About Me

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I've been an educator since 1995 where I've served as both a teacher and administrator. I believe that serving others is the key to success and make it my goal to be a servant leader for students, teachers, parents, and the community. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why I am a Public School Educator

For several weeks now,  I've been trying to write a post in defense of public schools.  While my ideas were succinct, they never seemed to come out right on the page.  Then it hit me. Just explain why I choose to work in public schools.   

1) It's a calling - It would be very difficult to have a fulfilling career as a public school educator without a calling.  The challenges are just too great.  I'm always amused by those who write books about their experiences in public education, but are no longer in the field.  That says a lot to me. I started in education in 1993 as a substitute teacher.  I had just finished a degree in Industrial Hygiene and, after working in the field, knew it wasn't for me.  For several years, there had been a nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me I needed to be a teacher, but I had ignored it.  It was during a funeral for a young man I had met at a church youth camp that my calling was cemented.  This boy had been stabbed in the head during a gang initiation. For some reason, I thought I could make a difference in the lives of young people.  That and the fact that the kids in the youth group told me I acted like their teachers.  So, one day while praying, I told God I would surrender to this calling and made the decision to enter the education arena. Less than five minutes later, I got a call offering me a very lucrative position as an Industrial Hygienist.  I turned it down. I had passed the test.  Within two weeks, I was substitute teaching and I had never felt more alive.  There was a kinship with teachers and administrators and soon I was being requested almost daily.  Before long, I had entered the district's Alternative Certification Program and was on my way.  My first four years were spent in a very high poverty inner city school.  Every day was challenging and, had the calling not been there, I would have given up early on. After four years and the death of a student due to gang violence, I did leave the profession. I tried to run.  But, you can't run from a calling.  I ended up overseas directing cultural projects that were mostly affiliated with public schools.  This was not by design, but helped bring me back to the educational arena. It worked.  I've been back in the school system for the last thirteen years.  During that time, I've seen lots of people come and go for a variety of reasons.  I've also seen people who stay despite disparaging setbacks.  In each case, I believe there is a calling, or lack thereof, to be a public school educator and that calling cannot be denied.

2.  It is challenging - Being a public school educator is the hardest job I've ever loved.  Public school educators, whether classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, or administrators,  regularly deal with issues most people might never face in a lifetime.  It is challenging to teach a child math who has spent the night listening to adults argue.  It is difficult to help a student learn to write when they are concerned about whether they will have food tonight.  Educators must also be prepared to make multiple adjustments throughout the day in order to ensure students success.  A typical teacher makes at least a hundred quick decisions every day, probably many more than that.  Teaching is not the only thing we do.  Often, we act as parents, mediators, counselors, or simply a listening ear.  We must have the patience and insight to know if a child is acting out because they are being challenging or they are tired, hunger, scared or confused.  It is the challenge of working in public education that brings me back day after day.  That and the multitude of successes I see every day in the lives of students.

3.  I love to learn - An educator who doesn't have a thirst for learning doesn't need to be in the profession.  It is hard to help foster life-long learning in students if you are not doing it yourself. 'Nuff said.

4.  I love working with kids - Kids are fun.  They keep you on your toes and ensure that there is never a dull moment.  One minute they act tough and the next show you the tooth they just lost.  Without a love, a real passionate love, for children and helping them succeed, a person would burn out quickly.  Many times in my career, the only thing that kept me coming through the door each day was knowing that the kids in my class were counting on me to be there.  When you love them, you will do anything not to let them down.

5.  I really like teachers - Teachers are just cool people.  Now that I'm an administrator, I spend a lot of time in classrooms and it amazes me the work that teachers do every day.  They help kids learn despite the baggage that so many bring to school every day.  They have a special insight to see beyond the facade that kids put on to try to fit in.  They are willing to work long and hard to see that every child gets the chance to be successful and reach their full potential.  What better place to be than in a building filled with teachers who are passionate about their craft and about the kids they are blessed to work with?

6.  Why public schools - The public school system in our country is given a task that many private companies and schools would balk at. Namely, we are tasked with teaching every child to the highest level possible.  Every child means "EVERY" child.  None are excluded. Recently, I was with a private school teacher who was complaining about a child.  "They didn't check her discipline records before enrolling her and now she's causing problems."  I wanted to tell her that, in public schools, we don't have the luxury of denying someone admittance because they don't meet our standards.  We teach them all.  In my career I've have had the privilege of working with children from every part of the educational spectrum. I've had students who would be considered geniuses and others who had the mental capacity of an infant. I've worked with children who were well mannered as well as those who were so emotionally disturbed that you never knew what the next moment would bring.  I've had students who were extremely articulate and those who could not speak a word of English. I've worked with students diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, and a wide range of medical and emotional issues.  I've worked with children who were parents, drug addicts, rape/abuse victims, and active gang members.  My experience is reflective of many educators.  Yet, each day we show up and, despite the challenges, do everything we can to help these children succeed.  

Public schools are not always easy places to work.  They have many challenges that are not faced by private institutions.  Still, every day, thousands of public schools employees (teachers, administrators, counselors, nurses, custodians, aides, cafeteria staff, etc) show up and give everything they've got to ensure that each child who walks through the door, no matter their background, has a chance to reach their full potential.  I can't imagine doing anything else.  That is why I choose to be a public school educator.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Office Teacher

On  Halloween, a number of the students from my campus came trick-or-treating at my house.  They would get excited when they saw me and tell their friends I was their assistant principal.  One student, however, introduced me in a way I had never heard before. To him, I was the "Office Teacher." Over the last few days, I have been reflecting on this newly imposed title.

While classified as an administrator, I still spend a good portion of my time "teaching." As chief discipline officer, I use the time students are in my office to teach them alternative means for dealing with frustration, anger, and conflict.  When I visit classrooms, I often find myself sitting next to a struggling student and assisting them while the teacher works with others.  With adults, I try to model the behaviors I expect from them as they work with students. As an instructional leader, I work directly with teachers to discover more effective ways to engage students.

When I was still in the classroom, one of my goals was to continually learn from others.  I find that trait has followed me into the office.  While doing teacher observations, one of my goals is to learn what people are doing well and then share that with others who may be struggling in that area.  This has the double effect of allowing me to be both learner and teacher.

While I don't think the title "Office Teacher" will ever really catch on, I do believe it is appropriate for effective school administrators.  Teaching is ingrained in us and while you can take us out of the classroom, we are still teachers at heart. Office teachers. I like that!

