Today 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.
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by the House of Edtech creator, Chris Nesi. Chris interviewed me for my book Connected Leadership: It’s a Click Away.
According to the Chris, “I recommend that you check out Chris’s podcast. The House of #EdTech is the podcast that explores how technology is changing the way teachers teach and the impact that technology is having in education. My objective is to discuss the technology that is changing our classrooms and schools. You can count on House of #EdTech information you can hear about today and use tomorrow. Because whether you use it or not technology is changing the way we teach and how our students learn.”
Thanks to Christopher Harris for this amazing quote
Saw this quote on Twitter and it really got me thinking about filtering. Some people are spending more time filtering as opposed to teaching students good digital citizenship and responsibility. I guess I equate it to when I was younger and we had magazines.
There were all types of magazines, and for some reason teachers didn’t like when I brought in my Transworld or Thrasher magazines. For those of you who were not skateboarding in the 1980s, those magazines highlighted the stories and accomplishments of skaters. Anyway, teachers who did not understand the magazines or failed to take time to actually read them, made it their purpose to confiscate them and assign detentions. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the phrase, “Put that away or I will take it!” What lesson was I learning besides compliance?
Put that away or I will take it! All I learned was compliance….
In hindsight, I wish that someone would have taken the time to read the magazine with me, or better yet use it as a learning experience for projects including math, LAL, science, physical education or social studies. Nope. Put it away or I will confiscate it. Sometimes when I hear about (I even experience it as a Principal) the web filtering and blocking of sites it makes me think back to those days in the 1980s. Sometimes there is such a disconnect between students, teachers and learning.
Every once in awhile, no matter how many substitutes you have, there will be a time when you have classes that unfulfilled. What do you do in those situations? In my opinion, as the leader, you have to step in and be a substitute. There are many rewards to this, and it provides an opportunity to teach kids.
Here are my takeaways from being a substitute for a day:
- Deepens connections with students – Depending on the subject, you can get a better understanding of how the students learn, and what teachers are teaching
- Teachers should see the principal teach – We are the leaders of the building and we evaluate them on teaching, so we should be able to step in at anytime and model
- Teachers have so much on their plate – To continually ask teachers to cover other classes sends them the wrong message. I believe it is important to value every position as much as possible
- It helps you not to forget – No matter how long you are out of the classroom, you never want to forget what it was like when you were in the classroom! Teaching for a day every once in awhile will force you to value the demanding job of a teacher
What do you think? When was the last time you taught?
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I want to thank everyone who nominated this blog for the Edublog Awards for Best Administrator Blog.
There are so many other awesome blogs and great friends who made the short list. Be sure to check out all of the dedicated Administrators who blog!
I also encourage you to vote for other categories and acknowledge the hard work of other educators!
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Cam and I hanging out on Workout Wednesday!
As leaders we have to take a look in the mirror…. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute… Does your staff want to come to work? I am sure everyone has varying answers on this, but we can play a HUGE role in creating a climate that values our staff. In working with my PLN, I asked for ideas that I could implement (I am on a budget of course) to make teachers look forward to coming to work. My PLN came through in a big way.
Someone suggested that we allow the teachers (and students of course) to wear workout gear on Wednesdays. The idea resonated with me because we are a Silver Medal Healthy School. It would serve many purposes. I immediately discussed it with our Healthy School PLC and they loved the idea. We went with it. The program is completely voluntary and there is no “workout” required because by simply wearing the gear we are sending a message to the students that we VALUE exercise! So far the feedback has been amazing.
Here are a few of the comments that I have heard:
- I look forward to Wednesdays and I NEVER looked forward to Wednesdays before
- I can model healthy lifestyles for my kids
- On one hand I feel more relaxed, and on the other hand I feel more energized
- The kids love it and it is easier to integrate fitness breaks while not wearing high heels
This is the second week of the program! We already have 3rd and 4th grade students “competing” against each other for a few minutes in the hallway after announcements. This week they played a game that required strategy and fitness!
The sky is the limit with Workout Wednesdays! Any school can do it and it doesn’t cost a thing!
What does a leader make? Leaders make a lot of things and they probably don’t realize it. Here are some things that came to mind as I reflected on what leaders make:
They make the organization collaborative, and prepared for change
They make decisions based on the best interest of the organization
They make it a point to provide feedback and recognition
They make it to work early or they make time to stay late
They make time to learn
They make time for people
They make time to listen
They make it possible for people to grow
They make people feel safe
They make more leaders
They make a difference
What do you think a leader makes?
