Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sick and tired of being sick and tired

How often have you felt this way? I have a pretty crappy immune system, so I find myself sick pretty often. My family has been sick for the last two weeks and I have managed to avoid it. Until today.


It's just a head cold. Other than making me tired and having to blow my nose, it's really not that big of a thing. However, I'm still more than motivated to sit on my couch and watch the NCAA Tournament. With Michigan AND Michigan State being in the Elite 8 for the first time ever, it's a pretty big deal for our household. I am an alum of the University of Michigan and my husband is an alum of Michigan State University. (note: as of this post, there is 1:13 left in the Michigan State game, so the Final Four may be Spartanless).

I was thinking about a PrincipalCast episode we did about ways to keep yourself fresh and healthy. Some people exercise, some write, some read. I watch sports. It is a way to completely clear my head and think about anything else besides work. I love my work and I love my job, but I need a break. We ALL need a break. I have started making Saturday "no email" day. I turn my work email off and I don't check it all day. If the school is burning down or someone has an emergency, they have my cell number and can also IM me. I do NOT need to be waiting for something to happen or for someone to need me.

As I sit and angrily manage this head cold, I remind myself how happy I am that I have the NCAA Tournament to help me focus on something else. What do you do when you're sick and tired of being sick and tired?

Update: Michigan State lost to UConn by a score of 60-54. If Michigan doesn't beat KY this afternoon, I'm going to have to turn to baseball....

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

5 Interview Tips from a New Principal

I recently had a #PrincipalCast subscriber email me asking for interview suggestions as he was interviewing at a Catholic school.  I 

wrote him the following email, but thought I would share it here, too.  Most interviews are similar - asking about curriculum, what your ideal school might look like, etc. - but these are a few things that you may not have thought of. 

Good luck, and let the #PrincipalCast crew know how we can help you!

(#1 may not apply to all of you, but I'm sure there is something about your new school that you should know.  Always go in with SOMETHING you know about the school.  DO YOUR RESEARCH.)  



1.  Make sure you know what your Catholic Identity is.  Who are you in your faith?  What do you believe the identity of the school/students should be? How and where does this group of students "belong" in the church?

2.  Know your leadership style.  They may ask you what your staff meetings may look like, how often you'll have them, etc.  Will you require your teachers to turn in lesson plans?  How often will you be in the classroom (ideally)?  



3.  Be prepared to answer the question "What will be the first thing you'll do as the Principal?"  A good answer to that is that you will spend a lot of time observing the climate of the school and begin to understand the community.  You never want to make too 

many changes at once.  Especially if the school is having an issue with stability.  They need to know you are there to support them, not to make it "your school."

4.  If this is a job that may require a relocation, know that it may come up in the interview.  Just so you aren't surprised ;)

5.  Finally - be yourself.  This cannot be understated.  You NEVER know what they are looking for in their leader.  If you do get the job, you want to be sure it is because it is a good fit for you AND for the school.  There is nothing wrong with 'losing' out on a job because you weren't the right fit.  They may feel they need someone who is more of a disciplinarian, more gentle, taller, older, etc., etc., etc (of course those last ones aren't real, but you get the point).  You just never know what they are looking for, and in the long run it is a better decision for all involved if you aren't chosen for a position that wasn't a good fit.  It's hard to swallow, but it's the truth.

Just be prepared for them to ask anything, and there is nothing wrong with taking a deep breath and thinking about your response before you verbalize it.  Nothing at all.


Good luck!Image

Monday, March 17, 2014

School-Wide Goals and a Book Study with Edmodo

After receiving the results from our IOWA tests (the standardized test we take in October each year), our Pre-K to 1st and 2nd to 4th grade PLCs decided their SMART goal for this year would be Vocabulary. Our students struggled the most with vocabulary on this year's tests, so they decided it would be our main goal for the remainder of the year.

Fast forward a few months: ASCD sent me a group of 5 books to review, and one of them was Vocab Rehab by Marilee Sprenger (from ASCD's Arias collection). The Arias collection consists of short books, about 35 pages long, that can be read in a sitting and are easily digestible. I read the book and left it with my teachers to read, each of them deciding they would read it in an evening and give it to the next teacher. They will all be finished by the end of this week.

The book had a lot of great activities in it to teach Vocabulary in about 10 minutes a day. I have set up an Edmodo group for the teachers who are interested and created an "assignment." Each of them will post their favorite activity after reading the book and it will give us a place to keep all of that information.

Any of you who do book studies - how do you keep track of them? I would love to hear the different ideas!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

#20Time (AKA Genius Hour), #michED and Teacher Professional Development

I spent this last weekend in Grand Rapids, MI at the #MACUL14 conference (Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning).  Aside from being able to finally meet some of my twitter peeps in person (@TechNinjaTodd, @KleinErin, @bloch574 and @gcouros to name a few!) - I attended a few really amazing sessions and had an interview with one of my #michED colleagues, Brad Wilson (@dreambition).  Brad produces the #michED podcast and asked me to interview with him while at the conference.



Brad had quite a few thought-provoking questions, which are always nice in an interview.  One of the conversations we had was discussing how @Twitter could be utilized for teacher professional development.  It really got me thinking (I will link to that podcast when it is published) and I went back to one of the sessions I attended at #MACUL14 by Nicholas Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher).  Nicholas was presenting on his #20Time project, also known as Genius Hour.  The premise is that you give your students 20% of their time (1 class period a week) to learn about whatever they want.  They blog about what they learned and do a presentation at the end of the year.  Nick's school is hosting a TEDx talk in June where some of the students will present their projects in a TEDtalk.

What if we used this model for teacher professional development?  What if we gave the teachers one staff meeting a month to learn about WHATEVER they wanted.  Write up their findings, turn it in (on Edmodo, a blog, whatever) and make our PD differentiated.  Would this help the school?

Has anyone utilized this model or anything similar to it in their building?  How did it work out?  What do we do about state regulations regarding hours of PD?  I would love to hear your comments.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Tech Talk at Mercy High School


I was fortunate enough to be able to spend last Friday with 4 of my teachers and a huge bunch of our colleagues at the Tech Talk Conference at Mercy High School.  I was also able to meet my Twitter "peeps" and Apple Distinguished Educators Karen Bosch (@KarlyB)  and Larry Baker (@labcbaker) which was fantastic.  Liz Kolb (@lkolb) gave an amazing keynote on asking students what they want to do - it is a question that could change the course of their educational lives.

I left the day-long conference very energized and excited about what we have in Michigan for Professional Development.  Besides these in-service programs, we also have #MichEd chat on Wednesday evenings on Twitter.  Be sure to connect with these educators and join us (even just to follow along) in the chat.  You won't be sorry!

More information on Mercy's conference can be found here:

You can also follow the #MHTalk conversation by searching the hashtag or clicking here.