Two Minutes to Make a Whole Day

One of the things that bothers me as a principal is the immediate reaction you receive when you reveal yourself to parent when you call.  There is this immediate disappointed “sigh” when I say who is calling from a parent.  Unfortunately, sometimes the call leads to longer sighs.  As someone who believes in open communication and parent involvement, it is important to me that I communicate with parents when things are good and bad.  I know that I need to try and make that “phone call” to communicate the good a lot more.

My own personal belief in a K-6 school is that every time a student is in my office, I make a phone call home to communicate with the parents.  It is important that parents know what is going on in school and you can invite them in on learning about the process at school.  It is also important that parents have an opportunity to share ways that we can help their children to be successful.  I never want a parent knowing that their child was in ‘trouble” in the office without that information coming directly from myself.  I talk to my staff about communication between home and school and I want to lead by example.

Although I have done it before, I decided to take two minutes to call a parent about the success of her child.  Although I have made phone calls to this parent that have included the “sigh”, her child has seen tremendous success.  It is important that I make those calls to celebrate that child.  It is also important that I call the parents of children who have done wonderful things as well and have NOT made a visit to the office.

Is this something that I have been doing consistently? No.  Today though, I know that I made a mom’s entire day.  I asked her right away, “Why do you always sound so disappointed to talk to me?”  Today I was going to prove her sigh wrong!

My secretary said to me when I was just starting in administration that, “…when you call home, that child is EVERYTHING to that parent, and you are about to rock their world.  Always be conscience of that.”  I always have.  It is important that you show parents dignity and respect, and show that you have given their child the same courtesy.

The “bad” phone calls are not the only ones that should be made.  If you are a teacher or administrator, I challenge you to make at least ONE call this week home about a student who is doing an amazing job.  We know there are lots.  It will not only make someone’s day, but it will also help create relationships within your school community.  Selfishly, it also made me feel great!  I loved the feeling of sharing success.

I did it today and I pledge that I am going to do it more.  How about you?

Preparing Our Students to be Digital Citizens

I am obviously a fan of Web 2.0 applications.  I believe that the best way to learn about the world is by connecting with it.  Things such as Twitter, Skype, and other applications open up an endless amount of possibilities. If you want to learn about China, talk to a student who lives there.  Want to learn about space, find an astronaut that will connect with your class.  These things that were impossible years ago, are now relatively easy.

Before we work with our students on using these technologies, it is important that we work with them to be strong digital citizens.  I also love the following video that shows kids just not putting up with bullying.  If we have a child ride a bike, we teach them how to be safe first, we do not just throw them on.  The Internet is no different.  Work with your kids (as a teacher or parent) and teach them how to be responsible.  Teach them that it is okay to communicate when things are not great.  They are going on the Internet either way; will you work to help them prepare for it?

Here are some links that may help you talk about Cyberbullying and learn about Web 2.0 via my Diigo bookmarks.

How I will start my week

As I am currently reading “Linchpin” by Seth Godin, I was moved by the following excerpt from his book on schools and leadership:

“Leading is a skill, not a gift. You’re not born with it, you learn how. And schools can teach leadership as easily as they figured out how to teach compliance. Schools can teach us to be socially smart, to be open to connection, to understand the elements that build a tribe. While schools provide outlets for natural-born leaders, they don’t teach it. And leadership is now worth far more than compliance is.”

Our “why” in our school is to empower every student, staff member, and parent so that they can be a leader.

This week, I am going to do a little more to help everyone reach their leadership potential.  What will you do to empower others?

Believe in the Kids

An old video that hits the point on how we really need to believe in people. A line that stuck with me from this video is when Frankl says,  “If we seem to be idealist and are overrating man, and looking at him to be high, we promote him to what he really can be.”

When we look at the kids that may cause “issues”, do not give up and do not underestimate them.  If you do not believe in them, who will? If we believe that our students can reach great expectations, they are more likely to do so.

The Art of Thinking Critically

As there is a distinct time shift from B.G. and A.G. (Before Google and After Google), it is important that there is a shift in the way we see schools. Teaching 21st century learners means that we are working with students on being able to ask the right questions and learn to be critical thinkers. At one time, students had to work hard to learn the right answers to simple basic fact questions; a regurgitation of information that earned you high grades. It is now about enabling them to learn, evaluate and process information. It is also about THEM asking the right questions.

It is now our responsibility to work to develop students so that they become strong thinkers and learn to ask questions. The more technology develops, the easier it is to access simple information that does not take much thinking. We have to ensure students learn how to understand and evaluate this information.

I was led to the video below via Twitter and I think that it hits the nail on the head in regards to how we need to move our students forward.

Evolution of a Blog

I was asked to recently do a short video on how I use blogs as an administrator in my school.  This was an impromptu talk that showed our progression from a one-way Web 1.0 website at the beginning of the year, to a Web 2.0 blog site.  It was a great reflection for myself to show our journey this year and how it has transitioned from staff learning to the students.  Hopefully this video can help you with your journey as well.

So you made a mistake…

Are you a leader?  Do you ever make mistakes?  I know I do.

So what is the most important lessons that you can take from making mistakes, especially as a person in a formal area of leadership?

Admit you are wrong.

Fix the problem; listen to the advice of others to get the best solution.

Learn from it and move forward.

Remember why you are an educator in the first place.  Your number one priority is the students, not your ego.  If you have made a mistake that affects them, swallow your pride and fix it.  It is always about the kids.  Always.

You will ultimately get MORE respect from those you work with if you can admit you are wrong instead of working hard to try to get the mistake.

Just saying.

I love this picture 🙂