Insights Into Learning

3 years in Review: Top 5 of All Time (351:365)


I am approaching my 3rd anniversary of blogging. I really can’t believe it has been 3 years. Throughout this experience, I have tried to stay true to the theme of my blog, Insights Into Learning. This platform has allowed me the opportunity to share my insights into my learning process. Writing as a leader is not easy. Every time I sit down to write I have to consider the implication, message and intent of the post. Although I always try to stay positive, there have been a few posts that have not resonated with everyone the same way. Whenever you challenge the process, you are not always welcomed with open arms.

 

With that said, I would like to share the top 5 blog posts from the last three years. Perhaps you have read them, or maybe you missed them. Either way, I had a lot of fun writing and sharing them.

 

5. There is no problem so bad you can’t make it worse – This post was inspired by listening to the Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield. As we try to fix education, could we be making it worse?

4. Micro-managing vs. sweating the small stuff – This post was part of several posts where I was exploring details in leadership. Popular culture has a mantra for us ‘not to sweat the small stuff’ but is that really applicable in an organization? I think leaders need to understand the concept of “What y0u permit, you promote.”

3. Turtle on the fence by Dr. Pamm Moore – This was my first guest post. Dr. Moore, who is the Assistant Superintendent, was considering starting her own blog. I asked her to let me share on my blog and see what happens. The results were amazing, and she ended up taking her “turtle back” and starting her own blog!

2. Building a plane while flying it – I can distinctly remember sitting in a workshop for a state initiative when I heard the speaker utter these words, “Well, we are building the plane while we are flying it.” What other industry would accept that mentality? Then, as I reached out to my PLN, I found out that people in other states experienced the same thing. Coincidence or not?

1. Where does the road of excess lead? Emotional Intelligence? Resonant Leadership? – This was one of my early blog posts. I actually took some of the concepts from my reflection journal while I was going through the doctoral program. Each year this post by far out ranks the other posts in terms of visits and views.

Year in Review: Top 3 Overlooked Posts (350:365)


Yesterday I posted about the top 5 most popular (number wise) posts of the year. Today, I want to focus on the gems that may have slipped by. Everyone is busy and for some reason or another, you may have missed these posts….

 

3. The top 5 reasons to start blogging – Short but sweet. I am a firm believer that leaders need to share more about the awesome stuff happening in their respective areas. Get started blogging!

 

2. Why I am not wasting time with Email anymore! – If you happened to have missed this post, I recommend to take another look. Email is draining time and energy away from educators. Don’t let it be your “to do” list. Get organized in the new year and attain ZERO INBOX!

 

1. The true cost of meetings – How many of you are in meetings? I know, silly question… we are ALL in meetings at some point. Take a look at this post and think differently about the true costs of meetings…. Do they have a purpose? Agenda? Note taker? Take place in the right area?

Year in Review (349:365)


Source: pro.wzba-fm.tritonflex.com

Source: pro.wzba-fm.tritonflex.com

As I get closer to my goal of blogging for 365 days in a row, I figured I would go back and look at the posts. Obvioulsy, some of the posts resonated with people more than others. Today, I want to highlight the top 5 posts of the year (so far).

There were a few ties, so I made sure to include each :)

 

5. A Principal Legacy ; Did you have an awesome day? Blake wants to know -(tie) In a Principal Legacy, I wrote about my friend and mentor, Eric Sheninger. The post takes a look at the impact Eric has had on New Jersey Principals. In the Awesome Day post, I discussed how a second grader in Florida was using his inquiry learning to collect data and connect with the world!

4. 80/20 Staff Meetings and Are You a True Leader? (tie) – In the 80/20 I was planning out the staff meetings for the year and wanted to give back 20% of the time to the teachers so they could work on their Genius Hour. In Are You a True Leader, I found an infographic that provides 3 reflections for leaders!

3. Go Ahead, Throw That Snowball; The End of my Test Pep Rally; Are You Struggling with Permission? (tie) – A three way tie for 3rd place! In the Snowball post, I wrote about how we allowed kids to throw snowballs as part of a positive reward. In the Test Pep Rally post, I revealed how I couldn’t justify creating a Pep Rally over a State Assessment. In the Permission post, I wrote about the struggles that educators are having with leadership that holds back innovation and risk taking.

2. Walking to School with Jacqueline Edelberg – This was a geek out post! I read the book Walking to School, and loved it. I took a chance and tweeted to the author, and she agreed to Skype with me. Jacqueline was honest, and open about how we need parents and schools to be on the same page.

1. The Code - I was a little surprised that this was the number one post of the year, but I guess it struck a chord with my PLN. The post is not very long, and honestly I don’t think it is to profound. What it does, though, is highlight how organizations have codes similar to the codes on the streets…. Snitches Get Stitches.

 

I have a few more ideas for the Year in Review. Stay tuned!

 

 

Go ahead, say it, we are the worst! (348:365)


I was watching the movie Elf with my kids the other day. I absolutely love that movie. It is so funny. Every time I watch the part where Buddy the Elf is working in Santa’s Workshop it makes me think about education. Take a minute to watch this clip:

 

I think this applies to students, teachers and even Principals.

Students – Do all students learn the same way? Need to know the same information at the same rate?

Teachers – Are we measuring teachers based on right criteria or have we created another one size fits all system?

Principals – Do you have quotas for walkthroughs? Test Scores? Evaluations? Ever feel like Buddy?

 

What do you think?

 

 

5 Easy Staff Recognition Ideas (347:365)


source: www.awardsnetwork.com

source: www.awardsnetwork.com

This week was the first Week of Bacon (there will be twelve days total). I wanted to recognize the staff for their hard work and what better time then around the holidays. I got the idea in working with other principals in my PLN, and then adapted some of the activities to fit the school.

