Posts Tagged ‘School Culture’

Back to school

It is that time of the year … back to school time.  Kids say they aren’t ready to go back, but secretly, though, many of them are.   Teachers are the same way.  They enjoy their summers off doing nothing! (Doing nothing … yea right!!!)  Teachers get finished with one school year and then start planning for the next.  They go to workshops to learn new things that will help them with their classes.  They come up to the school (and try to maneuver around the desks and tables that the custodians have moved into the halls and not walk on the freshly waxed floors) in order to work in their rooms.   Some teachers come up at night to work on their rooms because they have a summer job because teacher’s pay is too low.  Teachers spend all summer doing nothing, so when the end of August rolls back around, they are ready for the new school year.

It’s that time of the year … back to school time.  It’s that time of the year when new teachers meet the teachers who have already been working in the district.  It’s that time of the year when the veteran teachers  are able to help mentor the new teachers and help them get settled in.   It’s that time of the year when a new principal is welcomed by fresh faces (teachers, students, parents, community members).  OK, I had to include this last sentence because I’ve been in my new school for 12 days now and I have met a lot of good people who are also excited about this new school year.

It’s that time of the year … back to school time.  Schedules are done, but some students aren’t happy because they didn’t get all the classes they wanted.  It’s that time of the year when the first day of school is right around the corner and senior students realize that this will be their last … first day of school (I stole this statement from a teacher at my previous school who always does a great job with the back-to-school announcements and assembly).  It’s that time of the year when the football team is practicing in the 90-100 degree heat as they get ready to make a run for the state championship.  It’s that time of the year when the volleyball team is working hard in preparation for their run at a state championship.  It’s that time of the year when we’re already having volleyball games but school hasn’t even actually started yet.

It’s that time of the year … back to school time… and I’m looking forward to it!!!!!

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This is one of those posts that begins … “I don’t really know where to start!”   There are so many emotions that have been running through me the last few days; however, I am not going to talk about these emotions in this post.

For the last 10 years, I have been principal of Ore City High School, which has an excellent faculty and staff.  They have truly made my job easy.  We had a good system going and I would hope that it continues after my departure.  We all have grown in our roles as teachers and administrators (in the last few years especially).  We moved from a district-led staff development model to a campus-based, teacher-led model which has allowed for the emergence of new teacher leaders and also has allowed for a greater connection and cohesiveness among the teachers and staff.  I truly believe that OCHS is the best campus in the district.   We were the trendsetters, the risk takers, the trailblazers for OCISD.  The teachers are always open to new ideas and challenges and I encouraged them to take risks, use social media, connect and collaborate with each other as well as with other educators across the state of Texas, the United States and Canada, as well as across the entire globe.  I encouraged them to always look for ways to grow professionally.  They accepted this challenge!!  I am so proud to have been associated with the faculty and staff of Ore City High and I truly wish them much success in the future.

Now as I move into my new position as principal of Paul Pewitt High School, I am looking forward to new challenges, new teachers, new students, and a new community.  I am very excited about this opportunity and the feedback I have gotten so far has been very positive.  Together we will make a big impact on our students as well as on each other.  We will connect, learn, share, and grow.  It is going to be fun, and I can’t wait to get going.

Relationships 3

 

Do relationships matter?  What do they have to do with the climate in your classroom or school?

Here are some reflective questions for you (and me, too) …

  1. What do students SEE in your classroom or school?  Why?
  2. What do students HEAR in your classroom or school?  Why?
  3. How do the students FEEL in your classroom or school?  Why?
  4. What do the students EXPERIENCE in your classroom or school?  Why?
  5. What is the CLIMATE of your classroom or school?  Why?

 

What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Last week at the #TASSP14 Summer Workshop for Texas Secondary School Principals, I was able to attend some very good classes each day and will be able to utilize many of the ideas immediately as well as for this upcoming school year.

In addition to the classes that were held throughout the day, I was able to hear three excellent keynote speakers — Kevin Honeycutt, Pedro Noguera, and Todd Whitaker.   Instead of taking noted during these sessions, I tweeted out my notes.  Here is what I tweeted …

Kevin Honeycutt

  1. Flipping classes can be easy.  You don’t have to be Spielberg to do it.
  2. Don’t judge your students too hard.  You never know what they are going through.
  3. Thank teachers who try new things.
  4. Be a “Funnel of Opportunity”
  5. Use Edmodo to post your student’s work
  6. A 3-fingered shop teacher talks about band saw safety !!! ( You can take this however you want to).
  7. The most dangerous place to be in school is … alone!  (for a student, but also for teachers.  Think about it).
  8. EMPOWERMENT comes from being trusted to attack learning according to your own strengths!
  9. “Digital Possibilities Group” — #GreatIdea
  10. The only one who can stop you is … you!
  11. This one I re-tweeted from @tjadams105  — Kids are playing on digital playgrounds and no one is on recess duty.  (We must teach and model digital citizenship!!)

