Learning Forward’s 2015 Annual Conference was held in Washington, D.C. December 5th- 9th. This conference provided educators with outstanding content and valuable tools to bring the most powerful forms of professional learning back home to the educators with whom they work. Just ASK was proud to once again be a conference Silver Sponsor. Lots of friends, old and new, stopped by the Just ASK booth to take a look at a wide range of professional development resources and to chat with Paula Rutherford, Brenda Kaylor, and Julie McVicker about how Just ASK can partner to develop and implement their professional learning initiatives.
Bruce Oliver, Just ASK Senior Consultant, and Maria Eck, Principal of Poe Middle School, Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia, led a session titled Closing the Engagement Gap at Learning Forward’s Annual Conference. In their session, participants discovered how colleagues are orchestrating learning environments that are alive with productive activity and excited student voices. They explored innovative strategies and approaches that captivate attention and promote curiosity, originality, and collaboration and learned how to build capacity to move colleagues and students beyond initial excitement to mastery of performance standards and application of 21st century skills in rigorous and relevant ways.
Just ASK was once again a sponsor and exhibitor at the Virginia ASCD Annual Conference December 3rd – 4th, 2015, in Williamsburg, Virginia, where attendees explored the meaning of deeper learning and returned to the school setting with new ideas, practices, resources, and motivation. Bruce Oliver, Just ASK Senior Consultant, led a session titled “On the Road to Deeper Learning.” Bruce and the participants explored how students can use rigorous core academic content knowledge and skills in ways that cause them to think critically, communicate and work collaboratively, direct their own learning, and believe in themselves.
Just ASK Senior Consultant, Bruce Oliver, has worked with new teachers in Baltimore County Public Schools, Maryland, for the last seven years providing them the best-seller Why Didn’t I Learn This in College? and the Top Ten Tips for Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century. Practical in nature, these workshops scheduled again for October 2015 are based on the construct that the best management program is a strong instructional program and the essential question, “What do schools and classrooms look like when they are organized around the commitment to the achievement of high standards by all students?”
Leading the Learning® was offered for the eighth year in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), Virginia. Just ASK Certified Local Trainers (CLTs) who are FCPS principals, assistant principals, and directors of student services lead the six-day workshop series each year. These amazing practitioners are to be commended for coaching and mentoring their administrative colleagues. In addition to successfully completely the work that goes into leading their schools, they voluntarily spend time preparing for each session and then spend six days out of their buildings leading the workshops. Names to note include: Kathy Case, Principal of Union Mill Elementary School; Stephanie Gray, Director of Student Services at Twain Middle School; RV Yoshida, Principal of Crossfield Elementary School; Jeremiah Craven, Assistant Principal at South County High School; Jamie Luerssen, Assistant Principal at Laurel Ridge Elementary School; and Alex Case, Principal of West Potomac High School.
ASK Group (Just ASK Consultants and Friends of ASK) gather each August in Alexandria, Virginia, to share lessons from the field, engage in new learning, and enjoy more than a few laughs! The 2015 Annual Meeting featured in-depth studies of leadership development, the supervision and evaluation process, and real-time educational developments. As always, consultants shared experiences from California, Texas, Virginia, Illinois, New Mexico, and more. But the best part was the amazing stories from New York and Florida practitioners that ensured that we know about the great things going on in our schools.
Paula Rutherford, Just ASK Senior Consultant, spent August 22nd, 2015, with over 200 mentors from 20 districts at the Ventura County Office of Education Back to School Mentor Conference in Camarillo, California. The focus questions for the day were:
- Who are the new teachers?
- What are their challenges and concerns and what can we do to help them with those?
- What should we be looking for in classrooms?
- How can we use data to inform our mentoring discussions and decisions?
Each August teacher leaders, coaches, and mentors work with over 1,000 new teachers in Orange County Public Schools, Florida. Great Beginnings, their new teacher induction program, is based on Why Didn’t I Learn This in College? Check out this great clip celebrating the program in Orange County.
The Just ASK Opening of School Checklist, updated for 2015, has just been released. In its 11th edition, it is used by thousands of school leaders each year. The checklist is designed to help users track more than 100 tasks, identify who is responsible for each, and establish deadlines.
