Random Notes

Stories...

posted Nov 11, 2013, 7:06 PM by Steven Magadance

...are an integral part of how we perceive and interpret the world around us.  Stories may also serve to narrowly define and stereotype our understanding of things if we only know a few stories.  This intriguing TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie describes how a "single story" can inform us incompletely.  How many stories define you are your world?


Connecting

posted Sep 9, 2012, 10:36 AM by Steven Magadance

The second week of school has concluded.  On Friday, the electricity in the halls was unmistakably palatable.  There was an in San Antonio varsity football game on the schedule, and participants in all of the game related festivities were dressed in full regalia.

It is no secret that humans are social animals.  Being and feeling connected to a place or a group enriches our experience as humans, and when we participate in a group to achieve a common outcome amazing things happen.  Research also suggests that participation in extra-curricular activities can have have a positive impact on student achievement at school.

Being connected can provide the necessary motivation go to school, learn social dynamics, and practice the social skills necessary to become a successful adult.

Organizations that are open and inviting to new members in the community serve an individual's need for connection and server the organization's desire for longevity.  This is a win-win prospect for both parties.

Here at Johnson there are several opportunities for students to get involved.  Check out the Clubs & Organizations at Johnson and contact the organization sponsor if you are interested in attending meetings and events.

Have a great week!

Week one is in the books!

posted Sep 3, 2012, 6:17 PM by Steven Magadance

What a week we had a Johnson.  By most accounts the first week of school was a pretty routine.  However, upon closer review there are a lot of things happening that help the week go smoothly.

Week one is all about stamina building.  Teachers and staff work at standing and talking for extended periods and learning the names of a new group of students.  Students spent time learning their schedules and locations of each classroom and reconnecting with friends from last year.  Counselors spent much of their time working with our students to craft the "perfect" schedule.

Me and my administrative teammates spent nearly every minute of each passing period helping students find their classrooms, checking out textbooks, and climbing stairs.  I have to say the E, F, and G wings are a snap but it may take me the entire year to figure out the A wing's room numbering system.  

Repeat after me, "Odd numbers are on the outside and evens are on the inside of the circles."

I'll have it down this week.

By mid-week most classes got down to the important business of learning, and this is a really good sign of things to come given all of the other beginning of school tasks that take place early in the first week.  At Johnson this week, we also introduced the FLEX day schedule.  

FLEX periods will meet every Tuesday and Wednesday and will develop into a space dedicated towards student learning and enrichment.  FLEX periods will allow students to prepare for national achievement tests, receive remediated instruction in preparation for the STAAR EOC exams, and to pursue other areas of interest each nine weeks.  One particular area of focus this nine weeks is the 7 Habits for teens in which all of our ninth-grade students are participating.  Students are working with trained members of the Johnson faculty to prepare themselves for productive, self-actualized high school careers and post-secondary pursuits.

Butterflies

posted Aug 26, 2012, 8:52 AM by Steven Magadance

A long time ago, a commencement speaker I heard described the nervous feeling he would always get when there was something new happening in his life.  He characterized the connection between new and anxious as a reason to celebrate that what he was doing in his life, and perhaps more importantly how he was doing it, was still important to him.  Basically, if he explained that if things weren't important anymore or if the results of an action no longer mattered it was time to move on.

As my family and I step onto the threshold of the next chapter of life and the newness of Johnson continues to seep in, I am happy to report that it all still matters very much to me.  My desire to do well by the students, parents, and teachers of the Johnson community is healthily keeping me on my toes.  Yes, I am nervous.

All said however, I am also confident that we are ready to receive students tomorrow morning.

Let the butterflies flurry.

Welcome back!

posted Aug 20, 2012, 5:04 PM by Steven Magadance

Today the halls at Johnson High School were filled with the shouts, echoes, and excitement often heard from those who have not seen each other for some time.

Questions about summer fun, family news, and curiosity about new faces dominated conversations all throughout the day.  It would have been easy to mistake these sounds for those of students returning from their summer hiatus, but today was the first day back for teachers!  

It was refreshing to hear the joyful noise of summer's end and feel the surge of energy that accompanies the preparation for a new school year.  This is not to say that the day was spent idly listening to and observing the commotion of the day.  My day came with lots of introductions, questions, and errands as the dedicated educators at Johnson began the process of setting up classrooms with posters, technology, and colored bulletin boards in anticipation of the arrival of our students next Monday.

