Do You Remember Your Favorite Teacher?

Growing up, my dad was often in the hospital for kidney issues.  Sometimes he would be in the local hospital and sometimes he would need to travel to a larger hospital for weeks at a time.  One of those times happened during my fifth grade year.  That year, I had a teacher named Mr. Reed.  I guess the best word to describe him was “jolly.”  He always had a smile and a joke to share (usually the really bad ones that make my own kids groan when I tell them).  In addition to teaching, Mr. Reed directed the school musicals and often recruited students into the cast.  He encouraged me to audition for the musical “Annie Get Your Gun” and I was cast as Little Jake.  It was a wonderful experience and I would go on to be in several more musicals by the time I graduated high school.

As influential as Mr. Reed was as my teacher and director, he made an even bigger impact on my life that year.  While my dad was in Grand Rapids (nearly two hours from my home), Mr. Reed and his wife (also a teacher at my school) opened up their home to me.  I stayed with them for a week until my mom returned on the weekend from the hospital.  Those were some hard times and I had a lot of emotions going on, not to mention the stress of staying with my fifth grade teacher!  But somehow, Mr. Reed made me feel at home with his easy going nature and we got through that time.  He always kept a business as usual manner (I was always very self-conscious about people knowing my dad was in the hospital) and rehearsals after school kept my mind off things.

It only lasted about a week, but things like that stick with you for a long time.  I remember thinking that Mr. Reed’s house was much nicer than ours and that dinner time was much more formal.  They also had cable and color TV (which was something we didn’t have at my house at the time).  Ah, the things that stuck out in my 11 year old mind!  Everyone liked Mr. Reed at school and he was a good role model for me both in and out of school.  Many years later, I directed a high school musical performance of Grease in the district I taught in (and coached wrestling in) and invited Mr. Reed to attend one of the performances. That night, I finally had the opportunity to publicly recognize him and thank him for being such an inspiration to me.

I think all educators have that one teacher that they look back on with admiration for inspiring them to become a teacher and making them feel like they could accomplish anything they set their minds to.  I’m not sure in fifth grade if I had made up my mind to become a teacher yet, but I do know that Mr. Reed helped me make up my mind as to what kind of man I wanted to be.

 

 

My first acting role as “Little Jake” in Annie Get Your Gun, directed by Mr. Reed

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“I think a role model is a mentor – someone you see on a daily basis, and you learn from them.” – Denzel Washington

“We need role models who are going to break the mold.” – Carly Simon

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” – James Baldwin

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  • Monday, December 4: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Empathy) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, December 5: Achievement Team Meeting (Kurtjian) 8:15 AM, Report Card Grades due in by 11:59 PM
  • Wednesday, December 6: Mileage Club Planning Meeting (open to all) 8:20 AM
  • Thursday, December 7: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM (Led by Achievement Team), The winners of the PTA Limo Ride will be picked up in front of school at 3:45 PM
  • Friday, December 8: Report Cards go home

 

  • Monday, December 11: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Empathy) 9:05 AM, Santa Shop Preview Day, Design Team Meeting 9:30-11:30 AM
  • Tuesday, December 12: Achievement Team Meeting (Kaufman) 8:15 AM, Santa Shop
  • Wednesday, December 13: Santa Shop, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, December 14: CLT Session 7:50-8:50 AM, Santa Shop, 3rd/4th Grade Christmas Concert & Santa Shop 6:00-8:00 PM

 

  • Monday, December 18: Student of the Month Assembly (Empathy) 9:05 AM
  • Thursday, December 21: Staff Breakfast/Gift Exchange 8:05 AM

All the Things I Didn’t Do

During the week of Thanksgiving, I traditionally write about things and people I am grateful for. This year, I have been reflecting on how much I don’t do at school and wanted to give thanks to those who make it possible. I began by walking around the school and taking pictures of our incredible staff doing what they do every day without realizing how special they are and the incredible impact they have on our students.

