Monday, July 27, 2015

Recruiting Season


A few months ago, during one of my FMLA principalships, I attended a district principal's meeting where one of the principals stood up, almost in tears, and began to speak about how hard it was to be the principal of a Title campus, that it was harder than other schools (she'd know, her experience runs the full range of socioeconomic backgrounds) and it was very difficult to get teachers to stay and buy into the work that was happening. My apologies, I really can't remember the exact context of the comment, but I recall it very clearly because it was an emotionally charged portion of the meeting.  She was highly frustrated.

While every campus has its struggles and challenges, having taught at Title campuses, I'd tend to agree with her, but my brain immediately shot to what is the identity and brand of this campus?  Why do teachers want to belong, what makes this school an amazing place to be?  I also began to think about how we often speak of student engagement.  Is the difficulty or type of work any different than blaming video

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Joy & Growth Mindset

What happens when the happiness doesn't come?

There was the key question from a message at church a few weeks ago.  Replace happiness with any type of word you like: success, promotion, healing, etc.  I've shared this with teachers and friends following tough conversations or in tough situations:  
How we respond to a situation truly defines us, not the situation itself.  Tweet this!  
I've had to remind myself of this quite a few times.  I'd venture to say that it is not a natural response to choose joy or to choose growth in failure or shortcoming.  At least for

Monday, June 29, 2015

More than Group Work


I came across this article a few days ago and tweeted it.  It is a great overview of 21st century teaching foundations and practices.  I'd encourage you to click & read it.  #2 caught my eye particularly.  It seems I've had many conversations over the last five (5) years or so surrounding this idea.  And, many of these conversations were surrounding a misunderstanding of this idea and I'm thinking there are many out there that have had similar experiences.

I remember these conversations began when opening a new middle school campus.  There would be a wealth of technology, but not 1:1.  Our focus was to be more project based, but for some reason that immediately meant that everything we were going to do was group work.  The discussion

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Contagious Learning

Why do you do what you do?

In embracing the growth mindset through a disappointing Spring, I have recently asked a colleague and former supervisor to serve as my mentor.  This is a facet of my own growth I realized had been absent from my life over the last 5+ years.  I asked her explicitly to ask me hard questions that I hadn't thought about myself, I choose to ignore or that I refuse to answer myself.  I desired a new level of accountability in my growth and development as a educator as well as a person.

So what's the first thing that she asks me.  "Why do you do what you do?"  Should be an easily
answerable question.  My brain starts to filter through 14 years of educator experiences: beauty of

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mattering & Belonging

Enjoyed a great branding chat with some fellow Texas educators at the #txeduchat last evening.  Much of the talk centered around the telling of the story and the tools that help us take a driver's seat position in the telling and sharing of that school story.  These are positive first and necessary steps in developing and refining a school brand!

What is a brand?  If I take the things I've learned from Bernadette Jiwa and Marji Sherman (maybe they'll leave me some feedback!!) as well as the direction that Jamie Vollmer would like public education to move and improve in, it would be something like this:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Grit Matters & So Do You #TEPSA15

Returned from a great week in Austin this past Friday.  The Texas Elementary Principals & Supervisors Association (TEPSA) Summer Conference was the best I have attended yet.  I found myself frustrated (good thing) because I was having to make tough decisions on which sessions to attend, which was a first for a TEPSA conference for me.  Conferences are great in the fact that you get to see Twitter friends in complete reality!  Enjoyed meeting greats like Eric Sheninger, John Wink, Mandy Vasek and Jennifer Roach and getting to see and hangout with great friends like Don Jacobs.  Always highlights of conferences!

Key takeaways often came in single words.  I attended a session with a Northwest ISD administrative team and they talked about the word grit and growing that trait in their students at Kay Granger elementary.  They understood a key issue for their students was a "stick-to-it-iveness".  They failed to persist in difficult tasks.  They highlighted the importance  of resilience when faced with failure.  This is a skill that is explicitly taught, practiced and celebrated and has to begin with staff.  If the faculty

Monday, June 8, 2015

A Building Again

Another year complete. I remember following my very first year of teaching saying to my mentor how fast the year had felt and she told me that they only seem to go faster.  I replied then I'm going to get old really quick! That has proved to be absolutely true.

As I walk the building, Displays are down, furniture is stacked, paperwork is signed, there is an overflowing shredding box and teachers and kids summers have begun.  I stand by my post from the beginning of the year. School is done for 14-15 and Eagle Ridge is merely a building until August 19 when teachers and students fill it again with the beauty of learning and instruction.  What makes a school a school is the people that fill it!  Parents and teacher pouring into our kids.  The relationships forged, the challenges faced, the achievements celebrated establish a reason to belong.  I saw that George Couros posted a piece regarding innovation and the need for love and