Thank you to everyone I met today for your welcoming words and your patience as I continue to learn about what it means to be a Jaguar!

Moving

posted Aug 1, 2012, 6:23 PM by Steven Magadance

This past Monday, July 30, I began a new chapter in my educational career.  As I look forward to all of the new learning I will experience as an assistant principal at Claudia Taylor "Lady Bird" Johnson High School, I knew I needed space to reflect upon my learning at Lee/ISA/NESA/STEM.
 
It is difficult to adequately describe all of the amazing things that I have been privileged to participate in during the last thirteen years as a member of the Lee/ISA/NESA/STEM community.  Growing up from teaching infancy to administration, co-facilitating a CFG with my former teachers and my former students, traveling all over the country with students, lip-syncing in an insanely funny video about our new STAAR assessments, and dancing at ISA opening ceremony for the last three years, each of these memories and everything in between have had a profound impact on me as a learner and a leader.
 
Even now the memories of such serious fun cause the sadness to well up in me.
 
As I begin to look forward to my first year as a Johnson Jaguar, I feel the nervous excitement that will accompany my first day of school in a new community.  My excitement is focuses upon three things:

1. The possibilities,
2. The unknown place(s) from which possibility will present itself, and
3. The thought that I bring with me a wealth of learning and experience that I hope will continue all of the great work going on at Johnson.
 

PGL12

posted Jul 1, 2012, 7:37 AM by Steven Magadance

I just returned from Asia Society's annual ISSN/PGL Summer Institute held in Brooklyn, NY, with several colleagues from ISA.  My head is still buzzing with memories of presenters new and old and ideas about how to continue to cultivate authentic learning experiences for learners in the 21st century.  I also return energized about the upcoming school year with renewed commitment to communicate and connect with students at ISA as we continue to learn with the world.  Stay tuned to what develops in 2012-2012!

Staff Development with a twist

posted Feb 21, 2012, 3:06 PM by Steven Magadance

Imagine 700 teachers in a courtyard having conversations about teaching, students, and change.  That would be neat right?  Yesterday, teachers and administrators from the Lee High School cluster of schools participated in a World Cafe.  This conversation based protocol set up a context for small groups (approximately 10) of teachers to sit around circular tables to have meaningful conversations about being educators.  

Facilitated by a table host, three 20 minute rounds of conversation focused on what brought people into the profession, who our kids are and what they bring to the school each day, and conversation about the things we do as professional educators that impact students positively.

Having worked with colleagues in this type of context and participated in these kinds of conversation for the better part of a decade, I can truly say that Monday's conversations were powerful, heart warming, and authentic.  I feel bond to a new group of colleagues by our common experience and our deep passion.  I hope that the conversations that began yesterday continue into the future.

It has been awhile so let us reflect...

posted Nov 2, 2011, 7:16 AM by Steven Magadance

This morning with ISA teachers we discussed the importance of reflection.  Reflection is something we ask students to do quite a bit here at ISA.  Why do we reflect?  

It is one thing to learn about the world in which we live.  It is an entirely different thing to think about the process we go through to learn.  This is why reflection is an important part of the learning process.  Reflection allows an individual to consider the "how" of learning.  

What about a learning task works for the learner or the teacher?  What about the process might have been more effective?  What implications for future learning or extensions of learning might result?  Questions like these serve to help a learner look at a task from at least one other context and make deeper meaning of the learning that has already occurred.

Yes, but it's a good kind of tired.

posted Sep 1, 2011, 7:43 PM by Steven Magadance

The second week of school is nearly complete, and it has certainly been a busy week.  The highlight of the week by a long shot has been being in class.  This week, I have witnessed students building online maps illustrating cultural interactions resulting from the Columbian Exchange, derive the equation for velocity by investigating changes in acceleration, discuss the importance of a clean, plentiful water source, investigate artwork from ancient China, and discuss what exactly an oblate spheroid is and what one looks like.

It has been a tiring experience, but it is that good kind of tiring.

I can only imagine what I might get to see tomorrow.  I hope it is even better than the rest of the week!

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