A Tribute to My Father

Dad

We all have people who have influenced us on our journey. I am the oldest of five and what I can say for sure is that I have been tremdously blessed with a supportive and loving family. My  educational path however,  has been enormously influenced by my father. Currently he is a Principal in a  Massachsettes Center of Technical Education Innovation School in Western Massachusetts and I must say, he is simply amazing. He actually attempted retirement a few years back,  but was asked to come back and continue the work he had begun. Truth is, it was what was  best for both the school and his own continued growth and happiness. He is happiest when he is serving others; students, teachers, and the school as a whole. While the work remains challenging, he returns year after year and supports his faculty and students in ways that I know are appreciated by members of the community. I know this, because I hear the stories, even though I live an hour and half away.

 

Dad

When I think of leaders who are successful in their craft, they almost always encumber kindness, gentleness faithfulness, patience, goodness, and self control. And as tacky as it may sound to some, they illuminate love and peace which all trickle down to the culture in their building. Ok, school buildings are not really peaceful, but a true leader keeps his poise when the inevitable chaos hits.  All of these traits encumber the heart of who he is and why I am lucky to be his daughter.

Other obvious traits are essential for leadership such as having a vision, giving quality and frequent feedback, problem solving, being an effective listener and managing multiple initiatives. He is dedicated and talented, but his success rests on the foundation of his faith and the personal qualities that make him who he is.

I am proud of him and what he continually does for others. And today, I just wanted to share how grateful I am to call him Dad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Enormous Power of Educators

Snow days are the best days for reflection. They are Mother Nature’s way of making us slow down. Outside of shoveling and my flaw of procrastinating around this obvious opportunity to catch up on cleaning the dust bunnies from under my bed, I maximize the time to enjoy family, but also to read blogs and thoughts from my PLN on Twitter.

winter beacjToday I read a blog post from @benjamingilpin entitled  Does Your Teaching Reach Hearts? This post can found Here.  I enjoy his posts because he often makes connections to his own life and I find his work authentic.  As the title suggests, he writes of connecting to students through ensuring their learning is meaningful. Some of his personal examples of his own memories of learning were positive and some were not. My take away added to my already firm belief that the power we have as educators is extraordinary. We can inspire or defeat with simple actions on a daily basis.

In this time of standardized testing,  I challenge you to keep your eye on the prize and focus on meaningful student learning. Achievement scores will follow. Students need you to be prepared with engaging lessons, but at the heart of the matter they need to know you care.  Take the time to give effective and consistent daily feedback, send a positive note home, meet children where they are, keep your most difficult student after school to support him or her, and even when you think you can’t, smile. Smiles are contagious and they send the message that people matter and you are glad to see them. True learning resides on a foundation of relationship and trust.

How are you using your enormous responsibility and power as a teacher or administrator to ensure all students are engaged in meaningful learning experiences?

 

Empathetic Leadership

otherthanmother.com

Empathy is a life skill that is necessary for any successful human being. We model it for our children and nurture our relationships through having the ability  to see the perspective of others. We place ourselves in someone else’s shoes to understand. As a leader, I watch for signs of anxiety and strive to see how certain tasks or situations are difficult for some and not for others, so I can provide the proper supports.

Here’s the thing though. There is such a thing as being overly empathetic. And overly empathetic leads to enabling, which in turn leads to stagnation or lack of growth. Balancing this out as an administrator is a tough task. Principals want their staff, parents, and students to be happy, but we also need to push people out of their comfort zones so we can see the magic happen!

Truth is, empathy can be a leader’s greatest strength and equally their greatest weakness. I believe the heart of leadership is to be strong enough to continue to be empathetic, but wise enough to make the tough decisions when an individual or situation is pulling on our heartstrings.

Some principals perhaps, may not struggle with this balance and their growth lies elsewhere. We all have strengths and weaknesses. For me, I find this area one of the most challenging aspects of my job. Luckily, with each day and each situation that presents itself my ability to find the balance and help move the school community forward strengthens. Each day I’m a little wiser and a little better than the day before. : )

 

A New Year!

school-bus-linus-and-lucy-peanuts-6273388-1280-960

 

I love fresh starts! As an administrator, it is an opportunity to re-create myself, improve upon my practice, and continue to serve my  students, staff and community in what I hope will result in an amazing year. With the start of the school year around the corner, here are a few big picture goals to put my best foot forward for 2014-2015.

