Wednesday, 25 June 2014

AIMSweb Report for Westlawn Staff 2013/2014

This is a report that I created for the staff of Westlawn school. It is a foray into whole school assessment data to inform programming.

Preamble

All results in this report indicate only that students performed better on the specific AIMSweb standardized assessments. There is no, as yet, indication that this will be reflected in teacher assigned grades, PAT exams or other, more general, measures of literacy and numeracy.

What was tested

There were four standardized exams that we used three times this year. All data in this report is sourced from these four exams.
Math Applications MCAP
Test of applied mathematics. There is an element of literacy in these questions. Questions typically ask students to use grade level numeracy skills to solve problems of varying complexity.
Math Computation MCOMP
Test of automaticity, speed and ease of recall when solving basic numeracy questions. Conversions, algebra, exponents, etc… There are no literacy requirements to answer these questions.
Reading Curriculum Based Measurement RCBM
This timed reading probe assesses a student's fluency and oral reading speed. There is significant research which argues that a student’s ability to read out loud is a key indicator of a student’s overall literacy level.
Reading Maze
This reading comprehension test measures how well a student understands a passage that they read silently.

On Percentile Scoring

All information is reported in Percentile Scores as measured against approximately 8000 Aimsweb students from the same grade level. Keep this in mind when interpreting scores. If a student is in the 50th %ile in September and they remain in the 50th %ile in June they have experienced the typical growth that should be expected. No change in %ile score indicates the growth experienced by that students peers. If the student experienced a 5%ile score increase, as reported in the attached spreadsheet that would indicate the student experienced typical growth in literacy or numeracy plus a rate of growth 5% higher when compared to peers.

No change in %ile score = regular and steady growth relative to peers.

  1. Impact of Learning Strategies Options

Students in the numeracy learning strategies class (taught by Mr. Makowsky) showed the most significant improvement in their numeracy scores. There has been outstanding growth (45.5 %ile increase) on the MCOMP assessment, and there has been significant growth (27.5 %ile increase) on the MCAP assessment. This growth far outperforms the growth of the whole school population (4.3 %ile increase, 3.5 %ile increase respectively). Data was drawn from students in the two grade 8/9 option classes in semester two.

%ile Change Measured in June Compared to Fall Score

M-CAP
M-COMP
Whole School
+ 3.5
+ 4.3
Learning Strategies Option Numeracy
+ 27.5
+ 45.5

Students in the literacy learning strategies class (taught by Mr. Greene) show some improvement in their literacy scores. There was significant growth (12.1 %ile increase) on the R-Maze assessment, but there was not a significant improvement on the RCBM assessment (5.1 %ile increase). This growth marginally outperforms the growth of the whole school population (3.1 %ile increase, 2.9 %ile increase respectively). Data was drawn from students in the two grade 8/9 option classes in semester two plus students in the grade seven option class from semester two.

%ile Change Measured in June Compared to Fall Score

R-CBM
R-Maze
Whole School
+ 2.9
+ 3.1
Learning Strategies Option Literacy
+ 5.1
+ 12.1
See Appendix One - Learning Strategies Option/Whole School Comparison

Implications for Next Year

We must continue the learning strategies numeracy class with as little alteration to it as possible. Mr. Makowsky’s program of instruction, general pedagogical technique and specific lesson plans deserve to be recorded, documented and duplicated where possible. Implications of his instruction on other larger scale assessments should also be analyzed and discussed by the math team.

Key Finding: Mr. Makoswky has developed a highly effective math intervention program.

Learning Strategies Literacy should also continue, but the focus of instruction should be altered. There needs to be continued standardized assessment of student reading comprehension levels. Too many new techniques should be avoided. It would be advisable to develop a specific program for instruction, document the approach and analyze results at the end of term one to see if there are significant improvement to student reading comprehension. Any study of this intervention, however, would require whole school data in order to have a comparative group of students (we need a control group).
  1. Impact of Homeroom Groupings.

We have called them homogenized, streamed and stratified, but whatever we decide to call them the data from AIMSweb assessments indicate that they do not work for all student levels. Surprisingly it turns out that the biggest impact has been for the lower level classes on their M-COMP performance (11.6 %ile increase). On the same test the higher level classes suffered a negative performance (3.6 %ile decrease). The middle group had a marginal increase in performance on the M-COMP (4.5 %ile increase). The M-CAP exam is worth mentioning as well because only the middle group had significant growth (9.2 %ile increase) while the lower and higher groups remained statistically unchanged (2.2 %ile increase, 0.9 %ile decrease respectively). There was no impact on the R-CBM or R-MAZE that is worth reporting. Data was drawn by grouping the 7-1, 8-2, 9-1 as the low group, 7-2, 8-1, 9-2 as the middle group and 7-3, 8-3, 9-3 as the high group. Keep in mind that the High Group scores were quite high in September(see graphs in appendix two), and that we moved high performing students from the low to the middle group and from the middle to the high group.

