Changing Winds 41:365

Today our district made up one of our MANY snow days with a Family Fun edition of Field Day. Today was a Saturday. The day started out with a bizarre twist of having kids rush in from morning recess to tell us about the “guy sleeping on top of the slide” which turned out to be a teenage couple.

But that was not the most surprising part of the day. It was two things that made me feel great about my small school.

First, it was a Saturday, it is a contract year, and not one person I came across complained about being at “work” on a Saturday! We have had a lot of complainers in our school, but no one said a word about that. They focussed on having a great, fun day.

Second was that we invited all of the families to Field Day for the first time I can remember. Combine this with last night’s parent/child dance, and there is a genuine positive feeling of togetherness between the school and the community.

These two things that may have gone unnoticed to some, were a major positive sign for the direction of our school culture! The winds are changing and positive culture is becoming part of the school landscape.

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My Job Is…40:365

After this morning’s #satchat I had a chance to think a little about an answer I had given. In thinking about what I “bring to the table” as a potential supervisor candidate.

The answer is simple to me. I bring whatever you are missing. That answer might seem like a cliché or a blanket statement, but, given the job of an administrator and leader, your job is a blanket job. Each person needs something different. Each student, teacher, or parent needs to be supported in their own way, which means I need to adapt to them. So what do I bring? I bring whatever is necessary to help kids. My job is to make everyone else better at their job so that kids get the best school experience for kids!

Being in Two Places at Once 39:365

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How can we really spread our influence out to tackle all the things that we want to accomplish in our schools. As I think about the many goals I have for my school. While I would love t be actively involved in each and every change, my presence should not be the driving force behind all the positive changes.

If any are to be successful, it will take more than just myself. It is part of my job as a leader to create other leaders to pick up the reins on improving the school.

Building successful change requires delegating tasks and trusting people. It requires building buy in for your ideas. When we accomplish this, it gives us the power of being in two places at once, or even more!

Is Teacher Evaluation Making Your Teachers Better? 38:365

How is Teacher Evaluation used in your school? It is required that we do teacher evaluations, but as with anything educational leaders should be aiming to make all we do better for students and teachers.

So what are you doing to make teacher evaluation a tool for teacher improvement?

From a teacher’s perspective these are some things I either have already or wish I had:

-a firm understanding of the evaluative tool and your expectations in using it
-open dialogue between teachers and administrators about good teaching
-administrators offering to observe simply for feedback and improvement (I may not actually take you up on it, but offering is a huge step toward trust)
-evaluator consistency
-time to observe, reflect, and be observed by other teachers working on a specific skill
-honest feedback: I don’t need nitpicking unless there is nothing else wrong, but also, meaningful suggestions
-And last the ability to disagree with and discuss the evaluation openly (I am not trying to be in denial about things that weren’t good, but when things are happening and there is evidence to support it, listen! While i admit I will always make mistakes while teaching a lesson and that my goal is to improve from them, don’t try to tell me that administrators never miss anything during an observation! Sell crazy somewhere else, I already have my share! Be willing to admit that just like me, are capable of mistakes. It makes you much more credible!

So those are my ideas to start making teacher evaluation a credible resource for improvement! How many do you already do? What can you add?

See Both Sides 37:365

20140526-195319-71599997.jpg So often we hear a moving story or we find a seemingly great idea and we feel the need to share it. We shout these newest great ideas, agree with things that sound good, and we sign off on things that we think make sense.

How often do you look for the other side of the story? So many times there are great points to be made on either side of the debate. Next time you think you’ve found the next great idea, look for the other side of the story, in most cases the reality falls somewhere between.

Be Childish 36:365

 

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I have heard people use the term “being childish” in such a negative tone. I consider the label a badge of honor!

Too often adults are overly serious, beaten down by the world, or too focussed on some end desire. Frequently we get caught up in needing to do this, or having to finish that. We only want to know about our current pursuits, about what is relevant to those end desires. It’s no wonder kids get bored with teachers and school, it is because too often WE ARE BORING! Adults in general have a tendency to lean towards the boring side of things.

