Principals CAN have fun!!! - Episode 05



Go get Episode 05 at Practical Principals!!! This is a fun episode about Windows vs. Mac and various other tech tools for administrators. Or at least these two administrators raising young children and trying to find the most efficient way of organizing our work and personal lives.


We even overcome HUGE technical difficulties to bring you this riveting episode. Check out the website for MANY RESOURCES that you will find useful.

What are you waiting for??!!!

We're on our way.........21st Century here we come!!!

Wow! I can't believe it has been over 2 weeks since I have posted to this blog. I actually just spent the past two weeks doing my first round of observations on my non-tenured staff. I absolutely love being in the classroom. I haven't got much else done but it is so nice to "have" to go in classroom no matter what else is going on.

In a couple of weeks, Nov. 6 at 8:00PM I have the honor of being a guest on the Women of the Web on the EdTechTalk. I am very excited about this and feel really humbled that they would ask me to be a part. So I have been thinking of all things I can share with everyone technologically. Is that a word?:)
Since the adventure began back in March I feel that my teachers and my school are on their way to the schools of the 21st Century.

Blogging:
1st Grade
4th Grade - Gann, Smith, Grant
Library
Parents As Teachers

Wiki:
Kindergarten
E-team - this is a private wiki but we take our notes on a wiki every time we meet so we are accountable and have documentation.

Podcasting:
Podcasting Principal
Practical Principals
Champ Cast

Rock-you, SlideShare, VoiceThread, Animoto, Bubbleshare, Flikr, Google Docs,

To be continued with links included............

Mom Overture

I just couldn't pass up posting this video. I laughed so hard that I cried on this one. I listen to a parenting podcast called Jumping Monkeys and they featured this video. Jumping Monkeys is part of the TWit network. I also want to try to embed a YouTube video like everyone else can:) Many of you will have seen this video but some of the readers of my blog, if they are still reading since I am not as consistent as I was in the summer, will not have seen this. I would like to play this at my next faculty meeting so I have to figure out how to get if off YouTube into a format that I can play in a district where YouTube is blocked. Enjoy!!!

Making the Connections???

How are you making connections with the kids? It is that time of year when discipline starts to pick up, parents start questioning things, report card time, P/T conferences, and all the other "management" issues start arising.

Scott Elias
and I have a bi-weekly podcast and we were asked the following questions by a future administrator, "What do you spend most of your time doing? What would you like to spend most of your time doing?" Wow! That really made me think and actually kept me up last night. We all get stuck behind our desk in our offices for periods of time but last week was a real downer when it came to working behind my desk.

I love to be out and about in my school, as do most principals. The excitement in the morning. (After the teachers have had their coffee, chocolate, or pop. AND after I have had my Starbucks!:):):):) The kids are excited right out of the gate. Truth be told, the teacher enjoy each others company too but it is a job to them and to the kids, they think it is social time. We try to sneak some learning in on them. I don't think I have missed morning bus "doodie" (We call it all doodie at my building since that is how many of feel about it) except for days I have been absent from school. I also like to make my way around the building in the morning just to check in on everyone. It was tough last week because I had so much handed down to me to take care of that I didn't get around as much as I like.

The connection with the kids is very important to me. Teachers can send students to my office for positive referrals and I try to call a parent or relative of their choice to brag on them. Not only is the student beaming but it gives me something to feel good about as well. It's important for me to check in on some of my challenging students. God love 'em! They are the ones that need us the most. There are quite a few that have stories to tell every morning when they meet me at the door. I look forward to those times. I like to keep the connections with the kids.

So, how are you making connections with your students? Especially as the year really starts to get busy. Send me some links! Share any ideas! I can take care of all the behind the scenes work quietly but I just need some student connections to keep me going!

K12 Online Conference

I am VERY excited about the K12 Online conference!!! I believe I stumbled upon the 2006 conference in February even though it had been out since October. If you are newbie, as I was last year, please check out the "first timers" page on the main page.

This is a completely FREE experience and there are around/over 40 presentations. Presentations are in mp3 form and movie or mp4 form. I downloaded the majority of them to my iPod last year and will probably do the same this year.

There are also some "live" events you can participate it but thank heaven for the iPod. With a two year old at home the only "live" information I get is from a very verbal 2 year old daughter!!!:):):)

The Keynote address by David Warlick is posted and ready to download.

Willard teachers can fill out the PD form and get professional growth hours at their convenience, and earn professional credit for these FREE workshops. It just doesn't get any better than this!!!

Are you listening???

You need to head over to Practical Principals and check out our Politically Correct podcast! Are you listening? Are you there yet?

Podcasting with the "Prez"

No, I do not mean George Bush! The Practical Principals's guest for episode 03 will be MAESP President Julie German. Last night Scott and I had the pleasure of recording a conversation with Mrs. Germann. Our topic was about getting involved politically in this busy job that we already have.
We can't wait to get this episode "mashed-up" so you can enjoy it. This is a light-hearted but fun way to learn about getting involved politically and why it is important. Sure we are all busy but our voices and stories need to be heard. You may be wondering how in the world anyone could put a "fun" spin on politics but I believe we did it.

Tune in next week for episode 03!

Still here and crazy busy!

Yes, I am still blogging! I have not been doing a very good job of time-management this week so I haven't completed many of the tasks on my to-do lists.

Tonight Scott and I will be podcasting with our special guest the MAESP (Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals) President Julie Germann. We will be discussing "practical strategies" of how principals can be involved in the reauthorization of NCLB! This will be episode 03 and we are having a blast. So tune in next week when Scott publishes our show on "The Practical Principals."

You may be wondering what has been keeping me so busy. Okay, if you are principal, mom, college student, teacher, etc. you don't wonder, you already know. Here are some of my projects from the week besides bus discipline, mad parents, classroom discipline, SRO visits, attendance letters..........do I need to go on? Now for the fun(ny) business.................

My new "school blog" - To The Point


Voicethread project with the 4th graders:

Rock You slide show

Shameless Plug Alert

Episode 02 of the Practical Principals is out!!! "Walk this way" talks about walk-through observations. Scott and I even have a guest! Mike of EdleaderWeb shares his thoughts and practices about CWT. We even created a "supporting documents" page that has forms you are free to use and share alike. If you like something please share back with us. Enjoy!!!

This is the second post with correct spelling. At least now you know I am human.

1st Day of MRI Training

The Bubble Share included in this post is of our 1st day of training for K and 1st teachers. Bubble share only allows me to leave a 30 min. voice over on each slide. For those of you who know me realize that it is hard for me to get a lot of info in 30 seconds.

You must click on the "play" arrow at the bottom of the show and make sure your sound is turned up!


This album is powered by BubbleShare - Add to my blog

ALC/PLC Podcast

I just uploaded my most recent podcast.

Practical Principals Podcast
WOW of the Week - Talks about my tutoring program
Book Pick - The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork by John C. Maxwell

Show content talks about our school and districts journey through the Accelerated Schools process/Accelerated Learning Communities/Professional Learning Communities. Not very detailed but gives you an idea of our school used collaboration.

