Insights Into Learning

Passion based learning (248:365)


photo 2 (40)Part 2

The other day I blogged about using a team building exercise to help staff share their passions. So what did this activity produce? In my humble opinion, teachers have a greater understanding for how their passion is not something they should check at the front door of the school.

Many teachers reported to me that they are excited to share their passions with the children. I look forward to seeing some projects such as:

  • TED talks for kids
  • Comedy channel, or even a comedy night
  • Knitting
  • Formal Tea
  • Student photography
  • and the list goes on and on!

 

photo 3 (34)The second part of the exercise was to begin a process of working with the students on what THEY are passionate about.

As I walked around the classrooms during the first two days, I saw so many cool activities that were designed to learn from the students such as:

  • (Older grades) writing about something they are interested
  • An icebreaker (our 5th grade did this) Truth, Truth, Lie – Kids had to interview each other and determine what was the truth and what was the lie.. Very cool!
  • One grade level took pictures of each student and they will be writing about their passions
  • Another grade level recorded each student and will make a movie for Back to School Night
  • An idea that works well in the younger grades was the “Passion” bag – Teachers modeled this by bringing in their bag to present to the kids, and then they will be bringing in their bags!

So many great things, so many great ideas, and all of this is designed to help our students generate passion for learning (and some pretty cool genius hours). I look forward to reporting out more progress!

Exit Tickets at Staff Meetings (247:365)


source: bcc-cuny.digication.com

source: bcc-cuny.digication.com

I know that teachers use exit tickets all the time. They try to determine what the students still need help with or are having trouble understanding. I use exit tickets after the staff meetings to determine if the meeting was effective.

 

At the conclusion of every staff meeting we always do a Plus/Delta (Basically what we are trying to understand is what worked well in the meeting and what do we need to improve on). I have been using this type of exit ticket for the past few years. I always reflect on the Deltas to help improve the meeting for the next time. For instance, one of the Deltas for a staff meeting was the lack of chairs. Brilliant! I should know better to have enough chairs for everyone and especially if we have guests.

 

I also used another type of exit ticket this year. After we concluded with the Plus/Deltas, I asked the staff to write a concern or question that was still on their mind on a post-it. The questions I received were awesome! Honestly, there were certain things I obviously didn’t cover in the meeting, and there were other things I needed to clarify! Some of the questions I needed to get answered from the District, and others I was able to answer immediately. Then, I typed up all of the questions and answers from the Exit Tickets and emailed them to the staff!

 

Of course there are other “technology” based ways of using Exit Tickets at Staff Meetings such as:

  • Today’s Meet – You can easily accomplish Plus/Deltas and Exit tickets with this free source
  • Google Docs – You can easily make a Google doc for everyone to respond to and then sift through the data
  • Exit Ticket – Personalized feedback using a simple approach to data gathering

 

No matter how you choose to use the Exit Tickets, the important thing to understand is how important they are in being transparent, reflective, and mindful of the power of the room!

What are you passionate about? (246:365)


Source: www.fiec.org.uk

Developing a school culture where teachers know about each other’s passion, and the teachers know about the students’ passion is very critical. How do you accomplish this? In my opinion it begins with the school leader.

 

 

First and foremost, the school leader needs to know what each staff member is passionate about. Social media is a big help with this. For instance, becoming friends on Facebook allows you to see the posts, pictures, and videos of each other. As you see each other’s posts, then you can begin to see what each other is passionate about. In addition to social media, school leaders should spend time listening to staff. When you visit classrooms, or have informal conversations with your staff you need to be listening and asking questions.

 

Recently, I wanted to ensure that the staff knew about each other’s passion. I developed a team building exercise that was very simple, yet effective. Try it with your staff, and see what great things happen:

  • Assemble the staff into groups (I used grade levels)
  • Provide post-it notes and a large piece of paper for reporting out
  • Have everyone (individually) write down as many things as they are passionate about
  • Have everyone share out and make connections with each other
  • Since this activity was at the beginning of the year, I then asked them to develop a grade level approach to how they would learn about their student’s passion
  • Report out to the whole group

 

This activity went really well. Tomorrow I will blog more about the outcomes….

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!

 

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