Friday, January 31, 2014

So You Want to Be a Principal #savmp

My day yesterday......

- Alarm goes off
- Coffee
- Check Twitter feed(s)
- Check email
- Check Feedly feed
- Tweet Jens to confirm demo today
- Email teacher to confirm software has been downloaded for Jens demo
- Emailing with Sergio trying to plan #edcampmartinez


- Get dressed/breakfast

- Leave for work/school
- Stop at Safeway to pick-up supplies for donation basket - Crab Feed
- It's raining at school so I Tweet and Remind 101 that we'll be having indoor recess before school
- Computer/LCD set-up for MCT vision screening with Kindergarten students
- Check with my custodian about any leaks in classrooms
- Emails, office work, Tweeting, etc

- GHO with #teamnorthbay

- Students start to arrive

- Teacher finds me in front of school, BIG leak in her classroom, like a BIG leak

- 500 kids are at school, morning drop off complete!

- FrontRow Juno demo with Jens
- Vision screening - Problems with the laptop and DVD not playing, have to go and trouble shoot.
- Back to classroom with Jens, setting up the Juno!
- Reading 500 report cards so they can go home next Thursday with kids (this has been ongoing for last three days)

- Check on vision screening
- Jens is still setting up Juno demo
- I've answered about 15 emails, Tweeted 15 times, checked documents in Google Drive, updated our Flickr page.....all from my iPhone!
- Recess duty at two different times, primary and secondary.
- Checked with kitchen staff on breakfast and 4th/5th grade behavior (been having problems lately)
- Checked-in with gardeners on project in front of school
- My wife called to give me update on our kids (I have two, almost three and just turned one)
- Met with a family who wants to transfer to John Swett (15 minutes)

- Lunch duty - I rotate between outside recess and inside lunch in the cafeteria
- Send a few emails/Tweets while I'm outside
- Drop by our after school care (Woodbridge) to check on a few Kindergarten students
- Get called to front office to deal with a 'situation' - 35 minutes

- Vision screening is done
- Drop in my office (only third time all day I've been in my office)
- Answer few emails
- Record a podcast of our 'Students of the Month'
- Sign some paperwork for Office Manager

145 - 215pm
- I work with some 5th graders three days a week in the afternoon

- Debrief with teacher on observation earlier in the week

- Check-in with two students who have NOT been bringing their homework in

- Bell rings - I have crosswalk duty in front of school to help with traffic flow

- Common Core meeting at district office
- Talk with Student Services Director about SBAC planning
- Answering emails during meeting

- Pick-up pizza for dinner

- Walk in the door, SO excited to see my family!

Note -
There was probably about 35 other things I did yesterday that I just can't remember, this is a snapshot!

As you were!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What Is Team Kid #savmp

The question has come up more recently in the past couple of months, what is #teamkid? It started with a Tweet from a parent at John Swett and we've had quite a few visitors over the past few weeks and #teamkid has been discussed quite extensively.

(Great blog post from @ucdjoe about #teamkid from his recent visit, and a post from @jkloczko about her recent visit as well! Great outsider looking in aspect of #teamkid )

#teamkid Stemmed from a brainchild the summer before I took over John Swett as Principal. Attending the ACSA UCLA Principal Academy we talked a lot about building culture, do this before anything at your school, or you won't be able to do anything at all.

While at UCLA I started thinking about my childhood watching the SF Giants  and Roger Craig who was the longtime manager during the Will Clark and Jeffrey Leonard days. Roger had a saying during his time with the Giants that really motivated the players/fans and I can remember having a t-shirt that had the saying as well!

"Humm-baby" was ALL over Candlestick and Roger encouraged this so people rallied around the team. Posters, banners, license plate frames, t-shirts and it could be heard throughout games from the crowd and Roger himself. Humm-baby was very influential for me during my week at UCLA thinking about a slogan for John Swett, #teamkid was about to born.

The summer I took over John Swett the Olympics were in full swing and Nike had a great add campaign called, 'Find Your Greatness.' I really felt this was a great slogan for kids, encourage/push them to Find Their Greatness in the classroom, on the field, at home and in their life!

Getting together with staff that first summer we did lots of team building, watched some educational videos and talked about 'our' slogan for the year. I had previously emailed all staff the video above and told them to think about a slogan that would help push our thinking for the year. We watched the video again and 'Finding Greatness' was born.

