Archive for the ‘Principals’ Category

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. 

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Fundamental Change witht he Fundamental 5

 

This is a review of my notes from my final session from this summer’s TASSP Summer Workshop in Austin. In this particular session, Sean Cain, one of the authors of The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction, gives some practical advice to administrators and teachers about how to increase student achievement by following each of the components he outlines in his book.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.  It is an easy read with straight-forward, easy to follow and implement strategies.  This will not be a summary of the book only a summary of my notes from this particular session.  Notes that I took that will help me in my school as we work to increase student achievement.

I am not an advocate of teaching to the test, or CONSTANTLY verbalizing the importance of raising our scores.  My teachers know that we are judged by our scores and they don’t need to be constantly hounded about getting them up.  This is not to say that we “bury our heads in the sand” and do not talk about it.  What we do is work to improve instruction in every classroom every day.  When students know what they will be learning each day, when they exposed to higher-level instructional practices, and they are engaged daily, then our test scores will improve.

 

LESSON FRAME:

We will discuss how the Fundamental 5 transforms classroom instruction.  I will describe the relationship between the Fundamental 5 and improved student performance.

 

What does instruction look like now?  Mostly it is at the COMPREHENSION level.  There is lecture, students are taking notes, and they have homework .  Students are doing something.  Teachers are still teaching like they were back in the 1990’s.   At the best campuses, typical instruction is just under the APPLICATION level.

LOW-YIELD INSTRUCTIONAL PRACTICES

  • whole group instruction
  • lecture
  • worksheets

HIGH-YIELD TEACHER PRACTICES

  • teacher to student feedback
  • questions, cues, and organizers
  • reinforce effort

HIGH-YIELD STUDENT PRACTICES

  • written summarization
  • non-linguistic
  • generalize and test hypothesis
  • cooperative learning
  • student-to-student feedback
  • discussion groups

WRITE CRITICALLY = written similarities and differences, written summarization, note taking

SMALL GROUP, PURPOSEFUL TALK = cooperative learning, student-to-student feedback, discussion groups

If teachers teach the way they always have taught but recognize and reinforce (authentically) they can get up to a 30% increase in student performance.  This is a big increase just by doing this one thing.  It only make sense that when students are doing the right thing, they need to know.

If students are engaged in an academic task and if the teacher monitors and supports this by being in the Power Zone, student performance can also increase.  Teachers can now more easily recognize and reinforce.  All they have to do is start talking to their students.

Students need to write.  There is noting more powerful than writing critically.  This does not mean that students need to write research papers all the time.  They need to write in small to mid sized chunks.  They need to talk & write and write & talk.  If it doesn’t involve talking and writing, it is not a good instructional practice.  This purposeful talk can easily be managed by the teacher being in the power zone.

When the teachers don’t frame their lesson, they haven’t planned enough to know when and where to talk and write.

Here’s a simple solution to increased and improved student achievement:  Expose students to better instruction.  When students are exposed to better instruction, they will  out perform students who are not exposed to better instruction.

Math teachers can easily have students work at the application level if they “solve” problems BUT only if they are solving what they don’t already know.  Otherwise it is only “review”, which is only at the knowledge level.

If the teacher is talking it is only at the Knowledge level.

Fine Arts classes and science labs are at the Application level.  Most of the time the core classes are not at this level.

In order to get to the Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation levels, students must write and students must talk. (write critically, small group, purposeful talk).  The prompt is important and the teacher being in the power zone is vital for them to see and hear what is going on.

No matter how hard the teacher works, if the students are not talking purposefully and writing critically, their instruction will never be above the knowledge, comprehension, and application levels.

Rigor in the classroom is not driven by how hard the teacher works or talks.  Rigor only increases when students talk with a purpose and when they write critically.  They must Talk & Write, and Write & Talk.

The Good Ole Days are now and the Great Days are ahead of us.

 

The Fundamental 5

 

TASSP 3

 

This is my second post as a review of the sessions I attended while at this year’s TASSP Summer Workshop in Austin, Texas.  I was fortunate to, once again, be able to attend this outstanding opportunity for professional development as well as get the opportunity to network with other principals and administrators from across the state.

The second session I attended was from Don Jacobs, an elementary principal from Royce City.  The title to his session was Effective Digital Leadership — Moving Our Schools Forward.  You can follow him on twitter @Don Jacobs.

