For the last few weeks everybody in the world has, in some way, been dealing with the current Coronavirus Crisis. Unfortunately all schools in the US have been shut down without students physically in the buildings … some for the rest of the semester and some just temporarily. This is a bad situation!! Even as bad as it is, there will be some positives that we get from it.

Jon Gordon’s, The Energy Bus, follows George, who is forced to ride the bus to work because of a flat tire on his car. George meets a unique bus driver and an interesting other bus riders who, over the course of two weeks share the 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy. In the process, they help George turn around his life, his team at work, and his marriage. While our current situation RE: The Coronavirus is very different than having a flat tire, it is a setback to our normal lives, adversity that we are all having to deal with.

If we take the 10 rules from The Energy Bus, and apply them to our current situation, and with a positive mindset, we can, and will, overcome this adversity.

Rule #1 — You’re the Driver of Your Bus

People feel like they didn’t have a choice in this so they give up. You do have a choice. Choose to follow what the CDC and what the doctors and government officials are telling us and things will get better. It all starts with a DECISION. Choose to be positive by doing what the experts are telling us to do.

Rule # 2 — Desire, Vision, and Focus Move Your Bus In the Right Direction

The more you focus on something the more it shows up in our lives. This Coronavirus is the focus of everything in our society right now. Don’t focus on and complain about the things we can’t do right now. Think about dong what you can to stay healthy. Complaining is focusing on the negative.

Rule # 3 — Fuel Your Ride With Positive Energy

There is power in positive energy!! Choosing positive energy is important because there are so many negative people in this negative situation and they can knock you off course. One passenger on the Energy Bus is Danny. Danny shares this formula: E + P = O {E = Events P = Perception O = Outcomes}

You can’t control this event but you can control your perception. Your perception can control the outcome. Positive energy and positive people create positive results.

Rule #4 — Invite People on Your Bus and Share Your Vision for the Road Ahead

I have been watching the daily news conference of the Governor of New York and also the daily news conference of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force. They have put together good teams of experts, created positive energy, and are sharing their visions and expectations. By doing this, they are creating positive energy that we all need right now.

Rule # 5 — Don’t Waste Your Energy on Those Who Don’t Get On Your Bus

There is a lot of negativity and it’s everywhere. This is so unfortunate, but it happens. How do you deal with it? You ignore the negative as best you can and focus on being more positive. Unfortunately, there are those in society who are not following the advise of these experts, and by doing so, they are creating more problems for the rest of us and these problems can have very serious consequences. In this case, we cannot ignore these people. We must focus on continuing to get the positive message out there so they will take heed and quit jeopardizing the health of everyone else.

Rule #6 — Post a Sign That Says: NO ENERGY VAMPIRES ALLOWED

At the President’s Daily news briefing, there are many journalists who are so against our president that they, instead of focusing on all the good that is coming from this crisis, they are focusing on all the negatives and are asking questions that are trying to make the president look bad. This is so unfortunate. At these press conferences, I would love to hear the President call one of these reporters an Energy Vampire. I would also love to see a sign, a banner, or something that says NO ENERGY VAMPIRES ALLOWED !!!!!

Rule # 7 — Enthusiasm Attracts More Passengers and Energizes Them During The Ride

Positive energy works. Be the CEO — Chief Energy Officer — and be excited, positive, and optimistic. There will always be good that comes from a bad situation. Be enthusiastic. People will notice it and get on your bus. A positive culture will outperform a negative culture every time.

Rule # 8 — Love Your Passengers

You need to let people know that you love and care about them. In this time of crisis, we are having to do things in our schools we have never done before. There is a lot of unknown. We need to let our students and our teachers and our parents know that we really care about them and that we are going to do the best we can for them. Then we have to show them with our positive words and actions.

Rule # 9 — Drive With Purpose

In our current situation, our purpose has somewhat shifted. As we can no longer go about our daily lives as we used to, we now must go about them in a different way. And we must be energetic and focused in creating this new environment in our schools. In doing so, and even though everything is different, we will create the most positive outcomes possible.

Rule # 10 — Have Fun and Enjoy the Ride

There will be a lot of stress. There will be a lot of changes. There will be a lot of difficulties. But in all of this, there will also be a lot of good and positive outcomes. This journey into the unknown will be scary, but is can also be fun. Be thankful for everything because it could always be worse. Just know that good things always come from bad situations.

We are facing a lot of adversity in our world right now. We are being challenged. We are being tested. With all of this negativity, if we face everyday with positive energy and with a positive outlook, then we will all be better in the end. We are going to learn a lot about ourselves, our schools, and our society in general. We are going to learn that there are things we can do that we never thought we could. We are all going to be better and stronger after this is all over with.

1000 Miles an Hour

Posted: July 2, 2019 in Uncategorized

My Mind

My mind has been racing!