%ile Change Measured in June Compared to Fall Score

RCBM
RMAZE
MCAP
MCOMP
Whole School
+ 2.9
+ 3.1
+ 3.5
+ 4.3
Low Classes
+ 3.2
+ 3.1
+ 2.2
+ 11.6
Middle Classes
+ 2.3
+ 4.6
+ 9.2
+ 4.5
High Classes
+ 3.1
+ 1.6
- 0.09
- 3.1
See Appendix - Two Homeroom Grouping Comparisons

Implications for Next Year

There is no impact of this years homeroom groupings on these measures of literacy and numeracy. In the interest of studying the impact of homeroom groupings I would argue that next year we attempt full inclusion, heterogeneous groupings with an equal mix of high performing and low performing students in each class. We should then keep accurate measurements to see if this grouping of students impacts student performance on basic literacy and numeracy assessments.

My Point of View: based on the results of this year and using the same logic that led to homogenous groupings ie) let’s try it and see, I recommend that we eliminate the learning strategies homeroom classes and adopt a model of full inclusion.

  1. Assessment Plan for Next Year

We ought to keep the M-COMP measurement because it is easy to implement and measure. The math team has also suggested that we go back to using the CAT exam, but we would have to purchase the CAT IV.

The one on one RCBM assessment should be kept because it provides the most accurate picture of a student's reading ability, but it should be administered by the language arts teachers so that they experience the first hand knowledge that this test has to offer.

There is one more key finding that is difficult to pull out of the data, but that I can offer up based on my experience having every student read to me and then discussing their results with them. In the June exam after every student heard their RCBM score (and found out whether or not it had changed significantly since the fall), I asked them why they thought they got the results that they did. Indeed some students had remarkable growth, so I asked them to explain themselves. One common finding came up again, again and again.

Key Finding: Students that were reading on their own time, for enjoyment, had remarkable and significant growth on the RCBM assessment. This finding was universal, regardless of the students initial score on the September assessment.

The implication of this second key finding is that our literacy intervention plan should be built around the idea of increasing students authentic love of reading. For some, extrinsic rewards can help pull students out of their literacy deficit, but for most simply making the love of reading an often talked about value that is part of our school culture and assessment practice will be enough to increase literacy scores. Of course how to accurately track and record this will take additional research on which standardized literacy measures are better than AIMSweb.

Appendix One Learning Strategies Option/Whole School Comparison

These Graphs represent real %ile scores over time, not change in %ile score over time.




Appendix Two Homeroom Grouping Comparisons

These Graphs represent real %ile scores over time, not change in %ile score over time.


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Moving Forward with Project Based Instruction

Some fantastic Project Based Learning Ideas are floating around in the building today.
From correspondence with the teams this is what is on it's way to happening for PBL at Westlawn.

Math has identified certain units that lend themselves well to projects. They have also noted that there is a lot of potential in the higher stream classes for projects because, as far as teaching essential outcomes is concerned, they have been able to cover so much more this year. Additionally, they have identified some projects that can be beneficial for our 7-1 and 8-2 classes. This is what we can anticipate from Math:
  • Silly Students, Fruit Loops are for counting.  aka) don't eat the fruit loops
  • Plane Games. You need all Coordinates to Survive!
  • Space Station Shapes Station - Good possible link to science here. 
  • The Geometry of Westlawn School - A study using google maps and the building where we learn. Good Social Studies Geography Link here. 

Science is working on an exciting Grade 9 Space Based Research Project. All of us can play a role in getting all of  our grade nine students excited about research into Space. 
The Grade Sevens are also doing some kind of Plant Project. I don't have much detail yet about this one, but we can all talk to our grade sevens about agriculture, math and crops, or help find some poems and stories written about food (The Grapes of Wrath is probably out of reach, but there must be something). Maybe students can create LA objects that document whatever Plant Projects are being created! Great work Science, you are always a step ahead. 

LA and Social have dutifully assessed the writing of every single student in this school. That takes a great deal of mental energy, so thank you humanities team. I know they have some strong ideas brewing, and I can't wait to hear what they come up with. Grade Eights are studying the idea of social structure and global relationships through the Aztecs, so if anyone has some good ideas about how to turn that into an exciting project make sure you pass them along to humanities.

