Sunday, June 28, 2015

Just Be Awesome For Kids #naesp15 #savmp

Love analogies, especially in education. Watch this two minute video of Tony Hawk before you read!

I think about kids a lot! 

I also think about teachers a lot, I'm surrounded by both every day.

With two of my own children at home and this being my thirteenth year in public education, I've had plenty of interactions and time to reflect. Plus my dad was a teacher for 38 years and I grew up spending lots of time in his classroom. 

My dad taught in some really low income and inner city schools, many of the students did not have great support at home. The memories I have from his classroom are so vivid, with him always encouraging his students, always being a champion for them, pushing them to succeed.

There was a poster on his classroom door that was visible when you entered the room, it said 'Only Kind Words Allowed.' Kinds words are only the beginning to encouragement and success, but one heck of great start. 

Thinking about this more deeply, it can sometimes be challenging to see outcomes on a daily basis. I feel as Principal I'm always looking for those small wins that happen on a daily basis. Celebrating those with kids, teachers and parents is at the core of what we should be doing throughout our day. You don't build a house all at once, brick by brick and room by room!

Patience is also important, waiting 5+ years to see students as they grow and mature, then celebrating the bigger wins down the road, that's where the bigger payoff comes in.

At the end of the day, I just want to be awesome for kids. 

- Give high fives, showing them that you believe in them can be more powerful than simply telling them.
- When visiting classrooms everyday I always sit on the carpet with kids, at first they're surprised to have the Principal do this. After time they realize I'm interested in their work, tell me more!
- Give parents high fives, maybe that will help them believe in their kids more.
- Show them examples of other students around the world doing new and amazing things, that will give them the mojo to do the same.
- Talk to kids like you would an adult, they know, they understand, they interpret, they know if you're real or not.

Make all kids and teachers feel like Tony Hawk in the video above. 

-Support - Encouragement - Belief in Success - Be Awesome!

You know what movie this image is from.......would your class/school stand on their desks and disobey an adult to show support for you? Because they know how hard you've worked for them, how much you care?

Just be awesome for kids!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Make School Like This #naesp15 #savmp

I'll admit that it's happened. I've had parents over the years who've told me their child doesn't like coming to school. Whenever a parent says this to me I'm always deeply concerned and ask questions to try and figure out the situation with more depth.

Having a student at my school who doesn't want to come is not ok. On most occasions there's been a friend issue, or an issue at home that takes a higher level of resolution than sometimes we can provide right that moment.

These thoughts lead to the puppy video below. My brother's partner sent this to me yesterday because he loves our dog and wants one of his own. Of course I thought the video was cute, but I also thought about the progression of the dogs as they got older, and their sustained excitement for dinner.

Analogies have always worked for me to understand a situation better, and the puppies made me think about school, and the excitement kids have for coming everyday. Waking up in the morning are our students this excited about school?

Not just the first few days, but a sustained excitement about learning, exploring, collaborating and having fun at school. Does the excitement for school continue past elementary, into 6th-12th grades?If not, how should schools change?

Some questions I'm thinking about as I prepare for next year, and the journey at my new school.

- How are the adults at school approaching each day, their attitude/energy is paramount to setting the stage for kids.

- Do all students love coming to school? If not, how are we building connections with those kids so they know the adults at school care about them?!

- What are you doing to make school exciting for kids?

- Don't bring your bad day to school, leave all issues in your car that's parked outside. Kids don't deserve a bad day.

- Being a 1:1 school helps, Chromebook + iPad implementation with the curriculum is huge, Kids Dig It!

- Is school relevant to your kids? Teaching cursive doesn't have a huge stoke factor in my opinion for kids?! Thoughts?

Go out and #beawesome for kids, they deserve the best!

Another great video........ We don't know every kids story, we MUST make it a great day for all kids! Each and every day!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Always Moving Forward #naesp15 #savmp

It's funny, I've thought about Blockbuster a lot during my career as an educator. When I was younger my brother and I would rent videos from their stores, but I've also used the 'Blockbuster' analogy in relation to change in education quite a bit when trying to make a point during a discussion.

Short story is that Blockbuster had a HUGE business with thousands of retail locations. A large part of their profit was based on late fees from customers. Netflix came along, didn't charge late fees, didn't have overhead with brick and mortar stores, Blockbuster failed to innovate and went out of business.

Of course schools can't go out of business like Blockbuster, but they can get to a place where they aren't moving forward anymore. I've seen it time and again, there will be pockets of learning and innovation, and pockets of stagnation.

The conversation about cursive is a classic 'moving forward' example and one that I've had with so many different people over the years. From teachers, doctors, grandparents and even police officers. How much time do you spend writing with a pen or pencil during your day?

There are times during my day as a Principal that I won't write anything down on paper, it's all on my iPhone or laptop. So why do some people insist on still teaching or practicing cursive?

Would a business that only taught cursive still have a customer base in 2015? Or would Cursive Inc. be another Blockbuster?

There's a quote from the movie Patton that has always resonated with me as well.

"I don't like to pay for the same real estate twice gentlemen."

Of course the context is different, but the message is to always move forward! Just because we've always done something, or done it a certain way, does not mean we need to continue.

My dad had to learn Latin as a kid in school growing up in New York.

Would you want your child learning Latin?

I want my kids to learn how to code!

Always move forward!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Learning Together #acsa #r6summit

Learning together is so important, being around colleagues and supervisors that are entrenched in the work makes a difference. Below are my Tweets from day one of the ACSA Leadership Summit with Michael Fullan and Jim Knight, can't wait for Anthony Muhammad today!

This is my favorite video from yesterday, show someone how to engage in something new, the analogies are endless!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Oh My Gosh #teamkid

Yesterday at John Swett was a blast. It rained all day and we had to cancel Field Day which was a huge bummer. So instead we had 'movie time' in the cafeteria and BBQ under the overhang instead of on the grass.

Two of my 2nd grade teachers (@mlastrico + @mwatkins0913) wrote a rap and performed for everyone yesterday! The studio version (my office) is below, enjoy!