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. 

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.