Sunday, October 25, 2015

R-8 officials headed to Denver for three-day conference

Eight Joplin R-8 officials are headed to Denver next week to attend the three-day 2015 Teaching Learning Conference.

Which officials is not specified in documentation provided to the R-8 Board of Education, but the cost of the junket is. Taxpayers are spending $4,400 just for the registration for the conference, which costs $550 per person.

That amount does not include the cost of lodging or other expenses, which will be presented to the board at a later date.

According to the website for the conference, which will be held at the Denver Marriott City Center, the keynote speaker, Jim Knight, will address "Better Conversations for Better Learning."

The way people communicate always enhances or inhibits the way everyone (adults and children) learns in schools. Administrators who communicate more effectively foster the development of positive, productive learning cultures. Coaches who communicate more effectively enable more powerful professional learning. Teachers who communicate more effectively learn more with their colleagues and foster more student learning in their classrooms. But what is a Better Conversation? In this presentation, Jim Knight will answer that question by describing the beliefs and habits that are essential for creating better conversations, outlined in his book, Better Conversations. Jim will talk about the experiences of over 150 people from around the world who learned these habits and beliefs by video recording their conversations (over 1,000, collectively) and reflecting on how they can communicate better. Jim will also explain how anyone can use video and reflective practices to learn and adopt the Better Conversations habits and beliefs—whether they work alone, with a partner, with a team, or with a whole school or district

Sessions are scheduled on "Building Learner Strategies," "Culturally Responsive Listening," "Having Hard Conversations," "Improving Classroom Discussion Through Thinking Prompts and Effective Questioning," "Transformational Listening in Coaching Conversations," "Characteristics of Effective Instructional Coaches," "Coaching Conversations that Cultivate Emotional Resilience," "The Perfect Assessment System," "Supporting Instructional Coaches," "Using Video in Coaching," and other topics.

The board documentation also shows a payment of $4,750 for registration for an ACSI Conference, though there is no mention of what ACSI or why it is necessary to spend that amount on yet another conference.

Meanwhile, district taxpayers are also spending more money on the consultant group that it sent packing just a few months ago.

The monthly bills show $7,775 to the Core Collaborative, which apparently has shown up in Joplin schools again, since the documentation indicates the money is broken down to $6,000 for on-site training and $1,775 for travel costs.

Other interesting items included in this month's bill:

-$123.50 to Downstream Casino Resort for the remaining balance of money owed for the annual Bright Futures Golf Tournament

-$86 to Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce for the "Board of Directors" regular lunch

-$11,187.50 for the final payment on the mall high school lease

-$1,180 to CJ Rentals for another Bright Futures "student need"

-$1,084 for the annual JAMF National User Conference in Minneapolis. The conference is put on by a software company and is designed for schools using One-to-One technology.

$448 for registration for the annual Bright Futures USA Conference


Anonymous said...

I do not get the impression that Superintendent Ridder is exercising much control over the operations of the administrators that theoretically report to him.

Then again, we don't know if he's been stopping a lot of even more ridiculous spending. But if he's delivering a message to them that the old ways cannot continue or there will be consequences, it's being ignored.

Oh, hey, maybe the school district is in much better financial shape then we thought!

Anonymous said...

It takes a while to undo the mess that CJ left in his wake. I'm not giving up on ridder or the district yet.

Anonymous said...

11:51 AM: Nor am I; for example, I assume the period through at minimum September was consumed with getting the new school year off to a good start.

But at a certain point we expect serious action. At the very least, enough before the April school board elections. A $7,775 bill from Core Collaborative, which we thought was firmly shown the door, needs explanation, unless it's delayed from before that decision. Spending upwards of $10,000 on a junket in Denver (after travel and lodging are added) does not sound like a legitimate action in a school district in financial trouble.

Then again, these are small things compared to only the latest atrocity we've learned of, the large, unauthorized raises and promotions Huff handed out in his final days. Priorities are an issue, stopping major bleeding before minor, etc.

But we need to see some sign things are improving, and for whatever reasons Ridder has yet to show any that I can recall, and his honeymoon period is about over.

Anonymous said...

ACSI is a Christian school organization. Why are we going there? For that matter, why are we sending anyone to conferences? There is nothing that they can't learn about on the internet. We expect the kids to figure everything out that way, why can't administration? I thought there was going to be a change and a move away from the conference/guru nonsense. Instead we have at least three conferences on here and we are still supporting Bloomberg and Common Core.

I hope we get some explanations. My paycheck is over $70 less per month this year, but they can afford all those people at the administration building and to take all of these trips? So much for teacher support. I was like 11:51 for awhile, but Ridder and Koch set the agenda, so someone had to approve of all this beforehand. I'm hoping these are bills created before CJ left with his golden parachute, but it seems like in the months since we might have gotten out of the conference mentality. We can only wonder what they will bring home as a miracle cure this time. Something new to do in the middle of the year, like last year? That's why we are all leaving. No money, too much nonsense, and no support. Just vote no, Board, just vote no.

Anonymous said...