Simple vs Easy-Not Necessarily the Same

Simple:  easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.:  

Easy: not hard or difficult; requiring no great labor or effort; free from pain, discomfort, worry, or care

Simple and easy are two words that are used interchangeably.  They are not the same.  It is often possible for something to be simple, but not easy.  For example, it's simple to dig a six foot hole with a shovel.  Just push the shovel in the ground, remove the dirt, and repeat.  It's not easy, though.  Give it a try if you don't believe me.  Getting into shape is simple.  Basically, it requires eating the right foods and getting sufficient exercise.  But, again, it is not easy.  It requires knowledge, drive, and often a lifestyle change to accomplish. 

In education, much of what we do is simple.  For example, teaching, at its core, is a fairly simple process.  Determine what students need to learn and why.  Develop lesson plans. Teach.  Let students practice the new learning. Assess.  Reteach if necessary.  Yet, while the basic process is simple, it is not easy. Besides having the content knowledge and planning the lesson out in detail, the effective teacher must also know their students well enough to make the lesson connect with them.  Activities must be differentiated for the various levels of students in the room. Classroom management strategies must be employed when necessary. They must be prepared for potential problems and concerns and be able to make multiple minute adjustments throughout the lesson cycle.  These examples just touch the surface of all that goes into a great lesson.  Simple. In many ways, yes.  But, definitely not easy.

Monday, September 15, 2014


Sometimes, the detours off the planned routes in life lead to the best destinations.

I was thinking this week about high school back in the early 80's.  It was my senior year. I was on the academic track and enrolled in upper level courses including Chemistry 2, Physics, and Calculus.  It became apparent around October that Calculus was not working out.  I was failing and the material just didn't make sense.  After counseling with my parents and the teacher, we decided it was best that I finish the semester and then find another course.  I was devastated.  Here I was, on track to graduate with honors and I needed higher level classes to get me there.  (By the way, I barely missed honors status, probably due to that Calculus course).

So, after dropping Calculus at the semester (which I passed by a hair, I'm proud to say), I was stuck with what to take.  My teacher recommended a computer programming course, but I chose Basics of Typing instead.  Looking back, this may have been the most beneficial choice of my entire high school career.  I can't tell you the last time I used Calculus.  I can tell you that I type almost every day.  It is a foundational skill required in almost everything I do.   And, since developing a repetitive motion disorder that affects the legibility of my writing, it is about the only way I can effectively communicate on paper.

If someone would have told me thirty-one years ago that this one choice would affect my everyday life as it has, I would have laughed.  Yet, sometimes, it is the little detours off the planned route that have the greatest impact on our lives.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Twist on Lesson Planning

Lesson plans are a foundational tool for classroom instruction and a road map for where the lesson is going. Without a plan, developing a strong, cohesive lesson is difficult if not impossible. With over 15 years of classroom experience, I've seen a number of different lesson planning methods.  Very few of these involved collaboration, with most either created by a department chair or done in isolation by the teacher.  

Earlier this summer, my principal came back from a workshop with a new lesson planning strategy.  In the past, the department chair had written lesson plans. These were then followed by the respective grade level teachers.  It put a lot of pressure on the chair, but very little on the teachers.  Under our new lesson planning strategy, we are sharing the wealth and the struggle. 

Below is a simple outline of the strategy:

1) Lesson planning duties for the week are divided into 6 categories
     a)  Standards explanation for each subject (in kid friendly terms            and integrated as often as possible)
     b) Small group instruction resources (including spiraled review)
     c)  Vocabulary terms and strategies 
     d)  Hands-on Engagement activities
     e)  Higher order thinking questions
     f)  Formative and summative assessment strategies

2) Each group member is responsible for a separate category each week.  Their work is posted to a Dropbox folder.  

3)  During grade level meetings, each teacher presents their piece to the group, allowing for questions and discussion. 

4)  Using teaching manuals, post-its, tablets, etc., members take notes during the meeting to help them write their day-to-day lesson plans.  

5)  At the close of the meeting, responsibilities for the following week are given out. 

6) Back in class, teachers write individual lesson plans using the resources that have been placed in the Dropbox. They can modify and enrich the material to fit the specific needs of their group in order to differentiate instruction.

Since it is only two weeks into the school year, it is difficult to determine how well this method is working.  However, I've noticed some interesting features of the meetings. First, teachers have admitted to being challenged by this new format.  The rest of the group has encouraged and accepted their efforts.  Second, teachers have had meaningful dialogue about both the content and effective teaching strategies. Third, leaders are beginning to emerge from within the teams. Finally, teachers are holding each other accountable for getting their piece of the task complete.  

While the implied purpose of this process is to help teachers develop stronger, more cohesive lessons, I expect some longer term results as well.  I expect teachers to begin discussing what has worked, and what hasn't, and for this to lead to more effective lesson delivery.  As teachers continually rotate through different assignments, I expect them to grow in their ability to connect each part of the lesson to the standards.  Ultimately, I expect true professional learning communities (PLCs) to develop that will impact instructional practice across the campus.  It has been said that the "experts" are already in the building.  As a campus, we are putting this into practice as we implement this new lesson planning strategy.  

More to come as the year progresses.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Excuses (or making soup)

A man went to his neighbor to enquire about borrowing a tool and was told he couldn't use it. When the man asked why, the neighbor told him, "I'm making soup."  "What does making soup have to do with my borrowing a tool?" the man asked. "When it comes to excuses," the neighbor replied, "one is as good any."  

As educators, we have to be wary about making excuses, especially regarding student achievement. While there are multiple reasons why students do poorly, many of which are out of our control, we can't afford to use these as excuses.  Instead, we need to focus on those factors that we can control.  

In a recent conversation with a teacher, we were discussing what can be done to increase student success.  The point kept arising, "But these kids come to us...." (fill in the blank) and "But, we have to ....." (fill in the blank). The blanks include hungry and tired, little parental support, raising themselves, three grades behind, lacking social skills, give too many tests, complete too much paperwork, etc.  Sadly, we have no control over most of these "but" factors.  They are issues that are out of our hands.  We can't ignore them, but we also can't afford to use them as excuses.  

