The Importance of Expectations

Update for September 2-5

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress,

and working together is success. —Henry Ford

The first several weeks of school were always my favorite part of the year when I was in the classroom.  It was the time when the students and I focused our efforts into learning about each other, working together and establishing our classroom community.

One aspect to building a classroom community that I didn’t work as hard on during my first years of teaching was setting expectations in a way that were clear for students.  I have learned that this lack of attention to setting expectations was the source of so many of my frustrations when kids made what I thought was a poor decision.  The reality was that they probably didn’t really understand what my expectations really were.  

What I mean by this is that even though I would say things like, “We need to clean up at the end of the day,” my fourth grade students would still leave the classroom a mess.  I thought I had covered my expectations by simply saying “we need to clean up”. But what does that mean? And are we all actually thinking the same thing when we hear “we need to clean up”?

A couple of years later, I read an article that helped me understand that it was me and not my kids who didn’t understand.  I didn’t understand that fourth graders, developmentally speaking, couldn’t just hear a command and then take care of it.  Fourth graders actually benefit from being taught routines with clear and explicit expectations and then practicing them.

As I visit classrooms each day, I can see that we as a staff understand what I did not as a new teacher. We understand that it takes time to develop routines; to explain them, to practice them and to truly understand them. We know that it’s okay to take time to do this because it will benefit kids and our classroom environments in the long-run.  

We are already addressing one of our Areas of Focus, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, and I am excited to continue building off of the work we have done in that area as we continue to build our learning community.

Upcoming Dates

Mon Sep 1, 2014 No School
Tue Sep 2, 2014 8am – 9am Building Improvement Team mtg
Wed Sep 3, 2014 3:35-4:20 ADE/DCR Staff Meeting at ADE*
*Feel free to bring a chair for yourself
Thu Sep 4, 2014 5:30pm – 6pm Market Day
Fri Sep 5, 2014 Newsletter Home
8am – 9am Building Advisory Committee Meeting
Mon Sep 8, 2014 Mumkin Sale Ends
 TEAM Time with Herb (During Planning)
6:30pm – 7pm PTO Executive Mtg
7pm – 8pm PTO General Mtg
Fri Sep 12, 2014 Mumkin Orders due
Fri Sep 19, 2014 Mumkin Order Money due
Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:35-4:20 ADE/DCR Staff Meeting at ADE
Thu Sep 25, 2014 Picture Day (Gym)

Videos that Inspire

Articles Worth Reading

“You have to hit ’em in their ‘passion!’”

“Digital Parent Volunteers” via @gcouros

And So It Begins!

Update for Aug 25 – 29

This was the best first week of school in my life! I am absolutely amazed at how well this week went. Thank you to all of you who worked extra hard to make this week such a success.

Additionally, the amount of high-quality instructional experiences you all created within the first week – within the first day – was commendable. The dedication to your work was evident.

I appreciate all of the unique and creative ways you used to begin creating the learning culture of your classroom.  The time and effort we put into building relationships with our kids will set the stage for a successful year!


Opportunities to go GLOBAL!

I wanted to share with you all two global learning projects that will be taking place in the near future.  I want to bring these projects to Alton Darby and I want you to know that I will drop everything to help you make these projects happen for your students, if you choose to do so.

International Dot Day, September 15th  — This week, I had the opportunity to visit with your classrooms to introduce myself and read Going Places by Peter Reynolds.  Reynolds’ books focus on the themes of celebrating uniqueness, creativity and divergent thinking – all characteristics of the learners I hope we can continue to develop at Alton Darby. I used that opportunity to help our kids see these themes and then challenged them to help us create a school that reflects the spirit of Going Places.

Participating in International Dot Day would be a step in that direction.


Reynolds describes International Dot Day as this:

Imagine the power and potential of a million people all around the world connecting, collaborating, creating and celebrating all that creativity inspires and invites. I hope you will join the growing global community of creativity champions using their talents, gifts and energy to move the world to a better place.

Please consider connecting your students to this great opportunity to celebrate creativity.  Reach out to our Darby Creek colleagues.  How big can you make this? How far will you go? How can I help you make this happen?

Start by visiting – a very user-friendly website for getting started.


Global Read Aloud, starts October 6th — Pernille Ripp, creator of the Global Read Aloud, describes the Global Read Aloud this way:

And, one of the ways you can participate in the Global Read Aloud with other classrooms is to do an author study of Peter Reynolds!

Both of these opportunities lend themselves to our areas of focus, particularly the Blended Learning Framework

I can’t wait to see where you take these projects!

