Don’t Let the Days Go By

On the day after the kids’ and teachers’ last day, our Superintendent asked…”What is your personal growth plan? Where are you now? What can we do to get you there?”  At first, I thought…REALLY kids and teachers just left the building YESTERDAY!!  My frame of mind is still finishing the school year, and he is asking me where I want to go next!  I couldn’t wrap my brain around it, but what do I do…write it down in my everything notebook!  Days went by with those questions staring at me in the face! I let several days go by before I said enough is enough!  And then I found the day…The day I read Lead Like a Pirate!  I came to the chapter that SCREAMED at me!!!

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If you were to ask any part of my tribe, they will say that I LOVE to talk!! I can talk about anything with anyone at anytime.  Although this is very true of me, I reflected upon asking myself if student learning was at the forefront of my conversations, actions, and activities.  After reading about ANCHOR conversations written by Beth Houf and Shelley Burgess, I had a lightbulb moment!  I needed to focus on conversations centered around appreciation, impact on student learning, collaboration, teacher voice, support, and reflection.

WARNING: I needed CONVERSATIONS about what’s BEST for KIDS!

CAUTION: This will not be easy.  You will need accountability partners.  You will need to reflect.  You will need to EMBRACE the goal. So…You will need to set GOALS.

goals that…

  • are valued
  • push me
  • are visible to all
  • make me reflect on ME
  • teach me to be a better ME
  • show my vulnerability
  • tell my tribe I want to be better for them
  • focus on KIDS
  • keep me learning
  • are a challenge
  • are achievable

If you are reading this, then you have just become my ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER! Keep me focused on what I need to embrace to get better at having these fierce conversations with my tribe and ALWAYS put KIDS first!!

Posted outside my office and soon down the hallways!

#ObserveMe- Bohler

The Best is YET TO COME

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Today is the day!  My mountain is waiting, so here goes the climb to the top!  Today is the day I start blogging thanks to my Twitter PLN (professional learning network). Last night, I participated in a Twitter chat hosted by moderators Connie Hamilton and Bethany Hill. (Follow them on Twitter or their blogs…You will Learn ALOT!)

You can even view the entire Twitter chat just by clicking here. Now, you may ask why I would put all this in my first blog!  Well, I want to record where it all started for me. This has been my foundation for starting a blog.  The insights of many other bloggers have helped me know where to start, what to blog about, what a blog should look like, and making plans to blog.

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So, where do I even begin…I begin with following 10 habits of bloggers that win! (See visual below).  It is extremely important to me that I give credit where credit is due.  I want to make sure to cite and hyperlink everything that I “borrow” from others in my PLN.  Social media is an important part of getting my voice heard by others, so I want to share on Facebook, Twitter, Voxer, and other media outlets.  I will continue to use my PLN to grow in my blogging and use them as my accountability partners for pushing me forward in my own learning.

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A big part of blogging is getting those thoughts on paper!  My mind races so much all day long while I am working that I sometimes forget what I am thinking about!  Does that make sense??  I have purchased these writing journals for me to begin writing down my thoughts. Started last night after the Twitter chat. This journal will help me tell my story and share it with my PLN through my blog.  It will become my connection to the world outside of Sheridan!

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The best part of being part of the world outside of Sheridan is being able to share with the people who also have ambitious plans, meaningful purposes, and big goals.  My PLN will continue to grow and with that I will continue to learn!  There are so many people who out there who have the same passion as I do about our KIDS.  I look forward to making this journey with each and everyone of them.

Now on to more blogging…

Our Hope for Tomorrow

IMG_1665Easter Sunday at church our pastor said, “They are our hope for tomorrow.” (talking to and about our kids during children’s church)   What a powerful statement for us all to take a step back and truly reflect upon.  Hope.  A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.  What is our expectation?  What is our desire?  What certain thing do we expect and desire?  Those are questions we should ask daily about our kids.  What is our hope for our kids?

Influenced by my recent reading of “Lead Like a Pirate” by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf.

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I hope…there is a passion.  When kids see how passionate we are about being at school with them, everyone wins!   Kids will work harder when they see that you care (and teachers will too)! It is our passion that pushes us to be better, to be inspired, to be empowered, and to serve those around us.  “Our passions are what drives us!” (Shelley and Beth)

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I hope…there is action.  A few months ago, I had a mission to get out of my office and be more visible in the classrooms so I could be connected with my kids and teachers.  I became intentional about my schedule by prioritizing what was the most important…Our Kids. We need to be part of the game not on the sidelines coaching the game!