Instead, we need to focus on improving and changing what is within our control.  We don't have much control over what happens outside the school or what mandates come from the state, "but" we do have control over what occurs within the classroom and the school.  For example, if students are hungry, feed them.  If they are behind, identify gaps and find creative ways to fill them.  If they have few social skills, teach them and give opportunity to practice.  Create a classroom and school culture that shouts, "This is a safe place to learn."  Teach engaging lessons. Give students opportunity to serve and lead.  Develop positive relationships with students and parents. Differentiate.  Work together with and learn from other educators.  Act as a parent, if necessary. The list goes on and on. 

 In Alcoholics Anonymous, they start each meeting with the Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."  It might serve us well to adopt this prayer as we seek to serve students amidst so many issues that are beyond our control.  

I'm as guilty as any of making excuses.  It is the path of least resistance.  However, as educators, when we make excuses, we disempower ourselves and do a disservice to our students. Instead of excuses, we need to recognize the factors that are within our control and focus on doing these to the best of our ability and in a way that will be in the best interest of students. No more making soup.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Getting Things Done

"Procrastination is attitude's natural assassin. There's nothing so fatiguing as an uncompleted task." - William James

I don't know about you, but I tend to be a natural procrastinator.  Thankfully, I've gotten better over the last few years, but summer seems to bring the procrastination monster back to rear it's ugly head.  In this post, I plan on covering a few strategies I've learned for fighting procrastination and getting more done. 

1) Eat that frog!*  - "If the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is eat a live frog, then nothing worse can happen for the rest of the day." - Mark Twain.  Basically, "eat that frog" means tackle the most important or difficult task of the day first thing in the morning. Get it out of the way.  If you do this, you build momentum and everything else seems simple. You will tend to be more energetic and focused on your other tasks. If you don't, then this most difficult task will lie just beneath the surface, haunting you and draining your energy as you work on less important items. 
* Brian Tracy wrote a book by the same title.  Great read!

2) Prioritize - How do you know what is the most important task of the day? My system is simple. At the end of each day, I make a list of the things that I need to accomplish and transfer it to a notecard (So 20th century, right?).  I then number each task in order of importance.  At the start of each day, I work on task number 1 until I get it done.  Then, I move on to task number 2, and so on. At the end of the day, I rewrite the list and change/add items as necessary.  It is said that you should make the list right before bed so your brain will work on it as you sleep.  Don't know if that's true, but doing it the night before saves time in the morning.  (I have to add a disclaimer to this one: As a school administrator, there are so many distractions during the course of the day, it is often to hard to focus on one thing for an extended time.  In this case, either find a time to close your door and remain undisturbed except for emergencies or discipline yourself to return to the list immediately after dealing with other situations.)

3) Use five minutes wisely - This has been one of the greatest tools I have found to help get things accomplished. Distractions are common in education. There can be a lot of waiting for students, teachers, parents, etc.  I try to use the intervals while I'm waiting to complete productive tasks. For example, while waiting for a student to arrive in my office, I will spend a few minutes working on one of the tasks on my list. When I was teaching, I would grade papers at odd times, such as while waiting for my car to get fixed. I might not get a lot accomplished in these short intervals, but by the end of the day, each of these short intervals will have added up.

4) Piggyback (success begets success) - Sometimes, it is possible to get bogged down in a task and feel like nothing is being accomplished.  This often happens when I am working on new projects that require creative thinking.  When I get bogged down, instead of trying to plow through, I'll stop and do something I know I can be successful at. For example, at home, I may mow the lawn.  This is simple enough and it allows my mind to think more clearly.  At work, I may do a few walk throughs.  This gets me out of the office and also lets me see good things happening in the building.  With a success under my belt, I can return to the initial task with renewed vigor. 

5) Calendar/timer - "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." -Parkinson's Law.  Writing things on a daily calendar has a magical quality about it. For some reason, putting things on a calendar and setting a specific time frame to work on them helps with focus.  I will also set a timer for the amount of time to work on one task.  In this way, I know that during this one specific time, I will focus on this one task and, when the timer goes off, I can move to something else.  Often, I will finish during the allotted time.  
6) Get up early - I've found I can accomplish more between five and seven AM than during the rest of the day combined.  Part of this is because I'm fresh and part is because of the lack of distractions.  It takes some discipline (and summer has not helped), but the reward is worth it.  

These are just a few of the strategies I've used to beat procrastination and accomplish more.  Please feel free to add others that have worked for you.

Friday, June 13, 2014

What are you reading?

We've all heard the adage, "Readers are leaders."  While I agree with this in principle, I know it is not always true.  Many avid readers are not necessarily leaders. However, I have found very few strong leaders, especially in education, who are not readers.  So, I would propose changing this to: "Leaders are readers."

With that in mind, I'm always looking to see what other leaders are reading.  So, what are YOU reading?  Please add your list to the comments and let's share the knowledge.

Below is I'm currently reading and why.  

1) What Great Principals Do Differently - Todd Whitaker (@toddwhitaker)  

    I bought this book at the TASSP conference and started it that evening.  Right now, I'm about halfway through.  I also got the opportunity to hear Todd Whitaker speak on Thursday.  As a new administrator, I look forward to gain wisdom from those who've been there already.  Who better than Todd Whitaker to learn from.

2) Dealing with Difficult Teachers - Todd Whitaker.

    This was Todd Whitaker's first book and, while it is several years old, it contains great strategies for dealing with those difficult members of the school staff.  Learning lots to apply in Year 2 of my admin journey.

3) The Fundamental Five - Sean Cain (@lysnation) and Mike Laird.

    As a campus, we are implementing the Fundamental Five next year so I am rereading it in preparation for leading this initiative.

4) Wonder - R. J. Palacio

       This is a YA fiction book I'm reading because I was asked to facilitate a kids book club this summer at our public library.  Wonder(ful) read that can help kids realize the importance of judging someone from the heart rather than the outside appearance. Looking forward to discussing with the group.

1) Educational Leadership

      This is the journal of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (@ASCD).  A must read for any educator, whether supervisor or not. The last issue was on Professional Learning Revisited.  Loved the article about edcamps. 

 1) Twitter - I am on Twitter probably more than I need to be.  I regularly following links shared by others and grow professionally because of this practice. I also share links with others as I seek to add to the professional community.

2) Zite is an app that creates a personalized online journal for its users. I regularly skim through my Zite pages to gather useful articles, blogs posts, etc which I then either post on Twitter or save to Pocket.

