Get Control of Your Day

Leaders often walk into the office with the goal of having a good day but very few approach the day with a focus and understanding of how to make it happen. One of my mentors once told me to schedule everything in my day in order to ensure the important things get done. This is one of those “says easy, does hard” according to the authors of The 4 Disciplines of Execution (McChesney, Covey, & Huling, 2014). I spent weeks working to develop the right balance of scheduled instructional leadership time and structured office time. Though I worked out a balanced schedule that worked for me, the key was to use it.

Everything goes and comes in waves.

Unknowingly, I revert back to my old schedule sometimes. When my day owns me, it typically goes like this. I walk into the office and I am met with teachers or parents. I end up trapped in my office having conversations until mid-morning. The conversations end and I get to work following up on all of the commitments that I just made. Wow! It’s lunchtime already. I head to classrooms to get in some walkthroughs. Lastly, I spend the latter half of the day dealing with my whirlwind.

Being controlled by your day is not fun. It’s time to get some control.

I pull out the trusty dusty calendar scheduling tools (pick.co and calendly.com) and go to work on getting control of my day. I know that when I own my day, I walk out of the building like a boss (cue the music). I plan and execute my day to perfection. An emergent situation comes up and I handle it without a significant impact to my schedule.  Walkthroughs, teacher meetings, and powerful student conversations are all executed seamlessly. Read More

Create a Culture of Performance

Every organization creates goals and strategic steps to move them towards achieving their goals. What is rare are the organizations that repeatedly go through this process and are successful every year. The successful organizations have something that the others do not have. They have a culture of performance and success. Read More

3 Essentials for High-Quality Teaching

Every student deserves access to curriculum and instruction that is consistent and effective. I often ask teachers on my campus to reflect on their implementation of effective instructional practices. Doing so requires a certain level of vulnerability and discomfort but is essential to ensuring that all students learn. Asking teachers to be vulnerable and take risks requires administrators to take an approach of learning to power with as opposed to power over (Johnson, Leibotwitz, & Perret, 2017).

As a result of this coaching approach, my school’s leadership has identified what we call the 3 Essentials for High-Quality Teaching to Ensure Learning. We have committed to focus on these essentials for high-quality teaching to accomplish our goal of evaluating the efficacy of our teaching practices throughout the year. During the year coaches frequently ask their players to focus on the process and details in order to ensure success.  We are asking our teachers to focus on these three essentials for high-quality teaching to ensure learning as part of our process. When effective teaching practices are implemented in a systematic fashion that allows space and flexibility for the art of teaching, students experience education in a way that inspires them to become lifelong learners. Read More

18 Walkthroughs Is Not Enough

Eighteen walkthroughs in a week. The hard part was providing meaningful feedback. I set a goal this week to get eighteen walkthroughs in and provide teachers with meaningful feedback on their instructional practice. I knew that this was an audacious goal, but I knew that I would be a better leader even I didn’t achieve it. I’ve always believed that striving for greatness makes us all better so, I took a chance and aimed high.

I failed miserably at my goal this week. I was able to accomplish the walkthroughs but my feedback left more to be desired.  Mid-way through the week, I recalibrated my goal of providing meaningful feedback because I discovered that I didn’t have a system to provide it to teachers. So, I took myself through the process of design thinking. I created a Google Form that incorporated the instructional focus of our campus for the year but the key component of the form was the comments section. By the end of the week, I was able to narrow down the process of how I will give meaningful feedback to teachers for the remainder of the year. A vital part of the process was to seek critique from a few teachers who would really challenge my way of thinking. Read More

Back to School: Sometimes We Are All Middle Schoolers

Another first day of school is in the books. We greeted students with a walk down the red carpet as Paparazzi took their photo behind the news Banner. The kids had an absolute blast. This didn’t stop us from having a few students who were overwhelmed by the whole experience. Our goal was to make every student feel welcome and special on their first day of school. Mission accomplished…mostly.
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Why You Should Build A Twitter PLN

A Twitter Professional Learning Network (PLN) can do great things for your professional learning. A few years ago, I didn’t understand the impact that building a network of fellow educators online could have on my professional practice as a leader. I was primarily focused on face to face networking. What a difference two years can make. My Twitter PLN has taught me more than I could have ever imagined. Read More

3 Ways to Create Student Buy-In

Student buy-in is one of the many focal points for school teachers and administrators every year. Students have many things competing for their attention; i.e. video games, sports teams, television, outside activities, and friendships are a few of things drawing attention from kids. These attention grabbers do a great job of providing kids with a sense of connection that schools seek to create as well. Creating a strong sense of student buy-in is possible if approached from many angles.  Implement structures like houses, positive office referrals, and Fun Fridays to engage your students. Read More

Engage Students Through Choice

Students have many choices in the district that I work.  They have the option to attend one of our traditional schools or one of our school/programs of choice.  This is an interesting phenomenon as I have the chance to speak with parents to get feedback on the process and options that they have as families.  11-13 year old students have the opportunity to choose where they go to school.  This leads to high school students who know the path that they want to pursue for graduation.  I am so excited to be part of the choices that we offer students.  When we as public educators compete for students, our families gain access to the highest quality educational experiences for their children. Read More

Keeping it Simple with Edtech

I was recently asked a question about the SAMR model: How does teacher awareness of the #SAMR model affect tech integration?  My first thought was that we overthink edtech sometimes.  I’m not particularly a fan of the SAMR model because I think that forces teachers into a box.  Some teachers are afraid to integrate edtech into their classrooms because they struggle to understand SMAR.  Here is a way to keep it simple when it comes to edtech. Read More