This session was an excellent opportunity to get some solid information that we can all use immediately.  Here’s a summary of my notes:

  • If you are looking for a timer, just search YouTube.
  • Instead of sending your staff email after email, create a blog and compile all information in a single post and send it once a week.  This will prevent something from getting deleted or lost from all the email that you send.  Pluse each post is archived so you can find all information very easily.
  • If you do a “Teacher of the Month”, use a Google Doc to have everyone vote.  This will automatically tally all votes. (and you can send the link in your weekly blog)
  • Use videos instead of a lengthy email when you really want to explain something.  Post to YouTube and send the link.  This way everyone can watch it over and over if needed.
  • In place of having a parent meeting, make a video and post to YouTube.  Send the link to the parents.
  • Use a video to send to faculty and staff (and you can also have students watch it too) to explain all of the beginning of the year “stuff”
  • When you post videos on YouTube, you can make to where access can only come from a shared link.  You can also make your videos private.
  • Social Media is a great way to communicate with parents.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and also by text message (Remind 101).  Feedback says that this is what parents and kids want.
  • For a school Facebook — create a Page NOT a PROFILE.  go to yoru settings and turn off the page visibility while you are making this.  Set your profanity filter to STRONG.  In Page moderation you can set the list of words that Facebook will block automatically.  You are able to delete and post that is inappropriate.
  • You are able to link Facebook and Twitter together so all you have to do is post to one and it will automatically post to the other.
  • You can also use Remind 101, a free text messaging service that has recently updated the app to where you can tweet the message directly from the app.  If your Twitter is linked to your Facebook to post automatically, then is essence you posted once and it went to three different avenues for communication to parents.
  • Parents generally use on or the other — Facebook and Twitter.
  • Use QR codes for daily announcements.  Post them outside of each teacher’s classrooms as well as various places around campus.  Note:  by doing this you eliminate making announcements over the intercom which means that there can be no last minute announcements.  Everyone must prepare ahead of time.  I got this idea from Victor Sauceda from Granbury High School.  We were sitting next to each other and talking about how to save time during the school day.  You can follow him on twitter @VictorSauceda.
  • Make sure to have a #hashtag for your school and use it every time you tweet.
  • Use edweb.net for free webinars for professional development.
  • Photo Apps that are good…1.  Pic Collage,    2.  Pic Stitch,    3.  Blurr — this one allows you to blur out any student’s face and still be able to post the photo.
  • Presentation / Story Telling apps:  Chatter pix, Haiku Deck — this is a simple way to put a presentation together, Store House, PowToon (www.powtoon.com) — this website allows you to create professional looking presentations with animated videos.
  • Save all your documents to cloud storage like Google Drive, Evernote, Box,  and Dropbox.
  • Kids are fearless when using technology.  Teachers and administrators need to be this way too.

 

 

 

The Modern School Teacher

 

What do teachers need from administrators?  That’s a great question?  It would be nice for administrators to hear straight from teachers on this.

On Wednesday nights at 8:00 CST, you can follow the #TXED chat and find great dialogue from administrators, teachers, and many other educational professionals from Texas, many others states, and even from other countries.  This week the topic up for discussion was WHAT DO TEACHERS NEED FROM ADMINISTRATORS?  It was a fast paced chat as usual, and as I was following along, I tried to write down many of of the comments that teachers made.

What do principals need to keep in mind?  Here is just a sample of what the teachers said …

  1. just listen
  2. always have a bowl of chocolate
  3. teachers need time … allow for personal time
  4. protect instructional time … there needs to be fewer interruptions
  5. model what you want teachers to do
  6. build relationships
  7. be visible
  8. trust teachers
  9. be in classrooms more often and give feedback
  10. celebrate strengths
  11. have a Teacher-Brag-Board, and give shout-outs
  12. realize that the atmosphere and culture are most important
  13. principals need an open door
  14. listen, actively
  15. teachers are problem solvers
  16. going to the bathroom is a luxury
  17. be a mentor
  18. be a collaborator
  19. show, don’t tell
  20. teachers, students, and administrators  — all are learners!

 

Teachers:  What do you think about this list?  Agree?  Disagree?  What can you add to it?

Administrators:  What more can you do to support your teachers?

 

Twitter-icon

Last summer at the TASSP Summer workshop I attended a session on Twitter.  I created a Twitter account during that session and that started me on the path to where I am today.  Now, one year later, I am going to present three sessions on using Twitter to build your PLN (Personal Learning Network).  Up until that point last summer, I relied on others for my professional development, but since then, I have been learning something new almost daily … and it’s been on my own terms.