Children (especially young children) are anything but boring! They are curious, creative, and engaging. They tell stories that mesh together several different interesting things that they connect in ways adults could scarcely follow. Children imagine, love, and trust in ways we adults have long since forgotten. Most importantly though, children see the world with a sense of wonder that we should all aspire to recapture!

I plan on continuing my pursuit of childishness. You should too! You might find yourself a whole lot more interesting, especially to those you hope you can connect and teach

A Double Life 35:365

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As I try to take up more leadership roles with in my school, I find myself feeling almost like James Bond. Most of the people I work with know I am working toward being an administrator, but not everyone knows all about the different things I am working on.

Part if that is just from the hustle of the day, conflicting schedules, my absence from the lunch room as I work on projects or things for my class during lunch. Part of it is also because I do not talk enough about it, and when I do, it is in pockets rather than to the general group.

That double life is coming to an end. By next week I will have started the ball rolling in the direction of merging those two worlds for what I hope will lead to the improvement of our school.

I will admit that the move is a little intimidating, but it is also very exciting. It is long since time for me to be proud of what I have learned and start sharing what I believe. I already get crazy looks when I talk about twitter or student created projects, why not go all in? Worlds are colliding! What an exciting time!

Laying the Foundation 34:365

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Once again I can sing the praises of having an amazing PLN. This week I started looking into the potential for my school to transition to BYOD.  After talking with my Chief School Administrator about the idea, I had the green light to begin trying to compile ideas and resources.  One thing that is very clear, is that whenever you try to create a change, a sound foundation is necessary.

I have reached out to those successful with the process and within minutes I had a wide variety of resources at my disposal.  I found myself immediately looking at what other districts had done, with people to answer questions, and lots of information.

While I had hoped to start a pilot next year, I am also aware that may not be possible.  If anything, having so many great people to ask has sped up the process.  I hope to lay the foundation in our building so that we can sustain this change for the .  We will see, but I know without the right effort at the ground level, the house will crumble around me.  I am excited to see where this goes.

The 2nd Step 33:365

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While meeting about several things related to my internship hours for my MSA, my CSA Brian London made a comment that stuck with me. During the course if our conversation we talked about making changes. Those changes are important, valuable pieces of the educational puzzle.

He said, “The first step is easy, its the second step where change falls apart.”

For the first step there is excitement, motivation, and that little extra effort. When you building the change is not the hard part. The hard part is taking a change and making it business-as-usual.

The second step, is making sure that the change is ingrained in the practices of a school, is much harder. This step includes continuous professional development, support, and celebration of accomplishments.

In order to make real change we need to take the first step, but we must not forget when planning for step one that it is followed by a second step.

Make your second step even better than your first.

UnSilo 32:365

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I am writing in part anger, part frustration, and part inspiration. My school has quite possibly a top ten worst network setup in the state. I love my school but we all agree, we are a byte above dial-up.

We lost out in a grant to that would have created the infrastructure we needed and put devices into the hands of our kids. Instead we get to try to dance around the problem a little longer, we have 20th century connectivity. Schools are also like that in many ways.

For those schools who do not have resources or fortune to contract with an edtech giant, there is the stark reality of being isolated.

But why? Why in this day if connected educators, students, and families, do the schools themselves hide their most important collaborative information. Why do we hide what we are doing with Curriculum and Assessments? Are we really connecting and sharing if we do not share what we teach and how we check to see if it has been learned? If you have access to software from one of the major players in education reform, you might, but for the rest of us, it is a dream.

Not anymore! I refuse to accept that fate for schools that lack the resources to play with the “big boys”. Its time to unsilo the information schools horde most dearly. The free tools to create something like this are available. All we need is the time, dedication, and will to improve education for all of our children.