I began the long list of things I didn’t do in the front office. I didn’t put ice on a child’s head and comfort him, because our fabulous secretary had already done it, just as she does for each child who needs a kind work or some TLC. I strolled into gym, art, and music and noted that I didn’t teach these important skills to our students, because our awesome specials teachers were already doing this. As I walked down the hall, I didn’t help with a struggling reader, because a parent volunteer was working one on one with children. I didn’t help our community through service projects, because our Elementary Support Teacher had already organized a canned food drive. I didn’t need to post a display of our character elements, because our art teacher and a parent volunteer had already done that. I didn’t help students learn to find the books that they love to read, because our media specialist was doing that. I didn’t prepare meals and serve several hundred students, because our cook had done that. I didn’t spend all day in the classroom teaching lessons and dressing up in pajamas to make learning fun for our students, but our teachers did! (well, actually I did wear pajamas:) I didn’t clean the building or direct traffic in our parking lot, because our building supervisor had done that. I didn’t pick up our students early in the morning and drive them safely home at the end of the day, because our bus drivers had already done that. I didn’t plan out events and raise funds for our school, because the PTA had done that. I realized as I walked through our halls that I have so many people to be thankful for here at school.

I was recently given the book “It Takes a Village” as a gift. As I made my list of all the things I didn’t do each day at school, I realized that, like the book, each one of us plays an important role in making sure our students have a positive and productive experience at school. None of us can do it alone. We need each other and we need to appreciate what each person brings to school each day. Thank you for all you do for our students and for doing all the things I didn’t do.

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“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” – Lionel Hampton

“Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” – Gertrude Stein

“Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.” – Jacques Maritain

 

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  • Monday, November 27: REED for PS (Trantham) 8:15 AM, Student of the Month Assembly (GRIT) 9:05 AM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Tuesday, November 28: REED Follow up for MB (Ringler) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, November 29: Battle of the Books Planning Meeting 8:20 AM in LMC, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, November 30: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, December 1: Records Day (Optional Report Day for Teachers)

 

  • Monday, December 4: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, December 5: Achievement Team Meeting (Kurtjian) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, December 6: Jon at MEMSPA Conference
  • Thursday, December 7: Jon at MEMSPA Conference, Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, December 8: Jon at MEMSPA Conference

 

  • Week of December 11: Santa Shop 
  • Thursday, December 14: Santa Shop & 3rd/4th Grade Music Concert 6:00-8:00 PM

 

 

Be Excellent to Each Other!

This week, I was channel surfing and came across the 80’s classic, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. Now, when I first saw this film in high school, I was not a fan. The goofy humor and cheesy story line was lost on me. Years later, I watched it as an adult and chuckled through most of the film. Watching it with daughters who are now about the same age as I was when it came out, I feel a sense of nostalgia and actually laugh out loud at the absurd comedy. But the thing that stood out to me most of all this time as I watched the movie was its positive message. Throughout the film, the theme of “Be excellent to each other” is expressed by Bill and Ted and is reflected in the future society they help to establish. It’s even the closing phrase of Abraham Lincoln during the history project presentation.  In a world of breaking news that seems to be a constant stream of negativity, violence and intolerance, that simple message of “Be excellent to each other” in a silly and fun way was just what I needed to hear.  I was also happy to have my daughters hear it as well, even if they didn’t get the humor (just as I didn’t at their age).

At school, we remind students to be safe, kind, and responsible. We talk about empathy and model respectful interactions. In short, we promote a culture of being excellent to one another! I’ve often said that we spend far too many hours at school, not to have fun and feel joy while we are here. Yes, we need to take our jobs seriously, but we don’t need to take ourselves too seriously.  I’m not ready to take down our Buchanan Bear to put up a Bill and Ted poster, but I do think their message is one that we should be promoting in school and their example of goofy humor is a good reminder to have fun while we are at work. If you see a parent who is concerned, offer them reassurance. If you see a coworker who is overwhelmed, offer her some support. If you see a student who is sad, offer him a smile. If you need some inspiration, don’t be afraid to do something special for yourself. We are a team and we need to take care of one another and follow the advice of Bill and Ted and “Be excellent to each other!”

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Socrates: “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”

Teacher: “Who was Joan of Arc?” Ted: “Noah’s wife?”

Bill to Billy the Kid: “You are dealing with the oddity of time travel with the greatest of ease!” 

Books worth Reading

 

 Dan Tricarico (The Zen Teacher)

Available in my office to borrow. Great read!!

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  • Monday, November 20: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, November 21: Parent Meeting for D.T. (Pisko) 8:15 AM, REED for LJ (Trantham) 9:15 AM, Achievement Team meeting 2:35 PM, Goodfellows Pick Up
  • Wednesday, November 22 – Friday, November 24: Thanksgiving Break!