I would like to acknowledge a few people who I have found through Twitter.  They have shared some resources that I will use during my presentation this week, and without being on Twitter, I would never have been able to find this information as easily as I have.  They are a valuable resource for me, and I am very grateful to each of them for the part they have played in helping me grow as an educator.

Thank you …

  1. Eric Sheninger – @NMHS_Principal – Twitter Resources, Apps, and Tools
  2. Daniel Zeevi – @DanielZeevi – Twitter 101: What is Twitter Really About
  3. Leland Rechis – @leland – Introducing Fast Follow, and Other SMS Tips
  4. Jerry Blumengarten, AKA Cybraryman – @cybraryman1 – Cybraryman’s Internet Catalogue
  5. Tom Murray – @tomascmurray – and Chad Evans – @cevans5095 – Google Doc — Weekly Twitter Chats
  6. Tony Sinanis – @Cantiague_Lead – Everything We Need to Know We Learned on Twitter
  7. Erin Klein – @KleinErin – Twitter for teachers: Erin Klein’s Awesome 10-Minute Video Tells All
  8. Jeff Herb – @jeffherb – How to Join Twitter
  9. Rita Clawson – @RitaClawson – Clawson’s Bloggity
  10. Sally Cariker – @carikers –Random Thoughts and Musings
  11. Jennifer Rogers – Technology Times in an E-Classroom

It truly has been an interesting year for me as far as my professional development goes.  I cannot stress enough how valuable of a tool Twitter is for educators, and I hope that more people get on board.  With Twitter you have access to thousands of teachers, administrators, and other educational professionals throughout the world.  There is no easier way to learn, exchange ideas and be in control of your own professional development.

If you haven’t begun to use Twitter to build your PLN, what are you waiting for?

Educators all across Texas have been anxiously awaiting news of changes to graduation plans, testing, and the accountability system in Texas. While it started off strong, there was a period of roughly one month this spring where there was not a word, no news at all, nothing. We were all hoping something would be done before the End-of-Course tests were to be given this year, but no news came, so schools all across Texas went about business as usual (unfortunately) and administered up to 15 EOC tests. Students loved it. Counselors loved it. Teachers loved it. (YEA, RIGHT!!!). Maybe the only ones who loved it were from Pearson, who had a massive contract for testing in Texas.

This week, as schools began receiving their results on these tests, and as counselors and principals began frantically thinking and planning on just how we would schedule all of the tests again in July for students who had to retest, we get some news. The House and Senate have been meeting in a Conference Committee to work out the details of new graduation plans with different pathways to graduation, new assessment plans that cut the number of End-of-Course tests from 15 to 5, and new details of the accountability system which will be used to rate and measure schools. They plan on voting today, May 26th, on this bill that, I believe, will be great for high school students in Texas.

Texas capitol building

Below is a summary of the bill that will be voted on today. After it is adopted, it will then be sent to Governor Rick Perry to sign into law.

Graduation Plans
House Bill 5 Conference Committee Report

  •   Creates a foundation plan of 22 credits which includes: 4 ELA, 3 Math, 3 Science, 3 Social Studies, 2 Foreign Language, 1 Fine Art, 1 PE and 5 electives.
  • Maintains House language allowing students to earn an additional endorsement in one of five areas: STEM, Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities and Multidisciplinary Studies. Each endorsement requires students to earn a total of 26 credits which includes an additional flexible math credit, flexible science credit and two additional electives.
  • All students must select an endorsement but may opt for only completing the foundation plan after grade 10 with parental consent.
  • Maintains the House language requiring all students to have a personal graduation plan developed with their parents and local educators that promotes college and workforce readiness.
  • Maintains the House language allowing districts to partner with community colleges and industry to develop rigorous courses that address workforce needs, provide technical training and count towards graduation.
  • Maintains the House language directing districts to partner with higher education to provide developmental education courses the senior year in math and English for college bound students not demonstrating college readiness at the end of grade 11.
  • Maintains a distinguished level of performance for students. To earn the distinguished level, students have to complete the requirements of the foundation program, an endorsement and earn an Algebra II credit. Allows students completing the distinguished level to be eligible for college admission under the Top 10% automatic admissions provision. (Similar to current law)
  • Maintains House language allowing all high school graduates to be eligible to apply for admission to Texas public four-year universities.
  • Maintains House language allowing all high school graduates to be eligible to receive a TEXAS Grant
  • Maintains House language allowing current ninth and tenth grade students the benefits of the new structure.