Upcoming Dates–

Mon, Aug 25 —

Tues, Aug 26 —
  • 9am Lit Coaches Meeting at CO

Wed, Aug 27 —
  • Mumkin Sale Begins
  • 5:30-6:15pm – K, 1, 2 Curriculum Night
  • 6:30-7:15pm – 3, 4, 5 Curriculum Night

Thur, Aug 28 —

Fri, Aug 29 —
  • 9:30am, Gym, “Buster the Bus” Program for Kindergarten
  • 1:30pm, Gym, “Buster the Bus” Program for Kindergarten

Videos That Inspire —

Articles / Posts Worth Reading —

5 Things Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the New American Dream  via @ajjuliani

Opening the School Year: It’s a Roller Coaster Ride!


Two of the best moments in my life were the birth of my two daughters.  Both of those moments were a roller coaster ride filled with anticipation, excitement, fear, anxiety, stress, and pure joy. I never thought I would ever experience anything like those moments again. 

Well, I’m here to tell you that preparing an elementary school for a new school year as a principal has pretty much contained all of those same kinds of emotions for me.

However, despite the lack of sleep, the anxiety, and the energy it has taken to open a building, I have never been this excited for school to start. Ever.

I can’t wait to see the kids walk into the building for the first time this year! We get a chance each day to make a difference and to change the world by helping to prepare our kids for the future. Just think about that for a moment. We honestly get the opportunity each day to change the world. That to me is a dream come true.

The anticipation of the first day of school and the monumental task we have been given is worth the roller coaster ride and I am ready to go over the hill with my hands up! Here’s to a great school year!

The Week Ahead

Monday, August 18 — Convocation — Hilliard Bradley High School, 2800 Walker Road

*Please remember to wear our new ADE Staff t-shirts!

7:45 am–8:15 am – Coffee and Juice in the Commons 

8:30 am – Welcome and Program Begins in Gymnasium

 After Convocation, the rest of the day is for you to get ready for the new year!

11:30 – School Safety Team meeting (Media Center, 15 minutes) – – I will email those of you who are listed on the Incident Command Structure.

4:00-5:00 – Meet the Teacher Open House — Support staff, please make yourself available to help our families find classrooms. We may need some volunteers to help families access Home Access. I will be in touch with some of you to see if you can help out.

4:00-6:00 – PTO Ice Cream Social — Located outside behind the gym. Servings are on sale for $1 each.  Thanks to ADE PTO for organizing this event!  

Tuesday, August 19 — First Day of School!
Wednesday, August 20
Thursday, August 21
Friday, August 22

Articles / Blog Posts Worth Reading

“4 Principles Of Student-Centered Learning” via

“Who is going to stop me?” via

“OS!M” – Teacher at Heart via

Update for August 11-15

Love, Literacy, and Lasting Impacts

This was a week of learning for me. The Ohio Innovative Learning Environments Conference packed five days with fantastic keynotes and breakout sessions. It was great to see so many educators spend part of their summer learning about new ideas. I walked away from the conference with three words that have impacted me and will stay with me for a while.

1. Love — Love is such a powerful, versatile word that is often associated with romance. However, Steve Farber’s (@stevefarber) keynote reminded us that love doesn’t need to be provocative; it is at the very heart of what we do. We should love what we do, otherwise why are we doing what we do? I appreciate Mr. Farber’s advice on love and work. He suggests that we ask ourselves, “Why do I love this work, and how do I show it?”. The answers to this question will help us grow.

2. Literacy — Franki Sibberson’s (@frankisibberson) keynote on digital literacy, student choice, and authenticity of the work students do spoke to my heart. Franki spoke on how literacy and what it takes to be “literate” has changed. Franki referenced the National Council of Teachers of English definition of 21st century literacies during her keynote. It is a definition that has helped me personally and professionally understand how my own learning has changed. The definition has also helped me frame the shifts in literacy instruction that we need to be taking in order to help students navigate a media-rich world.


3. Lasting Impacts —  I made it a point to go up to the stage to talk to Franki after her keynote. I did that because she has had a profound impact on me as an educator. Her books and her blog have helped me to understand what reading really means and what teaching kids how to read really means. When someone has that kind of impact on you, I think that you should let them know it.

Saying “thanks” to Franki.
This moment made me reflect on the lasting impact I have had on others. This is hard for me to do because it feels a little self-serving. However, since some would say that being an educator means I am “in the business of changing lives”, I should reflect on the impact I have on others. Recently, a friend and colleague of mine presented her first session at a state conference. She would be the first to tell you that it put her outside of her comfort zone. However, I knew that what she had to share would have a positive impact on the learning experiences of students and teachers.


As you can see from the smiles, it was a great experience for everyone.