TLDR: 
Grade 7 - Fruit Loops Counting and Analysis and/or Coordinate Planes Games (maybe)
Grade 8 - Aztec something something awesome 
Grade 9 - Space, how could you not love learning about space?

You are all agents of motivation, doing noble work and it is beautiful!

These are Westlawn's Projects! Poster Created using Adobe InDesign 

Monday, 5 May 2014

The Role of Technology in Achieving the Vision of Inspiring Education

Imagine a connected district. An educational experience that flows through from kindergarten up to grade twelve. A connection that students keep through their post-secondary journeys and into their adult life.

Consider a space where administrators and teachers are able to share their learning accomplishments with the rest of the district and the world beyond. Why should there be a project happening at Jasper Place High School that the students from Westlawn don't know about and can't get involved in? If the students at Westlawn are hosting an event that involves their Filipino community why shouldn't they connect with the Filipino community at Afton and LaPerle? The connections between schools already exist, the catchments connect us, but they are not brought to the fore. This is how the catchment connections can be leveraged to bring together students, schools and communities and achieve the vision of engaging learners with their world and the technology within it.
Technology and the World of our students. CC licensed. 
Project Portals will highlight what schools are doing right. To motivate schools and administrators and teachers the project portal will call attention to the ground breaking work that is already being done at schools. The project portal can give prominence to the students that are doing things to understand their world and to change it. The project portal will offer guidance and ideas for other teachers that are motivated to helping their students do and achieve great things. With the portal we will be gathering the evidence that drives growth and say with pride to the world outside of education that, "these are our projects, this is our school board."
These are our Projects, and this is our School Board
How this can be accomplished is worthy of some elaboration. The first steps towards achieving this is to gain access into the schools and the thought makers within the school. The difference between my portal idea and other technology implementation plans is this isn't about technology. Technology will come in out of necessity. This is about schools creating projects that are real world and highly motivational. The technology implementation comes out of a necessity to do the job well and to be able to share the collective accomplishments. Schools will be encouraged to gather evidence of completion and, if possible, evidence of process to share in the projects portal. Classrooms would soon discover that a great deal of technology is needed to have a successful project.

The TIPS team, and the leadership responsible for implementation would have to be responsible for getting to schools to promote project based instruction, help teams of teachers visualize and implement project ideas. The TIPS team leader would have to be available to answer questions about and help generate ideas. If a teacher has a vision that she can communicate, the TIPS team leader should help her achieve that vision. Most importantly the TIPS team leader would be responsible for the hard work of documenting the journey, collecting evidence of completion, packaging the material so that it can be marketed effectively, and then delivering a Project Portal that is rich in inspiration and examples to the catchment and the school board.


After having encountered the ten competencies, that are contained in the ministerial order, it is easy to see how technology integration is critical. The answer to effective tech. integration and implementation is to help put the learning first and reveal the appropriate role of technology. Technology is the tool that connects, enables and empowers!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Project Based Instruction

After receiving some fantastic P.D. from Mr. Antoniw, social studies teacher at Kenilworth, our staff has become reinvigorated towards the idea of project based instruction. The question that I now face is how to keep this momentum alive. In the textbook for my Spring Session class SMO 652 Leadership Skills the author (Clawson) opens his work by stating that, "Leadership is all about managing energy, first in yourself and then in those around you." Using the management of energy approach to leadership I will now take on the challenge of creating, with my colleagues here at Westlawn, a culture of project based instruction.

First of all Project Based Instruction needs to be defined. What do we mean when we say project based isntruction? Here is one explanation, and it is quite complete.



Project based instruction should strive to be as real-world and ambitious as the video explains, but I want to assuage teachers here. PBI can be much less daunting in scope than the projects highlighted in the video. Students do not need to start out by changing the world. It would be ideal if they could try to grapple problems and projects that were very real to them and their community, but if the first couple stabs at it are confined to the classroom, grade level or school community that is definitely okay.

Secondly, I need to set some manageable goals for this endeavor. I will manage my energy by setting achievable goals that will be completed within a reasonable timeline. My goal is to help create, in this school, one project per grade level. It doesn't matter what subject, it doesn't matter what project. Projects could even be duplicated across grade levels. What matters is that by the middle of June every student has had an opportunity to work on some kind of project in one of their classes.


