Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Every Action Has a Consequence

I admire @SethGodin and his blog for the simplicity and conciseness that he uses to make his point.

Like @JoeMaddon says (which is captured on his Korked Baseball tee-shirt), "Do simple better."

Too often, when I blog, I treat it like I am writing a feature story for The Bear (my old high school newspaper). Old habits are hard to break.

So after that long winded introduction, I'm ready to get to the point of this post. While reading the book, The Leader Who Had No Title (strongly recommend), I was struck by the simple statement:
"Every action has a consequence."


That's a powerful message. Simple. Concise. Very true, and very important.

In the context of school, some consequences come from teachers (or other school staff), some consequences come from parents, some consequences come from the principal, and some consequences come from peers. Some actions have consequences that don't come from anyone; they are just natural consequences of the action. Some consequences take place immediately, and some consequences don't occur until much later down the road.

That's a hard pill to swallow, for some.

Nonetheless, every action (always) has a consequence. Part of our job (potentially one of our most important jobs), as educators, is to teach students this concept. That's why it is vital that we spend ample time talking to students about their actions, and then giving them second chances (plural).

Fortunately, some students come to school already understanding this.  And some students learn this very quickly while at school. But there are some students that just need more time; they need more practice and they need more care. That's our job. #KidsDeserveIt

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Smile :-) #KidsDeserveIt

I was honored when +Todd Nesloney asked me to write a guest blog for #KidsDeserveIt. The following post is what I wrote, which was originally published on Kids Deserve It.

Recently I interviewed for a new principal position. During the interview, one question that I vividly remember being asked is something along the lines of, “What would we see when we walk into your elementary school?”

Great question. What would you see? I would hope that when someone walks into my school, they will see lots of things going on. They would see: innovation, communication, relationships, learning, student work, cultures and diversity not only recognized but celebrated, people taking risks, people failing, people trying again, people working together, students doing, teachers guiding, people having fun.

But what I hope they witness first, and what I hope they witness most frequently is really quite simple. It’s easy, anyone can do it; babies are born with the ability to do it. It’s free; there is no program and/or training attached to this initiative, it doesn’t cost anyone anything.

Smile 3.jpgIn my elementary school, when you walk in the doors, hopefully you’ll see people smiling. Lots of people smiling.

Smiling is easier to do than frowning. The simple act of smiling is proven to boost your immediate mood, as well as contribute to a stronger immune system and overall good health. Your body releases endorphins when you smile, which is a natural stress reliever. Smiles are contagious. Wearing a smile is the most simple way to boost one’s appearance. Smiling is the universal sign of happiness.

Smile 5.jpgI expect this despite the fact that our work as educators is challenging, hard, and at times very stressful. Despite this, we must realize and continuously remember that we are working with kids! We have to be aware that the children we are working with spend more time with us, Monday through Friday than they spend with their parents (usually). We have to understand that kids are looking to us for guidance; they are looking at us to see what is and isn't acceptable. We have to model what we expect, which means we have to remember to smile.

This modeling, smiling, starts at the top. It starts with me. I have to choose my attitude and model a smile if that is what I am expecting from teachers and hoping for students. So I was ecstatic when a student wrote the following note to me, “You are happy all the time.” Wow! Make my day. I’m not happy all-of-the-time. I get upset. I have things that cause me stress. But I try (really hard) to leave that stuff at the door. I abide by the philosophy of ‘fake it ‘til you make it.’

Why? Because kids deserve to be surrounded by happiness. As educators, a big part of our job is to create an environment where students enjoy coming so that their learning can be maximized. This is our obligation. In order to create a happy environment, we have to be happy. In order to be happy, we have to smile.


Who would you rather spend your time with? Who would you rather your children spend their time? We all have circumstances that cause us distress. But we all, also, have a choice. Choose to smile. #KidsDeserveIt

Friday, June 3, 2016

Own the Summer.

I believe that this tweet (embedded, above) is applicable to us, as educators, too. Yes, we use the summer to recharge and spend time doing some of the things that we neglect in-between the months of August and May. But we also use the summer as a time to get ready for the upcoming school year.

  • Prepare

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked what I do when I go to work during the summer. There aren't any kids at school! This makes for an opportune time for planning the upcoming school year. The building is quiet and the logistics for the upcoming year (which is being planned to be the best year ever) are outlined and prepared.

  • Meet

This spring I was offered and accepted a principal position at a new school, effective July 1st. I value relationships so I will make an effort to meet with school staff and other stakeholders of the school, either individually or in groups, before staff comes back to work and students come back to school. This will be a great opportunity to learn about the school, and to get to know people that I'll be working with as individuals.

  • Learn

I plan to read, a lot. I plan to read books that appeal to me both personally as well as professionally. Included in my stack that I plan to tackle are Launch, The Book Whisperer, Kids Deserve It!, The Leader Who Had No Title, Shoe Dog, Quiet Power, Blended, and Passionate Learners. I love reading.

I also plan to get back in the habit of blogging. I was on-point when it came to meeting my goal of two posts a month during the school year until April hit; then I fell off. This is my first post since then. My goal is to write at least three posts in June and then at least three posts in July.

Listening to podcasts is another avenue of learning that I plan to frequent during June and July. Five days a week I run. I have found this to be an opportune time to listen to podcasts. Some of my favorite podcasts that I am currently listening to are: The Better Leader Better Schools Podcast, The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast, Dads in Ed, Every Classroom Matters with Cool Cat Teacher, Hack Learning, Kids Deserve It!, My BAD, #PrincipalPLN, and TED Radio Hour. If anyone has any additional podcast to suggest, I am open ears.

So as we slide into our summer "break," let's be cognizant of the sports cliche of championships being won in the off-season. If we want to have a championship school year in 2016-2017 (and who doesn't?), we are going to have to put-in some work (albeit at a slower pace) during these next couple of months. What do you have planned?