Reflecting on NAESP National Distinguished Principals Program

naesp ndpI never understood why people say, “it was a humbling experience” or “I feel so humbled to receive this.”  But I think now I fully understand that phrase. This week I attended the NAESP National Distinguished Principals Program in Washington DC as the Wisconsin 2014 Elementary Principal of the Year and had a humbling experience as I joined 60 other amazing school principals from across our nation (and those leading American schools overseas).  There were several points of the program that I thought to myself, “do I really deserve to be here?” or “I have to go back next week and be as awesome as these people are making me feel!”  In reality, I know that I was only able to have this experience because of how hard the staff in my building work each and every day to make our school the best school for our students.  I am blessed to have had the opportunity to hear about the great things happening in schools across the country, learn from their amazing leaders and reflect on the work that I can continue to do as a leader for our great school.  I made some incredible connections with these leaders and hope to keep connected with them through Twitter/Voxer to continue learning from them.

 

As I heard firsthand from principals about some of the challenges in their states, I was so thankful to be in Wisconsin.  I am thankful that our state has not gone as “high stakes” as some other states, like Florida or New York and that Wisconsin has things right with support for preK/K (see below).

 

I was even more fortunate to be a part of my first press conference.  I was asked by Mark White, president of NAESP, to join the press conference for NAESP’s release of the Early Learning Competencies for principals before the NDP event started.  What was even more exciting is that I got to join the Press Panel along with Libby Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning at the U.S. Department of Education.  Principals- I’ll have you know that we’ve had a number of our colleagues across the country working on this important work that I didn’t even know about!  This work brings research and best practices to the forefront to inform policy makers on what is best for children and to keep principals informed so that they can lead schools that include quality instruction for all students, including their youngest learners.  I was astonished to learn that there are states that still do not have full day kindergarten or preschool opportunities.  For those that do, research is finding a lack of alignment between preschool, kindergarten and the primary grade levels.  In addition, research found lack of resources/support for these programs and that they are often the position that a principal may transfer an ineffective teacher to, which obviously means lack of quality instruction.  I didn’t realize the importance of the work NAESP was doing on the early learning competencies, because Wisconsin already has it right

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with 4 year-old kindergarten, full day Kindergarten and, speaking for my school, high quality instruction.  Most principals are licencesd preK-12th grade, yet don’t have the experience/training to be knowledgeable on what quality instruction looks like in prek/K grades.  You can read more by downloading the Leading PreK-3 Learning Communities: Competencies for Effective Principal Practices HERE.

 

And now, I just have to share some of my favorite pictures from the event!
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Press Panel: Kristie Kauerz, Steve Tozer, Libby Doggett, myself and Kimbrelle Lewis

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The amazing NAESP press crew!

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Finally got to meet Tony Sinanis in person!

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NAESP president Mark White and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Zone 6 Principals

Zone 6 Principals

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A 21st Century Souvenir for the NAESP NDPs

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This week I am humbled to have the opportunity to go to Washington DC for the NAESP National Distinguished Principals program.  This is a result of the amazing work that our school staff do each and every day to make our school the best place for our students!

One part of this event is the opportunity to bring back a momento/souvenir from every attendee’s state.  Since Tony Sinanis will also be attending as a NDP representative from New York, we decided to work together on a 21st Century Souvenir that we hope will continue long after this week’s event so we can continue learning from each other.  While I know that we should wait to share until the big day, we want to help get people connected now (and I was always the child that secretly snuck peaks at my presents before Christmas and nothing has changed!)

We will be bringing these postcards:

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You can watch our video here:

Special thanks to Jay Posick, Joe Sanfelippo, Matt Renwick,  Eric Sheninger, Don Gately, and Vicki Day for helping us promote the power of Twitter!

#principalpln podcast episode 6: Staying Healthy to Outlast the Marathon of the School Year

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Another crosspost from www.principalpln.com

We are the best at taking care of others, the worst at taking care of ourselves. In this episode we share tips to take care of yourself first so you can be the best principal you can be to last the whole school year long!
 
Spike’s book is out! Check it out: Connected Leadership: It’s Just a Click Away

We Are All More than Just a Number!