Areas of focus include:
- Focus on Teaching Staff
- Focus on Students
- Focus on Parents
- Focus on Facilities
- Focus on the Community
Bruce Oliver, author of the checklist, tells school administrators that, “The 2015 Opening of School Checklist is the result of over 20 years experience as a principal and assistant principal combined with the suggestions of other administrators across the country. “Each year I am contacted by principals offering ideas that would useful in preparing for the opening of school. I welcome those ideas.”
For example, summer features Cool Yoga in the Just ASK parking lot each Wednesday 6:30 – 7:30 pm. The free sessions are led by Maureen Clyne, owner of Prasada Yoga. Participants stay after the sessions for cool refreshments from Del Ray eateries St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub and Senzu Juicery!
Just ASK was featured on the back cover of the August JSD, The Learning Forward Journal.
Just ASK has released the 2015 edition of the Mentor’s Opening of School Checklist. This checklist is based on the collective wisdom of hundreds of mentors across the country. It continues to be one of Just ASK’s most popular mentoring resources. It is organized around the seven areas of challenge and concerns new teachers face. Those categories are: Personal; Professional; Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment; Organizational Systems; Students; Colleagues; School and School System Policies and Procedures; Parents and Community
Marcia Baldanza, New Senior Consultant at Just ASK!
Marcia, our newest Just ASK Senior Consultant, lives in Arlington, Virginia, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She retired from the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, earlier this month; In Palm Beach, she was most recently an Area Director for School Reform and Accountability and prior to that was Director of Federal and State Programs. Before her work in Palm Beach, Marcia worked in Broward County Public Schools as the Principal on Task Assignment to design and support the school improvement plans for Superintendent’s Schools. Earlier, Marcia was principal of Jefferson-Houston School for Arts and Academics and Patrick Henry Elementary School in Alexandria City Public Schools, Virginia. During her tenure at Patrick Henry, she was named the Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leader of the Year.
ESC Region 11, Fort Worth, Texas, and Just ASK hosted a Mentoring in the 21st Century® Three-Day Institute in July 2015 led by Brenda Kaylor. Just ASK Senior Consultant. ESC Region 11 is one of 20 Texas education service centers; it provides professional development, technical assistance and management of educational programs to 77 public school districts, 52 charter campuses, 65,835 educators and more than 551,503 students in a 10-county area in north central Texas. Region 11 services an area equal in geographic size to the state of New Jersey. School districts in this region range in size from Fort Worth Independent School District’s large metropolitan schools to small rural districts with only one building housing a total of 80 students for grades K-9.
Congratulations to the fourth grade class at Mendon Center Elementary, Pittsford Central Schools, New York! The class won the 2015 Grand Prize for Non-Fiction in the Scholastic Kids Are Authors competition with their entry titled Through Jane’s Eyes… Lessons Learned from Dr. Jane Goodall. Just ASK’s very own Heather Clayton, Principal of Mendon Center Elementary, along with the school’s art and reading teachers coordinated the project.
The class was inspired and decided on this topic after hearing Dr. Jane Goodall speak and meeting her in person. The book’s art was collage, all made from paper that the students created. Using paint and a variety of textures and techniques, the students created a rich repertoire of paper in a variety of colors and textures. Every decision for the book was made collaboratively by the students – including the font choice, title, layout, and introduction. Students were so motivated by Dr. Goodall’s cause that they also participated in a webinar with her, as well as a video conference with a woman who works for the organization. The book will be published by Scholastic later this year. www.scholastic.com/bookfairs/articles/kids-are-authors-winners
Heather is also a co-author of Creating a Culture for Learning and author of the Just ASK e-newsletter Making the Common Core Come Alive! Her book Great Mini-Lessons for Teaching Genre Writing was published by Scholastic.
Kudos to Kildeer Countryside School District 96, a K-8 district located in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. They have a top notch group of instructional coaches who are at the heart of collaboration and continuous improvement in the district. Kildeer’s Assistant Superintendent, Jeanne Spiller works closely with Brenda Kaylor, Just ASK Senior Consultant, to provide ongoing goal-driven and differentiated support to the instructional coaches.