Assessment

  • Reduces the number of required end-of-course assessments from fifteen to five.
  • Allows students to meet their graduation assessment requirement by passing ELA I, ELA II, Algebra I, biology and US History. English Language Arts tests are combined into one assessment instead of separate reading and writing tests.
  • Eliminates the requirement that the end-of-course assessments determine fifteen percent of a student’s course grade and establishes clear graduation requirements for students and parents by eliminating the cumulative score requirement.
  • Provides for transparency by requiring the STAAR exams to be released to the public.
  • Maintains House language allowing satisfactory performance on Advanced Placement exams, SAT exams and the ACT to satisfy graduation requirements.
  • Allows districts at their discretion to administer English III and Algebra II assessments for diagnostic purposes only.
  • Maintains House language allowing current ninth and tenth grade students the benefits of the new assessment program.

Accountability

  • Maintains House language evaluating schools on more measures than state standardized assessment by requiring at least three additional indicators of academic performance including but not limited to percentage of students graduating with endorsements or distinguished level of performance, number of students earning college credit and number of students earning workforce certificates.
  • Establishes a three category rating system that evaluates schools on academic performance, financial performance and community and student engagement.
  • Maintains House language directing the agency and districts to release all three ratings at the same time to provide a clearer understanding of overall school performance.
  • Allows local communities to engage in the accountability process by requiring districts to set goals and evaluate performance locally in addition to state ratings.

From Rep. Aycock’s Office

I would like to hear your thoughts about these changes for graduation, assessments, and accountability.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think and how you feel.

Help Wanted

Before this school year started I did a session on using Twitter.  Some of the teachers that attended have really taken to using Twitter and have done a lot with it throughout this school year so far.  Others, though, for various reasons, have been a little more reluctant to take advantage of it.  It’s also no secret how many of my teachers feel about some of the professional development opportunities that have been forcefully made available to them in previous years.  In many instances, I feel the same way as they do.  That’s what is so great about Twitter.  It puts the teachers in control of their own professional development through the connections they individually make.

As a principal, my main job is to make sure that the teachers are effective in the classroom.  Effective instruction is the best way to increase student achievement.  Each one of my teachers has a unique set of abilities that helps them to be effective in the classroom; however, each one of them also needs improvement.  We all do!  Those teachers who think they don’t ever need to improve should get out of this profession!!  I’m extremely lucky.  I have a great group of teachers at my school that are willing to do whatever they can to make themselves better.

As a principal, another part of my job is to get my teachers the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.  This is where I am asking for your help.  I want to help my teachers make connections with other teachers.  In turn, they can meet other teachers who have the same passion for learning and self-improvement.  In turn, they can learn something new that they can use in their classes.  In turn, they can become better teachers and have more effective instruction.

Here is a list of my teacher’s Twitter handles:

ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS

 

Wright, Lesa @WrightLisa
Nixon, Shane @NixonCoach
Henson, Wendy @WendyHenson225
MATH
Jones, Jamesa @JamesaJones
Soper, Ze Ze @ZeZeSoper
DeLorme, Lily @LilyDeLorme
SCIENCE
Antes, Kerri @KerriAntes
Cariker, Sally @carikers
Brach, Vince @BrachVince
SOCIAL STUDIES
Touchstone, Keith @CoachTouch
Eudy, Jordan @JEudy24
Smith, Doug @smithd0710
SPECIAL EDUCATION
Montgomery, Kim @MontgomeryKim1
ELECTIVES
Anderson, AnthonyBand
@andersona54
Clawson, Rita — Art @RitaClawson
Coleman, Johnny — Ag @JohnnyColeman16
Jones, Roger — Ag @RogerJones2009
Evelyn Nieves — Spanish  @nievesetu
Mock, Amy — Family and Consumer Science @AmyMockL
Rogers, Jennifer — Technology @rogersjochs
Heflin, Nathan — Assistant Principal @NathanHeflin
 

If you are interested in making connections with them, please send them a message.  Post a link to an article and include their twitter handle.  Invite them to a chat.  Read their blogs and send them the link to yours.  Give their Twitter Handles to other teachers.  Re-Post this blog.

I appreciate your willingness to help me help my teachers.

Have fun making new connections!