Tag Archive for #SAVMP

Connecting With my School Community

As part of the School Admin Virtual Mentor Program (#SAVMP) I will have blog posts dedicated to the questions/topics posed. I always enjoy the networking connections I make each year through SAVMP, along with the reflective opportunities to blog (because I haven’t blogged in quite a while!)

relationships

Know All of Your Students

I believe the first and foremost responsibility for a school leader is to know every student in your building.  I don’t know every detail about every student, and I will occasionally mix up names (especially siblings!), but I feel it’s important to know every student’s name in my building. I do this by reading to classrooms in the first week of the year as my first opportunity to practice their names, and then continue to mentally practice names when I observe in classrooms. I connect with students on before/after school parking lot duty, recess duty and lunch duty, choosing to make these duties great opportunities to connect with and get to better know my students. I attend as many IEP meetings and Student Intervention Team meetings as I can, which is also helpful to get to know students’ needs and connect with their families. In addition, I try to attend as many extra-curricular activities as I can to connect with and support our students outside of school. I am fortunate to live in our school’s community (and love having my children attend the same school each day), so many of the events I attend are a part of our family’s routine.

One of the great benefits of being a principal is that I don’t have to say goodbye to students at the end of the school year…I get to see them grow into each new grade level. Even better, we are in a K-12 building so I still get to see our students grow into middle and high school and continue to be connected to our families.

Build Relationships Outside of School

I enjoy getting to work with students outside of the school day in different ways: coaching baseball, taking students Christmas caroling at a nursing home and leading our robotics team. I have found each of these to be great ways to get to know students even better and learn about strengths and interests they have that aren’t always visible during their regular school day.

Recognize Students

postcardThis year I am also working on sending positive postcards home to recognize students for their hard work. I am keep track in a spreadsheet with the goal of sending these out for at least 200 students.

Welcome New Families

In addition, I also send out a personal letter to new families after they have been in our school for a few weeks. (Shout out to Jay Posick for sharing this awesome idea!) This letter shares personal information about myself and then asks questions to help find out how their child is transitioning to our school and if there is anything that I can do to help. I have found this to be a great way to open communication lines with new families.

Use Social Media to Share with Families/Community:

As a parent, I always want to know details about each of my sons’ day, yet I’m often answered with “nothing” as their response when I ask what they did at school.  Knowing that this is a common response for all children, I find it important to “create a window into our school” to keep parents engaged and informed of the great things happening in our building. I do this by maintaining a school Facebook page that is also embedded on our school website so that even the parents that aren’t on Facebook can see the posts on our website.  I use the page to post reminders for upcoming events and share pictures from my classroom visits.  I have found this presence on Facebook to be a helpful tool for parents as it is much easier for them to send me a direct message with a question on Facebook than it is via email.

Connect with Staff

Finally, it’s important to connected with the staff in your building as a school leader.  I have to admit that this is not a natural strength of mine.  When I’m at work, I’m very focused and intentional and can easily find myself getting into a zone, forgetting to connect with the adults that make a difference in our students’ lives.  Just as a teacher must connect personally with their students, I believe a school leader must do the same.  I try to make a point to get to know individual staff members; ask how their weekend was, follow-up on a planned camping trip or ask about the book their reading.  I have found it helpful to be connected with staff on social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads to help with this.

I’d love to hear other ways that school leaders connect with their communities.

Growth Mindset, #SAVMP for December

This months’ School Administrator Virtual Mentor Program blogging/discussion prompt is on Growth Mindset.

Mindset-concept-in-word-tag-cl-342584841

Image from Lakeside Connect

I feel that I have always had a Growth Mindset by nature, which I credit for having the drive to learn how to do many different things and have a hard-working ethic.  It was only once I read the book Mindset by Dweck that I fully understood this mindset and the incredible impact it has on students, educators and everyone.

After I read the book I shared my reflections with my staff in these posts:

Knowing what I know now about growth vs fixed mindset has impacted me in so many ways: as an individual, as a parent and as a leader. It helps me to realize that, at times, I do have a fixed mindset and need to change my thinking. It has helped me change the way I give feedback to my children, students and staff. I have also seen students who had struggled for years make a complete 180 change when their teacher took time to discuss mindset with their class and have individual conversations about mindset.

As a school leader, I feel it is essential for myself to have a growth mindset:

  • I get into classrooms and give feedback with a coaching hat (vs evaluative).
  • I admit when I don’t know about or how to do something and seek to learn more/how.
  • I don’t hammer down on mistakes made (unless they affect student safety or are ethically wrong), rather I focus on growing from the mistake.
  • I share with staff what I am reading (in my email signatures and staff blog) and what I am learning.

