Insights Into Learning

T’was the night before school (245:365)


Design by Chris Nesi

Design by Chris Nesi

Season 2 Episode 4 of the PrincipalPLN.

We came up with this idea because Jessica is starting her school year tomorrow. Of course she was in her office and preparing for the big day. Theresa, who had her first day last week, was able to share some of her insights on the summer and the beginning of the school year. As for me, I was taking notes because our school year officially begins on Thursday.

The most important takeaways from this podcast is how crucial staff development time and the first few days of school are to getting off on the right foot. If you want teachers to build rapport with students, then you need to provide time. If you want teachers to be prepared, then you need to provide time. If you want organic staff growth, then you need to provide time.

Once the school year starts, the Principal needs to spend time in the classrooms interacting with teachers and kids. Jessica shared some really cool ideas on books to read in classrooms the first week of school (HERE.)

 

Check out the podcast:

What is Labor Day? (244:365)


Source: intertechcollision.com

Source: intertechcollision.com

In short, Labor Day is the celebration of the American Labor Movement. We began celebrating the holiday in 1882. At first it was hard to get people to celebrate because they worried about losing a day’s pay.

Why do we celebrate it is something to ponder… We celebrate it because we work, right? Actually by celebrating the holiday we are symbolically displaying our understanding that there is more to life then just work.

According to the History Channel,

“The average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.”

 

While we have our barbecues, put our white pants away, and prepare for school, remember why we celebrate they holiday. Take this day to spend time with family, friends, and loved ones. Then, it’s back to work tomorrow!

 

More information on Labor Day

Create your own reality! (243:365)


source: fictionforanewage.com

source: fictionforanewage.com

It is the last weekend of the summer… In a few short hours it will be all over… Time to lament? Rev up the anxiety? Nope, not me, and I hope not you. With the passing of summer (it officially ends September 21) we all know that a lot of school districts are starting back next week. It’s time to go back to school.

 

I love my job. I am excited about next week, and I can’t wait for the students, parents, and teachers to return. I know it will be another awesome year at my school. I am so anticipating the newness of change as we welcome new parents, new teachers, and new students. I am excited for those “aha” moments! I can’t wait to be called to a classroom for an awesome learning opportunity.

 

Of course there will be stress. I am sure I will be wondering if “everything” is ready, and I know that I will be faced with lots and lots of decisions, and problems… But that doesn’t define me, or the position.

 

I guess it is all how you look at it, and how you create your own reality!

The Machine: Reading, Writing, and Math (242:365)


source: iad4learnteach.wordpress.com

source: iad4learnteach.wordpress.com

I just watched a 2013 TED Talk with Sugata Mitra. His talk was titled, The Granny Cloud. In the first few minutes, he made a very interesting connection to the current educational system, and more importantly, why it existed.

 

Think about this… prior to computes and the internet, what could aid communication over various parts of the world? They couldn’t call each other, and travel was not very feasible. They developed a system where everyone needed to write legibly, be able to read, and do math in their head. Basically, they developed a big machine made of people and process. Sounds familiar to school?

 

Yet, with the advent of computers and the internet, information is able to be transferred in a much different way…

It’s not about making the learning happen, it’s about allowing the learning to happen Sugata Mitra

Here are some questions I ponder…..

What is the best use of the educational system moving forward?
How can we allow learning to happen?
How will you allow self organized learning?

Take a few minutes to watch this TED talk:

Suggestions for the First Staff Meeting (241:365)


source: brownsharpie.courtneygibbons.org

source: brownsharpie.courtneygibbons.org

If you haven’t started planning for your first staff meeting of the year, now is the time. In the most recent PrincipalPLN episode, Theresa and I reviewed some suggestions to ensure your meeting goes well.

First Staff Meeting Ideas:
Pass the Buck
Notes to prepare for my first staff meeting (includes what we learned from What Great Principals Do Differently by Todd Whitaker)
Mr. Bean idea then have teachers “pack their suitcase”
Example of a staff meeting agenda
Personalities Matter–Tools
Example of agenda/plans for new teachers/mentor day
Flipped meetings
The First Five Days of School

Youtube Clips are always good to include:
https://www.youtube.com/user/DrSanfelippo (go to presentation videos)
http://www.principalj.net/video-clips-for-staff-meetings-2/ (blog post with a few and links to other posts with videos)
The Fun Theory
Kid Snippets Too Sick for School (search youtube for other funny “Kid Snippets”)
Penguins (for teamwork)
What Teachers Make
When I Become a Teacher (use with new teachers)
Kid President: Pep Talk for Teachers and Students
The Principal Meltdown

Check out the episode:

Helpful Hints for Becoming Connected (240:365)


Pre-order available now

Pre-order available now

In a few short weeks, Corwin Connected Educators Series will be publishing Connected Leadership: It’s a Click Away. This book is designed for the connected leader, and the soon-to-be connected leader.

