John Hodge | School Improvement Expert; Educating Students Socially, Academically and Morally

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John Hodge

School Improvement Expert; Educating Students Socially, Academically and Morally

John Hodge
Featured Keynote Programs


The education of America’s youth is a challenging prospect when one considers the many burdens faced by impoverished children and their families. Research indicates that poverty need not be a barrier to academic excellence. As co-author of the book Standing in the Gap, Dr. Hodge states, "Across the nation, schools are demonstrating that it can be done: That students can reach high standards, that all children can succeed, that the gap between white and minority students, poor and affluent, can be closed." More often than not, one caring adult can make all the difference in the world. Today’s presentation will encourage all of you to BE THE ONE!

Leading Schools through Turbulent Times
Keys to Success

The United States and the world have endured unprecedented challenges in the last 6 months. Today, we are recovering from the impact of economic and social hurdles that may seem overwhelming. It’s during times like the present that leadership it most important. Guided by peer-reviewed research in resilience, and the lessons learned by school leaders after Hurricane Katrina, this presentation will provide participants with 5-research supported principles designed to guide schools through the many obstacles ahead. Excellence is possible. Even when times are tough.

Culturally Responsive Teaching

The children who walk into our schools daily come to us from a variety of different cultures and social norms. Culturally responsive teaching helps schools to establish emotionally safe environments where all children feel welcome. Emotional safety often translates into higher academic achievement for greater numbers of children. This presentation will help teachers to make pedagogical decisions that are more culturally inclusive and achieve higher levels of student engagement. Children who feel cared for become adults who care more.

Please Stop Calling Me At-Risk
The Power of Resilience in Today's Urban Youth

In the fall of 2002, Dr. Jo Lynne DeMary, Superintendent of Public Instruction for Virginia Schools, requested that the Urban Learning and Leadership Center provide training for schools listed in Governor Mark Warner’s Partnership for Achieving Successful Schools (PASS) initiative. PASS targeted more than 100 academically warned schools based on the results of the Standards of Learning exams. Thirty-four of the schools were designated as PASS priority schools based on very low performance and were encouraged to attend training during the summer of 2003. With the governor’s approval, the training was called the Governor’s Urban Learning and Leadership Institute. As Director of the Urban Learning and Leadership Center, I was an integral part of the planning and delivery of training sessions.

I can vividly remember a comment made by a somewhat disgruntled participant. After expressing resentment that his school was “labeled” a PASS priority school, the participant commented; “these children can’t be successful because the deck is stacked against them.” Research regarding a phenomenon called resilience suggests that this type of deficit thinking may be partly responsible for the failure of students (Bernard, 1997). In keeping with the metaphorical observation presented by the participant, it is not that the deck is stacked against students; it may be that educators sometimes focus on the wrong cards. Research on resilience illustrates that children who are born with factors that place them at risk of failure can grow into productive citizens in spite of those factors (Werner & Smith, 1992). As educators, we must stop calling students at risk and begin to develop their resilience.

Leveling UP *Coaching Series*

Leveling UP: Enhancing Critical Thinking and Social Emotional Support During the COVID-19 Era:
Dr. Hodge's leadership and training have helped schools navigate the most demanding obstacles. According to John, “few eras have presented more difficult challenges than the COVID-era.”
Should schools focus on meeting the social-emotional needs of students and staff?
Or, should schools focus on academic achievement?
The answer to both questions is a resounding YES!

Leveling Up is designed for today’s educators who are facing today’s unique challenges. Four interactive sessions have been designed to do two things:

1. Establish a culture of social-emotional support for students and staff using trauma-informed, non-therapeutic strategies
2. Help students think more critically about content by equipping teachers with the skills necessary to implement more effective formative assessment strategies

Session 1: Establishing a Foundation of Support
In this session, Dr. Hodge provides participants with practical, non-therapeutic strategies that will help schools create a supportive culture and climate. It is important to note that these strategies are not designed to replace the medical therapeutic support that many citizens need at this time. Instead, the strategies are designed to help educators establish an environment in which desired therapeutic outcomes are more likely to be realized. Put simply, kids can’t learn and teachers can’t teach in a toxic culture.