Education is so consumed with testing, scores, school report cards, SLO’s and new evaluation systems. It has been interesting to see how mandates have been implemented differently across the country in this process and being able to read the honest reflections of educators from my PLN. For example, I’ve seen Tony Sinanis’s reflections on “his score” as an administrator which you can find HERE.  As I read posts like this, I am constantly reminded of why we are in education and that we need to continue to do the great work we are doing with students and not let ourselves get pulled into a test prep mentality. I am also thankful to be in a state that is not as dead set on numbers as other states are.  As I though about this, I decided to share the following message for my staff in my “Monday Musings” post:

We Are All More Than Just a Number!!

 

I know that many of you are already starting to think about your SLO and some are starting to stress that this year it “counts” for the state. I will have an email to all staff this week on SLO updates and then also in our EP refresher trainings, but the most important message I want you to receive is that the SLO rubric (“score”) does not just focus on the student outcome, but also the process…the process that you use to analyze your students, reflect, make goals, respond to their needs and continue to reflect again.  We are fortunate that Wisconsin has decided on a model that does not just look at numbers, as many other states do.

I am also thankful that we have a State Superintendent that also realizes this. Tony Evers recently posted this video to share his personal message about the school report cards coming out. He emphasizes that the report card only gives 1 measure, that is relatively narrow. Our report card doesn’t take into account everything that we have to offer and provide our students at Dodgeland.

Here is Mr. Evers’ message:

#PrincipalPLN Season 2 Episode 4: Twas the Night Before the First Day of School

If you haven’t checked out the new podcast yet, you can go to principalpln.com or download it on iTunes or Soundcloud.  As we add podcasts, I’ll also cross-post them here (although I missed the last couple of posts).

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In this episode we catch up on what we’ve each been working on, what we wish we would have done earlier so we aren’t stressed now (the story of principals’ lives!) and what is most important the first week of school.

Need some ideas on books to read in classrooms the first week of school? PrincipalJ shares ideas HERE.

Stay tuned for future podcasts on…

Staying Healthy to Outlast this School Year Marathon

Guest Hal Elrod, Author of The Miracle Morning

Series of podcasts on tips for being efficient

 

The Podcast is Back!

Many leaders in my PLN are writing outstanding blog posts for  #LeadershipDay14. I love this topic each year that it comes around, however, I’m feeling too busy to write a quality, reflective post in response to it (especially when incredible leaders like Curt Rees overachieve and create awesomeness like THIS!)

PrincipalPLNInstead, I’m just going to use this opportunity to say that my fellow podcasters, Dr. Spike CookTheresa Stager, and myself are excited to start another year of podcasting for principals.  We are rebranding ourselves this year as the PrincipalPLN, which I think fits #LeadershipDay14 well as we strive to have our podcast be a resource for school leaders.

Please check out episode 1 HERE.

 

Digital Student Portfolios

Over the years I have come to know Matt Renwick, fellow WI Principal known as @ReadbyExample on Twitter, as a wise literacy leader and tech guru that I love to learn from.  As our school continued to add technology and then implemented our 1:1 iPad program this year, he was a colleague that often shared resources with me; resources that he had created to help his teachers learn how to use their iPads for both teacher and student use.  So, when I heard that he was writing a book about their (school) experience of using Digital Portfolios I was ecstatic for him and eager to read the book to learn even more from him!

Digital Student Portfolios

I’m humbled to have been one of his first readers and even more so to have had the opportunity to co-write the forward to his book along with Curt Rees.  We both agreed that this book is a fantastic resource for teachers to utilize the power of the technology at hand to focus on documenting student learning in digital format as they focus on individual student progress and respond to their students’ needs.  In this book, Matt shares real examples of great learning among his teaching staff, along with steps they took that didn’t work, but they learned from them and moved forward.  What’s even better is there are several links to video clips throughout the book so you can learn from screencasts or see examples of digital/audio content of their students.  You can find some of these digital resources from his book HERE on his blog.

Where can you find Matt’s book? Go HERE to order his book.  Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

Principal 2.0 Resources for #IPANewAdmin14

I’m excited to join forces again with Amber Teamann on July 25 as we spend a day with the new administrators in Illinois for #IPANewAdmin14.  Amber and I will be presenting:

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Within this full day workshop we will share the power of social media for school communication, social media for personal learning and web 2.0 tools to keep up with all the work!

You can find our slides HERE and all of other links of resources HERE.

And please help us welcome these administrators to the Twitter PLN as we get them connected while we use the #IPANewAdmin14 hashtag!