During The Coaching Academy, you might see Brenda focusing the entire coaching cadre on the needs of diverse learners. Or, she might be modeling a reflective coaching conversation for just the novice coaches. It’s common to see her observing coaches and providing them with growth-producing feedback as they work in their schools to support individual teachers and grade level teams. On occasion, “job-alike” groups of coaches come together from across the schools to work with her on their more specific work.
Meeting with school and district administrators on a regular basis is also a key focus of The Coaching Academy. Jeanne says that “It’s important that the principals understand the goals that frame the work of the coaches in Kildeer. We want principals to understand the focus of each Coaching Academy session so they can provide job-embedded support.”
On Thursday, May 21st, the students in Mr. McMahon’s 4th grade class at Vista Elementary School, Needles USD, California, engaged in a rigorous and engaging lesson during which they investigated the pros and cons of continuing funding for NASA. Access the posters they created to capture their opinions and the justification they provided for their decisions.
Ian Is Going to Duke!
Congratulations to our intern Ian Holtz on his acceptance to Duke! All those AP course paid off handsomely!
Before he heads off to college, Ian will work at Just ASK again this summer. In fact, the next three weeks he will participate in the T.C. Williams Senior Experience Program learning about the world of marketing from his Just ASK mentors, Laura Pavlock-Albright, our Director of Operations, and Mike Rutherford, our Vice President for Business Development. His senior experience will conclude with a seminar at T.C. where each participant in the program will make a presentation about the learning during the three weeks.
Mike DiSalvo, NETS-T Evaluator and Consultant at James Madison University and Just ASK Associate, made two presentations at the 2015 International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) Annual Conference in Philadelphia this summer. Both sessions feature James Madison University’s NETS-T Certification Program. This program uses synchronous and asynchronous tools, and offers graduate credit upon successful completion. This opportunity is for self-directed learners, confident in their use of technology and eager to measure their use of technology against an international standard. The first session focuses on leadership for integrating the ISTE standards and the Common Core State Standards. The second session, presented in collaboration with Kyle Dunbar, Alexandria City Public Schools, Virginia, showcases the online teacher NETS-T certification program and focuses on digital age teaching and learning and the use of online tools and resources. Information about the James Madison NETS-T Certification Program.
Just ASK was one of the businesses along The Avenue that hosted dog-themed activities for Dog Days in Del Ray. Activities included a dog exercise course, dog massages, dog artists and more. First Thursdays is a series of free outdoor street festivals along Mount Vernon Avenue held in the spring and summer. Every first Thursday of April, May, June, July, August and September the Del Ray Business Association features businesses along Mt. Vernon Avenue, special events, food and music from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Pets are welcome! www.visitdelray.com/page-1718168
Pictured above is the Just ASK office dog, Bella.
We Love Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners!
A new clip featuring Shawn Lamberson, Special Education Intervention Specialist Teacher/Trainer (IST), and Debbie Scales, Elementary Special Education Curriculum IST, in Northside Independent School District, San Antonio, Texas, as they explain how they used Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners as the text for their differentiation workshop last summer and plan to offer more sessions this summer was posted today. Access the clip.
National Teachers Day!
Teachers Make a Difference! Thank you from the Just ASK Team. The teachers pictured below were selected to represent the thousands of participants in our workshops across the country. We salute them all!
The Just ASK Closing of School Checklist, updated for 2015, has just been released. As the more than 98,000 public schools in the United States draw to a close over the next few months, some practitioners lose valuable instructional time at the end of the school year. One of the guiding principles for this checklist is that it is important that educators need to keep an unwavering focus on teaching and learning through the end of the school year. As a 36 year administrator and teacher, Bruce Oliver points out that teachers could use this time to hold individual reflective and goal-setting conferences with each student.
The recommendations included in the Just ASK 2015 Closing of School Checklist are designed to help users track more than 80 tasks, identify who is responsible for each, and establish deadlines.
Just ASK was featured on the back cover of the April JSD, The Learning Forward Journal.
