Go ahead, say it, we are the worst! (348:365)

I was watching the movie Elf with my kids the other day. I absolutely love that movie. It is so funny. Every time I watch the part where Buddy the Elf is working in Santa’s Workshop it makes me think about education. Take a minute to watch this clip:

 

I think this applies to students, teachers and even Principals.

Students – Do all students learn the same way? Need to know the same information at the same rate?

Teachers – Are we measuring teachers based on right criteria or have we created another one size fits all system?

Principals – Do you have quotas for walkthroughs? Test Scores? Evaluations? Ever feel like Buddy?

 

What do you think?

 

 

5 Easy Staff Recognition Ideas (347:365)

source: www.awardsnetwork.com

source: www.awardsnetwork.com

This week was the first Week of Bacon (there will be twelve days total). I wanted to recognize the staff for their hard work and what better time then around the holidays. I got the idea in working with other principals in my PLN, and then adapted some of the activities to fit the school.

 

Here are 5 things we did this week

100 Grand Bars – I wish we could pay teachers more, but that is easier said then done. The 100 Grand Bars symbolized how valuable they are to me, and the school! Cost: minimum 

Lottery Day – Who doesn’t like to win something? For this activity I made tickets for things such as “Get out of duty” or “40 minutes of coverage by Principal” and I also bought dollar scratch off tickets. Everyone got something different, and everyone felt like a winner! Cost: minimum (only the dollar scratch off)

Workout Wednesday – This is another idea I got from my PLN (Another shameless plug for connecting with like-minded educators on Twitter!). People like to be comfortable and workout clothes are comfortable! In addition, it symbolizes to the students that we value exercise. Cost: Zero

Reading Blizzard – This is one of my favorite activities. A Reading Blizzard is simple. The Principal walks into a room and asks the kids to describe a blizzard. Then the Principal explains that the Reading Blizzard has swept away the teacher for a few minutes. The kids say goodbye to the teacher and the Principal reads a book (or if they were involved in a lesson, the Principal carries on the lesson for 5 to 10 minutes). All teachers deserve a break! Cost: Zero Reflection: This one has taken a few days to complete. I still haven’t gotten through the entire staff … yet! 

Flannel, PJs or Holiday Sweater –  This activity allows staff to either wear their pajamas, flannel shirts, or Holiday themed shirt. We had staff do all three at the same time. Cost: Zero

I am the first to say that we do not do this enough in education! So I decided to try something new, and I hope it is working out. Maybe not all the ideas appealed to all the staff, but I am hoping that it is the thought that counts!

The beauty of the 12 Days is that we still have 7 more activities to go. I will check in with you next week!

Dealing with Difficult Parents (346:365)

Source: www.quotehd.com

Source: www.quotehd.com

What do you do when parents are not sending a positive message to the kids or school community?

 

I was recently reflecting on this after having one of the most mind-blowing conversations I’ve ever had with a parent. Without going into detail, I walked away from the conversation feeling sorry for the kids that have to deal with this everyday! I know I didn’t get through to this person, and I am not sure what else I (or anyone else for that matter) can do.

 

After the encounter, and preparing for this blog, I got some tips from Todd Whittaker, who wrote the book Dealing With Difficult Parents.

 

  • Dealing with difficult parents requires that Principals first deal with themselves. You do not have to prove you are in charge because everyone knows you are in charge
  • Effective Principals never argue, scream, use sarcasm or act unprofessionally
  • Principals are the role model for parents, teachers, students and other staff – You have to act like it!
  • If a parent is being rude and belligerent to you, try this, “Please don’t speak to me like that. I will never speak to you like that and I will never speak to your child like that.” If you are really confident in the professionalism of your staff, you can add in – “And no one from this school will ever speak to you or your child like that”
  • Here is the entire article

 

How do you deal with difficult parents in your district?

Making Connections (344:365)

How do you make connections? I was thinking about this the other day. In addition to the face-t0-face conferences, everyday life, work etc there are so many ways for you to make connections.

 

Here are 5 simple approaches to making connections with other educators:

1. Twitter – Perhaps the most utilized approach for educators to connect around the world. Its free, and as Jenny Grabiec says, “It’s frequently amazing.”

2. Facebook – Sometimes referred to the granddaddy of connections, Facebook allows for greater connection with colleagues near and far. You can learn about family, interests and of course what a person values.

3. Voxer – Voxer is growing in popularity because there are educators using the app for a back-channel. Voxer allows for speaking, pictures and text.

4. Blogging – There are hundreds of thousands of blogs…. who are you reading? In reading blogs, and commenting, you can easily make connections with other educators.

5. Google + – Google+ is one of the fastest growing social networks. Anyone who has a Google Email has a Google + account. Now it is time to build your circles and learn from others using Google +

 

These are just 5 quick ways to make connections.

Ipevo IDevice Stand (343:365)

IMG_2875Look what just came in the mail! I was looking for something like this as I try to utilize my iPhone to it’s full capacity. Fortunately, the folks at iPevo know design, know educators and are constantly trying to make products to help improve our productivity. This stand allows users to work hands-free if they are watching a video or checking their device. The stand also will provide an easy method for scanning or taking pictures of documents – PAPERLESS!!!!

 

In addition, the feature that I look forward to most is the steady-cam. Now I can work with teachers and student to video chat or create videos for the school. This will be awesome!

 

If you get the chance, check out iPevo’s site because they have lots of products that are designed to make our lives easier.

You are valuable (342:365)

IMG_2863Today 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.

Welcome to the House of Edtech (341:365)

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.”

What are we filtering? (340:365)

Thanks to

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.

Sometimes you just have to pitch in (339:365)

source: www.slate.com

source: www.slate.com

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?