• What experienced teachers wish they’d known as beginners.

    Posted by John Buchanan at 1/31/2013
    I read an interesting online article from the website edutopia.org this week titled Experienced Teachers Reflect on Their First Year: A Follow Up which got me thinking....What do you wish you had known as a beginning teacher? The author, Dr. Judy Willis, posed that same question on her blog and the responses were  quite interesting.
    Click the link to read the article:  http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teachers-reflect-on-first-year-judy-willis
    So, the question remains, what do you wish you had known as a beginning teacher? I look forward to reading the wise responses and experiences from the veteran teachers in the Petal School District. 
    Comments (3)
  • Senate Bill 2189

    Posted by John Buchanan at 1/18/2013

    Senate Passes Charter School Bill 2189---Read and react...


    Senators presented the following 7 amendments for consideration by the full Senate:

    · Senator Videt Carmichael offered an amendment for a charter contract to be revoked at any time if the charter school is rated an "F" for two (2) consecutive school years, rather than the three (3) consecutive years as adopted by the Senate Education Committee.  This amendment passed on a voice vote.

    · Senators Watson, McDaniel, Harkins, Smith, Tindell, Sojourner, Collins and Hill offered an amendment to allow the Public Charter School Authorizing Board to approve charter schools for special needs students without the approval of the local school board.  This amendment failed by a vote of 21 years to 27 nays.

    · Senator Bill Stone offered an amendment that the bill take effect and be in force only in the event that the Legislature fully fund the MAEP formula.  This amendment failed by a vote of 17 yeas to 31 nays.

    · Senators Bryan and Blount offered an amendment for the State Board of Education to contract with a charter school provider to operate at least five (5) of the state's school districts which are currently under state conservatorship.  This amendment failed on a voice vote.

    · Senator Kelvin Butler offered an amendment providing that charter school employees are members of PERS, rather than offering charters the flexibility to choose whether they want to "opt in" or "opt out" of PERS.  This amendment failed by a vote of 21 years to 26 nays.

    · Senator David Blount offered an amendment prohibiting charter school organizations, as well as legal entities which contract for educational services with a charter schools, from contributing to political campaigns.  This amendment failed.

    · Senator David Blount also offered an amendment providing that the State Board of Education, rather than the Mississippi Public Charter School Authorizing Board, authorize charters throughout the state.  This amendment failed.

    As passed the full Senate, SB 2189: 

    · Allows charters in every school district in the state.  Local school boards in "A" and "B" districts must approve any charter application in their district prior to the application being submitted to the MS Public Charter School Authorizing Board.  Applications in "C," "D," and "F" districts will go directly to the authorizing board without prior approval of the local school board.

    · Creates the 7-member Mississippi Public Charter School Authorizing Board to authorize charter schools throughout the state.  3 of the members will be appointed by the Governor, 3 by the Lt. Governor and 1 by the State Superintendent of Education. 

    · Allows the non-profit charter licensee to hire for-profit charter school management companies to govern and operate the charter school.

    · Provides that public charter schools shall be subject to the student assessment and accountability requirements applicable to other public schools in the state.

    · Prohibits private schools from converting to public charter schools.

    · Provides that a charter school's underserved population (i.e., students with an economic or academic disadvantage) must be no less than 80% of the underserved population in the local district.

    · Exempts up to 25% of teachers in charter schools from state certification in the initial year the charter is opened.  All teachers must hold at least alternative certification within 3 years.  SB 2189 exempts 100% of charter school administrators from certification requirements.

    · Provides that charter operators must elect in their charter application to be "all in" or "all out" of PERS.  If an operator elects to be in, employees of charter schools will be members of PERS.

    Allows students to cross district lines to attend charter schools, with the money to follow the child.
    Comments (0)
  • Website's Used In My Classroom

    Posted by John Buchanan at 12/14/2012 1:05:00 PM
    During a recent visit to the 6th Math Lesson Study at PUES a discussion began and you need to become part of that discussion. A teachers asked me if Pinterest was an allowable website for teachers to obtain resources for the classroom. The answer is yes...so if Pinterest is a site that teachers use there must be others as well...So here is how you can become part of that discussion.
    Share with us websites that you use for resources and lesson plan development...feel free to share as an individual or PLC group.
    Comments (11)
  • Governor Bryant's Conference Call

