Do Not Forget To Take The Time To Recognize All The Proud Moments

 

 An interesting moment occurred during our interviews yesterday—to conclude the interview a candidate asked all of us-

What we were most proud of at Central?

I was the closest person to the candidate, but I quickly told our counselor she could answer first. I must admit, it was not because I was being polite, it was because I needed some time to reflect on this rarely asked question. So, often, I tend to look at the data, evidence, facts, etc. and primarily concentrate on our areas that need improvement that I sometimes forget about the aspects of our school to celebrate. For this blog post,  I would like to take that time to share what I am most proud of.

I am proud…

  • of the teacher who courageously walked back through our doors after experiencing a life altering event to continue making a difference in her students’ lives.
  • f the teacher who questioned her ability as an educator when all these changes were happening and found that as long as she used her passion for students, she could do anything!
  • of the teacher who recently received unfortunate news, but found a way to put a smile on her face because she knew her students depended on that.
  • of the quiet teacher who has such a big heart for all the women in his department that he will do whatever it takes to protect them.
  • of the teacher who goes out of her way to build relationships with students and families.
  • of the teacher who has put countless hours into her classroom to help improve student learning and her AR results are proof that it is working!
  • of the teacher who knows how to bring laughter, energy, and compassion to her classroom and school.
  • of our special education department for being so compassionate and determined to advocate for the underdog.
  • for the teacher who understands the value in relationships, especially with our most troubled kids.
  • of the teacher who wants all kids to become proficient readers and goes out her way to support the teachers.
  • of the counselor who has made such a profound impact on our students.
  • of the teacher who returned after many illnesses with a new appreciation for teaching.
  • of the teacher who tries so hard to improve on her insecurities as a teacher—even if that means trying 30 different ideas to reach 1 challenging student.
  • of the teacher who has put in many years and will leave a legacy here at Central, she will truly be missed.
  • of the teacher who tries different ways to motivate our students and who will always be the best joke teller.
  • of the secretaries who do so much more than secretarial work; they positively impact all that enter the office.
  • of the teacher who advocates for the non English speaking student.
  • of the interpreter who has helped us build relationships with diverse families.
  • of the Speech Pathologist who wears many hats and wants to do what is best for our students.
  • of the paraprofessionals who are so underpaid for all that they do!
  • of the most dedicated school nurse who takes great pride in keeping our kids healthy.
  • of a librarian who takes care of us all and instills a love for literacy in all!
  • of the world’s best custodians that help keep our school clean and safe!
  • of the recess monitors who go through more than we can even imagine.
  • of all the teachers who have been frustrated, but still continue to show up for our kids.
  • of the Art Teacher who does more than just teach art; she is a champion for all kids.
  • of the Music teacher who is always willing to try new things and who always has a smile or funny remark to make.
  • of the PE teacher who brightens up the office every morning with his greeting or sense of humor.
  • of the Band teacher who instills her passion for music in all her kids.
  • of a cafeteria manager and cooks who work so hard in preparing healthy meals for our students.
  • of our students who deal with so much adversity, but show up each and every day.
  • of our students who show improvement in behavior and academics.
  • I am proud to be part of Central Intermediate!

If many of you were like me and became so consumed in what you need to improve and failed to take the time to celebrate, take some time to reflect on what you are proud of because it is an important part of the journey!  Image

 

 

Advertisements

Fab 5 on Friday

Building relationships has always been an important part of being a teacher and coach.  Now, as the principal of Central Intermediate, it continues to be a top priority.  I started the year, greeting families as they came to register their child for school.  I introduced myself, shook their hand, and told them if there is anything we can do to make sure that your child has a successful year, do not hesitate to ask.  The mother, responded with, as long as we don’t receive any phone calls from you, the principal, it should be a successful year.  I responded with, well, I hope to make my interaction with students and families a positive one.  After saying this, I knew I had to keep my word.  Although I knew I would be making phone calls to families regarding situations that might not be positive, I wanted to make sure that these were not the only calls I made.  

 Ironically, that week, I came across a blog from @rggillespie, Reed Gillespie on Twitter, called “Friday Five”.  In his blog, he states how he calls five random families to seek their input on how their school is doing and what they can do to improve.  I decided to take his idea and implement it at Central.  To keep my word to that particular family that associated a principal’s call home as negative, I made some changes to Reed’s Friday Five.  Every Friday, I find 5 students who do something positive whether it is from a simple greeting, helping another student or staff, following PBIS expectations, or doing something that impacts others in a positive way.  During my first Fab 5 on Friday calls, I had one parent go silent when I said, Hi, this is the principal from Central Intermediate…and then when I said, calling to let you know how proud I am of your child for representing Central in a positive way.  Usually, a big sigh of relief, laughter, or even tears of joy follow my statement. After sharing the great news about their child, I ask them if there are any concerns or areas we could improve on so their child has a great year.  Most of the time, the parents are very complimentary of the staff and school.  If they provide suggestions, it is usually related to the needs of their child or some even ask for volunteer opportunities.  