The rental/real estate company that Bright Futures needs money for is in Blue Springs and does not list Joplin as a city with property. Is there some reason why we are paying rent for students out of the district? It's bad enough when it's in the district, but I hope this is thoroughly explained. Not sure how that is justified, and it's as good a reason as any to dump Bright Futures.

Anonymous said...

So, I suppose when they come back from Denver we are all going to have the fine art of meaningful conversations added to our professional development misery. It is to laugh. Ten grand to learn how to talk? Kind of hard in a place where there is no trust, no support, nothing to work with, and no money for teachers or classified staff because it all keeps getting wasted on crap like this. I think we've heard enough of what our current administrators/directors have to say, and the coaches? Yeah...the less you talk to them, the better.

12:44--The honeymoon is over. A whole quarter has gone by and it's been the worst year ever at my school. It'll take a Christmas miracle to keep teachers where I am if all of this nonsense is approved.

Anonymous said...


I understand apprehension about what they might bring back to inflict on you. My spouse says who doesn't remember the onslaught of chaos last year when they brought Learning Intentions to staff in the middle of the year, and held teachers accountable for them before they had even taught them what they were? Who knows what is next. Joplin teachers' entire evaluation now revolves solely around Learning Intentions and Success Criteria and whether or not they prattle them off three times in a lesson. Is it any doubt why so many of them want out? Such stupidity is unbelievable. Even as their careers are dependent on this nonsense, Hattie's work is being refuted in as many places as are still touting it. Anyone who has had statistics can, with a little bit of effort, find the flaw in his math for effect size. It is not possible to have a probability that is negative or over 100%. However, Hattie uses his "CLE" statistic to back his research, stating a probability range of -49 and 219%. True mathematicians will not use CLEs or effect sizes, and neither should he. It's a shame Joplin administrators didn't find the flaw here. I did. In minutes. As have many others. Perhaps the Kool-Aid clouded their reasoning skills.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...1:37's comments peaked my interest, so I Googled "refuting John Hattie's research" and instantly got verification of his/her claims. I cannot verify the authenticity of this source, but it's worth looking into if our evaluations are hinging on the findings of Hattie's research. Check this out: "John Hattie admits that half of the Statistics in Visible Learning are wrong," found at, October 25, 2015. This also provides many links to other sites with additional backup of these claims. I hope that those who are experts in this area will chime in. It's been way too long since I thought about this kind of thing.

So, we are being held accountable for something that has been disproved? Talk about jumping on the bandwagon a little too fast. Perhaps this will go away soon and those who brought us this nonsense will be held accountable. Ha! I amuse myself.

Dusty Roads said...

Wonder if anyone will be sampling some of the local free

Anonymous said...

@2:30--How will we be able to tell the difference?

@1:37--They have to say their learning intentions three times in every lesson? So in the middle of PE, does the teacher stop and repeat the mantra? My children, then, will hear learning intentions and success criteria 21 times a day, if that is true. Will there be time for them to hear anything else? That's the most stupid thing R8 has come up with yet, and that's going some. Between that and testing all of the time--took a week in English and almost a week in math--when are they learning anything new?

The new Board and Ridder better get after it. This is not what I send my children to school for. Testing and mantras. I hate to think what they will do next. Anybody still wondering why every other big district around here is better? This nonsense is why.

Anonymous said...

Teachers need to stop talking and start listening to the kids that are being bullied, and then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Anonymous said...

1:37, I am glad you brought this up. I previously posted a link to articles disproving Hattie's work. He is a scam artist that has suckered educators and even politicians into believing that highly important factors, such as poverty, have little affect on learning. Anyone with any knowledge of statistics or learning in general can see right through this. He is a profiteer, and unfortunately a successful one. It is sad that Joplin is so quick to jump on every new trend such as this that comes along. For more entertaining research, look up Brain Gym science. Another batch of nonsense with no scientific validity that school systems have bought into.

Anonymous said...

Hope the R8 Board and Ridder are reading these responses! These are concerned, invested participants: parents, educators, voters, tax payers ... with voices to be heard.

Anonymous said...

I had never heard about this Hattie character.

Statistical nonsense as far as I can see.

"Just shut up and listen, expert tells teachers

JOHN HATTIE has spent his life studying the studies to find out what works in education. His advice to teachers? Just shut up."

What a bunch of hooey he's selling.

Anonymous said...

These conferences are nothing more than vacations and ego stroking for administrators. These worthless, clueless coaches go and pat each other on the back then come back to the district and still do nothing. My schools coach never has an answer and spends the day drinking Starbucks and playing on her phone. Ridder talks a big game, but the same slugs are doing the same nonsense after 10 weeks. He isn't going change anything!

Anonymous said...

From being in meetings with coaches from other schools, I can relate to the sentiments others have expressed about the TLCs.The coach at my school has been very helpful to me a number of times. She just returned and I am excited to have her back!

Anonymous said...

$448 to attend BF USA Conference ???
All that was started and funded by R8, MO taxpayers and donations, right?
So now R8 has to pony up $448 to listen to employees and/or former employees?!
Who gets this $448?
Looks WRONG from here!