About laurynnevans

Please see “Who is Laurynn Evans” at www.laurynnevans.com for information about me.

Big news!

Late last week, the school board for the North Kitsap School District unanimously voted to appointment me as their new superintendent of schools! I am honored, humbled, and excited about this opportunity to serve my local community.

I hope to share my journey here on this blog – time permitting. For the next few months I will be closing out my San Diego life and transitioning out of my job there, as well as relocating, as well as beginning to transition into this new role in North Kitsap.

I know there will be some significant challenges, but I also know that there are some enormously talented and dedicated people who want to make a difference. I am looking forward to partnering with the school and district leaders to move the good work forward in North Kitsap!

Dare to Lead – NAIS Aspiring Heads Fellowship Program

I was fortunate enough to be selected as an Aspiring Heads Fellow last year. I knew it was a solid program just from the information that I read about it – little did I know how deeply it would impact me both professionally and personally.

My mentor group, aka Ronnie’s Renegades, with our mentor and namesake, Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau.

I learned things about myself that I did not know before – things that will make me a better leader and colleague in the future.

I learned things about effective schools that I had not considered before – things that I know will lead to successful learning and a strong school community.

I met an incredible person, who has provided a powerful example of positive leadership – my mentor, Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau.

I met a group of inspiring, dedicated professionals – my wonderful mentor group, aka #ronniesrenegades. The seven of us came from all across the US and we each held very different roles in our schools, and yet we bonded – deeply. We learned and laughed together. While I know we will keep in touch, I will miss our monthly mentor group calls and the camaraderie that we built. 

The Aspiring Heads Fellowship is a one-year program that involves attending two NAIS national conferences plus a week-long institute in July. The Aspiring H
eads are broken into smaller cohort groups, each of which is assigned to a mentor. During the year-long program, Aspiring Heads talk with (or meet with) their mentor approximately once a month, and they are intentionally given exposure to important parts of leading a school. The mentor groups are tasked with tackling the question “What makes for a vibrant school?” via research and they give a presentation at the NAIS Annual Conference.

 

Ronnie’s Renegades after our standing-room-only presentation at NAIS. It was fun to laugh and learn together!

Going into the program, I was aware of the intentional focus on growing the skill set and knowledge of participants. Through the mentor cohort, we learned about all of the components of school leadership, including instructional leadership, board relations, legal considerations and conundrums, financial management and stewardship, advancement, hiring and retention of faculty/staff, and the considerations of how to balance the myriad hats that a head of school wears at all times. This program delivered on the promise to impart wisdom to us on these areas… and more. We delved deeply into many areas of school leadership, all the while with a focus on learning and asking questions.

As important as the content provided by the program is the connection one makes with the mentors and with the other Fellows. I have gained 10 Head of School friends, and many, many more future Head of School life-long friends.

If you dream of leading a school one day, I strongly recommend that you consider applying for this program. It has deepened and broadened my leadership. Even if I do not end up in a Head or Superintendent position, I know that what I’ve learned can only enhance the work that I do in schools. And for some in our cohort, their involvement in the program set them up so that they have a new job title starting July 1: Head of School. 🙂

Enormous thanks to NAIS and the EE Ford Foundation for this incredible opportunity!

Susan Cain – Quiet

It’s 3:10pm and I’m seated in the conference center’s cavernous auditorium, awaiting Susan Cain’s session, and enjoying the amazingly talented Sidwell Friends School US Chamber Chorus. I’m going to live type this entry so that you get a sense of the presentation in real-time.

3:25 This session will be held in the format of a “fireside chat” with a host (Heidi) and Susan Cain.

What motivated Susan to write Quiet?  Susan remembers being mystified by the world and how it was set up. She made friends easily but craved 1:1 settings and shied away from forced group settings. She didn’t have the introvert/extrovert language but always sensed a difference.

Susan: While there is a place for collaboration in the workplace, many of us crave our solitude.

Heidi: Quiet really helped me discover that it is okay to be introverted, and that it is not just okay, it is normal for many people.

Susan: There is hardly a part of the human experience that introversion/extroversion does NOT touch. Yet society brings out this message that extroversion is preferred. And so Quiet Revolution and Quiet Education is part of a movement to bring forward the notion that introverts are an important part of our world and they have value to bring into schools and the workplace (paraphrase).

