From Our Executive Director, Jacqueline Hicks (Sept. 2017 Newsletter):

An Open Letter to Teachers:

Dear Classroom Teacher,

For most of you, it is the start of the school year and with it a new set of challenges along with the ones well known to you. At the start of a new year, teachers are likely to set up rules to manage their classrooms, control student activity and behavior, and match school-wide expectations. Expectations such as:

  • being on time to class;
  • raising your hand and waiting to be called on;
  • turning off cell phones in class;
  • having water only, no food, drinks or chewing gum;
  • using the restroom during breaks;
  • staying in your assigned seat.

I have been thinking about you beginning your classes and getting to know a new set of students. I’m remembering what that was like for me—a bit of excitement, nervousness and anticipation. I was hopeful that all my plans and preparation would result in my students learning what I was teaching. Like most of you I know that student engagement and classroom management go hand in hand. For me, rather than establishing rules, that meant focusing first on the social-emotional development of my students and second on academic learning. That was my plan for managing my classroom and it worked. Just out of curiosity, consider:

What if during the first weeks of school you and your students just use class time to get to know each other as people?

What if instead you discuss the kind of classroom environment that will really support optimal learning for everyone?

What if instead of rules you and your students establish procedures for how you want to learn together and what to do when it isn’t […]

By | September 7th, 2017|Education, PCA, Teacher|0 Comments

Teachers: Inspiration, Recognition and Compensation

From Our Executive Director, Jacqueline Hicks (May 2017 Newsletter):

Last week, I had the good fortune to attend an event, “Inspiration for Teachers,” at the start of National Teacher Appreciation Week. It was both a celebration of teachers, and launch of a new Chicken Soup for the Soul book, Inspiration for Teachers. It was an amazing evening, with presentations from some of the authoInspirationForTeachersBookrs of the 101 stories in the book, highlighting how teachers make a difference. Like everyone else in the packed auditorium, I was moved by the many ways educators impact the lives of their students and how students impact the lives of their teachers. I became particularly tearful when one of the presenters, a young woman, recounted how her relationship with a teacher, through dealing with a serious physical disability, changed her life. She spoke about how he had inspired her, and that she wondered what inspires teachers? For me, and I believe most other teachers, inspiration comes largely from that relationship with students and the opportunity to facilitate them actualizing their potential. And the biggest boost comes when a student expresses gratitude publicly for the love and support they experienced in achieving their success. Next after that is the appreciation from parents for the growth and happiness they see developing in their children. This book launch is still affecting me, stirring up memories of these very significant, emotional moments in my career.

On the next Sunday, a colleague directed my attention to a TED talk being broadcast on KPBS, also I’m sure, to honor Teacher Appreciation Week. I only caught the second half […]

By | May 12th, 2017|Education, Empathy, Teacher|0 Comments

What Grade Would Your Students Give You?

From Our Executive Director, Jacqueline Hicks (April 2017 Newsletter):

Grades are a necessary part of traditional education. But what purpose do grades serve?

  • Administrators use the grades for tracking requirements for promotion and graduation, as well as ranking students.
  • Teachers use grades to give students feedback about their progress and achievement.
  • Counselors use grades to provide guidance about pursuing other courses and career objectives.
  • Grades provide teachers feedback for instructional planning.
  • For students, grades can be motivational.

Grades are a way to establish accountability for student achievement. Accountability is only valid if all parties involved agree about individual or organizational responsibilities, the criteria being used to assess achievement, and the consequences for the outcome. All parties, for me, include Administrator, Teacher, Parent, Student, and Government (district, state, federal). My purpose in this article is to focus on the accountability between teachers and students.

Teachers, you put a great deal of planning into meeting the standards and learning goals for each class, including what % of the grade will be based upon tests and how much weight to assign to homework. You try to create a fair and objective assessment of what each student has learned in your class. Did they learn what you set out to teach them? Are they ready for the next level? With success or failure, how much responsibility belongs with the teacher, and how much belongs with the student? In my classes, I always asked students what grade they thought they deserved and how they determined it. Those discussions became the basis for wonderful performance conversations, as well as a chance to review the course material.

The truth is that grades are also a reflection of a teacher’s performance and how well you facilitated the […]

By | April 24th, 2017|Congruence, Education, Teacher|0 Comments

Can we talk??

From Our Executive Director, Jacqueline Hicks (March 2017 Newsletter):

One of the things teachers identify as a reason for leaving their profession is that they don’t feel supported by their administrator/principal. I choose to interpret this as a need for relationship – a better relationship between the Leader and his/her Followers. (Check out our ‘10 Things Principals Don’t Tell Their Teachers But Should’ blog post. )

I am remembering my experiences as both teacher (follower) and administrator (leader), and I can share how I felt in both roles. As a teacher, I wanted my boss to support me in fulfilling the agreements of my teaching contract and allow me to participate and contribute my gifts. I wanted confirmation about the things I was doing well, and help with the things that were challenging. As the administrator, I wanted my teachers to enthusiastically embrace my vision and help me realize my goals for our students. I wanted partners who would let me know when they thought I was veering off track, and who would add their efforts and ideas to our joint success. I wanted relationships with colleagues who would be responsible and hold me accountable. In my conversations with other teachers and other administrators, they have expressed desires for a similar kind of rapport.