When I first started this, I was concerned with the commitment I made to calling five families every Friday. I wonder if I would find the time to do this every Friday.   However, after observing the students on Monday after I recognized them in front of the student body and hearing some of them talk about how happy their families were, I knew I had to keep this commitment.  What transpired after the first few weeks of Fab 5 on Friday was incredible!  Students became much more eager to visit with me.  I had students even volunteer to pick up trash. Although this was not my intent for Fab 5, I believe anytime we can encourage students to choose positive behavior, it is time well spent and worth it!   No matter what kind of week I have, ending my week with positive phone calls is a great reminder why I became an educator.  Through these phone calls I have recognized how building relationships with families can truly help create a strong partnership with home and school.  I have had to call some of the same families for poor choices their child made and their reaction is much more understanding and supportive.  The positive phone call let the family know I care about their child whether they are making good choices or poor choices.  We are a team and we all have a role in helping create great character in our students!  

I strongly encourage any administrator or teacher to find ways to make positive phone calls home or some type of positive interaction with families because it has created something that has become contagious in my building.  Positive attitudes are contagious!  

So far, I have kept my word, that phone calls from the principal will not just be ones that are considered negative.  Phone calls on Friday will continue to highlight all the great actions our students are doing in our building!   60 students have been recognized this year as Fab 5 students!  

CHOOSE EXCELLENCE EVERY DAY!  

HOLD THE ROPE #SAVMP

HOLD THE ROPE

With the talk of trust this week on #SAVMP, I came across this inspirational story that became the motto for our basketball team a few years ago during our quest for a Regional Championship!  I think it can apply to schools especially as we try to foster trust and resiliency.

Every year a professional football team wins the championship. Every year a college football team wins the NCAA title. Every year the best high school team in Division A on down wins the state crown. All these teams have one thing in common: No matter how tough it became throughout their season, they did one thing — they held the rope!

What is “holding the rope?” Imagine that you are hanging from the edge of a cliff with a drop of twenty thousand feet. The only thing between you and a fall to your death is a rope, with the person of your choice on the other end. Who do you know that has the guts to pull you to safety?

Who will hold the rope?

Who do you know that is going to let that rope burn their hand and not let go? How many people that you know are going to withstand the burning pain to hold the rope for you?

If you can name two people, that’s not good enough, because those two people might not be around. Our entire staff needs to be trusted to hold the rope if we ever want to help each child reach its fullest potential.

The next time your team is together, look around and ask yourself, “Who could I trust to hold the rope?

When you can look at every member on your team and say to yourself that they all would hold the rope, you are destined for success.

It will be my job as principal to inspire trust.  I want to foster a trusting environment where all members hold the rope for each other because it is then we will know we are all committed to student achievement.

Don’t let go of the rope…Hold on to it…for yourself, your staff, and your students.

Image

INSPIRING TRUST AT CENTRAL INTERMEDIATE #SAVMP

To be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable, we must be credible; to be credible, we must be truthful.” — Edward R. Murrow

As a classroom teacher and coach, I took pride in building relationships because I witnessed how important these relationships were to our classroom or team’s success. Anytime we can take a group of people to work towards a common vision, great things can occur and will occur.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision; the ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” Andrew Carnegie.  On day one, I shared with my staff that our vision for this year would be “Choose Excellence Every Day’!  This vision will take hard work and commitment.

As a principal, it will be imperative to build and strengthen relationships with individuals who are involved at some level with our school.  Trust will be an integral part in building these relationships.  Without trust, there is no relationship.  In my new role, as principal, I must walk the talk to inspire trust. I must be visible in the classrooms and hallways, the cafeteria and the playground, at the bus stop and student events, meetings with community groups and parent meetings because accomplished principals build and manage a complex network of relationships.  Being a principal is not about shutting my door and dedicating long stretches of time to my daily to do list, or answering emails all day long. Being a principal is visiting classrooms every day, eating lunch with students, supervising recess, leading professional development, communicating with parents and community members, collaborating with district colleagues, analyzing student data, and anything else that is vital to our students’ success.  I do believe that a principal has to be an effective manager, but even more importantly a principal must be an instructional leader who promotes curriculum, ensures student learning, and supports professional growth.  At our school instructional leadership will be a priority.

Trust is also developed by showing the staff I trust in them by providing opportunities for them to lead.  My coaching experiences helped me realize how important itis to make full use of the individuals skills and talents of its members.  A collective effort will help our staff accomplish extraordinary things that no one person can accomplish by himself or herself.  Our after school dismissal proves this to be true.  I decided to have all members of our staff have a role in after school dismissal.  Each grade level supervises a different area of the school, and our P.E. teacher and music teacher took the challenging role of bus duty.  I am so thankful they did because they understood the system better than I did! Some of the situations that occurred would not have been handled as effectively without each member having a role.  I also have recognized strong leadership skills in several of my staff members that might have gone unnoticed without this opportunity.  Because of their collective efforts, we are showing the students and community that the safety of our students is a top priority.

