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

Friday, May 1, 2015

Win Everyday

"We don't win today by reaching the masses, we win by becoming meaningful to the few." - Bernadette Jiwa

I see a current struggle of education in this quote. Political climate (idiocy) and large district bureaucracy where the the bottom line is a test score drive us to focus on one day, one assessment to show the world, nation, community that we are improving and/ or relevant and "deserve" the reward of funding and respect.  

I would assert that is trying to matter to people that don't matter (or at least don't deserve that much attention) What would it be like if we have laser like focus to the folks that do matter? Providing an experience that grows, engages and delights (love that word) that group and mobilizes and empowers them to speak.   

That way we win everyday!  In what ways are you remaining focused on the things and people that matter most?

Happy thinking!


Monday, April 27, 2015

Blogging Advice from the Guy that Fell Off the Wagon

It's funny how you look at time different depending on the context.  Looking at the past two months I haven't blogged or shared through the lense of the last time I blogged, it seems like an eternity.  Through the lense of all the things that have happened in the past month  it's been the blink of an eye.  Oh my...

Not sure who's missed it besides me, but that, in itself I think, is a great sign.  For most, it is the latter of the above options.  Pretty sure you have found a couple other things to focus on besides the last time I blogged!  Haha!  But, this is an important outlet for ideas and thoughts and that is enough for now.  Maybe that is rationalizing and maybe somebody reading will leave me a comment and tell me so! 

So where do you start a again when you've fallen off the wagon?  Two thoughts come immediately to mind:
  • Accountability - hopefully that is what this post will be, but I've also brought a couple friends along side me to ask me and check in on me that I'm still at it.  They know it's important to me and the impact is has on me professionally.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Teachers Need what Kids Need #SAVMP

I love our counselor!  She is just the balance our leadership team needs.   My principal and I tend to be really focused on the "business" of school.  She and I were discussing this post specifically about teacher empowerment.  I was telling her I wasn't sure our vertical team process was doing the empowering of teachers that we desired.  She agreed and very gently (in the way only a great counselor can) shared that maybe the things they were working on were not the meaningful and relevant things that would truly empower them!

And BOOM...there it was.  Maybe this isn't ground breaking for you reading, but this was quite enlightening to me.  I am a green (True Colors).  Work is play and play is work.  I love being in the meat of

Thursday, February 26, 2015

School: Building vs. Body

Is your school a place to go, a building, or is it a group of people loving on kids and serving just
about the highest purpose there is?

Here is an awesome tweet for you:

10 Ways to Have an Amazing Morning Drop Off Experience

Following breaks away from school are always great times to revisit routines.  Following Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring breaks will find classrooms giving the expectations a review and practice in the cafeteria, hallways, etc.  Our front loop has been on my agenda for a review since returning from the Christmas break and I'm finally making the time to get it done in a, hopefully, creative and fun fashion.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Six Edentity Questions

A school with a clear identity is one that people are drawn to, parents and professionals.  They desire to be apart and contribute to the amazing things happening .  A campus identity is instructional and curricular, of course, but we know that education is more than those alone and a successful school has some additional "intangibles' that set it apart from others.  I'm not talking about being different to be different or to put on a show, but special for kids' sake! How we choose to develop and refine that identity is important in how we relate to our community and how they relate to us.  Asking some key questions is important this process!

What are we passionate about? - Is there something as a campus that is an area of strength because of passionate pursuit of practice?  Do you have gurus on the campus (literacy, math, technology, etc.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Five Big School Branding Questions

Deep down inside, I think we are clear on the need for connectedness within our school and our community.  We know we need to be close to the people we serve.  We understand that the power of relationship doesn't just work for us in the classroom, but for our campus as a whole as we do the important work we do each day!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Own Your Connections

I shared this quote in a presentation last week in regards to the importance of writing across the curriculum.  This quote from Fundamental Five highlights for me the important of the blog in digital leadership.  When we write, we own our learning.  When we share, we learn out loud for all to see.  We model the connection.  We model the practice.  We grow as individuals and professionals!  Is that not what learning is all about?
"The act of writing critically encapsulates the learning."
Cain, Sean; Laird, Mike (2011-05-11). The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction (Kindle Location 874). CreateSpace. Kindle Edition. 
For me this blog made the presentation I gave possible.  Over the past six months my thoughts, ideas, belief and vision have been refined just in the simple (yet not necessarily easy) act of putting thoughts down, sharing and receiving feedback.

How has blogging helped you own your connections and learning?

Happy posting


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

PBIS and Your School's Brand

We just completed our 3rd marking period and it is always a great celebration as our school comes together to review what makes us Eagle Ridge PROUD and to honor students that exemplify those traits on a daily basis!  It's also great to see kids and teachers let their hair down a bit and dance and play.  Here are a few amazing highlights from the experience:
  • 2nd PE award - certainly proud of the recipient, but I loved the spirit of the classmates that surrounded him.  They all jumped up,  congratulated and were so

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

More Time #SAVMP

I have a problem.  I am inattentive, unfocused and easily (VERY) distractable.  It is one of the more major roadblocks in life, not just job, that I tackle everyday.  I've learned over time that this is a good thing, job wise, because I can and do exercise some control over myself!  HA!  Now, being and elementary school administrator, this problem is sometimes compounded by being at a school of near 800 students, 60+ staff members that need time and attention various ways throughout the day.  It has the possibility to become something quite like a perfect storm of inefficiency  without some specific supports and strategies in place (this is now sounding like an RtI meeting, is it might say I'm a tier 3 for time management!)

Often an easy go-to answer (wishful thought more like) is to say I need "more time".  But the truth of the matter is that even if we had more time, we would always have the same issue, With more time

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How Are You Measuring That?

