Thursday, July 10, 2014

Patience and the Principalship

"Never pray for patience." How many times have you heard this? There have been a few experiences to make me a believer in this statement. 

As a school leader how in the world are you supposed to have patience and wait when the stakes are so high? 

No Child Left Behind - All students in the United States will be proficient in everything! Ok not EVERYTHING. But as a school leader somewhere inside you think the "proficiency police" are going to come arrest you and all your staff before Dec. 31, 2014. 

Kindergarten - The first 2-4 weeks of a school year you and your kindergarten teachers have no idea how you are going to survive the year. Crying, pushing, shoving, taking all their clothes off to go to the bathroom, peeing on the playground, puking, and the list goes on and on and on.  Kindergarten parents need extra love and attention too. Many of our K students will be with us 4 - 5 more years. How you handle inappropriate "show and tell" on the playground can effect a relationship for years. But we survive with patience.

New teachers - So excited! They can do anything! Classroom ready. Organized. Everything color coded. Then the students arrive. They are excited! But some don't have school supplies. Some are hungry. Some are tired. Mom and dad just split up. You know the list. It goes on and on. College didn't prepare the new teacher for this. But they survive with patience.

The Principal - There are days I want to pray for patience. The stomach flu that took out half the primary students has now taken out 3 teachers.  Students get on the wrong bus. There is a fox on the playground. The internet goes down during lunch. Student brings a hand grenade for show and tell. (Yes, the bomb squad came and blew it up.)


Sometimes we just to go through things, get to the other side, reflect and plan for next time.

Patience! 

The topic for this post was inspired by a group of fellow PLN
principals that I connect with daily.  You can find each of their
posts on Patience below:

 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Principals are People Too

Contrary to popular belief, legends, folklore, and/or old wives tales.....principals do not live in the basement of the school! Hard to believe that we mill around the community just like all of you. Just yesterday I was spotted at Target by a former student who made her mom yell at me so she could say "Hi," in disbelief that I was out of my basement dwellings.

You will see us at the grocery store, at ball games, the gas station, restaurants, and occasionally at the public pool. Yes,  swore I would never go to the pool or be seen in public in my swimming suit but it happened. You see my children go to my school and they no longer believe that the principal was not allowed to go to the pool. (They want to play with their friends so I had to cave.) A friend of mine was even shocked I came to the pool because I said I never would:) "YOU went to the pool?!!!" Hilarious. I am not sure who was more shocked, the kids or their parents. One parent said the kids were better behaved that day than any day at the pool. I politely said that I was not The Principal of the Pool.

I love my job. I love the teachers, students, and their families almost every day. Yep! But I have bad days too.

Right before a grade level meeting this year I found out my best friend and college roommate had stage 4 cancer. (And by RIGHT BEFORE I mean the teachers were walking in my office) I had to suck that one in pretty hard not to lose it.

On my way home from work Sept. 12, 2011 my dad called to tell me my brother was killed in a motorcycle accident.(My brother was 34. Young. Whole life ahead of him.) I did not speak to anyone at work for 7 days. Can you imagine a principal not communicating with their staff for 7 days at the beginning of the school year??? But the beauty of this situation(if there could be anything beautiful at the time) was the way my staff and school community picked up the ball and ran with it. They. Were. Amazing. I had no words....literally. You see my kids go to my school and we had to wait one day to tell them the sad news. (My husband drove me 6 hrs. to my family and he drove 6rs back in one day to pick up our girls and tell them.) They were guarded and loved like any other child would have been. Again......I had no words.

We do not know the battles that others are facing. But we learn that people really do care, even for the principal.

I am not sure I should thank my PLN for encouraging me to write this or block them from now on:) Whew! Those who know me know I don't necessarily wear my feelings on my sleeve. But maybe I should wear just a few.

I am a mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, AND a principal. Sometimes principal comes first and sometimes family comes first. AND THAT'S OKAY! I have learned to live in the mix. Even at the pool!  So whether it's birthday parties, Silver Dollar City, White Water, the mall, or out to eat I will see you out there:)

 The topic for this post was inspired by a group of fellow PLN
principals that I connect with daily.  You can find each of their
posts on “Principals Are People Too” below:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why I Joined #PTCamp

Everything is changing, including parent engagement with schools. You'd think after 10 years as elementary principal I would have things figured out. But just when you think you can predict the next move.....something changes.

When I became a principal 10 years ago PTO was a big deal. We had some stay-at-home moms who devoted their non-family time to our school. It was amazing! A little overwhelming for a new principal but we all settled in. They were a well oiled machine! Fundraiser......DONE! Ice cream social......DONE! Carnival....DONE! Then the recession hit and everyone went back to work.

It's just different now. We have amazing parents who are willing to help.  Parents want to be involved and in the know with their children's schools. It's just going to have to look different. We have to meet them where they are and it may not be the physical location of the school.

So I joined #PTChat. Hopefully between the 100 of us and the online chats we can renew/revive/reinvent parent/community partnerships! What do you think?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Practical Uses for Voxer In Schools

Thank you @PrincipalJ for introducing me to Voxer! Lately  the use of Voxer has taken off. Seems
like there are multiple Voxer shout-outs and twitter references these days. It is going to be exciting to see what the Vox says in the coming months. (See what I did there?)

But let's get practical for a moment. How are you really using Voxer as a useful tool/productivity?

Staff connection: Use like a walkie-talkie with your staff. The majority of my staff have smartphones. However, I do not think you can really use it like a walkie talkie in an emergency situation. Not all teachers will have it. They may not have the right type of phone.

District connection: My fellow principals are on Voxer and we can connect across the district when we are not in our office and not able to be in a long phone conversation.

Planning committees: Listening to @joe_mazza on @Techlandiacast today gave me the idea to start a group for a planning committee I am a part of. (Great ideas in this podcast.)

Office workflow: My secretary has Voxer and I can send quick messages. When running errands I can ask/answer questions for the office.

Collaboration: The ability to bounce ideas off of others around the world has been amazing. We share ideas in emails/Twitter/Facebook etc. But there is nothing like talking through an idea in real time.

Click here for educators on Voxer ---> #Eduvoxers

How are you using Voxer?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

#ISTE14 Starbucks Map

How about I share with everyone this time? I usually create these maps for fun for the staff that goes
to conferences for me. But why not share with all of you? Sometimes you need extra coffee at conferences:)