As a personal goal, I am striving to take better care of myself. I always feel this sounds selfish, but the truth is, it is a prerequisite to doing the best work possible for those I care about.  Besides, if Oprah says we all need to take care of ourselves first; then others, who am I to disagree? In order to do this, I need to have the discipline to eat well, exercise regularly, spend quality time with my family and nurture my spirituality. Lofty goal for this girl, but attainable. Can you say Growth Mindset?

Professionally, this is the year to let the community truly hear about the amazing staff and great things we do here at Cove School. It’s time for people to know our story.  Overdue, in fact! Presently the PTO authors a Facebook page: Cove School Facebook Page, while I author the Principal’s Blog: Cove School Blog. While this may be a start, with the plethora of social media tools available to us as educators, I have only been scratching the surface. As an avid fan of Twitter, you can find me @Principal05 where I am continuously building a PLN that I never cease to learn from. While this is my personal Twitter account, this year I’ll be adding a school account and teaching more teachers the benefit of using Twitter. Lastly, as part of my story telling adventure, I will be more  consistent  with weekly, email and  voice messages through our Blackboard Connect Account to update families on future events and the successes of the week. I love the use of the blog, but the voicemail and direct email are more convenient for families. Lesson learned. : )

Of course these are broad and overarching goals. I look forward to working with our Teaching and Learning Team and outlining more specific, detailed, and concrete goals as we get closer to September! Peer observations and instructional rounds, common core standards, writing, PBL and the list goes on. There is much to accomplish, but we have the right staff, the right mindset, and the stamina and drive to be successful for all of our students!

Bring It On : )

Time is the Constant for Improvement

 

 

time 2

 

Recently, as a school community we discussed next steps for continuous improvement. Using a journaling protocol, everyone had a voice.  Thoughts and opinions were gathered and themes for moving forward were identified.  As you may remember and also guess from the title of this post, time was at the  top of our list.  Time for more collaboration, vertical teaming, peer observations, the reappearance of BSST, and last but certainly not least, more joy in learning.

Here’s the thing: we can’t make the day longer – yet.  We CAN be more creative, more focused, and more proficient in time management though. Lets think outside of the box. I know for me, if I do not plan and schedule certain actions steps to accomplish my goals, time gets the best of me and I miss out on opportunities to be more productive. The first step to accomplishing our goals is collaboration.

Keep this in mind:

BLOG

So this week, I encourage you to support each other and find the time to expand your time to collaborate. It will benefit your students, yourself and the school as a whole. I promise it is worth the commitment and effort.  As the saying goes, many hands make light work.

 

 Collaboration

Food for Thought :

Team Time: 2-2:30 x 4 days a week = 2 hours

Team Time: 2-4:00 x 1 days a week – 2 hours

Team Time 2-4:00 x 2 days a week= 4 hours

Team Time: 2-4 x 1 day a week = 2 hours

Team Time: Different ideas??

As always, if you need time outside of the classroom above and beyond your common prep time and scheduled grade level meeting times: talk to me. For those of you that have asked – I provided the coverage. I will happily continue to do so!R esources well spent.

Question of the Week: Are you willing to  commit to more collaboration?  What times work best for you and your team? : )

Articles Worth Reading

Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zones via @ education week

50 Inspiring Ted Talks for Teachers via @TeachThought

Mathematics Shed  via Twitter, author unknown. There is also a Literacy Shed! Check it Out!

10 Painfully Obvious Truths Everyone Forgets Too Soon via @marcandangel

4 Great i-Pad Apps That Provide Kids with Writing Prompts via @AddesaDT

4 Important Ways to Make the Common Core Transition Easier on Students via @TeachThought

 

One Video That Will Challenge Your Beliefs About the Future

 

 

Got Humor?

funny 2

Humor is important. I often wonder how I’d get through some days without it. When the going gets tough, we need to find the humor, joy, love, laughs whatever puts a smile on your face in times of uncertainty – because trust me, it’s there. Perspective is everything. If you just take the time to look around you, I know you will find some. Joy, something we have been talking allot about -is tied to humor. And it is everywhere…as I have mentioned before. : )

Words of Wisdom:

humor

 

Life is hard. It’s ok. For those of you among us that keep their sense of humor and move forward even when difficult times arise  – you continually amaze me. In my role, I try hard to really listen and I hear allot of stories regarding challenges in the classroom and beyond. Within those personal stories, and there are many, I see courage, perseverance, and resiliency  coupled with a sense of humor. Does this sound familiar? All traits we want our students to have. You are great role models and I applaud your everyday efforts.

