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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in principal

Posted by on in Education Leadership

"So there looks like there might be an opportunity for you."

At the time when I heard this, I was literally in the middle of having my best teaching year. My sixth grade blended learning classroom was going better than I could ever have imagined. I was "teaching like a PIRATE," engaging and empowering my students, making learning relevant and meaningful to them, learning along side of my students every day, watching them get that love for learning back, and getting to know my students better than ever. And yet, a career opportunity came up that made me leave all of that. 

Why I Thought Left

When I was told, "So there looks like there might be an opportunity for you," I knew it was to step in as acting elementary principal for another principal in my district who needed to take a leave of absence. I did not know how long it would be, but I knew I had to take it. Opportunities like these do not come along often, and if I wanted to take the next step in my career, it began with this opportunity. While it was an easy decision to make, it was, at the same time, the most difficult career decision I ever had to make. I was leaving behind just an absolute incredible group of students, who were doing incredible things day after day. They wanted to come into my class every day. I wanted to come to school every day. There were no discipline issues. They pushed themselves to learn more than they did the day before. They pushed me to make the next day better for them than the day before. And yet, I left them for an opportunity.   

Why I Really Left

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

principals office door

For seven weeks, I was an interim, elementary principal in one of my district's elementary schools. It was an opportunity and experience that was invaluable. When I began I was nervous and full of anxiety, but when I ended, I had wonderful memories, great new relationships, and a very real and meaningful learning experience. 

So as I look back on my seven weeks as an elementary principal, and try to put things into perspective, these are my top ten things I have learned.  

Be Visible

From my very first day, I knew I had to be out of my office and in the halls, classrooms, cafeteria, and out on bus duty. I needed to show students, parents, teachers, and staff I was there for them. I could not do that from staying in my office trying to sort through all the emails and paperwork. While those needed attention, being visible was more important. 

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

kindergarten classroom

Recent news continues to highlight the increasing demands on teachers, students and families during the first year of school. Kindergarten is the "New First Grade" has been said many times during the past few years, however increased academic expectations can be met with developmentally appropriate instructional strategies…play included.  The benefits of play in the new first grade are seen throughout a child’s day in multiple domains.

1. Development of the whole child.  Play-based activities reach a wide scope and sequence of skills.  From critical thinking to problem solving skills-students have a very concrete and motivating way to learn the foundation skills that will support their learning K-12 and beyond.

2. Reaches the diverse learning styles of our students.  Play is a universal language.  I have observed students of all native languages interact together at a sensory table with water and sink/float activities.  We don’t always need our words to learn-but for our students who thrive in modes of learning that incorporate kinesthetic and visual activities- play can be the spark that supports more meaningful understanding of concepts.

3. Opportunities for development of oral language skills.  So much research has come out in regards to the importance of meaningful talk time for our early learners.  Playful learning offers intentional opportunities for students to enhance their vocabulary skills, while having student models and teacher facilitation of conversations.

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Posted by on in What If?

You get what you expect in this world. That is a mantra that I live by, both with raising my children and overseeing students in my school. Having high expectations is paramount to student achievement, good behavior, teacher professionalism, and parent engagement.

When I was the principal of a rural high school high in the mountains of Colorado I took a radical measure based upon my high expectations for all students. I raised the eligibility policy standards to proclaim that students could not participate in any extracurricular activities with any grades less than a C. D did not stand for dance in my building. Students had to have Cs or better in all classes to play sports, go to a dance, or participate in the school play. Was this popular at first? With the teachers, yes! With the students, not so much.

Now granted we had safety nets in place to ensure that we were giving students a lot of support to make this happen. We had tutoring three days a week. Grades were checked by advisors on Mondays with eligibility running on Friday. This way students had all week to retake tests and get items turned in. We set the wheels in motion and did the culture ever change!

Tutoring was packed every day.  Classwork and assessments took on a whole new meaning. Students retook tests after spending time with the tutors and all of a sudden the grades began to improve across the building. Students were excited with their success and often would run into my office to show me their grades. We had turned the culture into one that displayed pride in academics instead of apathy.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

leadership ducks

The beginning of this school year has me working with three new principals to our district. As I think about what I would tell them about the principalship, or any other leadership position for that matter, I find that the principles of a 12-step program have many parallels.

Regardless of the position you are in you are a leader in some capacity. It might be your office, your classroom, or your home. What kind of leader are you? Are you the take charge kind where those you work with look to you not only for guidance but for action as well? Or are you a different leader, one that supports and inspires others around you so that you are functioning within a shared leadership model?

Personally I think that the mark of a true leader is to create more leaders. I do not want to be in charge of everything. So often when that happens I feel as if my job is a “Whack a Mole” game played out in real life. How effective can I be when I am in charge of EVERYTHING?

To exist in a shared model of leadership you must first get rid of your ego. There is no room for a big ego in a shared model of leadership environment. For some a 12 step model of change is required. What are those 12 steps?

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