Throughout that day, I kept throwing out 'Team Kid' in different ways.

- "I'm part of Team Kid!"
- "This is the John Swett teaching contingent of Team Kid!"
- "My dad was a teacher for 35+ years and he would talk about kids and being positive role models, much like Team Kid!

So, we decided as a staff to throw Team Kid on, after Finding Greatness, this would be our motto for the year and moving forward.

Team Kid is now our school hashtag.....

Our rocking Kindergarten team has even made custom shirts with the saying!

For the 13-14 school year our motto is 'Make It Happen on Team Kid!' (The new banner just arrived and will be going in the cafeteria very soon!)

We hope this gives you a snapshot of John Swett Elementary and Team Kid. Yes, Team Kid is everywhere on campus, on our website, on Twitter, our Superintendent even uses it, it's contagious!


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Connection/Inspiration Central #wiredprincipal This Week #savmp

So much of life is about connecting with others and being inspired by what you see/hear/do/experience. I can remember my first time being outside of the US, my entire thought process on life changed in an instant. Hearing different languages, meeting new people, food, culture, all completely blew the lid off what I was used to and felt was normal!

Twitter has been the 'blew the lid off' of educational connections for me in the past two years. Meeting/connecting with educators across the country has opened my mind and school in amazing ways.

Here's an example from this past week alone......

- This past week (four days with the holiday) we tweeted 57 times from our school account @jseroadrunners check out our teachers for all their sharing as well!

- @jkloczko and @ucdjoe came to John Swett for a visit this past Wednesday. We had GREAT conversation while visiting classrooms and are humbled by both their blog posts about their visit! (see below)
Jennifer's blog post
Joe blog post

- @Karkenkam who is a Principal in Utah Tweeted me a few weeks ago about getting his staff on Twitter, he'd heard about John Swett through @ecsaibel We finally hooked up on the phone this week and talked for about an hour. Twitter, blogging, being wired/inspired/brave when people around you are NOT. Great to connect with someone across state lines!

- Recorded a This Week With Sully, listen here!

- @edwebnet hosts some really great Webinars (I presented one on @audioBoo earlier in the year!) and @NMHS_Principal hosted one this week about school culture, branding and tech in schools that I hopped in on for a while. So great to see educators from around the US/World getting together to learn.

- @svcue announced their session offerings for the upcoming CUE event March 8th. Check them out and sign-up! My #edufabulous 5th grade team @MrsRocheJSE + @CKolb01 + @JenniferDeWeerd will be presenting on what a 1:1 laptop environment looks like #forreal in 5th grade.

I'll be co-presenting with @CAshleywilliams on using voice/podcasting in education with @AudiobooAmerica

And I'll also be presenting a 105 minute hands-on session for Administrators - "How to Run Your School From Your iPhone!"

Sign-up here!

@MsKyWilliams one of my #edurocking 1st grade teachers and myself hosted a #twitterparty for another elementary school in our district! @ljebullpups We signed up over ten teachers to Twitter and helped them get connected!

There you go, this week with Mr. Welcome!

Check out our Flickr page.....

Next blog post will be talking about this article in Venture Beat, education needs to have more of a business mentality, in my opinion! #standby #teamkid

Monday, January 20, 2014

Being Well Rounded #savmp

Growing up my father was an elementary school teacher and spending lots of time in his classrooms over the years really helped to shape my thinking and educational ideology. My dad was always a very innovative and caring teacher who worked in some very challenging school environments where the majority of students did not have a stable home life. I always saw my dad balance the need to have an academically rigorous classroom, and also play kickball with his class on Friday afternoons to enjoy the sunshine and have some extra recess! (Read this article about the school day in Finland!)

During my classroom teaching years I strived for the same balance, to have a well rounded approach to education and my classes. I can remember countless students who were always so overjoyed to get their first report card from me. All the positive comments and grades they had never before received. It always surprised me to hear this, what were the previous teachers doing? Holding them back by not giving them the grades they deserved. After that first report card 'those' students began to work SO much harder for me! Why? They knew I cared about them and there was more to my classroom than worksheets and homework....we were balanced and well rounded!

