Showing posts from March, 2017

Open your students eyes...

I grew up in southern California going to the beach every week of the summer. When we were not basking in the sun or splashing in the water, I was participating in some outdoor activity. Whether I was playing an organized sport, building forts in the backyard, or camping with my family I was either forced or wanted to be outside.

Each summer we would pack our minivan and head to Yosemite National Park. It was our happy place. We would set up tents, hike, swim, bike and enjoy the beauty the park had to offer. It showed me what the world was about and allowed me the opportunity to appreciate the outdoors and its beauty.

As I walk around the lunch room and I talk with students about the upcoming 5th grade outdoor education camp, I am surprised that this will be the first time for many that they will go for a hike. Being an avid hiker with my own kids, I am always surprised to hear that most families don't do this. Each time I hear about never being exposed to the outdoors, it proves…

Slow it down... the end of the year is coming.

Put on your running shoes and get ready for the race. The end of the school year is on the horizon and the rest of the year is going to go by fast. We can almost see the finish line.

My first year as a principal is almost over and in some respects I feel like it just started. I heard someone counting down the days until summer is here and the class moves on to the next grade. I am counting the days down that I have left to make those connections and make a difference. Have I done enough is becoming more and more of a thought in my head during this time of year.

Motivation is what keeps us getting up each morning and being our best for kids. As I reflect on my motivation this year, there are 5 things that were instrumental in making a difference in my principal journey.

Technology: This year we have gone from 0-100 in regards to technology. It has been systematic, with purpose, and it has been amazing. It's been so much fun seeing teachers learn and grow together. We took the time …

Go Home and Balance Yourself

It's all about balance...

Recently I was sitting with a group of administrators and the conversation switched to how long each of our days were. It was almost like some had a badge of honor if they worked extremely long days everyday. It was like some were accusing me of not working enough because I did not watch the sunset every night from my office.

I have always prided myself as being a hard worker and someone that loves his job and wants to constantly grow. However, I have also prided myself on being an efficient worker that can multi-task to get the job done more efficiently than some.

When I got into education, I came in with the desire to make a difference. I was extremely lucky to get the first job I applied for. The job was unique and it immediately threw me into the mix. I would go home each night and would constantly be thinking about how to better my teaching practices. I couldn't turn my brain off. This was the time in my life that I realized I don't have to…

Be the One...Take Down the Walls and Open Up the Possibilities

Each day when we welcome students to school, we set the tone for the day and give them opportunities to learn.

As we go through the year and look at ways to re-design classrooms and curriculum we need to always keep today and future industries in mind. So much of the time we study how things were done in the past and what things in history have worked. Sometimes when this is done, we forget to look to the future and what is going on today. Kids need skills and knowledge that is relevant for today and things they can use tomorrow.

Schools should provide real life examples for students to stay engaged and thrive. Create opportunities for students to bring their joys and hobbies into the classroom. Coding is one of the things that we have taken the walls down and shown kids how these critical thinking skills are relevant, fun, and important for life. Students can see what industries need coders and those critical thinking skills can provide those opportunities. Students are never to you…

The power of yes...

1. Are you okay if I try something new? YES
2. Can I purchase some new technology for coding? YES
3. Can I go to this conference? YES

There is so much power in saying yes to teachers. Obviously there are times that the answer has to be no. However when talking with teachers about expanding their teaching practices, I try to say yes as much as possible. If some teachers take the leap and try new things others will follow. Be the leader that never stops growing and helps their staff grow as well.

Let's face it, schools, need to grow with the times. Teachers, principals, and other school leaders need to continue to grow and put students first. For so long we have been used to saying sorry, that is a great idea, but we do not have funding. Enough! Our children cannot afford us to make excuses and not deliver our best each and every day.

Take time to develop as educators to make sure that we are teaching skills that can be used today and are relevant for the future. Teach why we are do…

How do you greet kids onto campus?

How do you greet kids onto campus?
This is something that I think about frequently. I like happy places, people, and environments. Guess what? So do teachers and students. As a building principal, I have the opportunity to set the tone and be the one that creates a positive vibe on campus in the morning and throughout the day. 

Here are some of my favorite things to create awesome environments for student learning and working:

1. Fist bumps and high fives! As kids come onto campus, meet them and greet them. At the beginning of the year, I made a point of telling students that I love fist bumps and high fives. Each morning, kids run over and greet me. It puts a smile on their face and mine!

2. Putting on a mascot costume every once and while makes so many positive impacts on your campus. Students, teachers, office staff, and parents can see the environment change when we welcome students onto campus. As students arrive and see a smiling hawk costume, it puts a smile on their face. Happy ki…

Change The Game

As a vice principal of a high school, I would talk to students about book fines and when they would return their $150 textbook. When I was named a elementary principal, I though we send books home, why don't we send technology home?

Sending home technology can build students leaders, empower teachers, and create a positive parent/school relationship.

This year has been a huge year for technology at my site. Last year they had two computer labs and now we have: 2 computer labs, 200 chrome books, 30 iPads, 30 spheros, 8 ozobots, 8 osmos, and a drone. Some look at those numbers and say we have to much, we need to focus more on math and reading. I disagree, technology does not replace curriculum, it enhances it. At our site, my goal is to use technology not as a time filler but as a way for students to create, build capacity, critical thinking skills, collaboration, and creativity.

When talking with teachers, I tend to hear that there is never enough time in the day to get everythi…

Be The One... That Connects With Kids

There are certain times in the year, where educators retreat to their offices/classrooms to get work done. I admit, sometimes closing my office door and wheeling my chair over, sounds appealing. The idea of having time to plan and deal with the plant management components of school sounds appealing.
When you feel that closing the door sounds good, it's time that you need to ask yourself, “How did I connect with kids today?” Just recently, I have been losing sleep over some decisions and how we can flip our schools focus. Due to parent meetings, IEP’s, and other office tasks I have not been outside connecting as much as I want. Today is the day that all changes. I got outside and went on the swings with some 4th graders. We laughed, we talked, and they reminded me why I am here.
Relationships matter! Spending time with these kids inside or outside of the classroom can change their lives. 11 years ago, when I was teaching 4th/5th grade physical education at multiple elementary school…