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Showing posts from 2017

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…

Stay Focused

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As an educator for many years, there are plenty of times that you get distracted. There is always something that is pulling you away from the classroom and school site. During these times it is more important than ever to focus on kids and what is important in education.

As a teacher I worked with an administrator that was set out to make sure that everyone on her staff turned in daily lesson plans and was at work until 5pm. These lesson plans were to be very detailed and turned in the day before the next instructional day. As you can imagine this frustrated many teachers and teachers felt that they were being micromanaged daily and being force to work outside. It took everyone focusing on what was important to get through each day. I met with individual teachers and discussed with them how we could come together and be compliant but focus on our students. We as a staff came together and agreed to follow the rules and intentionally re focus on the students of our school rather than o…

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…

Be The One Who Welcomes Them Back

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The new school year has arrived for some and for others it is quickly approaching. The summer heat is still present across the country, but kids, parents, and teachers are returning to school buildings. 
How will you welcome your staff back? How will you welcome your parents back? How will you welcome your students back?
These three questions should run through every educators head. Some of you might think these are questions that the building administrator should be thinking of, however it takes everyone to make others feel welcomed and valued. 
I know in our school district, teachers aren't required to come back until three days before the school year starts. Some of that time is work time, some of it is district professional development, and the rest is site meeting time. Sites have so many things that happen over summer that it takes much more than a day to catch everyone up. 
So what can we do?
The time you do have is important time. You must categorize your top tier things …

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…

How do you challenge yourself?

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With school starting back up around the country it is important to start thinking, How do you challenge yourself? Jay Posick, Mark French, and I (Ryan Sheehy) are principals that have connected through being in a PLN called Principals In Action. Principals in Action is a group that was started by one of the Kids Deserve It authors, Adam Welcome. It started with a challenge by Adam to ride the slide with kids then tweet the picture using the #principalsinaction hashtag. The group is now so much more than a hashtag. Using Voxer as our communication platform, we communicate on a daily basis, discussing triumphs, struggles, and the everyday occurences of being a principal.  We currently are a group of over 100 administrators that have made a goal of being out of the office and truly being a principal in action. Our group stretches from coast to coast and everywhere in between.
One of the ways we have been able to challenge each other on a daily basis is through creating challenges that ev…

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…

Get Connected and Build Relationships

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Relationships, Relationships, Relationships

Those three words are constantly talked about at conferences, meetings, books, and summits. We need to build relationships with students, but we need to build relationships with other educators. If you are only surrounded by like minded individuals then you will never grow. You need to surround yourself with people who think differently and will challenge your way of thinking. I am never the smartest one in the room, because I don't want to be. I want to continue to grow. 
I was recently listening to Better Leaders Better Schools podcasts by Daniel Bauer and something that struck me was how much his guests talk about growing because of surrounding themselves with people that push them. He has establish Mastermind groups of educators that regularly meet using technology and challenge each others thinking and weekly push them to be better. School districts can do a better jobs on setting up these internal mastermind groups with teachers fro…

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…

Everyone Needs An Advocate

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When my wife was in 2nd grade her teacher told her that she was dumb and that she would never read. After having this encounter with her teacher she ran home to tell her mom what had happened. As we were driving tonight she was telling me the story and she could recount everything that had happened and the facial expressions of her mom as she heard the story. The next day her mom rushed into school and demanded a classroom change. The change occurred and my wife grew into a voracious reader that has a love of all classic literature. In this circumstance she needed an advocate and the advocate was her mother. 
Why does my child act this way?  Why is he such a pain?  Why is he so annoying?
These are some of the questions that parents ask me. Whenever these questions are asked of me, I always think how can you think of your child that way. Kids need an advocate and they need someone to believe in them. In the above story my wife needed someone to be that person. Unfortunately her teache…

Be the One Who Makes School A Positive Memory

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"Kids don't remember what teachers taught them, they remember how teachers treated them." 

Earlier in the summer I was interviewing for a counseling position and the candidate made the comment: "Kids don't remember what teachers taught them, they remember how teachers treated them." This quote made me think. It made me reflect on my own past and how much I remembered about my teachers. 
Reflecting on my own educational experiences and the teachers that I had, I can't remember specific details on what lessons were taught to me. I can however remember how teachers treated me and I can remember the details of some of those interactions. 
Kindergarten: I had a teacher who was so much fun. I can remember her riding trikes alongside us and how she always had a huge smile. 
1st Grade: My teacher shared her passion of reading with us and she had a unique sense of dental hygiene. I remember each day she would have us brush our teeth after lunch. It was her way of…

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…