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Say Yes... You Will See Why

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My phone rang two weeks before the new school started. I looked at the caller ID and was surprised to the Director of Special Education from the district office was calling. I answered the phone and we quickly got down to business.
As soon as she starting talking I knew that she wanted to move some type of program to my school site. I had been advocating earlier in the planning year to include more special education students into my school environment and have the special education continuum for SDC available to support our school community.
She started off by thanking me for wanting more students with special needs and continued to say most of our schools are the polar opposite.

I wanted more...

I want students to feel that they belong and have a home at their school. She asked if I would house a preschool/TK/Kindergarten Autism program. Absolutely was my first response. I was nervous to house this program on our campus because we are a large elementary school with only one administ…

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…