I really enjoyed this guy.  He talked about his personal situations as a kid in and out of schools as well as what he is doing now as an educator and a school board member.  I would highly recommend looking him up on on twitter — @kevinhoneycutt and also on YouTube.

 

Pedro Noguera — You can follow him on Twitter @PedroANoguera

 

PNoguera

 

  • To move from good to great requires a different set of skills.
  • We need honest conversations about what we need to do.
  • Ask yourself — Where do we need ongoing growth?
  • The most important work in schools — teaching and learning in the classrooms.
  • ABT — “Ain’t Been Taught!!”
  • Ask your students about your school.
  • Culture matters!!  And, you can’t mandate the culture of your school.
  • The morale of your staff will affect the outcome of the students.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.
  • Poverty is not a learning disability!
  • Staff development for teachers must be differentiated.
  • Capacity building is a reflective process.
  • Homework is an equity issue!
  • We’ve got to build better partnerships with parents, despite all obstacles.
  • Great idea!! – Have parent meetings on Saturday mornings rather than at night during the week.
  • Be accountable to parents.
  • Be willing to empower parents.
  • Focus on getting kids excited about learning!  This will raise student achievement.
  • Re tweeted from Todd Nelsonsey (@TechNinjaTodd ) — If your school does just well with successful students , it’s like a doctor who’s just good with healthy patients.

I really liked his message.  And I also liked how straight-forward he was.  He didn’t hold anything back and was very thought-provoking.

 

Todd Whitaker — You can follow him on Twitter @ToddWhitaker.  (I can honestly say that I was completely surprised how funny this guy was.  I had seen some of his videos before and had read many of his books, and I knew he had some wit and humor; however; I was not expecting him to be so funny.  Still, within all of his humor, there was a great message.)

 

TASSP 7 - TODD WHITAKER

 

  • @ToddWhitaker is cracking me up!!
  • New principal advice from @ToddWhitaker — Blame your predecessor.  Blame the superintendent.  Prepare 3 envelopes.
  • Q -How’s your day?  A – Great!     Be positive!
  • Whiners whine because … It works!
  • Start treating people as if they are good.
  • Shift the Monkey — have crummy people do some work.
  • @ToddWhitaker is in the Power Zone!! @LYSNation
  • Don’t respond to serial pouters.  #ignore
  • It doesn’t make sense to treat all teachers the same.
  • Take care of the good people. #ShiftTheMonkey
  • You can’t mandate effectiveness!
  • Re-tweeted from Carrie Jackson (@jackson_carrie ) — Your worst teachers want to talk about hats, gum, cell phones, dress code … anything but teaching and learning.

 

These were three different speakers but had, at times, very similar messages.  I am glad I listened to these guys and was able to take away some valuable pieces of their wisdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

social media

 

 

It’s OK to use social media in school!

There, I said it.  It is a part of our student’s lives and we must embrace it in our schools.

We must change our mindsets of what we think schools are about.  We are no longer the only source of knowledge for our students.  They have access to information 24 hours a day if they want it.    Students today have access to so much more than what most of us had growing up, so we must look at our toolbox for teaching and learning and be ready to embrace the use of social media and other digital learning tools or we run the risk of making our schools obsolete.

It is now time to accept this and make sure that we provide a positive teaching and learning environment that includes the use of social media.

Here are links to two articles that really do a great job of analyzing the use of social media in education.  They give real examples of how teachers and administrators are harnessing the power of social media to create better learning environments and making schools relevant for our students today.

The Barriers To Using Social Media In Education (Part 1 of 2)

How To Use Social Media In Education (Part 2 of 2)

 

What are your thoughts on the use of social media in schools?  Are you for it or against it?  Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Texas Graduation

 

When they enter high school next school year, all current 8th graders in Texas will be under a new graduation plan called The Foundation Plan.  In addition, each student will have to choose an Endorsement (students may be able to get multiple endorsements) from the following areas:

  1. Business & Industry
  2. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
  3. Arts & Humanities
  4. Multidisciplinary
  5. Public Services

All students will take the required courses from The Foundation Plan along with certain courses that will satisfy the requirements for the Endorsements and they will graduate with at least 26 credits.  Students, along with their parents/guardians, are required to meet with the high school counselors and determine in writing which endorsement they want to get.  It is also important to note that this choice of endorsements is not set in stone and can be changed by the students and parents.

We have been working with the Texas Education Agency, various Education Service Centers, and other school districts to put together a plan for what we will be able to offer at Ore City High School.   We are now ready to present to the parents and to the students so they can make informed decisions about their future.   We will set a date in the very near future to have a series of meetings with parents and students to discuss this new graduation plan and each endorsement that we will be offering at Ore City High School.