Heidi: This work is not just about surviving in an extroverted world, it is about changing this world…. This is authentic diversity work, focused on inclusive environments where both introverts and extroverts can survive (paraphrase). Susan: Our goal is to help introverts and extroverts find a common language that helps them work together and be more empathetic and more collaborative (paraphrase).

3:35 What is school like today for an introverted child? Susan says we have to remember that most schools were set up in an era of producing workers. Research shows society is 50-50 on introverts-extroverts. When we really look at things, schools have no place to be alone or recharge your battery, which is hard for introverts. Further there is an implicit message being sent that extroverted students are the “ideal” student. This also goes for teachers – there is an implicit understanding that extroverts are better teachers.

Heidi: Introverts tend to report lower self esteem, anxiety, and stress… much of which comes from societal norms to be social, or the pressure to be social to be successful. Susan: Interestingly enough, if introverts are able to feel good about who they are, they shine, even when they need to act in an extroverted manner (paraphrase). Heidi: It is important to re-charge in solitude, it is equally important to find the right time to stretch into extroversion.

Susan: We are actually wired differently! Extroverts are wired to respond positively to stimulation, while introverts are biologically penalized from stimulation (paraphrase). Heidi: This is sensory and social – bright lights are a problem! Groups, noise, lighting, all important to think about. Susan: We can’t have a one size fits all environments! We need to be wary of moving to open plans with no place of respite.

3:43 Moving on to talking about leadership and introversion… Susan says there is a lot of research showing that introverts are often bypassed for leadership opportunities, and yet studies also show that introverts are more often successful in leadership roles than extroverts. Interestingly in Good to Great, people described successful leaders as quiet, thoughtful, seeking out individuals for 1:1 discussions. Intrinsic motivation for introverts is their heart for what they are doing.

Susan says humility is one of the largest undervalued character traits. She says those who are humble are often devalued. When someone has humility and passion for what they do, it is unbelievably powerful.

3:50 How might we teach introverts public speaking? Susan says it’s important to determine anxiety levels before talking about public speaking. If we push too hard, and the person has a negative experience, then every time that individual goes to speak they recall the failure, making it even harder. (You can look up the “Macbeth story” that Susan has shared!)

Heidi: Being a quiet leader can be difficult… often introverts hesitate to tell their supervisor about their needs for alone time, and often do not self-promote either. Finding ways to support introverts in finding that time and highlighting their work would go a long way. Susan: for those of you in leadership in schools and who are introverts, it is really important for you to bring awareness to this and to open the dialogue about introversion. Ariana Huffington did this with her introduction of “nap rooms.”

4:01pm Susan: measuring raising hands has a negative impact on civil discourse… she is working with schools to measure other attributes, such as showing learning with visible learning outputs, helpfulness, etc, as they evaluate students. Heidi: to change culture, we need to change language. For example, rather than saying Sophie needs to take time to get an answer, you say that Sophie is a deep thinker. Something that teachers can implement is to bring in more reflection to the classroom to build in thinking time, or just extend wait time for responses. Research shows that greater think time leads to more meaningful responses from students.

Susan: One thing we also need to be mindful of is that extroverts need to learn elements of introversion to help them be their best self as well (paraphrase). We talk about “flow” – these moments are often taking place individually. To think about things deeply, one needs along-time to quietly process. Extroverts can struggle with this, and it is a skill they need to learn as well.

Susan: You don’t have to rebuild to create spaces that afford introverts a place to be quiet and/or recharge. Simply thinking about lunch room and recess – maybe not having one huge area for everyone, but allowing some additional spaces for students to not just survive those times, but to be seen as acceptable options for students. Heidi: This is a process (identifying restorative niches) that can be turned over to students.

At this point, the session is open to questions from the audience. Due to a previously scheduled appointment, I stepped out at this point. All in all, some good food for thought. Just before this session, some colleagues and I were talking generally about introversion and extroversion. I’m always so surprised by who identifies as which type of person… it was fascinating to hear each person’s take on where they felt they fell on that spectrum. It just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover! Oh, and for the record, I’m an introvert. I can be extroverted and be up front and energetic and social, but to re-charge I definitely need some alone time.

 

Greetings from Baltimore!

 

Greetings from Baltimore, home of the #NAISAC 2017! Today, Tuesday, is the day before the conference officially opens. The NAIS team has been hard at work – banners are up, informational signs are in place, and in general, the convention center appears to be ready for the influx of independent school educators who will soon fill these halls. It promises to be a great conference. I will be writing a couple of posts each day to share my experience, so please do check back!