After you listen if there is anything I can elaborate on please comment and I will do that for you! Thanks for listening!!
Melinda

Friday Funny....Desktop Icons

In my Thursday blog post to my teachers I mentioned to them that if they didn't have the Teacher Handbook as an icon on their desktop yet that it would be pretty "rewarding" for them to have displayed by Friday. I was going to come around check. Doesn't that sound better than, "Have your icon displayed or else!"? (For my teachers who read this blog this is where I want you to close your eyes or scroll past this.) I like to buy treats and things for the teachers whenever I can so I had planned to give them all a treat regardless of whether they had the icon. I just wanted to see who or how many would at least make the attempt. Little did I know..............

I started to download "Jing" the night before so I could even send a screencast of how to it. It took forever to download so I had to get home for dinner. So basically I just emailed what I thought were simple directions. Let the games begin!!!
I sent a reminder email Friday morning and gave them about an hour(not really, they had students but some could attempt) Got to the first classroom, no icon. Next classroom, no icon. 3rd classroom, brand new K teacher ICON success. By the time I got to the 4th classroom magically all the files disappeared from the server. I immediately realized that some had "moved" the icon rather than create a shortcut. No problem, back to my office replace the file. By the time I got down the hall to the next classroom everything was gone AGAIN!!! It was actually comical because I knew what was happening.

Bless their hearts they were trying to do it and by now I am sure they all knew that I was bringing around candy bars. I finally had to go to my office and email them all to STOP trying to get the desktop icon so I could get around to all computers and make sure it was there or put it there for them. I emailed them all at the end of the day and told some of them and they got just as big a kick out of it as I did.

Lessons learned:
  • Make sure to create screencast next time no matter what.
  • Rewards are better than ultimatums.
  • Even the simplest tech task is not simple for EVERYONE.
I don't know who kept "stealing" the teacher handbook but was a fun adventure for me and I think by now my teachers can create a desktop icon. What will my next task be????

It's Official... The Practical Principals Have 'Arrived'

Yesterday Scott Elias and I officially launched the Practical Principal's podcast "What you didn't learn in grad school." Not that either of us have anything else to do.... work, kids, Dr. programs, etc. We just think there are a lot of conversations out there that can benefit school administrators!

I am convinced that nothing prepares you for the principal-ship as much as much as the principal-ship itself. You can discuss scenarios, write reflections, and "what if" all day long. But until you wear the hat, you have no idea the ride you are in for.

We will try to brief so all you busy principals can listen in your car on the way to and from work. We are NOT know-it-alls. Of course I would like to think I know everything! :):):) Check out our first episode and tell us what you think.
Kudos to Scott and all his hard work on our blog and 1st episode!!!

For the Love of Blogging


I think today is Blog Day. Or at least sometime soon it is Blog Day. I am not sure what that means exactly and we are not having a school-wide assembly to honor Blog Day but I am sure that I am suppose to write something regarding the benefits of blogging today. (It is all starting to run together now that school has started back.)

Here is my modified list of benefits of blogging:
  • Personal professional development
  • Collaboration
  • Networking
  • Fun
  • It's become a hobby
  • Keeping up with current events
Again, this is my modified list. I am sure there are more benefits that will come to me after I have had my 3rd cup of coffee this moring!
HAPPY BLOG DAY!!!

1st day poem


1st day poem
Originally uploaded by mmiller7571
I am using a feature in flickr to blog this so we will see how it goes. This is my poem and token I gave my teachers this year. Last month I posted about last year's poem. This poem was ready but I hadn't given it to my teachers yet so I couldn't post it. The glass votive and beads only cost a total of $21 at Hobby Lobby. That bought enough supplies for 60 people. I will post the actual poem when I see how this works.

I caved!!! Time to admit it.


I finally caved and bought a Palm Treo. May not be the "newest" gadget in the world but it is to me. I bought the palm phone about 4 years ago but took it back because it just seemed large and ridiculous. I have had a palm since they came out forever ago and loved it at first.
When I became a principal I had to go back to paper because things happen so fast in my job. But carrying around a clipboard, or notebook, or the paper pocket planner wasn't working either. So then I had cell phone, Palm, address book, iPod, and was carrying a calendar AND clipboard from school every day. CRAZY!!!

I played around with Janetta's for a while and it seemed very practical for me. Holy Cow! It's changed my life! I know, I know, EVERYTHING is changing my life lately. But here is why:

Pros:
  • They keypad is wonderful. Trying to write with the freaking stylus all the time drove me crazy because I wanted everything spelled right all the time and the stylus has a mind of it's own.
  • Texting is easier. Yes, I am a texting crazy person. (By the way, spell checker needs to update it's bank of word to include the 21st century words.) My husband says I am a "loud phone talker" so I text in the car instead of call people. Probably not so good on their wallets but I paid for the "plan." :)
  • Check email anywhere - Now I am not really sure about this yet. Still tweaking. I keep getting the same emails that I have deleted and I get all my own emails that I have sent people. When I opened my email last night on my phone I had 77 emails but only 3 of them were actually new.
  • Email pictures to my family. When i am outside playing with my daughter I can take her picture and send it to my family all over the place. I took a picture during lunch doodie today and sent it to my mom just for fun.
  • Datebook 3 or 6 - These are palm calendar programs that allow me to include my "to do" items each day. On paper I was having a hard time keeping track of my to do lists. With this they are all somewhere in this gadget.
  • I can WEAR IT!!! This isn't so easy since I do not wear belts. I have always had a hard time wearing cell phones etc. because I wear skirts and slacks that don't need belts. i still take it off and leave it in the bathroom but everyone always turns it back in for me.
  • Supports my observation software - This was big for me. I have changed PDA's 4 or 5 times and my software never syncs. This was going to be the live or die moment but it sync'd perfectly and I don't have to retype all my phrases.
  • I can hear it! - Some cell phone brands are hard to hear out of. I was a huge Nokia fan but really wanted a pink razor. I "suffered" through having a pink razor for the past 2 - 3 years. I have to play around with the ringtones but I can hear the person on the other end as well as I could with my Nokia.
  • Thinking on the go - As I am all over the place in my building I can add to my to do list if people ask me things or stop me in the halls for something.
  • Multiple to do lists - Here's what I have: grocery, Walmart, IPA (teacher supply store), Lowes, staff blog, posts for this blog, Pride blog (weekly district blog we are required to post to), capital projects, custodians, Betty (my secretary), faculty meetings, newsletter, Staples, A-team, and E-team. When I run out of to do categories I start new categories in the Memo. I know that is pretty pathetic. As if the previous list isn't enough.
  • Word and excel documents - I can download any file I use regularly onto my palm in Documents to Go. I can create any Word or Excel document I need, on the go, on my palm.
  • Internet Access - Of course I am not going to admit that I pay more for internet on my phone than I do in my home but it is so worth it. I'll probably save money not having to call 411 for phone numbers since i can look them up on the web. Well not that much money.
  • Keypad - did I mention the keypad? That is the best part that has kept me with it.
Cons:
  • Price - $200 after rebate and the data plan is a lot. Still cheaper than the iPhone I think.
  • I still forget to carry it everywhere.
  • Fear of dropping it.
  • Fear of it crashing.
  • My make-up gets on it when I use it as a phone.
Well, I'm tired and I am sure there is more to write but sleep would be good. So glad it is Friday

New Teacher Podcast

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of talking to our district's group of new teachers. District-wide this year we have over 38 new teachers. I am always the last presenter and I am not sure that is a blessing or a curse but I try to just give them advice and build them up to start a new school year. Check out my podcast page to the left for my most current podcast.
Below are links to a couple of the resources I used during this presentation:

Slideshare presentation
Teacher Movie

Brag on your teachers!!!


