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Showing posts from 2017

Never Stop Moving Forward

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Never Stop Moving Forward

It’s a few weeks until Winter Break.  What’s a #principalsinaction leader supposed to do to keep the learning going, both for our students and our staff?  Now is not the time to change up the procedures and routines.  Now is the time to review them and make sure to keep learning at the forefront in our schools.

So...what ideas do you have to keep this going?  Mark, Ryan, and I suggest the following:

Get Out Of Your Office! (If you need a reminder, send Jay a DM on Twitter and he’ll send you a #principalsinaction bracelet!) You can only be a principal In action if you're in the hallways, classrooms, cafeteria, out front, and on the playground interacting with others.

Be intentional with your classroom visits. Make sure you're getting into classes, participating with students, and seeing the great things happening. There are a lot of fun things to see between Thanksgiving and winter break.

Maintain communication with families about the importance of attenda…

What Type of Person are You?

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If you had to lump humanity into two groups what would those groups be? In an inspirational speech, the late Randy Pausch asked his audience “Do you want to live your life as a Tigger, or an Eeyore?”

It is a fun, yet intriguing question.

Tigger is positive, energetic, fun, cheerful and confident. He always is trying to do his best, is up to try new things, keeps going even when he falls, and always sees the glass as being half full. We all know Tiggers.

Eeyore on the other hand is the opposite. Eeyore is usually gloomy, pessimistic, sarcastic, and never looks on the bright side. His glass is half empty and lacks confident. We all know Eeyores.

People and systems are going to let you down. Things and situations are not always going to go your way. We have no control over the actions of people that are in our lives. We have no control over the universe. But we do have control over who we are. I know that being a Tigger 100% of the time sounds daunting but being an Eeyore sounds unproducti…

Give Permission

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Just the other day a teacher reached out to me to let me know that there were two upcoming conferences that she would like to attend and asked if she could attend one of them. Soon as I read the email I reached back out to her to let her know that I think both conferences had value and since they were spread out I thought that she should attend both of them.

Think of the last time that you wanted to go to a conference. What was the response when you asked for permission? Did you get the same response that this teacher recieved?

I’ve had many experiences when it comes to conferences and professional growth that haven’t turned out the way I wanted them to. They left me with a feeling of not being supported and not valued as a part of the team. I can remember an experience as a teacher asking for permission to attend a state conference in Southern California. As soon as I mentioned it to the principal, the answer was no. Then through conversation that I was able to convince the principal …

Dreams

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As an adult, I think of often about what I dreamed of being as a child. I remember when I was little, my goal as an adult, was to be the owner of a cattle farm. I always wanted to be a cowboy and I thought this is the way to achieve it. As I got a little older, I realized that just owning a cattle ranch wasn’t enough for me, so I decided I was gonna split time as a MLB baseball player and rancher. My brother and I would go into business together being on the ranch. That way there would be someone back home tending to the cattle as I was on the road playing ball.

Obviously, once I got into high school I realized there’s no way I’d ever play major-league baseball and I realized that I probably wasn’t gonna be a cattle rancher either. But my dreams changed I want to be a dad and a husband, and I didn’t know what else. Working in college figuring out what I was going to do I found a girl to make one of my dreams come true. As I  thought about what profession I would enter I knew that I wan…

Slow Down And Be Careful What You Wish For

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The school year was in full swing and kids were in classes. The pressure of being a principal was mounting and taking a lot of focus to make sure that I was doing the job to my full potential. There were moments, where I thought to myself, 'I need a break'. I never thought I would actually get one. 

Over three weeks ago I had come home from work with aspirations of doing lots of housework. I was on the phone with the electric company as I was walking down the stairs and then I was suddenly at the bottom step looking at the ceiling, wondering what had just happened. I had fallen and as I fell I heard something snap in my leg, I was in excruciating pain. My wife quickly responded and ushered the kids to get in the car, we were going to the ER. Once their it was confirmed, I had broken my leg in two places and would need surgery the following week.

I was upset. I was in shock. I was in pain.

Suddenly I was faced with the break that I needed, but now did not want. Too often we s…

Pick Up The Phone

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“Hello, this is the principal calling.”