 

  • Monday, November 27: REED for PS (Trantham) 8:15 AM, Student of the Month Assembly (GRIT) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, November 28: REED Follow Up for MB (Ringler) 8:15 AM, Achievement Team meeting 2:35 PM
  • Wednesday, November 29: Battle of the Books Planning Meeting 8:20 AM in the LMC, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, November 30: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, December 1: Records Day (Optional Report Day for Teachers)

 

  • Santa Shop the week of December 11
  • Thursday, December 14: 3rd & 4th Grade Music Concert 6:00-8:00 PM

 

The Real Enemy

This summer, I read the book, “The Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama. One of the big takeaways for me was his explanation of the real enemies of happiness. He tells the story of a man who is obsessed with his enemy. He thinks about what he will do and how he can defeat his enemy. The Dalai Lama then points out that unlike his adversary who eats, sleeps, and has other pursuits, the fear and anger that the man harbors toward his adversary never rests. It is constantly with him in times of rest and work and ruins his happiness far more completely than his adversary ever could. The real enemy is exposed as his own fear and anger. Once he realizes this and is able to defeat his true enemy, he then has power over all adversaries and more importantly, power over himself and his own happiness.

I began to apply this lesson to my own life and struggles. At the root of nearly all of them were fear and anger. As a father, I have many fears for my daughters and their future. Have I done the right things while trying to raise them? Will they find happiness as adults? Will they be successful in chasing their dreams? Oh, how those fears often rob me of the joy we could be sharing together! Anger can also creep up over failed relationships, the loss of loved ones, and dreams unrealized. Letting go of that anger is like lifting a weight or unshackling a chain. It’s liberating! What adversary or adversity can keep us down when we have defeated the real enemies of fear and anger?

As educators, we work in a profession that has so many variables that we have no control over. Budget cuts, federal and state mandates, societal perceptions are a few. Factors like family dynamics, past and current trauma, and socio-economic factors greatly impact the children we work with. Yet, with all of these variables, our task and our goal never changes. We have the same high expectations on us and for ourselves regardless of the external factors stacked against us. Some would say that’s brave, others would call it crazy. I would say that teachers have learned that those factors are just the adversaries and that the real enemies of fear and anger can be mastered by us. When we focus on things we can control, like our attitudes, our expertise, and our passion then we can help our students be the very best they can be. It’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is!

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“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – Dalai Lama

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” – Dalai Lama

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  • Monday, November 13: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, Principal Collaboration Time at Riley 1:30 PM
  • Tuesday, November 14: Achievement Team for CR (Benson) 8:15 AM, Achievement Team for LJ (Trantham) 9:00 AM
  • Wednesday, November 15: Battle of the Books Planning Meeting (for anyone interested in helping) 8:20 AM in the LMC, “Fancy Day” Spirit Wear for Goodfellows
  • Thursday, November 16: Collaborative Learning Time 7:50-8:50 AM, Lock Down Drill 2:00 PM
  • Friday, November 17: “Pajama Day” Spirit Wear for Goodfellows

 

  • Monday, November 20: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, November 21: Parent Meeting (Pisko) 8:20 AM
  • Wednesday, November 22 – Friday, November 24: Thanksgiving Break! 

Genius

Recently, I watched an interview with the author, Walter Isaacson, about his new book “Leonardo da Vinci“. Isaacson has written several books on people who are often considered to be remarkable. His books feature the likes of Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein. I wanted to know what helped these people stand out from others and what he found when he researched Leonardo da Vinci. Were they more intelligent? Did they have special upbringings as children? How did they achieve this special status of genius? All of these people had one trait in common and it was arguably the most evident in Leonardo…curiosity.

The author shared that throughout his long life, Leonardo never lost his childlike curiosity about the world around him. He was constantly asking questions and writing them in his journal. Just as Albert Einstein would write in his journal centuries later, Leonardo wrote down in his journal, “Why is the sky blue?“. He never took anything for granted, but questioned, researched, and explored every aspect of life from science and nature. He didn’t see fields like art and engineering as two separate disciplines, but interconnected with one another and his “genius” was in the ability to blend them together. He was patient with his work and was continually seeking to improve it. The enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa took him 14 years to complete. The other theme that came out from the author’s research on Leonardo da Vinci was that he had fun! He didn’t look at seeking out answers to his eternal questions as drudgery, but as an exciting adventure. He found joy in asking questions and even more so in his quest for knowledge.