 

Here are 5 things we did this week

100 Grand Bars – I wish we could pay teachers more, but that is easier said then done. The 100 Grand Bars symbolized how valuable they are to me, and the school! Cost: minimum 

Lottery Day – Who doesn’t like to win something? For this activity I made tickets for things such as “Get out of duty” or “40 minutes of coverage by Principal” and I also bought dollar scratch off tickets. Everyone got something different, and everyone felt like a winner! Cost: minimum (only the dollar scratch off)

Workout Wednesday – This is another idea I got from my PLN (Another shameless plug for connecting with like-minded educators on Twitter!). People like to be comfortable and workout clothes are comfortable! In addition, it symbolizes to the students that we value exercise. Cost: Zero

Reading Blizzard – This is one of my favorite activities. A Reading Blizzard is simple. The Principal walks into a room and asks the kids to describe a blizzard. Then the Principal explains that the Reading Blizzard has swept away the teacher for a few minutes. The kids say goodbye to the teacher and the Principal reads a book (or if they were involved in a lesson, the Principal carries on the lesson for 5 to 10 minutes). All teachers deserve a break! Cost: Zero Reflection: This one has taken a few days to complete. I still haven’t gotten through the entire staff … yet! 

Flannel, PJs or Holiday Sweater –  This activity allows staff to either wear their pajamas, flannel shirts, or Holiday themed shirt. We had staff do all three at the same time. Cost: Zero

I am the first to say that we do not do this enough in education! So I decided to try something new, and I hope it is working out. Maybe not all the ideas appealed to all the staff, but I am hoping that it is the thought that counts!

The beauty of the 12 Days is that we still have 7 more activities to go. I will check in with you next week!

Dealing with Difficult Parents (346:365)


Source: www.quotehd.com

Source: www.quotehd.com

What do you do when parents are not sending a positive message to the kids or school community?

 

I was recently reflecting on this after having one of the most mind-blowing conversations I’ve ever had with a parent. Without going into detail, I walked away from the conversation feeling sorry for the kids that have to deal with this everyday! I know I didn’t get through to this person, and I am not sure what else I (or anyone else for that matter) can do.

 

After the encounter, and preparing for this blog, I got some tips from Todd Whittaker, who wrote the book Dealing With Difficult Parents.

 

  • Dealing with difficult parents requires that Principals first deal with themselves. You do not have to prove you are in charge because everyone knows you are in charge
  • Effective Principals never argue, scream, use sarcasm or act unprofessionally
  • Principals are the role model for parents, teachers, students and other staff – You have to act like it!
  • If a parent is being rude and belligerent to you, try this, “Please don’t speak to me like that. I will never speak to you like that and I will never speak to your child like that.” If you are really confident in the professionalism of your staff, you can add in – “And no one from this school will ever speak to you or your child like that”
  • Here is the entire article

 

How do you deal with difficult parents in your district?

The @principalPLN & @tiahenriksen (345:365)


Over the weekend, the PrincipalPLN crew interviewed Tia Henriksen. Tia is a good friend of the show. She is always so kind and supportive. We wish her the best of luck in her new Principal position!
Here is the entire show notes and resources.

 

Checkout the interview:

Making Connections (344:365)


How do you make connections? I was thinking about this the other day. In addition to the face-t0-face conferences, everyday life, work etc there are so many ways for you to make connections.

 

Here are 5 simple approaches to making connections with other educators:

1. Twitter – Perhaps the most utilized approach for educators to connect around the world. Its free, and as Jenny Grabiec says, “It’s frequently amazing.”

2. Facebook – Sometimes referred to the granddaddy of connections, Facebook allows for greater connection with colleagues near and far. You can learn about family, interests and of course what a person values.

3. Voxer – Voxer is growing in popularity because there are educators using the app for a back-channel. Voxer allows for speaking, pictures and text.

4. Blogging – There are hundreds of thousands of blogs…. who are you reading? In reading blogs, and commenting, you can easily make connections with other educators.

5. Google + – Google+ is one of the fastest growing social networks. Anyone who has a Google Email has a Google + account. Now it is time to build your circles and learn from others using Google +

 

These are just 5 quick ways to make connections.

Ipevo IDevice Stand (343:365)


IMG_2875Look what just came in the mail! I was looking for something like this as I try to utilize my iPhone to it’s full capacity. Fortunately, the folks at iPevo know design, know educators and are constantly trying to make products to help improve our productivity. This stand allows users to work hands-free if they are watching a video or checking their device. The stand also will provide an easy method for scanning or taking pictures of documents – PAPERLESS!!!!

 

In addition, the feature that I look forward to most is the steady-cam. Now I can work with teachers and student to video chat or create videos for the school. This will be awesome!

 

If you get the chance, check out iPevo’s site because they have lots of products that are designed to make our lives easier.

You are valuable (342:365)


IMG_2863Today we began the 12 days of Bacon. I got this idea from my co-hosts on the PrincipalPLN. We were talking about how to celebrate staff during the holidays. Throughout the conversation, Jessica shared a few ideas that she received from other principals.

 

Throughout the next two weeks, I will do something everyday for the staff. Most of these ideas won’t cost any money, but rather they are designed to show the staff how much I really value them. I know that as things get busy, I just don’t do it enough. So there is no time like the present.

 

Today I kicked off the 12 days of Bacon with giving each staff a 100 Grand Bar because they are valuable. I will update the blog as we go through the 12 days leading up to the Holiday Break.