The data we are avoiding (308:365)

source: Badass Teachers

source: Badass Teachers

As I was scrolling through my feed, I saw a picture that really caught my eye. In schools, we are becoming very data-centered. Take a peek into any PLC meeting or Teacher’s Conference room and you will be sure to see a “data wall.” For the most part, especially if the information is being used for best intent, analyzing data can improve student learning. Who can argue with teachers working collaboratively to understand student learning?

 

It gets complicated when we continue to avoid one of the most telling aspects to student performance….. poverty. No one is talking about it (well, there are a lot of people talking about it, and you should support them) and in some cases, teachers are being told to NOT look at it. Why? The impact of poverty seeps into all aspects of education from reading levels, mental health, discipline, and nutrition to name a few. When we look at “under-performing schools and districts” we have to look no further than the zip code.

 

Here is the irony. Now that we have been trained to analyze data, when are we going to start taking in all forms of data into the discussion? When are we going to work with politicians, municipal governments, and civic groups to solve the problem? When it is all boiled down, poverty is not just an education problem, it is a societal problem.

 

What do you think?

The 4 words all principals want to hear… (307:365)

source: www.ilovegenerator.com

source: www.ilovegenerator.com

What are the 4 words that all principals want to hear? “I love my class.” It is also very special to hear that at this point of the year. To me, it shows that routines, trust, and collaboration have been established.

How do you end up loving your class? As I stated early it shows that you have established a few important things. Chances are you know what your students are passion about, you can motivate them and they motivate you. When it is time to learn something new, both the class and the teacher charge in together.

 

So what if you don’t love your class anymore? It is still early enough to get them back. I would suggest that you start over. Take some time to re-establish norms, expectations, and trust. Be sure to reintroduce yourself to them, and learn more about what makes them tick. Let them show you what they know. Don’t give up. They are depending on you…

 

Are these initiatives making you better? (306:365)

source: www.dcsdk12.org

source: www.dcsdk12.org

There is a power in being connected. I think each and every educator should be on social media learning and sharing. We need to hear everyone’s voice. Then there is reality.

Talk to any educator and ask them how they are balancing the increasing demands of teacher evaluation, student growth objectives, transition to the common core, discipline, poverty, assessment, data, and the list goes on and on…. I’ve been asked, “So now you want me to get on twitter?” Hmmm, really good question. Sure, I want you to, but I would never mandate it… You have to want it!

 

Here are some things that I will say about the laundry list of initiatives that are legitimate concerns (There are only so many hours in a day)…. Ask yourself these questions about your current list of initiatives in your classrooms, school, or district:

  • Are these initiatives making learning better?
  • Are these initiatives making students more engaged? Better prepared for the 21st Century?
  • Are these initiatives making you better?

Well, if they are … great! If not, I would highly recommend that you see what everyone else is learning in the connected world….

 

Check out this presentation I did today to help educators learn more about becoming connected

 

Why I am not wasting time with Email anymore! (305:365)

source: www.tassc.org

source: www.tassc.org

On the PrincipalPLN we recorded today, I had epiphany…. Email has been sucking my productivity away (and its probably happening to you as well). Let’s be honest, connected educators really don’t talk about email too much. Yet almost everyone is processing thousands of emails a month at work, home, and on the go.

 

I won’t go too far into the podcast (it will be posted sometime next week on PrincipalPLN). All I can say is that it changed the way I will approach email.

 

Here are a few things that I will be changing immediately:

  • I am going to read David Allen’s Getting Things Done
  • I am disabling my work email from my iPhone – Email is something that should take 20 – 30 minutes to process/read/determine what to do next. This can’t be accomplished with the swipe of a thumb (not unless you want to do it correctly)
  • Be cognizant of the emails I send – If they are more than a few sentences, do I really need to send it or should I use another mode of communication such as a phone call or actually face to face. Here is one of Curt’s suggestions five.sentenc.es
  • Setting specific times (making sure it is at least 20 to 30 minutes) while at work to process email
  • Not going to let my “inbox” become my “to do” box – I need to develop a system that involves my calendar and a system for organizing
  • Let the world know that I am at “#zeroinbox” so my friends can send me emails 🙂

October Rewind (304:365)

source: www.ampsinc.net

source: www.ampsinc.net

I really like Animoto. Since learning about it last spring, I committed to using it each month (sometimes more if necessary).