Willard East is off to a GREAT start this year! Theme for the year is "Cruising to Success at Willard East." I have heard more positive comments this year than, I think, any year I have been in this profession. Teachers are in and out of the office skipping with joy about their classes and great the group of students they have this year. (Grammar? Oh well.) Once again I have taken tons of pictures that I hope to be able to upload to this blog and talk about.
I sure wish I could take credit for this but I can't. I am so impressed with the dedication of my teachers. Coming in during the summer and preparing. Working together as teams over the summer. Participating in book studies. I even get emails in the evening and late night hours from some of my teachers so I know they are also putting in time above and beyond my expectations.
Our district is going through reading training with the Missouri Reading Initiative this year and I think our trainers are going to be amazed at the progress we have already made toward the goals and philosophies of this initiative. 3rd grade teachers are already working on management towards guided reading groups, classroom libraries are organized and labeled, Guided Reading tables/centers are reading to go. I am not kidding when I say it is amazing. These teachers know what it means to be prepared!
Have you bragged on your teachers lately? I know that some of my teachers read this blog and I don't care. They all need to know I see their hard work and extra time on the job! Amazing things are going to happen since we put the kids first!!!

Live Podcasting!!!

Okay so maybe there is no such thing as "live" podcasting. This week I recorded two presentation/workshops that I did for two different groups of staff members. This was my first attempt at recording myself live EVER. That might be an exaggeration but I can't think of another time I watched myself present on video or listened to myself on tape.

Lessons learned so far:
  • I need to work on my grammar during my presentations. When you are there it is one thing, but when you don't know me and you listen on a podcast I sound really 'hick-ish."
  • You have to get over hearing your own voice. It's not about me. It's about providing help/service for other people.
  • Editing takes longer.
  • I have to actually listen to the whole thing before I upload it. I have just been uploading everything 'raw.'
  • A separate intro for 'live' recordings is important because it is a little different than my regular episodes.
  • My voice recorder has a mic that I can clip to my shirt. I can un-clip the mic and hold up to anyone who asks a question. That way I do not have to amplify anyone. Still some amplification necessary.
  • Cut out dead space. When you present you are sometimes gathering your thoughts and there is dead space.
  • If you have 'visual aids'.........ppts, work samples, etc. be descriptive in your podcast.
  • Let your audience know you are recording the episode and where they can find it. During the workshop you may have to say something that sounds weird to the people present but they need to know you are talking to two audiences.
  • Don't put so much pressure on yourself. I am trying to do too many things right now and I have to remember that I can upload my stuff at any time. Not 30 seconds after I record it.
After thought: I wanted to record my faculty meeting today but it didn't seem right. I think it wigged the teachers out and there was a saw going in the background. I finally decided it was a really bad idea when one of my staff members jokingly, hypothetically said something that would sound right on a podcast. I guess some meetings are just going to have to be sacred. I will still attempt to record workshops though because I think that is appropriate.

Tune in soon to hear about my newest toy!!! I tell you what, this blogging and podcasting is getting hard on my wallet!!! I hope others are benefiting but I just enjoy it.

8 Random Things - I've been tagged!

Cathy Nelson over at Techno Tuesday Blog 'tagged' me! Aren't we just like the kids? :) Anyway I would love to play...........

The rules:
  • List 8 random facts about yourself
  • At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
  • Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged
My Facts:

1. I have the most wonderful family! Husband and daughter are amazing! We make a great team.
2. Scrapbook addict! Actually I have become a scrapbook supply collector since I have no time to scrapbook. Someday I will have some amazing pages
3. I used to sell explosives! Fireworks on the 4th of July.
4. I watch mindless TV shows. Being a principal is so stressful I can't watch stressful suspenseful TV. (Nascar, The Hills, ET, Last Comic Standing, General Hospital, Hannah Montana(Alyson) Little Einsteins, MTV Cribs etc.) Not that I have time but flip through until I find one of these.
5. I'm addicted to white caramel mocha's at Starbucks.
6. I love gadgets and technology.
7. Just got a Palm Treo phone thingy and I love it. Can't believe I didn't get one of these years ago but it is amazing so far. Synced great with my last palm stuff.
8. This was harder than I thought!

Tag, your it!!!

Janetta Garton
Scott Elias
Bob Andrus
Chip Gann
Marca Hayter
Jennifer Grant
Kara Crighton

My 1st Leadertalk Post!!!!


Many of the contributors to Leadertalk cross-post on their personal blogs so here goes......The following can be found at the Leadertalk blog for/by school leaders!!!
Motorcycle Training??? What?!

Welcome to my first Leadertalk post! I am so humbled to be part of such an experienced team of leaders and have the opportunity to virtually talk with all of you on a daily basis. So humbled I guess that my 1st original post is out there in the virtual world somewhere since my post was for the 4th and it is still nowhere in sight!

Anyway, on with the show! What in the world is this principal blogging about motorcycle training??? This evening when I was working at my school, a group of people were using the school parking lot to help a friend learn how to ride a motorcycle. First, two people were pushing the rider on the motorcycle. Then they were walk/jogging along beside her. Finally, she was on her own and you could hear the squeals of joy as she made one lap around my parking lot all by herself! It was amazing to watch as grown adults were squealing like kids and giggling and laughing. I can relate as I teach my 1 1/2 year old how to ride a tricycle! My point............

THE KIDS ARE COMING! THE KIDS ARE COMING! The excitement this particular person, a lady to be specific (a Chopper chick:):):) is the excitement that is going to be bursting through our doors in a little more than week. When was the last time you were excited about learning something new? What was it? How did you feel? Multiply that by the number of students at your school and that is what they are going to be feeling the first day of school and many more days after that.

I guess I am a pretty brief "poster." I am sure that will change as time goes on. Thanks for inviting me to the conversation and please be kind in your first comments. Once I 'make one lap by myself' in this blogging universe I'll be ready for the cold hard truth about my posts!!!!
Melinda

Scott Elias - Podcast interview

Not sure how I got so lucky to have Scott Elias from Do I Dare Disturb the Universe on my podcast but you have to listen! Early this week Scott and I had emailed back and forth to coordinate a time to Skype. Please forgive my podcast editing skills as I continue to work on them. :):):) We will definitely chat again since this was such and easy 'production.' Comment or email us if you would like to chat with us "live."