To suspend or not to suspend? That is the question. As we learn about the 21st century learning opportunities, and how interconnected our classrooms can be, what happens when it all goes wrong? What happens when kids fight? Harass? Bring weapons to school? Should we still suspend kids? Is that too 20th century?
I posed this question to my PrincipalPLN Voxer group because… I struggle with it! No matter how far our school has progressed, we still have students who violate our norms and expectations… So what do we do? In a Voxer thread that is now over 50 messages long, educators from Alaska to Delaware, from St. Louis to British Columbia have all weighed in on this topic. Guess what? They all still struggle with it as well. There seems to be no definitive stance. The refreshing insight is that we are not giving up on learning more, sharing and growing!
Here are questions I would like to expand further to my PLN:
- What are your thoughts on suspension?
- Do you think that suspensions (internal or external) have a place in the 21st Century School?
- Do you think your administration suspends too much? Not enough?
- What are some best practices you have found successful with suspensions?
Let’s keep learning together!
Attending and presenting at conferences leads to a lot discussions, critical thinking, and reflecting. I had the opportunity to attend several events this fall. During these events there was an under current (sometimes an over current if that is truly a thing). A lot of educators are still dealing with permission issues. They are being held back by personalities, policies, and colleagues. Yikes!
The reality is that we all deal with permission issues of some kind. Some people can’t paint their classrooms, others can’t access YouTube, and others must use the traditional grading system. In every organization their is a gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is responsible for innovation – either they are going to permit it, or they are going to thwart it. Plain and simple. Finding out who the gatekeeper is can be tough work. Working with the gatekeeper (once you find them) can be even more difficult. So what to do?
Here are 5 suggestions for those struggling with permission. Sometimes the gatekeepers just need to see an example:)
- Technology – Looking to get more devices to prepare your students for the 21st century and the district is out of money? Try Donors Choose. According to their website, Donors Choose has over 1.5 donors that have supported over 200,000 teachers that has reached over 13 million students. Before you start your Donors Choose, be sure that your district will support these devices.
- Feedback Beyond Grades – Are you frustrated with the traditional grading system? Mark Barnes and Starr Sackstein have begun a movement “Teachers Throwing Out Grades.” They have written countless blog posts, organized Twitter chats, and a Facebook page all to support you in getting beyond traditional grading. Connect with them and they will be willing to help!
- Classroom Design – Want to re-design your classroom? Want to make a learning environment? Many districts have strict policies on painting and ordering materials. Instead of becoming frustrated, check out the work of Erin Klein. Erin has been helping teachers with classroom design by showing examples of her own classroom and others. There is a hashtag (ClassDesign)
- Discipline – Maybe you struggle with classroom management? Maybe you are looking for other ways to hold students accountable, or maybe you are not happy with your administration’s discipline philosophy. Pernille Ripp has written a few epic posts about classroom management. There are a growing number of apps that have helped teachers with maintaining their classroom with mixed reviews. Another suggestion would be to investigate Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports or Discipline with Dignity.
- Social Media – This one is a biggie. I hear more about the struggles of educators with Social Media then anything else. Teachers report not being able to use Twitter, Facebook or even Google + in the classroom. There are countless resources for the gatekeeper in your organization to read, but the stories about the downsides seem to garner much more attention. My suggestion for this one is simple…. If you can’t use it at your school, you can always use it at home. Edutopia has a lot of great resources on this topic. Also, Corwin’s Connected Educator Series is a great resource for the hesitant administrator/educator. Eric Sheninger has worked tirelessly with gatekeepers to show them the value of Social Media in the school.
Change is tough. Getting permission is a reality we all face in some form or fashion. Sometimes asking forgiveness is easier, but that only works in some organizations. In whatever you do, be sure to start small. Ask questions and get meaningful discussions flowing. If you continue to hit the brick wall, find a group of educators outside your school to connect with for support.
Change is tough. Stay positive. Seek out support.
source: George Tekei
Saw this picture on my Facebook feed.
It had been shared by over 45,000 people and I think the message is very clear.
In education we often feel frustrated with the lack of support for things that can help kids and teachers.
It is especially frustrating when there is waning support for education from politicians who are elected by a select group of people who actually vote.
So what is the answer?