Saturday, September 27, 2014

Along For a Ride #savmp

Connecting with families is one of the most important aspects of my day. Getting to know the student, meeting parents, having conversations and developing those relationships are what makes John Swett Elementary the school we are! 

We have a new SDC class this year and the majority of our students take the bus to school. Our students are awesome and I really enjoy my time with them throughout the day, twice a week we have 'Story Time w/Mr. Welcome' which is something I definitely look forward to! 

There have been a few occasions when I've been able to meet families and interact, but not seeing their parents each day at drop-off and pick-up has really been on my mind. So for me the only obvious way to strengthen our relationship was to ride the bus in the morning and help get all our students to school! 

I started chatting with Bonnie our bus driver about riding along one morning and I can tell she was pretty surprised at my request. She needed to get permission from her boss and would 'get back to me' with what he said! The very next day she found me on campus and said it was a go, let her know when I wanted to ride and that she left the bus depot at 530am to start the morning run. 

This past Wednesday was the day, I had that jittery excitement along with uncertainty at something I'd never before done. Bonnie was meticulous in getting the bus ready at the depot, all the safety checks and making sure we were ready for the kids. 

Our first pick-up was 600am and our students for the morning were from Elementary, Middle and High School, we'd have the full range! Something that struck me right away and that continued throughout our entire morning......Bonnie 100% cares about these kids. You can hear it in her voice, see it in her actions and notice it with everything she does, we're so lucky to have her on our team!

The highlight of my ride was of course seeing all our Roadrunners in the morning at their homes. They were all SUPER surprised to see me and their parents equally as so. Being able to start the day with them and build a closer connection to their families was exciting in many ways. Thank you of course to Bonnie for all she does, #teamkid!

530am, meeting at the bus depot ready to leave for the morning run!

Bonnie at the helm, she 100% cares about the kids!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Better Together - If We're Connected! #savmp

My post today is inspired from Ben Gilpin's (@benjamingilpin'Together We're Better' post from his blog on August 6th!

Being 'connected' undoubtedly looks different depending on who you are, your position in education, how long you've been 'connected' and how much time/energy you put into that connectedness. I honestly can't image not being a connected Principal! What do non-connected educators do?

There have been SO many instances when I've learned from my Twitter PLN, asked them questions, 
looked for guidance or suggestions, or just simply shared stories with other Principals doing the same work I am.

About two months ago I started playing around with Voxer and have really enjoyed the amazing conversations and ideas that have come to fruition with this free and simple to use app. Our group started small, a few Assistant Principals and Principals from the Bay Area. The original plan was a book group (Leadership Lessons of the Navy Seals) with a non-educational title, and we have yet to actually talk about the book, hopefully someday we will!

Of course one of the best parts of being connected is connecting with educators who live farther away. Knowing how schools operate and how Principals conduct business outside of our face to face PLN is so valuable. The current chatter has been around Back to School Night and what's done at our different sites, and all I can think about is how much I want ours to CHANGE! 

All of the connected educators out there have a duty, get those Principals around you that aren't connected onto the bus. The bus will be more fun, engaging, exciting, better for kids and better for you if we're all connected! 

Some of the farther away educators who we Voxer with, thank you for all the knowledge and connectedness, we're Better Together!

Let's Voxer, connect with me!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Where's Your Creative Space #savmp

I'm three weeks in to my eleventh year in public education and my fifth as a school administrator. It wouldn't be totally accurate to say that I became a teacher/administrator by chance. My father was a public school teacher for 35+ years which had a huge influence on my current career path. I've also almost left public education many times over the years, thinking I wanted to pursue a different challenge. 

Those thoughts have come to a head very recently in an excellent book I just finished. Biz Stone who is one of the co-founders of Twitter wrote a great memoir of sorts, following his path from being in debt with no job, working for Google, Odeo, and then helping to create Twitter! 

I really enjoy being an Elementary School Principal, being around kids all day is really awesome! I really enjoy working with teachers to push their academic program, implement new innovative lessons and ideas that are relevant to our students in 2014. I really enjoy getting to know our parent community, while working together on Team Kid to create an awesome learning space for their children. 

But, I'm jealous. Biz and people who work in tech companies or startups are given amazing creative space to 'hack' away at new ideas, break current systems to improve them and then make them better, work/talk/strategize with other really smart and creative people to become even more creative. I was honestly reading Biz's book and creative ideas around education are developing in my head and I wasn't even around another Principal. 

How can educators find a creative space in their immediate lives? (not via Twitter, Voxer, etc) How can we then implement those ideas given the parameters we have? My school has 520 students, with 400+ mobile devices for students, with another 50+ student computers. Yet, we still receive thousands of pounds worth of text/workbooks each year. We still have Back To School Night and Open House even though my ENTIRE staff is on Twitter and shares their classroom on a daily basis. This is not a Jerry McGuire type rant, just wishing we could change education. #faster #better #rightaway 

Just because we've always done something, does NOT mean we need to continue doing it that way.

Thank you for the inspirational creativity Biz, check out his book, it's WELL worth the read!