3) paper.li is site the allows you to create an online newspaper based on your areas of interest.  The only real work involved is in setting it up. After that, it populates itself every 24 hours. Others can also subscribe to your paper.  My paper.li page is called "Mr. Q's Daily News."  Every day, I look forward to the new learning I gain from the multiple education, tech, and leadership articles I find there.  You can also follow other people paper.li creations
4) Blogs - I love to read blogs for the variety of ideas that are presented.  A great place to find educational blogs is cybraryman.com by Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman).  

That's my list.  It may look like a lot, but since I do most of my reading in the morning before work and at night before retiring, it doesn't take too much time.  My goal is a chapter a day, plus at least three articles/blogs.

So, once again, what are YOU reading?  I look forward to seeing your list in the comments below.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Gentle Answer

"A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger."  Proverbs 15:1 (The Bible)

Communication matters.  The words you use, your tone of voice, even your posture makes a difference in how the message is received.  When someone comes to you agitated or angry, it is possible to alleviate that anger by speaking respectfully to the person and listening to their response.  King Solomon put it this way, "A gentle answer turns away wrath." 

Every day, I have children and adults come into my office angry or agitated.  I have a choice in this situation.  I can join in their anger and lash out at them or I can choose to listen and then answer them calmly and respectfully. This doesn't mean that I agree with them or that I'm not going to honor their requests.  It also doesn't mean that I'm going to withhold disciplinary action.  It does mean that I am going to answer them with dignity and respect.  In doing so, there is a greater chance that the person will leave my office calmer than when they entered, even if they did not get what they wanted.  

The flip side of this is also true.  It is possible to throw fuel on the fires of anger by our response.  If someone is angry and we respond in kind, it only exacerbates the situation.  Both parties end up in worse shape than when the situation started.  This afternoon, I watched from a distance as an adult, already agitated, was reprimanding a child about their behavior.  The child stood there angrily and then went and sat down.  A few moments later, the same adult approached this child again, stirring up an already tense situation.  In the end, both of them were angry, neither got what they wanted, and I had to step in to try and calm things down. 

I'm not proud of this, but I have been guilty of using harsh words in many situations.  In fact, this seems to be the path of least resistance.  Answering gently, on the other hand, takes practice and a concerted effort.

As educators, we have to remember that we work with children, most of whom still do not have full control of their emotions.  We also have to remember that we are the adults.  These children are looking to us to teach them how to act and respond in various situations.  Some may not have positive role models at home to give them this guidance.  The way we talk to others, both children and adults, is leaving an impression.  We get to choose whether we will use a gentle answer to help calm a tense situation or a harsh word to make it even worse.  Which choice will you make?

Please see Gentle vs Harsh a ShowMe lesson I created on this concept.  Please forgive the simplicity.  It is my first effort on ShowMe.  

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mental Health First Aid

Today, I had the privilege of attending Youth Mental Health First Aid USA training (www.MentalHealthFirstAid.org).  I highly recommend it for those who work with children and adolescents who may suffer from mental health issues. According the manual, this consists of roughly 22% of youth within any given year.  The Maryland Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, et al (2012) states that mental health first aid is not designed to take the place of professional help, but instead "to help people recognize symptoms of mental health problems, how to offer and provide initial help, and how to guide a person toward appropriate treatments and other supportive help." As one who works with young people every day, this was an excellent refresher and reminder of the importance of knowing the signs of potential mental health problems as well as how to support affected youth.

The key action steps for applying mental first aid are outlined in the acronym ALGEE:

Assess for risk of suicide or harm (If necessary, ask questions such as "Are you thinking of harming yourself?" or "Are you considering suicide?")
Listen nonjudgementally.  (Be quiet, choose a listening posture, ask clarifying questions, respect culture)
Give reassurance and information. (Provide emotional support, empathize, offer practical help with tasks that may seem overwhelming)
Encourage appropriate professional help. (Doctor, licensed counselor, psychologist, etc.)
Encourage self-help and other support strategies. (School counselor, family, social support networks, etc.)

These action steps are not in any particular order and may not all be necessary, depending on the situation.

One of my main takeaways from the training is to remind myself to slow down enough to notice when a child is behaving differently than normal.  When I see a potential issue, use ALGEE to assess the situation and, if necessary, assist the child in getting the help they need.

         Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Missouri Department of Mental Health, and National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (2012). Youth Mental Health First Aid USA for Adults Assisting Young People.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Be Quiet and Listen

Today, our staff worked diligently on updating the Campus Improvement Plan.  They took the original plan, reviewed and discussed each page, and then made changes, additions, and deletions as needed.  These highlighted changes were then submitted electronically to be reviewed by the Campus Action Team as we update the CIP. 

My role during this time was to visit and observe each group and answer questions if they had them.  While I was with the groups, I usually ended up standing in the back and just listening to the conversation.  It was interesting to see how each group's dynamics were different.  For example, the math teachers were very straighrforward in their approach.  They had the CIP up on the screen and were going through each step one at a time, making changes as they went.  English/Language Arts, on the other hand, spent quite a bit of time discussing and debating the merits of each suggested change and skipped around occasionally.  They would also go off on rabbit trails and have to be brought back in by facilitator.  Specials teachers spent their time focusing on how to impact academic writing and vocabulary through their programs as well as campus wide. 

As I listened to the conversations, what I really wanted to do was interject my own thoughts and ideas.  I had to bite my tongue several times just to keep quiet.  Had I spoken, my comments might have stopped the flow of ideas rather than added to them and ultimately defeated the purpose of the activity.  As an administrator, I am having to learn that I don't always need to be part of the conversation.  I can just be a listener and add my input later.

At the end of the day, each group shared the highlights of their proposed changes to the plan.  It was eye-opening to hear both the ideas for improvement and instructuional needs that these teachers had developed to help increase student achievement.  Many were ideas that I would never have even considered.  As I reflected on the day, I realized that I often feel a need to control the conversation and interject my own ideas.  Sometimes that is necessary, but in situations like today, I just need to be quiet and listen. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Why edcamp?

Last weekend, I was privileged to attend EdcampNOV8.  All week, I've been trying to write about the experience, but drawing a blank.  This was my second edcamp. I'd covered the basics in my post about the first experience (First, but not last, edcamp)  Fortunately, I took along two colleagues and without realizing it, they came to my rescue.  Without provocation, both sent e-mails to our staff describing their thoughts on the edcamp.  I couldn't have said it better myself.