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I hope…there are relationships.  Building trust helps to build strong relationships. Every decision made during the school day determines the kind of relationships within the school culture.  Relationships in a school culture are built on trust and commitment to a common goal.  If we are all part of the same team, we all win!

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I hope…there are questions and answers.  Throughout the school year, we continuously ask questions to reflect and find answers on how to make each day better for our kids and teachers.  Our goals, strategies, and plans should all reflect on how the decision moves student learning forward.  We must ask ourselves why, how, and what!

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I hope…there is change.  A growth mindset is BIG in education. In order for our kids to be the hope of tomorrow, change must happen.  We must be willing to take risks and make mistakes but more importantly, let our kids see that it is ok!

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I hope…there is enthusiasm.  Bring it Everyday. I tell my staff (especially office staff) that if I’m not smiling then we can worry!  I can honestly say in two years…I’ve only not smiled once!  I had one teacher catch me not smiling and she said: “You’re not smiling?”  I quickly realized I wasn’t!  Kids can (and should) FUN while learning!

My hope is we all have the desire for our kids to be OUR FUTURE.  

Spring Break of Firsts!

Spring Break.  A time to relax, reflect and re-energize to finish the school year strong!

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Family First.  We did a first as a family and went “tent” camping without water, electricity, and wouldn’t you know no reception!  We (all three of us) slept in a 10 person! Yes, my daughter needed a 10 person tent.  We learned a lot together in those three days! We learned to cook over an open fire, keep the raccoons away at night, and enjoy each other without interruptions! We went on a walking hike, fought raccoons all night, attempted to fish, and sat by the fire.  It was a relaxing and much need time together as a family. We are better today at camping than yesterday.

My First National Conference. I’ve been to many conferences during my years in education, but I’ve never been to a National Conference! IMG_1587I went to so many amazing sessions on how to grow and lead as a lead learner.  Talk about being on fire!! From Danny Steele’s “A BluePrint for Awesomeness” to LaVonna Roth’s “Ignite Your Shine,” I came back being inspired to serve, inspire, and empower all those around me.  More importantly, I learned to take it slow when I got back to school.  In a session by Jill Thompson and Lisa Already, they demonstrated how we as teachers sometimes pour in so much information to our students they can’t remember it all.  I sat in that session thinking of how leaders do the same thing to teachers, so here goes…take my time…introduce slowly.  Make it meaningful, purposeful, and have the why ready for teachers to understand their new learning.

 I’m better today than yesterday!

Not only did I attend amazing sessions, but I met the most amazing educators face to face!  I participated in a “live” twitter chat with #leadupchat early Saturday morning!

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Compelled Tribe Members (Debbie Campbell and Jennifer Hogan), Lisa Dabbs, Leslie Kinnard, Michelle Hill, Danny Steele, Beth Houf, Neil Gupta, Dave and Shelley Burgess

The Power of How We Learn

Sitting in a very inspiring and motivating session at ASCD, I couldn’t help but think of how the session information could directly be related to teachers.

How Youth Learn: Ned’s GR8 8 (check it out here) It’s centered around providing for Kids!

My connections...

I feel OK. As leaders, it is our responsibility to make sure the teachers feel ok when in the middle of their learning.  Snacks are always a must and make sure plenty of breaks are provided throughout.  Maybe even a GoNoodle or fun activity to get everyone excited about the day! 

It Matters. Adult learning (what we like to call professional development) should matter to the teachers. It must be relevant and meaningful.  Teachers should have a voice in the learning with individualized learning plans.  This is a huge barrier to teacher learning.  If we expect teachers to do it for students, shouldn’t we provide that expectation for teachers?

It’s Active. Again, we expect for teachers to provide hands-on engaging lessons for our students. Is our adult learning active or engaging? Or are we going old school with the presenter doing all the talking?  

It stretches me. Learning should be challenging for all.  It should push us to be better and inspire us to take risks!

I have a coach. Professional development shouldn’t be the days in the summer where you learn it all.  That just doesn’t happen! We as leaders need to be the coach on the sideline who is inspiring, motivating, and encouraging teachers through their implementation of their new learning.  

