An occasional series of education and workplace-related musings from our staff. 

The CASIE Blog



Our purpose in sharing the CASIE Blog is to encourage and support our readers.

We want to share our experiences:  with IB schools, with PZ ideas, with good educational practices. We also want to share our wonderings and puzzles, mostly about education, because we have some VERY experienced educators on staff. We also plan to share other topics which we think will be of interest and use to you, because we have some very capable and versatile non-educators on staff too.


You will mostly be hearing from Jill Sims, our Director of Education, and will occasionally see another staff member contributing to the blog. Jill says:


“In my over thirty years as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, executive director of all thing teaching and learning at the district level, and my current roles as an IB coordinator and Director of Education at CASIE, I have had so many experiences with hundreds of educators K-12, and learned so much about how to collaborate in ways that help others make strides towards continuous professional growth! 

I want to encourage you because frankly, you deserve it.  I hope my blog posts feel like we’re in it together and that I am a friendly guide on the side. My first post is going to focus on questions that provoke our thinking to help write terrific academic and professional learning goals.”  

“Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.”
Hausa proverb


With Thanksgiving around the corner in the US, Fall brings about a special focus on gratitude and counting one’s blessings. In Scott Shickler's and Jeff Waller's book The 7 Mindsets To Live Your Ultimate Life, one of the mindsets is the Attitude of Gratitude. This mindset's descriptor directs "Seek positives from every experience and be thankful for all you have." An abundance of research has shown that practicing gratitude has a whole- person positive impact. Other studies have concluded that practicing gratitude adds years to one's life and is more effective than medication on one's mood.


Given all of this evidence, many schools have embraced the 7 Mindsets as their schoolwide social-emotional learning guide and seek to incorporate the Attitude of Gratitude in the behaviors and practices of staff and students. Practicing gratitude seems to be easier than ever now: There are a plethora of gratitude journals on the market. There are lists that provide guidance on how to journal about gratitude. 


At this point in the school year, we probably have experienced many ups and downs, so knowing that choosing to be grateful, expressing that gratitude, and being as positive as possible can bring us "a lot" in the way of a better mood, makes it a worthy topic for reflecting and acting upon. We all want an improved mood and a happier existence for ourselves and our students. 


As I reflect on what we educators are grateful for in our schools and in our careers, many things come to mind: We are so grateful for the opportunity to work in a field where we can make a difference every day, especially in the lives of hundreds of children in our communities. In addition, many of us are passionate about a particular subject area -- whether it be drama, mathematics, science, history, English, or foreign languages -- and get to share that passion each day. We are grateful for the special activities and projects that our schools are engaged in that bring people together, such as sports or theater, and that benefit others, like sending canned goods to the local food pantry.


Another very important thing we are grateful for are those special colleagues who make our lives better in so many ways! The special people that I would like to highlight in this post are IB Coordinators. IB Coordinators have unique responsibilities in their schools and they are often the sole person tasked with these duties. Because they often work alone, many colleagues may not understand the huge responsibility of their position.  Coordinators are the liaison between schools and the IB. They schedule trainings, prepare IB-required reports, help the school work through action planning, conduct self-studies, oversee evaluation processes, lead unit writing and reflections, and provide up-to-date information to their colleagues about the latest IB practices, tools, documents, changes, and regulations.


Coordinators also think through how to support the implementation of IB standards and practices in their schools, keep the head of school informed on all aspects of the IB, host parent and community information sessions, contribute to newsletters and websites, enact required IB testing, recommend and secure resources, and plan for the required student project components of the IB. Only 5,100+ schools of the more than one million K-12 schools in the world and only 1,800+ schools of the 130,000+ schools in the U.S are IB World Schools. This perspective gives context to the uniqueness of this school position, which is why I wanted to highlight my appreciation for the work they do. 


Here at CASIE, we recognize the need for supporting and showing our gratitude to IB coordinators, during this season of gratitude and year-round. We host monthly Lunch and Learn meetings for Georgia IB Coordinators. We also offer IB professional education workshops every summer and fall for IB educators from around the world. This January, we are offering a 2-day CASIE Learning Lab led by Dr. Benjamin Feinstein entitled Navigating the Complexities of IB Coordination to provide yet another type of professional growth opportunity targeting IB Coordinators and their unique needs and challenges. 


I hope you all will experience the positive effects of showing gratitude throughout this season and beyond!

Written by Jill Sims, CASIE Director of Education

November  2019

The What, Why, and How of Writing Professional Goals

Writing Professional Learning & Achievement Goals for Your Annual Evaluation

The What & Why?

It is that time of year again where we have to write our professional learning goals for our annual evaluation.  In my twenty years as a K-12 administrator at the school and district level, I have created, read, and coached staff in creating such goals continuously.   From my experiences, I know most supervisors will ask that the goals be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound or commonly referred to as SMART goals.  Since many of us do this activity just once every year, it is nice to have a few reminders to make it easier.


First, think about what skills, practices, or knowledge you would like to acquire, enhance, or refine to empower you to help students learn at their highest levels.  You could reflect on the following questions:

  • Do I want to find practical ways to get my students thinking critically? 

  • Do I need more strategies to engage all learners in the classroom? 

  • Do I want to expand my toolbox of methods for facilitating group work and discussions so I can assess where students are and provide feedback in real time? 

  • Do we have program needs, changes, or requirements that I want to be sure I am up-to-date with implementing? 


These kinds of questions can assist in determining meaningful choices.  (SPECIFIC)


Next, consider your students’ learning needs.  You might explore the following questions:  

  • Do I need more professional learning in how to take students from where they are currently to their next level of growth in a particular area? 

  • Are there dispositions that if I knew better how to instill them in my students, they would make more progress? 

  • Are there curriculum innovations or research-based learning tasks that I feel would be beneficial to enhance my current knowledge? 

  • Are there teaching and learning standards that I should target?

  • How many times or how long will I engage in each specified professional learning activity? 

  • How will I measure the attainment of my goals? (MEASURABLE, RELEVANT, TIMEBOUND)


Finally, choose that area that you really want to work on after reflecting.  Consider what professional learning offerings are available that best match to this area.  You may ask yourself:

  • What actions will I take to attain my goals?  

  • Do my professional learning goals compliment my student achievement goals? (ATTAINABLE)


The How?

Now that you know what area you want to target and the professional learning activities that will support your goal, it is time to consider how to put the goal into a goal statement.


As background work for creating SMART goals, you have done the reflections by asking yourself the right questions.  You can record your thinking in the template provided below as a tool for writing your goals.  Begin your goal with the timeframe, followed by what you will do, and the way it will be measured. 


The Examples

Now that you have recorded your thinking, you are ready to write your goals.  Here are examples to provide further guidance as you write goals that are sure to give you direction for the year ahead.

Achievement Goal:  In the 2019-2020 school year, I will use visible thinking routines daily as a way to gather formative data and determine how to differentiate instruction to facilitate predicted or higher academic growth on the MAP assessments.


Professional Learning Goal:  In the fall of the 2019-2020 school year, I will attend the Cultures of Thinking workshop and read the book, Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools by Ron Ritchhart to further my development in creating a culture of thinking in my classroom. 



SPECIFIC- What I will do?

MEASURABLE- How will I achieve and measure what I will do?

TIMEBOUND- When/How many times will these actions occur?


RELEVANT- Are my goals relevant to my role and needs?

ATTAINABLE- Are my goals is reasonable?

Written by Jill Sims, CASIE Director of Education

August 2019


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Suite 125

Atlanta, GA 30345 

United States of America

Tel: 404.848.9044

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