    Posted by John Buchanan at 11/28/2012 11:30:00 AM
    I will share my thoughts concerning governor Bryant's conference call last night and his 2013 Pre-K-12 Education Legislative Agenda and look forward to your response. 
    Merit Pay--When first discussed I asked Johnny Franklin (at the time he was Gov Bryant's K-12 Ed Policy Advisor) where the money would come from and he stated that districts could use local supplement dollars which in effect would become an unfunded mandate. Last night when Gov Bryant said no teachers would lose money he was technically correct but not completely truthful. He said teacher step increases would remain the same from the state and that is true, but there will be no additional dollars from the state to fund any type of merit pay...that will fall on each district...Beginning with 14-15 Teachers will be evaluated using MSTAR and district administrators will conduct evaluations. This will be a statewide initiative...which in my opinion will lead to problems with inter-rater reliability across the state. Merit Pay sounds good but there are too many variables that prohibit success in education...This has been discussed since the Kirk Fordice Era. We are not concerned about our ability to implement MSTAR with utmost fidelity...I cannot say the same about all districts in Mississippi.
    Charter Schools & Open Enrollment--- Gov. Bryant started with Choice, then transitioned to Vouchers, and finally to Charter Schools. Charter Schools are not relegated to failing school districts and can surface in any district in Mississippi. He also discussed open enrollment and opportunity scholarships. Open enrollment would allow a student in a failing district  (D & F) to transfer and MAEP dollars would follow if district accepted student based on "room available"...I see this as a recruiting opportunity for many districts...Opportunity scholarships would allow students in a C, D, or F district to apply for enrollment in an A or B school district or non-public school (Private)...funding comes from private sources and these sources would get Tax Credit. 
    Gate at 3rd Grade for non readers--The Governor stated that students not reading on grade level by 3rd grade should be retained and or given a heavy dose of interventions. Clearly we want all students reading on grade level as soon as possible but I am not sure about mass retention in 3rd grade.
    Quality Teachers for every student--I have no problem with raising standards for Teacher education Programs at the university level. I am encouraged to hear that 100 scholarships annually will be available for students that desire to enter the field of education that have a 3.5 and 28 on ACT.   
    Early Childhood Education--The Governors Education Policy Advisor, Lori Smith, has a long background in Pre-K through the Building Blocks Program in Mississippi and I hope that she can persuade the Governor and the MS Legislative body to look at the research available that supports the much needed investment in Pre-K education in Mississippi. 
    College/Career Readiness for all students--Bring on the Common Core.  
    I look forward to your responses. 
    Comments (8)
  • How Important Is Professional Development To You?

    Posted by John Buchanan at 10/5/2012
    In the Petal School District Professional Development has been a key to our continues academic success. No one will doubt the importance of attending quality meetings and workshops. All too often these opportunities occur between August and May. What are most of you doing then? Teaching of course. So each of you and your principal must ask the most important question of all...Is attending this meeting worth missing a day or sometimes two of instruction? I have said many times and I believe it now more than ever "The Classroom Is The Most Important Place In The District." 
    Would you be willing to attend quality workshops and meetings in the district during the months of June & July? Naturally you receive a stipend to attend and not only would it benefit you, it would also benefit your students because you will be standing in front of them more during August - May...not a sub.
    I look forward to your response. 
    Comments (83)
  • Petal School District Employees "Get It"

    Posted by John Buchanan at 9/14/2012
    I am so humbled to work with individuals who understand our Mission and live our Vision on a daily basis. We started this year by donating over $1100.00 to the Pine Belt Chapter Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Recently the Petal School District was recognized by the American Cancer Society for raising over $46,000.00 for Relay For Life. Next Saturday we will have approximately 100 employees walking in the American Heart Association's Annual Heartwalk (2011 walkers below) where we will raise money for the AHA. You generously give to the United Way and, by the way, we will begin our annual campaign shortly. Your one-time and payroll deductions to the Petal Education Foundation continue to rise as well. 
    Yes, you guys get it! The relationships and the lives we touch throughout our lifetime are more important than any individual achievements one can amass. At the end of the day we are all faced with the following question...Did I Make a Difference? 
    Petal School District... full of Mission Possible Special Agents who are making a difference in children's lives and impacting our entire community to make it a great place to call home!
    Heartwalk 2011  
    Comments (0)
  • 21st Century Teaching: What does that really mean to you?

    Posted by John Buchanan at 8/31/2012
    One of the latest "buzzwords" in Education is 21st Century Teaching. What does that mean to you? What does that look like? Does it mean you're great with technology? Does it mean you can't be a 21st Century Teacher without advanced technology skills? (If so, I may be in trouble). There are many websites that define what 21st Century Teaching looks like. I think 21st Century Teaching can and does looks alot like 20th Century Teaching and 26th Century Teaching. Let me explain. I believe that great teachers, regardless of the era in which they teach, look for innovative ways to make their particular subject matter relevant, engaging, and thought provoking for their students. In today's world we have highly advanced technology not available to those who taught fifty years ago. Does that make the teaching better? I think that 21st Century Teachers, just like their predecessors, use the resources available to make teaching relevant, engaging, and thought-provoking. What say you?   
    Comments (5)
  • Relay For Life News: Petal School District honored by the American Cancer Society as top district in Mississippi for Relay For Life.

    Posted by John Buchanan at 8/24/2012
    Congratulations Petal School District: Petal School District was honored by the American Cancer Society at their annual Volunteer Leadership Institute and Research Awards Day which was held at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Employees of the Petal School District raised over $46,000.00 that was donated to the American Cancer Society. In the picture below, Petal School District Superintendent, Dr. John Buchanan is pictured with Petal Upper Elementary School teacher Jamie Richards and Petal Primary School teacher Emily Branch who attended the event and received the award on behalf of the district. Also pictured are Dr. Roy Duhe, Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology; Professor of Radiation Oncology Associate Director for Cancer Education at UMCC and Carla Kyzar, American Cancer Society South MS Area Director .
    Comments (0)
  • The U.S. Department of Education has declared August Connected Educator Month

    Posted by John Buchanan at 8/24/2012
    How are you connected with educators across the state, region and country. Do you blog? Do you tweet? In an article in this weeks eSchoolNews

    some of ed-tech’s best resources are listed that will help you get connected. What are some of your favorite resources that you will share with educators in Petal and beyond?