The most important features in the book is that it is laid out in a practical manner, and each chapter has a story from a connected educator that exemplifies the purpose of the chapter and book.

If you have been hesitant to become connected, or you know someone who just doesn’t “get it” then this book will be perfect.

 

In addition to this book, Corwin Connected Educators Series has a “bundle” available of the first 8 books.

In this book, readers will learn a few helpful hints that can help with the connected journey:

  • What is a PLN?
  • How blogging can help tell your school’s story
  • How blogging can you become a reflective leader
  • What current research says about being connected
  • How this process can transform you as a leader

Here is what Eric Sheninger, author of Digital Leadership, had to say about the book:

How relevant are you as a school leader? This is the essential question that Dr. Cook succinctly addresses in this handbook that is positioned to be an essential reading for any 21st Century leader. His work details the power of connectivity to break down silos of information and get school leaders off isolated islands to improve professional practice and transform schools. By weaving stories of how practitioners have benefited from connecting through social media, Dr. Cook presents the necessary ingredients for change that can be implemented immediately.”

Pre-orders are available now

Breaking the Ice with @principalpln (239:365)


source: eternalpursuitforgreatness.com

source: eternalpursuitforgreatness.com

Check out the Principalpln Podcast Episode 2 of Season 2. In this episode, Theresa Stager and I discuss how to “break the ice” at your first staff meeting. If you want a few ideas of ice breakers, here are two we have tried:

Play Dough Personalities 
Spider Webs

The Ball Game 

You can also use the spider web ice breaker to show strengths and how the school is better as a whole than individually. Have each staff member share a strength or a special talent instead of what is suggested in the site.

 

Enjoy the podcast!

 

Connect with the PrincipalPLN on twitter and use the hashtag to connect with the PLN.

First 5 Days: Day 5 (238:365)


 

source: www.pearltrees.com

source: www.pearltrees.com

Alan November and his November Learning Team have created an amazing series based on the First Five Days of School. I have had the pleasure of attending several of Alan’s keynotes and workshops. He is an inspiration. I have learned a great deal from him.

 

This is the last post about what I learned from the November Learning Team regarding the First Five Days.

 

Day 5 – So the first 5 days is not able setting the rules? Well, yes and no. The way I see it, and what I have learned from the First 5 Days, is that this time should be dedicated to establishing the learning environment for the classroom. It is crucial to learn about the learners, and to develop a rapport. Of course there are opportunities to review the expectations (rules are meant to be broken). The students should understand, and even help develop the expectations.

 

What do you think?

Be sure to check out the November Learning website for additional resources! Connect with other educators on twitter using the hashtag #first5days

 

First 5 Days: Day 4 (237:365)


 

source: www.pearltrees.com

source: www.pearltrees.com

Alan November and his November Learning Team have created an amazing series based on the First Five Days of School. I have had the pleasure of attending several of Alan’s keynotes and workshops. He is an inspiration. I have learned a great deal from him.

 

This is the fourth post in the series of what I learned from the November Learning Team regarding the First Five Days.

 

Day 4…. Equipped with the previous 3 days of posts, what are some specific activities you will do to build relationships with students in your class or your school? Here are some tips:

  • Establish your student’s learning preferences – How do they like to learn? Maybe you just ask them, or maybe you can set up a few stations in your class (hands-on, reading/information, creative, and an organizing station). Have the students reflect on the ones that they liked, and the ones they didn’t
  • Establish collaboration in the classroom – Set up learning groups, mix and match the students and have them eventually work with everybody. Afterwards, ask them to reflect and tell you who they want to work with (could be a good start to building teams)
  • Establish the learning environment – Earlier, it was suggested to find each student’s passion. Have the students share out what their passion for learning is this year. Make connections with the various passion-based interests.

Be sure to check out the November Learning website for additional resources! Connect with other educators on twitter using the hashtag #first5days

First 5 Days: Day 3 (236:365)


 

source: www.pearltrees.com

source: www.pearltrees.com

Alan November and his November Learning Team have created an amazing series based on the First Five Days of School. I have had the pleasure of attending several of Alan’s keynotes and workshops. He is an inspiration. I have learned a great deal from him.

 

This is the third post in the series of what I learned from the November Learning Team regarding the First Five Days.

 

In the third video, educators are interviewed about some of the activities and ideas for the first days of school. Check out the video.

First Five Days: Day 3 from ALAS Media on Vimeo.

This video highlights the continued relationship building that is necessary during the first 5 days. As an educator, handshakes, hugs, high 5′s can go a long way. So can learning names of other students (if you are a teacher) or the continued dedication to learn everyone’s names if you are the building leader.

 

Be sure to check out the November Learning website for additional resources! Connect with other educators on twitter using the hashtag #first5days