Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ten Minutes #savmp

There's real power in ten minutes!

You may think ten minutes is overrated? You can't get much done? You'll take a few minutes to breath and hang out in your office.

I say you're wrong. Ten minutes is an enormous amount of time. You can get a ton done in five minutes. When I was at Officer School in Quantico, Virginia we'd have 90 seconds to complete most tasks. If they gave us three minutes to do something it felt like an eternity.

I bring up the idea of ten minutes because each minute a Principal is in their office, finishing paperwork, not being seen by kids, not interacting with teachers, not connecting with the curriculum, it's missed opportunities to connect with kids.

Simple challenge -

- See how many classrooms you can visit in ten minutes.
- How many pictures you can take and share with your school community as you visit in just ten minutes.
- How many high-fives you can give out in ten minutes.
- How many kids you can talk with in ten minutes.
- How many teachers you can check in with in just ten minutes.
- How many Google Docs you can have kids share with you in ten minutes.
- How many basketball shots can you take in ten minutes at recess.
- How many positive phone calls you can make home to parents in ten minutes.
- How many probing questions you can ask kids in ten minutes.
- How many kids you can make smile in ten minutes.

You can do it, make it happen, go be awesome for kids!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Patience In Third Gear #savmp


Do you ever feel like a Ferrari in third gear? Cruising along the boulevard, feeling pretty good - but knowing that you have three more gears in the transmission and you really want to see where they take you. You have enough road in front of you, plenty of gas in the tank and it's time to shift.......

But you can't. Maybe you're worried you'll drive too fast and get pulled over. There's a stoplight up ahead and it's about to turn red. Or maybe you work in education?

In the education world, the Ferrari in third gear feeling happens on too many occasions. I talk with way to many school leaders who feel the same and are in the same position.

Ready to shift - ready to open it up - ready to blow the doors off - ready to see what they can do - see how fast they can drive - see how far they can go. But they can't.

They have someone telling them no. It's too fast, you need to slow down. You need to have PATIENCE. You need to wait. Focus on the nuts and bolts. No new ideas please. How will that raise test scores?

How many 4th graders do you know that talk about their test scores on the weekend? How many kids tell their grandparents what their standardized test scores are? I. Don't. Know Any.

What they do tell them about are the awesome Genius Hour projects they're working on in class. How they just started using Minecraft Edu in the computer lab to build their California Missions and they LOVE it! How they're coding in school and the Hour of Code is finished, but they're still coding in school! How they have Sphero robots in class and their teacher has them program figure eights as a way to teach math and problem solving!

How can we in good conscience slow down when we're talking about kids? When we're trying to move the educational program forward for kids! Open up doors and opportunities for kids! Expose kids to new programs and ideas that will make them even more excited to be at school.

Wanting to shift into a higher gear for kids is an educational right they deserve!

I'm patient for the tulips in my garden to bloom - my crock pot takes all day to cook - long term financial investments take patience - watching the lakes in California fill back up after our drought takes patience - but having patience to support kids in school with new and innovative ideas should not take patience.

It should be a priority that we make for our kids. It should take precedence over everything else we do. It should be number one on our list. It should be the mission and vision of every school and district in our country. It should be what we strive for as educators. We're in the business of opening doors for kids, showing them what's possible, how far they can go - you can't do that if you're stuck in third gear.

It's like that scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off - there's this beautiful sports car and it never gets driven. A car is meant to be driven, especially a convertible. See what it can do, open it up and get after it!

Go get after it for kids, they deserve it,  need it and want it!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

My Dad #savmp

There's a ton of amazing things happening in my personal and professional life right now, I wish my dad was here so I could share with him.

Growing up in my dads classroom was awesome, he taught 2nd and 3rd grade for 35+ years in West Contra Costa Unified School District. I can remember visiting his class when I was younger than his 2nd graders, thinking they were so big and cool! I also thought my dad was super cool - a teacher, in charge of these twenty kids each year. Talking with them, molding them, modeling for them, teaching them violin, being an all around role model really.

Many of the students in my dads class had pretty rough home lives. Only one parent at home, no parents at home, jail - I can remember him telling me the stories. Being a teacher is like being a dad sometimes. I even feel like I'm a mom sometimes at school, I'm pretty sure my dad played that role for his students all those years!

There's no doubt that I'm in education today because of the influence my dad had on me. My dad has been gone four years now, he's already missed so much over that time, but just last week is when it's really starting to be real.

The crazy thing is that I called my dad every single morning on my way to school. He was usually at home and hadn't left yet, but we'd talk about school, lessons, colleagues, kids, current events, politics and of course traveling.

I think it really hit me this week because I have quite a few really big things happening in my professional life right now (I can't announce some of them yet) and he's not here for me to tell him. My mom is my other best friend and lives only eight minutes away from me, but for some reason it isn't the same talking about my educational accomplishments.

My dad would understand - he was an award winning teacher himself. My dad was awarded the Warren Eukel Teacher Trust award in 2000 which is a pretty big deal in the Bay Area. He was always the best celebrator too! Whenever something awesome happened to myself or one of my brothers, he was there with flowers, balloons, a new laptop, pizza, coffee, a flight to Ireland, anything that would make us feel special!

Cancer really sucks, my dad fought for five years and it finally took his life. All I can say is that I'm the husband, father and educator I am today because of him. I may not blog enough, respond to enough Tweets, chime in on Voxer enough - it's because I'm focusing on being a husband and a father. Just hoping I can be as awesome as my dad was for me!

My dad had a sign on his classroom door that said - "Only Kind Words Allowed" Our Kids Deserve It message today is dedicated to my dad.

My dad and I hanging out in Dublin, Ireland!

Last photo with my dad in San Luis Obispo, he passed away two weeks later. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

How Voxer Has Changed Our Life #PrincipalsInAction #savmp


All of us at some point have been skeptical about something, until that moment when we 'Drank the Kool-Aid' either in our professional or personal lives! I've heard many educators tell me they signed up for Twitter and didn't really understand it for two years. It took that one interaction to get them hooked and start using with fidelity.

Being a Principal can be extremely lonely, there's always questions or ideas that you want to bounce off of someone else - it can be super isolating.

If you choose to be on administrative island in 2016, that's totally up to you. If you haven't heard of Voxer, or you aren't connected with your colleagues on Voxer - You. Are. Missing. Out!

There's a tribe of Principals from around the country that talk, collaborate, cry, laugh, commiserate and discuss Principal life every single day. We've all drank the Voxer kool-aid, it's changed our lives and it can change your's too! NAESP even recognized #PrincipalsInAction as a Top Twitter Hashtag to Follow in their January Communicator - our Voxer group is rocking too!

Listen to the Principals below tell you How Voxer Has Changed Their Life! Sign-up, get your colleagues signed-up, don't make excuses, get connected now and deepen the conversation - because kids deserve you to be connected!

Please listen to them all, it was amazing compiling these responses from my fellow Principals, most of whom I've never met in person, but I feel like we're all friends!