I was in Costco on Saturday and watched as a parent encouraged her toddler to explore the aisle.  As the little girl neared some boxes the mother said, “Don’t touch them O.K.?”

Is the parent asking permission?  If the child says that they want to touch it anyway is it O.K.?

I also hear teachers say to their class, “Today we are going to learn about __________ O.K.?

If the students say “No” will the teacher change the entire lesson or content?

I am very in tune with language and its many, and sometimes unintended, meanings.  O.K., as used in these descriptions, is NOT asking approval.  It sets up a potential discussion or argument when one isn’t necessary.

Education Tip #2: A Conversation and a Picture = Changed Behavior!

Monica Baker, a 2nd Grade Teacher, had a student that could be easily distracted and disruptive.   She decided it was important to have conference with him.

Ms. Baker:  Do you like to do well in school?

Student:  Yes.

Ms. Baker:  Can you tell me why it’s important to do well?

Student:  Because my mom is proud of me.

Ms. Baker:  Is that important to you?

Student:  Yes, I like it when she’s proud of me.

Ms. Baker:  How could you remember that you AND your mom want you to do well?

Student:  I could put a picture of her on my desk.

Ms. Baker:  How would that help you?

Student:  I could look at her and remember.

The simple plan has worked.   Sometimes Ms. Baker just walks past and taps the picture to remind him to refocus.

The strategy worked so well that approximately 8 other students have done the same thing.

“Behavior has decreased and learning increased.”  Ms. Baker


Education Tip #1: Class Self-Evaluation (Reflection) = NO Referrals All Year!

This year, towards the end of each quarter, I had the students in three of my classes complete a quick exit slip on what they thought their behavior code should be on their report card.

First, we went over what the different behaviors look like (satisfactory, needs improvement, or unsatisfactory). Then, they did their reflection. It was amazing to see how reflective and honest students can be. I was also shocked at how critical and harsh they were on themselves. It also was proof that self-evaluation and asking students to be responsible, can have a purpose and be meaningful without taking a lot of time.

Behavior improved and when students would become disruptive, all I had to do was ask, “Are your choices reflecting your behavior and comment codes?”

With less than 10 days of school to go, I haven’t written any referrals this year.

– Mrs. Gumm 7th Grade Reading, The School District of Lee County (FL)

Congratulations to the 2014 Golden Apple Recipients AND Finalists!

The School District of Lee County (FL) is the 34th largest school district in the U.S.  Each summer I have the privilege and honor of co-leading a week-long CHOOSING EXCELLENCE™ training for the Golden Apples and Teachers of Distinction.  Choosing Excellence is a blending of the Glasser Quality School and the Baldrige Quality Models.  It is a week of HARD WORK and PLAY!  Marshall Bower, President of the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools ALWAYS recognizes the importance of teachers and of education!  WE provide the learning and Marshall provides the pampering and fun at South Seas Resort on Captiva.


2014 Golden Apple Recepients

Closing the Gaps through Choosing Excellence and Teacher Effectiveness

Closing the Gaps through Choosing Excellence initiative in Lee County, Florida is a unique blend of the Glasser Quality School and the Baldrige Quality Models.   This initiative is part of a National Education Association Foundation grant, which involves ten schools; four elementary (PK- 5), one K-8, two middle (6-8), and three high schools (9-12). Training is delivered via an 18-hour participatory workshop. Implementation is tracked through a self-report survey that is sent to participants three months after the training, and is also tracked through classroom walkthrough data. Eight to ten schools will be added to the grant in 2014-15 as the next step in expanding the model throughout the district.

Choosing Excellence™ topics include building relationships with students and colleagues, developing SMART goals, the PDSA process, the Questioning Process, and Lead Management. Emphasis is placed on using data to make informed instructional decisions, including the analysis of student data for setting individual, class, school, district, and State School Grade goals. Time to practice these skills is built into the training

Teacher effectiveness results show that all ten schools exceeded the District in percentage of effective or highly effective as measured by VAM (Value Added Measure) scores.

Highly Effective


Needs Improvement


Challenger Middle





East Lee County High





Fort Myers High





Fort Myers Middle





Manatee Elementary





Mariner High





Patriot Elementary





Pinewoods Elementary





Tropic Isles Elementary















Implementation is tracked through a self-report survey that is sent to participants three months after the training, and is also tracked through classroom walkthrough data. Results related to teacher effectiveness are measured by an analysis of teacher evaluation data. The district’s teacher evaluation is based on the Danielson model and includes a Value Added Measure. Evaluation results for teachers who have implemented the training will be compared to those who have not implemented the training.

All ten grant schools exceeded to total Highly Effective and Effective average totals.


Choosing Excellence™                                                                                                                                                 © 2014 Bob Hoglund, Inc.  Robert G. Hoglund/Cindy McClung


Collegium Results

Collegium for the Advancement of Education

Teachers who rank highly in the Golden Apple selection process are invited to participate in Collegium for the Advancement of Education, a week long professional development seminar in June at South Seas Resort on Captiva Island.

The training focus for this year’s Collegium is Choosing Excellence, a continuous improvement based program which provides strategies for increasing student achievement by helping students to self-evaluate and make responsible choices. This training integrates the Quality School philosophy of Dr. William Glasser with the Sterling Quality model used by The School District of Lee County. Participants will learn to use Dr. Glasser’s ideas as the basis for developing ways to examine data, set and monitor goals, and integrate quality tools into the classroom. By Choosing Excellence, our students will be well prepared to make positive contributions to our workforce and to our community.

The culminating event of Collegium is the end of the week project. Educators form groups and present a humorous skit that incorporates the concepts of the training. The projects are evaluated by the trainers and Foundation Board Members.

Pre and post tests are given during Collegium to measure results as well as provide feedback.

2014 Results