Ideas.  Thoughts.  To-Do lists.  Reflections from last year.  Plans for the upcoming year.

Things to do at School. Things to do at Home.

Procrastination.

Just have to get it done.

That’s the plan.

 

I just finished reading Essential Truths for Principals by Danny Steele (@steelethoughts) and Todd Whitaker (@toddwhitaker).  This summer our administrative team will be doing a book study over this book.  I’m sure our conversations will be interesting !!

This literally is a book that only takes just a little while to read but it is packed with powerful information that can help all of us.   I highly recommend it.

essentailtruth

 

As I read through this book, I took a few notes that I want to share.

Here are my notes:

  • Rather than trying to do the current things, we must strive to do the important things.
  • It’s about creating a culture of collaboration where teachers learn from and inspire one another.
  • It’s about providing consistent focus every day.
  • Pursue excellence!
  • Culture – Are teachers complaining about student’s behavior or are they sharing the accomplishments of their classes?
  • What matters is not the quality of words in a frame ( the Mission Statement) but the quality of relationships in the building.
  • The success of programs depends on the adults who lead them.
  • Everyone in the school contributes to building a strong school culture.
  • School culture is not about the big things, it’s about the little things.
  • The best instructional initiatives do not count for much if the teachers are not empowered and supported by the administration to carry them out.
  • We can choose to make a difference every day, in spite of adversity.
  • Decisions are not driven by the convenience of the adults but by the needs of the students.
  • Great schools determine what’s best for the students, and then figure out how to make it happen.
  • Engage others in collective pursuits of solutions.
  • Success as a teacher is determined by our relationships, appropriate expectations, and consistency.
  • Happy teachers are more effective teachers.
  • When you remember your “why” it can carry you through the stresses of the day.
  • When you listen to teachers they feel valued. When teachers feel included in the decision-making process, they take ownership in the school … not just their classroom.
  • Teachers are professionals. Treat them like professionals.
  • Micromanagement is the quickest way to destroy the morale of the faculty.
  • Trust is foundational to any healthy school culture.
  • Notice the little things…and recognize it.
  • Never underestimate the value of encouragement.
  • Our job is not to reflect on society, it’s to cultivate society. We have to help improve each student and to help improve the world.
  • We need to be connected. These connections provide camaraderie, encouragement, and inspiration.
  • We all have flaws because, as it turns out, we are all human.
  • We should be patient with one another.
  • You change culture through relationships…one conversation at a time.
  • Great principals walk around … a lot. This is how they validate, recognize, communicate, and how they support.
  • We will not cultivate a culture of growth if we are never willing to step outside of our comfort zone.
  • You do not become awesome by staying the same all the time.
  • Seek to leverage the experiences, passions, and expertise among the staff.
  • Culture is built on the little interactions every day.
  • The quality of the school is directly related to the quality of the teachers.
  • The best way to take care of students is to take care of the teachers.
  • We must focus on making sure every child has a really good teacher.
  • If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid — Albert Einstein.
  • Collaboration is the best way to improve professional practice.
  • Good teachers steal awesome ideas wherever they can find them. (Principals can do this too).
  • Principals can’t mandate collaboration. Best practices are not implemented as a result of mandates. Teachers need to believe in it and feel supported and empowered to implement.
  • It’s the principal’s job to promote a culture within a school where collaboration becomes the norm.
  • EdCamp style faculty meeting — get topics and each teacher gets 7 minutes to discuss their topic. Then they rotate.
  • Twitter chat – faculty meeting. Use certain hashtag(s)
  • Positive reinforcement goes a long way in promoting professional behaviors that characterize great schools.
  • What gets validated gets replicated.
  • Schools with a healthy culture have adults who talk to each other.
  • Never underestimate the importance of personal communication.
  • Make sure to have a strong relationship with your support staff.
  • Welcome new perspectives and ideas that can help us all become even better.
  • Encouraging words never get old. Ever.
  • The best faculties function as a team — as a cohesive unit.
  • Principals cannot force “buy in”.   Teachers “choose” to buy in.
  • When teachers feel support, they are much more receptive to instructional leadership.
  • Excellence is what results from thinking “good enough” is never good enough.
  • Educators who are extraordinary became that way by making lots of little decisions to rise above mediocrity.
  • Student achievement happens … When students are inspired. When teachers are empowered. When teachers have maximized their instructional efficacy through professional collaboration. When adults share a common commitment to connecting with students in the school.
  • Student achievement is a function of student engagement.
  • Don’t just focus on test scores. Focus on student engagement.
  • Complaining is injecting negative energy into a situation.
  • Don’t just complain, look for solutions.
  • Good school culture is not accidental.
  • Good school culture results when all adults in the building are motivated to do what is best for kids.
  • Good school culture is a reflection of everyone in the building.
  • It doesn’t cost anything to focus on the students. To collaborate. To keep a positive attitude.
  • Administrators have greater credibility when the teachers know they are aware of the realities of the classroom.
  • Make the most of unscheduled and unplanned moments. They could end up being the most important moments of your day.
  • Don’t just evaluate … support.
  • Have a commitment to rise above the status quo.
  • What if … !!!
  • Micromanaging yields bare minimum performance.
  • Reflection is important for all of us.
  • Good administrators should never lose sight of what we ask of our teachers. We need to look for ways to lighten the load.
  • To impact student achievement it’s important to invest energy into creating a school culture where teachers and students are engaged in the educational process.
  • My attitude affects your attitude.

