Our Words

Our central office lives in one of our recently retired elementary schools. Lots of kid and teacher echoes in our hallways. I just walked over to see a colleague and was struck by the words we have chosen for our walls. Our daily reminders. Here they are:

I’m proud to work in a place that lives these words and thinks enough of them to commit them to public display.

Here are some of our other words:

Vision: The vision of Fife Public Schools is to be an inclusive and affirming learning organization that inspires achievement and personal growth in all students and prepares them to succeed in college, careers, community and life.

Mission: “The mission of Fife Public Schools is to be equity-focused and committed to success for all, including dismantling barriers for historically marginalized groups. Recognizing, celebrating, and embracing the diversity in our students and staff, we will…”

  • Engage our students in rigorous, culturally responsive experiences that link learning to college, careers, community, and life
  • Foster staff collaboration
  • Provide a safe and supportive environment for all
  • Cultivate collaborative, long-lasting relationships with families/caregivers and strong partnerships with community.

Daily, our educators in the classroom, move young people forward, into their dreams and aspirations. I like that our words reflect that.



We are doing a lot of professional learning around Collective Efficacy. Just wrapped up several learning sessions with our building leadership teams. We studied and discussed the 4 sources of Collective Teacher Efficacy (CTE), and the 5 enabling conditions that can lead to the aforementioned sources. As I’ve mentioned before we are using Leading Collective Efficacy by Jenni Donohoo and Stefani Arzonetti-Hite. We highly recommend this book!

One of the sources of CTE is ‘affective states’. Affective states can be negative or positive. We focused on the positive ones.

Turns out that working together, “collaborations where peers supported each other helped to diminish the effects of negative emotions and heighten the effects of positive emotions on efficacy.”

Our district just published its new ‘Strategic Direction’ document, after an extremely thorough series of listening and input sessions from stakeholders in in our community and district. Our Mission Statement is, “The mission of Fife Public Schools is to be equity-focused and committed to success for all, including dismantling barriers for historically marginalized groups. Recognizing, celebrating, and embracing the diversity in our students and staff, we will…

Two items at this point. First, note the bold all in the mission statement. That is emphasized on purpose. All. Second, what follows the mission statement are 4 bullets, listing our 4 goal areas.

Goal area number two is ‘Foster Staff Collaboration’. The team then identified ‘Pictures of Success’ for each goal area and for students, staff, families/caregivers.

The Pictures of Success for staff include:

  • Staff demonstrate strong collective efficacy with a lens for supporting all learners
  • Staff function as teams rather than groups of individuals
  • Leadership is the shared responsibility of all staff

Our Strategic Direction is just that. Our direction. Our journey. And the path to our journey includes all in our district, an expectation of collaboration, shared leadership, and collective efficacy.

Three student voice ideas.

In the old days, I was a wrestling coach. My colleague and I would routinely attend coaching clinics. We considered it a successful clinic if we came away with one good, useable idea for our team.

The same theory applies to reading excellent books. The book I just finished is Street Data, by @ShaneSafir and @JamilaDugan.

It’s an eye-opener and I definitely recommend it. I haven’t tallied up the great ideas yet, but here are three for sure, all centered on authentic student voice:

First idea. “Equity Learning Walks and Instructional Rounds: Students as Colleagues. If we want to understand the student experience, we need student observers by our side. Invite students to articulate their lenses and questions by asking, ‘What should we be paying attention to when we walk into classrooms?’” Having students not only join educators on school walks, but asking the students to tell educators what to look for. Yowzers!

Second idea. Joint student-teacher professional learning. “One high school in Des Moines, Iowa, decided to try joint student-teacher professional learning. In their first attempt, administrators brought forty-five students into conversation with seventy-two teachers around how to make learning more culturally inclusive and engaging (Superville, 2019). The school’s equity coach worked with the students behind the scenes to prepare them for this opportunity, including dress rehearsals with feedback. The dry run was so successful that soon, nearly one hundred students attended a staff PD to help teachers sharpen their lesson plans and make instruction more relevant.” We have had kids join staff in various formats, but not, to my recollection, ‘official professional learning’. I LOVE this idea.

Third idea. Students of all ages are perfectly capable of designing and leading lessons. “Imagine inviting your second graders to pair up and rotate leading a community circle once a week. As an English teacher, I designed an instructional routine called Read and Lead to foster student agency and literacy. Students paired up to study a segment of the class text (we were reading Beloved and then Othello at the time) and design an interactive lesson for a small group of peers. Each pair had the opportunity to teach a lesson in which their peers would not only participate but would also provide feedback. It was so much fun, and I watched many a shy learner build moxie and confidence. The process also created a common language around teaching and learning in the classroom.” Again, I know I’ve seen this in pockets, but not as an ongoing concern. A fantastic idea.

So, Street Data, has impacted my thinking in a whole bunch of ways and left a legacy of ideas to implement!