Success is how your customers feel. How are you measuring that? 
Jiwa, Bernadette (2014-09-30). Marketing: A Love Story: How to Matter to Your Customers (p. 73). The Story of Telling Press. Kindle Edition. 
Read this and it really struck me.  We spend so much time setting goals and being very quantitative
about the things we are focused on instructionally.  We set up formative assessment processes, we discuss data in PLC meetings, we put the data up on the wall and/or student binders and it tells a story of learning.  We plan interventions and hopefully take the time to celebrate success!!  All of these are great things!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

8 Great Places to Pull Content for Your School Social Media Pages

If you read anything regarding highly successful blogs and/or social media pages, you will hear quality content is king!  There has to be something worth following for any person to return or  in some cases click unfollow or unlike buttons.  For your school's social media page, it is likely that informationcelebration and C&I posts will keep most coming back as far as content goes.  There is little more satisfying to parents and families than getting to see the great things that are happening in their child's school.  It is also important to grow the opportunities for learning and engagement within your community.  So when it comes to growing your learning and engagement postings, it is important to have some go to resources.

This past few weeks I've been reviewing and updating our campus to make that as valuable resource to our families as possible, I was reminded of some gems I had tapped previously to help curate content and led me to some other great resources as well.

District News Page - It is important that we are supporting the work of the larger organizition we are apart of.  Our district just completed education foundation grant awarding and it was fun to share those celebration with our fellow campuses and award winners!
Campus, State, National PTA Sites - ther are few greater advocate for the work schools do than the PTA so helping our campus group advertise events and celebrate the work they are doing is vital.  State and national organization accounts post many great resources for parents on how to support schools, their teachers, their students!  These are great to add to your feed!
Common Sense Media - these are the gurus of digital citizenship and they post great information for parents to support their kiddos in navigating the digital world!  You can also find them on the Facebook!
Graphite - the best description comes from their Twitter page: "Graphite, a free service from Common Sense Media, helps teachers find, understand, and share the best digital learning products available." While they do teachers are their focus, so many of their resources on apps and programs are very helpful to our families!
MyTownTutors - this groups entire mission is connecting parents with resources to help support their kiddos at school.  While their name does imply that their focus is tutoring, follow their feed and you'll see that they are more than just connecting parents with tutors!  Great folks there!
Teacher Help for Parents - this is a blog by a teacher turned stay at home mom that desires to keep parents informed and connected in the best way possible to support their students!  She has always posts some of the most helpful resources that we have passed along to our families!
#PTChat - this is the premier twitter hashtag for parent/teacher resources.  A quick search/link to this hashtag will provide a generous helping of resources for the campus and parent of any level student.  It is the brainchild Joe Mazza, their weekly Wednesday evening chat is frequented by Twitter greats such as Ted Huff, and Gwen Pescatore and is populated by parents, teachers and administrators
talking best practices and solutions for our schools!  Powerful conversations are happening here!
Pragmatic Mom - notice is link is to pintrest!!  Ha!   I have not seen too many things that aren't wonderful from her.  Based on the content she shares, Pintrest is an ideal platform for her.  You can also find her on the Twitter.  She is a great literacy advocate, so of course I am a fan!

I believe the greatest benefit in having great learning and engagement content is that it allows us to move towards empowerment and partnership with our families (see graphic).  If we want to be able to move our schools in the direction we know is best, we have to invest in educating and informing  the folks that spend the most time with our kids!

Happy posting!


Friday, January 9, 2015

#APrincipalsDay Reflection

Emergency drills with Kindergarten!
31 degrees and windy!  Brrr!
Wednesday, EdWeek, asked principals to share glimpses of their day with the hashtag #APrincipalsDay.  What a beautiful idea to help inform an upcoming highlight of principals that will be coming out.  I, being active on Twitter, even though I'm not a principal yet, jumped in and shared.
The day was highlighted with freezing my face off at morning duty, ARD/IEP meetings, some informal classroom visits, working with students during emergency drills, phone calls with parents, some assessment prep (joy!) and of course shuffling some paper!

TELPAS & 504s!
It reminded me:
I work with an amazing team!
  • I love so many aspects my job!
  • I understand the value & importance of the parts I don't love as much!
  • Student success is won daily/hourly in the time spent, conversations had, partnerships created!
  • Kids & teachers are awesome!
  • The journey I'm on toward the principalship goal is worth it!

Hope everyone else found it as motivating and encouraging as I did!  What were some of your highlights!?  Share!

Happy Leading!


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Six Ways to Become Part of Our Families' Stories

Flipping the talk for this post.  I often post on the school story and the narrative that unfolds on a daily basis when kiddos walk through the door.  An important part of the connection is becoming part of others' stories.  Where do we stand when it comes where school as our students' and families' stories unfold?  So much time and energy is spent by all in the work that we do, we want to be a positive highlight in that story and in turn when our students and families share those stories, our schools have the opportunity to shine!
  1. Create compelling content or a great product or service that people enjoy using or coming back for - the experience we create and design for our families has a tremendous impact on

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Blog Review

2014 was certainly an interesting year professionally with many great highlights to celebrate as well as many great jumping points for continued growth and learning.  Over the last couple weeks, I've seen/read numerous posts with a blog review and since I have one that I am keeping current, I thought it would be a great idea to take some time to reflect and review.  Probably my favorite review I saw was from Jessica Johnson (@principalJ).  As well as sharing some thoughts and top posts, she shared a Wordle created from her blog RSS feed.  I thought this was a brilliant way to see if I was staying accountable to what I wanted by blog to be.  Was I staying true to my stated purposes and enhance the identity I wish to develop!?