My One Word 2018

Confidence – If I had to choose, that would be my one word for 2018.

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That’s not to say I’m never confidant, but as I reflected over break I realized that I can be more confident in some of the things I do.

My staff needs my confidence. When they come to me for guidance, when I have to make quick decisions, and even when I need to process things before making decisions – I need to exhibit confidence. The chance of making a wrong decision is always in the back of my head, especially in the position I am in. But I need to practice more often what I preach – that it takes failure to learn.

A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

I also am aware I need more confidence in my writing. Writing is a huge goal of mine for 2018. I have blog post ideas as well as short story ideas. My buddies and I have ideas for Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. But when it comes down to it, I just need to write! I need the confidence to not overthink my blog posts and just hit “Publish.” I need more confidence that my voice will continue to develop as I write.

Confidence will come with experience. In order to gain that experience I need to just “do”. Do it. Write. Blog. Achieve the goals I have set for myself.

Community That Eats Together…

Wednesday was our last day before Winter Break. Thanks to one of our Evansville Teacher’s Federal Credit Union branches, I was able to provide a breakfast for my staff before the business and excitement of the day began.

I’ve  had the pleasure of serving Vogel as principal for 7 months now, and since day one I’ve been impressed with the sense of community around the building. Many of the children who attend Vogel have parents and grandparents who attended Vogel. The staff absolutely loves their jobs and is loyal to the school.

As staff came to the media center to get breakfast, I couldn’t help but smile when they sat down at tables together to eat. With the demands on our time, I wouldn’t have blamed them if they got food and went back to rooms to eat while prepping for the day. But my staff sat down together, as a community, as a family, to enjoy their breakfast. I don’t even think they realized the message they were sending.

 

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Simply providing food does not build or curate a culture within a school. However providing opportunities for people to talk, laugh, and recover creates a culture in which we all can sustain the compassion that we innately have that led us to our careers in education.

 

 

Is My Teaching “Sticky?”

An oldie, but a goodie! This was awesome when I utilized it in my 4th grade classroom!

As I was browsing Pinterest one evening, scouring the boards for pins with ideas to enhance my practices, I saw a pin with a board that read, “What Stuck With You Today?”. I’ve always been a proponent of student voice and every voice being heard. Even children who are typically quiet or shy have much to say.

I immediately put a board up for my students. We love using post-it notes for writing, so I knew they would like using them for this board. We also use a variety of formative assessments in class. The “exit ticket” is used quite often to get a gauge of understanding. This board provides yet another formative assessment.

There was a bit of a curve when introducing this to my fourth graders. The first time they wrote on the post-its, many of the “sticky” items were vague. Some said “fractions”, while some said “Main Idea.” I used that as an impromptu teaching point for descriptive writing. Now that the children are becoming a bit more comfortable with using this board, they are writing clear, descriptive items. One child recently wrote “Why the denominators stay the same when adding fractions”. This is a gauge to let me know what’s sticking and what is not. Plus, it’s always nice to allow children the chance to express themselves.

Have You Thought About?

While browsing old blog posts, another one of my favorites was “Is My Teaching Sticky?” I realized that I have put into place something similar this year for my staff. After one particular staff meeting earlier in the year, I remember reflecting and realizing that I wanted teachers to have an opportunity to speak up without fear or anxiety. Being new to the building and being so early in the year, I was sure teachers weren’t quite comfortable with approaching me with concerns quite yet.  I also wanted to honor anonymity if that’s what they wanted.

Enter the “Have You Thought About?” board!

Anytime after a staff meeting, or anytime in general, staff members can place a post-it on a “Have You Thought About…?” board to express concerns. Let’s be honest, we don’t think of everything!! This not only allows staff to share thoughts and concerns, but it has helped me adjust and refine my practices. One time after sending an updated Recess/Lunch Duty Schedule, a staff member had a “Have you thought about?” concern around the placement of adults on duty. Turns out I overlooked something on the schedule that needed fixing!

Another time a staff member submitted a concern that I HAD thought about, but my decision on the matter had to remain. This concern being submitted did, however, showed me that I needed to communicate the WHY a bit clearer.

My staff begun to realize that I am approachable and have an open door policy. I will always be transparent when it comes to concerns they may have. The “Have You Thought About…?” board remains intact, as it still provides an avenue to relay concerns.