Being well rounded now is even more important for me as an Elementary School Principal. Of course academic rigor in the classroom is extremely important on so many levels, but so is having conversations with kids during lunch. Knowing each and every students name in the school! Being 'all-time' pitcher during recess for 2nd grade kickball games. Tweeting all the great things I see on a daily basis to share with the community/world! Not being punitive with discipline, so many times a face to face conversation with a student and the promise of NOT calling home this time is all that needs to happen. Being a kid is hard, especially in 2014 and being on Team Kid makes it that much more important to have empathy and lots of patience/understanding!

Becoming a parent has undoubtedly made me a more well rounded educator on so many different levels. When my wife and I started looking at preschools for our daughter, she first asked me what I would be looking for when visiting schools! I of course wanted a well rounded environment that balanced play and some level of conversation around academics.

I have been reading a lot the past two years about Finland and their education system. Pasi Sahlberg has written a great book about the educational approach in Finland and I highly recommend you check it out! I've also been reading a great blog by an American (Tim Walker) who is now living and teaching in Finland which you should really check out. The differences (and Finnish balance) in our education systems is staggering and his writing really has me analyzing ours and looking for opportunities to change!

How are you ensuring your classroom/school/district is well rounded and balanced? 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Find Somewhere to Visit

Alan November is holding a three day conference through the Contra Costa County Office of Education that I'm attending and he spoke a ton during the first session about helping educators see the light if you will with integrating technology into their classrooms. Many different educators in the room shared their insights, ideas and some opposition to technology in classrooms.

I've reflected a ton since that first session in November and have also purchased and read Alan's book where he goes into deeper explanation with ideas for integration. During the first session I also commented to the entire group, giving my input as a former elementary teacher, Assistant Principal and now Principal.

Visiting model schools/classrooms is the quickest way to move a staff/Principal in the right direction, in my opinion. Seeing a school/classroom that is working and seamlessly integrating (not substituting) devices across the curriculum can be game changing. I also see way too many schools just buying the devices without having the foundational knowledge to leverage the learning.

Find a school, go visit, ask questions, get inspired and #makeithappen!

The document below was created by a 5th grade student at my school using Google Docs. Students had to create a fraction poster with paper or via their Google Drive, 27/30 decided to use Google!

Students are also constantly sharing their work with me on Google and I'm able to comment and also share their work with a much bigger audience, talk about being connected to my students and giving instant feedback!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How I Run My School Via iPhone and Why #wiredprincipal #savmp

This post has been drafted on my laptop for a couple of days and has yet to be published, life as an Elementary Principal can get BUSY, good thing I run my school via iPhone, I'm not sure how else I would do it. 

- Of course Principals get tons of emails everyday and having my email on the phone is extremely helpful. My mentality is I would rather 'maintain' my email flow throughout the day, not check it twice a day and have 20+ new messages. 

- When I first got hired at John Swett as Principal I introduced Google Calendar to my office manager and gave her control. Told her to run my schedule and trained her on how to use Google Calendar. After a couple of days she asked me, "You're never in your office, how do you always know about appointments that I book for you, you always show up right on time?" Being mobile with your calendar is a must!

- Evernote is hands down the most time saving, efficient and useful app on my iPhone. Any and all notes I take are with Evernote because they sync with all my devices and you can always log onto the web browser to see/retrieve your notes. 

All my teacher observation notes are taken in Evernote, and organized in each teachers folder for easy use later on when I write up the evaluations. This is great because I can be in an observation taking notes on my MacBook Air or iPad, take a photo (with my iPhone) of something awesome in class during the observation and the photo automatically syncs with the Evernote I'm currently working on. 

(To slow down.....I can be taking an  Evernote on my laptop, take a picture with my phone on the same note simultaneously and they ALL sync together)

- Twitter has changed my life, my school, my teachers and the parent community as we interact in a totally new way. I love Twitter because it's like Open House all year/day long, sharing the amazing work our teachers/students are doing on a daily basis. I have parents who tell me they check our feed (which is also on our school homepage) each day to see what happened at school. This has become contagious and now my ENTIRE staff is on Twitter sharing the goodness from their room. It opens doors in an amazing way! @jseroadrunners

- Google Drive is a must app on your phone so you can access all your documents. Great example is earlier this week we were short a substitute teacher and I was running around covering classes and such. Still answering emails in between everything that was going on, got a request from district for a document that I of course accessed from Google Drive on my iPhone an was able to close that loop within just a few minutes. If I didn't carry my phone throughout the day and didn't have all my docs on Google Drive, this would not have been answered or dealt with until 330pm or so, much faster when connected by phone. 