From Sheryl Quarles (@squarles54)

Story Staff,
We had a great time at EdCampNov8 this past weekend in Roanoke (Texas, not Virginia.:)  It was such an awesome opportunity to learn what other educators are doing in their classroom, particularly in the area of technology.  I personally found it very timely, considering the fact we are implementing iPads next year.  And, they gave out a lot of freebies and cool prizes.
It was also a great time to hang out with teachers from our own campus.  The longer I work in this field, the more I realize how important relationship building is among the staff AND with our students. 
Hope you have an awesome week!  Keep your eyes open for the next EdCamp opportunity. 
Sheryl Quarles

From Ashley Barton (@ashleyhbarton)
I completely agree!  EdCamp is awesome!  I really enjoyed the informal but very helpful sessions.  It was a great break from the lecture type PD and a relief from the negativity we too often hear.  Everyone is positive and ready to learn and/or share.
I learned more about how we can utilize the iPads next year and steps we should be taking (and not taking). 
If you want to know more about what EdCamp is like, just come see one of us.  I highly recommend attending one if you are able.  J

Thanks, Mrs. Barton and Mrs. Quarles, for an awesome edcamp.  Let's keep the ball rolling.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Simplify and prioritize-Student Management

As Assistant Principal for Student Management, one of my major roles is school disciplinarian.  I'm the one who is tasked with office referrals. Each time a student is referred, I call them in, spend  time listening to them, investigate if there appears to be a discrepancy, look at their grades together, counsel with them, call parents, and then administer an appropriate consequence.  This can be extremely time-consuming.  However, I have found a way to streamline this task that has been giving me more time to do what I became an administrator for in the first place, namely helping teachers improve their instructional practice.  This has also given me more time out in the building which leads to reduced office referrals.  

So, what is this practice?  It is deceptively simple.  I often have referrals from late in the day that I haven't dealt with yet.  Most of these are what I refer to as non-emergency referrals.  After school or early in the morning, I go through these, reading each carefully, checking student grades, and choosing appropriate consequences.  On a separate sheet, I write the student name and the expected consequence.  Next, I use a triage method to place these in order of importance with the most serious first.  Finally, I make a list of those that I need to get further information on or plan to refer back to the teacher for a classroom consequence or parent contact. (Yes, even in April, I still get a few that should never have been put in the system). 

With this list is in order, when I sit down to begin calling students to my office, I work more efficiently.  I get the job done in short order while still being able to spend quality time with each child.  When I am in the building, I get further information from teachers or share with them why I am turning a referral back to them.  I also  work with them to develop strategies to help referred students be more successful.

Overall, this simple practice has reduced the amount of time that I spend in my office each day and allowed more time to build relationships with teachers and those students who never darken my door.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

First (bit not last) EdCamp

Last weekend, I went to my first EdCamp.  For months, I've read about this grassroots trend in professional development that has no pre-set agenda and is as much social as educational.  I had to check one out. So, Saturday morning, I drove 140 miles one way to attend @edcampesc5.  Having no idea what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised to enter a room populated by about 150 fellow educators all milling about with blue slips of paper.  These slips were for writing down what we wanted to learn about that day.  We were also offered yellow slips if we felt we could teach something.  As the all volunteer organizing team used the slips to create the day's sessions, everyone else milled about visiting, eating pancakes, and tweeting about the event.  As I didn't know anyone, I used this time to meet new people and, since the name tags had our Twitter IDs, put names with faces.  I also had the chance to help a teacher get signed up on Twitter and start getting followers.  It was surprising the number of people from around the country who were following the event via Twitter and offering to follow new tweeps.  It was, as one person commented, the most organized chaos they had ever seen.

Once the session board was created, the learning simply continued.  One of the key rules for edcamp is that you "vote with your feet." That is, if you don't find a session helpful, just get up and leave.  No one will mind.  Fortunately, I never felt the need to leave any sessions.  Instead, I found myself being motivated by the learning and interaction that took place in each session.  Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd) and a partner (whose Twitter name I unfortunately didn't get) shared their expertise on Google apps and their use in the classroom.  Just the discussion on Google Hangouts was worth the entire time.  During Admin Training on Social Networking, I was challenged by Brad McEachern (@bradmceachern) to step out of my box and lead others to become connected as well as got great ideas from Tom Connelly (@SJE_Rocks).   One of these was to start and moderate a campus/district Twitter chat.  I've thought of that before but now I know it needs to be done.  After lunch, which student clubs used as a fundraiser, the discussion on RtI led by Jeffrey Farley (@farleyjeffrey) opened my eyes to some things I'd been missing about the process.  We later had a private discussion about using the RtI model with behavior.  I chose the final session on Edmodo because my campus is moving to 1-to-1 next year and this free application would be helpful to teachers.  What I didn't expect was to learn ways that I can use Edmodo for CPE, flipped staff meetings, and more.  Great ideas!

At the closing session, what seemed like a thousand door prizes were presented as people whooped and hollered when their names were called.  It was like being on the Price is Right and a perfect way to end the day.

What really impressed me about edcamp is that it was put on by volunteers and the participants drove the learning.  Truly, the experts are in the building!  It also made me realize that educators who are willing to take a Saturday to spend time learning with others are the kind of people I want to hang out with.  This may have been my first edcamp, but after the experience I had, it definitely won't be my last.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Life Lessons from Spring Break

Spring Break was this week and I took my 12 year old son camping in the Texas hill country.  We spent two days at a state park located right on the banks of the Colorado River.  Reflecting on the trip, I realized that I learned several lessons from God's creation as I spent time fishing, hiking, and simply enjoying nature.  This post may be, as my son would say, somewhat random but I hope you bear with me and can learn as I did.

1)  Buzzards - Have you ever watched a buzzard?  On the ground, they are one of the ugliest birds around.  They have pitch black bodies with long, pointed beaks and knotted red heads. Besides that, they feast on dead animals and often vomit up the remains.  They will flock around a carcass, tearing off chunks of flesh until only the white of the bone is visible.  Yet, when buzzards take to the air, they are one of the most beautiful birds in the sky.  In what appears effortless, they catch wind streams and soar to great heights, circling the ground in a majestic loop.  From below, their great wing span is awe inspiring.  As I watched buzzards this week, I was reminded that situations in life can be the same way, depending on how we view them.  What may appear to be difficult, ugly, and hard to handle in one moment can later become a thing of beauty.  Times of struggle can really be the precursors to success.  The key is how we view these difficult times and if we are willing to work through them until we too can once again soar to great heights.