 

I have already seen several friends and colleagues, and I know I will have the pleasure of seeing many more in the days ahead. Tomorrow is the pre-conference day and there are several sessions available for those who have registered. I have had the good fortune to be selected as an Aspiring Heads Fellow, and tomorrow will be the capstone of this year-long (incredible) learning journey. I am so thankful to NAIS, the EE Ford Foundation, and my incredible mentor, Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau. I have been matched up with successful school heads to learn about how they do what they do, and it has helped improve my current leadership practice enormously. I look forward to seeing how these lessons continue to impact the work that I do in the future. If you are thinking about school leadership, you should consider applying for the Fellowship program!

 

The conference center and the conference hotel overlook Camden Yards – quite a neat sight to behold from the hotel room when I checked in. The historic harbor front is just a few short blocks from the hotel and convention center.

 

 

 

 

Can’t make it to NAIS? Stay up to date right here

Wish you could have made it to Baltimore for the NAIS national conference, but there’s just no way it can happen? Never fear. I’ll be blogging my way through the conference and you can keep up with what I experience by following me on Twitter or by logging in here.

It promises to be an action-packed week and the keynote speakers look amazing… I look forward to sharing it with you!

Twitter: @drlaurynnevans

Catch me at NAIS 2017!

I’m excited to share that I will be giving two presentations at NAIS 2017! Come join me in Baltimore during the week of March 1.

But wait, there’s more! I will also be blogging for NAIS during the conference – they will feature a link to my blog and I’ll be linking posts via Twitter as well. Check back March 1 – 4 for thoughts, reflections, and information from the NAIS annual conference!

Here are my presentation sessions:

Happy Faculty, Vibrant Schools: On Thursday, I will be co-presenting a session about what factors contribute to employee satisfaction in independent school. This is based off a mixed-methods analysis and a thorough literature review about hiring/induction, compensation, professional development, and employee “perks” that lead to stronger retention and higher overall satisfaction.

Fifteen Formative Assessment Strategies You Can Use TOMORROW: On Friday, I will be sharing fifteen take-away strategies that teachers can use immediately in their classrooms. These interventions are easy to implement, students like them, and best of all, study after study has shown that using these strategies leads to improved student learning and retention.

I look forward to seeing you at NAIS!

Happy New Year

September heralds the start of a  new school year. And so… I’d like to wish a very Happy New Year to all of my educator friends out there!

I love using that expression to welcome colleagues and students – Happy New Year. The connotation of “Happy New Year” as compared to “welcome back” imparts a different, more positive, kind of energy. Think about January 1 each year, with the excitement, celebration, and joy that it brings. People set goals and make resolutions. People reflect and celebrate. People become aspirational. Who wouldn’t want that kind of feeling at their school when the academic year starts?

Celebrating the people and work that got the school year off to a successful start and clearly articulating the vision and goals for the school sets a great tone. Welcoming newcomers to the community is another integral element of a solid start. Providing connection between what has happened and where the school is going brings your new people alongside the work, and helps them feel like a contributor. Inevitably, there is always need-to-know nuts and bolts, but finding ways to reduce the inevitable “administravia” during the back-to-school weeks helps.

How might you make your start of year celebratory, visionary, and aspirational?

Happy New Year!

Summer Reading – Four Favorites!

It will soon be time for the students and faculty to head off on their respective summer vacations. And while most school leaders continue working through the summer, the focus changes and the pace tends to let up a bit. And then there are those few precious weeks of summer vacation where even school leaders are able to rest and renew. For me, those vacation periods are times of reflection, learning, and growth… just having some physical distance and time away from the day-to-day work often leads to reflection and new ideas. As such, I love spending this time doing some reading, and so I thought I’d share four good reads for you to consider perusing this summer.

 

Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our kids for the Innovation Era by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith

Tony Wagner has become somewhat of a fixture in the field of educational theory, having published numerous books about education. This time around, he partners with Ted Dintersmith, a venture capitalist who has deep experience in the tech sector to author a book that challenges the traditional paradigm of “success” for America’s school children. Rather than relying upon traditional measures like GPA and test scores, they contend that exposure to hands-on, project-based learning that develops essential skills is what will truly set our students apart. Some would say that Wagner and Dintersmith go too far in their call for a complete turning over of the educational system, and others would say that they are just toe-dipping into the pool “what might be” if we had the courage to engage in wholesale change. Regardless of which camp you fall into, you will find a great deal of “food for thought” for educators and a lot of ideas that could significantly improve the way in which we take on teaching and learning.