Unfortunately, I found the opportunities to discuss, reflect and improve upon our joint efforts were few and far between. Both as teacher and administrator, the lack of opportunities was disheartening. It wasn’t just lack of time, but also lack of courage and, more importantly, lack of skill. It felt risky to attempt to have conversations about my and other people’s performances. It seemed to me that not only did my colleagues find speaking […]

By | March 22nd, 2017|Adminstrators, Congruence, Empathy, PCA, Teacher|0 Comments

10 Things Principals Don’t Tell Their Teachers, But Should…

From our newsletter of April, 2016: Jackie offers this for a little perspective.  🙂

1. “I really do care how you feel about me.”
I want you to like me, and I know you don’t like everything I do.  When I come off like a hard-ass who doesn’t care about your opinions, it’s mostly because I’m insecure or uncertain of my authority.  I’m your boss; the school is at least partly an extension of myself.  So I want you to like your job.  And I definitely want you to like me.

2. “I don’t think I know everything.”
A few people stepped in, without being asked, and made a huge difference in my professional life.  I will always be grateful to them as mentors and coaches.  So I don’t offer advice to you because I think I’m all knowing or all-powerful.  I see something special in you, and I’m repaying the debt I owe to the people who helped me.

3. “I like when you’re having fun.”
You don’t have to lower your voice and pretend to be serious when I enter your classroom.  I know it’s possible for students to perform at a high level and have a little fun at the same time.  Busy, engaged students aren’t necessarily quiet and serious.  I used to work that way, too.  When you enjoy what you do it makes me feel a little better about our school and about myself.  I get to feel like I’m part of something more than just the administration.

4. “I really would like to pay you more.”
I have a budget based on the number of students in attendance each day.  The largest expenditure is teacher salaries, benefits, and payroll taxes. I am challenged all the time to […]

By | March 15th, 2017|Adminstrators, Education, Empathy, From the Staff, Teacher|0 Comments

Don’t Be Afraid of Betsy DeVos

From Our Executive Director, Jacqueline Hicks (February 2017 Newsletter):


  • Much has been wrong about our education system, long before DeVos became our Secretary of Education.
  • Less than 10% of the money for public education comes from the federal government.
  • Best to focus on what WE ALL can do to make our local schools great.
  • Start by looking at what teachers, parents, and students know works and do that.
  • Think global and act local – start with your local school board and your school’s PTA.

My time as an education reformer began in 1997 with California’s Charter School Movement well underway. As a parent of a very unhappy 7th grader, my husband and I had to face the fact that our local public school was not meeting our needs or those of our young son. My husband with his lifetime California teaching credential had a very good idea of what makes a classroom a quality learning environment. Fortunately, we found a new, innovative, charter middle school that fit us to a T. I became a very involved parent and I learned what best practices, small class size, project based learning, field work, portfolios, understanding learning style differences, and integrating subjects around a yearlong theme could do for my son’s happiness and success in school.

Taking what I was learning at the charter school and combining it with my knowledge of and experience with the Person-Centered Approach (gained largely at the Center for Studies of the Person founded by Dr. Carl R. Rogers and colleagues), I developed a leadership curriculum for middle and high school students. I then went on to start, with my friend and partner Linda Reed, Cortez Hill Academy charter middle and high school. Our foundation […]

By | February 16th, 2017|Education, PCA, Teacher|3 Comments

A Teacher’s Point of View on the Current State of Education

Education Transformations received the following in an email from a teacher who found us online.  We thought it was so interesting, we got permission to share it.  We’d love to hear your perspective – do you agree, disagree, or how did this strike you?

I am Marco Franco, a fifty-nine year old high school teacher in Laredo, Texas, and I am planning to apply Carl Rogers’ Student Center Teaching, as well as his Humanistic Education theories, in my classroom throughout the Spring Semester, which begins [in January 2017].

For the past twelve years, I have been teaching English, ESL, Oral Interpretation, Practical Writing and mentoring college composition classes. Also, I made a brief stint facilitating leadership and team dynamics workshops at the local community college.

Nowadays the educational system is in crisis and rapidly deteriorating. When we learn about it in the newspaper or through the TV news, it just becomes another short-lived news clip to be buried again by tomorrow’s newest news. Witnessing the failure of the educational system day after day in the classroom, and going home knowing that we, teachers, cannot improve it becomes a daily frustration.

True teachers do teach despite all hindrances, while many others end up conforming to the state of affairs, resigning, or just teaching to the test. However, the elephant is in the room.

The gap between the academic curricula and the student population is widening every year. On one side we have the state education agencies enforcing End Of Course Tests (EOCs), assessing and ranking school districts according to their test performances, and complete school districts teaching to the test to get the coveted “Exemplary” status and more federal money.

On the other side, there is the student population emerging from dysfunctional […]

By | February 15th, 2017|Education, Empathy, PCA, Teacher|0 Comments