We're BaACK! - Practical Principals

Episode 06 = "Ketchup" will be out this week! It's been a while and we sure appreciate everyone who has kept us in their reader and/or subscriptions in iTunes up to date. Between sick kids, grad classes, and pregnancies (me, not Scott of course:)) it has been a challenge to meet up on Skype at the same time. We are hoping things have slowed down for us for the winter and we can get back to regular recordings.

For those of you who may be new to this blog, Scott Elias and I do a bi-monthly administrative-ish podcast, "What you didn't learn in grad school."

iPhone discussion you can't miss!
Conference updates and previews - EduCon2.0, MAESP Spring Conference, and A Colorado Conversation

EduCon2.0 @ SLA in Philadelphia

It is 10PM Central time and I am trying to figure out how to be involved in Educon from afar:) I noticed there are Ustream channels, it is on HitchHikr, and they have a wiki. They have a store items to buy as well. Now if I can just figure out how to take part in all this that would be GREAT!!! I am even going to "tag" this post in hopes that someone will "take my hand" and help me with this.:)
Okay, I just came across something helpful at EdTechtalk.

Giving my teachers a "virtual" tour.......

How do you "show" your teachers a resource room that only 3 people can fit in at a time? Obviously you can't have a faculty meeting in that room. :) Digital pictures are my answers for this!

Our district ordered a large number of new books for our book room. It is going to take quite a while to get them all organized and labeled correctly but I wanted my teachers to be excited and I really think they will get a lot of use out of these materials. My choices of tools were going to be a video, Bubbleshare, or Voicethread. I think Bubbleshare's audio over tool is down for maintenance so I went with voicethread.

Link just in case........


Podcasting Principal is Back!!!

Tune in this week to this blog and The Podcasting Principal for a new episode. I have been on hiatus for a few months but was able to record last night. Of course there is no school today and I am unable to upload but check your feeds and podomatic for the next episode.

I am talking Observations this week!!! Scott and I also did a show on this on the Practical Principals a few months ago.

Observations: Formal/Summative

Here's how I do it...........

In September I observe all non-tenured teachers. I do this in case I need to work with a newer teacher on planning, classroom management, instruction, parent communication, etc. This is the "dog and pony show" observation. They set the stage and just invite me in. If the lesson doesn't go well, there is a student problem, the teacher doesn't like how things are going, we reschedule. If the next lesson goes well, I trash the first one.

Note: Two other principals in my district do ALL teachers first semester. We have to do non-tenured twice a year but tenured is up to us. I do tenured EVERY year because they need that formal documentation and I need to be to say I have formally observed them.

Lesson learned: I am going to do 1/2 tenured 1st semester next year so I don't have EVERYONE 2nd semester.

2nd Round: In January I want to complete all tenured observations and February all non-tenured. These are drop-in observations but I have told them I am starting. I want to get them done quick because I don't want them to worry about it for weeks. When I leave the classroom I leave a "reflection" form for them to fill out regarding the lesson I just watched.

Post obs conferences: I put a letter in all teachers mailboxes. It takes me a few days to type up the formal "form" I have to use. I do however give them a copy of my notes. These are rough draft, random notes I write while I am in the classroom. They know exactly what I am thinking and questions I have right after the lesson. I emailed a disclaimer the these are RANDOM thoughts and I will go over it with them. If they have freak-out personalities I try to meet with them quickly because I think they are going to read too much into my notes.:)
I want them to lead the post obs conference. I am going to go over the lesson and my observations but I want them to "toot their own horns" so to speak.

Tools I use: For the actual observation I use GoObserve software on my palm. I copy and paste the district form after the GoObserve report. If they are due for a Summative I copy and paste the summative chart, for formative, I copy and paste the formative chart.

Lessons Learned: I change my phrases in my GoObserve software every year. Some I find are irrelevant and some I have to add due to new initiatives our district is implementing. I also updated my "reflection" form this year. 4 years with old one was getting kind of tired and I really want my teachers to reflect.

How do you do it?

Teacher Workday a Success!!!

Our teachers returned to work yesterday. It is a little odd to have a teacher workday on the last Friday of break. Oh well! Pick your battles. I was not able to be in my own building the whole day due to trainings going on in various locations throughout the district.

Conco Quarries is a community business that has a wonderful meeting room that they allow our district to use for district-wide training sessions. Our district is spread out over a few miles and this allows a "middle-ground" location for all 4 elementary staff to meet. It is soooo nice to have the collaboration of the district and for teachers to get to know one another. I hope that other districts have district-wide collaboration. It is very powerful. Our K-1 teacher had training in the morning, 2-3 in the afternoon and 4th grade met separately in the afternoon at one of the other elementary buildings. I attended the K-1 and 4th grade training.

You've got to start somewhere! Some of my upper grade teachers have mental road blocks to how to implement guided reading. Guided reading is such a powerful instructional tool. Just start somewhere! Do something! It doesn't have to be perfect. Model learning and risk-taking. The students will love and benefit from this individualized instruction. There is always a laundry list on how something will not work but just dive in anyway. It's called flexibility 101! I am anxious to see how it goes. Everything is in place it is just a matter of doing something and starting somewhere. Ready, set................

Flickr image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/judybaxter/115424637/in/photostream/

Happy New Year 2008!!!

I just read through a few of my favorite blogs in my "reader." I actually took my "reader" off my homepage to do away with some of the guilt of not being able to keep up. I am not even sure if anyone still has this blog in their reader. When I started blogging last year I found this to be the most forgiving place of any professional development activity I have participated in.

This post is to "test the waters" before I head back to work after Christmas break. Yes, I said Christmas and will probably continue to do so. My blogging crashed and burned after I found I was pregnant with our 2nd child. This has not been as physically exciting as it was with my 1st child. I will spare you the details other than it was all I could do to run a school from 7:30AM - 4:00PM everyday then come home and raise a 2 year old going on 10. Let's all hope the next 6 months of this "magical experience" is a little more magical:):):) I am thrilled to be having another child after struggling so hard for the first one. Ignorance was bliss the 1st time around!

Catching up on blog posts has been fun this evening. Just a reminder where and what everyone has been up to. A special thanks to Cathy who added me to her "friend's shared items." That is a pretty cool tool that I will have to check out. After I check out twitter of course. I do believe a very kind person set me up a twitter account during my few months hiatus from the technology world.

In March it is my responsibility to run the "internet cafe" for the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals annual conference. This is an awesome undertaking and I don't want to let anyone down. I may be seeking out my "blog buddies" for some assistance. But until next time it's nice to be back but I can't any promises on my consistency for a while.
Happy New year!!!