Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What's Your Story? #savmp

Here's the script.....

"I don't have time!"
"We can't get wi-fi on campus."
"We don't really have anything to share."
"There are SO many meetings during the day."
"That's totally your thing Adam, what is that called again?"

We've heard all the's 'called' sharing! Sharing all the #eduawesome that's happening at your school. In the business world the term is marketing and companies spend lots of time and money doing this. 

WHY do we wait, for that one day each year called Open House to share the amazing work that's happening at school? (separate post on this idea later) The more your parent community knows what's going on and feels connected, the more supportive and engaged they'll be.

The NY Times doesn't publish a paper once a year, they publish everyday with updates throughout. You can get NASDAQ updates with all your stock quotes daily, from your phone! Schools need to be doing the same, and it starts with the Principal!

Saying you have nothing to share, reminds me of a book I just read. Ralph Tells A Story is an awesome read aloud book (it's my December choice for John Swett) and jumpstart for those Principals that feel they have nothing to share. 

Here's the dust jacket description for the book......

"Nothing ever happens to Ralph. So every day when it's time to write stories, Ralph thinks really hard. He stares at his paper. He stares at the ceiling.

But he has no stories!

With the help of his classmates, Ralph realizes that a great story can be about something very small....and that maybe he really does have some stories to tell."

We're not even talking about entire stories to share, daily nuggets/snippets into the life of your school is enough.

How do we share our story? Twitter and Remind are the two favored apps for John Swett Elementary, with many other supporting apps rounding out our workflow!

What should the Principal (and teachers) be sharing?

- Writers Workshop anchor posters to help parents continue the conversation at home! (Use Remind for this also, great way to instantly tap into your parent community with their attach feature.)
- Students collaborating on their mobile devices
Screenshots of student work in Google Drive
- Tweet of the weeks authored by students
- Photos of our garden
- Book recommendations from kids
- Project Based Learning in action
- Students blogging
Number Talks on the SMART board
- All the Donors Choose grants your staff has posted! We have almost $70,000 in grants funded in just over two years, thank you Twitter!

Below is our first JSE Tweet, little over two years ago! @jseroadrunners

As of this morning, 8,200 and going ENTIRE teaching staff Tweets! 

Principals shouldn't just be curriculum and technology experts, we need to be the Chief Marketing Officer as well. It's not enough to just create a Twitter or Remind account, you need to actively promote. Tell your families, make banners, put on your website, and of course create your own school hashtag. Ours is #teamkid and makes it mush easier for everyone to follow our story. 

We have banners ( on our fence, inside the cafeteria and on the marque. Promote promote promote!

What's Your Story?!?!?!?!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Where's Your Thinking Place #savmp

Each month I read a different book to our classes at John Swett Elementary, it's a great way for me to connect with our students. This month I'm reading 'On A Beam of Light' by Jennifer Berne, which is about Albert Einstein and takes us through his childhood to adult life as an inventor. There are some great simple messages in the book and one page in particular really has me thinking and also discussing with our kids. 

Jennifer writes about Albert having a 'thinking place' somewhere he would go to let his mind wander to access the creativity in his brain. Years ago I discovered where my 'thinking place' was and always return when I need inspiration or to clear my head for a reset.

We've had some great turn-n-talk discussions in class with our students about their 'thinking place' and they may not know where that place is just yet. They may not be able to find that place, it may need to find them and that can take time and discovery.

This is a great conversation with kids, to help them access the genius they have inside. The conversation is also SUPER important to have with adults. 

- Where is your 'thinking place?' 
- How do you find inspiration to innovate?
- Do you have a 'place' or someone to converse with that pushing your thinking?

It's very early in the morning and I'm off to my 'thinking place' - going for a run in the dark to clear my brain and access some inspiration! 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Make ALL Kids Feel Special #savmp #teamkid

Showing videos at our staff gatherings each month has always been a practice of mine, and something I know our staff enjoys. The vast majority of the videos really have nothing to do with education, but there of course is always a hidden message.

I read the NY Times daily and there was an awesome video in their food section a few weeks back that I knew I had to share! Watch the video below, enjoy and think about how you make the students in your school feel special, it's SUPER IMPORTANT!

Of course I always try to make our staff feel special too, It's-It for everyone at our staff gathering yesterday, my teachers were Tweeting about it of course!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Donors Choose, Chevron and Fuel Your Schools! #savmp #teamkid

Donors Choose by itself is an amazing organization! Pair up Donors Choose + Chevron + Fuel Your Schools and it's an EDU-AMAZING organization, let me explain.

Donors Choose and Chevron hook up for their Fuel Your Schools campaign during the month of October. It's really simple, Chevron funds Donors Choose grants for teachers based on the zip code where gas is purchased. So of course we promote the three Chevron stations in our town with the community and the results this year have been outstanding.

$11,000+ in grants from Chevron, thank you so much from the John Swett Elementary staff! #teamkid 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Schools Are A Business #savmp

I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately and throughout my administrative career have heard different viewpoints of course. On the surface schools are not a business, I agree. However, I feel school leaders should run their campuses with a business savvy mind and thought process.

Schools are in the business of kids!

- Kids are the bottom line
- Kids are our profit
- Kids are our stock quote
- Classrooms are the pulse of your school
- Parent involvement is your customer satisfaction survey
- Behavior referrals are the gauge for student engagement in classrooms

How can/why leaders have this mindset?

- Businesses (especially start-ups) tend to have open conversations/discussions that can change their path on a weekly basis. Schools should adapt this type of thinking, change is constant and being slow to change makes it that much harder to do so.
- Utilize Donors Choose as a way to crowdsource funding for classrooms. Don't just write a grant and let it sit, share share share through social media to garner community funding support! At John Swett Elementary we've had almost $70,000 in grants funded in just over two years, thanks to Twitter for helping with our outreach!
- Reach out to the companies you use to run your school. We've built great relationships with RemindVoxerGoogle and Donors Choose. Talking with employees from outside of the education space opens my mind to different ideas and how to run our school. Educators can learn a ton from non-educators, adapt those practices for your school.

- How do you run your school like a business, would love to hear ideas!

It's all about the kids, they are our business!