As an educator, those are the two things that I want to inspire and encourage in students: Curiosity and a love of learning! Instead of focusing on intelligence or “talent”, we should be concerned about encouraging children to embrace their curiosity and find joy in asking questions and seeking answers. As they grow older, children often lose that spark of curiosity and the desire to know how and why. Unfortunately, we as adults often speed up that process by discouraging questions and by taking for granted the wonders of the world around us. So, what is genius? Maybe it’s simply remaining insatiably curious and never losing the desire to ask important questions like, “Why is the sky blue?

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“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” – Leonardo da Vinci

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  • Monday, November 6: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, November 7: District PD Day 8:00-11:00 & 12:30-3:30 PM
  • Wednesday, November 8: Elementary Principals Meeting 12:00-4:30 PM, PTA Board Meeting in Conference Room 2:30 PM
  • Thursday, November 9: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Barnes & Noble Book Fair 5:30-7:30 PM
  • Friday, November 10: Principals Advisory Committee 9:30-11:30 AM

 

  • Monday, November 13: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, Principal Collaborative Time at Riley 1:30 PM
  • Tuesday, November 14: Achievement Team for C.R. (Benson) 8:15 AM, Achievement Team for L.J. (Trantham) 9:05 AM
  • Wednesday, November 15: Battle of the Books Planning Meeting (for anyone interested in helping) 8:20 AM
  • Thursday, November 16: Collaborative Learning Time 7:50-8:50 AM, Lock Down Drill 2:00 PM

Edupalooza!

If you’re a music lover, you probably have heard of Lollapalooza, the annual music festival featuring dozens of bands and a chance to see a diverse range of artists in one setting. If you’re a comic collector, you may be aware of the hundreds of conventions that occur throughout the nation, bringing in artists and media celebrities. There is something special about getting a large group of people together who have a common passion or interest and providing the opportunities to meet with their favorite heroes. There’s a magic in the air when people are connecting with complete strangers over a common interest and sharing excitement as they meet with their musical or comic idols.

As an educator, I feel that same excitement when I go to a conference and get to connect with like minded educators and meet educational authors or speakers. The problem is that educational conferences often only have one “celebrity” as a keynote or closing speaker. I have a vision for an educational event that looks more like a rock concert than a traditional conference. I have a dream of dozens of Ed Celebrities in the same venue and Ed books and materials displayed like t-shirts at a concert. A true carnival atmosphere of people celebrating and meeting with their Ed heroes!

I picture George Couros on stage rocking out with Innovation, Dave & Shelley Burgess sailing with their Pirate Band, Sean Gaillard channeling his Peppermint Mindset and Mark Barnes and his Hacking Educators crew. I envision Tony Sinanis  & Joe Sanfelippo talking about Leadership, Allyson Apsey navigating people on the Path to Serendipity and Bethany Hill  showing the way to Lead Positive. Todd Nesloney & Adam Welcome would be reminding us that “Kids Deserve It”, Jennifer Hogan & Craig Vroom would be blasting out their blogs, Alice Keeler would be the Guru of Google, and Doug Robertson would be sharing out the benefits of being a “Weird” Teacher!

If you know these educators, then you understand why I have them on my must see list. If you don’t know them, give them a follow on Twitter and experience the great energy and wisdom they have to share! There are so many more education rock stars that could be featured and the list should be as diverse as possible to reach the needs of a diverse audience. The venue is limited only by imagination. But here’s the deal, this doesn’t have to be an imaginary venue. What is preventing us from creating an Edupalooza? My guess is the creators of the first Lollapalooza heard things like,  “This could never happen“. I’m sure the organizers of the early comic conventions could never have dreamed the size and glamour of the world famous San Diego Comic Con. It simply took someone with a vision and people ready to take a chance. Edupalooza may become a reality someday, but right now it is just a dream. But don’t all great events begin as a dream?

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“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” – Yoko Ono

Know Your Why!