My goal is to take all of the pictures and videos from the RM Bacon Weekly and put it into the Animoto. This way, we can reflect each month on all of the things we accomplished. One of the best features of Animoto is that it is super easy to use and it is free for educators!

It is paramount to tell your classroom, school or district’s story! Animoto is an effective and easy-to-use tool to help you accomplish this task!

 

 

Checkout the October Rewind

Benefits of Halloween (303:365)

photo by Stephanie Muhlbaier

photo by Stephanie Muhlbaier

I am amazed every year how the interest in Halloween grows (and I am not just talking kids). The lead up to Halloween is filled with excitement, costume planning, scary movies, and lots of activities. Kids and adults spend time in corn mazes, haunted hayrides, and carving pumpkins. In schools, we generally have activities that coincide with the lead up to Halloween.

 

In our school, planning for the Fall Frolic and Halloween Parade begins in the summer. We select dates, chairs for each of the committees, and people volunteer to begin making decorations. It is serious community engagement. We average between 400 – 450 people each Frolic, and about 100 parents at our parade. In fact, I would say that the Halloween activities at our school are the top opportunities for parent and community engagement.

 

Each year we continue to top ourselves. We try new things, and work to make it a better experience for the kids. As parents and students leave the Halloween events they are so thankful, appreciative, and report such positive comments about the events. They love seeing the hard work from the staff. They love our energy, and how serious we take it.

 

 

Have you ever heard a xylophone like this? (302:365)

source: www.wired.co.uk

source: www.wired.co.uk

I stumbled across this video (as did about 12 million other people). I am not a musician, but I appreciate music. In fact, my son is currently studying the drums and often plays the xylophone.

When you first watch this video, I am sure you will wonder why I posted it (or better yet, why did they spend so much time setting this thing up just to play a song), but the meaning is much deeper.

 

 

 

What do you think?

What is the definition of organizational insanity? (301:365)

source: equilibriyum.wordpress.com

source: equilibriyum.wordpress.com

The definition of organizational insanity is doing the same things over and over while expecting different results. As leaders, we have to challenge ourselves all the time to ensure that we are not on the revolving door of organizational insanity. For instance, leaders tend to put systems in place to ensure that all of the various requirements are completed (usually these are completed by others). We then do a “systems” check on the processes to determine if they are effective. When these systems become ineffective or breakdown, we seek ways to solve the problem. We then implement a new system (or a new feature) in order to address the problem. At the end, we repeat.

 

The problem that many leaders run into is that they struggle with metrics that are consistent to monitor their systems. All too often with so many “irons in the fire” it becomes difficult to monitor everything. This is the time that organizational insanity creeps in. Some leaders feel it is easier to just let things continue because, well, “that’s how we have always done things.” We all know things won’t just improve, and it takes a lot of reflection to battle organizational strategies.
How do you monitor organizational insanity?

If you could do something 300 times (300:365)

source: www.bizjournals.com

source: www.bizjournals.com

I will be honest. The fact that my blogging streak has hit 300 completely and utterly amazes me. Knowing that I only have 65 more posts before the year ends excites me. So as I consider the streak, I know that it pales in comparison to other streaks. I know I will never blog everyday for 4 years like Kelly Tenkley or even Cal Ripken who played 2,632 baseball games in a row.

 

I have learned a lot about myself, leadership and the writing process through this experience. It continues to require me to seek inspiration and reflect on my learning! Celebrating this milestone and looking forward to another 65 posts…. and then….. who knows!

Are you Isolated and Connected? (299:365)

source: www.butyoudontlooksick.com

source: www.butyoudontlooksick.com

Doesn’t that sound like a misnomer? How could you be “connected” and at the same time “isolated”? Well, that is why we are working on a project to shed light on this phenomenon.

As we explore this topic, we need your help. Can you take a few minutes to answer a few questions that will be used in our book? Be sure to leave an email address if you would like to be considered to have your story highlighted.

We will also be addressing this topic in several upcoming podcasts, and we hope you join us. Check out the PrincipalPLN blog for more information!

 

We really appreciate your assistance with this 🙂