Finally, the teachers who will be implementing this need to be involved from step one all the way to completion. I have made the mistake in the past of creating projects for teachers instead of creating projects with teachers. I did this under the misguided intention that my colleagues wanted most of the work done for them, but this was a mistake because the teachers then have no ownership over the project. My process for making this happen will be as follows:

  1. Keep teachers inspired, motivated and thinking about PBI through use of the Westlawn Staff Site and email. 
  2. Invite teachers to brainstorming sessions. First one today after school at the school or maybe in my backyard if there is interest.
  3. Crashing the team time meetings to bring PBI to the conversation.
  4. More brainstorming sessions if needed.
  5. Support and involvement. Help with documents, create time for reflection with the teachers and getting into the classroom for short (10-15 minute) periods of time while the projects are ongoing. 
  6. Celebrate the completion of successful projects publicly. 
So here we go, wish me luck!



Monday, 7 April 2014

SMO Reflection Post #11: Connecting Management and Leadership

Before I jump into this week's topic I want to reflect on the grade received for my group's presentation and how it applies to some of the content covered in the course. The grade our group received points leads to a discussion about motivation. One of the most compelling ideas that I am taking away from this class is the over-arching, even all-consuming importance of motivation. Before anything else the employee must be motivated. So let us look at this class and the grade received as a potential tool for motivation, one that we can ascribe the characteristic of "pay."

In this class, then, the grade that we receive is our pay (I know that doesn't capture the reality of our situation, but just work with me for this example). The grade should motivate. I look at the grade I receive, and like so many other students, I want to know how it compares to my classmates. I do not how well I am being paid, until I know the grade of my classmates. This relativity of pay as a motivator is something that a couple of authors have discussed. Moss and Sanchez argue that employee performance evaluations should be compared to a standard, or a metric, instead of being measured against other employees. Okay that is fine, but in personal experience I am always measuring myself against my colleagues and against my classmates, isn't that culture? Rynes, Gerhart and Minette are arguing a sligthly different element of employee pay, and they highlight the importance of relative wealth in society. Having received this grade, and working in a field where everyone knows everyone elses relative pay, I conclude that knowing what everyone is making is very important for employee motivation. People earning more feel compelled to work harder for their pay, and people earning less are motivated to either achieve that higher position or they are content to work within their own category at the expected level of performance. Whether you agree with my conclusion or not is moot, what matters is that I now know the importance of pay for employee motivation.

Pay does matter, but only to a certain point. 
It is fitting that the last course material I encountered here in SMO 500: Managing People would reference author Daniel Pink. Leggett and Neill mention Pink's book Drive when they are discussing the importance of articulating a vision. That communicating purpose is a key aspect of a leaders success. I have been talking, probably too much, about Pink and Drive, ever since the start of the course. I can now say with confidence that he is completely correct in his findings about the importance of autonomy, mastery and purpose, but I can also look critically at his ideas because they lack certain ideas that are key to getting the most out of an employee. Pink does not discuss the need for extrinsic rewards, except to tell us how they often stifle creativity. I still believe that a transformational leader is capable of transcending the transactional needs of employees, but why would they? I will try to articulate this particular idea shortly, but for now I want to cover a couple of different ideas.

One of the biggest ideas that I will take away from this class is what a transformational leader looks like. Idealized influence, inspirational motivation, individual consideration and intellectual stimulation are nice big words, but what do they mean? I think they can be condensed into one clear statement that has come up time and time again in the course: When working with People, treat them like People. No matter what the position: janitor, professor, construction worker, administrative assistant, school administrator or any other position that can be named, it is a person. That person is an individual that wants to be doing something with their life. Is that person motivated soley by bringing home enough money to raise family? Fine, are they working in an environment where they can do it with dignity and a certain sense of pride? Can you, as leader make sure that they are? Do there goals go beyond the extrinsic? How can you, as leader, foster their ambition to do more? How can you as leader see the individual, understand the ir purpose, and communicate it to them effectively? People are not that difficuly to understand. Sure they are irrational, but they can be understood. People want to feel valuable, they want to contribute and they often want to be challenged.
Not sure who made this, but I found it here and I think it applies.
The big idea, that I take away from this course, that is really captured in the explanation of transformational leadership (which should really be named human leadership, preferred leadership, peak leadership, effective leadership or.... I guess transformational leadership is best) is that human management means being human about leadership.

I should mention the whole four drives that motivate as really missing the mark. They got so much correct, but they also missed so much. It was nice to finally read an author point to the individual manager (not ceo or company founder, but the guy or gal on the ground) as someone that makes a difference. I just don't understand how they could create a narrow category called comprehend to capture so many big human drives like mastery, autonomy and purpose. Like so much else in this coures, and hopefully a great deal of my analysis, the reward is in the synthesis of all these ideas. It just so happens that my next and final post will be a synthesis of all the ideas covered in class, my set of personal management practices.

