Why My Suits Hang in the Back of My Closet

I have suits, and lots of them. I used to wear one serveral times a week when I first entered administration. Before that, I was an elementary teacher with recess duty, after school car duty, and reading groups on the carpet. My kids would find comfy places around the room to read and write, and I would go sit next to them (usually on the floor) and confer with them. Thankfully I have always worked for administration who did not have a “No Jeans Policy”, or who didn’t allow tennis shoes. Teachers were expected to look and act professional, but nice jeans, a nice shirt, and comfortables were considered professional.

Entering the administration world, I immediately had to consider a shopping trip! My jeans, casual pants, various sneakers/loafers, and school shirts completed my wardrobe day in and day out! By the time I entered my new role as an assistant principal, the casual and comfortable clothing and shoes had made its way to the back of my closet. Taking their place were dresses, blouses, suits, skirts, and heels.

img_7522Over the last two years, I have changed my thinking on “the suit look” for myself. Many feel most comfortable in business attire, and that is wonderful! Upon entering a new role in a new school, I found myself feeling more comfortable when I dressed for comfort and mobility. I am not sure what happened to cause the shift, but it slowly shifted! As a lead learner, I go out to recess, I do afternoon car duty, and I visit with kids in classrooms about what they are reading, writing, and working on (often on the floor!). Days when I have deadlines to meet or emails to check, I enjoy going into a classroom and finding a corner to work on my laptop, just so I can be where the kids and teachers are. Normally the best place to be a wallflower in a classroom is…you guessed it…on the floor somewhere!

I like to go into prek classrooms and play in centers. Sometimes when we are shorthanded I help with custodial duties. I have done all of these things dressed in business attire, as have countless numbers of administrators all over the world. It can be done and it does happen! But…is it how I can be most comforatble and feel at my best? Is it best for me as I strive to be the best version of myself each day?

img_7608Not so much. I struggled with this…fear of being judged for wearing jeans, or having Converse on several days in a row. What might families think? What does my school family think? School board? Community? Will they see me as unprofessional? That would devastate me. Do they think I am setting a bad example by dressing casual? I worried, and still do. People can judge very easily. The fact is…some people will judge us no matter what we do! Those people are few and far between, so why do we sometimes make decisions based on this small population?

img_8498-1If you come visit Central Elementary in Cabot, Arkansas on any given day, there is a big chance you will see myself and other staff in blue jeans or casual pants, comfortable shoes, and some type of school shirt. Some days I may have business attire, and some teachers may as well. We have some set days for dress, such as our school shirt day each Monday, and Kids Deserve it shirt day on Wednesday. I dress according to what my plans are that day, and if I plan to be at school all day and around kids, my most comfortable self is necessary for me.

img_5196My suits are in the back of my closet, and I still wear them! I do not wear them most days, because I want to be in the floor with kids, or on the go and in a hurry down the halls. To the ladies who can make that happen in heels, I ENVY YOU! I cannot, and would most likely find myself with a broken limb if I tried. To the gentleman who can wear comfortable shoes, pants, and shirt with a tie, I ENVY YOU! you can look ready for a presentation and also be comfortable!

img_8500-1When I am spending a day with adults in interviews, at a conference, presenting information to an audience, etc., I will pull my business attire from the back of the closet. Every once in a while I may wear a dress to school! I may even pull out the wedge shoes. For me, there is a time for business, and a time for busyness!

We are doing all we can to ensure kids to be themselves and to never deny who they are. They learn to develop their own unique personality, style, and character! Sometimes I think we forget we need room in our world for adults to express their own unique qualities. We don’t always have to fit a mold, and being professional means much more than someone’s appearance.

img_2958So, my lead learner friends…can we be casual and still be professional? I think we can. Should we reconsider things like a jeans day, or free jeans passes? Perhaps, or perhaps not. Every school is so different, and has different needs. Every lead learner is different, and has different needs. Does it matter if sometimes people can’t find the principal because she isn’t “dressed up”? It might to some! Is there a fine line between what looks professional and what doesn’t? ABSOLUTELY there is!

No judgement here…be true to who you are, and head to school each day knowing you are comfortable in your own skin (and attire)! Take care of the kids, whether you’re in a business suit, or a school shirt, casual pants, and Chucks. That’s what we do, and that’s what matters most!