Do I Dare Disturb the Universe was one of the 1st blogs I read and subscribed to. One the firsts posts that I read of his was about using GTD. Thank you Scott and I hope you all enjoy!!!

Some links to items we discussed:

Some additional GTD resources

Classroom Walk Throughs

Below I have posted pictures of a tool that I use for CTW's. This is a very non-tech tool and easy to create. I got this idea from a post at Ed LeaderWeb by Mike "How Do You Walk?"
There are a lot of good comments on this post as well. Be sure to go read that one.

This is a tool that I use for quick trips through the classroom. Mostly positive feedback but if there is something that I see that needs address, I will address it. The idea comes from a workshop on conferencing with students during reading and writing and how to document student conferences.
I want my teachers to know that I too get something out of workshops. As well and try to model the techniques learned in a way that works for me as a principal. Of course teachers can take these ideas and really run with them. But this is my attempt at implementing this in my role in education. :)

I have tried everything!!! Palm program walk-throughs, checklists, tally charts. You name, I tried it! I am very visual so this really worked for me. This folder is clipped to the back of my clipboard so I it is easy to carry. It can also be immediate feedback, where I had to carry my palm back to my office and upload everything, copy it, etc. Blah!!!!! Too much time for my busy world. My goal is to leave one note per month. Okay, so last year I think I left 2 as opposed to my 9 goal!#$%^& You have to start somewhere! Once all the post-its are gone I fill up the folder again and can use thematic post-its. (There are pumpkins, mittens, snowmen, apples, etc.) The pictures below are my generic post-its because I haven't picked up any thematic notes at the teacher supply store yet. You can actually do more than one a month by putting tally marks by the teachers names if you would like.

You may be wondering if I only go into classrooms once a month? Well heaven's no!!! I just try to leave written feedback once a month.

Teacher uses: Teachers can use post-its for reading running records, comments about student conferences for their own notes, use these to tally things, etc. Teachers could also use labels and stick labels in individual file folders for each student.

Diamonds in the Rough - Poem for teachers

Well, I am on a roll with my digital camera and the power of photography. Rather than try to keep all the artifacts that I have been collecting in drawers, closets and files here at school I have decided to take pictures of it THEN I can file it in the cylindrical file next to my desk. How many of you hate to throw things away? I know! Well take a digital pic of it and the pic files so much easier. The district will have to build on to the school just so I can keep everything!

On the first day of school I like to leave the teachers a little motivational poem/story to get them excited for their day. As teachers, we have everything set up just exactly how we want it and have a vision of how our day is going to go. Then............the children show up and it goes out the window. Perspective my dear! Perspective!

I cannot share this year's poem/story because some of my teachers are very sneaky and found this blog! Maybe I have one and maybe I don't?! They will have to wait until the 1st day of school.

Our theme last year was a camping theme so I used an outdoorsy border paper. There is a little bead in the shape of diamond in the little bag to the right of the letter. I put these on teachers desks the night before the 1st day of school or early that morning. Here is a copy of the poem:

“Diamonds in the Rough”

‘It can be said of most, if not all, children with whom we work, that they are “diamonds in the rough.” Underneath even the most cautious, guarded-with-defenses exterior is a child with talents, skills, and dreams looking for a place for the sparkle to emerge and be seen. Some diamonds are camouflaged better than others. Even so, diamonds are still present. All children have ‘sparkle’ no matter how tarnished they may appear. Our tasks as educators include looking for, finding, and affirming, (polishing) “diamonds in the rough.”’

Enjoy today! Enjoy the children, enjoy each other, and know that you are making a difference. You are going to be one of the most important people in the lives of your students starting today. Embrace that and “polish” each and every one of them. They are all lucky to have the master teachers we have at Willard East!!!!

This is the picture of a teacher's bulletin board and you can see the poem posted. At first I was just shocked that they kept it all. Then to actually post in their room made me feel really good.

Disclaimer: Now you have to tell me your motivational and inspirational ideas for the beginning of the year. I didn't share this to brag, but to get your juices flowing so you can give me some ideas too. :)

Enjoy and pass along! I am running out of beginning of the year poems/stories!!!



Blog Neglect

I have been back to work for one week and I am already neglecting my blog posting and reading. I am just not sure how I am going to find the time to continue this form of professional development. Okay, who am I kidding? I know I will be up all hours when I am onto a great blog post! :)

Reading blogs is the easy part. It's the comments and posting my own that has been lacking lately. I have to do my part because I have been getting some really GREAT ideas lately from other bloggers. If I can share with them in anyway, I need to for the sake of bloggers everywhere. :) I am already excited and nervous about posting on Leadertalk. I am not a very long 'poster' so I hope my contribution is significant.

For the sake of the conversation here are some of the posts I have read and wish I had time to comment lately:

Feed Your Teachers - love this book. Actually featured this book in one of my podcasts. Great ideas for Principals everywhere.

To Blog or Not to Blog -
Benefits - positive environment to have conversations, more than enough ideas on any topic you could dream of, patient participants, professional development, being able to see the big picture.
Favorite Blogs -
Dare I Disturb the Universe - Scott Elias
NAESP The Principal's Office
Mr. P's Blog - Steve Poling
Practical Theory - Chris Lehman
(There are more but I am running out of time)
Advice - Take it at your own pace. I have been doing this for only 3 or 4 months and just now feel like I am getting the hang of it. Remember that anything you post can be read by ANYONE, students, parents, teachers etc. Use your blog to get feedback or ideas. Post a question and wait see what kind of help you get back.

Whew! I feel like I have done my part. Now off to podcast then work on night class work then work on.....................the list goes on forever. Found the other link to To Blog or Not to Blog.

Going Green!

With the recent hype about "Going Green" why not?! Here are my two new office plants. One is supposed to be hanging but since I am a novice I did not know there were special pots to hang from. Live and learn I guess but you have to start somewhere.

Today is my official day back to the office. We received our 'welcome back' email from our supt. this morning so I guess it is official.

I should explain some of the items in my photo before I proceed. I am sure you have many questions. Especially about the crab hat! The crab hat idea came from a PLC conference in St. Louis a few ago. The thought behind this is, how can you be crabby if you are wearing this hat? It is true actually. I haven't worn it very often but if I do the kids get a kick out of it and we all laugh. You just CANNOT be crabby in this hat. Lots of pictures of Alyson of course. My husband bought me the digital picture frame for Mother's Day this year. He knows me too well! This has been an excellent addition to my office and great conversation starter.

You might also notice the BIG red barn in the background out my office window. Yes, I look at this every day. Most days there are cows out there but I don't see them anywhere today. Must be a pond farther back. It is especially exciting when it is 'branding' day. That happens right in front of the barn for the whole world to see and hear. The students have never commented on this but I don't know how they can tune it out.

The tiger stripes and black theme go with our school mascot the white tiger. I tried to crop out the candy jars. I ALWAYS have candy and that is probably not very 'green' example.