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  • Monday, October 30: Student of the Month Assembly (Responsibility) 9:05 AM, Principals Advisory Committee at CO 9:30-11:30 AM
  • Tuesday, October 31: Parent Meeting for K.H. (Williams & Achievement Team) 8:15 AM, Halloween Costume Parade 3:20 PM
  • Thursday, November 2: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM

 

  • Monday, November 6: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Grit) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, November 7: No Students / District PD day (Agenda coming soon)
  • Wednesday, November 8: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM, PTA Board Meeting in the conference room 2:30 PM
  • Thursday, November 9: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Barnes & Noble Book Fair 5:30-7:30 PM

Kirk vs Spock

A couple of weeks ago, one of my colleagues called me to talk through our process for data collection. He said he had a constant struggle with the need to collect data on our students academic needs and the knowledge that our students cannot perform academically without social and emotional support. He described his conflict as a battle between the logical mind of Mr. Spock who uses data to solve problems and the animated Captain Kirk and his reliance on emotions to solve problems. He wisely stated that educators need to have a bit of both Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk to help the whole child. We need academic data to determine areas that need support and we need to develop social connections with students to help them succeed with life skills. He then told me that it sounded like the theme for one of my blog posts. Little did he know, I was already writing down his idea for this current post!

As educators, we need to embrace the best of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock when working with students. With so much at stake, we need to allocate our resources wisely in helping students achieve academically. That’s the data collection and analysis and using that data to drive our instruction. However, most educators have a goal of changing lives and not just improving test scores. To do that, we need to harness our passions and make those human connections with our students. If we can ignite a love of learning, encourage the hearts of our students, and truly inspire them then they will become life-long learners.

My friend said he struggled with when to rely on data and when to rely on emotions. That’s the balance that every great educator struggles to find and the fact that he was struggling showed his dedication. There is no magic formula, just a constant struggle to find the balance that each child needs. I think the synergy that came from Kirk and Spock was because they were so different and yet had the same vision and goal. Don’t be afraid to embrace both the analytical and emotional methods for helping students. They need both and the best educators give students what they need!

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“It is a capitol mistake to theorize before one has data.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“Experts often possess more data than judgement.” – Colin Powell

“I feel like a number.” – Bob Seger

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  • Monday, October 23: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, October 24: IEP for ED (Haapala) 8:15 AM, Administrative Leadership Team K-12 at Riley 3:00 – 4:30 PM
  • Wednesday, October 25: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, October 26: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Picture Retakes in the morning, Jon to ABC negotiations at 1:30 PM
  • Friday, October 27: PTA BOO BASH 6:00-8:00 PM

 

  • Monday, October 30: Student of the Month Assembly (Responsibility) 9:05 AM, Jon to Principals Advisory Committee 9:30-11:30 AM
  • Tuesday, October 31: Parent Meeting for KH (Williams and Achievement Team) 8:15 AM, Halloween Costume Parade 3:20 PM
  • Thursday, November 2: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM

 

  • Tuesday, November 7: No Students / District PD day

Wanderlust

Growing up, the only vacations I ever remember taking were trips to Chicago to visit with relatives.  My dad was often in poor health, so family vacations weren’t really an option.  My dad had been an artist in Chicago years before I was born and he often talked about wanting to go to see the works of the great artists in Europe. Having inherited my dad’s love of history and art, I made up my mind as a child that I would go and see all those historical places and artwork when I grew up.  As often happens, those dreams got pushed to the background as I entered the adult world and I swapped them for more realistic goals.

My first year of teaching, I had the pleasure of being introduced to a couple who seemed to have been everywhere and done everything.  After an evening full of amusing travel stories I made the comment, “I sure would like to be able to travel and have some interesting stories to share”.  Much to my surprise, the young couple both responded that they really hated when people said things like that.  They said everything was a choice and if I really wanted to travel, I would make the choice to do so.  I was really taken aback.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had been making assumptions that I couldn’t do it.  That week, I contacted a travel agent (they still had those back then:) and priced out a trip to Italy for spring break.  After a lot of research, I ended up getting very reasonable rates for both air and places I stayed.  At the time I was coaching wresting at the high school and I made up my mind to save every penny I earned and put it toward the trip.  After that first trip, I had the bug.  I continued to save up my coaching money, taught summer school, and worked as a Karaoke host on weekends each year in order to keep up my traveling habit. My trips have ranged from hotels to converted army barracks and from guided tours to do it yourself backpack trails.  Now, 25 countries later and many visits throughout the US, I have made lots of memories and have many stories to share.

I don’t share this story to show that I’m well traveled, I share it to show how that simple statement of someone saying to me, “Don’t wish it, do it” had such a profound impact on me.  Recently, my wife and I had to choose between updating our kitchen or going on a trip.  After a short discussion, we decided we could survive with outdated appliances and started packing our bags:) As educators, we are the role models and examples for our students.  If we share our experiences with our students, we might inspire them to make experiences of their own.  But more importantly, we need to challenge them to stop wishing and start doing.  As a first year teacher, I really didn’t have the finances to start traveling.  I had to save and work and plan to make it a possibility. I had to change my mindset to think of traveling as a realistic possibility.  Don’t be that person that says I wish I could, be the person that makes things happen and pass that challenge along to your students!

