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

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.

Introducing the PrincipalCast Podcast

This post is by my friend, and twitter mom….  Jessica Johnson

principal castPodcasts have been a great tool for my personal professional learning, because it’s so easy to download and just listen while I’m getting ready in the morning, cleaning the house, walking the dog or in the car. I share with you several of the podcasts that I listen to on my Podcasts Page. For several years I enjoyed listening to the Practical Principals podcast, was sad that it discontinued and that I couldn’t really find any other podcast with principals that filled that void.

Principal Theresa Stager invited me to help her start a Principals Podcast, which we also invited Principal Dr. Spike Cook in on. Our first live podcast was quite interesting with many tech glitches, so Jeff Bradbury at TeacherCast.net offered to pick us up under his broadcasting network.

You can now find the #PrincipalCast Podcast live every Sunday night at 8:30 PM CST on teachercast.tv. You can join in the discussion on the chat box of that site or tweet using #principalcast in your tweet.

Each week we will be using the following format for our agenda:

  • What’s been happening?
  • Question from the newbie (new principal) or a hot topic for principals.
  • Something awesome
  • Keeping Current
  • Principals to Follow on Twitter

You can find the #Principalcast Podcast at principalcast.net Other ways to follow/connect with the podcast:

  • Email info@principalcast.com
  • Use the hashtag #principalcast on Twitter
  • Follow @PrincipalCast on Twitter

Who is going to be your Sadia?

keynote 2013I was chosen by my school district to deliver the Keynote Address for our Opening Day Extravaganza. My superintendent wanted me to share my insights on innovation. I spent many hours writing, editing my speech, as well as watching TED videos for inspiration.

Ironically, my inspiration did not come from the TED videos… I was inspired by a 10 year old girl who was brave enough to take some risks and think outside the box. We don’t always need the experts to inspire us, we can learn about innovation from our students. So I shared my story about Sadia.

 

Here are the notes from the section on Sadia:

  • I was chosen to give the keynote on innovation, but I want to caution you that I am not the most innovative person in this district. I am probably a middle of the pack.

  • Remember the trailer? Since last year I have made several imovie trailers. I always say it’s the best 4.99 I ever spent on an app

My idea of Innovation

  • Imovie trailers are easy, quick and clean. Simple right?

  • One day my guidance counselor brought her daughter to school. Sadia is 10 years old and is going into 5th grade. She was in my office with her ipad. I asked her what cool apps or cool things she does with her ipad. She showed me a video she had been working on for the last few weeks. My jaw dropped. I begged her to finish it and I told her I wanted to share her video to a bunch of educators. Her mom told me she worked tirelessly on the video over the summer. She finished it the weekend before the Keynote.

  • I was amazed and I think you will be too

Sadia’s idea of Innovation

  • Sadia and the rest of her generation are ready to flourish. And guess what? They don’t need us to teach them everything. They like to figure things out and when they can’t figure it out they turn to …. You guessed it… Social media.. facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube, tumbler, you name it….

  • Sadia is an entrepreneur

  • She has dreams

  • She has ideas

  • She has passion

  • Who is ready to step on those dreams, extinguish the passion, curtail the ideas?

  • Not me… and I am sure not you! That’s why we have to let people take chances. There have been a lot of people in my life that have allowed me to take chances.

How Sadia impacted an entire school’s welcome back video…

Who are you going to learn from this year?

Who is going to be your Sadia?

#MPSWC Opening Day 2013-14

Every year our district hosts an Opening Day celebration for all staff members. Approximately 1300 employees from all areas descend on our Performing Arts Center to reflect on the previous year, welcome new staff members and set the agenda for the new year. Want a sneak peek at the trailer for this year? I can share it with you (but you can’t tell anybody). Enjoy!

 

 

Missed last year’s trailer? Check this out

 

 

Welcome Back, are you ready?

August is that kind of month where I always wonder if I’m ready for the school year. Guess what? I never am fully ready. One of the hardest parts of being a principal is the mental checklist that sifts through the brain as you consider the opening of school. Here are some of my random thoughts about the opening of school.

The Building 

I start with the building… I constantly ask myself if everything in its right place? Did I make sure that all my promises were kept? During the summer, I usually do weekly checks, but as the end of August approaches, I am doing daily, sometimes 3 and 4 checks of the building. This summer we had major projects such as wi-fi throughout the building, a new cafeteria, redesigned faculty lounge, painting, offices moved and renovated. Thankfully, I have an awesome crew who continues to deliver a clean, organized building.

The Schedules

Then I continue to labor over the various schedules… Does everyone have a prep? Do we have enough sections? What about morning, afternoon, lunch?  Have I optimized instructional time? Will the students have what they need? This year, we will opening the building without our full staff. As of now we have three positions that need to be filled (or are in the process of being filled). Students continue to transfer in and out on a daily basis.

The Changes

What a year we have planned… New Teacher Evaluations, Student Growth Objectives and a Model Assessment that will help us transition to the PARCC. Our teachers (and fellow administrators) are feeling the crunch as we ensure to be compliant with the state mandates. Am I fully prepared for the new evaluations? Can I articulate the rigor needed for an appropriate Student Growth Objective? Are we prepared for assessments every 6-8 weeks and do we have enough time to analyze the data to improve student performance?

The Dreams

So far I have had a few “back to school” dreams. In one dream I realized I was wearing two different shoes. In another dream I was at my school (but it really wasn’t my school) and I was checking on the process of the teachers and their classrooms. One teacher had decorated their entire ceiling and it was a dome shape. In another dream, I was greeting students on the first day but I was not at the correct school! I know we all have crazy back to school dreams, but this year they have been intense!

The Reality

The reality is that when we open for business next week that I will be supported by an amazing administrative team, fabulous teachers, excited students, supportive parents, un-replaceable secretaries, and a dedicated support staff that will work collaboratively to achieve our goals. So I am done reflecting and I have to get back to working…. late!

The Power of Lurking and Learning!

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with a “lurk and learner.” For those of you who do not know, a “lurker” is someone on Social Media who tends to sift through information, blogs, tweets, posts, or videos and quietly learns. They tend to follow more people then they have followers. They have become astute at checking hashtags for ideas and recommendations. But, rarely, if ever do they tweet, blog or put something out into the Social Media landscape.

Do you know how hard it is to get a lurk and learner to share their story?

 

Here are some helpful hints about Lurking and Learning:

1. Start small. Follow a few educators and read their tweets.

2. Find a hashtag (#) to follow. Jerry Blumengarten (aka Cybrary Man) has a comprehensive list

3. Follow a twitter chat. Here is the Schedule that Jerry posted 

4. As you learn, pay it forward in your organization

Know someone who is lurking and learning? Make sure to support them and encourage them to continue!

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

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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