Monday, 31 March 2014

SMO Reflection Post #10 Managing Transformation II: Leaders who Successfully Make Change.

Gordon Bethune, CEO at Continental from 1994 - 2004, was able to transform continental from an industry to joke to one of the top airliners in the United States. He managed the change that he knew had to take place. He did this thoughtfully and with purpose. The way that he achieved the successful transformation is why we study this case.

He lived the change efforts that J.P. Kotter describes in his article, "Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail." I could take a walk through Kotter's eight steps for successful transformation that Kotter has provided for us, pointing out how Bethune had accomplished each step from motivation through to institutionalization, but I want to talk instead about the essence of Bethune's success.

Bethune was successful because a) he knew his industry, b) he had a successful strategy that he was able to communicate and c) he was able to get the most out of his employees. These ideas have been covered to some degree throughout the course and cases studied, but a few things in particular stand out as new lessons that I can take from this case and as lessons that have been so often repeated that I am sure to never forget them. I will start with the latter.

Since day one of this class it has been made very clear that in order to get the most out of employees leaders must treat them as adults. Adults need to be trusted, they need to be given autonomy over their decisions, and they need to be treated with dignity and respect. Bethune trusted his employees and he let them know this by getting rid of security cameras. Bethune gave his employees autonomy and he symbolically burned the old order of management in the parking lot. Bethune gave his employees information when they deserved it, even when that meant they were being let go. Time and time again in this class there is a truth coming through - employees must be treated as adults.

We haven't talked quite as much in this class about strategy. That is a topic that is most likely more industry, or situationally specific. We are talking about managing people here, not about managing business plans. However, it is clear from Bethune's case at continental that his strategy was one of the primary reasons that he was successful. His employees knew this as well. He was able to communicate the needs to be maintaining fewer aircraft. He was able to help his employees focus on customer satisfaction, and he gave the employees the tools to communicate the needs of the customers.

Bethune also knew his industry. Gates is another perfect example of why having a leader that is an expert in the field as the leader can be the best way to ensure a sustainable competitive advantage. Skilling helps prove this argument because he entered an industry that he really did not know very much about. Yes, Skilling took Enron in another direction, but he did not really understand or respect their core competencies. Not every business or organization needs an expert in the field at the helm, but Bethune and others show that it certainly helps.

There are two other big ideas that fit together nicely, but not into the scope of what I mention above.

Much of this course unexpectedly took meaningful forays into the field of psychology. This makes sense to me now that I am at the end of the course because if we are discussing motivation, retention and maximum productivity of human beings, then of course you have to understand the human mind. Bethune and contintental reinforce the idea from class about the importance of an employees psychological ownership in an organization. Providing employees voice can be the most powerful method of getting important on the ground information from employees. Another interesting psychological take away from this case (sorry this paragraph stinks) is the importance of symbolic gestures. Burning books, unplugging cameras and hosting a house party are small investments of capital and energy, but they yield enourmous payoffs in the minds of employees.

Symbolic gestures and psycholigcal ownesrhip. Using these two forces and all of his other strengths it is no wonder that Bethune was able to motivate his employees, create and communicate vision, empower his employees, create short term psychologcal wins, consolidate his changes and institutionalize his new approach.

Monday, 24 March 2014

SMO Reflection Post #9 Managing Transformation

When asking questions in class about this week's article written by Kotter my curiosity must have sounded too much like criticism. Before I can begin to accept any authors ideas and findings I have to be aware of their process or methodology. Not because I require it in order to be convinced, but because I often find it more interesting than what they are saying. I was drawn into Kotter's article right away, and of course I noticed his opening remarks that, "over the past decade, [he] has watched more than 100 companies try to remake themselves into significantly better competitors." This introduction had instant appeal for my eye to process and source information. Was he talking anecdotally or hyperbolically? What did he mean by watched? Does he mean studied? Or did he collect stories from friends in the various companies? Did he study other cases written primarily by other academics or did he review accounting reports and HR documents from these companies?