2)  Tents and wind storms- Being in a tent during a wind storm can be a scary place.  During our trip, winds gusted up to 50 miles an hour one night.   It felt like we were two Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf was huffing and puffing to blow our house down.  The sides of the tent were expanding and contracting, stakes were coming loose, and the bottom lifted several times.  Other than securing the tent stakes, there was not much more we could do except ride out the storm.  When we got up in the morning after an almost sleepless night, we were safe and sound and the tent was still over our heads.  Two sides had come loose, but there was no damage.  Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in similar situations.  The events affecting us are totally out of our control.  All we can is secure the tent pegs and ride it out.  These times can be scary, but they also help us realize that we don't have to be in control of everything.  Sometimes, we must simply let go and let God handle the situation.

3)  Busted Fishing Trips- One of the main reasons we travel to the Texas Hill Country is to catch the white bass run in the Colorado River.  In March and April, these fish move up the river from Lake Buchanan to spawn.  When this happens, it is possible to catch a limit of 25 fish in less than an hour.  Unfortunately, there was no run this year.  A sand bar had formed at the mouth of the river and most of the fish never left the lake.  We fished for four to five hours each day and only caught one white bass.  Basically, the fishing part of the trip was a bust.  At this point, there were several options available to us. We could fish all day and hope things would change.  Or, we could do something else.  We chose option two.  For the majority of each day, we hiked the scenic trails in the park.  We swam in the river.  We drove 50 miles into town and ate overpriced bar-be-que.  We simply enjoyed each other's company.  This turned out to be one of the better trips we had taken.  In some cases, we set out with grand plans only to have those plans change due to circumstances beyond our control.  At that point, we can either try to push our plans through or we can adjust to the changes.  The choice we make in this situation may be the difference between a great experience and a simply mediocre one.

4)  Kayaking - A few months back, my son bought a small kayak.  We took it with us and he spent several hours in it each day.  Where we were on the river, there are a few sets of rapids along with a number of bends that would cause him to move out of my view.  I made a decision that, once he showed me he could maneuver the boat, I would allow him to travel where he wanted.  I didn't tell him this directly, but simply let him go.  My only rules were that he wear his life vest at all times and check in periodically.  The first time I watched him go around a bend, my urge was to call him back.  But I decided to let him go and then spent what seemed like hours wondering if I'd made the right decision,.  My mind pondered all of the troubles he could get into, especially since I had no clue what was around the corner.  In about thirty minutes he was back, excitedly telling me what he had observed.  He rounded this same bend multiple times and each time became a little easier for me and more fun for him.  The lesson for me in all of this is that we must let people go, within reason, and learn on their own.  I had done what I could by ensuring he could stay afloat and providing him a life jacket.  At that point, I could either keep him near me or allow him to go and explore.  I'm glad I chose the latter.  When working with people, we have to provide them with the tools they need for success and teach them how to use them.  But then, we need to let them go and explore.  If we don't, they will remain dependent on us and never reach their full potential.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Don't Go It Alone

Today, I had a very informative and collaborative meeting with the Student Management Team. Our current discipline plan needs some work, so we spent several hours going over strategies for updating/changing the plan. I found out what I should have known already, namely that many teachers really didn't fully understand the plan.  By getting and receiving input from others, my own eyes were opened and what I hope will be a viable solution was created.  It also opened the doors for next years planning. 

As a first year Assistant Principal, I discover daily that the adage "You can't do it alone" is absolutely true.  I realize that I have been working like Moses in the book of Exodus.  He was trying to do all the work of judging alone and when his father-in-law Jethro showed up, he set him straight.   Jethro told Moses he would burn out by trying to the work alone and then provided a plan for sharing the burden.  It has taken me most of the year to realize that I am doing too much alone and need to get some help and support from the staff, especially in helping manage student behavior. 

Some things I have learned from working with others and getting their input are:

1)  Remain humble- If I am seeking input and help from others, I must choose not to be defensive and, instead, take suggestions and potential criticisms in stride.  If I remain humble and just listen, I will learn much more than if I try to justify any previous actions.

2)  Listen - Everyone has some good ideas.  My job is to be able to listen to those ideas and help the group sort through and adapt the ones that will work in the current situation. If I am focused on my own thoughts, I run the risk of missing what may be the most idea or at least stepping stone to a solution. 

3)  Accept wisdom - Others sometimes have a broader view of the organization than you, especially if they have been there longer.  Accept their wisdom and use it.

4)  Trust other's motives - Unless shown otherwise by actions, accept that others have the best interest of the organization at heart.  Keep that trust unless/until it is broken.  Hopefully that day will never come. 

5)  Accept help - If someone offers to help, accept it.  It is okay to release some control and let another join in and help with the work.  They may do things differently than you, but if the result is the same, then it should make little difference.

6)  Delegate - Others have skills and abilities I don't have.  As a leader, I need to recognize this and allow them to use these skills for the benefit of the entire organization.  I realize that, if I don't delegate, I'm not only burning myself out, but I'm cheating others out of the opportunity to use their gifts. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Review: The Power of Full Engagement

The post below is a review I completed some time ago.  It doesn't go into great detail (you'll have to read the book for that), but hopefully will spur someone to pick it up and use the principles outlined by the authors.  Also included is a video of Tony Schwartz describing the 4 Principles for managing energy.  