The Miracle Morning

As I’ve previously written, the principal job can be a tough one.  I used to think that each year gets easier with additional experience, but I haven’t found that to be true.  This past year was my 6th year with some exciting things, like embarking on a 1:1 iPad journey and being recognized as the 2014 WI Elementary Principal of the Year.  Despite these celebrations (among others) it was still a challenging year that left me completely exhausted and nearly burned out by the end.  As I reflected at the start of this summer as to why I felt this way, I realized that I neglected my mental/physical health all year and even, at times, my family.  While I still work during the summer, the schedule is more laid back, so I made a commitment to making some changes that will hopefully become new healthy habits before the hectic schedule starts again come late August.

TMMI mistakingly came across The Miracle Morning, a self-help book by Hal Elrod while listening to The 5 AM Miracle Podcast.   I immediately downloaded the book and devoured it within 2 days, making changes to my morning routine.  I have always been a morning person, yet that typically meant getting up early (usually 5 AM) to get to school before anyone else entered the building so I could get as much work done as possible.  That’s great, but I still stayed until 5 everyday, then went home exhausted and cranky nearly everyday.  I rarely had the energy to exercise or take care of me.

As I listed to The Morning Miracle, one of the most powerful quotes from Hal in the book (I believe he was quoting someone else) that made an impact on me was:

“Your level of success rarely exceeds your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.”

I have always worked on improving my professional self, but I often neglect personal self development.  Since listening to The Miracle Morning, I have been waking up each day with new purpose, going through each of the morning self-development components which Hal named the SAVERS:

S-Silence (or meditation, contemplation)

A-Affirmations

V-Visualization

E-Exercise

R-Reading

S-Scribing (writing/journaling)

I have been going to bed earlier (a typical night used to be 11:30 for me) and getting up earlier so I can spend time on the SAVERS before anyone else in the house is up.  Since implementing my miracle morning, I’m amazed by how much I’ve accomplished and how it has spilled over into everything else in the rest of each my days…my productivity, my time with my family, healthy eating, etc. My new morning routine sets my mindset and context for the rest of my day.

I immediately shared this with my PrincipalCast co-hosts, Spike Cook and Theresa Stager, because we’ve had previous conversations on the podcast about what our mornings are like.  They also jumped on board with The Miracle Morning, shared it with others and we now have a voxer accountability chat group for a morning check-in.  We are so excited about the impact of The Miracle Morning that we have invited Hal Elrod to join us on a future podcast…cross your fingers!

Want to learn more?  Find it here:

The Miracle Morning website

Hal’s podcast: Achieve Your Goals Podcast (not just about TMM)

Hal’s podcast #25 explaining the SAVERS

The Email Monster

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We all have it…that evil email monster that can clutter up our day, add to our to-do list, irritate us, and completely suck our time away from the work that we should be doing.  Conquering the email monster has been an evolving skill I have worked on over the past couple of years learning from tips in newsletters/training at The Principal Center, from David Allen’s Getting Things Done and from Curt Rees, my personal David Allen mentor.

For a tool that can expedite communication, what’s the problem with it? From what I’ve learned, in order to be productive, as you check each email you need to act on it.  You could delete it, reply to it, add to your to-do list email2of what you need to do as a result of the email and add it to your calendar, etc.  If you don’t do one of these then it clutters up your inbox (which I often find I then end up forgetting to act on later) and clutters up your mind.  Research found what is known as the Zeigarnik effect: “Uncompleted tasks and unmet goals tend to pop into one’s mind. Once the task is completed and the goal reached, however, this stream of reminders comes to a stop.” (Baumeiseter, p. 81)

What does this have to do with your email? If you read an email (even just skimming the little 1 sentence preview on your iPad) without doing something with it, it is still going to pop into your head, leaving you unable to focus on whatever else you are working on or enjoying your family time at home.

This past weekend I somehow got locked out of my school email.  It stopped working on my phone, my iPad and even logging into our email access through our school website.  I had a 3 day weekend with no email access.  What if a summer school teacher was emailing about not being able to find a substitute or some other summer school related issue?  What if my son’s baseball coach was emailing a schedule change?  Believe it or not, I got over these questions within a couple of hours and realized on Monday morning that I had the most relaxing weekend ever this summer!  Yes, I did a little bit of work at home, but the email monster had nothing on me!

I’d like to say that from now on I will never check email from home, because I already did that last night.  I will say, I’m going to make a more conscious effort to not check my emails from home unless I have the time to act on them, am waiting for an urgent response on something, and know that it won’t impact my family time.

 

Citation: Willpower: Rediscovering the greatest human strength, 2011, R. Baumeister and J. Tierney