Bethany

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Standards Based Grading Made My Kid Average

This just had to be shared. I’m so thankful I came across it. Such wisdom and common sense in this post. Thank you, Lisa Westman, for writing this, and for sticking to the purpose of grading, which is to provide feedback to the learner so he/she can progress. It is not about the parents, it’s about the children. It’s not about the comfortability of age-old practice. It’s about being innovative in order to prepare our kids for what’s next. There simply isn’t a reason we should be continuing a practice of assigning letter grades and/or percentages simply because it has always been done and it is easier for adults. Its time to evolve into what works, and is proven by research to work.

"Put me in, Coach!"

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This post was originally published in @PeterMDeWitt’s blog Finding Common Ground in Education Week.

Today’s guest post is written by frequent Finding Common Ground blogger Lisa Westman. Lisa is an instructional coach specializing in differentiation for Skokie School District 73.5 in suburban Chicago. She taught middle school gifted humanities, ELA, and SS for twelve years before becoming a coach.

Recently a friend called me in a panic. She was beside herself because she had just received her seventh-grade daughter’s new standards-based report card.  My friend relayed that her daughter (who was formerly an “A” student) was now “just average” according to the new report card.

I asked my friend if the report card had the word “average” on it and my friend said, “no.” She elaborated that her daughter had received all “meets” and no “exceeds” on her report card, and, therefore, her daughter…

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From the Mouths of Babes Comes Perspective

Over the 18 years I have served in education, I have collected pieces of conversations that grounded me in my beliefs and values in the profession. I have written hundreds of kid quotes down in journals, on sticky notes, in electronic documents, and in my phone. Kids say the darndest things! Some are hilarious, some are sad. Some are inspirational, some are painfully honest! There are those moments when kids tell you in their own words exactly what your purpose is. Those are the moments I treasure more than any of the others. The following list is a collection of kid quotes–excerpts from conversations I have accumulated over the years. I hope they warm your heart at least half as much as they have mine.

“Mrs. Hill, do you live at school? I want to know where your bed is.”

“When I grow up I am going to find you and give you some money from my job, since teachers don’t make much.”

“Is your name Mrs. Hill (with long, drawn southern accent) because you wear high heels?”

“If you wasn’t so tall, I wouldn’t have to hug your leg. I could at least hug your belly.”

“Why is your hair like that? It looks weird. Tomorrow will you put it back the way it’s ‘posed to be?”

“Nana, this is Mrs. Hill. She is the police of our school, but she doesn’t arrest us because she loves us too much.”

“Mrs. Hill, I just want you to know that you were one of my favorite teachers, and a big reason why I am studying to become a teacher myself. Thank you for inspiring me.”

“If I had a mom, I would want her to smell just like you.”

“Mrs. Hill, can I come stay with you? I promise I will not eat all your food or fight with your sons. I will be quiet and help you clean.”

“My dad said if he had a principal like I do when he was little, that he would have been in trouble every day. I don’t get him sometimes.”

Kinder Kid: How old are you? Me: How old do you think I am? Kinder Kid: Ummm probably like 28 or 32 or something like that. Me: Well, I am a little older than that. “Kinder Kid: It’s okay. If your  knees or back hurts, some days you can stay in your office and rest.”

“I love this school because people hug a lot, especially you and I never knew principals hugged before.”

“Can I call you Mom?”

“Sometimes when I am at home, I wish I could just live at school.”

“You smile more than anybody I know, and it makes me happy.”

“Thank you for making me feel important.”

“Sometimes I wish I wasn’t alive anymore because I stay sad all the time.”

“Mrs. Hill, I just really miss my mom and I was wondering if you could find out where she is.”

“When I grow up, I am going to be a teacher, and then I can come here and teach so you can quit and go camping or something.”

“I don’t understand why nobody will love my mom for very long, or wants to be my dad. They all leave, and she is always so sad.”

“Thanks for making me fall in love with reading. Until third grade I hated it.”

“Can you move to middle school and be our principal, or bring some 5th grade teachers here to teach us?”

“I will always remember you because you smiled and hugged me every single day.”

Perspective. Some cute, some funny, some heart wrenching, some inspiring. I cherish them all and so many more that I have tucked away in journals. Kids remind us each and every school day of our purpose. We are here to serve them at every level, no matter how much they need. All kids deserve adults in their lives who listen, empathize, celebrate, cry, mourn, and learn right along with them. It is humbling and empowering all at once to hear some of the powerful things they say, no matter what emotion they may evoke. From the mouths of babes…

Bethany

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Connecting for Kids

Kids Social Media

What do you do when you are trying to do what’s best for kids?  We CONNECT. We connect with kids. We connect with parents and families.  We connect as teachers.  We connect as leaders.  We find any way possible to connect, so we can do what is best for our kids. Education was once considered a lonely profession. Consider the one room schoolhouse, where one teacher served an entire rural community and everyone knew she was not to be seen after dark! Through the years a culture of connection and collaboration has slowly unfolded. Today, with social media at our fingertips, we have endless opportunities to establish connections with anyone and everyone. We have the ability to invite the community in via pictures and videos. We have networks with amazing educators to help us grow stronger in our profession.  There simply is no reason why we shouldn’t be connected educators…we have every reason to be connecting for kids.