The Power of Full Engagement:  Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. Free Press, New York, NY. 2003. ISBN 0-7432-2674-7. 245 pages. 
The premise for the book The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz is deceptively simple.  The authors contend that the amount of time in a day is set and therefore cannot truly be managed.  However, the amount of energy that one has available is variable and can be managed for increased or decreased effectiveness.  According to the Loehr and Schwartz (2003), “energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.” (p. 4). 
The authors developed their theories while working with athletes.  They noticed that high-performance athletes worked towards measureable goals, had specific rituals, and alternated between periods of hard work and periods of recovery.  They also noted that the “performance demands that most people face in their everyday work environment dwarf those of any professional athlete.” (Loehr & Schwartz, p. 8)  Through their work with athletes, the authors developed what they call the Corporate Athlete Training System®.  The entire training program is included in the text; however, this summary only discusses the principles behind the training system without going into the specifics steps of the program.
This training system is based on four basic principles:
  1. Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy. (p. 9)
  2. Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and underuse, energy expenditure must be balanced with intermittent energy renewal. (p. 11)
  3. To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits (p. 13)
  4. Positive energy rituals are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance. (p. 14)
According to the authors, all of these principles must be in place and balanced for a leader to achieve at full potential.  
Principle 1 states that energy comes from four sources: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.  Physical energy is the fundamental source of fuel for our bodies. Physical energy can be increased through proper diet, exercise, rest, and correct breathing.  Emotional energy is related to how a person responds to various stresses. According to the authors, ‘the ability to summon positive emotions during periods of intense stress lies at the heart of effective leadership.” (p. 92) Mental energy is what we use to organize our lives and focus our attention.  Loehr and Schwartz contend that the best use of mental energy is realistic optimism, or seeing the world as it is, but always working positively towards a desired outcome. (p. 108) Spiritual energy provides the force for action in all dimensions in our lives.  It fuels passion, perseverance, and commitment.  (p. 110) 
Principle 2 states that success is based on balancing energy expenditures with energy renewal. A person must balance periods of energy use with periods of rest and renewal.  It is possible to either over expend energy, such as working too many hours without a break, and under expend energy, such as sleeping too much, both of which lead to low performance.
Principle 3 requires that a person push beyond their normal limits in order to build capacity and increase energy.  This not only applies in the physical realm, but in the other energy areas as well.  For example, if one wishes to become more empathetic, they must practice empathy.  According to the authors, it is necessary to identify areas of weakness and then develop a strategy for building that area.  (p. 156-158)
Principle 4 requires that a person develop highly specific routines in order to manage their energy expenditures and sustain high performance.  These can run the gamut from stopping work at specific intervals to relax and reflect to scheduling date nights with spouses. These rituals should be designed to reinforce a positive trait rather than to remove a negative one.  Most rituals will take between thirty and sixty days to acquire.  To make lasting change, a person should focus on only one significant change at a time.  (p. 179) “It is better to succeed with small incremental changes and modest setbacks than to create a grand plan and fail completely.” (p. 186)
Implementing the above principles, according to Loehr and Schwartz, involves a three-step process:  Define Purpose, Face the Truth, and Take Action. (p. 15)  Defining purpose requires a person to answer the question, “How should I spend my energy in a way that is consistent with my deepest values?” (p. 15).  It also includes defining these values. Facing the truth requires analyzing how energy is currently being spent including gathering credible data such as having a physical and seeking input from family and co-workers. (p. 156-158) Finally, taking action involves developing rituals designed to “translate our values and priorities into action in all areas of our life.”  (p. 182)  
The process outlined by Loehr and Schwartz should not be foreign to educational leaders.  “Where does the school need to be in order to be most effective?”, “Where is it now, really?” and “What needs to happen to get the school to be its best?” are common questions asked by leaders about their school and its programs.  School leaders already analyze data and develop rituals, in the form of processes and procedures, to increase school effectiveness.  They regularly stretch their capacity as they learn new skills and apply new ideas to problems.  These very same processes, as outlined by Loehr and Schwartz, can also be used by the leader to achieve high performance and personal success in all areas of life by managing available energy instead of trying to manage time. 
Loehr, J. and Schwartz, T. (2003).  The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. New York, NY: Free Press.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ender's Game and Education

I rarely read fiction, but this week I picked up the novel Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.  Since the movie just came out on DVD, I decided to read the book before hitting RedBox.  Without creating a spoiler, the plot of the novel revolves around a young man named Andrew “Ender” Wiggin who just happens to be a very gifted child.  At a young age, the world government decides to train him to be a commander in their battle against creatures known as buggers.  These beings had attacked Earth in the past and now the focus of mankind was on preventing a future attack while always being prepared for another war.  The novel revolves around Ender’s training and preparation for entering the bugger wars as a battle ready leader who can face any situation and be effective.  In the novel, Card, in my opinion, describes many parallels to education, some positive and some negative.  Again, as I go through these insights, I will try not to spoil the novel.  If you haven’t read it, you might want to stop now, read the novel, and come back after doing so.  

  1. Not all children have the same gifts. In the novel, Ender is a brilliant strategist who has the ability to think on his feet and act quickly.  His brother and sister, Peter and Valentine, on the other hand, have the gift for expressing themselves through writing and for being opinion leaders. In education, we sometimes forget that children are different and try to teach them the same things in the same ways. Instead of differentiating instruction, we teach all children using the same methods and then wonder why some get it and some don’t.  We also often require all children to produce the same products to show their grasp of new knowledge and skills.  If we truly understood that children were different, we would stop using a cookie cutter model for education and start developing instructional units based on the needs of the individual children.  
  2. Children, when given the opportunity, will amaze us. - Colonel Graff, the headmaster of Battle School where Ender attends, decides to let him face difficult situations without adult assistance.  He does this to see how Ender will respond and react.  Now, I don’t recommend leaving kids to their own devices without any adult help, but I do believe that, too often, we contain children’s ideas and do not let them try out new strategies simply because their ideas are not what we’ve always done.  When we allow children to try new ways to solve problems, we are giving them the freedom to explore and learn.  In doing so, we are creating thinkers.  Thinkers who are able to implement their ideas will always do more than simple direction followers.
  3. Always hold high expectations for children.  - Throughout the book, Colonel Graff continuously raises the bar on Ender.  As soon as he meets one challenge, another is added.  This process is nonstop for young Ender and, while he often resents it, he still pushes himself to meet each challenge head-on.  As educators, we need to expect our students to do more than just the minimum.  In fact, we should keep the bar high and expect them to be better and do better than they themselves think they can.  Now, that doesn’t mean that the bar will always be in the same place for each child.  Some will start at different levels than others.  Some will have the bar raised quickly while others will take more time to achieve success. Either way, the expectation that the student will be successful must always be there.  If we don’t believe that our students will achieve success, it will show in how we treat them and they will, in most cases, respond accordingly.
  4. Don’t do for kids what they can do for themselves. - While this adage is taken to extremes in the novel, it should be a factor in every classroom.  As educators, we often do for children what they should be doing for themselves.  This may involve actions such as offering help before it asked for or giving too much help when it is requested.  There are times when kids do need help and often don’t know how to ask for it, but more often, adults let kids off the hook by doing things for them.  
  5. Let kids be kids. - Unfortunately, this is not done in the novel.  Kids need time in their day to simply play.  In fact, I believe that children often learn as much during play as they do during class.  It is on the playground where positive skills such as playing fair, sharing, and working together are often either learned or reinforced.  It is easy, in the midst of the core curriculum, to forget that we are working with children and that they need time to just be children.
  6. Allow children to apply new learning in as real a situation as possible. - In Battle School, Ender and his schoolmates regularly apply what they are learning in mock battles.  These battles allow them to reinforce strategies they have been learning all week.  In the classroom, it is not always possible to recreate real world situations, but we need to try and come as close as possible for our students benefit.  With the introduction of technology to many campuses, it is becoming easier to create these situations.  In fact, it is sometimes possible to have students work on real projects with schools, businesses, universities, and others both near home or halfway around the world.  When we allow students to do real work, we are not only helping them reinforce the learning, but are also showing them the relevance of that learning.
  7. Trust your students to do their best. - In the novel, Ender places great trust in his subordinates.  He trusts them so much that he allows them the freedom to develop strategies on the battlefield and to adjust to changing situations within an established framework.  In the classroom, we should treat our students like we want them to be, not necessarily as they are.  Sometimes this is not easy, especially with difficult children.  However, they will never grow if we don’t give them a chance.  This doesn’t mean that we don’t have classroom rules, expectations, and procedures.  It does mean that we teach these structures and trust our students to work within them until they demonstrate otherwise.  Some years ago, I ran a computer based science lab.  Teachers would bring their students to the lab and they would work on various experiments.  Many times, teachers would tell me I was crazy if I thought their students would be successful, especially when we were using items such as bunsen burners or acids.  But, they were successful.  I believe this was because I taught them safe lab techniques and then expected them to follow them.  I trusted them to use the equipment safely, to follow safety procedures, and to do their best work every time.  Such trust and respect led to results. 

