“Frustrated With Apathy”

“We were becoming frustrated with the apathy toward completing assignments by a significant percentage of our students.  Obviously, the incomplete assignments adversely affected grades, which in turn affects scheduling for a school our size.  After receiving some much needed direction from a neighboring Middle School, we implemented the Power of ICU approach during the course of the 2017-2018 school year at the High School.  We chose not to set it up exactly as the Middle School, but we formatted the plan to what works for us and our schedule.  Among the staff, we had our ‘doubters’ as to whether ICU would be beneficial.  However, having a strong ICU leadership team has greatly impacted the success of the program.  For me, as the principal, it places some of the control into the hands of the teachers who are on the ‘front line’ in the classrooms.  And as far as the ‘doubters’ are concerned, they are far and few now.  In comparing some baseline data from the 2016-2017 to this year, we have noticed a significant drop in Ds and Fs for each grade level. For example, last year’s juniors, 44.2% were receiving a D and/or F during the first semester.  This year, that current group of seniors, only 24.1% are receiving a D and/or F.  Obviously, the number is still considerably higher than we would like it to be, but positive steps need to start one at a time.  So, we look at it as a positive movement.”

– K. P. (High School Principal)

“The Right Kind of Work”

“Using the ICU database is the right kind of teacher work. It holds students accountable for their practice, it helps ensure that teachers have authentic examples of student mastery (or a lack of mastery), and it challenges teachers to create high-quality, relevant, practice. In short, the ICU database (and the philosophical approach behind it) has helped me be a better educator. Because of this, using the ICU database is the right kind of work – ensuring that every student does every practice every day! I have found that the small amount of time that I spend inputting missing work is the most efficient use of my time and helps support both student mastery and student accountability, but without the punitive approach that too many teachers and schools use.”

– R.D. (History Dept Chair)

And the success continues!

The Power of ICU stretches way beyond just your campus school. The strategies and supports taught through the ICU approach will stay with many students and teachers for a lifetime. We have received consistent feedback about how ICU has helped brand new and seasoned educators shift their thinking towards impactful intervention and learning based practices. As a principal, the greatest compliment is often that you have developed lead learners that grow and move on to become leaders themselves. This is the case for many of our schools. However, what is even more of a compliment for us is when these new leaders bring the Power of ICU to their new schools.

This is AWESOME! One of our teachers from FMS left and went to Fredericktown School District. She took her knowledge of defeating student apathy with her.

This is what it is all about! I just wanted to share with you her excitement and joy of bringing this to another school.

And the success continues! We were fortunate to receive feedback from the teacher, as well. She was able to share the ICU approach with her new school district and once again, the students are demonstrating their learning while developing accountability.

I just wanted to share with you guys that today we kicked off our 1st day of Working Lunch/ICU.  We are only doing freshman and core classes to begin with as part of our transition plan. Well, these freshmen teachers listened and bought in. So today we had 32 kiddos on our list.  Except for the boy who was absent, we collected EVERY SINGLE ASSIGNMENT.  The MTSS guy for our building was astounded. He spends his life chasing down missing work, and he’s been working closely with me on this. He said, “This is the most effective intervention in the history of the world!”

Another teacher was shocked as well.  He said, “I don’t understand. I told them yesterday I was putting them on the list if I didn’t get it. What was different about today?” Well, obviously, we were getting into their lunch time, but I told him, “There is something magic about THE LIST.”

Thanks for listening to me. I just wanted to share with people who truly understand how excited I am!

Power of We

The greatest of educational leaders value the importance of reflection and refinement as they look forward to the next school year. Schools across the country have started this practice by working on their school-wide improvement plans and needs assessment to address student achievement. Many of these institutions have begun rewriting the education narrative, promoting a culture of student accountability, and eliminating “grades” from their vernacular. As the author of their outcome, they have chosen not to allow apathy to be the antagonist of their school’s success story. Instead, these innovative leaders have twisted the plots and turned conflicts of failures into happily-ever-afters of completing assignments, demonstrating learning, advancing student achievement, and increasing graduation rates. Although each success story is unique, the one common theme is that no one single person solely claims the character of hero. Rather, the champion’s tale of student success is a school-wide collaboration appropriately titled the Power of We.

With pen in hand, districts across the nation have committed to edit the ending of their story by bringing the ICU Database to their schools and teachers. Like a sword to a knight, the ICU Database equips every faculty member with the power to support students and defeat apathy by creating, monitoring, and managing missing assignments in one accessible location. Armed with the ICU Database, the responsibility to help a student doesn’t fall solely on the teacher. The ICU list makes every minute count with all students in all classes. Student achievement becomes the focus of the whole school community and each staff member pursues students to turn in missing assignments by creating opportunities to demonstrate their learning. Teachers are grateful for the extra help believing that more can be achieved when working together. Students and parents appreciate knowing that the entire school is working toward the same goal, the student’s success. For ICU schools, every faculty member can be the hero and responsibility for student learning no longer falls on “me” but is achieved through the power of “WE“. Lifeguards Michelle Mack and Noelle Heuer share about the success that comes from having a school-wide culture where each faculty member is working for every individual student.

“Our ICU culture raises the bar. We are just trying to hold students accountable and give them every opportunity to learn!”

– Michelle Mack, Lifeguard

“Communication is not only between the teachers and the students, but also with coaches, administration, and most importantly the parents. It’s important to remember that ICU is not a negative intervention. It’s a chance to address academic issues quickly and in a timely manner so that other educational gaps do not arise.”

– Noelle Heuer, Lifeguard

At the end of this year, will your school improvement narrative be one of tragedy or triumph? The Power of ICU team would like to partner with you to rewrite your school’s success story and help turn the responsibility of “me” into the Power of “WE”.

