October 27

What time is it?

What time is it?

If I asked that question at home, my children would probably yell, “Adventure Time!” At work, I ask myself that question all the time (no pun intended).

source: czarto.com

source: czarto.com

 

There are a lot of old adages and cliche’s about time and I love everyone of them… I’m sure you have heard them too:
“Time swiftly passes”
“Time is of the essence”
“Time flies when your having fun”
“Time is an illusion”

 

With the increasing demands on school leaders, I think that this post is timely (pun again). How do we spend our time?

 

I struggle with time. I am not a morning person, but I know it is important to be at work early (although no one seems to care how late I stay). Throughout the day I am constantly juggling the responsibilities of observing, walking through classrooms, connecting with other educators, talking to students and parents. My time is precious. …. I can’t be everywhere all the time (pun number ?)

 

How do I manage my time? I have become reliant on my Outlook calendar. I have my calendar on my laptop, iPhone, iPad and anywhere else I need it. Someone asks me to do something or be somewhere, I usually whip out my iPhone to check my availability. I know I only have so much time (pun number ?).

 I have to make time to learn new time management tools

source: www.chicagonow.com

source: www.chicagonow.com

My PrincipalCast co-hosts and I just did a podcast on Time Management. Although the session was not recorded (due to technical glitches) we had an amazing discussion on technological breakthroughs that can assist educators with time management.

 

In preparing for the show, I read a wonderful post by Tony Sinanis who ended up stopping by to chat. In Put What Matters First, Tony discusses how he “prioritizes” rather than “manages time.”He is student-centered and remains steadfast that students are first on his list of priorities!

 

Jessica Johnson shared how she prioritizes her time. She uses the Four Quadrants of Time Management, a matrix popularized by Stephen Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. She also uses BILT (Before I leave today) to ensure she accomplishes her tasks before heading home.

 

I shared one of my favorite books, Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracy. In the book, readers are provided with 21 time saving tips to make sure that priorities do not get out of control. Here is a video that illustrates the main tenets of the book.

Other resources that were shared on the podcast:

Paperless Principal by Jethro Jones

Want to lose the 3 ring binder? Try Livebinders 

Want to connect with people without email? Printing? Try Google Docs 

Quickly becoming the best place to explore, share and contribute educational content… Educlipper

 

Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives

 

 

 

 

October 20

From Vulnerability to Action

source:www.kidpresident.com

source:www.kidpresident.com

In my previous post The Importance of Showing Vulnerability, I discussed how I was not a fan of “know it alls” or folks who were not humble in their interaction with others. Someone who had read the blog asked me this question (which lead to this post), ” Spike, I understand the concept of showing vulnerability, but don’t people take advantage of that? Also, what if you really know something? Isn’t it important to speak up?” All great questions….

 

Although there is power in being vulnerable, it is very important to ensure that others do not take advantage. For instance, you are in a meeting and people are arguing over something, and you know that you could add insight… It’s important for you to take action! In many regards, actions speak louder than words.

 

Here are my suggestions for turning vulnerability into action:

  • Turn questions or problems into action – Volunteer to get involved or to get a project started. Sometimes it is hard to add things to you plate, but if helps you or your organization then you will ultimately benefit.
  • Stand up for yourself when you feel others are being inappropriate – Know it alls, bullies and passive aggressive people are detrimental to organizations. Don’t let them speak for you or others.
  • Use your resources – If you don’t know the answer, make sure to look it up. Ask trusted collegues for advice, research, plan and put something into action.

Actually, I think Kid President’s suggestions are better than mine…. Enjoy!

 

October 19

A special guest on the next PrincipalCast Podcast…

principalcast

Have you heard the PrincipalCast Podcast? We’ve recorded 5 episodes now on the following topics:

#1 Social Media and Facebook

#2 Social Media in the School District

#3 You know you’re a connected educator when…

#4 Observing and Evaluating Teachers in the 21st Century 

#5 Evaluations and Observations

You can find PrincipalCast on iTunes or on Stitcher/Beyond Pod for Android.  If you watch us live (Sundays at 8:30pm CST) on teachercast.tv you can also chat with us in the live chat box or using the twitter hashtag #principalcast.

This Sunday we are inviting our first guest to the show and we are going all out by having Todd Whitaker join us.  We are excited to talk to him about his newest book coming out this month, The Secret Solution. Do you have a question you want us to ask him? Share your question with us HERE.

October 13

The importance of showing vulnerability

17029_qutote_albert_einstein_quote1Do you know a “know-it-all?” You know, the person who always has an opinion, never listens, seen it all, knows so much information… I am quite sure that a “know-it-all” is lurking in your midst… I’m actually surprised that we still have “know-it-alls” because of the ever changing nature of information.

