Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Support Staff

I was thinking about all the wonderful things support staff do for the school.  It really dawned on me when a custodian was digging through the trash to find a pair of glasses.  The student realized that he placed his glasses on his breakfast tray after the trash was in the dumpster.  Brad put on his rubber gloves and went dumpster diving.  He did not complain or say how could you do a stupid thing, he just went to work finding the glasses.

 I think about all the disrespect given to the associates for handling problems on the playground, hallways, or cafeteria.  The associates here do a great job of not getting overly upset or yelling at students who are not following instructions right away.  Associates take time to help students memorize spelling words, listen to them read, or practice flashcards.  I forget to let them know how much I appreciate their effort in making a school function.

And of course the school secretaries, these are the brains of the school.  I find myself always turning to Teresa for an answer or even a better idea.  The secretaries are always the first to field a phone call and try to remedy the situation.  They work tirelessly to keep the school business moving forward and offering words of encouragement for students and staff.  We all know when a problem occurs at school the secretaries are the first in line to deal with the issue. 

I truly appreciate all the work that the secretaries, associates, and custodians do for the school.  They are valuable members and often go unnoticed or thanked for their efforts.  Please remember to give kind words to these individuals and let them know how much they are appreciated.  I will work harder on making sure I do that for my support staff because they also need words of encouragement. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I have been spending quite a bit of time thinking about technology.  The Burlington Community School District in Iowa has started the talks about upgrading technology and previous to Burlington I worked in rural community where I helped implement a 1 to 1 laptop initiative.  Technology brings to mind efficiency, speed, connected, collaboration, and other thoughts.  I view these things and see the positive attributes technology can bring to the classroom.

I also see the important need for the guidance of teachers in classrooms.  Technology can do a lot of things, but it can not tell you to dust yourself off when you fail and try again.  Technology can not say what you are doing wrong and give you advice on how to do it better.  Technology only does what the user tells it to do.

A positive teacher can help you make the correction and encourage you to retry the idea.  A teacher gives you advice on different methods and encourages you to try again.  A teacher helps students determine what technology can be effective for completing the project.   The great teacher lets the student know that they matter in the world and how the student can have an impact on society. 

My final thought on the subject is technology is needed in every classroom and positive educators are needed to help the child dust themselves off and try again.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Is there focus?

I had the opportunity to continue my growth in Write Tools with a training on active reading.  During the development we read the article Focus: The Forgotten 21st Century Skill by Douglas. R. Reeves.  During my tenure in administration, I have read a few items put forth by Dr. Reeves.  I had not read this article and it spoke volumes to me.  We do seem to lack focus on where we are during a meeting, in the classroom, at home with the family, or during professional development.  While reading the article I thought back to all the meetings and other times I was suppose to be paying attention to the speaker, but was busy watching twitter feed or checking my phone.  I also began to realize how many times I watched others doing the same thing in meetings.  We are suppose to be the role models for our students, but we have also started to lack in focus.  As districts are trying to find new ways to improve achievement, we keep putting more and more initiatives in front of our staffs.  As leaders we are lacking focus on sticking to one or two ideas and becoming the best we can at those ideas.  I am fascinated by the article and plan to share with the rest of the staff.  I have moved in the new direction of having one grand initiative and that would be collecting data, pre and post test to measure our students growth.  I plan to in the future focus on that one person who is speaking to me.  Be a better active listener to my wife and child.  Make sure to give my focus to whatever is needed and role model how important focus is for education and life in general.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Do you ever wonder how teachers communicated with each in the 80's, 90's and early 2000's?  I was thinking today, while participating in #edchat discussion about faculty meetings, that teachers during my education how did they collaborate.  Did they have to wait for state convention or county wide professional development?  I wonder if my fourth grade teacher ever spoke to another teacher in a different community about teaching strategies.  Did she ever reach out to find a strategy that could be more affective with teaching reading rather than whole language approach?  Did my principal communicate with other educational leaders about research based strategies that were sweeping the nation?  It is kind of amazing to think I can get ideas from people in other states or even countries by simply asking a question on twitter.  I am able to create a document that I can share with others through google.  I can take notes at meeting with evernote and share with those not there.  We can use dropbox to exchange materials with one another.  These are a few of the items that are now at our disposal and they do not cost a thing. 

How is that we as a nation are falling behind, when we as a nation are so much more connected?  Why do we seem to be slipping down the ranking system of comparing us to other countries?  We are able to share our ideas and strategies that are affective, but we seem hesitant to take the steps necessary to be affective in our jobs.  I will continue to use these resources and continue to reach out to others when I need information.  I will continue to do whatever is in my control to help improve the education of students under my watch. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Do you miss the kids?

I find summer a hard time to deal with.  I truly miss having the student involvement that occurs from August to May.  It is nice to have the time, I admit, to actually look at the school wide assessments, take the class that was put off, or plan the professional development for next year; however I miss the voices and shouts in the hallways and classrooms.  I also dread the first several days of school because it is the retraining process of how we operate when in the building and outside for leisure time.  It is just my ranting right now missing the activity from the classrooms and hallways.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Why Data?

I have been some type of school administrator for six years and now beginning my seventh.  During that time I have made changes in policy and academics because we had meetings and felt it was the right thing to do.  I use the word felt because I do not remember ever collecting data to help make that decision.  I am starting a new position at Black Hawk Elementary where the previous principal was very involved with data and the importance it played in affecting the school environment and  I also had the opportunity with the Burlington Community School District to receive data training and how to create data teams.  This has been a wonderful experience and now makes me wonder why I ever made any decision affecting academics without the use of data.  I have been reading The Data Teams Experience a great book written by Dr. Angela Perry.  The book is extremely well written and very easy to follow.  The process of what should happen at a data team meeting is well laid out and easy to understand.  I can not for the life of me think of a better way to make decisions about a school or business without looking at data.  I feel very fortunate that the previous administrator did a great job of building a data team for the school now I am going to take the next step and create three data teams for grade levels.  I also know that I need to provide time by investing our staff meetings and building professional development to the process.  I figure all the other tasks completed during staff meetings can be handled via social media and that other professional development would be given based upon what data tells us we need to do.  If you have been thinking about getting involved with using data, but not sure where to begin read The Data Team Experience and the process will be made that much simpler.  In fact I am creating a power point that the staff members will be able to view even before we have our first meeting to discuss the change.  This way the staff will have data before we even talk about the different grade level teams.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


My zite app brought a great article to my ipad. The article was written by Tralee Pearce Generation Disengaged? This article really made me begin to think about the situation we always find our self in education; trying to engage a student in their education seems to be getting tougher and tougher each year. I contact parents, have meetings, and even discuss possible retention with the student. I have had multiple conversation with parents and students trying to engage them with their education. I point out how education is a means to an end. I try to point how at the end of high school would you rather have a choice in what you do or be told this is what you have to do by society? I try and show that an education can get you choices in life and not be forced into something you do not want not having an education. However I feel that my words sometimes fall on deaf ears. After meeting with parents, staff, and student and to still see that student not getting involved with their education I am left speechless. I try to offer the student extrinsic value of something they want and to give them the help they need, but they still show no intrinsic effort. The article mention that these millennials value wealth and status, doesn't education help lead to these things? If you have any insight or help in addressing this issue please let me know.