I like operating from the vantage point of naivete where I can question such giants in the field. This is yet another occasion where I can be excited by my own ignorance because I am being shown again and again how little I actually know. The choice I made to pursue this degree rather than a second degree in education continues to prove to be the correct choice.
All I Know is that I Don't Know Nothing
The amount of information in Kotter's article that I will be able to use for my personal leadership style (set of management practices) should be easy to incorporate. Motivating employees and helping them see the need for change, and then pointing it out over and over makes so much sense. Far too often leaders try to implement change, but the leaders are the only ones who see the necessity. Not enough energy is given towards getting key players on the side of change. The Culture of any organization is already teeming with power and relationships, and leaders need to understand this dynamic in order to leverage it to help them fulfil own vision. Organizations would be far better served, of course by helping team members see it as their shared vision, but first the leaders need a clear idea of what that vision is. The vision must be clear, and it must be communicated to everyone over and over and over. If people have questions about it they need to be answered in a way that pushes the vision forward, but still respects the people asking the question. Kotter's description of why Transformation Efforts Fail reads like a how to guide in opening people eyes.

Maybe it's the quote from Socrates above, but isn't Kotter talking about showing people the drawings on the cave, making sure they follow the leader into the truth, accepting the reality once they see it, and not letting them turn around again into the darkness? ""And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he's forced into the presence of the sun himself," I know any actual philosopher would be horrified at this comparison, but isn't wisdom all we are really talking about in this text? For the Leader to reveal his own mind and understanding to the other thoughtful beings that do not always see the truth of the situation!

Forgive this self-indulgence 
Jean Creping, CEO of Norwest Labs, was a brilliant individual, but he was not an effective leader. He saw the truth and he was not able to show that truth to the people around him. In order for his company to have created a long-term sustainable advantage, he needed to lead his employees out of their roles, show them what he knew in his own mind, and help them to continue to work in the new reality of his struggling company. Leaders are able to tap into the resources around them and show them the truth of their situation. All responsible and reasonable adults are ready to listen and respond to the leaders guidance, but they have to understand urgency. They need to accept that the new status quo is necessary. Crepin was incapable of accomplishing this.

I'm sure there is more to say about the effectiveness of gain sharing in certain industries and there is more to say about why Open Book Management helps empower employees, but if the humans that are in the organization do not understand the reason, the vision or the businesses reality than any strategy will be doomed to fail.

Monday, 17 March 2014

SMO Reflection Post #8 Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivators

While the NHL lockout article was interesting to read I don't really want to write about it. In the same way that the topic of union management conflict is interesting, I don't really want to write about that either. I guess I did learn a little bit about the history of the relationship causing conflict in the present and trust is essential in bargaining and having the public involved can complicate things, but I don't want to write about it.

I don't have the rights to this image. Or the responsibility for that matter. 
What I want to write about is motivation. It turns out that I can't write about motivation without writing about Herzberg, so that is where I would like to end up, but I do want to reflect on my understanding of the second required reading before I move on.

While reading, and subsequently discussing the article, The Importance of Pay in Employee Motivation, I was struck by the how much my understanding of the ideas changed in a short amount of time. When I initially read the article I was overly critical of the conclusions because I thought it was arguing that pay is a way more important motivator than we give it credit for. "That can't be right, everything I am learning up to this point states otherwise." So I went and looked at the sources of these conclusions. All of this work is based on a number of large and diverse meta-analysis. "Wait a minute, that is real and undeniable data, despite my opinions I have to adopt the authors conclusion because it is so well researched." I thought. "Now I will argue that pay is fundamentally important to employee motivation, and I will cite this article as I say it." Then I went to class, and I had my ideas altered again.

It turns out I was missing the point of the article, so for the sake of my own reflection I will state my current understanding of the articles conclusions, and I apologize if it sounds like I am regurgitating our professors comments on the idea.

Rynes, Gerhart, adn Minette were not arguing that pay is the key motivator in employee performance. They were arguing that pay matters up to a certain point. That in the HR subfunction of attracting and selecting candidates it matters a great deal. That in the HR subfunction of retaining employees pay still matters quite a bit, especially if the employee can find the same job for more pay at another firm, then it matters. However, once an employee has agreed to work at a certain wage level or salary, then pay will not be a significant factor in motivating employee performance. If there is a big differentiation in pay for performance, a significant change in what an employee will be paid based on performance, then it can still motivate, but the reality is that rarely ever happens in performance based pay systems.

In other words: yes pay matters, but only up to a certain point, after that motivation needs to come from intrinsically motivating factors.

okay now the more interesting stuff. The intrinsically motivating factors. Even though I have keep coming back to Pink and Drive, this time I get to look to Herzberg for an exploration of motivating employees. As I write this next section my goal is to a) review his main ideas and b) apply his ideas to a school setting.