 

As you read this, I hope you can reflect on your own situation at your school.  As we reflect we can only get better.  When we get better, everyone gets better.

Have a great day.

learning

This summer I want my teachers to get more accustomed to reading and sharing so we can all learn from each other.   I know that teachers do want to learn and value learning.  I know they also value choice and freedom to learn on their own terms.  I know that we can all learn from each other and that when we do, everyone benefits.

For those of us in administrative positions, we must listen to our teachers.  We must value their time.  We must give them the freedom to improve their skills.  We have to give up control of professional development and the thought that we always know best what our teachers need.  We must understand that the vast majority of our teachers want to improve themselves because they know that when they learn new skills, techniques, strategies, etc., and when they share we can all reap the benefits.

That’s why we are in this business of education … to help our students learn and grow and gain new knowledge and skills.   That’s what it’s all about.  It doesn’t matter if you teach Pre-K, 3rd grade, algebra, or world history.  The goal is for the students to know more at the end of the year than they did at the beginning.  The goal is also for teachers (and for me as an administrator) to keep learning and learn more every day.

I also know that there are teachers in all schools (and administrators too) who think they already know everything there is to know about their subject, their grade, and what their students need.  These are the teachers (and administrators too) who do the same things every year at the same time every year.  These are the teachers (and administrators too) who think all students (and teachers) are the same and they will learn it or do it “my way” !!!

These are the ones we need to reach.  We need all teachers (and administrators) on the same page and able to admit that we don’t all know everything there is to know.  We need to learn from each other.  Teachers can not only teach their students, they can teach their fellow teachers, and they can also teach their administrators as well.

We are all fortunate to have those superstar teachers on each of our campuses.  We must take advantage of their skills, their knowledge, their desire to learn and teach.  If we do this, each of our schools will be a better place.  Each of our teachers will be better and more able to teach.  Each of our students will be able to learn and grow and become more knowledgeable.

We all have those teachers who are constantly learning.  And you know what, they don’t save their “learning time” to that first week back from summer break — The Staff Development Week.  To them learning is fun.  But it’s more fun when they are in control, when they have a choice, and when they are given the freedom to learn on their own terms.

So this summer, here is the challenge …. read, learn, and share.  Lets all learn from each other and make ourselves better.

Reflection

Take some time now that the school year is over for REFLECTION.  What area(s) of professional growth do you want to pursue over the summer so you can use next school year?

This is one area that all of us can improve on. We need to be a positive example for everybody in our schools and in our districts, an example not only for the other professionals but also for the students. When you model learning, the students can begin to value learning more. This will only help to make our schools better.

learn grow

Summer is a perfect time for all of us to reflect on our own practices, our own teaching styles, our classes we’ve always taught, our willingness to accept and embrace new challenges and to take on more responsibility in our own professional growth.   All the while understanding that the educational system we’ve all grown so accustomed to has  changed, our students have changed, and that we must begin to change our views as well (even though we are all reluctant to do so).

This challenge is for all of us …

  • reflect
  • read more
  • learn as much as you can
  • reflect some more
  • plan
  • adapt
  • apply
  • grow

Reflect.  Grow.  Be better tomorrow.

 

 

Be Great

Every day in schools, many decisions are made that will have a huge impact on student achievement.  After all, student achievement is our main focus.  The decisions we make determine if we have progress and growth or keep the status-quo.  If we decide to keep doing as we always have, then we won’t have progress.  We won’t grow.  This is not good!

So what does it take to move forward?

It takes vision.  Leaders who don’t have vision will get left behind.  It takes courage.  Leaders without courage will get left behind.  But it also takes a team.  A team with the same vision and courage.  A team that doesn’t want to get left behind.  A team that wants to move forward.

So what are great teams doing?

Great teams are connected.  They have created their own Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) thru Twitter and other social medias.  Administrators, teachers, and other school personnel are now giving and receiving high quality professional development on a daily basis.  This not only benefits the individual, it benefits everyone…students, parents, the entire community.

Great teams are collaborating with others all across the country and even from other countries.  They used to close their doors and just do their own thing.  Now they’re are reaching out to others and sharing ideas.

