Celebrate Good Times…Come On!

After changing up my morning car duty music, “Celebration” was the first to come on the new Kidz Bop album.  Celebrate…shouldn’t we all be celebrating our story?  It’s our time to come together.  Tell OUR story to everyone around the world (especially our great state).  

 Celebration
Let’s all celebrate and have a good time
Celebration
We gonna celebrate and have a good time
It’s time to come together
It’s up to you, what’s your pleasure
Everyone around the world
Come on!

 

While we are so busy with the everyday things, we quickly forget how important it is to share our stories with others and celebrate the good times happening at our schools!  

I love to tell our story about the awesomeness that is happening at our school and wouldn’t you know…I found someone right here in Arkansas who loves to tell her story just as much.  Bethany Hill.  Believe it or not…we met on Twitter!!  I am not sure how we really connected online or remember when, but things just clicked.  To make things even better than Twitter, we were both attending Arkansas Leadership Master Principal where we met face to face (which is funny if you really think about it…our schools are an only hour away from each other).  We soon discovered we were both ALL ABOUT OUR KIDS, and the rest is history!

After many conversations around pushing an Arkansas connection forward, an idea was born.  An idea out of my comfort zone but know with a sidekick like Bethany we could pull it off together.  Because aren’t we better together?  Through these countless conversations, we felt like this became our mission to complete.  A journey of two joyful leaders to travel together.  We want to celebrate everything that is happening right here in our great state by sharing and learning with others!  After all, a PLN is the best source of joy, support, love, encouragement, motivation, confidence, listener…the list could go on. Really all that just from a Twitter PLN and who knows you may just meet one day!

Along the way, we will be seeking out YOUR stories.  So, we hope you will join us on our new journey through Twitter, Voxer, and our Blogs!

Oh, I forgot to mention…You will have to continue to Stay Tuned for what is to come!!  

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Get Out Now!

In early January, I asked an awesome friend of mine (you may know her…@bethhill2829) about how she told her staff she wasn’t going to be in her office anymore!  I was a little worried about how to approach it with my staff, so I took her approach to simply tell them in our weekly memo.  In fact, I was going to wait until next year to even start with my mobile office, but I was encouraged by Bethany to give it a try!

So, here goes… (sent to my staff on January 8, 2017)

Embrace. As I embrace the new year, I’d like to take on a new journey into the classrooms. So, from time to time I may come in sit down and get comfy just to be in the environment with you and the kids!  This doesn’t mean I am there to observe you (unless it is your informal time), but I may leave some reflective feedback, do a little office work on my laptop, interact with the kids, or help our students who are struggling. 

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Here it is January 22 and my office became “not my office.” In fact my office is nothing more than a backpack that I carry around with everything I need.  I haven’t been in my office for TWO WEEKS (except to return a phone call), and I don’t plan on going back!  Between parent conferences, RTI and admin meetings, and PLCs, I have set up my office in over 20 classrooms.  Sidenote: If anyone needs me, they simply find me through my phone.

Why?  Because I can’t LEAD from my office.

I can’t see my students who are struggling.  I can’t teach.  I can’t see if my teachers are teaching the standards or our curriculum.  I can’t see my teachers learning from one another. I can’t feel the joy of students learning through their smiles. I can’t be engaged with my kids.  I can’t share ALL the great things happenings at our school.  I can’t tell OUR story.

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Now in my office… I CAN!!

  • I CAN work with those students who are in the RTI process that my teachers talk about at all of those meetings.  I can really see what they are talking about when a student of theirs is struggling.  It makes me more knowledgeable about the student when I talk to his or her parents.  I can talk with those students who need to be challenged.
  • I CAN help teach when teachers need help! I walked into a room this last Friday, and I jumped right in to help the teacher teach! It was the perfect opportunity for me to help not only the teacher but the students work with Google Slides.
  • I CAN see the standards and curriculum in action.  While I am in the classrooms, I have opportunities to look at lesson plans and curriculum units to compare with what is being taught in the classroom.  I ask questions to my teachers for clarification and know that they are doing all that they can to teach our kids!!
  • I CAN participate in peer observations with my teachers.  We are #bettertogether!!
  • I CAN see how much fun our students have with learning.  Students are eager to write about polar bears because a teacher just happened to read a book about them, so she adjusted her lesson for a very teachable moment.
  • I CAN engage with KIDS. I made tangram puzzles,  helped write how-to’s, worked through a word problem with questioning, played a role in a readers’ theater, and watched a live cam of penguins with 1st graders!

AND I captured almost ALL of it through pictures/videos to share with our families and community through our Smore Newsletters!

I CAN share and tell our story!

Check Out some of Our Awesomeness below!

Smore Newsletter January 16-20, 2017    Smore Newsletter January 23-27, 2017

I encourage you to not wait…

I say Get Out Now!

 

What’s in Your Playbook?

While watching football tonight, I saw a commercial of a football team at a deaf school in California. That’s right…an all deaf football team.  Take a minute to think about how they communicate the plays and how they work together to make things happen on the field. They must have an astronomical playbook with a common vision that gives each player the best possible opportunity to succeed.  A playbook that spells out each strategy with the right people to make it happen.

So, I ask…What’s in Your Playbook?