As far as my 'going green' theme for the year it comes from some other blog posts and beginning to realize what is at stake for the future of my own daughter and other children. The nice lady who sold me these plants asked me where I worked. When I told her, I told her I thought I should set a good example and she actually thanked me. PRESSURE!!! And to think my short term goal is to just keep these alive until school starts!#$%^&

We have started to use more chemical free cleaners in our house and trying to eat better. My husband is going to begin training for a marathon and it is a good time for me take better care of myself and set a good example for my daughter. (I haven't given up Starbucks and sweet, mocha, coffee drinks. Starting slow:):):):) Now that I have posted this I am sure everyone will keep me accountable.

What can you do to "Go Green?" If I can buy a plant.........and keep it alive????? All kidding aside I think this is an issue that is going to be on the front burner SOON.

Kick Start Your School Year - Podcast

I just uploaded my latest podcast and here are my notes and links. This will probably be a series of podcasts as the year gets started. I would love for you to share some of your beginning of the year ideas. I think these just scratch the surface:

David Warlick
Leadertalk
Book Reveiw - Results Now
District Blog
Blog for my teachers
My personal/professional blog
Women of the Web
EdTechTalk

What's YOUR story?

Recently I have been reading many posts about the power of story telling. Whether it be digital or other I think story telling is a great way for people to get to know you and what you stand for.

I am sure there are some amazing stories out there. Not often do we hear about the journey of a principal. So here is my journey as short and sweet as I can make it, if you care to read about it.

Not long after I started teaching I thought, in the back of my mind, that I would like to be a principal. I became the before and after school program director and that thought quickly left my mind. It is much different dealing with parents/adults than the day to day dealings with children. By the way, teachers are not very well trained to deal with parents during college. They are barely prepared for the day to day grind of the classroom. May the "force" be with them on their teaching journey! That's another 'story.'

As the before and after school program director I quickly realized that I could not do everything well and that I was going to have to give something up. So I chose the classroom and passed the torch for the before and after school program to the next victim. (It is actually a very successful program right now!) In the back of my mind I still thought I could make a difference beyond the classroom.......

Seven years ago my husband and I started trying to have children of our own. Little did I know the battle ahead for us. After a year of trying on our own and a year of fertility treatments I quietly gave into the fact that maybe biological children were not in my future. I do not openly talk about my belief in God. It is personal to me but I know that God does not allow desires of your heart to go unnoticed. I just wasn't sure how he was going to fill the void of not being able to have children of my own. I guess having 400 children and my own school was meant to fill that void. :):):):)

I was not going to pursue my Master's because if we decided to do invitro fertilization that was going to cost as much or more than my Masters and I wanted a baby more than my Master's. Well, a group of teachers I worked with decided to get their master's in a cohort program that was going to be offered on Wed. nights at my OWN SCHOOL!!! Now, how could I pass that up? The reason I decided to join the program, other than peer pressure, was because I could not continue to put my life on hold. I wanted to be a principal and/or make a difference in people's lives but I also wanted children of my own. Basically I went into denial about not being able to have children for a couple of years. As hard as I prayed or as much as talked about it I could not understand why I was not going to be a mom. Even if I could not be a mom at least my husband deserved to be a father because I knew he would be a great dad.

Timing is everything and it wasn't until I got pregnant, my first year as a principal, that I understood God's timing. It hit me up side the head like a ton of bricks. There really is a reason for everything!

So, what's YOUR story? Do you know your teachers' stories? Do your teachers know your story? Why do you do what you do year after year with very little recognition?

Mom Guilt - Blog survey

I recently participated in a survey about "who's coming to dinner." A survey about who is out there in the educational bloggoshpere. I believe the results came back with more men than women participating in the discussion. There has been discussion about the scarcity of women bloggers.

Blogging has been a tremendous experience for me. Good and bad. The good is all the great people I have been introduced to and having conversations with. I also feel I have grown in my writing and professionally. I now have a new tool to find ideas outside of my own district, state, and most surprisingly country!

Now for the bad.............MOM GUILT! I have a 20 month old daughter and I have to draw the line sometimes. You may be thinking, "Where exactly is she drawing the line? She is podcasting and blogging all the time." But that is not true. Okay, maybe a little. I have to budget my time a little more carefully. When I am with my daughter and husband I am truly with them. Currently my daughter is napping. For the 15 min. it took her to fall asleep I was listening to a podcast on my iPod.

It has also been refreshing to see all the family pictures on male bloggers sites and hearing them discuss them in their podcasts. Our kids are the motivation behind our passion for what we do. I want my daughter to look up to me and respect me rather than Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. Good grief! Can you imagine? I am not naive, I know we will go through the eye rolling, I hate my mom stage but this stage is great! I want to enjoy every minute!

I have about one hour to do laundry, pick up toys, prepare for wake-up snack and dinner. You all know the routine. Anyone else feeling some MOM GUILT? How do you cope? What are your organizational strategies? Dad guilt stories are welcome as well. I know being an administrator keeps everyone away from their family at times.

Tech Tools for Administrators Part 1

I just finished posting my latest podcast. Using technology has improved my professional life and is currently taking over my personal life! I don't say that to be negative but this has become my summer hobby in a good way.
I wasn't able to get through all of the technology that I use because I was running out of time so I will have to break this podcast up into parts. We will just see how it goes.
Below are some links to some of the things I mention in my podcast: (I am going to start working on a wiki for all my podcast notes, I think.)

You can see the difference between my Daily Bulletin Blog and my Professional/Personal blog.
Weekly district blog.
Google calendar page of my daily bulletin blog
Example of a post I used Zoho Polls
My video ipod
Podomatic
iTunes

Let me know if I left anything out and I will post a link. Please share tools you think might help my teachers and other administrators! Thanks for reading and listening!

Help with Student Blogging?

I am very interested in how you all are using blogging with your students. Obviously a lot of student blogs are protected so that strangers like me cannot peek in. But please, oh please if you would let me take a look at some student blogging that would be great!

I started at this website and just listened to podcast about 2nd graders blogging but I still have these questions:

Does each student have their OWN blog?
Or is it one blog and all the students are administrators and can post?
Do students create actual posts or comment on a teacher prompt?
What are your different categories?
Do the students have specific titles they always post under or do they make up titles?

I am sure I can figure all this out once I see a couple real examples. Please!!!!

If you can't beat 'em join 'em

Last night our school board had the discussion about cell phones. Let me preface this post by saying these are only my personal opinions and thoughts and not those of my district. Duh, administrators do have minds of their own. Apparently the HS students are getting pretty carried away. They even talked about how they looked for cell phone jamming devices to build into the new HS so kids couldn't use them. This is a violation of some law so that didn't happen.

Isn't texting on cell phones the same thing as writing notes? Oh I bet that comment will stir some emotions. The other features of the cell phone are obviously different. I don't agree with kids taking pictures in locker rooms and then posting them on the internet. Not sure how to win that battle other than just making them aware of the permanence of posting to the web.

