Saturday, March 17, 2012

Thoughts for the End of Winter

I sent this email out to staff and have modified it only slightly here. I'm actually thinking about using this blog to post my Friday Reflections rather than email. Hmmm, maybe all those Web 2.0 presentations I've been attending are finally starting to sink in!

As we approach the day, the end of the second trimester, I am reminded of the importance of several things:

Being optimistic and curious
Remembering to have some fun

This year again has been challenging in so many ways, but we really do have many successes to share. Just this morning, I was reflecting on the projects and programs our staff, classrooms, buildings, and district are involved in, and it truly is worth noting them. Here are just a few that come to mind on a blustery, winter day when we are all ready for spring:
  • Student Led Conferences, advisory, and portfolios
  • Senior Projects, with excellent support from our staff and community
  • Several National Board Certified Teachers, with more submitting portfolios and applying for the next ound
  • *Deep investment into the TPEP process (as scary as it is, we all know more than most teachers/administrators in other districts)
  • Excellent participation and success in our extra curricular programs, such as music, sports, science olympiad, Destination Imagination, Majhan Awards, Interact Club...

As we approach the start of third trimester, with Student Led Conferences around the corner, I have just a few reminders:
  • Please make every effort to help your students complete their portfolios and to schedule conferences with all your advisory kids.
  • If you have a student struggling to complete a portfolio, CHS advisors please let Gary Coyan know, and CMS advisors, please let Shiobhan Fitzpatrick know
  • Use advisory time to call parents and schedule/confirm the conferences (I usually have the kids do this)
  • Be positive about the experience. Be clear when you communicate about the purpose.

A few thoughts on communication. Remember when we talked about, "If you're out of the loop, you don't know you are out of the loop"? That goes for administrators too. I have had more than one person lately share with me that they do not feel I am being effective. I really appreciate that information, yet I need to ask for more clarity. If there is something you feel I should be doing, please talk to me about it. I would be more than happy to discuss how I set my priorities each day. If you have a question about something I am doing, have done, or am not doing, please ask. I would love the opportunity to talk with you about this. The reality is, I am keenly aware of the tasks I am not able to complete during my work day and am trying to be as wise as I can about putting "first things first", but it does mean than some things are not being completed, and I recognize that those issues are often important to many people. Please just remember that I care greatly about each of you, about our school, students, and community. I would appreciate your optimism and curiosity during these challenging times.

Finally, as I shared with the Middle School on Wednesday, when asked, "How can we keep our heads above water?", here is my suggestion. I used the Principals' Conference as an example. My first priority was to make sure I was in attendance at the two key note addresses. At a national conference, we have the opportunity to hear big names, and this year it was Sir Ken Robinson and Dr. Douglas Reeves. Next, I wanted to be sure to gather information on the Common Core Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Project, so I attended two sessions on these. The next thing I did was consider how I spend my time and how I enjoy spending my time, so I found two sessions on technology as tools and one on cyberbullying and digital citizenship. Finally, I looked for sessions that would be motivational and inspirational in nature and attended two sessions like that.

This pattern really works in life. First, figure out what are the one or two most important things. Make sure they get done. Then, attend to the next set of important things, and make sure they get done. Third, figure out what you are already doing and doing well, and focus some time on doing that even better. Finally, make sure to do something FUN that makes you feel great.

You, your health, your family, these are the most important things. Remember all the things you love and are doing well at your job, and please, always know you are appreciated.

Have a GREAT Friday, and make it a good day,


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Digital Citizenship

Lately it seems like a lot of my time as a principal is spent dealing with people trying to prohibit technology. In fact, I recently used the word "prohibition" to refer to how some people want me to approach personal electronic devices.

At a recent "copy room" impromptu conversation with a teacher, who demanded I enforce the "No Cell Phone Policy" school wide, and then proceeded to tell me she would be bringing this up at the faculty meeting, I found myself perplexed.

I think it would be ridiculous for me, as the principal, to require all staff to use technology as an instructional too. Imagine the memo: "Attention all staff: As of today, you will be required to allow students to use their cell phones as learning tools in your classroom. That is all."

Can you imagine what would happen?

Why, then, do so many teachers want us to do the opposite and BAN all cell phones from all classrooms?

Why do people want technology prohibition? Have we learned nothing from history?

The fact is, the computing power in the cell phones most kids are carrying is phenomenal. And it's free.

I am growing weary of the technology police.

Instead, why not embrace it, or at lease allow those of us who want to use these tools to embrace it?

Why not teach the importance of digital citizenship?

Why not recognize that students are engaged with their technology because it's just part of who they are and how they communicate?

Why not be curious about all "the hype"?