Why (Bethany)

One of my favorite authors, John Maxwell, wrote a book entitled, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently. I read this book many years ago when I first entered the world of administration, and it opened my eyes to the importance of how we communicate, and the real purpose of it. My superintendent assigned the book for our team to read, and it was a game changer for me. If our communication isn’t reaching others, we are defeating our purpose. Authentic connections will not happen without authentic and purposeful communication. When we connect with others, we are validated, challenged, inspired, and our emotions are brought to the surface. This is what helps people become better versions of themselves. When we as educators connect, we become better educators. Our kids deserve nothing less than our best. Flying solo as an educator is no longer an option. When we struggle, we connect for support. When we succeed, we share to support others. When our beliefs are challenged, we share to ignite passion. There is power in connection, and connecting for kids is something we must ALL do. After all, it is about them, isn’t it?

So…remember the WHY behind connecting for kids!

  • To seek support and advice

  • To be validated for innovative thinking

  • To gather resources (blogs, images, podcasts, etc.)

  • To share our successes and thoughts

  • To strengthen our core beliefs

  • To inspire and be inspired

  • To celebrate the AWESOME we witness each school day

This list could continue, because the WHY behind connecting for kids is immeasurable. We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to our kids…they are ALL OURS.

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How (Lindsey)

If you want to make the best connections, you must be visible.  Visibility should be at the top of our “To Do List.”  As lead learners, our lists are full of emails, phone calls, meetings, and paperwork, but we must have visibility (in permanent marker) at the top of the list.  We should intentionally (put it on the calendar) be in classrooms, at recess, in the hallways, and out front during morning/afternoon dismissal to see first hand what is happening in our school.  When you are visible to all, relationships begin to bloom because you learn to know the people with whom you work with…your Kids, your Teachers, your Staff, your Families, and your Community.  What a positive feeling it is for parents to see you in the mornings greeting the kids with high fives and hugs.  What a rewarding feeling to enter a classroom of fully engaged kids and leave a handwritten note in appreciation to the teacher.  Through each of our actions as leaders, we begin to make connections through our interactions with kids, teachers, and families.  

You may ask…How do you do this?

    • Morning Greetings/Afternoon “See You Tomorrow”

    • Mobile Office to be in the classrooms

    • Eat Lunch with the Kids

    • Spread the news of what’s happening at your school

    • Give Kids a Voice on what happens at their school

    • Share with Kids are Awesome they are can day!

    • Go Beyond the School Walls

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When (Karen)

When do we connect with/for kids. When do you not? We should be making connections and building relationships with and for kids constantly throughout each and every day.  Kid connections should be the unwavering compass needle pointing us to and keeping us aligned with our why. So often, lead learners get inundated with infraction forms, system issues and trivial problems that weigh us down and make us feel as though we are trapped in our offices.  Don’t let your office become a trap…get out and connect with and for kids. It must be a conscious, culture changing mindset to become a lead learner who values and insists on building relationships with students. The BIG question often becomes… when do we do this?

  • Through Celebrations!
  • Academic Milestones
  • Behavior Milestones
  • Character Milestones
  • Attendance Milestones
  • Positive phone calls home
  • Through Collaboration with Adults AND students about concerns
  • RTI (academic and behavioral) – Social/emotional concerns through formal/informal conversations during lunch, recess, bus duty, hallways…the list goes on and on.
  • Through Communication – Share, Share, Share
  • Face to Face with students (find their passion…their why), parents, ALL stakeholders…bring them into the school and put yourself out there.
  • Via social media – sharing our story and our why
  • Newsletters

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Us…

Are we connecting everyday for our kids?  Is our story being heard around the state?  These are the questions that got us to thinking we need a movement to connect educators across the state of Arkansas for our kids!  And why not connect for our kids?  After all, it is about them, isn’t it? Kids deserve us to be the best version of ourselves, so what if we had a place where we could go for continual conversation, resources, great ideas from our schools, and…yes…a Twitter chat? This is the WHY behind #EduAr…to connect FOR kids! We need to learn together, from each other. Learning goes beyond the 6 hour professional development session, beyond the talks in your hallways and in team meetings, and beyond your district. Arkansas kids (and the rest of the nation’s kids) need us to learn from a larger source. We owe that to them. Let’s do this!