I really don't feel like they are using these to be bad so to speak. Great teachers never forget what it was like to be a student and great principals never forget what it was like to be a teacher, and heaven forbid great superintendents forget what it was like to be a principal or in the school all day.

Our district also discussed drug testing which another post/topic for another day. But the point was made to have teachers/staff tested if we are going to require students to be tested. Well, if we are going to limit/ban cell phone usage for the children then shouldn't it be banned/limited for teachers? I do not like my teachers to wear their cell phones. That is a personal preference of mine because if you are wearing your phone you are obviously planning to use it or make a call. During school hours the children are my teacher's number one priority. Yes, they can use it on their planning times, lunch times, and breaks. (Not that teachers get breaks. Don't kid yourself. Teachers work just about every minute of every day.) But there is also a phone in every classroom. So why can't the kids use them on their breaks, planning periods, etc.?

I am not familiar with what the kids are using cell phones for other than keeping in touch with each other because that is what kids do. When I was a kid I talked on the phone all the time. Most of my friends had their own phone in their own room and some even had their own phone line. My parents never went for this. I was so deprived as a child! :)

Ideas for kids with cell phones:
  • I told my teachers they are NOT the cell phone police. It would be very niave of me to think my elementary students do not have cell phones in their backpacks. Most are turned off. Most of the phones elementary kids have are old cell phones their parents have quit using and the kids just play the games on them. Maybe the kids are going to a sleepover after school on Friday night and parents want to be able to contact their kids. Great! Leave the phone in the backpack turned off. No problem. If they do ring or they do have them out. Teachers are to take them and send them to my office and the parents can come pick them up. Only two have come to pick them up because most are old cell phones used for games.
  • Give a designated time for kids to use their phones.
  • Have a cell phone "check in" box in every room. As students come in class put their cell phone in and pick it up on the way out. Maybe to elementary of an idea.
  • Have the kids turn in their cell phone numbers to the teacher or the school. Text your students! Wouldn't they just die?
  • The day of the 'sage on the stage' is over. Walk around the classroom so you can monitor what your kids are doing. I watched a student text with his phone under his leg and not even looking at it. I, of course have to hold my phone up to my face and text one letter at a time and spell every word correctly. I don't know all the text 'short hand.'
If you can't beat 'em join 'em. My hairdresser gets ring tones from the HS kids he does hair for and then bluetooths (is that a word) them to me when I get my hair done. Next school event I am at I will see if any kids will share their ring tones. Choose your battles.

What other suggestions are our there for kids with cell phones, other than to BAN from everything?

Podcast - Advice to Teachers/Book Review

Oh my gosh! The summer just gets so busy with family time and summer projects. I was able to post another podcast today and added a new 'section' if you can call it that. There are so many great books out there that we don't hear about because we don't necessarily have conversations about them. Well I think the blog is the perfect place to have these discussions!

The book review in my podcast is for The Way of the Shepherd by William Pentak and Kevin Leman. This was an assignment in one of my Specialist classes and it is great, short read. I read this book in a couple of hours one Sunday afternoon. I presented on Chapter Four - Make your pasture a safe place. Great read!

Listening to a podcast at Moving at the Speed of Creativity gave me a topic for this podcast. Wes Fryer asked a group of administrators to do the following activity at a workshop he hosted:

"As a campus principal or assistant principal, compose several sentences of ADVICE for a new teacher on your campus which relates to your expectations for their teaching. (Do this with a partner.) How do you want to see them teach and lead students, that may be different from a "traditional" lecture-based or primarily teacher-directed instructional model? How will technology fit into this recipe?"

I won't tell everything I said in my podcast so you have to go listen to it but here are some bullet points:
  • 1st year teachers - SURVIVE - It gets better! Your second year is a breeze compared to the first.
  • It's about the kids. Kids come first! Make decisions in the best interest of the students at hand.
  • Be yourself and let the kids get to know you! You will spend more time with them during the school year per day, than their parents spend with them.
  • Use technology to make your job easier and prepare the kids for a world that we will not see. Kids are already using it so you better catch up.
  • Over plan!
  • Teaching isn't a job, it's a calling. You have been called to change the lives of children and our future.
After thought: Since I am committed to this blog I feel my writing is getting better. That's a good thing because I am working on my paper for my Specialist and will start my Doctorate in the fall and need all the practice I can get!!!

Transparency in Administration

Over the past few months I have blogged about blogging and podcasting. Not really "discussion" but just excitement fueled blogging about new tools I have found. It's about time I get down to the nitty gritty about what this blogging thing is really all about and get in the conversations. I think I have done a good job modeling and I have actually got some teachers and students blogging and podcasting now.

Let's start with the topic of being 'transparent' in schools and in a blog. As an administrator I find it very challenging to be transparent in real life let alone on a blog. But I also believe that 'people', whoever that entails, need to know about schools and what goes on in schools.

There was a great blog discussion about being too transparent or crossing the line so to speak. I have also read blog posts about administrators who have taken the plunge into blogging, only to pull the plug because of the 'consequences' of their posts. Or comments are left open and inappropriate comments are submitted. I too was a victim of inappropriate feedback when I had an anonymous feedback link on my school website. I too removed anonymous feedback. It became a forum for teachers to complain and parents to rant about things that I have no control over. My secretary offered to screen the feedback since it was causing unnecessary stress above and beyond the stress I already feel in my job. For me, feedback is requested to provide input that will improve our school for our students and community. Just as teachers don't enjoy criticism, administration doesn't enjoy more than they are used to.:) Having said all of that, I want people to be open and honest and come to me, just don't check your professionalism at the door.

I am on the fence about starting controversial discussions. Blogging has been a very positive experience for me. There is enough negative in my profession that I have found this to be a nice vacation from the complaining/venting arena of my job. I like good discussion that can lead to something positive for children. There is a time and place for complaining and venting. You have to vent sometimes. However Internet posts are permanent and accessible by anyone. When it was brought to my attention that some teachers in my district were reading this blog, at first I panicked. What did I write? How did it sound? Teachers, students, parents, my Superintendent and school board can find this blog. People who know me know that I am very honest and what you see is what you get. Therefore I didn't panic very long.

What do teachers what administrators to be more open/'transparent' about?

Podcast help???

For those of you who have journeyed with me through the excitement of podcasting.........I've almost got it! But I still need some help. What do teachers want to hear from principals and/or what do principals want to hear from other principals? As valuable as my time is I have gained so much from the professional development of podcasting that I want to bring those benefits to others.

To the left is a link to my podcasting page on Podomatic. I have gotten used to Podomatic so I am going to stick with it for the summer at least if not longer. Here is a direct link to my Podcast Page. One of my previous posts talks about my equipment and this podcast is about how I put it together using Windows Movie Maker for the lack of knowing how to use any other equipment yet.

I would really like to thank Wes Fryer for helping me find the music and sound bites. Just by commenting on his blog he commented back to give me some links. Very helpful! I will always have to give credit to The Women of the Web for all their help and inspiration. I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy! I try to listen to their live web cast every Tuesday night.