 

I decided to do some research for this post (because I don’t know everything). First, I wanted to see what the “great” minds had to say about this concept of knowledge.

 

Here is what I found:

The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know. Socrates

The more you know, the less you understand. Lao-Tse

To appear to be on the inside and know more than others about what is going on is a great temptation for most people. It is a rare person who is willing to seem to know less than he does. Eleanor Roosevelt

If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.  Albert Einstein

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. Confucius

Nobody knows enough, but many know too much. Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach:

 

I like people who show their vulnerability. Sounds like the highly regarded minds thought the same thing.

 

Then, I did some research to see how information (and the universe) is growing in the 21st century.

 

Information

According to the Worldwide Information Growth Ticker from the Digital Universe study revealed that we have created 1,987, 262, 613, 861, 770,000,000 bytes of information since January 2011!

 

Universe

According to www.space.com, “Space itself is pulling apart at the seams, expanding at a rate of 74.3 plus or minus 2.1 kilometers (46.2 plus or minus 1.3 miles) per second per megaparsec (a megaparsec is roughly 3 million light-years).”

 

If you can keep up with all of that, good luck.

 

My advice for dealing with others in the 21st century is simple.

  • Show your vulnerability
  • Be humble and graceful in your interactions with other
  • Listen
  • Ask questions

 

By doing this, you will end up learning much more, and resonating with people in a deeper way.

 

And by the way, there is no way you know-it-all!

October 9

Micro-managing vs. sweating the small stuff?

In my previous post, We need to get down from the balcony and sweat the small stuff, I reflected on my evolving understanding of leadership in terms of being more connected with the details of student learning. Thankfully, the post initiated conversations both online and in person. I love it when a post can spark discussion!

source: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&docid=B8kFPlGYq4n55M&tbnid=oZhFxm4QJ2GsLM:&ved=0CAQQjB0&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kraniumhr.com%2Fwhat-is-micromanagement%2F&ei=b-RVUpXvN_a-4AOR2YGIAQ&psig=AFQjCNHrV16h16qZQv94715rCS7VBgf9iA&ust=1381447090761891

source: http://www.kraniumhr.com/

I felt like I needed to revisit some of the concepts in sweating the small stuff. My interpretation of the small stuff is that we have to place importance on those things that move the organization forward. Some of these specific details such as the teaching standards, learning needs of students and importance of espoused theories vs. theories-in-use. In one of the follow up conversations, I was able to explain myself much clearer. One of the readers wondered if I was going to “micro-manage” more. Ugh, I never want to be viewed as a micro-manager. I stressed to this person that I was not going to become a micro-manager.

 

Then, as reflected more, I really thought about this question….

 

So what’s the real difference between micro- managing and sweating the small stuff?

 

 Here are some common attributes of a micro-manager:

  • They can nor or do not like to delegate
  • They spend time overseeing the process
  • They like to place value on little details as opposed to the bigger picture
  • They do not like people to make their own decisions

 

In contrast (or comparison) here are the attributes of sweating the small stuff:

  • The details of a project are important and can lead to a more effective outcome
  • The process should be followed and people should be held accountable for what they say they will do
  • Problems exist, and should be addressed before they become bigger
  • Ask the question…why?

why

As an employee I do not like to be micro-managed! Not sure who really does and I will not micro-manage as a leader. As a leader, I will sweat the details, ensure that things get accomplished, and if not, I will ask….why?

Dig the well before you are thirsty ~ Chinese Proverb

October 6

We need to get down from the balcony and sweat the small stuff

source: http://www.fastcompany.com/1798504/box-ceo-aaron-levie-create-something-exceptional-do-sweat-small-stuff

source: http://www.fastcompany.com/1798504/box-ceo-aaron-levie-create-something-exceptional-do-sweat-small-stuff

How many of you read the book, “Don’t sweat the small stuff?” I did and I agreed with it…. Until I started my third year as a principal. Why the shift? Glad you asked…

Over the past 10 or 15 years the message to administrators has been something like this…. Don’t be a manager, be a leader; stay in the balcony so you can see the orchestra; empower people and give them  freedom to work… All sounds like great advice, but what happens when the results from the organization are not what you expect? Are teachers and administrators matching their espoused (what the say) with their theories-in-use (what they actually do)? These are the questions that I am wrestling with as an educational leader in the 21st century.

So how will I lead differently? My plan this year is to pay more attention to the details. As I enter classrooms I will be looking, listening and interacting differently. I will be looking for standards-based instruction, listening for common language among grade levels and asking higher order questions of the staff and the students. I will be placing more emphasis on lesson plans and checking plans against the implementation of those plans.

 

Are we doing what we say we are doing?

 

I want to know why more then ever.