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“Like all great travelers, I’ve seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli

“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” – Buddha

“The world is a book and those do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

Your Smile for the Day!

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  • Monday, October 16: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Responsibility) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, October 17: 504 Meeting for LN (Adams/Blazek) 8:15 AM, Parent Meeting with Achievement Team (Banter) 9:10 AM
  • Wednesday, October 18: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Conferences 1-4 & 5-8 PM
  • Thursday, October 19: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Conferences 1-4 & 5-8 PM
  • Friday, October 20: Lunch with the Principal for top fundraisers (Pizza from PTA)

 

  • Monday, October 23: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Responsibility) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, October 24: IEP for ED (Haapala) 8:15 AM, K-12 Admin Team at Riley 3:00-4:30 PM
  • Wednesday, October 25: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, October 26: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Picture Retakes in the morning,  Jon to ABC negotiations 1:30-3:30 PM
  • Friday, October 27: PTA BOO BASH 6:00-8:00 PM

 

 

 

Culture of Collaboration

Confession time: I hate educational buzzwords. I’m sure you could probably think of several buzzwords immediately that we hear all the time in education. One that we often use is collaboration. Now don’t get me wrong, I love collaboration, I just think we use the term very loosely.  The term is used every time teachers or principals meet together, even when the process more resembles simply working side by side and occasionally bouncing ideas off one another. True collaboration is a lot more work and much more messy. True collaboration involves giving up control and trusting the process over our own vision. I openly admit that collaboration pushes me outside of my comfort zone. I’m great at “collaboration” when it involves sharing my ideas and meeting with teammates. I’m not so good when it requires giving up control and I especially struggle when I’m not the person initiating the collaboration.  That’s why what happened to me recently is so surprising.

A few weeks ago, my friend and fellow principal, Allyson Apsey,  approached me with an idea. She had a vision of the two of us leading a live forum where we would discuss issues facing educators and use costumes and props to make it entertaining for the viewers. I said yes, before I really thought about it. Allyson has an enthusiasm that is contagious and she made it sound so fun! The next day, I realized I didn’t know how to facilitate a Facebook live video, what our topic would be, and that I wasn’t sure what we were getting into. In short, I panicked! That night I walked the dog as I often do to clear my head. When I got back home, I instantly started a shared document that we could record ideas with.  My first idea was for a name, The Principals Playhouse, since we were going to be dressing up for each episode. I then sent over a rough outline of some ideas. The next morning, I got a reassuring “YES!” from Allyson along with ideas that she had and our collaboration was off and running. The next week we had a Google Hang Out after school to try out our material and days later we went live!

This experience showed me how much I need to grow as an educator. It showed me that my normal collaboration is simply meeting with others, but never really giving up control. It also showed me that my risk taking is often calculated toward projects that I’m fairly certain will succeed. This experience pushed me WAY out of my comfort zones in both areas. I never really had control, because it was someone else’s idea and I had no idea if this would flop or be successful. It was a true collaborative experience and one that involved risk-taking. Why did I have to stretch myself to do something that I often preach to others about doing? Apparently, I’m not the collaborative risk taker that I thought I was.

Collaboration can be challenging, scary, and a lot of work. If you’re lucky like I was, you will have a partner that’s patient, fun, and makes the work worthwhile. The best part about collaboration is that if done correctly, it will result in growth for all all involved. I’ve gained perspective from ideas that weren’t my own and enjoyed the synergy that came from two passionate educators working together. As an educator, when was the last time you truly collaborated with someone? What was the last risk you took in the classroom or school? Good things happen when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zones. Great things happen when we leave our comfort zones with someone else in collaboration!