Some reviews of Most Likely to Succeed can be found HERE and HERE. There is also a documentary film by the same name that is an interesting examination of some alternative approaches to learning happening in schools today.

 

The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery by Sarah Lewis

To sum it up: I absolutely loved this book. The story vignettes combined with the sincerely lovely sentiments of some of the featured people created a narrative that was inspirational, interesting, and thought-provoking. Many educators are making the transition from implicit to explicit instruction of a “fail-forward” mindset with their students, and this book provides some real-world experiences that demonstrate the value of faith, perseverance, individualism, and learner’s mindset. Lewis explores the myriad traits that led different personalities down their individualized path of success (and success is defined very differently from person to person, which to me only enhances the worth of the tales told). This book is beautifully written, is multi-dimensional, and has many take-aways for all educators. Failure is indeed a gift – and Lewis reminds us of this important lesson as we contemplate our own definition of what it means to be successful.

Some reviews for The Rise can be found HERE and HERE.

 

Open: How We’ll Work, Live and Learn in the Future by David Price

The rapidly changing world around us cannot help but impact the way in which we communicate, work, and function in our daily lives. This is especially true in the field of education, where new online platforms and services are dictating a new approach to teaching and learning at all levels. Rather than seeing the incessant changes around us as a disruptive force, Price contends that these forces can radically level the playing field for teachers and learners alike and open the door to new opportunities. From the genesis of MOOCs to gaining greater accessibility to individualized, personalized learning experiences, these early trends will play an ever greater role in education moving forward. This engaging and thought-provoking book is a must-read for any 21st century teacher!

Some reviews of Open can be found HERE, HERE and HERE.

 

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

As educational leaders, feedback comes at us from 360 degrees on a daily basis. How we perceive, interpret, and react to that feedback is enormously important to our ability to relate with others in our community and “do the work” that needs doing. How we deliver feedback to others is equally important. This book encourages everyone to take a few steps back from interactions, reflect on intent versus impact, and re-think how we approach the giving and receiving of feedback. Stone and Heen discuss what can cause feedback go sideways, how we can address feedback that we feel is off base, how we can engage with challenging personalities in feedback loops, and how we can improve feedback systems both in formal and in informal systems. If you either give or receive feedback, this book is full of gems to help you process the feedback you receive as well as shape the feedback you give. Stone and Heen are the authors of Difficult Conversations, which is another worthwhile read.

Some reviews for Thanks for the Feedback can be found HERE and HERE.

Happy summer, and happy reading!

Effective Partnerships Between Schools and Universities

Like many independent schools, Parker has a committed faculty who are content savvy and who love working with students. Like many independent schools, Parker does not require that faculty hold a valid state-issued teaching credential. I heard from several faculty that they wanted to build up their pedagogical tool kit but not have a “one and done” or piecemeal approach to that work. I began thinking about how we might meet needs of those who wanted to either obtain similar learning as would be obtained in a credentialing program, as well as meeting needs of folks who already had a credential but who wished to hear the latest and greatest research-backed pedagogical information. I had heard a bit about “micro-credentialing” or “micro-certificate” programs that had met with good success. As such, the natural solution as I saw it was to find a way to provide a credential program of some manner that would both provide the pedagogical took-kit information as well as validate the time spent on the work by participants (via the demarkation of a certificate completion on a transcript). To do this, it would be important to partner with an accredited university program.

Our Middle School Head had a relationship with USD, and he helped me make introductions with the right folks. I then spent considerable time forging a partnership between Francis Parker and the University of San Diego last year, including developing the program from the ground up in tandem with their team. The net result was the creation of the “Independent School Educator Certificate Program” – an eight module, one-year program that mirrors the pedagogical training encapsulated in most required credential programs for teachers who obtain their state licensure. Our first cohort will be finishing the program in mid-May, and it has received rave reviews from the 15 faculty who are participating. We already have people inquiring about next year’s program, as well as taking the opening steps towards crafting a summer intensive version of the program that will be open to independent school educators from around the nation.

HERE is a nice write up about our efforts from a well known speaker and writer in the field of independent education. Enjoy!

We are moving forward with putting together another program for next year, and already have several interested faculty for that cohort group. We have also heard from other schools that doing something like this on an accelerated summer time frame would be very helpful and popular. As such, we are currently formulating how we could put a similar program together for the summer of 2017. It would be hosted here at Parker with participants staying at USD. Stay tuned!