Session 2: Intro to Higher Order Thinking
It is safe to say that most educators believe that higher order thinking is necessary for academic success. We all know that this is a universal truth in education. Yet, class instruction often focuses on basic facts that rely on the ability of students to simply recall information. Given the learning loss experienced by many students, remediation may be necessary. However, remediation does not require the absence of rigor. Additionally, future jobs will require higher levels of thinking. This training will introduce participants to: Brain Basics; The Rationale for Challenging Kids to Think; The link between Bloom and Art Costa. The session begins with a review of Bloom’s continuum and its link to Costa’s Levels of Questions. Using Costa as a guide, participants will develop assessment items at cognitive levels 1-3. Participants will also rate assessment items at levels 1-3. At the conclusion of this session, we will link the work of Art Costa with Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK Levels 1-4) to help educators realize the importance of their verbal and written assessment items.

Session 3: Inter-rater Reliability
One of the more challenging aspects of rating and/or developing assessment items is inter rater reliability. Using Webb’s Depth of Knowledge as a guide, participants will develop and rate assessment items within their preferred content area. The goal is to reach general agreement regarding the cognitive levels of assessment items. Working in grade-level or subject-area teams, participants will develop and rate assessment items. Participants will also supplement existing content assessments with items at cognitive levels 3 and 4.

Session 4: Pulling it All Together: How Will this Look on Our Campus?
According to Dr. Harvey Perkins, CEO of Urban Learning and Leadership Center, “nothing good happens systemically in a school without a plan.” Many of America’s schools have teachers who are individually excellent. But leaders know this is simply not good enough. The goal is to make the best of what we do in schools so systemic the all teachers meet desired results. Given the fact that all schools are different, this session is designed to help educators think through the critical steps for successful implementation on their specific campuses.

Motivating Teachers to Motivate Students
Let's Talk About Belief!!!

The stakes in public education have never been higher. Now more than ever before, it is imperative that teachers and students are motivated to meet new challenges. This emotional presentation is designed to give teachers the push they need to re-enter classrooms with the desire to inspire every child they teach.

Educating Students Socially, Academically and Morally

This presentation teaches educators what it takes to create and sustain excellence in the classroom.

Helping Students Bounce Back

Resilience refers to the ability to overcome risk factors that increase the likelihood of academic failure. Today in the United States, a significant number of students experience academic failure due to multiple risk factors. The good news is that educators can help students to become more resilient and overcome a variety of challenges by using a few proven strategies. Today’s session will help participants understand the resilience phenomenon and learn strategies that are proven to help foster resilience in today’s students.

Higher Order Thinking
From Theory to Practice

It is safe to say that most educators believe that higher order thinking is necessary for educational success. We all know that this is a universal truth in education. Yet in classrooms throughout the United States, classroom instruction focuses on basic facts and relies on the ability of students to recall information and not think through challenging content.
The staff of the Urban Learning and Leadership Center has had the opportunity to work with educators throughout the United States. We fully realize what is driving instruction for many teachers: Common Core. But in attempting to prepare students for success on state testing, teachers are failing to teach students how to think. Please note the dramatic difference. Classrooms that focus on the ability of students to recall content are simply teaching students WHAT to think. We believe that if our focus is on teaching students HOW to think through problems, schools will meet and exceed state and federal academic standards. This presentation will provide teachers with tools they can immediately use to facilitate higher order thinking in all classrooms.

The Miracle Starts Here

Have you ever become discouraged after you've worked hard and the results did not reflect your effort? Have you ever, just for a moment, let the thought cross your mind that the barriers to educating all students might be too overwhelming to overcome? This presentation will inspire participants to reflect on the true purpose of education and their role in ensuring that all children reach their fullest potential. This session is designed to help school staff unleash the miraculous power of collaboration to create excellent schools.

Following the S.A.M.E. Pathway to Excellent Schools

S.A.M.E. stands for Social, Academic and Moral Education. It is a holistic approach to creating and sustaining academic excellence in today's schools. S.A.M.E. provides a research-supported, holistic view of school improvement by addressing all of the components of school and district culture which must be addressed if lasting school reform is to be attained, i.e. the Social Domain, the Academic Domain and the Moral Domain. As the rigor of state accountability measures increase, schools must focus their efforts to achieve and sustain academic excellence. This approach is designed to assist schools along a vast performance continuum, from schools that are struggling to schools that are exceeding performance standards. This approach has been particularly successful in schools serving high-poverty populations.

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