I have to use it. It must be directly applied to the teacher’s classroom either with their instructional practices or their students.  It can provide immediate evidence of student learning.

I think back on it. Reflection…do we give teachers time to reflect back on their learning to see how they are going to use it in their classrooms or with their students.  They need the opportunity to plan and see how they will use the new learning.

I plan my next steps. This is part of the reflection and collaboration.  What steps will I take as a teacher with my colleagues to use my new learning to help move student learning forward?  

Is this how we are teaching teachers? Our expectations for teachers in the classroom for students should mirror our expectations as leaders!

Thank you to Jill Thompson and Lisa Allred for your amazing session!

For the Love of Learning

Ever since I graduated college, I have been on a journey of learning. Sometimes my husband asks if I will ever be done or my mom says “And what is this for?”  Truth is…I will never be done learning…in fact, I have a love for learning.  I absolutely love to learn new things, take risks, read educational books,  take on new challenges, and share with others around me.  In fact, sometimes I get ahead of myself (ask my teachers)!  Here lately my learning has moved past a degree or anything a college can provide for me!

Twitter (and Chats!)

Twitter has been an amazing journey of learning that has unleashed endless opportunities. The amount of learning that happens in a twitter chat is beyond any textbook out there.  I have used many ideas like the idea To My Awesome Colleagues from Danny Steele, handwritten notes to my students, taking on challenges by Principals in Action, and sharing our own school story. Some of my favorite chats are…#Ohedchat, #kidsdeserveit, #IMMOCC, #leadupchat, #JoyfulLeaders, and soon to be #EduAR. There are so many out there!  Check the topics. Mark your calendar. Get engaged.  Grow your PLN. Move your Learning.

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Reading for Fun

IMMOCC.JPGSince jumping into Twitter, there are so many authors who I have connected with and learn from in their books.  Right now…I am in the middle of reading three..right three books at once!  As soon as I get into one, another one pops up!  I’ve listed a few that I am in the middle of right now…

Connecting 

Bohler Connect

Back in the fall, I made the most awesome connection with Bethany  Hill (@bethhil2829) and Karen Norton (@nortnik).  These two ladies have been my motivation and inspiration to be a better leader.  We are behind the Connecting for Kids movement with the #EduAR hashtag and new chat starting April 6!  You can read our reason why, how, and when here with our collaborative blog post: Connecting for Kids.  Just as I talk about making connections with my home state girls, I am also making connections with educators all over the state and country!  Super excited to be part of a live #leadupchat while I am at ASCD conference in Anaheim, CA.

Conferences

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AR Reading Conference #RISEArkansas

By attending state and national conferences, my journey takes on a new kind of learning. The most exciting thing about these conferences…I get to attend sessions with people I have met through Twitter.  Even better…I get the opportunity to present at two conferences this summer in Arkansas (more chances to connect with others in our great state).

 

For the Love of Learning 

 

love that I have a love for learning!  It’s my inspiration to be better than I was yesterday and a chance to be awesome tomorrow!  Have you found your love for learning?  It doesn’t have to stop at taking a graduate class or just your PD hours required by the state.  Learning can be a lifelong journey if you want it to be.  So, Go…Be a Lifelong Learner.

 

Connecting for Kids

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What do you do when you are trying to do what’s best for kids?  We CONNECT. We connect with kids. We connect with parents and families.  We connect as teachers.  We connect as leaders.  We find any way possible to connect, so we can do what is best for our kids. Education was once considered a lonely profession. Consider the one room schoolhouse, where one teacher served an entire rural community and everyone knew she was not to be seen after dark! Through the years a culture of connection and collaboration has slowly unfolded. Today, with social media at our fingertips, we have endless opportunities to establish connections with anyone and everyone. We have the ability to invite the community in via pictures and videos. We have networks with amazing educators to help us grow stronger in our profession.  There simply is no reason why we shouldn’t be connected educators…we have every reason to be connecting for kids.