Derek Miller for the music.
Laughter sound bite
Mr. Gann's Class website, class blog, and Champ Cast (podcast)
Mrs. Sechler's website
WillardWebTV
Smartboard Lessons Podcast at pdtogo.com

If you could have discussions with your principal, what would you want to know?
Melinda

Bubbleshare!

I have been playing around with Bubbleshare for a while now. Edublogs didn't allow bubble share and now it might so I will have to try it there too.

I am always trying to think of ways my technology can help my teachers. I carry my digital camera with me everywhere and happened to have it at this workshop. This was a workshop on Literacy stations sponsored by BER. There were so many great artifacts that I could take pictures for my teachers that did not attend. They could use the pictures to create the items themselves. I am still evaluating how my tech interest can help my teachers. It sure could make their jobs easier and my feeling is that this could really engage students.

This album is powered by BubbleShare - Add to my blog

Just about every tool has a way to add it to your blogs now. I need to do better explaining how I do these things. That is one way I could help my teachers. As I have said before, I just kind of take things on and try it. Not a whole lot of thought the first time I dive into something. I have always wanted a better way to share pictures because I have TONS of pictures to upload and share. Please share other ways I could use bubbleshare to benefit my teachers. Oh, I just thought of one! Tune in next time.
Melinda

The Podcasting Principal!

To the left you should see a 'badge' from Podomatic that should direct you to my podcast.

Yesterday I purchased the Olympus WS-100 digital voice recorder mentioned in one of David Warlick's posts. Of course I am like a kid with a new toy and couldn't wait to get it out of the package to try it. So I recorded my 1st podcast in my car driving back to school after lunch. I have to admit that wasn't the smartest idea but whatever works in our busy career.

Keep in mind this in an unedited and VERY 1ST podcast. (I actually added another between starting this post and actually posting it. So there are two episodes for you to listen to.) I went ahead and uploaded it and posted it because I wanted to model that you have to start somewhere. You might get a kick out of listening:
The Podcasting Principal

I used Podomatic because that is what I was introduced first and signed up for an account a few weeks ago. I read about LougBlog yesterday and I am sure there are some others I have read about. Here are the steps in how easy this was:

1. Buy digital voice recorder - I am sure there is a cheaper way but this seemed easy to me and I had the money. Okay, school had the money. I have to be an honest blogger! :):):)
2. Put the battery in it. (It came with a battery.)
3. Record your voice/podcast/topic etc.
4. Plug into your USB drive and save to computer in folder labeled "podcasts."
5. Upload to Podomatic
6. Bada bing bada boom!!! There it is!!!

If you do choose to listen, especially to episode two, I do not know how to pause my recorder and you hear my cell phone ring a few times. I guess that is the disadvantage to working in my car. I have submitted this podcast to iTunes and the pop-up says that it is under review. That just cracked me up because if it doesn't get 'accepted' after some of the podcasts I have seen, I will just get a kick out of that.

This is a HUGE risk for me because I am putting myself 'out there' so to speak! I am so nervous. Just like a kid going to school for the first day: "Will they like me? Is my 'artwork' cool? Does my voice sound fat? Do I have a dorky avatar?"

See................even administrators are human!!!

Virtual Family Connections

As I have said before, my main reason for a lot of the Web2.0 tools is to stay in contact with my family. Our closest relatives live 4 hours away and we visited them this weekend. I downloaded Skype for my mother-in-law and hopefully we can get it working and she can see Alyson. Alyson is so intrigued by my laptop when it 'rings' for her.

The rest of my family is in NY right now visiting my Aunt and cousins for a baby shower. Now that we are going to have 2 more babies in the family it is more important for me than ever to stay in contact. I remember writing letters or always wanting to write letters to stay in touch. Now we 'write letters' every day.

I want my teachers to be proficient in Web2.0 tools for both reasons. To become better teachers and to stay in touch with their families and relatives. Gone are the days living next door to your family as families are strung out all over the world now. When all is said and done your family is the most important part of your lives no matter how far away they are. Here are some of the tools I have used to keep in touch with my family:
  • Kodakgallery.com - we upload and share photos all the time. My have to start using flickr and picnik more often for this. I don't want to upload to so many places
  • Walmart.com photo center - Yes, I still love the paper photos. I am an avid scrap-booker so I have to have my 'hard copies.' So many people I know still take their memory cards to walmart and use the machine and stand and wait in line. I can upload my photos and pick them up while I do my grocery shopping. I try to tell my teachers about this but some of them don't have the time to figure out the online photo store. Little do they know! I can also send the photos to a store in IA where my mom can go pick up hard copies of her own. She hasn't figured out how to do this for me yet tho!
  • Skype - okay so none of my family has figured out how to work this and I haven't been home since Christmas to show my mom and dad. Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!
Please feel free to share any of your virtual family connections with me!

Artsonia.com

Artsonia.com is a website that art teachers can upload digital photos of student work for the world to view. Described on it's homepage as "world's largest kids museum online."

We visited my in-laws this weekend and my niece shared her artwork with me 'virtually.' I can visit this site a buy a variety of things decorated with her artwork. I haven't really browsed the site other than her work but I can't wait to share this with my art teacher. I have the most creative and hardworking art teacher that I think she will really like this.

Snap.com

I can't even remember the 1st blog I came across with 'snapshots' but I just loved it. A few readers have asked me to comment on my 'pop-ups' as they call them. It took me a while to figure it out but I just read the directions on the site and it worked. Every time you drag your mouse over a link a 'snapshot' will pop up showing you that sight without having to leave my sight to see what it is all about. Very cool!

The annoying thing is the clicking sound it makes as I scroll through my blog. I am sure that there is a way to turn that off, other than muting my computer. I just haven't taken the time to figure that out. I am sure it will walk me right through that. Keep in mine there are other things I have not adjusted on my blog since it's creation. I will have a few weeks this summer to tweak it!

There you have it! Now you can have 'snapshots' of your very own!

Missouri Principal's Conference - Hot Spot


Okay all my friend bloggers out there, I need your help. I have suggested that we have a "Hot Spot" room at our state principal's conference next year. The motivation behind this comes from wanting to get more Principals blogging. It has been incredible PD for me that I would love for others to benefit from. My idea stems from the EduBloggerCon and the Internet Cafe type environment from the National Conference. I was unable to attend the conference but really enjoyed watching all the events 'virtually' in the blogs and pics etc.

I am not one who would shy away from taking a risk. I am happy to just jump in and see how it goes. But I want the participants to benefit from it so I need to think through the pro, cons, and possible glitches.

Facts:
$100 to make one of the conference rooms wireless for the day
Want to schedule some "Hot Spot" times to just check email, surf the net, and or socialize
Host a Blogging workshop, RSS workshop, and other ideas????

Here is where I need your help! What am I forgetting or overlooking? Of course I will take my Tech Director, Janetta to back me up, but what else? The suggestion was made for me to do the same workshop 3 times rather than give 3 choices. More people could benefit. If we did 3 different workshops the same people may stay the whole day.

Help please? Wide open for suggestions!
Melinda

Firefox! So far, so good!!


