Short on Time, long on resources

short on timeASCD is venturing into a new market through their arias publications. These books are designed for the busy professional that can be read in less than an hour, but can provide resources for improvement well beyond the time spent reading. Short on Time: How do I make time to lead and learn as a principal? by Bill Sterrett was a great read! It took me about 38 minutes to read it. I found myself hooked from the beginning.

 

Short on Time will help you with the following:

– Help you take action and realize change in school and professional life
– Gain insights into specific steps that you can apply to your situation
– These action steps involve teaching, innovating, and leading which will require planning, action, and reflection

 

Sterrett developed a  4 point acronym DISC (District, Instruction, School, Community) to help educational leaders manage their professional schedule. Each of these areas require the educational leader to determine their own allocation of time, but all are important. According to Sterrett, all of the DISC activities should be placed in your master schedule, which should be accessible to key stakeholders.

  • District – Any requirements from your central administration such as BOE meetings, presentations, or meetings 
  • Instruction – Referred to as the heart and soul of your job, these activities include walk-throughs, faculty meetings, school level meetings
  • School – School activities can make the school the center of the community
  • Community – These activities include developing and managing partnerships external from the school

 

ASCDapp_iconIn addition to providing tips and resources for the educational leader’s own time, Sterrett spends a considerable time discussing the importance of maximizing instructional time for students and teachers. He suggests leaders develop a collaborative scheduling team to examine the master schedule to maximize time for collaboration, reflection, outdoor learning, and time for the whole child.

 

Sterrett posits that teachers should be provided time for their personalized and school-based learning. In order to use time effectively, leaders should provide time for teachers to improve instruction through meaningful faculty meetings, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), peer observations, and collaboration.

 

sterrett-w124x160Understanding that we are all “short on time,” Bill Sterrett provides an amazing resource in this arias book for educators to maximize their time on what matters most. Once you read this book, you will see that becoming organized, communicating effectively, and prioritizing your day is not as hard as you might imagine. Although the book is titled “Short on Time” it is long on resources!

 

There is no problem so bad that you can’t make it worse

source: www.3birdsmarketing.com

source: www.3birdsmarketing.com

Recently, I was listening to a podcast with renown astronaut  Commander Chris Hadfield. During the podcast Chris said, “There is no problem so bad that you can’t make it worse.” I was immediately struck by the quote. Could we doing just this in education?

 

It has been documented over and over again that we have problems in education(and it has been documented that we do not have problems). There are achievement gaps, poverty gaps, technology gaps, and even teaching gaps. Some of these gaps get wider, some deeper and all are noticed.

 

We have also seen countless ideas on how to fix our problems. There are schools that are closed, monitored, given more money, more resources, less money, less resources…. there are increased emphasis on assessments, data, and student out put. We have countless studies informing teachers why they should use whole group instruction, direct instruction, small group instruction, leveled instruction, one -to-one and we debate class sizes, use of technology, co-teaching, departmentalization, integration, private, charter, public, magnet…. not to mention common core, national standards, local standards…. The lists, the contradictions, the hyperbole’s go on and on and on…

 

Are we making the problem better or worse?

Thoughts?

Ideas?

Suggestions?

 

 

 

The sweet and sour

yinYangThere is an old adage I reflect on quite often…  you can’t enjoy the sweet without the sour.

 

The sweet and sour aspects of leadership.

 

Recently, my co-hosts on the PrincipalCast  Podcast discussed how being a principal was the greatest job in the world. We were able to spend 45 minutes discussing how awesome it is being a principal, the rewards, and the responsibility.  I’m sure we could have went 45 more minutes discussing this topic. It was easy! But how do we really know the rewards without truly understanding the challenges. The sour aspects of being a principal.

 

For starters, being a principal is mentally and physically tasking. We work long hours, are required to wear many hats, and deal with a range of stakeholders who all have a say in the direction of the school. We are required to be part of a system, and many struggle with the fact that “our” school is not “our” school. If we are in public schools, then we have a Board of Education, State and Federal Department of Education that have a huge impact on our school. In the private education world, principals have Boards of Trustees, dioceses, and other governing bodies to consider.

 

It is often understated that principals are dealing with the pride and joy of parents. I’m sure it’s not hard to visualize the parent who couldn’t imagine their son/daughter engaging in behavior that would cause them to end up in your office. Or the parent that has waved the white flag even though their child is only 8 years old. Parents express their concerns with the school in many ways, and I am sure you have hear of the various “you can’t make this up” stories.

 

Principals are faced with many challenges that require a deeper understanding of the human condition. You never really understand the complexities of this until your sitting at your desk and someone comes in and closes the door because they need to “talk.” These closed door talks could range from needing to get out of work early to classroom management struggles, questions about an observations, or even to cancer, or even death of a family member. Life happens and teachers need the principal to be understanding, and aware of their staff’s situations. It always amazes me the responsibilities that are piled on teachers outside of the school day.