Information coming soon on a set time for the #EduAr weekly Twitter chat! Look for slow chat questions or images with a post for the day. Please begin sharing by using #EduAr in your tweets. Let’s get connected within our state, and reach out to other states as a unified group of educators. Ready?

Lindsey, Bethany, and Karen

Recharging Conversation: The Power of the Hashtag

We want you to harness the power of culture and the power of people so that you can develop teachers and schools that are better than ever before.

~Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker

Imagine gathering at a local coffee shop with colleagues and friends. You have all decided to set aside time for positive, intentional conversation. The time to meet is open, informal and not bound to typical meeting norms or protocols. We are gathered around tables with hot cups of coffee, sticky notes embedded in journals and currents books we are reading. This meet-up may be enhancing the kernel of an idea shared during a faculty meeting sidebar. Perhaps, it’s an opportunity for a deeper dive from a blog or tweet you quickly shared. Regardless, the conversation is positive, inviting and rooted in harnessing dreams and thoughts into action. These are the conversations that can ignite inspiring things in service and support of kids, educators and school communities.  

This is the premise for the #JoyfulLeaders Slow Chat, an ongoing, positive conversation where everyone is invited to share, dream, and connect.

The power of the hashtag is simply immeasurable. It has become a tool for connections and conversations. Many hashtags are established to promote something, so spread an idea or concept, and as an outlet for expressing thoughts around something particular. I (Bethany) had a dream of creating a hashtag where people could go to seek inspiration, be surrounded by positivity, and use their voice to impact others. I hesitated for many months, mainly because I was afraid it would not spread. One morning, I opened up my blog site and began writing. That is when #JoyfulLeaders was born (read the post here).My hope for this hashtag is for it to be an ongoing conversation filled with depth, celebrations, perspective, and reminders of our purpose as educators. I want it to be even more than a conversation…I want it to be a movement. Some days there is a slow chat question or a challenge of something specific to share, but each day is open for all things positive.

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The opportunity of adding value to the #JoyfulLeaders conversation came about through a conversation with my friend and eduhero, Sean Gaillard. He is the brilliant mind behind #CelebrateMonday, a hashtag that is now a movement in education. We discovered the power behind both conversations, and each Monday these hashtags collide. It has been incredible to see the sharing and the great things educators are doing for kids.

F9B195B4-0B9A-47D2-BF95-E4B0EF83E328-8179-00000878B09CFC94_tmp (1)We (Sean and Bethany) want to take this a step further by collaborating to form a book study slow chat through #JoyfulLeaders. We are thrilled to facilitate this ongoing conversation on the newly released book, School Culture Recharged, by Steven Gruenert and Todd Whitaker. We feel this book is a game changer in our profession, and want to learn along with other educators through Twitter. The fantastic thing about a slow chat is that there are no specific times to be online. Respond when you can, and follow the conversation through the hashtag. Our hope is that people will share their thoughts regarding each question we push out, but also interact with others by retweeting, quoting tweets to add thoughts, sharing images, replying, etc. Daily reflection is huge when learning, and school culture is our biggest priority. We are better together, and through #JoyfulLeaders we can connect for kids.

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Be a Miracle Helper

Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing. ~Wayne Dyer

Miracles happen every day, I am convinced of it. I am not always a witness, or involved in them. It occurred to me recently that I don’t see or experience them often because I do not have a habit of expecting and searching for them. Even more importantly, I have developed a habit of dismissing my responsibility of being prepared with an open mind and heart for the miracles in the moments of every day. I forget some days about the power I have as an educator to be intentional in serving others.

Will I be ready to help a miracle when an opportunity opens up? How can my gifts help manifest little miracles in the moments? I know God uses people to perform His miracles,. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to be a

MIRACLE HELPER! 

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Education is a profession where we expect the unexpected every day! No day is EVER the same, because kids are very unpredictable variables! This is one of the reasons I love the profession so much, because each day brings new learning, memories, and experiences. There is no assembly line in our schools, and if there were, the belt would wear out quickly!