So next time life throws you a curve ball – whether it be in in your personal life or a gift from the classroom – don’t forget to have a positive outlook and look for the humor in the situation.

Some Humor Quotes to Reflect On

Without a sense of humor, you don’t have much sense at all – Pen

A sense of humor… is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.  – Hugh Sidey

A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles. – Author Unknown

I think the scariest person in the world is a person with no sense of humor. Michael J. Fox

Kindness and a generous spirt go a long way. And a sense of humor. It’s like medicine – very healing. Max Irons

Question of the Week: Are you keeping a sense of humor?

 

 Math Articles Worth Reading

5 Symptoms That You’re Teaching Math Wrong: Math Class Needs A Makeover @Teachthought

101 Ways for Teachers to be More Creative @Teachthought

15 Best Math Products Aligned to COmmon Core Standards @PrincipalDiff

10 Classroom Routines That Get Kids Talking (and Writing) about Math Strategies @Angela_Watson

Six Horrible Mistakes Math Teachers Make @mssackstein

April is Autism Awareness Month: 

What Autism Is and What it is Not @Huffpost

Autism: Show Awareness and Appreciation @PrincipalHowell via @benjamingilpin

Journey of Hope: 13 minutes via @benjamingilpin

 

Are We Teaching Students to Think?

thinking cap

I’ve been thinking allot about thinking lately. As I am reading my twitter feed, blogs, and a variety of books to keep me current, the topic of thinking has been a reoccurring theme that I seem to stumble upon. Put your own thinking caps on and reflect on the meaning behind these thoughts:

  • “Education has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.” – G.M. Trevelyan
  • “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler
  • “Students today need to be able to communicate as effectively in graphical formats as we were taught to communicate with text.”  – Ian Jukes
  • “We need to move our thinking and our training beyond our primary focus an fixation on the Three Rs to a focus on skills that foster critical thinking, creativity,  and problem-solving skills.”  – Lee Crockett

We are in the middle of paradigm shift: a new age of not only critical thinking and creativity, but of digital exploration and presentation.  These are  exciting times that are pushing all educators way out of their comfort zone, otherwise known as the land of growth and exploration.

Math and Science Nights, I Wonder Projects in fifth grade, and an upcoming Wax Museum presentation in third grade are all examples of tapping into children’s sense of wonderment and building on critical thinking skills. Moving forward, I strongly encourage you to read about Genius Hour in the articles below and put some thought into Project Based Learning.

Question This Week: How do you  incorporate critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving skills into your lessons?

2 Minute Video: Interesting Thoughts on the Achievement Gap: Star of ASCD14 Conference this Weekend!

Articles Worth Reading

28 Simple Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom @Teachthought

Would You Want to be a Teacher in Your Own Classroom? @gcourous

10 Tips for Engaging Underperforming Students @edutopia

Genius Hour: What’s it all About? @ajjuliani

Genius Hour: What Kids can Learn from Failure @cnnliving

My Flipped Classroom

Website Worth Checking Out: Just Do It : )

EduSlam

Life Long Learners = Exceptional Teachers

Growth Mindset for Achievement= Learning and Stretching

This week I challenge you to find the time and explore the articles listed below – perhaps at least one. : )

If you are unsure what a QR Code is – find out!

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3 Great Things Seen or Heard

Charlotte Grace has Arrived! Congrats Jen and Pete : )

Congrats to Ms. MacLean’s 5th Grade for participating in the Arcademic’s Multiplication Cup! Third Place in the Nation! If you have not signed up for this website yet, check it out!

Students in Mrs. Egan’s class are loving Skoolbo! Check it out on the i-Pads as an app or on the web here:  http://skoolbo.com

2 Thoughtful Quotes for Growth

“Intelligence and academic achievement are very much under people’s control.” Richard Nisbett

“Conflict among collaborators can feel like a failure, but differences in perspective are a core reason for teamwork in the first place, and resolving them effectively creates opportunity.” Amy Edmondson

1 Question for Reflection

In order to be successful as an educator in the present tides of change, you need to always be learning and taking risks. What are some ways you ensure this is happening?

