Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Principal and Her PLN

Some people are not who you think when you meet face to face.  They are better! Funnier, more genuine, relate-able, and like-minded. This summer I met some of my favorite people face to face....FINALLY!

Build your network. Connect with others. Share ideas. Reach out. The rewards are amazing! I just wish I could have met EVERYONE in my PLN.

First, my ISTE roommate Amber Teamann! Amber and I have connected online and on Voxer. Voxer adds a whole new dimension to online relationships so it was like we had been friends for years.
@8Amber8 @mmiller7571
The Melinda's :)
Blogger's Cafe group! And we still connect.
But then came NAESP2014! There is just something about meeting other principals from all over the country. Especially those you've grown to know and built relationships with over the years. I started blogging and tweeting in 2008. I can't even begin to name all the people who have influenced my work and my leadership since then. I can't even imagine where I would be without the help of my professional network.

Finally! Tony and I had been sharing ideas and collaborating with a group on Voxer and met face to face in the Social Media Lounge at #NAESP14.  You definitely need to follow @Tonysinanis and #Cantiague to learn how to tell your school's story on Social Media.

Yep! THE Peter DeWitt blogger extraordinaire!(Oh and Tony:)
 You know those people you wish you could work with every day? The ones you want on your team? For me that is Don. This picture records that moment in time I really did get to work side-by-side with him! I also had the honor of presenting and writing an article with Kathy Melton. She has amazing ideas!

#NAESP14 Social Media Lounge Ambassadors
And finally a huge thank you to Joe Mazza for putting this group together. These leaders were truly inspiring. You can find them Twitter here:

This post does little justice to all the people I have yet to meet and have literally changed the way I do my work, but it's a start. Thank you all for your collaboration all these months and year!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Random Acts of Kindness Kick-off

This year my goal is to help my teachers remember why they became a teacher. With Common Core, evaluation changes, staff changes, curriculum changes, etc. over the last couple of years we may have gotten away from what's most important.....making a difference in the lives of children. Yes of course our goal is to educate them. However it's easy to get lost in the guidelines, restrictions, and rules.

Before school started my leadership team took off on a mission to perform Random Acts of Kindness. Some were planned and some were spontaneous. Regardless, it was a great day of thinking of and serving others. Below are just a few of our stops.....
Lunch planning session

Departure in the district suburban!

We left these behind.

Laundry mat change

Leaving notes for teachers in other schools:)
Leaving coins for kids:)

Wish we could have seen kids find these:)
Final stop and reflection!

It was an amazing day! These are only a few of our stops. Motivation comes easy when you think of others and how to make their day special.

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.


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?