Friday, February 19, 2016

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Recently, many friends and followers via Twitter and Voxer have been publishing their 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 blog challenge. Well, I love blogging, I love lists, and I love challenges! So here I go.

1) What has been your ONE biggest struggle during this school year?
Just one?! 
  1. I'm new to my building, this year, and as a result there has been a learning curve.
    One particular struggle is creating, introducing, and implementing procedures and structures. Not having a full grasp of what procedures and structures were needed prior to the year starting, it is now difficult to get these things off of the ground as we go through the day-to-day grind of a school year without many opportunities to come-up for air.

2) Share TWO accomplishments that you are proud of from this school year.
Just two?!
  1. Communication to parents. I am trying to reach a lot of different parents, a lot of different ways, for a lot of different reasons. We have email blasts, a school newsletter (via Smore page), a Remind account for text messages, a Facebook page, and a school hashtag (#StarryShines) for Twitter to name a few of our methods. I've also been adamant about taking and sending birthday selfies to families. These things seem to be a big hit, as I've received A LOT of positive feedback from a multitude of parents.
  2. I feel (hope) as though teachers are being empowered - to make instructional decisions, to
    pursue and implement personal/professional interests and/or passions, to be in-charge of the situations where students need consequence and/or discipline. As a leader, this is something that I feel strongly about. Unfortunately, I don't know how measurable it is. Futhermore, this is an accomplishment in pockets of our building. Nonetheless, again, I feel (hope) that this is the direction where we are moving.
3) What are THREE things you wish to accomplish before the end of the school year?
Just three?!
  1. We are working on creating/planning a Parent Education Consortium Workshop. This is something that we've had parents openly desire. We are hopeful that we can grow the program into something that will be beneficial for many of our families.
  2. Developing PBIS sub-committees. Our PBIS team has a lot of work to do when it comes to revamping our PBIS implementation. It's too much for us to accomplish the way that we are currently operating. We are looking to divide and conquer.
  3. Diving-in with a structured data protocol that our grade-level teams will use to focus their conversations. What is the data, and what implications does the data have on our instruction? What commitments are we willing to make in our classrooms, in-order to positively impact the data that we are looking at. We need to talk about the things that we can control, the things that we can do, and the things that we can impact. 
4) Give FOUR reasons you remain in education in today's rough culture?
  1. I got into education so that I could be a positive role model for kids. Ten years into the profession, that desire has not faded.
  2. There is a rough culture associated with education. But there is also a wonderful culture that celebrates all that is good with education. Connecting with other like-minded, positive educators via Twitter and Voxer (Principals in Action group, especially) is such an inspiration to persevere for kids.
  3. Esmeralda Moseley recently blogged about the model for leadership that her father provided her with. I want to be that model for my kids. I want my kids to see me as an educator, and expect nothing less from any teacher/school staff that they will encounter as they go through their schooling.
  4. What else would I rather do? I can't think of a single thing that would be more rewarding. Easier, sure I could think of lots of jobs that would be easier, but I can't think of anything that would produce the same kind of highs that working in a school so frequently provides.
5) Which FIVE people do you hope will take the challenge of answering these questions?
  1. Matt Mayer - I've really enjoyed connecting with him on occasion this year via our Principals in Action Voxer group and Twitter.
  2. Shelley Miller - She is only in her second year as a teacher, but she does an amazing job! She started a blog this year to communicate with the parents of the students in her class. If my kid's teacher had a blog, I'd be curious to see their responses to these prompts.
  3. Tony Sinanis - Fell in love with the book that he co-wrote for the Corwin Connected Educator Series, The Power of Branding. I've since had the pleasure connecting with him, again via Voxer and Twitter, as we get ready to push #PositivePostItDay, next month.
  4. Jeremy Stewart - This blog is a broken record.  I've never met Jeremy, but through some awesome dialogue that we've had via Twitter and Voxer I can tell that we share the same passion for education and kids.
  5. Janelle Sulhoff - Another amazing teacher doing amazing things for her students. A teacher leader. She started a blog this school year, too, but I've noticed that it's been a little quiet lately.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#PositivePostItDay is Coming

Last year, through the Twitter account of +Tony Sinanis, I learned of something called #PositivePostItDay.

