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Welcome Back!

Posted on September 30, 2022 by Bill Carozza

Welcome back to the Richer Picture blog!

From the beginning, our work is to let students show what they know and to provide the Richer Picture of what each student knows and are able to do.

We have learned much from our schools – both in terms of ideas and of implementation. In earlier blog posts, we’ve looked at the essential questions that all schools need to address to be successful.

For the new school year, we’re going to be adding new voices from educators who have made things work at their site. We’re very pleased to welcome Bill Carozza as a new regular contributor to the Richer Picture blog.

Bill has extensive experience as a school leader and a change agent. As a principal and district administrator in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, Bill has great insight into ideas that work and strategies that students and teachers truly find useful.

Bill’s first blog post appears below. Look for his regular presence on our site, and stay tuned for more about our upcoming podcast!

Influential school leaders can manage a schedule brimming with meetings, formal observations, walk-throughs, and unexpected problems that need solving. As we begin another school year, are you making time to get to know your students? The short-term benefits may pale compared to the immediate attention of an angry parent, a Superintendent on the phone, or a concerned teacher. But developing relationships with most of your students reap long-term benefits in forging a positive school culture and forming credibility with your community.

  • Consider coaching a team or advising a club. This is a surefire way to develop relationships similar to what teachers have in the classroom. I know a Principal of a K-8 school who was always the boys and girls middle school basketball coach. He felt the relationships he created helped develop a positive culture in his school.
  • Memorize student names. This may seem obvious, but if you have hundreds of students, it’s not an easy task. Yet, a great bond is created when a student knows they are important enough to you to know them by name. I remember a parent worried I knew her son’s name when they walked into the building one day. She thought he must be in trouble so much that I knew his name automatically! I reassured her that I knew him as an individual, so inherently, I would know his name.
  • Have regular lunches with kids. Breaking bread with students is a natural way to let their guard down, be themselves, and ask them for the “inside scoop” on how the school is doing. I would regularly have chess games with students over lunch.
  • Be there for the informal gatherings. Leaders should block their schedule off as much as possible to be present during lunch, recess, and breaks. As a colleague of mine says about school leaders, “visibility is credibility.” The power of presence extends to the whole school day and sometimes beyond it.
  • Attend a few non-school events when possible. Being able to speak with students about a sporting or academic event they participated in is a quick way to develop a strong bond when you see their performance live.

    Adjust your schedule to attend student meetings. A child’s teachers are the experts, and we need to participate in the rich discussions on kids. A school leader’s support is best given when they deeply understand a child.

    Be careful to concentrate on ALL children. A small percentage of students often take up most of our time because certain kids need that attention. Of course, the natural stars of the school will always have their face time. The quiet students in the middle may only get a nod in the hallway.

    We spend time with our students so that our school culture becomes more vital. We can also learn from the inside how individual students, student groups, and families are managing the complex process of growing up.

    I hope you’ll be encouraged to adjust your habits to include dedicated time with your students. This time will also ground the leader in what is truly important.

Curriculum and Assessment Resources

Posted on July 20, 2020 by David Niguidula

As schools get ready for a new school year, we face a great deal of uncertainty. Even in communities where schools say they will be back in business full-time, it’s clear that some percentage of families will want to stay with the social distancing for at least a while longer. Given that, there are ideas […]

No Final Exams? Use Portfolios To Capture the Year of Learning

Posted on March 20, 2020 by David Niguidula

It’s becoming increasingly likely that some schools may not re-open before the end of the school year. So what can schools do instead of having a traditional final exam? Digital Portfolios can achieve the same goal as your exam: to demonstrate what your students have learned in your course. The portfolio can honor and reward […]

Personal Entries: How To Capture Home Learning Moments

Posted on March 19, 2020 by David Niguidula

With students spending lots (and lots!) of time at home, they are probably looking for things to do. Families are getting creative; kids are learning to cook or helping more with younger siblings or finally picking up the musical instrument. So even if they are not in the classroom, students certainly are learning new things – […]

Personalizing Assessment with Digital Badges

Posted on February 26, 2020 by David Niguidula

“Personalization” is one of those things that educators all agree is important, but have found it hard to do in practice. The structure of schools is designed to work with students in large groups, and to essentially treat all students the same. There are a few strategies that can help with personalizing assessments. Some have […]

Creating Effective Tours

Posted on January 23, 2020 by David Niguidula

One of the most powerful uses of digital badges occurs when students present their work. To earn a badge, students can submit a “tour” of their best work to show that they are meeting the requirements. For example, to earn a badge in Spanish, a student could prepare a tour showing their skills as a Listener, Speaker, […]

Demonstrating the Whole Child with Digital Badges

Posted on December 18, 2019 by David Niguidula

Digital Badges can help students show all the ways in which they are learning and growing. Schools can set up badges that represent a student’s academic knowledge, work habits, social skills, and personal interests. All of these areas of growth can be present in any entry of student work. Consider a group of students working […]

Project-Based Learning and Digital Portfolios

Posted on November 15, 2019 by David Niguidula

Think back to your own years in school. What academic work do you remember? You probably don’t remember a specific test or the questions at the end of the chapter. More likely, you remember something like a science fair activity, a re-enactment in social studies or a stock market game. What usually comes to mind […]

Individual Learning Plans and Digital Badges

Posted on September 12, 2019 by David Niguidula

Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) are common across the country. Whether your state calls them ILPs, Student Success Plans, or some other name, students are asked to think about their goals and how they want to achieve them. All too often, though, the ILPs are just seen as a side activity; the students write down some […]

Using Data Dashboards Effectively

Posted on August 20, 2019 by David Niguidula

For a long time, data was difficult to access in schools. Plenty of us still remember “permanent records,” filed away in locked cabinets. Now, there’s a lot of data about each student – from the main schedules and attendance stored in student information systems to the test scores and information in each teaching app. Part […]

The Latest ASCD Book from David Niguidula
Demonstrating Student Mastery with Digital Badges & Portfolio

Step by step, this book lays out how your school can become more personalized and achieve higher degrees of mastery simultaneously

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