- Remind 101 has been an amazingly convenient addition to our communication stream at John Swett. Parents really appreciate text message reminders and I of course can send them from their web browser but also the app. Yesterday was a great example......we had some new speed bumps installed for our parking lot and I sent a quick Remind heads-up message so parents would know about the change. It's as quick as sending a text message and reaches your entire audience, so cool!

- Google Hangouts has proven itself in numerous different ways. I constantly have numerous 'chats' going on with different people in my district within Gmail, and if I get pulled away from my MacBook Air for whatever reason, those chats can continue via the Google Hangout app on my iPhone. The chats are also archived on the app so you can go back for info later on if needed. Another great way to stay connected throughout the day without being anchored to your office!

And of course, you can 'Hangout' with colleagues during the day on the mobile app as well. We've used this to show off student work or what's going on in a conference (on mute of course)

- I really like Flickr to upload all the photos that I Tweet and we link the page on our school website. It's like a yearbook online throughout the year and it's fun to go back and look at what we've done. I don't keep all the photos I take archived on my phone, so it also acts as an online archive if I need to go pull images for something. 

- Using voice in education is super powerful for many different reasons and audioBoo has been my go-to app for a few years. Recording school messages to email, Tweet or post can all be done from your phone. We do a lot of student recordings and the phone app actually works better/faster than the web browser, check them out!

These are my main apps that help me Run My School Via iPhone.....what are yours?

I'll be presenting on this same topic March 8th at SVCUE, hope to see you there! www.svcue.net

Saturday, January 11, 2014

#geniushour Is SO much more than just #geniushour

Last year I really started to see Tweets and blog posts about #geniushour taking off in classrooms. No teachers at John Swett hopped on board and in truth I didn't promote to them either. I did start thinking about making a 'Creative Space' for kids to hangout and learn but nothing got off the ground.

Then last summer @MrsRocheJSE + @CKolb01 and I attended @EdcampMarin where we REALLY heard a ton about #geniushour and my two 5th grade teachers took off with the idea. It's spread to our 4th grade teachers ( @Sarahwood712 + @JenniferDeWeerd + @MsLeonardJSE ) and I have to say, they love it and so do the kids. 

But listen.....#geniushour is SO much more than just #geniushour! Yes the kids are given freedom to research a topic of their choice, trying to solve a problem, answer a question, prove their parents wrong, etc. #geniushour give kids that entrepreneurial spirit and unleashes so many other amazing attributes of education.

- Creativity
- Utilizing Advanced Google Search to find the BEST possible search results 
- Being philanthropic while looking for new ideas
- Connecting our school and teachers with some in a totally different county, wow! ( @pennpanthers + @mrsnewman014 + @mcandersen88 )
- It literally opens kids brains to a new way of thinking!
- It's Common Core on SO many levels!
- If you haven't tried it, Tweet the teachers listed in this post and they'll help you get started!

Below are just a few Tweets from yesterday afternoon during #geniushour time, enjoy!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman - Recommended Reading - Blogging Challenge

Thank you again to @kellyhines for her Blogging Challenge ideas, here's some Recommended Reading for all educators. 

Being a father I read lots of parenting publications, blogs, tweets and books. Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman is such an excellent read and made me a better parent and Principal.....I'm serious!

The French (like any country) do things much differently than here in the states, but there are so many great tidbits, advice, ideas, examples, funny stories that I (my wife read it also) I have drawn on while being a Principal. 

Highly recommended, check it out! (If you live in the Bay Area I have a copy in my office you can borrow, just Tweet me and I can send your way)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Evernote - Helps Me Run My School - Blogging Challenge

I'm taking some cues from the Kelly Hines 20 Day Blogging Challenge and writing about Day 3! What is a website you cannot live without!

Evernote Evernote Evernote

Since I've been using Evernote (going on five years) I continue to find new ways to utilize throughout my professional/personal life.

I first used Evernote to replace my paper 'to-do' lists that would sit on my desk and sometimes get lost. Now those lists live on ALL of my devices, whenever I need them. Pieces of paper (large or small) cannot follow you throughout the day, I can't say how many times Evernote has helped me with something that in the past would sit on my desk!

As an Administrator, I take ALL my notes throughout the day in Evernote. Administrative meetings, teacher observations, parent meetings, conference notes and much more. With Evernote these aren't just written notes. You can take/upload photos to any note, record audio and attach a pdf if you want.