Why…By Bethany

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One of my favorite authors, John Maxwell, wrote a book entitled, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently. I read this book many years ago when I first entered the world of administration, and it opened my eyes to the importance of how we communicate, and the real purpose of it. My superintendent assigned the book for our team to read, and it was a game changer for me. If our communication isn’t reaching others, we are defeating our purpose. Authentic connections will not happen without authentic and purposeful communication. When we connect with others, we are validated, challenged, inspired, and our emotions are brought to the surface. This is what helps people become better versions of themselves. When we as educators connect, we become better educators. Our kids deserve nothing less than our best. Flying solo as an educator is no longer an option. When we struggle, we connect for support. When we succeed, we share to support others. When our beliefs are challenged, we share to ignite passion. There is power in connection, and connecting for kids is something we must ALL do. After all, it is about them, isn’t it?

So…remember the WHY behind connecting for kids!

  • To seek support and advice
  • To be validated for innovative thinking
  • To gather resources (blogs, images, podcasts, etc.)
  • To share our successes and thoughts
  • To strengthen our core beliefs
  • To inspire and be inspired
  • To celebrate the AWESOME we witness each school day

This list could continue, because the WHY behind connecting for kids is immeasurable. We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to our kids…they are ALL OURS.

How…By Lindsey

Bohler QuoteIf you want to make the best connections, you must be visible.  Visibility should be at the top of our “To Do List.”  As lead learners, our lists are full of emails, phone calls, meetings, and paperwork, but we must have visibility (in permanent marker) at the top of the list.  We should intentionally (put it on the calendar) be in classrooms, at recess, in the hallways, and out front during morning/afternoon dismissal to see first hand what is happening in our school.  When you are visible to all, relationships begin to bloom because you learn to know the people with whom you work with…your Kids, your Teachers, your Staff, your Families, and your Community.  What a positive feeling it is for parents to see you in the mornings greeting the kids with high-fives and hugs.  What a rewarding feeling to enter a classroom of fully engaged kids and leave a handwritten note in appreciation to the teacher.  Through each of our actions as leaders, we begin to make connections through our interactions with kids, teachers, and families.  

You may ask…How do you do this?

    • Morning Greetings/Afternoon “See You Tomorrow”
    • Mobile Office to be in the classrooms
    • Eat Lunch with the Kids
    • Spread the news of what’s happening at your school
    • Give Kids a Voice on what happens at their school
    • Share with Kids are Awesome they are can day!
    • Go Beyond the School Walls

When…By Karen

IMG_8257When do we connect with/for kids. When do you not? We should be making connections and building relationships with and for kids constantly throughout each and every day.  Kid connections should be the unwavering compass needle pointing us to and keeping us aligned with our why. So often, lead learners get inundated with infraction forms, system issues and trivial problems that weigh us down and make us feel as though we are trapped in our offices.  Don’t let your office become a trap…get out and connect with and for kids. It must be a conscious, culture changing mindset to become a lead learner who values and insists on building relationships with students. The BIG question often becomes… when do we do this?

  • Through Celebrations!
    • Academic Milestones
    • Behavior Milestones
    • Character Milestones
    • Attendance Milestones
    • Positive phone calls home
  • Through Collaboration with Adults AND students about concerns
    • RTI (academic and behavioral) – Social/emotional concerns through formal/informal conversations during lunch, recess, bus duty, hallways…the list goes on and on.
  • Through Communication – Share, Share, Share
    • Face to Face with students (find their passion…their why), parents, ALL stakeholders…bring them into the school and put yourself out there.
    • Via social media – sharing our story and our why
    • Newsletters

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Are we connecting everyday for our kids?  Is our story being heard around the state?  These are the questions that got us to thinking we need a movement to connect educators across the state of Arkansas for our kids!  And why not connect for our kids?  After all, it is about them, isn’t it? Kids deserve us to be the best version of ourselves, so what if we had a place where we could go for continual conversation, resources, great ideas from our schools, and…yes…a Twitter chat? This is the WHY behind #EduAr…to connect FOR kids! We need to learn together, from each other. Learning goes beyond the 6 hour professional development session, beyond the talks in your hallways and in team meetings, and beyond your district. Arkansas kids (and the rest of the nation’s kids) need us to learn from a larger source. We owe that to them. Let’s do this!

Information coming soon on a set time for the #EduAr weekly Twitter chat! Look for slow chat questions, or images with a post for the day. Please begin sharing by using #EduAr in your tweets. Let’s get connected within our state, and reach out to other states as a unified group of educators. Ready?

Lindsey, Bethany, and Karen