Running through Portland, Reflecting on Change

Update for Mar 30 – Apr 2

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/67/Keep_Portland_Weird.jpg

This past week, I flew to Portland, Oregon with my family to visit my sister-in-law.  None of us had been to Portland before and we didn’t know what to expect.  I actually preferred not knowing what to expect, kind of like not knowing what a movie is about before you see it.  It just helps me stay focused and stay present. The only thing we did know was that there is a campaign to “Keep Portland Weird”, which sort of summarizes the eclectic folks who live there.

We ended up loving Portland!  It’s a beautiful city with lots and lots of people riding bikes and more street cars than you would ever expect.  I definitely recommend visiting!

https://farm7.staticflickr.com/6095/6429145379_0d612ffa3b_o.jpg

The one thing I really wanted to do while in Portland was go for a run.  I’ve been trying to run in every city I visit.  It’s just one of those things I guess.  I actually feel like I see the city differently and experience it in a different way on a run. I was really looking forward to this: I had packed some running gear, researched some places to run, and even plotted out a route on a map.  You’d think it would be one of the first things I did when I got to Portland.

But it wasn’t.

I actually didn’t go on a run until the day before we left.  Why was that?

Fear.

Fear of the unknown.  Fear of getting lost.  Fear of silly thoughts like not having enough sleep the night before.

The day before I finally ran we were out walking to a shop when I realized that I had been making up excuses not to run because I didn’t know what to expect. Then it hit me: This is like the fear of change we have experienced at times as we work to re-imagine what the elementary learning experience can and should look like.

I quickly got out my phone and jotted down my thought:


I went on my run the next day and enjoyed every step.  Time seemed to fly by and I was finished before I knew it.  I saw a different side of Portland (Literally – I went across the river).  I noticed just how busy Portland is with folks out running and biking, trains crossing bridges, buses and cars honking — It was all around me.  When I was finished, I felt like I had accomplished a lot, even though it wasn’t my longest run or my fastest pace.  I had got past my fears and my excuses and I ended up being disappointed that I hadn’t run sooner.

We all know how much the world is changing and we all know that we have an obligation to respond to this change for our students.  As we continue our work together, re-imagining the elementary learning experience, we will no doubt come to many crossroads where we will be reluctant to cross and that’s OK.  I really believe that fear is apart of the process of changing.

However, we have to remember that we can’t let our fears stop our progress.

Have a great week!

-Herb

Articles Worth Reading

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/03/self-talk.html

Upcoming Dates

Mar 30
Teacher Steering Committee Meeting


Apr 1
Staff Meeting (PBIS), 8am
Special Ed Team Meeting, 12:30
Student Housing Committee Meeting (Herb), 4:30


Apr 2
Admin Meeting (Herb), 8am
4th Grade District Math Assessment – 12:45 – 1:45pm
5th Grade District Math Assessment – 2:00 – 3:00pm


Apr 3
No School  


April 6
Tech PD with Kelly Riley, 7:45am


Apr 7
BIT Meeting, 8am
6th Grade Transition Meeting (Spec Ed Team), 3pm
**MEDIA CENTER being used after school, 3:30-7:30


Apr 8
School Community Meeting, 8:50am
PTO Brainstorming Meeting, 7pm


Apr 9
Market Day Pick-up, 5:30pm


Apr 10
Building Advisory Meeting, 8am


Apr 13
Dave & Busters Spirit Night, 5pm
PTO Meeting, 7pm


Apr 14
Student Housing Committee Meeting (Herb), 4:30pm


Apr 16
Admin Meeting (Herb), 8am
**  ADE Parent EdCamp! **, 6-8pm


Apr 17
K-5 Interims — A good chance to update parents before the end of the year!


Apr 20
4th and 5th Grade ELA EOY State Assessments


Apr 21
3rd Grade Spring OAA Reading
Apr 22
3rd, 4th, 5th, Grade Math Unit 1 EOY Assessments

*** Earth Day Dedication of new shed and path in the “Outdoor Education Space at ADE”, 2:30 ***


Apr 23
3rd, 4th, 5th, Grade Math Unit 2 EOY Assessments
*** ART SHOW *** More to come!


