Tuesday, December 30, 2014

One Word Challenge

In my #PT camp PLN voxer group, we have challenged one another to pick a word to guide us for 2015.  It's a twist on New Year's Resolutions, most of which fail anyway.  Here's a link to a website that provides some direction for us.  I have thought of a number of words (balance- I need to be much better at this, commit- find one thing and do it with all of your heart, perseverance- work on something I'm not good at until I get better at it) but one word sticks out- FOCUS!


Focus is something we can all strive for.  In the words of Jim Detwiler (@JimDetwiler1) from his most recent blog, we must live in the moment.  In order to do that, we need to have focus.  Put all other thoughts out of your mind and give your all to the person or topic at hand.  Live in the moment.  Put all of your efforts into what you're doing at the time.  Listen more intently.  Find a distraction free environment.  Unplug.  Pay closer attention.  Put the important people and things at the top of your "to do" list, and then do them.

I also thought about ways that I can be more focused at school.  Get out of my office when the staff and students are around.  Hang out in classrooms and learn with the students.  Be more available for the students at lunch and recess.  Meet with staff in their classrooms and not in my office.  Provide more valuable feedback more often.  Block off times on my calendar every day to not be in my office.  Totally unplug when meeting with all individuals (staff, students, families).

The list of things to focus on seems long but that's alright with me.  The key is to focus on the moment at hand.  That's really the only thing I have control over.  And I would tell you it's the only thing each of us has control over.  We can't change the past and we can't alter the future.

So that's my challenge- focus on the moment and make the most of it.  It's quite a challenge for someone like me who pretends to do many things at one time.  If I don't focus on one thing, I'll do nothing well.  Focusing on one thing will ultimately lead me to being more successful.  And for those of you who know me well, don't hesitate to remind me to focus on the moment.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Back in the classroom- a challenge to administrators

As I sit in a Language Arts classroom, teaching for the first time in a long time, I realize the incredible effort needed to be prepared to engage students in this ever changing world.  I really enjoy the relationships that I have been able to build with our staff and the trust they have in me to teach their students without worrying about whether I will provide the instruction that they would have delivered.  I may not do the lesson exactly as they would, but every teacher is different and that's what makes teaching so awesome.
(from @iamkidpresident)

I am in classrooms every day, interacting with students and occasionally with staff, and see their awesomeness on stage.  They provide thought provoking lessons, work time for the content of their classes, opportunities for discussion and conferring, and the chance for our kids to be kids.  The kids are why we come to school every day.  (Sorry, I had to step away to confer with students about including figurative language, today's mini-lesson, in their essays.  I told them I would be writing while they were writing.  Just modeling that we all write, even if we're a 50 year old principal!)

The teaching profession is the most important profession in the world.  That may sound cliche, but it's true.  Without teachers, none of us would be able to do all of the things necessary to be successful in our chosen occupation.  Teachers need to meet the needs of a variety of students with a variety of abilities, backgrounds, and confidence levels.  There is no cookie cutter approach that works for all of our kids.  They are as different as the families they come from and the teachers who teach them.

This morning my daughter said to me, "You are in an exceptionally good mood this morning."  I couldn't deny it and told her it was because I was going to teach all morning.  I do love being in the classroom as a principal, but it is completely different when you are in the classroom as a teacher.  You are guided by the students and their needs, both academic and behavioral, each and every moment you are in the room with them.  It is their classroom after all.  They are the ones doing the learning, although we learn more from them on some days.  I recognized that again in my morning of being a guest teacher.  And recognizing, in my opinion, is more important than realizing.  I need to recognize our staff more for all that they do each and every day.

I had a great morning being a teacher again.  Lunch and recess duty, something I do every day, was great, too.  Now I'm getting ready to go back into classrooms with kids and teachers learn with and from each other.  It's the reason I come to school every day.  But truth be told, if I was asked to be a guest teacher again tomorrow, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Now, to complete the assignment I gave to the students in Language Arts this morning, I'll include three pieces of figurative language in my blog.

Zowie!  Teachers are awesome!  (Onomatopoeia)
Teachers are like artists.  They find the best in all of us.  (Simile)
Administrators are teachers, too.  They should offer to teach a class, or two, whenever they can, even if it's unexpected.  Are you up for the challenge?  (Personification- a little humor that gives human characteristics to administrators.)