project based learning training
  • June 14-15 -  teachers teams with teams of five students
WHO: Teams of 2 teachers and 5 students, in grades 7-10 (rising)
WHAT: Come learn, play, and code in this super-awesome camp.
WHY: It’s super fun to geek out with your friends and a have great summer camp experience! Teachers will get high-quality, hands-on experience on how to implement coding into their classroom.


High School Z - Whole School Improvement

Our team had the opportunity to visit a site who was using The Leader in Me, from FranklinCovey, to implement whole school improvement.

What struck me about this process is the way that it is implemented. Many times in a school each teacher will have their classroom rules and it differs from grade to grade and class to class.There may be no consistency and expectations may be different.

This site was implementing The Leader in Me across all classes, across all grades and all sites. The "rules" and "expectations" for the kindergarten class are the same as for the seniors in an agriculture education program!

Throughout the school instead of different posters showing different rules they had banners, "street signs" in the hallway (see picture above) and posters in the cafeteria that serve as a reminder for the habits that they are supposed to be developing.

But what happens when teachers retire or move to another system and new ones are hired to replaced them? As part of their hiring process newly hired personnel must take the same training that everyone else has received in order to be introduced into the culture of the school system and understand the whole school philosophies.

I am not saying that you must use the same program but I really liked the concept of the entire school system using the same base and that they have a process for on-boarding that includes training the new hire in the way that the site does whole school improvement.


High School Z - Turn off the Noise!

As we were touring an academic center we were discussing how the site helps students concentrate on the task at hand - testing.

In the center there was a speaker that was connected to the site's communication system. They installed a switch on the speaker, a light switch in particular, that they could use to turn off the speaker if they are testing.

As a student I was very easily distracted and very willing to chase a "squirrel" when I should be concentrating. Having class interrupted by an announcement was a sure fire way for me to not concentrate on what I was supposed to be doing anymore.

So there you have it, a switch that turns off the announcement speaker so that students will not be interrupted with the lunch menu. Seems like a pretty good idea to me!


High School Z - Counseling After Hours

At a high school our team visited we had a great discussion with administrators who bragged on their counselors as one was staying after hours to reach those students and parents who could not make it in during the normal school day.

The counselor stayed until 8pm every Tuesday so that students could be served. This happened in two different ways. Students and parents could drop in or they could set up an appointment. 

Currently the time is being paid by a grant that the school applied for and received. Their plan for sustaining the program is looking at flex time for the counselor and letting them come in later the next day or take longer lunches.

The concept I believe has multiple benefits. It allows an opportunity to engage a specific segment of the population that might not be engaged any other way. There may be students or parents who have to work until 5 or after that can now see a counselor and get the needed career guidance and other services a counselor provides. It allows for relationships to be built and has the opportunity to engage parents, on their time, increasing parental involvement.

I am sure there are many other ways that this program enhances the academic success at the school. There are most likely other schools that have implemented this or a similar program with success. This is the first school I have heard about a program in place and having success and thought it would be something that I should share and something that I would strongly consider if I was an administrator at High School Z.


High School Z

Over the past several months I have had the privilege to lead multiple teams in travels to numerous schools across Oklahoma. I can't wait to total up the miles since I have started and see how far I have gone. I feel like I might be close to reaching 24,901 miles, or the distance around the earth!

One thing that has remained consistent is that at each visit our team has made, whether visiting a middle school, junior high, high school, technology center or college, is that we are able to find at least one thing that should be shared as a best practice with the rest of the educators out there.

Allow me to introduce you to the High School Z label in the Oklahoma CTE Blog. Here I will gather thoughts on schools and highlight some of the neat things going on in #OklaEd. I will not name the schools, but those that attend may figure it out. All credit goes to the schools but I do not want to "call" anyone out or start a "that was our idea first" argument.

So here it is, if I was an administrator, the ideas, concepts and applications of educational practices that stick out that I would further explore and possibly implement at High School Z


Renewed Commitment

Wow, looking back since my first blog post on Jan 9, 2007 I have shared a lot of infomration with you, my readers.

Unfortunately 2015 was not a good blogging year and even though I have posted pretty regulaly I only made three attempts! Not good.

For 2016 I am going to renew my commitment to blogging and sharing with you. A lot has changed but one thing I will continue to try to do is provide you with new, fresh and relevant information about career and technology education. There is a lot of great things happening in #OklaEd and beyond and I am excited to share with you.

I hope you had a great 2015, that you have an even better 2016 and that you will come back to the blog regularly and learn with me.


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