I believe modeling effective communication is critical in building trust.  Being a new principal, I have recognized the importance of listening.  By listening, I have learned the needs of our staff and how I can best support them.   Through my classroom walkthroughs I am asking reflective questions to promote professional growth and to build an open dialogue between me and the teacher. The parents and community deserve to know what is occurring in our building, so I am using Twitter, Facebook, and newsletters to help highlight our events and showcase student talents.  To express value in dissenting views, I have created and Edmodo blog with different questions that give staff an opportunity to express their opinions in a professional way.  Our conversations allow teachers to feel more secure in providing honest input and participate meaningfully in school decision-making.

I became a principal because I wanted to positively influence an entire learning community.  Building and strengthening relationships will help improve teaching, learning, and student achievement, and because of this, I will do whatever it takes to build trusting relationships.

Image

My Vision for Education #SAVMP

ImageIf we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” ~John Dewey

As a first year principal, I anticipate a job of challenges, possibilities, and results.  In order to overcome the challenges, make things possible, and achieve results, a vision must be created.  During my leadership experiences, I recognize the power of working together to reach a common goal.  When all members are invested, their enthusiasm, energy,  and drive are enhanced making the school environment positive and resilient.  I want to develop a shared vision with my staff that demonstrates an unparalleled commitment to excellence.  We will not only model excellence in our building, but we will inspire our students to pursue excellence. As a staff we will model excellence, and encourage our students to choose excellence every day!

“If we don’t stand for excellence, who will? We are the keepers of the educational beacon of light!” ~Diana Williams

Our school environment will foster the type of learning that will prepare students for the future-a future that requires different abilities, different skills,  and different habits of mind. We are the architects for our school, and we must build a school that inspires learning and frees the innovative spirit. To accomplish this I must create opportunities for professional growth.  I will show how I am invested in teaching and learning in my conversations with teachers, classroom visits, student interactions, and home connections. Every interaction serves as an opportunity to demonstrate the vision.

Often, we hear educators complaining about the lack of motivation students have today.  Yet, who is motivated by control, worksheets, fill in the bubble tests, and other paper and pencil activities?  How do these activities foster creativity, curiosity, individuality, and self-motivation?  What would happen if students were allowed the freedom to unleash their creativity, to use equipment that promotes their digital minds, and to become passionate learners that change the world?  Which one sounds more motivating for not only students, but also teachers?  I want our building to be recognized for its laughter, passion, chaos, enthusiasm, inquiry, and values. Our curriculum must be one of integration, based on relevant issues, and meaning for our students. Most importantly, passionate teachers must teach this curriculum in ways that inspires our students.  Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess reminded me how important passion is for student learning.

As a principal, my vision will be to create an environment that is conducive to learning, has high expectations for all, demonstrates commitment to student achievement, and creates strong community and parent partnerships.  Our school will make decisions based on what is best for students.

Shared leadership… is less like a an orchestra, where the conductor is always in charge, and more like a jazz band, where leadership is passed around … depending on what the music demands at the moment and who feels most moved by the spirit to express the music.’ Schlechy 2001

By “Choosing Excellence Every Day, we will challenge ALL students to reach high levels of success.

Why I Lead #SAVMP

“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” (Anthony Robbins)  

Sometimes moments happen in our life that we don’t expect.  July 9th was one of those moments as I was appointed the new principal at Central Intermediate in Monmouth-Roseville. Although I was excited about this opportunity, I feared the many unknowns of this profession.  Fortunately, another great opportunity presented itself to me to help alleviate  my fears-the creation of #SAVMP, a virtual mentoring program.  George Couros @gcouros has organized more than three hundred passionate mentors and mentees across the globe to connect through blogs and Twitter, so that this profession does not become a “lonely job”, but rather one of continuous connections and improvement.

For the first blog, we are to reflect on “why we lead”. What perfect timing to reflect on this powerful question as I begin my journey as a first year principal.   When I first read the question, “why I lead”,  many different thoughts came to mind.  As I examined those thoughts more closely, three factors emerged that I consider the reasons why I pursued a degree in educational leadership.

My passion to coach others to become their best is why I lead. For ten years, I had the opportunity to coach athletes of various abilities to work towards a common goal.   Through this experience, I learned that with a shared vision, high expectations, and a belief in each other, great things can be accomplished.  With the current shifts in education, coaching teachers is an integral part of educational systems.  I want to take the knowledge I gained from coaching and apply it to an academic setting.

Another reason I lead is to implement my educational vision. As a teacher, I could only directly impact what took place in my classroom.  As an educational leader, my vision will empower staff and students; thus, extending my impact.  With this educational vision, I can truly advocate for children of all abilities so that each can reach his or her fullest potential.

 Rita Pierson once said, “every kid needs a champion”.  This is another reason I lead. I want to become a leader who does what it takes for students to succeed. In order to accomplish this, I must create a nurturing environment where relationships matter.  We are blessed to be educators because every day we can inspire and empower children to reach their dreams.  As a leader, I will help create an environment that fosters relationships between administrators, teachers, support staff,  students, parents, and community. Through these relationships, it will be my hope to find a champion for each student.

Thank you, George Couros for giving me an opportunity to reflect on such a meaningful question, “WHY I LEAD”!