Ex: I can be in a classroom taking notes on my MacBook Air with Evernote. Something really awesome can happen and I can take a picture of that with my iPhone or iPad and directly sync that photo to a specific note in my Evernote folders. You can even sync the photo to the same note that you're working with on your laptop and it saves it all automatically, wow!

On March 8th I'll be presenting a SVCUE session "How To Run Your School From an iPhone" and Evernote plays a HUGE role in my position as an Elementary Principal!

Have a great day and thanks again to Kelly Hines for the blogging challenge ideas!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

#oneword Depth

I read a great post by @jkloczko on choosing #oneword for the year to focus on and Tweeted this back to her!

After having a great GHO conversation with @PeterMDeWitt yesterday morning and spending the morning at school doing some work before kids come back on Monday, I've had some great reflection time about my #oneword!

We have SO many initiatives in education, so many directions we want to go, or are told to go, or try to go. How many do we sustain or are really sustainable?

Having depth is really important, for consistency, across the campus, across the district, for kids, for parents, for teachers, for principals!

I'm really going to focus on going deep with just a few programs/initiatives/ideas in 2014. It's not that I'm feeling overstretched or that I'm not giving certain programs attention on campus, just want to be very cognizant of my depth this year!

My list for this year!

- Writing Workshop @TCRWP
- Continued PD for staff
- SBAC understanding for Ts and Ss
- Common Core Common Core Common Core
- Have fun on a daily basis at school with kids and focus on #teamkid

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Blogging Challenge Post

I've enjoyed reading MANY of these posts from my Twitter and Feedly feed, hope you enjoy!

Eleven random facts about me....

1. My nickname as a kid was Mr. Excitement!
2. My name is Adam Welcome but Welcome is my married name, my wife and I decided to take her name when we got married, Repicky is my maiden name.
3. For my 30th birthday I hiked solo from Geneva, Switzerland to Nice, France through the Alps, AMAZING trip, 500 kilometers.
4. I met my wife at a half-marathon in the Marin Headlands, she was standing in front of a heater before the race because it was 30 degrees, we got married 100 days later and she beat me in that first race.
5. I became an Assistant Principal at age 29.
6. My dad taught 2nd and 3rd grade in Richmond for 38 years, have great memories of his classroom and connecting with kids, a huge reason I got in to education.
7. My wife and I are still big runners and I've pushed my kids in the running jogger for five half-marathons so far, love having the entire family together.
8. My entire staff is on Twitter! @jseroadrunners
9. I was a student at the school where I'm now principal, small world.
10. I don't eat meat.
11. My dad cried when I was born, he was so happy my older brother would have a sibling to grow up with.

I'm taking the questions from Sergio!

1. Best moment of 2013?
My son being born, we love you Tilden!

2. Michael Jackson or Madonna? Why?
Madonna, my mom used to always play her music when I was a kid.

3. Why did you get into education, what keeps me here?
The educational influence of my dad and I love working with kids, so much fun.

4. What is something you have done/accomplished that I'm proud of?
My two children, raising them is lots of fun and I LOVE teaching them about our planet.

5. If I were not in education, what would I be doing instead.
An Officer in the United States Marine Corps, we can talk about this in person for more details.

6. Best 'moment' in your career as an educator?
The first day of my first year teaching, so excited to meet my class, they're in college now, 5th graders grow up fast!

7. Best gift you ever gave someone?
Donating to World Bicycle Relief on a yearly basis, helping kids in Africa get to school!

8. Share something weird/charming about your family.
My mom married my step-dad in Roquebrune, France....I walked to the wedding after my 500 kilometer hike through the Alps!

9. What is your best personal quality/gift/strength?
I have a GREAT memory for names, I know ALL 498 students in my school, and most of their parents as well!

10. #bestdayever
March 20th, April 10th and January 11th, my wedding day and when my kids were born!

11. What are you most excited for in 2014?
Connecting with other Principals and Teachers, #makingithappen on #teamkid!

I leave with a quote I read......

"Just because it's never been done, doesn't mean it can't be done."

Not sure where I heard that statement, it's probably been repeated by numerous people in different ways.

The other day on a long run, I was thinking.....

"Just because it's always been done, doesn't mean we need to continue."

Make it happen for kids, be brave, go out on a limb, even if people look at you crazy!