We make a difference each and every day (positive or negative). Some days the impact is very evident, or is shared with you. Other days we never know what kind of difference we made. Little miracles happen in our schools that we take advantage of, and reflection can help us appreciate the miracles themselves and the role we play in them. A child with special needs recognizing his name for the first time…miracle. A teacher who discovered a student’s home life included physical abuse…miracle. A mom who accepts help from the school for clothing and food…miracle.

Whether it becomes clear to us or not, I believe there are a few simple things we can do each day to be a better miracle helper.

  • Be more intentional with your connections.
  • Observe and listen more.
  • Expect miracles every day.
  • Consider yourself as a gateway of service for miracles.
  • Remember that miracles can happen TO us, too!
  • Wake up each morning determined to see opportunities in every situation.
  • Pray and reflect.

A simple, yet focused list of “to dos” can make the difference in how we serve others, and how often the impossible happens in our lives. Be a miracle helper…the world needs them.

Bethany

What Flavor is YOUR Kool-Aid? 

Several months ago, one of us received a message from an administrator in another school district who asked if he could come visit our school.  In his message, he remarked, “I want to drink the Kool-Aid you’re drinking.”

If we visited your school, what would we notice? If we walked the halls of your building, what would we observe?  If we interviewed the teachers on your campus, what would they say… and could you predict their answers?

Bethany and Danny have never met, (in person,) but they have developed a mutual admiration for one another through their connection on Twitter. Because we seem to share many of the same core values about students, teachers, and building school culture, it seemed appropriate to collaborate on a blog post.

A quick glance at Wikipedia and you see several phrases to describe the phenomenon of “drinking the Kool-aide.”  They include:

“Fervent devotion”

“Great enthusiasm”

To become a firm believer in something; to accept an argument or philosophy whole-heartedly.”

Bethany and Danny are “firm believers” in certain ideas. We have a “fervent devotion” to several core values that we have embraced “whole heartedly” and with “great enthusiasm.”  We are drinking the Kool-aide, and we hope to inspire as many others as possible to join the party.

As we thought about the flavor of our kool-aide, three ideas immediately came to mind.

Positive Energy

First, it with begins with our commitment to bring positive energy into the building every day we come to work. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm.”  We each try to generate enthusiasm in our school in different ways, but it is our goal to be relentlessly positive.

Every morning, Danny begins by playing a clip of an upbeat song (usually no more than a minute).  About once every week or two, he accompanies the song with a contest: the first teacher that emails him the name of the song (or the artist, or the movie it’s from; the contest varies), wins the prize. After announcements are over, he takes 3 Hershey kisses to the winning teacher, and gives one to every teacher who participated.  What does this have to do with “instructional leadership?” Well, it’s fun! And, in his experience, teachers who are having fun are more effective teachers.  It’s fun for the students too!  They love the music, and they enjoy helping the teachers with the contest.  Winning becomes a source of pride for the entire class.  This begins the day with good energy.  After the song, he announces, “It’s a GREAT day to be a WARRIOR!” He’s been saying this for over 5 years now.  It introduces some positivity into their morning routine, and it sets the tone for the day. Positive energy can be infectious, and morning announcements are the perfect time to start your school day with enthusiasm and school pride.  Several weeks ago, Danny initiated a project to inject some positive energy into the month of February. He asked every teacher to email him something they admire about several employees. (He assigned the names to ensure every staff member received three compliments.) Each morning in the month of February, he sent the staff an email with the subject: “My awesome colleagues.” The email contains “shout outs” for 5-6 staff members.  This email has provided some positivity and affirmation for all the staff members during a stressful month.

A strategy Bethany has ingrained into her school culture is that of branding through social media. Teachers all have Twitter accounts, and many use them regularly to share greatness from their kids, classrooms, and the school. Their shares are retweeted on the school’s Twitter feed, which tells a continual story of Central Elementary. Each week the school participates in #CelebrateMonday, a hashtag generated by the brilliant Sean Gaillard, to trend the positive in schools. Bethany, along with many staff in her school family, share and celebrate throughout each Monday via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the #CelebrateMonday hashtag. It has become a Central tradition, one that families and the community look forward to each week as they follow the school’s story. Recently Central did a social media photo challenge where teachers captured memories of playing with children and posted to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Bethany notes, “Reflecting on the school’s brand gives the staff a sense of pride and helps them all remember what matters most in schools…our culture and relationships.”