The following information is what I will be using when we have our meetings. Click on this link –>  Ore City High School Foundation Plan with Endorsements

I am including it in this post so you will be able to look it over and get a preview of the new information for The Foundation Plan and each Endorsement for Ore City High School.  IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS INFORMATION IS SPECIFIC TO ORE CITY HIGH SCHOOL.  Each school has to determine what it will be able to offer, and not all schools will offer the same endorsements and the same pathways to get the endorsement.

I am fully aware that this will be somewhat confusing and you will have many questions, especially for those of you who have students in high school now or had students already go through our high school.   Please do not hesitate to ask any questions.  My goal is to make this as easy of a transition as possible for both the students and the parents.

Although this is a completely new graduation plan, I really believe that it is good for all students.  As you know, all students are different and have different interests and this gives them choices and flexibility.  I am excited about the opportunities this new graduation plan offers.

 

This post is taken from Jon Gordon’s weekly newsletter, Positive Strategies to Fuel Your Life and Career.

 

Jon Gordon's Weekly Newsletter

 

While watching the Oscars I noticed that almost every award winner said they couldn’t have done it without their team, family, and the support of others. The fact is no one achieves success alone. We all need a great team to accomplish great things. We are at our best when we are surrounded by those who want the best for us and when we are bringing out the best in others. In this spirit I want to share 9 ways to be a great team member.

1. Set the Example – Instead of worrying about the lack of performance, productivity and commitment of others you simply decide to set the example and show your team members what hard work, passion and commitment looks like. Focus on being your best every day. When you do this you’ll raise the standards and performance of everyone around you.

2. Use Your Strengths to Help the Team – The most powerful way you can contribute to your team is to use your gifts and talents to contribute to the team’s vision and goals. Without your effort, focus, talent and growth the team won’t accomplish its mission. This means you have an obligation to improve so you can improve your team. You are meant to develop your strengths to make a stronger team. Be selfish by developing you and unselfish by making sure your strengths serve the team.

3. Share Positive Contagious Energy – Research shows emotions are contagious and each day you are infecting your team with either positive energy or negative energy. You can be a germ or a big dose a Vitamin C. When you share positive energy you infectiously enhance the mood, morale and performance of your team. Remember, negativity is toxic. Energy Vampires sabotage teams and complaining is like vomiting. Afterwards you feel better but everyone around you feels sick.

4. Know and Live the Magic Ratio – High performing teams have more positive interactions than negative interactions. 3:1 is the ratio to remember. Teams that experience interactions at a ratio equal or greater than 3:1 are more productive and higher performing than those with a ratio of less than 3:1. Teams that have a ratio of 2:1, 1:1 or more negative interactions than positive interactions become stagnant and unproductive. This means you can be a great team member by being a 3 to 1’er. Create more positive interactions. Praise more. Encourage more. Appreciate more. Smile more. High-five more. Recognize more. Energize more. Read more about this atwww.FeedthePositiveDog.com

5. Put the Team First – Great team players always put the team first. They work hard for the team. They develop themselves for the team. They serve the team. Their motto iswhatever it takes to make the team better. They don’t take credit. They give credit to the team. To be a great team member your ego must be subservient to the mission and purpose of the team. It’s a challenge to keep our ego in check. It’s something most of us struggle with because we have our own goals and desires. But if we monitor our ego and put the team first we’ll make the team better and our servant approach will make us better.

6. Build Relationships – Relationships are the foundation upon which winning teams are built and great team members take the time to connect, communicate and care to build strong bonds and relationships with all their team members. You can be the smartest person in the room but if you don’t connect with others you will fail as a team member.(Tweet This) It’s important to take the time to get to know your team members. Listen to them. Eat with them. Learn about them. Know what inspires them and show them you care about them.

7. Trust and Be Trusted – You can’t have a strong team without strong relationships. And you can’t have strong relationships without trust. Great team members trust their teammates and most of all their team members trust them. Trust is earned through integrity, consistency, honesty, transparency, vulnerability and dependability. If you can’t be trusted you can’t be a great team member. Trust is everything.

8. Hold Them Accountable – Sometimes our team members fall short of the team’s expectations. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they need a little tough love. Great team members hold each other accountable. They push, challenge and stretch each other to be their best. Don’t be afraid to hold your team members accountable. But remember to be effective you must built trust and a relationship with your team members. If they know you care about them, they will allow you to challenge them and hold them accountable. Tough love works when love comes first. Love tough.

9. Be Humble – Great team members are humble. They are willing to learn, improve and get better. They are open to their team member’s feedback and suggestions and don’t let their ego get in the way of their growth or the team’s growth. I learned the power of being humble in my marriage. My wife had some criticism for me one day and instead of being defensive and prideful, I simply said, “Make me better. I’m open. Tell me how I can improve.” Saying this diffused the tension and the conversation was a game changer. If we’re not humble we won’t allow ourselves to be held accountable. We won’t grow. We won’t build strong relationships and we won’t put the team first. There’s tremendous power in humility that makes us and our team better.