Just ASK exhibited at the 70th ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show in Houston, Texas. Brenda Kaylor, Julie McVicker, and Paula and David Rutherford were exhausted at the end of each day because of the amazing number of old and new friends they had a chance to “visit with” and celebrate how they are partnering with (or might partner with) Just ASK to refine and expand personal, school, and district professional development initiatives and collaboratively build in-house capacity. Pictured below are a few of the folks who stopped by the booth. Click on the video clip in the center of the collage to hear from our colleague Jennifer Maldonado, Instructional Technologist/New Teacher Induction Coordinator in Harlingen Consolidated ISD, Texas, who shares how Just ASK induction and mentoring publications and products have enhanced her work in multiple ways for over 14 years.
Over fifty colleagues and family members gathered in Boston to celebrate the life and career of Louise Thompson who is the original ASK Group Senior Consultant. Pictured below are a few of the pictures from that amazing event hosted by Emmanuel College under the guidance of Sally Diaz and Annette Stavros. Of special note is the picture of the reunion of RBT colleagues whose collaboration and commitment to teacher professional growth and student learning spans the decades. Both a print and digital memory book were presented to Louise.
Paula Rutherford, Just ASK Senior Consultant, was thrilled to work with aspiring principals who are enrolled in the San Diego State University’s Educational Leadership Program and their administrative colleagues from San Diego USD. A few of the participants are pictured below along with some of the Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners® PowerPoint slides used in that workshop. This group wins the “most fun” award hands down! Special kudos go to Milton Martin, Jr., Vice Principal at Sandburg Elementary School, who won the drawing for a Principal’s Library. He graciously took only one book and had six more names drawn so that seven people could share the prize! Bravo!
Just ASK Publications was once again a proud sponsor and exhibitor at the 10th Annual Illinois New Teacher Collaborative (INTC) Induction and Mentoring Conference in Springfield, Illinois. Just ASK donated several door prizes consisting of copies of The 21st Century Mentor’s Handbook, Why Didn’t I Learn This in College?, and our Collegial Conversations DVD. This is the fourth year that Just ASK has sponsored the INTC conference which targets. induction and mentoring program coordinators, mentors, administrators, higher education faculty, professional development providers, and other stakeholders. Nearly 200 educators and policymakers from diverse contexts (urban, suburban, and rural) attended the conference this year.
Just ASK was featured on the back cover of the February JSD, The Learning Forward Journal.
Mike DiSalvo, NETS-T Evaluator and consultant at James Madison University and Just ASK Associate, led a session titled NETS-T Certification: Maximizing Technology Integration at the 2014 Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE) Annual Conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia.. In this session, Mike explained the NETS-T certification process and benefits it provides participants and their students. In addition to providing a program overview, he demonstrated the synchronous and asynchronous tools used in the program. In the overview Mike explained that the NETS-T Certification Program is an internationally recognized program that engages teachers in a deeply reflective, intensive process to determine if their instructional technology practices meet the standards set forth by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). James Madison University’s program is a distance-learning concept, It provides an opportunity for teachers to measure their use of technology in the classroom against an international standard. He reported that one NETS-T certified teacher said, “The certification process helped me to understand how to teach skills that students will need regardless of the technological platform or gadget.”
Brenda Kaylor, Julie McVicker, Linda McGinley, and Mike Rutherford represented Just ASK at Learning Forward’s 2014 Annual Conference at the Gaylord in Nashville, Tennessee. As you can see, a good time was had by all!
Shane Barnette, a principal at Cullman County Schools, Alabama, should certainly know Strategies in Action! Just look at the strategies his football team used to be ranked #1!
The magic of Learning Forward! Two best friends from Colorado days, Joellen Killion and Brenda Kaylor, share a hug in the Just ASK booth at the Learning Forward Annual Conference in Nashville.
Bruce Oliver, Just ASK Senior Consultant, led a session titled Closing the Engagement Gap at the Virginia ASCD Annual Conference in Williamsburg, which by the way is home of his alma mater, William and Mary!
After his session, lots of people stopped by the Just ASK exhibit to chat with Bruce and sign-up for the Just ASK door prize, The Principal’s Library, a collection of seven books valued at over $230.