The idea appealed to me, and we decided to participate in a version of #PositivePostItDay at my site. We pretty much followed the model that Tony outlines in his blog post (linked - Leading Motivated Learners - Positive Post-It Day).

Everyone received compliments, all-day-long. And everyone gave compliments, all-day-long. It felt good to receive compliments. But it felt even better to give compliments.

It was a huge success. Individuals were going above and beyond what we had set as our expectation for the amount of post-its that everyone was required to write. Furthermore, post-its were displayed and left-up for the remainder of the year for all to see.
So Tony and I have been conversing. We agree that there is great value in doing things like #PositivePostItDay. #KidsDeserveIt (and adults do to). This year we want as many schools as possible to join us for #PositivePostItDay, which we've designated for - 
Tuesday, March 29th, 2016.  

Save the date, and put it on your calendar. Start to buy and/or gather stacks of post-it notes. Explain the idea to your school community. Get ready for a really fun activity that promotes a positive school culture/climate. Get ready for a great day that results in everyone being in really good spirits on #PositivePostItDay.

(+Todd Nesloney also wrote a pretty great blog, last year, about his site's experience (linked - Ninja Reflections on Education - #PositivePostItDay at @NavasotaInt)).

Monday, February 8, 2016

My #edchat Take-Away from the Super Bowl

Most Americans are aware that the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers recently in Super Bowl 50.

I'v used this blog, previously to confess my love for sports. I love the countless applications to the real world from the lessons that sports teach.

It is often through defeat that we learn our greatest lessons.

Let it be known that I like Cam Newton.

I do not, however, like how Cam Newton handled himself, yesterday, after losing the Super Bowl. Because contrary to what Charles Barkley said, long ago, athletes are role models. Right or wrong, millions of kids are watching our most famous athletes and then emulating their every move (for better or worse).

I am an elementary school principal. And I will admit that I sometimes have "tough" days. I've had days where it felt like I was going-up against the Denver Broncos defense.

And while I've never played on the world's biggest stage, and I've never so much as tried-on Cam Newton's shoes let alone walk in them. But I know that I would never be allowed to respond - to staff, to students, to parents - at the end of a subpar day like Cam Newton responded to reporters in his post game press conference. Can you imagine?

We all have bad days. Don't sulk. Own it. Learn from it. Commit to getting better as a result of it. Establish and practice a growth mindset because #KidsDeserveIt.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Energy #KidsDeserveIt

Photo via @theiowahawkeyes Instagram acct
I love sports. I have always loved sports.

I love the competition that sports creates, but I also love all of the other things that lead-up to the competition. I love the commitment. I love the focus. I love the teamwork. I love the preparation. I love the enthusiasm. I love the excitement. I love the anticipation.

Last weekend, I was at an Iowa Hawkeyes basketball game with my son, my brother, and my dad. As we sat in our seats, waiting for the game to begin. The video board showed the team, gathered outside of the locker room, enjoying the final moments prior to taking the court for the tip-off. The team huddled around individual players taking turns dancing and getting the team hyped for their game. I love this. I'm long past my days as a competitive athlete, but watching these type of things, still, always, gives me chills.

And every team does this, or something like this. Athletes are so focused and they do such a good job of energizing themselves prior to competing. It is crystal clear that they love what they do.

Far too often this is the case
I write this blog as a principal of an elementary school. And as I write this blog, in February, the days are long. Spring break is still weeks away, and we're just over half-way to summer. There are mornings when it is hard to get going. We definitely don't always have the same level of energy prior to teaching that athletes do prior to competing. Why not? Can you imagine if ALL educators brought that type of energy to school every day?! What an amazing place that would be to work! What an amazing place that would be to learn!

So what can we, as individuals, do? Commit to smiling, all-day, every-day. Commit to remembering why you got into education. Commit to finding balance in your life so that you don't burn-out. Commit to searching for positives. Commit to vulnerability. Commit to #CelebrateMonday. Commit to #FlyHighFri. Fake-it-til-we-make-it. #KidsDeserveIt.