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“When you need to innovate, you need collaboration.” – Marissa Mayer

“You only do good work when you’re taking risks and pushing yourself.” – Sally Hawkins

“Limits, like fear, is often an illusion.” – Micheal Jordan

 LOLLIPOP MOMENTS

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  • Monday, October 9: Celebrate Monday Assembly (PTA Awards from Fun Run) 9:05 AM, IEP for SS (Tanner and Achievement Team) 9:30 AM, Noon Monitor Meeting (non-teaching staff) 11:00-12:00, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:30-4:30 PM
  • Tuesday, October 10: DATA DIVES in Conference Room (K-2 in AM, 4th&3rd in PM)
  • Thursday, October 12: Building CLT (working on IRIPs) 7:50-8:50 AM, Fire Drill 3:30 PM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, October 13: 5D Growth Plans due in Pivot

 

  • Monday, October 16: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, October 17: 504 Meeting for LN (Adams/Blazek), Parent Meeting for KHG (Williams & Achievement Team) 1:50 PM
  • Wednesday, October 18: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Conferences 1:00-4:00 & 5:00-8:00 PM
  • Thursday, October 19: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Conferences 1:00-4:00 & 5:00-8:00 PM
  • Friday, October 20: Lunch with the Principal for top fundraisers in each class. PTA will be providing pizza.

Leadership Lessons from James Bond

You may not know this, but I’m a huge James Bond fan. I’ve watched each of the movies more times than I like to admit and occasionally throw out a Bond quote at home to fit the occasion (often to only my own amusement:).  One of my favorite things about the character is that he always knows just what to say and the right way to say it…in other words, he’s smooth.

At one of my professional development sessions last year, I had the opportunity to hear Debbie McFalone, an educational consultant, speak on the topic of having difficult conversations.  As a principal, I sometimes have to have difficult conversations with staff or parents.  As a teacher, many of you often have to have difficult conversations with parents or students.  At the start of the session, she began with the most common ways that difficult conversations are handled…you guessed it, they are avoided!  When asked who has used this method, almost everyone (including myself) raised their hand.  We have all done it, whether at home or at work.  Sometimes it’s easier to ignore or avoid and hope the issue goes away.  We know how that usually turns out.  In place of avoidance, she gave us a simple and direct approach to give constructive feedback through the SBI method. In SBI, the S represents the Situation, B represents the Behavior, and I represents the Impact. The beauty of the process is that it takes emotions out of the conversation and focuses on a specific situation, the behavior that needs to be changed, and the impact the behavior had on others. It’s not about having the perfect words or being smooth, it’s about being direct, but respectful. The root of these types of conversations is honesty, trust, and a desire to help (not punish).  As a principal, this is how I want my interactions with staff to be. This is quite different from the James Bond approach…nothing smooth or clever and you don’t walk away after a glib remark. You stay committed, you listen, and you lend a guiding hand to work together.

As much as I still love the idea of being as cool as Bond, I would rather tackle the difficult topics and engage in meaningful dialogue than stick to the smooth talk.  I would rather wear a staff shirt with pride than wear a tuxedo.  I would rather spend time on school buses than in my Aston Martin.  I’d never trade a single moment as an elementary principal for the intrigue of being a secret agent…but I can still order my martinis shaken, not stirred;)

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James Bond’s family motto is “Orbit Non Sufficit” or “The World is not Enough”

James Bond was married once to Teresa “Tracy” Bond.  Her tombstone reads “We have all the time in the world”

James Bond served as a commander in the Royal Navy before he served in the British Secret Service.

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  • Monday, October 2: Parent Meeting (Haapala/Blazek/Zimes) 8:20 AM,  Student of the Month Assembly (Respect) 9:05 AM, PTA Board Meeting in Conference Room 2:30 PM
  • Tuesday, October 3: MET Meeting (Taylor and Achievement Team) 9:30 AM, Fire Drill 11:30 AM, IEP (Pisko and Achievement Team) 2:35 PM 
  • Wednesday, October 4: IEP (Benson/Blazek/Plakas) 10:00 AM
  • Thursday, October 5: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, October 6: Student Data from Grades K-4 due in Illuminate, Skate Night at Riverside Arena 6:00-8:00 PM

 

  • Monday, October 9: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, IEP (Tanner and Achievement Team) 9:30 AM, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:30-4:30 PM
  • Tuesday, October 10: DATA DIVES in Conference Room (rotating subs – details to follow)
  • Thursday, October 12: Building CLT 7:50-8:50 (Working on IRIPs), Fire Drill 3:30 PM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, October 13: 5D Growth Plans Due in Pivot 

 

  • Wednesday, October 18: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, PT Conferences 1:00-4:00 & 5:00-8:00 PM
  • Thursday, October 19: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, PT Conferences 1:00-4:00 & 5:00-8:00 PM