Just ASK was proud to be a continuing sponsor of the Virginia ASCD Annual Conference.
Pictured left: Bruce and Rosco
Just ASK was featured on the back cover of the December JSD, The Learning Forward Journal.
TIP (Teacher Induction Program) Los Angeles Archdiocese
One hundred thirty new teachers from the Department of Catholic Schools, Archdiocese of Los Angeles worked together for two days in July and came back together in November to extend their learning, and share their successes and struggles as new teachers.
Just ASK Goes to Houston!
Just ASK exhibited at the 2014 Texas ASCD Convention October 26th -October 28th and, as a conference sponsor, provided 500 catalogs for insertion in convention attendees conference bags. Texas educators were able to stop by the Just ASK booth and chat with Mike Rutherford about how we have led professional development for Texas educators focused on new teacher induction and mentoring, meeting the needs of diverse learners, and creating a culture for learning. Interesting tidbits Mike was ready to share that although we are based in Virginia, we have worked onsite with over twenty ISDs providing keynotes and leading workshops for their mentors, new teachers, and instructional leaders and held three national Mentoring in the 21st Century® Institutes in Dallas. It is amazing but true, that over 40,000 educators in Texas have copies of our books and over 200 of our Mentoring in the 21st Century Resource Kits and New Teacher Professional Development Kits are being used in Texas districts.
Just ASK was featured on the back cover of the October JSD, The Learning Forward Journal.
Julie McVicker worked with educators from Region XIII , Wyoming on Creating a Culture for Learning®. The Children’s Developmental Services of Campbell County consists of three interrelated components: The Early Childhood/Child Care, the Early Intervention Program, and the Early Head Start Program
10th Annual New Teachers Workshops in Winchester, Virginia!
Bruce Oliver led a two-day Why Didn’t I Learn This in College?® workshop for 10th year in a row at Winchester Public Schools, Virginia.
The Just ASK summer interns are headed back to school. Thanks for all you did for Just ASK this summer. Have a great year!
Ian Holtz is headed back to T.C. Williams High School for his senior year. (This is the school featured in the hit movie Remember the Titans.) We like to tease Ian about that fact that he is taking so many AP courses, even his lunch must be AP!
Christina Tsantes is headed back to Christopher Newport University for her senior year. She is one busy woman as she not only has a full load of courses, she is a founding member and Executive Vice President of the Christopher Newport chapter of Alpha Delta Pi.
Liz Quin is headed back to the University of Virginia for her junior year. She just changed her major to Computer Science and Statistics with a concentration in Econometrics so she is one busy woman as well. In the small world category, it turns out that Liz and Christina are sorority sisters as Liz is a member of Alpha Delta Pi at UVA.
ASK Group, Just ASK consultants and Friends of ASK, gathered in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, for the 14th ASK Group Annual Meeting. Colleagues engaged in three days of learning and collaboration. A special component was a celebration of Louise Thompson’s incredible career as an educator. After decades of teaching, leading, and learning, Louise is hanging up her saddle. We celebrated by crafting a poem about the Ride of Louise, based loosely on Longfellow’s “Ride of Paul Revere.” See the opening verses below:
Come celebrate my friends! Come close and hear
Of the stories surrounding one we hold dear
Louise Thompson…legendary we do believe
Just watch her in action… ah, the stories she can weave
It’s the dances, the skates, and the songs
She’s the mentor, the coach whom we adore
Louise is Just ASK to the very core
Listen up ASKers, and you shall hear,
of a Boston gal who spent 25 years,
revising schools in New England towns,
breaking their evaluation systems down,
helping supervisors excel and cheer!
From New England she took her talents cross the globe,
from Fairfax schools all the way to Beijing.
From the Harvard Principal’s Center summer show,
to New Zealand and the Singapore Ministry of Education thing.
She was a founding consultant with RBT,
Assistant Superintendent in Brookline, yippee!
She taught at Northeastern, Directed Dubuque,
Has a BA from MacMurray, a Doctorate from BU,
and is the most talented lady you ever will see!
And seven pages more!