    1.The New York Times’ “Tips from 33 educators we admire”

    To celebrate CEM, the NYT asked every educator who has written a guest post for their publication to detail “one important thing you’ve learned from someone in your personal learning network” and “what one person, group, or organization would you recommend every educator add to his or her PLN?” The list provides more than 100 people, organizations, sites, and other resources readers can learn from, as well as shared insights on how to learn from them.


    2.Fractus Learning’s “The top 5 podcasts for ed-tech fanatics”

    Adam Heckler, a twenty-something who works in ed-tech where he advises K12 schools on how they can better integrate technology into their environment, says he has a long commute to work and likes to use those 45 to 50 minutes to listen to some innovative and helpful ed-tech podcasts. From ISTE to EdReach, topics range from flipped learning to ELA, and much more. Heckler also has many more quick-hitting lists and discussions that can be found here.


    3.Educational Technology and Mobile Learning’s “Top 14 educational technology tweeters to follow”

    Knowing who to follow on Twitter can be invaluable for educators—a fact that Educational Technology and Mobile Learning also realizes. In this list, these ed-tech Tweeters are among the most prominent in the field and their tweets can save time and energy. One of the Tweeters listed, Tom Whitby–a professor of education, founder of #edchat, the education PLN Ning, and the Linkedin group ‘Technology-using Professors’–is one of the main Tweeters on CEM and has provided many of these lists as well.


    4.OnlineUniversities.com’s “Ten tech commandments for connected learners” and edutopia’s “Five tips for new teachers to become connected educators”

    This list is useful when it comes to knowing what it means to be a connected educator. OnlineUniversities.com’s Justin Marquis Ph.D. pulls his commandments from Fractus Learning’s “The 10 (EdTech) Commandments” that he says have a lot to do with helping educators be successful in a connected educational setting; however, “as the focus of online learning should be on the students themselves, some tweaking…turns them into a handy guide for the successful connected learner in the digital age.”


    5.SmartBlog on Education’s “5 ways to develop a connected student”

    Though OnlineUniversities.com focuses on educators, SmartBlog on Education focuses more on the student side of connected learning, understanding that “today’s students can communicate, collaborate, cooperate, and connect with the world in meaningful ways…” The blog explains that it’s up to the educator to support students in doing this effectively.


    6.SmartBlog on Education’s “Rewards of teaching young children to blog”

    Following their advice for a connected students, SmartBlog on Education also provides a list that highlights what Linda Yollis—an elementary school teacher for more than 25 years—calls “meaningful ways to engage and motivate” young students. Yollis began her blog, Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog, in 2008 to share activities with parents, and over time it has become a centerpiece for the classroom: students help manage the blog and are learning the basics of how to comment, and that audience matters.


    7.Langwitches’ “21st century skills & literacies for iPads”

    Langwitches, an education Flickr group, posted a straight-forward chart of education apps for specific skills/literacies. Literacies include: Information Literacy, Media Literacy, Network Literacy, Global Literacy, Create/Critical Thinking, and Communicate/Collaborate. Each skill/literacy has nine apps listed.


    8.EducationWorld’s “Pinterest 101 for teachers: 5 power pinners you should follow”

    Though Pinterest may still be considered a great place to post wonderful recipes for peach cobbler, it’s also becoming a place for innovative educators to post thought-leading ideas. “The key is to follow others who actively use Pinterest to collect great classroom- and education-related resources and ideas,” says EducationWorld. “Who you follow really matters because it directly influence the quality of content you see when you visit Pinterest…we’ve put together a list of five must-follow users to help you get in the pinning groove.”


    9.Stephanie Sandifer’s “Favorite quotes” from CEM

    Sandifer, who runs the blog ‘Change Agency’ to write about “education reinvention, evolution, and revolution,” blogs almost once a day about CEM, providing a wrap-up of the day’s key take-aways from sessions and forums (she also provides great lists on other CEM education topics). In this post, Sandifer lists some of what she considers the most inspiring, or accurate, quotes from CEM leaders and participants.


    Comments (0)
  • I Used To Think...And Now I Think...

    Posted by John Buchanan at 2/24/2012 3:00:00 PM

    Education has certainly changed over the years and quite possibly the ideals and thoughts you once held closely may have changed as well. Our bulidings, our students, our accountability system, and our society has all experienced changes. This blog ask you to share your changes as well...The goal is to find out what I Used To Think...And Now I Think... (This blog topic is inspired by the book I Used to Think . . . And Now I Think . . . Twenty Leading Educators Reflect on the Work of School Reform  Edited by Richard F. Elmore

    Comments (4)
Last Modified on January 31, 2013