On my very 1st WOW2.0 webcast I heard the women talking about Firefox. At the time I had no idea what this was. But they kept talking about it. At the same time I began listening to Tuesday Night webcasts I was also listening to The Google Story on my iPod. Little did I know that Firefox was something I could download from Google. Then, Fusion Finds started testing out Firefox so I let her tinker with it for a while. Just today she emailed me that I have to try it. Within minutes I was using Firefox!!!

So far, so good! Much smoother for me. My IE was shutting down a lot with errors. This has not shut down yet today. It has the multiple tabs that open up like IE version 7, or at least I think it is version 7. There are way too many icons in the toolbars for me right now but I am sure I will like them or at least be able to customize my toolbar as soon as I figure all this out.

I will probably mention The Google Story a lot. It was an amazing story and I highly recommend it for summer reading. I listened to the whole thing but will probably buy the book and probably but it for my dad for Father's Day. I think he would really enjoy it. But for those of you who are as busy as I am, I recommend the iPod version!!!

Online Conferences!

Janetta just emailed me another online conference going on in New Zealand. As I see that online conferencing (I have been watching last year's K12 Online Conference) is going to grow, I think it would be great for teachers to collect professional development hours for 'attending' online conferences.


Our district gives credit to teachers who physically go to workshops, write a reflection, and turn it in for approval. The only difference for this is that the teachers are not going to have to go anywhere! I will require that they include the web address and the people included in the discussion, workshop, or podcast. But I have listened to lots of podcasts and webcasts lately that I have benefited from and I think my teachers could really benefit from these tools.


Next year we have committed all our PD funds to the Missouri Reading Initiative anyway, so that makes even less money for the teachers to get professional development. 'Virtual PD' is going to be the way to go!



I will need to direct my teachers to EdTechTalk, WOW2.0, and the above mentioned conferences so they can get some PD hours. A lot of what I have come across is technology related and my teachers would be really interested in reading and writing ideas and podcasts. I may even have to interview my own teachers so they can get the ball rolling for other teachers.



Any suggestions on how to get started? I am so excited about this that I think my excitement alone can be contagious with my teachers. The Women of the Web even said they would Skype in on my Tech Tuesdays! The possibilities are limitless!!!

End of the Year Reflections

Where does the time go? I can't believe it has been another year. As my 3rd year as principal I feel this has been a challenging year for me personally and professionally.



Personally, I have a 1 1/2 year old daughter that does not sleep through the night. I have relied on Panera, Star Bucks, Krispy Kreme, and Monster drinks to keep me going/get me going in the mornings. Not a healthy example. These are habits that are going to have to change. Personally I would like to live to see my daughter become a young lady and enjoy all her special moments in life. We are going to work on the sleeping thought night thing as soon as school is out.



I also began working on my Specialist degree this year and had class every Wed. night. This will begin again in the fall as I begin to work on my Doctorate. Yes, I think I am crazy. But I am a life-long learner and have enjoyed my night classes tremendously. The friendships and networking that has developed through these classes will last a lifetime. This was a challenge for my husband as well since there isn't enough time in the day for my regular job duties, then to take on college classes. I want all my college behind me before my non-sleeping child begins all her extra-curricular activities.



Professionally, I know I can do better. Having a child definitely redirected my priorities. I want to be a good mom, good wife, good principal and good friend. I also need to model that family comes first. It is difficult to take a 1 1/2 year old to school events when I am supposed to be working. It does allow my school community to see me in a different light and realize I am human too. My daughter is going to make an honest principal of me!



I am a band-wagoner. I love to try all the new things that are going on out there even though I know I need to focus on smaller increments. There are so many neat programs in other schools and ideas I want to try that I don't think there are enough years to try them all. And, I think all my teachers would quit! :) It's the teacher in me that wants to reinvent myself each year.



That is the great thing about my job. I feel I could have done better this year so next year I can do better. It is like starting over every year and teachers get to do it too. We have our theme picked out, I have lists started, and ideas generated. Now it is a matter of staying focused for the next couple of weeks. Taking much needed time off in July and gearing back up for August and starting all over again.

As my teachers are checking out for the summer I realize I will miss them. I love my family time but it is very weird when the teachers are gone for the summer. I am a little lost for a while. We get together during the summer for book clubs and this year the very fun Tech Tuesdays but it is an adjustment for me.

I am looking forward to blogging more!!!

WOW 2.0 - Tuesday night webcasts

For the past two months I have been tuning in to WOW 2.0 webcasts. This is a live webcast hosted by the Women of the Web, teachers,Cheryl Oakes, Jennifer Wagner, Sharon Peters, & Vicki Davis , involved in discussions about using technology in education. This has been an amazing experience and unbelieveable professional development, FOR FREE!!



Tonight's chat was with Brian Crosby of LearningisMessy blog. Brian has been using Skype to include a homebound student with lukemia in his class every day. The student signs on in the morning and can listen in and view Mr. Crosby's class each day. Isn't it about time we heard some positive Tech Talk on the airwaves?! Seems like every time we turn around MySpace is in the news for something negative or cell phones are getting bad wrap again. This discussion was 'technology GONE RIGHT!'



This summer jgarton from Fusion Finds, Bob from R2TechnoBlog, and I are hosting 6 open lab times for teachers to come in and work on projects they already have started. We want to promote technology and give teachers some assistance so they feel more comfortable taking risks. I don't have many signed up but I am going to continue to promote this and talk about it so teachers can get some assistance and try new things.

Google Tools

Recently I discovered Google calendars. I think this tool is going to come in very handy for me professionally and personally. I have customized and set Google as my homepage, I have a google email account, and I use Google Reader as my RSS tool. It is nice to have one stop shopping!

I just finished listening to The Google Story on my iPod. I am thinking it is in my Top 10 list of books I have read. But that is a whole other post for a later time. After reading the book I feel pretty comfortable using all Google tools.

As a school administrator and/or teacher, I am sure you have many different schedules and/or calendars: District calendars, building calendars, B-day calendars, personal calendars, Holiday calendars etc. My list could go on and on. Keep in mind that I am just starting work with Google calendars but so far I see MANY benefits. My worry was that I was going to have to all my teachers register for google accounts and remember to check them but I can actually embed a calendar in my blog that I use for teachers.

  • I have embedded a couple in my blog for starters. (Summer Calendar)
  • My teachers like to have hard copies of our Special Class rotation calendar and these print very nicely and are easy to read.
  • You can subscribe to a calendar so that when an event is added you are reminded. (I haven't done this yet so I am not sure if it is through email or RSS.)
  • I can "share" my calendars with my secretaries so they can add/change dates.
  • I also added a link to one of the days. It had to be a separate 'event' in order to fit.

Over the past 3 years I have tried many different calendars and I hope I have hit the jackpot with this one. So far so good. I really like embedding things right now! As I plug along through this I will include some of the pitfalls as well. I have to admit these tools have made my life a lot more organized. Now, if I can just get my teacher to read my teacher blog without coming to me first.