 

Accidents happen, mistakes are made, disagreements and challenges are thrown are way every day. Many on the outside walk by the principal’s office and say, “I would never want that job” while others say, “I could do that job so much better” and still others say, “I want to do what I can to make their job more enjoyable.”

 

Still we press on.

 

Sweet

and

Sour

 

 

 

 

The Greatest Job in Education

principalcastTonight on the PrincipalCast podcast we will be discussion the greatest job in education…. the principal…

Why is the principal the greatest job in education?

What do principal’s do all day?

Do we really need principals?

Join us for the discussion on why we feel the principal is the greatest job in education….

 

We (Jessica Johnson, Theresa Stager and Dr. Spike Cook) love our jobs because we get to:

  • Work with dedicated professionals who are committed to educating our youth
  • Interact with students (learners) who have the capacity to transcend obstacles and love coming to school
  • Collaborate with community members to improve the area surrounding the school
  • Watch students collaborate, question and connect
  • Listen to students creating music
  • Watch students creating art
  • Provide the opportunity for learning new ideas
  • Be the cheerleader, coach, leader, and model for an entire school

 

Want to add to the list? Challenge it?

 

Tune in tonight to www.teachercast.tv 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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.

Starting at page 100: My Skype With Paula Naugle

12-12-11-The-ever-awesome-Ms.-Paula-Naugle-4th-grade-teacherWhen I was young, my mother told me it was rude to ask a woman their age. I have always remembered that and for the most part, have adhered to it. However, today, as I skyped with the infamous Paula Naugle, I couldn’t help but wonder about her age. See, age plays an important role in her story.

 

A few years ago, Paula was considering retiring. She had put in 30 years of teaching, and admittedly was feeling the effects of burnout. She attended the 2004 ISTE conference for 3 days and walked away from the experience realizing that as much as she knew about education, she knew nothing about 21st Century, connected education. It peeked her curiosity and left her wanting more.

 

Fast forward five years to 2009 and Paula continued to provide the best education to her 4th graders in Louisiana. Yet she still didn’t feel connected. She revisited the concepts from her ISTE experience and put together a grant proposal to redesign her learning environment. She ended up winning the grant which was 15,000 dollars! She used the money to purchase netbooks, interactive white board, and other goodies.

 

paula-brenda-at-receptionPaula then connected with Jan Wells a fourth grade teacher from Kansas. They worked together for 4 years connecting their 4th graders on various assignments, before ever meeting in person. Once they did meet in person, it was like they had been reading the same book and were able to start at page 100. Paula credits Joan Young for coining that phrase describing when connected educators meet in person. “We end up knowing so much about each other online, that when we meet, we already know so much about each other,” said Paula.

 

plnaugle_1372958072_81Similar to most people who become connected, Paula lurked and learned on twitter and blogs for some time. She didn’t think she had much to offer, but that all changed as she learned and connected with other educators throughout the world. As you check out her blogs, wikis and twitter, you will see that she has so much to offer!

 

Paula is committed to helping educators get connected. She is a tireless leader and when she goes to conferences she makes sure to spend time in the “newbie” lounge. She loves to pay it forward! When connecting educators to social media, she often shows them the graphic on Jeff Utech‘ blog (The Thinking Stick).

 

As for the future of education, Paula wants to see a 10-15 minute social media period added to the school day. That way, no one will have an excuse for not having the “time” to connect and learn. Since Paula came out of her comfort zone of 30 + years in education, she feels that other educators will be able to do the same and that will have lasting impact on our understanding of learning. She sees blended learning opportunities  become more prevalent. Paula also sees education becoming more individualized.

 

And I listened to my mom…. I never asked Paula her age because we started the conversation on page 100.

 

Take a few minutes to watch Paula’s story in her own words.

 

Connect with Paula

on twitter

on her classroom blog

on her classroom wiki 

#4thchat (every Monday at 7pm CDT)

on her professional blog (no wonder her initials are PLN)

 

Dangerously Relevant: My Skype with Scott McLeod

McLeodMost of you know Scott McLeod from the legendary Shift Happens videos. I can remember being at an in-service a few years back and watching Version 1. I was mesmerized. I ended up showing to to 7th and 8th graders because I thought kids needed to know how quickly the world, their world was changing… “We are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist.” I can honestly say that the seed that was planted by Scott ended up eventually leading me to becoming a connected educator.

 

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Scott as he returned from San Francisco where he purchased Google Glasses. Scott said that he rarely jumps into new technology, but with the Google Glasses he couldn’t resist. He is excited about how the Google Glasses will enhance classroom instruction, observations, walkthroughs and instructional rounds. I asked him what he “saw” when he looked through… He said it looks like a computer display a few feet ahead of you.

 

mcleodtwitterspaceboy2

Scott’s twitter pic

I was joined on this skype with one of my 5th grade teachers, Ryan Hudson. Ryan and Scott hit it off immediately because Ryan is the type of teacher that Scott has created… innovative, risk taking, student centered, and grounded in 21st century instruction.

