Posts

Setting Up A Learning Environment

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Having experienced a variety of educational experiences myself has given me a unique perspective when it comes to learning environments and what works and what doesn’t. Starting my educational experiences in public schools, transitioning to homeschooling, then to a small private school, before heading back to public school has shown me that kids learn and thrive in very different environments. Yet, our schools continue to design themselves to meet the needs of the masses, while not truly understanding that if we build in flexibility, things can really change for our students.  Kindergarten and first grade for me were at our local public schools. Think of your typical classrooms from the late ’80s and that was them. There were rows of desks, color, and classwork on the walls and students were sitting at desks while the teachers stood up and delivered. When I transitioned to homeschooling things were different. My parents learned about all the different curriculum choices, socialization

Tools To Make Your Videos Awesome

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  Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, or whatever other platforms that you are using to connect with students can be intimidating. When educators enrolled in a credential program, they were not signing up to be on camera. Now that we are shifting instruction online, whether full-time distance learning or a hybrid model, cameras have become part of our classroom supplies. Now that you are going to be on a screen via a camera, you should make sure the picture is clear and engaging.  What should I do? Should I go out and buy hundreds of dollars of camera equipment? No, you don’t need to, but you do need to be intentional with what you have. Following these suggestions, you can find that your students will be more engaged and will keep coming back to your online class.  Tripod Getting your camera to the right height makes a huge difference. I use either my phone or computer for any video conferencing. If you don’t have a traditional tripod, that is fine. You can stack books up to the right height or
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  When schools, businesses, and practically the world shut down in March 2020 no one really knew what would be coming next. Months later schools across the country are preparing for a year like no other. It doesn’t matter if you are on the west coast, east coast or in a rural town in the middle of the country, the school that you left in March, is not the same today.  I am currently an elementary school principal and we are a week away for our first day of instruction with students. The instruction will look familiar, but the set up will not. We are opening in a 100% distance-learning format and just saying those words give parents, teachers, and administrators the chills.  Leaders of our districts and schools can often feel alone, but now in a distance learning model, you may feel that you are on the edge of a cliff, with no one around. It takes time, but gradually if you look around, you may notice how beautiful of a view you actually have. Below are strategies that I have found to b

Get Out There And Change The World

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I am writing this post from an airplane as I travel to the Teach Better Conference in Akron, Ohio.   For the past week, I have been seeing a flood of posts from educators around the country getting pumped up for this conference and the connections that will be built. I too am excited about meeting and connecting with everyone, but most importantly I am excited to learn new things that I can implement in my school next week with kids.   I often ask myself if this type of learning and connecting is possible without leaving your building and going somewhere. I don’t think it is. Of course, with the use of social media, face to face phone apps, connecting has become easier than ever. However, it is not the same. (Some type of professional development is better than none) As I was wrapping up things around my school this week in anticipation of being out on Thursday and Friday, I felt guilty. I felt guilty about leaving my school. I felt guilty about leaving my studen

Read,Read,Read

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Over the past few weeks I have tweeted out asking what books people are reading and the response has blown me away. Hundreds of people have responded and have been sending me their book recommendations, making my summer reading list longer and longer.  Growing up, I was never an avid reader, frankly, I didn’t like to read. I wasn’t very good at it and my reading comprehension was not good. It was hard for me and I felt embarrassed. My older brother was a voracious reader and would fly threw books. He would read hundreds of pages, while I was still on the same chapter. Fast forward to adulthood and now I love to read. It took me a long time to find what I liked to read. I read anywhere from 50-100 books a year now and my world has been unlocked.  Knowing now what reading has done for personally and professionally, I wish I had gotten to this place much earlier in life.  Now being an elementary principal and lead learner, I have the opportunity to help others get there much

Belief Must Match Behavior

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Belief Must Match Behavior  “I have high expectations for all of my students and I believe in them.” This is a statement that I sometimes hear from different educators, but when I visit their schools or classrooms, it looks different. The reality is that some students take longer to reach, some students need more help than others and this is okay,  it is what we call equity in education. Providing what students need, when they need it, no matter what they look like or what our prejudice may be.  It is a hard conversation to talk about unconscious bias with others, but without addressing it, the prejudice will continue and the actions that should come with belief, will not be happening. Reflecting on my own education experience, I witnessed firsthand my own teachers lowering expectations for kids that did not look like me.   When you looked out the front door of my childhood home, you would see orange groves and when you looked out the back of the house, you would see

Sometimes You Go Back, To Go Forward

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Sometimes You Go Back, To Go Forward If you have ever seen my social media feed, you will know that my kids play soccer. I coach one of their teams, referee for two teams, and cheer for the other. This past weekend my oldest son and I traveled a few hours away for a soccer tournament. At the U14 level players understand soccer and can play at a very high level. The teams that are successful, can control the game and pass the ball around very efficiently. When the offensive player gets the ball and is pressured they look for another player to pass to. What separates the mediocre teams, from the really good teams, is how they attack. The mediocre teams attack towards the goal and sometimes are pushed back by the defense, but they continue moving forward. The attack is met with defense that tries to clear the ball downfield, which sometimes results in a game of kickball. Kicking the ball back and forth does nothing for the attack unless someone has a bad touch in which you ca