Tool #6

Pearls of Wisdom; A tool to demonstrate that the leader is modeling the way


As a principal, writing Pearls of Wisdom was an activity that the founder of Whitewater Learning engaged in daily to demonstrate leadership, commitment, and personal involvement in professional development topics that were expected to become embedded in the culture of her school.

 Pearls of Wisdom are daily short instructional or inspirational pieces for professional learning. One pearl appears in each daily staff bulletin with a summary in the weekly bulletin. At the end of the school year teachers can earn up to 14 recertification units for reading the Pearls on a daily basis, keeping them together in a folder for future reference, and attempting to implement concepts that are addressed as they apply to the educator’s daily applications focused on the goal of increased student achievement. This is a self-monitored program and applying for renewal units is up to the individual educator.

 Pearls require a commitment to learn topic essentials but only take a couple of minutes a day to write a single Pearl. A Pearl is only up to one short paragraph in length and contains one idea, example of an idea presented in a previous Pearl, or recognition of an educator observed demonstrating the use of a Pearl topic.

For coherency in writing sets of Pearls create a unit of study and then divide in into daily lessons. Using this process allows for continuity of each discrete component and for educators to review the entire unit at one time, once all of the lessons had been posted.

 Citing the Whitewater Learning source including a literature source within the support materials of a module can encourage the educators on staff to go into the module and learn more.

 Pearls do not have to be written by the building administrators. They may also be authored by individual teachers sharing a topic of expertise, by building cognitive coaches and mentors, or members of the building professional development team.

 Reinforcers:

Educators can be reinforced for reading and reflecting on daily Pearls of Wisdom written to support topics addressed in the Whitewater Learning Library as follows:

  • Reinforce educators’ reading of the daily Pearl at least every three days including a reference, by name, to an educator that the author observed the person applying a concept within a Pearl when working with students or colleagues.
  • Submit the script for an entire unit of Pearls to your staff development decision-making team that provides pre-approval for continuing education clock hours for license renewal.
  • If the Pearls are discussed in a small learning community or in staff meetings the amount of time for clock hours renewal units can increase.

 Example:

September XX, XXXX – September XX, XXXX

Opening full week of a school year.

Monday, September XX, XXXX

See the second paragraph above in italic.

Tuesday, September XX, XXXX

A reason for dedicating our careers to youth…

We make a living from what we get.

We make a life from what we give.

What we have done for ourselves dies with us.

What we have done for others in the world is immortal.

                                                      Mary Ann Evans

Thanks to Carlyn Erion for sharing this verse. (Note: This is an example of including a building educator’s name in the Pearls designed to honor and increase readership as staff watch for their names to be included.)

Wednesday, September XX, XXXX

A teacher as lead manager statement:

“My responsibility as a teacher is to teach the learner how to get their needs across.”                                             Elizabeth Murphy

Thursday, September XX, XXXX

A lead manager viewpoint:

When we empower leaders we still must empower them to take a “no” for an answer, but at the same time we acknowledge the right of the student to ask.

Thursday, September XX, XXXX

Learning styles and instructional strategies…

Every time a teacher interacts with a student he/she puts what the student is saying or doing through his or her own filter first. Understanding of the student’s psychological preference or learning style can give the teacher the opportunity to listen or see a students work from the perspective in which it was presented.

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