Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

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. 

today was a good day

Today was a good day for me.  I was fortunate to hear two great educators — Todd Whitaker (@ToddWhitaker) and Eric Sheninger (@E_Sheninger) and while both of them had different points in their sessions, they both had a common focus, which should be our focus in everything we do in our schools.  We need to focus all our efforts so the students can benefit in their learning. We (the adults) have to improve ourselves and what we do in order to create an environment at our schools to where the students can benefit, which means learning and being prepared for life — today and after high school.

Most of our schools are not like it is in the real world, and we must do whatever we can to change this.  I’m talking about everything in our schools … from the actual school day and how it is divided up, to how we treat the other adults and how we treat the students, to how we use the everyday tools that we all now have, to how we learn, to everything. We need to open our eyes, out hearts, our minds, and begin to assess what we are doing NOW and evaluate that against where we need to be and decide what we need to do so that we can begin that move in the right direction.

I also attended a session today from Abi Adam (@aquatexas), Technology Specialist from Seminole ISD and Kevin McCasland, Principal of Seminole High School. This was something I was looking forward to since I first got the conference program and started mapping out my sessions.  This title of this session was Taking Paperless Beyond the Classroom, Effective workflow practices through the use of Google applications.  I know that there are a wealth of tools from Google that are FREE and that can help me be more efficient, and I want to learn more about them so we can be more effective at my school.

One specific topic within this session that I was particularly interested in was what time during the day they scheduled their mandatory tutorials and how they scheduled the students for this time. There are many different approaches and thoughts on this subject, and I am always looking at other schools and how they do it.  To me, this is one area from my school that I will tweak so that we can be more efficient and maximize the time that we can help our students be more successful.  This session goes together with one I attended yesterday with Lyndsae Benton, Principal from Crowley High School and Stefani Allen, Principal from North Crowley High School where they use what they call “Power Hour” to transform their campus culture and increase / improve their test scores and student achievement.

Today was a good day.  So was yesterday.  I, along with principals from all over the great state of Texas (and from other states too) are fortunate to be able to attend this conference to learn and grow.  Thank you @TASSP1 for a great summer workshop.

Click HERE for the link to resources that Eric Sheninger shared today

Click HERE for resources that Angela Maiers shared yesterday.  (This is a topic that I will come back to in another blog post)

I want to leave you with these words … this picture says it all !!!

never stop learning

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

To begin with … I am, and have been, a supporter of social media.  I have been on Twitter since June of 2012 when I went to the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals Summer Workshop in Austin and went to a session on using Twitter as a tool for personalized learning. I talked to my teachers about it and many of them have also joined in and use Twitter on a regular basis for their own learning and sharing.  I also use Instagram to share pictures and information, mainly because most of my students use it, and I wanted to be able to get information to them as well as show off the good things that are happening at our school.  I do see the value in social media !!

However, I have not ever been on Facebook even though I knew it was the most widely used form of social media. The superintendent at my previous school would not allow us to have a Facebook account for our school (he called it The Evil Empire), so I just didn’t worry about it for my school or for myself.

Facebook

I have been contemplating getting on Facebook for a while now, not really personally, but for my school.  I think we have done a fair job this year of reaching parents, but I knew it could be better.  I got with one of my teachers the other day and she talked me through creating a personal Facebook account so I could then create a Facebook page for our school. After doing this, I linked it with our school’s twitter account so now when I post on Facebook, it automatically posts on Twitter. That was one benefit … one post goes to two places, but the main benefit so far has been the ability to reach so many more people.  To be honest, I was really amazed and pleasantly surprised.  In just a few days of my school being on Facebook, we have tripled the amount of people who we reach and that are able to get information.  Now more people can see all the good things that are happening at our school.  It is important that we tell our stories of all the good things that are happening in our schools because many people never hear about the good … they only hear the bad … and if that’s all they hear, then that’s all they think is happening.  People thrive on the negative, but I want to spread the positive.

So with that, I am now officially personally on Facebook and I am a little shocked.  It amazes me not only the sheer number of people that are on Facebook but also how much time people are on it as well as the amount of information that gets posted.  I have used Twitter as a tool for my own learning and then occasionally I would share something that is just useless random information.  But with Facebook, I will have to get used to people putting every bit of their personal information out there for people to see and read about.  And I will have to caution myself to not do that as well.

Being on Facebook for these last few days has really opened my eyes even wider to the value of social media and the ability to reach so many people.  It also has reminded me to be wary of the pitfalls and that we should exercise some caution while connecting in the world of Facebook.

And to anybody who is my friend on Facebook, please be patient with me as I am still learning.

Today I was looking through my twitter feed and came across these pics and I thought they were very relevant so I thought I’d share.

Blog 1

blog 2

blog 3

blog 4

Leave a comment and let me know what your thoughts are.

Frustrated

Posted: March 1, 2015 in Attitude, choice, Leadership
Tags: , ,

Bang Head Here

Have you ever gotten frustrated?  I know, that’s a dumb question because we all have.  I guess the better question is How do you deal with Frustration?  Do you keep on doing the same thing hoping it will get better or change or do you do something different?

We (teachers, administrators, parents, students) all get frustrated from time to time … this is a given.  How we deal with this frustration determines if we will end up being successful or not.  We can blame others or we can look at ourselves and our actions.  We can’t control what someone else does … we can only control our what we do.

So here’s the challenge to myself — look at what I can do differently to get the results I want.

It’s really that simple.

One Word

I’ve been off from work/school going on two weeks now. (It’s great getting two weeks off every year for Christmas and New year’s !!!) I’ve been really thinking a lot about writing a new post for this blog for a while, even before Christmas Break. I’ve had a few ideas, but I really never just sat down and took the time to actually put the words down.  I have been reading tweets everyday and stalking around on Instagram.  I’ve been going back over some of my older posts in this blog.  I’ve been staying up late at night and sleeping in late in the mornings.  I’ve been watching a lot of good football games.  I went to ATT Stadium in Arlington and watch some great Texas High School Football State Championship games. I watched some great College football bowl games too.  And for what it’s worth, I am glad to finally see a college football playoff format that the National Champion will be determined on the field rather than from computer rankings.

I’ve been doing a lot of different things but nothing really productive.

Just the other day was January 1, 2015. I read a lot about resolutions, etc. from many people.  But I didn’t make one. I wanted to.  I actually thought of many different things I am going to do differently this year, but I still didn’t make a resolution.

This morning I was sitting on my couch watching East Carolina and Florida play in The Birmingham Bowl. (I still can’t get over some of the bowl games that are played AFTER the major bowl games!!) As I was watching this game I was creating a “Back to School’ post on my school blog called Preparations for the Second Semester.  Within this post, I posed the question:  If you could choose one word that describes what you want to do in 2015, what would that word be? I asked my faculty and staff to email or text me their One Word.

Then tonight as I was going through my twitter feed, and came across a tweet from Tia Henriksen, a K-7 Principal from Langley, BC.  (You can follow her on twitter @TiaHenriksen).  In this tweet was the following video and it really says it all. There’s nothing else I need to add to it.

It’s funny how some things happen.  This video goes right along with my question I asked my faculty and staff this morning.

I saved it to my Pocket account and now I want to share it with you.  I hope you enjoy.

By the way, my One Word for 2015 is FOCUS.

What’s yours?  Please leave a comment and share.