Blog has been a little quiet lately. I have been busy handling some changes…

Tonight I was honored to be named Principal of the lowest performing comprehensive high school in Osceola County… on paper. But, my students and staff are anything but. I have 1700 students that, when the bar is raised, will rise to meet and exceed. My staff works long hours educating students on ever changing standards, meanwhile filling in gaps of years worth of knowledge. Lots of people think that they can teach – and the truth is they can’t. It’s not an easy gig. The work we have ahead of us is hard and long – but when complete our students, staff, and school will be all the better for it. 

As for the low performing part – this past year we doubled our FAFSA completion rates, saw a double digit increase in percentage of four year college acceptances, and have students immersed in a college going culture.

I could not be more excited for this journey to begin. It’s going to be hard work, but… It’s what we do.

Thanks to my mom, my wife, Angela Meechin (the best teacher I know) for all her sacrifice for me, and some profound educators that left a mark on me – Wendy Venza, Jane Nagle, William McGuinness, and Katrina Burnot.

Here we go.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.

For more information about having Mike speak at your school or district, click the “Book Mike” link under Work With Me.

Signing Day

On May 1, my school held one of our most important days of the school year. It was Signing Day.

Many people may say, Signing Day? Did they choose the Gators, Seminoles… who are they playing for? But, I have to stop them. Our Signing Day is not about athletics, but rather academics. May 1st every year is College Decision Day, and we celebrate our Seniors that have been accepted to college or have post-secondary plans.

Signing Day

We are in our second year of this tradition and we doubled the number of acceptances from last year. The process is simple. We invite all of our accepted students to our Signing Day ceremony. There they meet with their peers and we acknowledge each post-secondary institution and those accepted. Students sign a certificate that states their commitment to the importance of post-secondary education.

Each signing we cheer, celebrate, cry, and lift each other up. It has become one of the most important events to me personally. I hope that you can take this idea and bring it to your school. In the meantime, check out my College and Career Counselor, the @theeducounselor on Twitter.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.

For more information about having Mike speak at your school or district, click the “Book Mike” link under Work With Me.

Research: Grad Rate vs. Fail Rate

I’ll say it. I love grading and assessment. I do. I love it.

I have been wanting for a while to complete some research on grading practices, their impact on failure rates in high schools, and further – how those failure rates impact high school graduation rates. I am preparing for a session for the ASCD National Conference (which I am hoping will be accepted) on my beliefs about how fail rates are an overlooked key data point that can be used to predict high school graduation rates.

But… I need you help (and the help of your network).

Below is a very informal (100% anonymous) research input form. I am not using all of the formalities that you will often see associated with educational research (that will come later). If you are an educational leader or know an educational leader please share this post with them. I need their input.

I am really hoping that ASCD will realize the importance of this data and accept my proposal – I think that this work is so important. If you are able to help, I would greatly appreciate it. The simple form is below.

If you would prefer to share the link please use: http://bit.ly/mcgfailresearch.

Questions? As always you can contact me using the contact information on my site.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.

For more information about having Mike speak at your school or district, click the “Book Mike” link under Work With Me.

Power of Immediate Feedback

The most important support that I can provide to my faculty is feedback. It is essential in all that we do in my building. It is something that I work to do more – provide faculty with quality, timely feedback on what I see in their classrooms.

Like many schools, out leadership team focuses on getting into many classrooms per week. Because time is something that is an issue in every school – we developed a system that we think meets everyone’s needs. We developed a Google Form, which you can see a demo of below. The form is customized to what we need for our teachers, students and school. We love Google Forms for two major reasons:

  1. The form is 100% customizable and can be adapted as our needs change
  2. The analytics and metrics that we receive are invaluable; we can walk classrooms and look at data in our admin meeting the same afternoon

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However, we had a major issue. While the administration was getting the data, the teachers were not getting the feedback. We were often having to do additional work by sending an email or typing feedback into our evaluation system to get it to the teacher. This process takes too long and required double the work.

Enter, autoCrat; an add-on that lives in Google Drive.

This add-on takes a feedback form template that we created and merges all of the data from the Google Form right into that document and emails it to us as soon as we click submit. We can then simply forward the email to the teacher of the classroom that we walked and done. Often, the teachers have a PDF document sitting in their inbox before I ever leave the classroom.

It is like magic. You can try it out below. Click the link and complete the Google Form, which is modeled off of the WT protocol that we use in my building. Once you submit, you will receive an email with the PDF feedback form instantly.

Link to Demo Walkthrough Protocol Form: http://bit.ly/demowtprotocol

I work with schools and districts to customize this process to meet their needs and train their administrators on the process. For more info check out: http://www.meechincg.com.

For DIYers, you can check out @principaldurham and his article that details the process here.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.

For more information about having Mike speak at your school or district, click the “Book Mike” link under Work With Me.

Stop the Cycle

So, as I begin this post, I am still not really sure how I want to craft this entry. However, it has been weighing heavy on me.

I have worked my entire career in schools that serve students of low socioeconomic status and high minority rates. In my more recent role over the past few years in administration, I have spent that time in Title I schools exclusively. I am also a product of a very diverse public education in similar settings.

Public education as a whole is broken. Education is not on the radar of any politician in this country. Let me clarify, I mean really on the radar of any politician in this country. Talking about it from time to time does not cut it. Saying you want improved test scores when you would not last five seconds in front of a classroom full of school-aged children is an empty message.

Public education within underserved communities is even further broken. I have been there. I have been a leader in a building where less than 50% of students graduate on time. Those schools exist. Every day, students, teachers, and administrators serve in these schoolhouses. For many, the process is simply cyclical. Others may from time to time be impacted by a great leader and have a chance to turn it around.

For most, however, the cyclical land of missed opportunity continues day after day. Because I believe that education can set you free – this bothers me.

How will these schools succeed?

I have heard over the past couple of weeks several politicians spout off about school choice. School choice is not how these schools will succeed. It is clear that anyone that would suggest that as an answer does not understand the logistics of schooling. For example, students from low performing school F choose to go to high performing school A. But, high performing school A is at capacity and does not have any remaining seats. So, where do you go from there? Terrible idea.

How about we spend time and money in low performing schools? I caught this tweet over the weekend…

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How do we make this happen? As a school leader, I try to hire with a purpose. I make it plain that I need educators that want to be at my school. It is not easy, but I need them to want to be there. Highly effective educators and leaders are leaving low performing schools. As @tgrierisd tweeted, “we must stop this cycle”.

If you know any great educators looking to serve in low performing schools please reach out and connect with me. If you have best practices or other strategies about hiring highly effective educators in low performing schools please share them here on this post – I look forward to reading them.

Thank you to all of those who serve in low performing schools and stay committed to those students, schools and communities.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.

For more information about having Mike speak at your school or district, click the “Book Mike” link under Work With Me.