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Superintendent's Blog


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Educational Research? Really? Maybe.

Posted by Bruce Benson in Superintendent

Research in education tends to take a lot of criticism. Some say you can find support for pretty much anything you want to do. One of the contributing factors is that educational research doesn’t typically receive the same degree of review as that in the hard sciences, which is generally scrutinized by other scientists, requiring peer review to be credible. One way to somewhat overcome this limitation of educational research is to seek out studies that use meta-analysis. Meta-analysis is...

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

21st Century Skills?

Posted by Bruce Benson in Superintendent

Many school divisions have reset their sights on ensuring students graduate with 21st Century skills. Organizations like The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) and change leadership authors like Tony Wagner (The Global Achievement Gap) have made their lists of skills necessary for survival in the 21st Century. Most lists include things like creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and information and technology literacy. I am not sure I understand what is uniquely...

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary

Posted by Bruce Benson in Superintendent

First of all, let me be clear. There is nothing wrong with ordinary – it’s just, well, ordinary. But then, how is it that some people are able to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary? Going out for a cup of coffee might feel ordinary. Then again, how is it that Starbucks has turned the ordinary into what some consider an extraordinary experience? As professionals in education, we may not necessarily see ourselves as being part of a service industry, but in a lots ways we are...

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Importance of Arts Education

Posted by Bruce Benson in Superintendent

With December come opportunities to experience the arts in our schools, as our students take to stages to present winter concerts. Having attended a few recent performances, I have to say, we have exceptional talent in this area – both in students and teachers. The visual and performing arts are an important part of the K-12 experience. Some contend that expertise in the arts is exactly what many businesses need to make their offerings unequalled. Daniel H. Pink, a contributing editor at...

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

'Tis the Season...for 2014-15 Budget Development

Posted by Bruce Benson in Superintendent

It is that time of the year again! Budget season! Perhaps not what many people have in mind as something to look forward to as 2013 winds down, but it is time to begin working on our 2014-15 budget. And, personally, I am excited, because a budget, and more importantly the development process, is a vehicle for reaffirming what we value. It is important to keep in mind that the purpose of a school budget goes well beyond simply justifying the expenditure of public funds. It is an opportunity for...

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Disruptive Innovation in the Classroom

Posted by Bruce Benson in Superintendent

Disruptive innovation, a term coined by award-winning Harvard Business professor Clayton Christensen, is the process by which an innovation in a market disrupts traditional thinking about products or services, eventually replacing the conventional. Personal computing devices – desktops, laptops, tablets, coupled with access to the Internet – personalized our access to information. However, while personal computing devices would be considered a disruptive innovation in the technology...

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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Back to School

Posted by Bruce Benson in Superintendent

School is back in session! After a busy summer and pre-service week, it is exciting to welcome back our most important stakeholders – our students! While we clearly have challenges ahead, the 2013-2014 school year looks to be an exciting one. Approximately one-third of our teachers participated in our first Teaching and Learning Academy where they focused efforts on the development of instructional units designed to enhance levels of student engagement and deepen understanding. Teachers...

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Friday, May 31, 2013

The Next Chapter: Life After High School

Posted by Bruce Benson in Superintendent

It is graduation time! It is a time to recognize and celebrate the successes of our young people as they prepare to move on to the next chapter of their lives. It is also time to consider how the next chapter might be different from high school, whether off to work or on to further formal education. College is different than high school. For starters, you are not required to be there. You choose to be there and there is a lot of personal freedom in deciding how to use your time. In other words,...

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why Focus on STEM Opportunities?

Posted by Bruce Benson in Superintendent

What is STEM? The acronym STEM refers to the content areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. From an instructional perspective, STEM initiatives generally seek to integrate content and learning opportunities using an interdisciplinary approach through exploration, discovery, and problem solving – in other words, engaging students in authentic learning opportunities that require students to think critically. Why focus on STEM? According to Elizabeth Creamer, the Governor’s,...

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What Makes Authentic Work Authentic?

Posted by Bruce Benson in Superintendent

One of our key instructional improvement areas centers on providing students authentic learning experiences. As such, it is important that we have a common understanding of what that means as it relates to the work we ask students to do. According to Phil Schlechty (Working on the Work, 2002), it means providing opportunities for students to do work that is relevant, real-life, and rooted in inquiry or discovery. It is not teaching vocabulary in isolation of content, contrived activities, or repetition...

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The True Cost of Teacher Turnover

Posted by Bruce Benson in Superintendent

There has been considerable dialog of late regarding the possible elimination of an early retirement incentive (ERI) established by the School Board in 1996. While the current policy is somewhat different than the original, the basic tenet remains the same: retire after 30 years, work 10 days and receive 10% of your final salary for up to seven years. For teachers today, that translates into upwards of $500 dollars per day, for administrators, much more. None of the school divisions in our comparison...

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Our Communication Goals

Posted by Bruce Benson in Superintendent

Communications help schools effectively meet the constant and increasing demands for information from parents and other stakeholders, and to engage them as partners in improving student achievement. Just like successful businesses, successful schools know good communication is the key to achieving aggressive goals for improving the student learning experience. Communications are not to be left to chance or used only when things go wrong. Communications enable us to create an environment in which...

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