Thursday, October 29, 2009

What I Want in a Principal

A few weeks ago our principal announced that she is retiring at the end of December. Obviously, this news has left our staff speculating and fretting about the future administration and how our culture will be affected by the introduction of a new leader.

We were invited to give input into what we would like in a future principal. While many of us felt that this was just a perfunctory session, about a third of our staff was able to be there and provide some thoughtful input -- as well as shed a few tears. Here's what I wrote and read at the meeting:

I want a principal who will take the time to understand and truly appreciate the culture of positive learning that has been created at our school.

I want a principal who loves middle schoolers with all their quirkiness and hormonal energy.

I want a principal who listens to her students when they want to share a problem or concern, or just updates about what television show they watched last night.

I want a principal who lets her teachers take risks, allowing her teachers to try innovative instruction.

I want a principal who empowers her teachers to take on leadership roles and who supports their professional growth.

I want a principal who is well respected in the community, who makes connections with parents and business leaders.

I want a principal who is a teacher leader first and foremost, never forgetting what it takes to do the hard stuff of teaching on a daily basis.

I want a principal who stands up for her teachers and students when the time comes.

I want a principal who listens to her teachers when they have a concern or a problem or a solution or they just want to share some personal news.

I want a principal who is seen on the campus, in the classroom, in the media center, in the cafeteria, on the athletic field.

I want a principal who implements strong teaching and learning programs that will impact student achievement.

I want a principal who makes the most of her dollars, imploring sound financial abilities to effectively and efficiently provide the materials and resources to run our school.

I want a principal who recognizes, appreciates, and supports all levels of learners from special needs students to academically gifted students.

I want a principal who understands and can effectively assess the data to make important instructional decisions and support successful teaching practices.

I want a principal who is honest, tenacious, caring, professional, vibrant, personable, organized, savvy, accountable, objective, and positive. I want a principal who is “real”.

I want a principal who is a cheerleader, recognizing teacher and staff professional achievements and student academic, behavior, and athletic achievements.

I want a principal who communicates her expectations to her teachers, students, and parents.

I want a principal who asks questions.

I want a principal who realizes that this is “our” school – it belongs to all of us: the staff, students, parents and community. We will welcome a new principal to be a part of our school, but it will continue to belong to all of us: “our” school.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

November is Coming! November is Coming!

November is almost here, and I'm getting really excited about all that's happening this month!

Daylight Savings Time -- Yes, I like my "extra" hour. I'm looking forward to snoozing just a bit longer this Sunday morning, enjoying my "extra" 60 minutes.

Tech Contact Meeting -- While most folks dread meetings, I actually like attending some of my meetings, this being one of them. All the tech contacts in the district meet a couple times a year as a group to get updates from technology services and instructional technology personnel. It's a lot of sit-and-get, but it's a great time to network with colleagues that I rarely see. And it has the fringe benefit of actually getting a lunch hour where we can sit down at a restaurant to continue our conversations about technology, integration, education, etc.

AASL Conference -- I haven't been to my national professional conference in a few years (life sort of happened in the form of a now three year old!) Well, we're headed west to this year's AASL conference, where I'll get to do even more incredible networking with some of the coolest people in school librarianship! Yes, people, I do get excited about my profession! Did I tell you that I'm presenting at the conference, too? And I signed up for a little side excursion -- a tour of the NASCAR track and museum! Vrooooom!!!

Student intern -- I'm getting another student intern, and she starts in November. Imparting knowledge on enthusiastic young people going into our profession -- let's just say, I'm loving it! Really looking forward to mentoring this future school librarian.

Veteran's Day -- What a great holiday! Saluting those that defend our freedoms everyday. And it doesn't hurt that it's a day off in the middle of the week this year!

La Boutique for Kids -- It's like Tupperware, but it's children's clothes! I'm having a party, where the rep brings in racks of name brand kids clothes at discount prices. I'm pretty sure that I get an awesome discount!

Book Fair -- The fall book fair is in November, and we've got some fabulous PTA volunteers helping us organize for the event. Love seeing all the books that the kids are scrambling to purchase. Love having classroom wish lists for the teachers, too. They're like little kids when they find a new, donated book in their bags.

National Board Certification support -- I'm gearing up to help my library media candidate cohort as they dive into the NBC process. Let's hope my guidance helps them get to the heart of their teaching and students' learning as they analyze and reflect on their instruction.

Thanksgiving -- I've always loved this time of year. Growing up, we did big cleaning over Thanksgiving break and geared up for the Christmas holiday, putting up the tree and decorating the house. I'm soooo ready to share the holidays with my little one this year.

NaNoWriMo -- It's National Novel Writing Month! And once again, on top of all the stuff going on in my life, I'm going to attempt to get 50,000 words on the pages in 30 days! Writing energizes me, so why not go for it?!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Instructional Technology Rocks!

Wednesday was an early release day for us at school. That means that we sent the kids home at 11:55 a.m., half-day, and we had staff development in the afternoon.

Okay, so I hear the moans and groans from those of you that have sat through the endless staff developments at your schools and offices.

Well, since I was one of the organizers of THIS staff development, I can assure you that it wasn't a groaner -- and the fact that like a dozen of my teachers have been energized and enthusiastic about technology and have requested equipment and time and space speaks for itself!

Thanks to the generosity of our administration, we have a number of SMART boards on campus and we knew that to get the most out of them everyone needed to be trained. Yes, some people are never going to touch a SMART board again. But others were knocking down the library doors to checkout the rolling interactive white boards. How cool!

While everyone rotated through the SMART board training, folks also attended two other sessions. We've got folks excited about using flip cameras -- my favorite is the family and consumer science teacher who is going to video yourself doing laundry to use with her students. We had folks amazed at all the extra stuff they can with their ELMO document cameras. (I didn't know you could make movies with it!?!) We also have folks clamoring for the student response systems -- the clickers -- to use for preassessment activities. Way cool!

I was responsible for introducing educational blogging to folks. I directed them to my blog first. Not sure how smart that was! Do I really want my colleagues following my every opinion? Maybe it'll start so incredible dialogues with other educators! Maybe....

I also sent them to the 100 Best Blogs for Teachers and pointed out some of my favorites. Overall it came back to time -- just having the time to explore Web 2.0 tools and instructional technology. Oh, and it didn't hurt to have some pretty awesome colleagues to step up and present some of these really cool tools!

Thanks, folks, for creating a great professional exchange!