Lifeguards On Duty

Have you ever watched kids swim towards a drifting beach ball?  The harder they try, the further away it seems to get. Eventually, they decide the effort is no longer worth the reward.  Overwhelmed and tired, the kids start caring less about the lost ball and more about survival.  The classroom isn’t that different for some students.  Many students start with a committed effort, but over time they fall behind and zeroes begin to lose their meaning since they are already too far in the hole.  Under the weight of zeroes, their motivation is just to survive and students begin to sink.  However, just like our swimmers could benefit from a lifeguard, so could your students.  Academic lifeguards work with students to rescue missed opportunities to demonstrate their learning.  Working with an academic lifeguard prepares students by giving them support and modeling that obligations just doesn’t go away and get replaced by a zero.  Responsibility lingers and you have to learn how to pick yourself up and face it.  This is where an academic lifeguard becomes an invaluable and consistent reinforcement of the school culture.  Adding academic lifeguards to your intervention initiative changes the status quo of education for most schools by altering the sink or swim mentality and replacing it with competence, choice, and a community of support.  This type of school culture fosters social support and produces students that can persevere, be resourceful, rise and overcome obstacles, and be success seekers.  “No matter how large or small your school is academic lifeguards can provide the necessary set of eyes” to target underachieving groups of students. (Brick House, p. 43)  Students will reap the rewards, teachers will be grateful, and parents will appreciate knowing that lifeguards are watching out for their students.  For more information about integrating academic lifeguards into your school culture contact info@poweroficu.com. We have schools from across the country eager to share their success stories with you.

What is ICU Blitz?

What happens when you give students a structured, objective-based time period to complete or get help for missing assignments? Many students see this as a gift and will take advantage of this time to complete anything they may have been missing.

Stacey Gaydos, a high school English teacher at Shenandoah High School in Sarahsville, Ohio, has explained how their school does a Blitz Day. Each school can modify how they run Blitz Day to their needs.

“Our principal makes the list of students that need to be in “The Blitz” prior to Blitz Day. He considers who is on the ICU list and students who have D’s or F’s. Once the students are on the list, he divides them up according to what teachers they need to see (either missing work, reassessment, or intervention). We run 4 “rounds” that are divided up at around 45-50 minutes each. Students are in  “The Blitz” for as long as they need based on what/how they are doing with getting all of the work completed, getting the intervention they need, etc. The students who are in good standing are given the choice to be in our media center, in the gym, or outside (weather permitting), in the auditorium watching a movie, or they can study/get help for any other teacher they see fit. Our students absolutely LOVE Blitz Day (I think it’s supposed to be the opposite!), but they love having the extra time to get work done!”

A true example of ensuring students are given ample opportunity to learn the standards that are expected of them. The culture that is build shows at this school. As teachers, we know that the standards that are given for students to learn are abundant. Giving them opportunities to keep up with the rigorous schedule and demands of all of their other teachers relieves stress and allows for more learning!


ICU Blitz

Thoughts for the New School Year

A new school year is approaching, and a new group of students come with it.

It is imperative that this incoming group of students know the high expectations that you have set as teachers. It is just as imperative for them to know how much you care and how much you want them to learn. Students will start to become apathetic if the sense that you do not care for them to learn. One way to achieve this is to simply change the language you use in your classroom. Using phrases such as “getting a good grade”, can have a negative impact on how they learn. Students seem to feel like failures if they do not get the grade they want. Instead, use phrases such as “let’s master this standard/skill”. This leaves learning more open-ended, instead of their grade being the end-all-be-all.

Prepare to “beep” your students and get missing assignments, and we hope that this year will be amazing!




New School Year, Clean Slate

The beginning of a school year is a clean slate!

This is the time of year to ensure students know the expectations in your classroom and your school. Do students know that they are to complete every assignment? Do they know that the assignments that are being given are tied to a learning standard? Do they know what the learning standard is and where to find it?

As we ask those questions to students, we must also ensure that we ask ourselves these same questions as educators. Do I know the expectations of my school? Are the assignments that I am giving tied to a learning standard? Have I shared where these learning standards can be found with my students?

Questions like these can help check the pulse on the learning culture in your classroom and in your school. Students need to know that there is a goal that we are all trying to reach together and that there are layers of support in the school to help them get there. This begins the year with a clean slate, clear expectations, and motivated students.



Now Scheduling PD for 2022-2023

Don’t Delay! Dates are filling up fast for our fall training schedule. The Power of ICU team offers various training/PD, including on-site and virtual options. Bring acclaimed author and speaker Danny Hill for an in-person or virtual training with staff. Or, schedule a full out ICU workshop at your school/district. We will customize a workshop based on your school/district priorities and needs. Topics may include the Power of ICU formula, defeating student apathy, the powerful how and why of the Power of ICU’s unique approach, building layers of support, improving the quality of assignments and assessments, cleansing toxic grading practices, mastering the ICU Database, addressing learning loss, among many other options. Learn from actual educators from various grade levels from various schools in the ICU network with keynote presentations by Danny Hill. Contact us today to schedule a training that will leave a lasting impact on your teachers, school, and district.

“Doing Half the Work for You”

“The ICU Database might seem like double the work; however it’s doing half the work for you! Instead of being on your student 24/7 and the student only hearing the reminder about missing work from the classroom teacher, the student is hearing the reminder from 4th period teachers, coaches, club sponsors, lifeguards, and more. The student is more likely to turn in the missing work with everyone being on them about it. This overall benefits the classroom teacher because it takes less time to get the assignment in and the teacher is able to assess the student’s mastery of the standard.”

– J. W. (2nd year Math teacher)