Bethany visits classrooms frequently, carrying an office on her back rather than working in an office alone. Her backpack holds her laptop, journal, sticky notes of various shapes and sizes, special note writing pens, and tokens of inspiration. Even when some of “the stuff” takes over, such as emails, paperwork, etc., Bethany chooses to complete those tasks within a classroom setting where she can be involved.  Each week she takes the time to do “sit downs” (this would be the opposite of “walkthroughs”). She spends time listening, observing, and sometimes participating in classes. She chooses particular kids and teachers to leave handwritten notes and/or tokens of inspiration. This is something Bethany considers to be a source of joy for her, and a way to offer validation for kids and adults at Central Elementary. She also uses Voxer as a feedback tool after spending time in classrooms, which adds an even more personal touch.

Bethany believes visibility is one of the most important traits of a lead learner, and one that contributes to a healthy school climate and culture. It is impossible to lead from an office. The fact is, just about everything required of a lead learner can be accomplished “out and about”. The office is reserved for confidential conversations and phone calls, which mostly happen before or after school. Her advice to principals/lead learners everywhere… “BE where the action is. BE where the kids are. BE where the learning is happening.” This means not only physically, but intentionally engage during visibility time! Make connections, have conversations, observe closely, and do lots of listening. Don’t allow the black hole in the office to suck you in.

Collaboration

The second core value that defines our leadership philosophy is a commitment to cultivating collaboration.  There is an abundance of research that demonstrates the crucial role that collaboration plays in successful schools, and all of our experiences working in schools have reinforced this truth.  Simply put, teachers are more effective when they work together for the benefit of students.

At Central Elementary where Bethany serves, the staff has made efforts to move from the idea of “parent involvement”, to “family engagement”. Not all families consist of a parent, and that word can send a message that only moms and dads are invited to become involved with the school. They choose to have a Community in Action (CIA) rather than a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) because they feel all need to be involved and have a voice in the school. There is no membership required, because everyone is already a part of it. They do have particular facilitators who help coordinate volunteers and manage finances. Bethany says, “We have learned from this experience, and are tweaking things as they build the philosophy of ‘no titles needed’ to lead and become involved.”

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One strategy Danny has tried this year to cultivate collaboration within his faculty at Thompson Sixth Grade Center is a competition he called, “Collaboration Bling.”  Teachers earn the bling through observing colleagues, through inviting colleagues to observe them, or through participating in Twitter chats.  Just last month, he and his teachers stepped out of their comfort zone by holding their January faculty meeting via a “twitter chat.”  This month, their faculty meeting was held as an Edcamp.

Connecting with Kids

Without question, the most important value that drives us is our commitment to kids.  We hope that there is never any ambiguity about what our faculty stands for and what our schools represent.  We are here to teach kids, to encourage them, to inspire them, and indeed, to love them. The priority of students in our professional lives is one we hope to live out every day we come to work.  We don’t hang out in our office much; we are in the halls; we are in the classrooms; we are where the kids are.

This year, Danny’s school celebrated students by having all of them write their dream on the ‘Wall of Dreams.”  He also asked his staff members to write their hopes for students on the wall outside of the main office.  His commitment to connecting with students and encouraging them is also evident in two more ideas he launched this year.  He set a goal of making 100 positive phone calls home by the 100th day of school, and he committed to doing “birthday selfies with the principal” on each student’s birthday.

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Bethany uses her visibility to make connections with kids each day. She enjoys capturing success and great character via photo and video to help share the school’s story and to celebrate individual success. She also uses Google Docs to comment on kids’ writing, and for them to share possible posts for the school’s blog. Hugs and high fives are continuous throughout each school day, which not only supports kids, but feeds her soul as well. Purposeful, intentional interactions with kids make lasting imprints on their hearts. We as educators all want to be remembered, and this is a way to ensure that.

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Central also believes in the power of the selfie! Bethany encourages staff to capture selfies with kids because it makes them feel important and valued. Kids look to us as heroes, and the fact that we slow down long enough to make a memory with them speaks volumes to their souls. Whether they are 4 or 18, this is the case! Central has a selfie wall where staff post pictures, and they use social media to share them as well. Selfies are personal, and can have a specific purpose, or be taken “just because”!

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We are compelled to come to work every day to make a difference for our students and teachers, and we are convicted by the values that drive us to do what we do.  We are relentless about bringing positive energy, cultivating collaboration, and connecting with kids.

As Matthew Wilder once sung:

“Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride

Nobody’s gonna slow me down, oh-no

I got to keep on movin’

Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride”

We are all in — day in and day out.  So… what is the flavor of your Kool-Aide?  And is everyone in your building drinking it?

Danny and Bethany