As we begin the school year, I will be thinking about how I can continue to find the strengths of others and then put them in a position where they can use their talents and knowledge to help others learn.  

What will your impact be this year?

Take care and stay positive,


Upcoming Dates

Aug 13 Staff Retreat at Buckeye Ceramic Supply, 9-12pm
Aug 14 New Teacher Work Day
Aug 15, First Staff Meeting, starts, 8:00am
Aug 18 Convocation at Bradley H.S., 8:30am – 10:00am
Ice Cream Social, 4pm – 6pm
Open House, 4pm – 5pm

Aug 19 First Day of School!

Update for August 4-8

Summer Days…

Crickets are chirping in the evening and the number of daylight hours are decreasing each day, both signs that the first day of school is right around the corner…

Using a blog may be considered an unconventional way to deliver a weekly building update, but I am doing so for two main reasons. First, I believe in being transparent with you, with our students, and with our families. This blog is a way for me to be transparent with you all. Second, social media has become an important communication tool for us personally and for schools. We can reach a broader audience by utilizing social media to share our stories of learning with our community. 

I wanted to share with all of you something that I have been reflecting on during this summer in the hopes that it may inspire you to reflect.  

Since being chosen to be the next principal of Alton Darby Elementary my world became incredibly busy. This came as no surprise and I fully expected that to happen.  It was like jumping on a treadmill that was running at max speed. I’ll never forget it and I loved that time because everything was new and exciting.

What I didn’t expect was that the emails, the meetings, summer school, and ending the school year started to take me away from the “why” of wanting to be a school leader in the first place. Let me explain what I mean. 

Simon Sinek, who wrote Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, said “People don’t embrace WHAT you do, they embrace WHY you do it“. The WHY that Sinek talks about is our purpose, the reason for doing what we do.  My reason for wanting to be the lead learner of a school is to help others, especially students, discover their passions and interests and to know themselves as learners. I am committed to that purpose and it is what makes me wake up each day with a smile on my face. (Sinek did a TED Talk on this topic. It is one of the best videos I have seen in a long time and I highly encourage you to watch it). 

The details and the WHAT of being principal started to take over my focus and it took some downtime this summer to realize that if I wanted to be the best leader I can be for students, teachers, and families, I needed to start each day with my WHY. 

I spent some of my time during vacation changing my morning routine around to give myself time to meditate and visualize my day. I started my mornings by reading and by doing some writing before I did anything else. I am amazed at how much more focused I am during the day. I am getting more done and the time that I spend working is more focused. I believe that I am in a better position to keep my WHY in focus this school year.

As we begin the school year, I encourage each of you to define the WHY for yourself. 

What was it that inspired you to want to be an educator?

How can you share that WHY with others?

How can you use your WHY to inspire others to take action?

All the best to you and your family as we begin this school year!


ADE Upcoming Events

Monday, Aug 4 – Friday Aug 8 – Ohio Innovative Learning Conference, Hilliard Bradley High School:

-There is still time to register if you haven’t done so already.  Here is more information about the conference:
-Friday, Aug 8 is the FREE EdCamp.  I can’t wait to be a part of this participant-driven professional day of learning! Here is more information about EdCamp CBus:

-Tuesday at 12:30, see Jay and Karen present Reenergize, Inspire, Reconnect with Your Passion in room A13!

Monday, Aug 4 & Thursday, Aug 7 – Poverty Simulator presented by Son Ministries, Alton Darby Elementary

We are the host site for the Son Ministries Poverty Simulator that is one of the breakout sessions during the ILE Conference.  The simulator will take place in the gym.  Thanks to Dave for getting the gym setup! I highly encourage all of you to attend one of the simulations. 

I am proud that we are making our building available to Son Ministries for the Poverty Simulation. I met with Kim Emch, Executive Director and Founder of Son Ministries, today at one of the Hilliard Free Lunch sites.  I met some of our students there and all of the kids were having a great time. Kim is a passionate advocate for providing programs and services for families in poverty or who are in need. She wanted to make sure that we knew that we could reach out to her if we discover that there is a family in need in our building.

One of my goals as a principal is to build partnerships with other people and organizations outside of our building to provide amazing experiences for kids and families, and I am glad to be working with Kim and Son Ministries.

Monday, Aug 4, 6:00PM — PTO/ADE Staff Get-together at El Vaquero, Hilliard-Rome Road

Wednesday, Aug 6 — Kindergarten and 1st Grade Assessment Day

Articles Worth Reading 

-“Ten Tips for Personalized Learning via Technology“: via
-“The power of digital student portfolios
-“5 easy ways to improve your classroom learning space