In his classic article One More Time: How do you Motivate Employees? Frederick Herzberg writes as if he is living in the 1960's. He is, but still, opening the piece with a metaphor about rape, and then saying it is prefarable to seduction? What the hell is this? but looking past this very strange introduction there is something very important being said here. So forget all about KITA and the rest of his nonsense.
This is how Herzberg describes most motivational techniques of his day
When compared to basic drives such as hunger Herzberg juxtaposes another set of needs that "relate to that unique human characteristic, the ability to achieve and, through achievement to experience psychological growth." Herzberg relies on the psychological reality of human beings in the workplace, and I would argue it holds true in the classroom as well, that this idea of achievement will motivate individuals. There are other motivator factors that are intrinsic to meaningful work like "recognition for achievement, the work itself, responsibility, and growth or advancement." Based on his findings Herzberg goes on to argue that in order to get the most out of employees the work must be enriched. Herzberg goes on to describe the steps that managers should take in making his motivators help to enrich the work.

... and that is where I must end. It is too ambitious a goal right now to take on his steps for job enrichment from the perspective of a school leader and a classroom teacher. That is a task I will set aside for my personal set of management practices.

Friday, 14 March 2014

I Have Found the Answer to Student Motivation

I am not sure how I could have been an educator, and a student of pedagogy for all of these years and I have never encountered Herzberg's Two Factor Theory of Motivation. Until last night I had heard of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs over and over again, but not once in all of the literature did someone let me know that this guy Herzberg had already figured out how to work with and motivate every student from the reluctant or negative slacker to the high performer that thinks he is too cool for school.

Here is what my SMO managing People prof. gave me last night: Two Factor Theory basically tells us that there are two factors at work in the classroom that will motivate or demotivate employees students. Motivating factors, when present, will have a motivating effect. When absent, motivating factors will have a neutral effect. Hygiene factors, when present, will have a neutral effect on motivation. When absent, however, hygiene factors will serve to demotivate. Here is the image that Dr. Inness provided while teaching us Two Factor Theory:
Think about the classroom as you read these factors. 
The classroom and the school needs to acknowledge that they are operating in a system that actively demotivates students. I think any educator will recognize that students are given the opportunity to achieve and reach for the intrinsic motivating factors like recognition and opportunities for personal growth, but do we ever acknowledge that our lack of hygiene factors are demotivating students. I will not even consider the idea that students can think of their grade as the "pay." This might work through grade three, and even for some students until grade eight, but once students enter the work force and realize the value of actual pay, any attempt and comparing the two will only be met with laughs and derision.

The question then becomes, if we acknowledge that not paying students automatically serves to demotivate so many of them than how can we make up for it?

.... and here I thought I had the answer.

I will develop this thought further, but right now I want to point out how much better and potentially more fruitful this idea is for school's than the often touted hierarchy of needs from Maslow. I have heard Maslow's hierarchy used an excuse for not being able to reach students and help them achieve far too often, especially in high risk schools. For example, the situation at home is so detrimental to the student that they cannot be expected to become self-actualizing. What Herzberg is teaching me right now is that the classroom can circumvent or transcend some of those lower in the pyramid needs and help motivate a student towards self-actualization anyway.

I think I am definitely on to something here. For now I am going to read a little more from Herzberg (One More Time: How do you Motivate Employees) and then share these ideas with some colleagues and see what they have to say about things.

Please comment below I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

SMO Reflection Post #7 Rewards and Performance Management

Like almost all interactions between a manager, or a leader, and their employees performance appraisals should help an organization get the most out of an employee. The focus of this weeks material is how to get the most out of a performance appraisal, and the answer to this question is actually simple. In order to have an effective performance appraisal there needs to be a performance management system in place that is continous and ongoing. The flaws in most performance appraisal systems is that they are periodic and they are not systems that managers and employees understand and agree upon.

I didn't make this.
You know class this week was particularly interesting for a few reasons. First of all when the group who was presenting started doing their thing it was quite clear to most people (except the presenters it seems) that they were discussing the wrong article. They were supposed to reflect and report on the article on the motivational benefits of goal setting, but instead they were reflecting on the required reading on the feedback gap. The irony of this situation is that as a class we were all practising feedback avoidance behaviour (FAB). Several times during the presentation I was thinking that I should ask them a question about goal-setting or ask them why they were presenting this article, but I thought it wouldn't have been my place, or that it would have been mean to do to these three guys. I can only assume that Dr. Inness was also consideting letting them know as soon as they started presenting on the wrong article, but she must have made a management (leadership) decision that it is not a good idea. Operating under my thesis for this week, that feedback/appraisal should always get more out of employees, what would have been the best course of action for the group that was presenting? In this context getting more would mean increasing the quality of the entire classes understanding and future presentations. Arguments can be made for both courses of action, and I will not presume to make conclusions about that here, but it sure was an interesting experience of feedback avoidance. I can conclude, however, that sometimes feedback avoidance can have a positive impact on an organizations culture and performance, something not really explored in the article. I had another beef with the Feedback Gap article as well.