 

I asked Scott to talk about Shift Happens. It all started with Karl Fisch. Karl wanted to do a PD session on the changing nature of the world. All Scott did was clean up Karl’s video, shorten it and put it on his blog, and it went viral.. The rest is literally history… It’s been a wild run, 60 million viewers..So, I asked him if “shift” happened? He said its happening slowly…human, social, organizational factors continue to hold us back from truly shifting… Many are still not ready for it… Many are not ready for the shift!

 

Scott talked a great deal of the future of education. He sees a continued movement to one-to-one devices. More kids will have a device and wireless will be everywhere. In addition, Scott believes that more and more districts will realize that learning doesn’t have to tied to the school day…traditional hours, but rather a more open and flexible structure.

 

If schools and student learning will change, I had to follow up with a question about teacher Professional Development… Scott talked about the one size fits all model for learning and if its differentiated and individualized for students, then it must be for teachers. Social media will help with this he added.

SMcLeod

Scott is always hard at work!

Currently, Scott is working on two rather large projects. He is doing research on connected principals and how they use social media and web 2.0 tools. With that, he is working on a checklist for principals and administrators who want to become more connected. He is leaving no stone un-turned in this research. He will be looking at job descriptions, postings and matching that with day to day responsibilities. He really wants to learn more about how technology is really being used, and how districts are documenting the process.

 

Scott was such a personable guy. He really took time to talk with Ryan and I. In fact, he encouraged Ryan to look at the University of Kentucky Doctoral Program that he was influential in developing. Scott said that the UK program is an excellent opportunity for educators to earn a doctorate in School Technology Leadership.

Learn from Scott:
Scott McLeod’s website

Scott McLeod on Twitter 

Scott’s CASTLE Project 

 

What Scott and his Innovation Team are reading?
Influencer:The New Science of Leading Change 
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing Out of Touch?

Lead like a Cricket: My Skype with Joe Sanfelippo

joe s

Joe Sanfelippo District Lead Learner

I had the opportunity to skype with Fall Creek School District Superintendent Joe Sanfelippo the leader of the Crickets. I’m sure by now you have heard the crickets chirping through social media…. if not, you have to check out #gocrickets on twitter. In preparing for the interview, I had to brush up on my knowledge of crickets. I went to buzzle to research the characteristics of crickets and what I found was quite symbolic. Did you know that crickets can survive in almost any type of environment, and they play an important role in bringing balance to the ecosystem? #gocrickets!

 

Joe started his journey into social media as a better way to get information to people. He immediately saw the benefits of celebrating what is going in school and telling the story of his district. During his first year he “lurked” on twitter and was able to bring global ideas and best practices back to Fall Creek. As his comfort level grew with social media, Joe began to share the news with his fellow crickets.  He stayed true to his mission of being a servant leader… as he said, “If I am leading this organization, and I want others to be connected, I had to be learning along with everybody else. This learning helped me connect with parents, students and teachers in a much different way then I had before.”

 

314987_170815749676372_2105664148_n

Everybody wants to be like Joe

In March, Joe attended the national ASCD conference in Chicago. It was during that conference he met many of the educators he had been following on twitter in person for the first time. He found out how much he had in common no matter where they were from. Joe and I met at that conference in Chicago and we attended the Maya Angelou Keynote together. Having been part of Joe’s PLN our conversation flowed naturally…. I felt like I had known him for 20 years!

I asked Joe to share his experiences as a connected superintendent (one of the least represented groups in the connected world). He says that his Board of Education is extremely supportive and loves how social media has helped the district improve its global awareness. The local media have covered several stories about the district which has served as an additional support network for the district. Joe balances his tweets between telling the crickets story on the athletic field, in the classroom, on the stage or on the playground.

 

Joe feels his job as the district lead learner is to help parents, teachers and students gain access to resources. He doesn’t mind leading the charge. Joe also sees the power of using social media to connect with his leadership mission and vision. “There is not a person who doesn’t know about my philosophies on education because of social media. It has opened up a whole new avenue of transparency and lines of communication,” he said enthusiastically.

 

599756_333598616731417_1888658378_nJoe also sees the power that social media plays in the marketing of his district. Kids tweet him questions during football games, and parents have immediate access to him. There is an renewed pride in being a Cricket. The Fall Creek School district, which is a PK -12 building with 800 kids, is the perfect location for Joe. Even though it is a small town in the mid-west part of the USA, the Crickets now have a global awareness due to Joe’s commitment of “telling the story.” Nowadays, wherever Fall Creek paraphernalia is, you are sure to see the #gocrickets!

 

When I asked Joe where he sees education in the  future he didn’t hesitate to say… Personalized learning. He hopes that in the future that students will have choice and voice in the process. He doesn’t see traditional schooling going away, it will get better. Schools are made of people who teach the way they were taught, and the systems keeps going on.

 

Want to learn more about Joe? Check out these resources

Follow Joe Sanfelippo on twitter

Joe Sanfelippo’s blog 

Follow the Crickets #gocrickets

Fall Creek Teachers on the Red Carpet 

News story on the new playground 

Joe Sanfelippo did his doctoral work on the implementation of PBIS…. Checkout this screencast