Mark Your Calendars

Monday, March 3rd: Read Across America!

Tuesday, March 4th: Early Release Day: Please complete your math benchmarks: Math PD beginning at 12:15, Lisa Central Office Meeting on pilot for PARCC

Wednesday, March 5th: Grade 2 and 3 Family Math and Science Night @6:00, Staff Meeting 2:30-3:15, Lisa and Ilene to BHS for 504 training 3:15-5:15

Thursday, March 6th: Lisa – 7:30 AM for SPED meeting with Principals

Friday, March 7th: Trimester End, GLM for TLC at 1:10, Grades 3-5 Math Benchmarks due to Noel

* Grade 5 Performance for School on March 10th, 5th Grade Performance and Open House on March 12th @6:30, Last OR Writing Meeting on March 14th, Grade 1 and 2 please have your spreadsheets to Noel.

Articles Worth Reading

Powerful Beliefs that will Free You from Negativity via @marcandangel

How Does PBL Work? via @Edutopia

Design Infographics for Common-Core via @DrSpikeCook

Secrets of Teachers Who Love Their Jobs: Always be a Learner via @coolcatteacher

20 Twitter Hashtags Every Teacher Should Know About via @edudemic

Have You Started Using QR Codes in Your Classroom Yet? via @GettingSmart

100 of The Best Educational Games for the I-Pad via @TeachThought

Video Worth Watching for a Smile : ) 

Joy is All Around You: Yes, Really.

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.

-Albert Einstein

baby

One of you – unnamed of course – got my wheels spinning about this concept of joy. Here is the story. Said person came to see me to let me know “some positive news”.  Before she began, she said it was important to share because lately there was not a whole lot of joy going on in the teaching world. Mind you, those were not the exact words, but that was the message.  Honestly, the comment took me by surprise and stuck with me.

I proceeded to go out in the hallway to greet students coming in. Two little kindergarten students walked by holding hands with big smiles. And I thought, wait! That is joy!!! So I started paying attention.  Another little one walked by and said “Good morning! How are you Mrs. Oliver? I lost a tooth last night!” You had to be there, but big smile and no top teeth!  Zippo. Could it be? In the matter of minutes, I found joy all around me. : )

Of course, now I go by said person’s room often and ask her: got joy? I’m terrible, aren’t I?

We all have moments. Do I really think this person finds no joy in teaching every day? Of course not. But it still got me thinking.  In a world where demands and deadlines are coming at us from all different angles, we need to keep things in perspective. We didn’t choose education for the paycheck or as some would assume, the hours. Especially, the hours! Geez.

In the words of Helen Keller: Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. Well said, Miss Keller.

So my question to you is: Got joy? : )

Kudos

Pat and Tiffany: Taking the cab home with students to ensure safety

Susan Hanson: For a smooth transition to Cove: We are pleased to have you!

Michelle Hannable and Paige Forester: Successful completion of ACCESS testing.

Courtney, Kara, and Tiffany: For truly looking for ways to better our AIM program and thinking outside of the box. The work you do everyday amazes me.

Madonna, Erin, Jen G, and Erin S: For just rocking Year 2. Keep it up.

Mark Your Calendars

February 10th and 11th: Change is Simple for Grades 3-5

February 12th: LASW: Open Response Writing/BSRI Visit from Miffy, District GLM: Building Based 2:30-3:30

February 13th: Dr. Agenziano to Speak about the proposed Middle School Configuration: 6:30 Cove Library

February 14th: Valentine’s Day: BSRI Visit with Kelly, K Field Trip to Ma Audubon on Ipswich River for Maple Sugaring

February 17th – 21st: School Vacation : )

Articles Worth Reading

Passion Driven or Project Driven: There is a Difference via @AngelaMaiers

How We Can Maximize the Potential Of Learning Apps via @MindShift

5 New Approaches to Teaching and Learning via @HuffPostEdu

Mentoring: Unlocking Young People’s Potential via @HuffPostEdu

Bring Google to School via @Sophia

21 Days to Improving your Productivity and Happiness via @LifeOhn

Video Worth Watching

via @ToddNelsoney