Apr 27
Board of Education Meeting at Alton Darby, 7pm


Apr 28
Tech PD with Kelly Riley, 7:45am


Apr 29
Student Housing Committee Meeting (Herb) 4:30


May 1

Staff Meeting — Team Connection Meeting with Dr. John/Board Member, 8:00am

ACE/DCR Project Dates:

Mar 30–REWIND/Take 2 steering committee meeting.  At this meeting we will have an honest conversation regarding the intention of our last meeting and the vision we shared and open it up to conversation regarding: Naming IT (honoring Shannon’s thought) and options/thoughts regarding ways to execute the vision–or modify the vision in order to continue moving forward (i.e. hear from Kim, Karen, and Carolyn and anyone else to collaborate the vision/design).

Apr 8—OPTIONAL Mixer Staff Meeting at ADE 3:45 pm–small group steering committee members lead.  We hope schedules permit your attendance but will understand if this conflicts with already scheduled commitments.

Apr 13–Teacher Steering Committee meeting–Jennifer is going to ask Marcy McNight from Norwich to come and present to the committee regarding the PBL design in 5th grade she has helped to create. 

Apr 21–Staff Meeting with ADE/DCR staff at 3:45 pm at ADE–Teacher steering committee small group explains the vision/design for next year’s extension opportunity to the staff as a whole.

May 6–OPTIONAL STAFF MEETING–work time to collaborate/meet/plan with the people who are teaming up for the extension/design opportunity next year for students.

May 8–Teacher steering committee site visits and work session…
1/2 of the committee will go to Summit Road with CT (CT is working on these arrangments—stay tuned) and 1/2 of the committee will go to Wickliffe with Herb and Jennifer (CT is working on these arrangements—stay tuned). 

We were thinking 9:00-10:30 for the site visit and then meet back at CO at 11:30 at the latest to debrief and have lunch (provided and to be ordered through Aramark).  We would then engage in conversation with the group regarding how to shift our practice as we continue moving forward with our design next year towards students defining their learning path through the options/opportunities that teachers can create/provide for them as experiences.  Could these/are these options/opportunities connected to the networks? This would support students defining the voice and choice in their learning and becomes the heart of student ownership within the design.

Additionally one GOAL for the day is to NAME IT…not pedagogically…or programatically….but based on our Guiding Principles.  So the IT that is named represents the way we do things grounded in those principles–the mantra of “Who We’d Like to Be”.  We will be showing the teacher videos one more time and identifying how these ideas align to the principles established in our Guiding Principles and how these ideas can become opportunities for next year. 

May 13–last teacher steering committee meeting for 2014-15 –The purpose is the thank those who were on this committee and touch base/listen to their perspective of the buildings from which they represent, what they think is necessary for next year to move forward.  We will share with them our “list” of what needs to happen and ask them for their “list” in order to bridge the perspectives to move forward with SOME implementation of SOME ideas for the 2015-16 year.

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"Gesundheit!"

Update for March 16-20

Photo credit: farm4.staticflickr.com/3523/3208368220_fba319c478_o.jpg

“When the principal sneezes, the rest of the building catches a cold.”


This quote has been swirling in my head lately.  It comes from Todd Whitaker, a former principal, speaker, and author of What Great Principals Do Differently: Eighteen Things That Matter Most (2012). Whitaker’s point is that a principal’s impact “is significant; our focus becomes the school’s focus” (p. 36).


I’ve been thinking about this lately because I find that I am pushing myself to stretch my filter.  Let me explain.


We all have those days where things don’t go as planned.  As a principal, I’ve found that “those days” are heavy ones and the volume of work and the toll it takes on me mentally and physically is unlike anything I have experienced.  However, even on those days I can still find many positive things that happened to focus on as I reflect.


Now, here’s where Whitaker’s point comes in to play.  

Let’s say I walk out into the hallway after dealing with something heavy and a teacher comes up to me and asks how my day is going.  I have a choice to make.  I can share what I just went through or I can share one of the many bright spots in the day I have already experienced.


Which response would motivate you as a teacher?  


As I reflect on the size and strength of my filter, I hope to continue to share what is going well and marginalize anything that is not. Feel free to hold me accountable on this one!


Have a great week!