Members of great teams are taking risks.  “If it works … awesome!”  If it doesn’t, let’s make adjustments and try again.”  This has to be the mindset.  No longer are they doing the same things they’ve done every year.  What is happening is the teachers and administrators are experiencing a refreshing new attitude, one that the students see and will respond to positively.

This year let’s take our schools to another level.  Get connected.  Collaborate.  Take risks.

Be Great.

social-media

As I was sitting in the drive-through line at our local don’t shop this morning, I began reading a blogpost from Eric Sheninger called Relationships are Everything, http://esheninger.blogspot.com/2017/01/relationships-are-everything.html , and it got me to thinking about my own story involving using social media.  I use social media but I am by far, not a pro at it. 

This is my story….

I’ve been a principal for 16 years now at three different schools.  At my first school, social media was just getting started but most people, including me, didn’t participate.  After a few years as social media grew, I knew about some of it, like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, but I still didn’t participate. 

At my second school I had a superintendent who was dead-set against us using any forms of social media at school, even really in our personal lives.  There was in incident at either our Jr. High or our elementary school and a parent got really upset at something (I don’t even remember what it was).  She BLASTED the school and our superintendent on Facebook.  From that point forward, he referred to Facebook as “The Evil Empire” and he thought there was nothing good that could come from social media, so he really was against it.

It was during this time that I attended a conference in the summer of 2012 and I joined Twitter.  I went to a session and the presenter showed us how she used Twitter as a way to learn.  This was something that was a way for me to expand my own learning opportunities, so I signed up at the end of her session.  She showed me how she looked at someone’s bio, looked at who they were following, and read some of their tweets before she started following them.  That is what I did as well.  Soon, I had built up a pretty good group of people I was following and at the same time, many people started following me. 

I went back to my district and shared what I was doing on Twitter.  I got many of my teachers involved but the other administrators were slow to follow.  Remember, my superintendent thought of Facebook a “The Evil Empire” and he really never got on board with what I was doing with using Twitter as my personal learning network, my PLN.  He did allow me to start a Twitter account for my high school but warned me that if there was anything negative that came from it, I would have to delete the account.  I could use Twitter but NOT Facebook.  In reality, very few of the parents at that time followed us on Twitter.  They were all on Facebook so our communication efforts via social media were very limited.  I eventually started a school Instagram account, so I was able to have Twitter and Instagram but still no Facebook. 

I eventually took a position at my current district and in talking with my new superintendent, he was agreeable to me using Twitter, Instagram, AND Facebook.  He said just to be cautious.  At this time, I was familiar with Twitter and Instagram but not Facebook.  I didn’t even have a personal account, so I got signed up.  I started my own personal Facebook account and also one for my school.  At this time, my school had Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts.  My district did not have an account on any of these nor did the other two schools in my district.  I kept telling them how much of a benefit it is and how we were reaching more people and sharing information and good things that were happening in our school and that they should really get started doing this.

Now our district and all three campuses have Twitter and Facebook accounts (my school is the still the only one who currently has an Instagram account) and this has been very positive for our schools and district.  Even my previous school district still uses social media and even has given in to “The Evil Empire” and began using Facebook.

My personal use of social media has changed a lot since I started being connected.  I have been able to learn from many other administrators from all of the country and the world.  Not only have I been able to learn more, I have been able to learn more of what I wanted to learn.  Rather than just going to a workshop or conference and just keeping all the information to myself, I am able to share with others.  I can learn from others and I can share with others. 

I have a system on how I use social media.  I use Twitter for professional learning and I use Facebook just socially and for fun.  I will share some personal stuff on Twitter, but not very often.  For my school, I am able to connect my Twitter account to my Facebook account so I can just post one time and it posts to both.   When I first started doing this, I would post to Facebook first then is automatically posted to Twitter.  I have since switched this and post to Twitter first and it posts to Facebook automatically. I got this idea from my superintendent.  By posting to Twitter first, when we tweet and have a photo with it, that photo will show up on the Facebook post as well.  When we posted to Facebook first the photos would not show up on Twitter until you clicked on the link.  And I still use Instagram but not as often. 

My goal is to better utilize all forms of social media.  I have a Snapchat account both personally and for my school but I don’t use it.  I keep asking my daughter to teach me how to use it, but she doesn’t want to help me.  I am also going to begin to utilize YouTube for my school.  This is what I am working on now.  Stay tuned.

Since I began my journey into school administration, a lot has changed.  Unfortunately, there are those who do not want to change with the times.  These are the ones who will get left behind.  We must all be open to the new as well as being able to stick with what is working … just making it better.  My social media journey has been fun.  There is something out there every day to learn, videos to watch, new recipes to try, old friends to find, and much more.