I also cannot help but make the connection between the concept of growth mindset and the new qualification criteria for a Specific Learning Disability/Response to Intervention process…time and time again we are finding that when students are given intensive intervention and frequently progress monitored, most students do make growth.

How do you lead with a growth mindset? I can never get enough of reading about Growth Mindset and how to share it with staff, students and parents and look forward to reading more posts.

Jennifer Kloczko wrote a great post that is filled with video clips to help promote Growth Mindset HERE.

#SAVMP – Admin Credibility

Image from Sales Force

Image from Sales Force

This months’ School Administrator Virtual Mentor Program blogging/discussion prompt is on admin credibility.

As the prompt states, “In any profession, if people feel you do not understand their work, your credibility lacks, often leading to a lack in leadership.”

When I became an administrator I made a personal commitment to not turn in to one that has no connection to what is happening in classrooms.  I know from experience how frustrating it can be as a teacher to have an administrator making decisions that feel like they have no idea about teaching, classroom dynamics, or even what time of year it is (i.e. an extra big task to do the same week report cards are due).  As an administrator I keep this in mind as I make decisions and see myself as a filter; rolling out initiatives in small steps to not overwhelm, only adding on what is absolutely required, and passing on requests to implement programs/trainings that I don’t believe will be the best use of our time. When there is a new tool that may be beneficial for teachers/students, I try to learn about it myself so that I can help share how and why. I try to make our staff meetings/professional development sessions engaging with strategies that teachers could implement in their classrooms the very next day.

I try to keep current in teaching, by being active in classrooms to help teachers implement new technology tools or to cover classes for teachers to observe each other or if we’re short of substitute teachers. I’ve previously written about No Office Day here and here. I have also previously written about Keeping in Touch with Teaching and Learning which also includes teaching a summer school class each year. I also believe it is essentially important as a building leader to be a Lead Learner, learning along with my teachers, not just directing them to learn/implement new strategies. What is a Lead Learner? I wrote about it HERE.

Most importantly, I make sure to stay connected to the people in our school…the staff, the students and the stakeholders.  I am not a supervisor sitting in an office doing paperwork, I am a leader that seeks to know everyone in our building, have a pulse on what is going on day to day and to help out in any way that I can to benefit the learners in our building.

#SAVMP – How Do You Connect with Your School Community?

I’m excited to take part in this year’s digital School Admin Virtual Mentor Program (#SAVMP) and am hooked up with two mentees, Jennifer Kloczko and Brandon Pafk.  Despite me being considered the “mentor” I am enjoying connecting with these two folks who already have administrative experience and have so much to offer me as well as we reflect together on posed monthly topics that are pertinent to school leadership.

Although October was busy month for me and I never made the time to write my blog post on the topic, I did connect with them through Voxer, discussing the topic for October.

Image from SchoolandTrust.org

Image from SchoolandTrust.org

October’s discussion topic is “How do you connect with your school community?”

I believe the first and foremost responsibility for a school leader is to know every student in your building.  I don’t know every detail about every student, and I will occasionally mix up names, but I feel it’s important to know every student’s name in my building.  I do this by reading to classrooms in the first week of the year as my first opportunity to practice their names, and then continue to mentally practice names when I observe in classrooms. I connect with students on before/after school parking lot duty, recess duty and lunch duty, choosing to make these duties great opportunities to connect with and get to better know my students.  I attend as many IEP meetings and Student Intervention Team meetings as I can, which is also helpful to get to know students’ needs and connect with their families.  In addition, I try to attend as many extra-curricular activities as I can to connect with and support our students outside of school.  I am fortunate to live in our school’s community (and love having my children attend the same school each day), so many of the events I attend are a part of our family’s routine.

As a parent, I always want to know details about each of my sons’ day, yet I’m often answered with “nothing” as their response when I ask what they did at school.  Knowing that this is a common response for all children, I find it important to “create a window into our school” to keep parents engaged and informed of the great things happening in our building. I do this by maintaining a school Facebook page that is also embedded on our school website so that even the parents that aren’t on Facebook can see the posts on our website.  I use the page to post reminders for upcoming events and share pictures from my classroom visits.  I have found this presence on Facebook to be a helpful tool for parents as it is much easier for them to send me a direct message with a question on Facebook than it is via email.

Finally, it’s important to connected with the staff in your building as a school leader.  I have to admit that this is not a natural strength of mine.  When I’m at work, I’m very focused and intentional and can easily find myself getting into a zone, forgetting to connect with the adults that make a difference in our students’ lives.  Just as a teacher must connect personally with their students, I believe a school leader must do the same.  I try to make a point to get to know individual staff members; ask how their weekend was, follow-up on a planned camping trip or ask about the book their reading.  I have found it helpful to be connected with staff on social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads to help with this.

I’d love to hear other ways that school leaders connect with their communities.