Sunday, January 11, 2015

Culture + Spirit = Team Kid #savmp #teamkid

Three years ago during my first year as Principal @jseroadrunners we didn't really have any spirit days to speak of, and Friday's on occasion would be a 'wear your John Swett t-shirt' to school! I'm really not a fan of spirit assemblies, it takes away too much instructional time from the classroom and feel if anything it's suited for high school or middle school. 

A few of our students would wear cowboy boots on occasion, because they actually have horses and it was part of their life. I can remember the first time talking with some kids about their boots, and also telling them I had a really nice pair of boots that I picked up in Vail, Colorado a few years ago. (More on my boots later!)

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I enjoy doing things a little bit different. Why not have a Cowboy Boot Friday spirit day? So that's exactly what we started three years ago and it's SUPER popular now. Parents even get in the mix and of course I love Tweeting it all out for the entire community to see. 

Why is Cowboy Boot Friday relevant and fun?
- it's different than 'wear your school t-shirt'
- it builds culture and spirit which supports our energy for Team Kid!
- it builds creativity, check out Fern's boots below.

For all the Cowboy Friday awesome, check out our Flickr page here! And of course follow John Swett on Twitter! @jseroadrunners

Selfie w/ @AmieGargaro we totally matched our outfits and didn't even plan it!- 1st grade teacher

Love the red flowers!

 Selfie with Mrs. Manning who has TONS of horses on her property, super flashy red boots!
If you don't have any boots, you can always make some like Fern! 1st grade

 Ms. Wheeler - Kindergarten @s_wheeler1 - Rockin' her boots!

Awesome gold tips, way to go Tommy!

 Even student teacher @megandenny and John Swett alumni has the Cowboy spirit!

Clean with jeans tucked in!


This brings me back to the story of my boots which correlates so well with my January book. 'Ralph Tells a Story' is amazing for kids who think they have nothing to write about. Six years ago I was in Vail with my buddy to ski for the Thanksgiving break. We were walking around the village and happened to stroll into a boot shop. Needless to say, three hours later I walk out with a pair of $600 cowboy boots! There's more to the story but you get the point. As Ralph's teacher says, 'there are stories everywhere, just look around!' 

Culture + Spirit = Team Kid

Friday, January 9, 2015

Recess #savmp

Recess has always been a great part of the day and I can remember my student teaching and playing kickback with the kids, they loved it. Was chatting on @voxer yesterday about recess/lunch duty and so many Principals have talked about how they enjoy being outside with their students during this time. 

This Tuesday was also interesting to see EdWeek with their #APrincipalsDay feature (Tweet collection here) and what Principals do throughout the day. Kids always ask me why I'm 'bundled' up so much, on the West Coast our campuses are outside and I do LOTS of walking around. This year I've started wearing my Garmin GPS watch and have clocked 3-5 miles a day on campus.

At recess we......

- connect with kids
- take care of small discipline issues before they become bigger issues
- LOVE being all-time quarterback, kids love it too
- all-time pitcher for kickball, kids are super picky with how they want it pitched (ie - baby bouncy, slow roller, twisty, medium bouncy) too funny!
- ladybug hunting - we have a group of 2nd graders who LOVE looking for ladybugs
- always picking up snack trash
- checking in with teachers

Playing foursquare! 

Hanging around....

Riding tricycles in Kindergarten!

 Creating cool spheres w/hula hoops!

 Kids loose it when I go on the slide, they love it!

Kickback is always popular, "Kick the ball Mr. Welcome, really high!"

 Our 5th graders always want a ref for basketball, have to keep the game clean.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Closer Connections #savmp

Being a connected educator has greatly enhanced my personal and professional life. The constant learning from others all across the globe has brought me to a place not available to previous generations. With Twitter and Voxer there's a team of Principals I can access anytime throughout the day, it's absolutely amazing.

Lately I've been thinking about those closer connections that have not been developed in my life. Of course it's great knowing educators that are brilliant and hard working in other states, but how about the ones just within my county who I don't know. What did Principals twenty-five years ago do to develop relationships and collaborate? Drive in their car to a meeting? Write letters back and forth? Pick up the phone and call?

Every Principal in the county is listed in my, school and phone number. I wish it also listed what specific skills they had to offer other admins so we could develop closer connections and learn together. I'd pick up the phone to call someone and learn even if they weren't on Twitter.

Same goes for professional development with your teachers. I've seen so many Principals bring in outside trainers that cost lots of money and turn out to be mediocre. They don't know the culture, haven't developed relationships, are only there for one day and many times don't know how to develop those closer connections.

How can we/you develop closer connections at your school/district/county? Within my school I know what each of my teachers has to offer the rest of our staff. Who's the go-to person that can connect us all within the county? I want to know so we can learn together!

Monday, January 5, 2015

One Word #youredustory #savmp


My blogging in 2014 has been pretty consistent and always a great reflective practice. Looking back to my pre-husband/father/principal days, I had a fun little blog about my cycling life and would post daily if not multiple times a day. 

Life has sure changed and I'm excited to participate with Jo-Ann Fox and #YourEdustory blogging challenge this year. 

My One Word has to be Team

- We can't do our work without a team
- We're so much stronger for kids if we're a team.
- We need a team to get through those difficult days.
- It's so much more fun to celebrate success when you have a team!
- We're always trying to strengthen the home/school team to be stronger for our kids, definitely a goal at John Swett Elementary in 2015. 

#teamkid and a new blogging challenge, thanks for the inspiration Jo-Ann!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Digital Detox #savmp

My iPhone is ALWAYS with me during the day at school. It's the computer that runs my school and I've even blogged about it here.  There have been times during the day when my battery is gone and I have to leave it in my office, it feels really weird being on campus without it.

Our school is VERY connected which makes me extremely proud as the Principal. With that being said, my family comes first and I'm REALLY making an effort to balance my technology use at home. There have been some great articles (herehere and here) in Outside Magazine lately and I've really made it a personal goal to even detox my digital life on a regular basis.

A few ideas that have worked for me!
- Turning off email on my phone when I leave work each day.
- Leaving my phone at home when I go grocery shopping.
- Putting it in a drawer at home for a few hours.
- Turning it completely off for an entire day twice a month, this is the best!

We're very fortunate to have a family home in Lake Tahoe which we visit many times throughout the year. We just recently spent five days at the cabin over Winter Break and it was so refreshing to have no email and no Twitter. Even better, was that my wife's phone got stolen the day before we left and she had no phone either.

On the drive up she was really worried about not being connected with work, what if this and that happens and they need to get ahold of me. We had a great talk about our digital lives and today on the way home I asked her how it was. "It was the best feeling, we should do it more often!"

I'm reading a great book currently called dot Complicated by Randi Zuckerberg. She has great ideas, research and personal stories about simplifying our digital lives and living in the moment. I have another post coming about the book with ideas for Principals to use at their schools.

How are you balancing or detoxing your digital life?