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A playbook begins with a shared vision, mission, and core beliefs.  It has goals to accomplish throughout the year. It’s the game plan to help each child be successful in all that they do.  Who do you call in to make it happen? Each player contributes to the team in different ways.

There is a different lineup to help with all the aspects of the game.  These special teams are in place to help achieve the goals. The instructional lineup consists of the grade level teachers or specialty teachers who collaborate on lesson plans, curriculum, assessments, and instructional strategies in the classroom.  The leadership lineup is the voice of the school.  They help the administration (coaching staff) make decisions about what happens within the school.  Within each playbook, there is a lineup of wellness and parent/community players who work together with input from the community.  One of the most important lineups are the members who make up the intervention team. This team works together with the instructional lineup to create opportunities for students to succeed. With all the teamwork…opportunities are created for success.

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The team members need strategies (or plays) to provide guidance for success.  There are so many different strategies (or plays) that can be used to help teachers and students during the school year.  There are PLCs, ongoing-embedded professional learning, peer observations, data/RTI meetings, interventions, curriculum units, lesson plans…the list could go on forever.  It’s knowing if one isn’t working, then you reflect and try another.

So, I ask again…What do you and your team members have in your playbook for a successful school year?

Click here for the commercial: Football, Teamwork, and Technology

 

What’s Yours?

Intentionality: Knowing your purpose and your mission.  Is it part of your School Brand? Vision? Mission? Core Beliefs?  If you know your purpose and mission, do others know it?  See it?  Hear it?  Feel it?

IMG_9223.JPGPurpose. What is our purpose? Being (and creating) Life Long Learners.  Throughout the year, we should be engaged in ongoing professional development devoted to learning and moving instruction forward.  To see improvement of instruction, we must take action in learning, growing, and improving our strategies. Being intentional gives all students opportunities for life-long learning experiences.  As learners ourselves, we must strive to seek new and exciting ways for students to learn in the classroom.  Our kids deserve to walk into the classroom each day like it is a candy store! 

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Mission. What is our mission? Student Success. We must continuously look at what else.  What else can we do to help students be successful?    We should see ourselves as the number one determinant of their success or failure.  Socially, emotionally, and academically successful at all times.  This means leading with a full heart for kids!

Our Purpose and Our Mission…What’s Yours?

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I want to be THAT Leader!

I want to start by saying I wrote this post prior to reading the Learn, Lead, and Innovate chapter in the book! My hope now is to continue with the innovative mindset as an innovative LEADER!

As I am reading Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, he asks the question “Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?”  I found myself asking “Would I want to be a teacher who worked for THAT Leader?”  When I decided to become a principal 10 years ago, I had a friend tell me to watch, listen, and learn from the leaders who I worked for while I was a teacher.  I also listened, watched, and learned from my fellow teachers about their own expectations for a leader.  In a few short years, I would be applying what I learned to my own leadership.

As I read not much further in the book, Couros begins talking about the characteristics of an innovator’s mindset.  I started to reflect upon how principals must have an innovator’s mindset as leaders within their own school community.  And then the question came, “Am I that Leader?”  Do I have the 8 characteristics of a leader with an innovator’s mindset? Because I should…if I want my teachers to have an innovator’s mindset.

Image Created by @Sylviaduckworth8-characteristics-of-the-innovators-mindset


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Empathetic. Would I want to work for me? Each time I make a decision I should ask myself two questions: What does this effect our kids?  How does this effect my teachers? It hasn’t been that long ago that I was in a classroom and felt the pressures of everything you had to teach with all the demands that come with the paperwork.   From the beginning, I have built relationships with my teachers, so when they feel stressed they can come tell me.  Then I act upon it!  It may be a simple double planning time or an extra recess that I can cover.  Anything to give them a quick opportunity to catch up on things while I get to spend time with the Kids!

Problem Finder/Solvers: Bottomline. Teachers are professionals.  This year we have taken a new approach to professional learning.  It has been teacher driven during PLCs. Teachers have developed the “look fors” during colleague observations that produce the highest student achievement.

Risk Takers: Create Opportunities.  Give teachers a reason to want to take risks in their classrooms whether it be with implementing flexible seating or starting a classroom blog. Each teacher has their own unique teaching style, so I want to be able to provide them with the support and freedom to take the risks.

Networked: When we developed our “working agreements” or “how we will work together,” teachers wanted “Share Your Strengths and Ideas” as part of our agreement. Opportunities must be given for the teachers to share across grade levels to share with others what is working in their rooms and gain new ideas.  This is why teacher observations and discussion time is so important!

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Observant: Not just observations!  Sit back listen and pay attention to what the teachers are saying, asking, and needing from you.  Provide teachers with different avenues of social media to learn from others that our outside of our walls.

Creators: The biggest shift in a school culture is when teachers can go into another teacher’s room and take their new learning and integrate it into what they are already doing in their rooms.  Give them opportunities even if it means you have to walk into the room and pick up the teaching so they can GO!

Resilient: Push Forward.  I always resort back to the question…What is best for our kids?

Reflective: Including teachers in reflection is important in answering the questions…Did this work? What do parents think? What do the teachers think?  Should we do this agin?  How can we make it BETTER?

I want to be THAT Leader.  

I want to be THAT leader who has an innovator’s mindset with teacher’s saying

“I want to work for THAT Leader.”