Friday, June 3, 2016

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Keeping the Sword Sharp

The winter months are filled with constant disruptions for an educator. Starting around Thanksgiving and stretching until late February it seems that full weeks of school are the exception instead of the norm. This creates a number of inconsistencies in a field that is filled with them already. We all know that a middle school student's life is filled with distractions that we as educators cannot control. So the challenge is to create an environment in the school and specifically the classroom is where students can be consistently great. The key is to have large goals that are focused on daily ones in order to provide a greater purpose to the learning.  That way every minute of every day counts as much for them as I know it does for you, the teacher.  Sure this is easy to say but what does it look like.  Consider the following 5 points:

1. Demonstrate a love for learning. Come with fresh ideas and EXPECT the same in return.
2. Hold yourself to the same expectations as you hold your students. If you are having students work bell to bell then do the same.
3. Plan for success. Use the MAP testing data, summative data and your formative data to pace, but never feel there aren't exceptions. When you read something, watch something or hear something that inspires you, share it with your students, it just may do the same.
4. Talk to the pros. Never stop collaborating about the "right stuff." People that say you can learn from others mistakes aren't hanging around the right people.
5.  Bring the POSITIVE energy. Students feed off of negative energy just as well as well as positive.

"We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future."
 - Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

1 vs. 100

This morning anticipating the first day of school I posted a tweet. The tweet read. " Let's be as excited on day 100 as we are on day 1." You see when students enter our school building no matter where they ended up the previous year, their age or gender they are filled with anticipation. Here at the middle school we have a very diverse range of this example. Sixth graders walk in extremely nervous not knowing teachers, staff, what the bells mean, why there is no teacher leading place to put it bluntly they are more scared than anything else. Diversely the 8th graders are puffing out their chests proud to be the upperclassmen. Then the 7th graders some look still scared others just released they are not the rookie and still others thinking they are older than they actually are. To say that I enjoy this odd mix and emotions would be an understatement. The challenge I have set before my teachers is to not let day 1 effect your day 2. What do I mean by that, try to limit the carry over. Students will make mistakes and they will upset you and keep you up at night. Give them the clean slate approach on a daily. Give them renewed energy on the regular. It will not be easy but to accomplish true growth it never is. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New School Year + New Challenges = Greater Success

The 2015- 2016 school year is upon us and I welcome it with open arms. Last year during this time I spent a lot of time writing, talking and thinking about "ghost." What I mean by that is that I did not know my staff or students and I barely knew the community. All of this has changed and the greatest change is knowing the staff because in order to lead you must know who you are leading. Being a great teacher means differentiating your instruction to meet the needs of your students and the location or role you can be in a factory in a classroom or in an auditorium.

At Eaton Middle School we have a number of initiatives that were started last year that will continue to grow this year. The largest initiative is our Claim Evidence Reasoning (CER) piece, which is a strategy implemented building wide to provide students with a method to comprehend and write at a higher level regarding a passage of informational text. This initiative was launched last year and I look forward to seeing what level our students and teachers will advance this to this year. Our summative and formative assessments will strengthen and provide "real" feedback.

This school year brings back so many "Highly Qualified Teachers" at EMS and we welcome two new educators as well. This is not only an exciting time to be a student at EMS but also a great time to be a teacher where we will work together to provide a challenging rigorous curriculum every day. 

So what are we going to do with one of the greatest opportunities and responsibilities we could ever ask for........ Attack!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Reflecting on Year 1

What a ride it always is in your first year of education, whether you are first year teacher, counselor, principal or even superintendent.  For many of us it is very easy to think back to our first year of teaching and remember the struggles, victories and sleepless nights. You worried about your students, your principal the teachers across the hall and even cafeteria duty. You are continually reminded that next year will be easier and if you are as fortunate as I was you have a mentor who you can vent too, brag too or even cry with.
Over the last 9 months for me in my first year as a principal it has been a roller coaster ride to say the lest. It started with the excitement of the first day. I over prepared to say the least for the first staff meeting, my introduction at the 6th grade orientation and the first day assemblies. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Stay Hungry

When we sign up for classes towards becoming a teacher the question is always ask, why? The answer more often than not is that we want to make a difference. A difference in young people's lives, a difference in our communities, and dare we say a difference in the world as a whole. Now take that same question and ask it to a 15 year experienced teacher and see what answer you get. Some will definitely repeat the same answer, others will talk about summers off, stability and feeling trapped. Why is this? How do we loose our hunger? It is simple, we must feed ourselves the right way. If we become complacent than we do not grow and in turn our passion wilts. 

I hear and read about administrators  ranting and raving about the need for  teachers to attend or be a part of professional development. The truth of it all is that it is not about professional development. It's about developing as a professional, we as educators need to continue to grow. That is our expectation for our students and we need to hold ourselves to the same standard. 

What are we eating? Are we getting bogged down with discipline and formal lesson plans. Or are we continuing to find ways to inspire kids and connect to their way of learning because it is where our focus needs to be. If our diet consist of ways to energize us as educators then the students will feel the same. Professional development doesn't have to equal traveling to some far off place and missing a day with students. What are you reading? Who do you follow on Twitter? Are you using Pinterest? What's the latest TED video you've watched?These are just a few of the ways that you can eat the right things on a simple, free and regular basis. 

In conclusion do not simply listen to a speaker that has never seen the inside of a classroom one day in June and expect to grow. Feed yourself regularly so that you can "stay hungry" and in turn keep the passion burning.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things

As a principal it is easy to become consumed with the negatives, shortcomings or lack of good judgements that come across my desk. The truth of the matter is is that when a student needs to talk to me in private or a teacher needs to "shut the door," there is a pretty good chance that it is to report a poor decision, confess a wrong doing or report a problem that they heard. This is NOT why I choose to lead. I choose to lead because I believe that the young people of this great nation have crazy potential. I believe that without a quality education it is impossible to accomplish your dreams. I believe that teaching is one, if not the most noble profession in the world. Last, but not least, I know that a school can be the bright spot during a dark time for our students even if they may not realize it at the time. 

As a father my perspective on education has continued to evolve. When I look at what I want for the kids and community of Eaton the answer starts and stops with placing quality people with the tools and support to work with these young people effectively. Having quality, inspiring, hardworking teachers in place to fulfill their dreams while working to make students come true is a must. 

What a great time to be in education. Not only are there technological tools that give us access to countless resources but we also are living in a time where accountability has continued to increase based on an array of state tests. Accountability is a great thing if accountability is done correctly. The keys to having accurate data for teacher accountability are very similar to collecting student data; it must be done at different times, using multiple measures and being transparent concerning the goals and the objectives that the individual should be striving to meet. Accountability is all about raising ownership and if teachers take greater ownership of their students' success then the entire school/ district/ community can achieve things never thought possible. 

"Each finger can be easily broken but close them into a fist and the power increases significantly."