The above are a few of the parallels to educational practice that I found in the book Ender’s Game.  These are mostly positive.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of negatives as well.  If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.  If you have read it, I’m sure you can come up with other correlations beyond those above.  I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Typical Day?

A Typical Day?
How would you describe a typical day in the life of a school administrator?   That is, I'm afraid, the $10,000 question.  So far, I've never met anyone with an exact answer.  As I drove home from work tonight reflecting on the day, I must admit, I don't have one either. Each day is new and different and has its own set of challenges and triumphs.  I don't believe there is a typical day.

With that said, I'd like to go through one day in my week.  Today, for that matter.  First, a little background.  I serve as Assistant Principal for Student Management in a rural Title I school with approximately 740 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. As of this writing, I've been in this position six months. The learning curve feels like a straight line.  Straight up.  I contend that this is the hardest job I've ever loved.

Now to that "typical" day: 

7:15 am - Arrive at school.  Immediately proceed to duty station and begin greeting kids as they walk to  their homeroom classes.  
7:45 am - 1st Bell rings for kids to go into classes.  Quickly monitor halls, open locked doors if necessary, and make sure kids are in classes.
7:55 am - Proceed to office.  Log in to computer and then encourage the two kids who are getting ready  to help with announcements.
8:00 am - Give my "Project Wisdom" daily message on the morning announcements.
8:10 am - Monitor halls as I walk to a teacher's classroom for a formal observation.  Conduct observation, taking copious notes that will not only help with the evaluation, but also give me ideas to share with other teachers. 
9:05 am - Proceed to office.  Return two parent phone calls and begin calling down students for disciplinary referrals.
10:10 am - Receive phone call from a father who apologizes for the short notice, but could he serve in our WatchDOGS program that day since he got off unexpectedly.  Agree to the request and quickly make a schedule.  Take a call from a parent.
10:15 am - Meet with a set of parents about a discipline issue.  Invite the parents to visit their child's class anytime and sign the Dad up for WatchDOGS.  
10:30 am  - Receive WatchDOGS dad, go through short orientation, take a photo with child, and show him around the school.  Drop him off at his child's classroom and proceed back to office to continue with student management issues.  
11:20 am - Enter cafeteria and take pictures of fellow AP getting Silly Stringed by students as part of a fundraiser.  Realize that my turn is coming and run back into office to look for plastic bag to put over my hair. 
11:30 am - Lunch Duty
11:55 am - Cover my head with Wal-Mart bag and proceed to stage for my turn at getting covered with Silly String ($1 for a two second spray or $4 for a can).  Realize very quickly that the line for a shot at me is very long, kids can hit the face with total accuracy, and Silly String is full of alcohol.  Notice that many of the "sprayers" are also the kids who regularly visit my office.  I smile at them as they enjoy their payback.  
12:10 pm - Finally leave stage covered with Silly String.  Make it to office, wash up, change clothes, and eat lunch. 
12:40 pm - Return to cafeteria to take pictures of building principal getting her turn in the Silly String chair.  Notice that she has covered her body with a plastic bag. Smart idea!
12:45 pm - Return to cafeteria to make sure that the stage is set for our 1st semester awards ceremony.  Make sure the microphone works, go over the list of names, and check that the stage is not slippery from the silly string 
12:55 pm - Return to office and continue with student management issues.  
1:30 pm - Enter the cafeteria and start to greet parents arriving for awards ceremony.  Spend a few minutes visiting with each.  
1:40 pm - Announce for teachers to bring students to cafeteria to begin awards ceremony.  Return to stage for one final check before all classes arrive.  Continue to greet parents and visit with them.
2:00 pm - Awards ceremony.  Serve as MC as students cross the stage to receive their awards and put them on.   (We chose to give Dogtags instead of certificates)
2:45 pm - Finish awards ceremony.  Return to office and meet with several students about discipline issues.  Visit a class to clarify some information about a student management concern.
3:15 pm - Start Bus Duty.
4:08 pm - End bus duty.  Accompany WatchDOGS volunteer back to office to sign up for another day and then proceed to faculty meeting, already in progress.
5:00 pm - Faculty meeting ends. Spend a few minutes helping a colleague understand one of the key points in the meeting.  
5:10 pm -Return to office and begin putting teacher evaluation information into the computer.  During this time, help students in after-school program call home for a ride and field several calls from parents.
6:30 pm - Finish teacher evaluations.  Return two phone calls.  Review calendar and plan for next day.
6:50 pm - Clock in (Forgot to this morning), change starting time, and then clock out.  
6:55 pm - Leave the school building.  On the way home, reflect on what a typical day in my position consists.  Realize there really isn't one.