It is not as though the article made any kind of argument about gender and it's impact on management, but for some reason they included this gem, "Some evidence suggest that female managers are more likely to delay giving feedback and to positively distort feedback than male managers." A statement like that really needs to be defended and explored, and it has no place in this article. I wanted to find out what they were citing by "some evidence" and the referenced article was by Benedict and Levine, titled Delay and Distortion: Tacit Influences on Performance Appraisal Effectiveness (1988). The date of this article should instantly cause some concern because if they are using previous studies there is going to be the problem that I can only really call anachronistic discrimination or bias, so the first thing I was looking for in this article was original research.


It turns out that Benedict and Levine did conduct some original research. At the time of writing Benedict and Levine lamented that the influence of gender on PA ratings had not been systematically explored. Nonetheless they still revealed the prejudicial and anachronistic findings of the late '70s when they state that, "available research in this area suggests that women generally evaluate others more positively than do men." It is actually kind of amusing to read these academics writing in the late 1980's as they cite and reference garbage studies from the 1970s as their academic foundation. So, Benedict and Levine go on to conduct some original research to explore whether the findings of their predecessors are true or not, and this is waht they do. They take an equal number of male and female college students that all have a minimum of six months experience as supervisors in their field. This selection reveals the first flaw. I understand that they are working in a post-secondary institution, therefore they will select post-secondary students, but still this cannot be considered an adequate sample of supervisors. They have a sample of supervisors that, for whatever reason, are going back to school. They took this biased sample and then had the subjects of the experiment sit in a room with a confederate of the experiment. The subjects were tasked to review ten sessions worth of data supposedly about the confederates performance but actually manipulated by the experiments designers. The experiment measured how long (delay) the subjects took to schedule a negative performance review with the confederate and how accurate (distortion) the subjects negative performance appraisal of the confederate was. The confederate, by the way, was always the same 26 year old male.

What???

Yes, in a study around gender and interactions Benedict and Levine wanted to "avoid" the "interaction between rater and subordinate gender." Let me spell out this absurdity because this issue along really turns the study into garbage that should not be being cited by Moss and Sanchez in 2004. Benedict and Levine are trying to reach conclusions about the difference between how men and women treat employees in a PA. Then they choose a male as the only employee? This study on gender is purposefully ignoring the potential impact of gender! Why did they not choose a female employee to be the sole confederate? I will tell you why: BECAUSE IT WOULD CHANGE THE BLOODY RESULTS. There are other problems in this study and the conclusions that they reach suffice it to say, and I wish Moss and Sanchez would have considered this before they needlessly put in distracting indefensible statements about the impact of gender, any arguments about gender and management need to be supported by evidence, and some "evidence" needs to recognized as anachronistic garbage and rejected out of hand.

The final item that I really wanted to explore this week will certainly appear in the section on my personal leadership approach portion of the assignment. If there is going to be a performance appraisal system in the performance management system (there ought to be), then the performance metrics need to be very clear and very effective.

Currently, in education, there really aren't any performance metrics, so what would they look like in my field? When I am a leader in a school I will evaluate and communicate with teachers based on the following metrics:

  1. Student performance evaluation. Students can tell school leadership if they perceive their teachers as Nice/Kind/Caring, as Prepared/Passionate/Inspiring and as Fair/Just.
  2. Teachers can be expected to submit a minimum number of common formative assessments with an anlysis of their assessment results based off of these CFAs (I won't get into the jargon, but CFAs have a very high effect size relative to another teaching tools in most of the best practice literature and meta-analysis). 
  3. Students growth, measured against previous performance, in literacy. Short standardized tests can report this information easily.
  4. Students growth, measured against previous performance, in numeracy. Short standardized tests can report this information easily.
  5. Student evidence of artifacts of learning. Are there artifacts of learning that reveal student creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and love of learning?
I have never thought seriously about what specific metrics could be used to measure teacher effectiveness, and this week's lecture provided me with that opportunity. I now imagine a school where these metrics are communicated and agreed upon early in the school year and how that would shape the learning and teaching culture in a school.
Measured against agreed upon standards (metrics)