In the summer of 2015, I (Mark) was participating in a Twitter chat and was impressed when a teacher shared that she made a positive phone call home for one of her students every day. I thought, in my school I have 750 students and can certainly find one student a day deserving of a positive phone call home, thus #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay was born. That year (2015-2016) I created a spreadsheet and tracked my 130 different positive phone calls. Actually, I made more than 130 calls, I selected 130 different students that year. For some students I called both parents or other family members, whoever they wanted me to call. I also took a selfie with the student and shared the photo and reason for the call on social media. The following year (2016-2017) I continued my #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay making calls for 135 different students that year. I continued with the selfie and sharing on social media and I bought #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay wrist bands to give each s…

Be Real

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Be Real. It seems so simple, yet too often we come across individuals that are anything but real. As you walk down the street or open up magazines you are constantly seeing individuals who are anything but real. People tell you what you want to hear, not necessarily what they believe. I hear people all the time claiming they stand for something, but their actions say something completely different. Our words hold so much power until our words don't match up with our actions and then our words are just words. Life could be so much richer, if we surround ourselves with people who are real.

Years ago I walked into an interview for vice principal of an elementary school interview and the questions came in the order that I expected. At the very end of the interview they asked if I had closing statement, which was something I had experienced before.  However, this day I decided to change the way I answered. I wanted to be real.

I went on to tell them that if I was hired they would be …

Don't Limit Learning

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Recently I was presenting to a group of teachers about using google classroom and how to create a school website, using their district provided website program. As I presented on both platforms, I looked around the room and saw many faces that are similar to our students as they are taught something for the first time. There were many blank stares and many confused faces. For many of them, this was the first time they have been introduced to both of these programs.  

Google classroom is new to me and taking on something that is new and trying to teach it to others, you suddenly become the expert in the room. (or at least some think you are) As frustrations arise from teachers trying to learn something new, individuals were upset with the speed of instruction, lack of wait time, and importance of task.This was a great opportunity to remind them that this what our students are faced with on a daily basis.

Too often as educators when we are put into these situations, we get frustrated a…

What is this #PIAchat thing all about?

What is this #PIAchat thing all about?
#principalsinaction is a wonderful group of principals who are always working to be better for their kids and their schools.  There is a running hashtag on Twitter where principals, and others in and out of education, can see the wonderful things that principals are doing every day. The group consists of about 100 principals that stretch from coast to coast across this beautiful nation.
But there is also a Twitter chat that occurs on Tuesday nights at 8CST that is what we consider the fastest 30 minutes on Twitter.  Moderators post a few questions and principals from all over the country respond.  We end with a call to action or a challenge that many of the principals take on as the focus of sharing the great things principals do.
For me (Mark), engaging in Twitter chats has provided some of best professional development I have received, and it's free! I started as a lurker, advanced to answering questions and contributing, to these days volunt…

Keep Them Moving

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Summer is coming to end for many teachers, parents, and students. Summer is a time for everyone to get outside, exercise, and enjoy each other. When school starts, no of that should change. We need to keep kids moving all year long.

Too often as the year gets going, classrooms get busy and activity is not a focus. Getting students up and moving decreases behavior in the classroom and increases attention. Activity needs to be present in every classroom and no excuses should be made. Here are 10 easy ways to incorporate activity into every classroom without losing "academic" time. 
1.   Introduce vocabulary words to your class on a daily/ weekly basis. Use a bone or muscle each day instead of saying the word "go". This allows students to learn parts of their body, increase their vocabulary, and work on their spelling. Incorporating vocabulary into the class gives the teacher another avenue for assessment. Teachers then can administer quick writes, allowing students to…

Who Tells Your Story?

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How do you connect with your families?
How do you tell your classroom story?
Once I hear you answer those two questions, I can tell you about the climate and culture of your classroom. There is always so many negative things coming out about teachers, schools, and classrooms it is our job as educators to kill the negative with all the positive things happening in our schools and our classrooms.
What are you afraid of?
After speaking with many educators typically there is something that scares teachers from telling their story. You are awesome and it is okay to brag and share what it is happening in your classroom. Educators tell me they are scared of failing while telling their story. What a better way to demonstrate to kids that is okay to FAIL other than showing them! Fail Harder is a mantra that I have and taught my students. Try! Try! Try Again!
I have found the following 10 resources a great way to communicate with my parents, community, and other educators to tell my school/cla…

Reflecting on my NPC Journey

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My alarm went off at 3:30 am on the west coast. It was time to get up and get to the airport to catch my 6 am flight to Philadelphia for the National Principals Conference. Due to security and ticketing lines, I ended up running and boarding the plane while out of breath, but we made it. My wife decided to take this opportunity to get a vacation away from kids and recharge while I attended to conference.
We arrived in Philadelphia around 2pm. Took a taxi to our hotel and started to explore the area around the hotel. At 6 pm I headed over to the conference center to check in and meet up with my co-presenters, Jay Posick and Mark French. We would be presenting the next morning and had never met face to face. Due to airport delays Jay was unable to make it, but Mark and I shared stories and went over the plan.
As Jay was running late, Mark and I decided to head over to our PLN (Principals In Action) meet up at a local restaurant. It was kind of surreal as I have been talking with many…