Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Don't squelch the creativity #SAVMP

This morning as I was checking Zite and my Twitter feed, I came upon this tweet with the embedded video.

from 2CELLOSlive

The first thing that went through my head was the creativity and freedom these two cellists have to play the music they want to play.  The faces in the crowd are especially fun to watch as the song continues.  It made me think of the freedom these two have to follow their passion for playing the cello and AC/DC, not a combination that I would normally consider.
The second thing that went through my mind was how we as educators often put boundaries on our students.  We provide opportunities for our students to do projects and to write and to read, but do we ever allow them enough choice in their schooling?  My thought is that we need to provide more choice whenever possible.  Let's make student choice more of an option for our students.  Allow them to share their knowledge about a topic or their passion for something in new and creative ways.  I promise you that you will be surprised by what they can do.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Being a Student Driven Principal- Will this decision be in the best interest of our students? #SAVMP

I just love the title of this prompt!  Each and every day, I come to school with the attitude that our students should come first.  When changes are proposed, the question that always comes to mind is this- "Will this decision be in the best interest of our students?"  It may seem cliche (can't figure out how to put the accent on the "e"), but I believe in this question wholeheartedly.  Some recent examples are as follows-

Block classes for our students- This is a change for us in the last two years but we are seeing benefits, especially in Language Arts and Math.  We have also blocked Science and Social Studies, every other day, and our Science and Social Studies teachers wanted to try having half blocks every day to maintain consistency with our students.  We have run this adjustment for nearly a quarter and I will be surveying the students, staff, and parents for their thoughts as the third quarter comes to an end.  Student voice needs to be heard when we make any decisions.  After we hear from the students, staff, and parents, we will be able to determine if this change was in the best interest of our students.

Homework Club-  We started a Homework Club for any students wanting to attend from 4:15-5:15 every Tuesday and Thursday.  It is inexpensive for us to run ($20 an hour for staff who attend) and I am there every session as well.  The students absolutely love it and volunteer to come, although some students are "assigned" due to missing work.  The parents are huge proponents as well.  This is definitely in the best interest of our students.

Principal's Advisory Committee-  This year, I have a Principal's Advisory Committee made up of students.  Nearly all of our 525 students completed a form I developed and one of the questions was if the student was interested in serving on this committee.  49 students volunteered!  We had one meeting so far and I look forward to our next meeting the first week in March.  This is definitely in the best interest of the students because they can share their thoughts with me.

My hope, every day, is that the decisions I make are in the best interest of students.  That's what a Student Driven Principal is to me.  What do you think?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Differentiation...for staff? #SAVMP

Maybe I'm just a little bit weird when it comes to PD, but I cannot imagine having every staff member have the same PD.  The worst PD I had was sit and get that didn't allow for any conversations or questioning or movement.  My inability to stay focused for any extended period of time probably didn't help matters much.  It felt like I was just sitting there with Charlie Brown's teacher speaking at me, not to me.

The best PD I've had has been when I was able to choose what I wanted, or needed, to learn.  The SLATE conference and various EdCamps that I have had the fortune to attend allowed me to choose from a variety of offerings.  I was nearly always able to find something that sparked my interest.  If I started in a session that wasn't exactly what I was looking for, I let my feet do the talking and chose another session.

As principal, PD has become one of my most important duties.  I know that I am not the all knowing and all powerful Oz so I use the talents of those around me to develop PD opportunities for the staff.  We have run EdCamp style PD during an afternoon while the superintendent and I chaperoned the students while we had a celebration including a DJ and board games.  We have run TILT Tuesdays when staff can choose to learn from one another.  We have book chats and send staff to conferences whenever the need arises.  We must allow our teachers to guide their own learning, but there are also times when we must direct their PD.  But even when we direct their PD, we need to allow them some ability to have some choice in how they learn.

There are times where nearly everyone needs to receive the same PD, especially when it involves a school wide or district wide goal like Writer's or Reader's Workshop.  Even in these cases, however, we can differentiate how PD is delivered so that it meets the needs of the teachers.  As principals and district leaders, it is important to provide as much differentiated PD as we can.  And if we aren't the expert, there are plenty of teachers that we work with who are more than capable of leading the PD.  All you need to do is give them the opportunity.

Online portfolios #SAVMP

As I read through this prompt by George, I began to wonder about how I could develop my own portfolio.  I have a web page linked on our district's webpage (http://www.merton.k12.wi.us/faculty/PosickJ/) that has many things that I would consider a portfolio, but it's not as in depth or specific as I would like it to be.  Aside from this, I also have a blog (http://jayposick.blogspot.com/) that shares many of my thoughts about education, both with prompts from #SAVMP and some random thoughts that I wanted to share.

Now the real work begins.  I think that the one thing I need to do is find a way to put these two items together to create a portfolio.  I have played around with Google sites and think this may be the best way for me to create a portfolio that shares my learning and documents all that I am doing to lead our school.  What do you find to be the best way to document your learning and your thoughts about education?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Delegation, or should we call it teamwork?

When I first read the week 20 post by Amber, I was struck by the word "delegation".  I guess I never thought about providing teachers with leadership opportunities as delegating.  I consider it teamwork.  All of us should be working together- in our grade level, in our school, in our district- to do what is in the best interest of kids.

No one person can do everything well.  One person might be able to do everything, but it quite possibly could be done better by someone else on their team.  My responsibility is to find the appropriate role for every person on our team.  What does each member of our team bring to the table?  Do they have a passion for a content area?  Are they a natural at developing relationships?  Do they have a good grasp of the big picture?  Are they the one that everyone comes to when an issue arises?  Are they great at planning get togethers to help with the morale of the team?  Are they the voice of a grade level or content area?  If you really tried, I'm sure that you could find a role for each of the educators in your school.

I work with a strong team of teachers.  Each teacher has a role in our school and they do a great job in their role.  I don't call it delegating.  I call it teamwork.