Herb


Articles Worth Reading

“What Personalized Learning Is Not” http://pernillesripp.com/2015/03/11/what-personalized-learning-is-not

“Steps to Create the Conditions for Deep, Rigorous, Applied Learning” | MindShift http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/02/steps-to-creating-the-conditions-for-deep-rigorous-applied-learning/



Upcoming Dates

Mar 16
Tech PD with Kelly Riley, 7:45am
Last Day for Spring Flower Sale Orders

Mar 17
Admin Meeting (Herb), 9:30
Teacher Steering Committee Meeting, 3:40 — (Replaced with meeting on Mar 10.)
Student Housing Committee Meeting (Herb), 4:30pm

Mar 19
Class/Group/Staff Pictures
Admin Meeting (Herb), 8am
1st Grade Musical for school in Gym, 2:30
1st Grade Musical for Families – Show up at 6pm to help 🙂

Mar 20
Spring Flower Sale Money due

Mar 22-27
Spring Break

Apr 1
ADE Staff Meeting – PBIS Update, 8am

Testing? What testing?

Update for Mar 9-13

Photo credit:  https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/p/7/005/07a/25f/0feafdd.jpg


State Testing is always a disruption to the school day.  This year’s “testing season” has been particularly disruptive because of the additional testing days.

Or has it?

Take a look at some of the amazing work (via Tweets) we’ve been doing with kids…despite the disruption to the regular school day! 

(Remember: Culture is what we Celebrate, Anticipate, and Ignore.  ADE is put things in their proper category!)

(Scroll through the tweets…)

Go on. Smile!






Articles Worth Reading

Why MOOCs Are Great for Teacher Development http://www.edudemic.com/5-moocs-educators-should-take-as-students/ via @edudemic

Should every educator be an “innovator”? | The Principal of Change http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/5105

5 Anchors For Using Technology To Teach Reading http://www.teachthought.com/technology/5-anchors-for-using-technology-to-teach-reading/ via @teachthought

“The Beatles did not invent teenagers. They merely decided to lead them.” t.ted.com/X0EVMTz

Upcoming Dates

Mar 9
PTO Meeting, 7pm


Mar 10
4th Grade Social Studies State Assessment
5th Grade Science State Assessment

Parent/Teacher Steering Committee Meeting, 7pm Bradley HS


Mar 11
ADE/DCR Staff Meeting, 3:35pm

Mar 13
BAC Meeting, 8am (Rescheduled from last week)


Mar 14


Mar 16
Tech PD with Kelly Riley, 7:45am
Last Day for Spring Flower Sale Orders


Mar 17
Admin Meeting (Herb), 9:30
Teacher Steering Committee Meeting, 3:40 — (Replaced with meeting on Mar 10.)
Student Housing Committee Meeting (Herb), 4:30pm


Mar 19
Class/Group/Staff Pictures
Admin Meeting (Herb), 8am
Mar 20
Spring Flower Sale Money due


Mar 22-27
Spring Break

School Culture Reflects What We Celebrate, Ignore, and Anticipate

Update for Mar 2-6

This weekend, Alton Darby Elementary hosted our annual Family Fun Day.  This was another new experience for me in my first year with this community.  My understanding is that this has been a tradition for at least 10 years.  In fact, one family has volunteered to help organize the event each of the last 10 years.


The event was a lot of fun and it was a great opportunity for the community to come together.  It also made me reflect on some of the thoughts and ideas I’ve been reading about in a book called School Culture Rewired: How to Define, Assess, and Transform It by Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker.


The combination of my experience with Family Fun Day this weekend and one line from the book really made me reflect on our school’s culture:




“Culture conveys to its members what they ought to celebrate, ignore, and anticipate.” (Gruenert & Whitaker, 2015)
Celebrate — What are the traditions, the moments, and the events we look forward to each year?  Why are they important to the community?  Family Fun Day reminds me that we need to look forward to fun throughout the year.  What we did for International Dot Day was an amazing way to celebrate a budding collaboration with our closest neighbor, Darby Creek Elementary.  What’s important to the culture of our community is what we celebrate.


Ignore — This is a turbulent time for public education.  There are many positive changes taking place as well as a lot distractions that potentially take our focus off of the important work we do for kids.  It’s a challenge to ignore what doesn’t matter to the work we do. But our culture reflects what we choose to put our focus on.  So shouldn’t we focus on what matters and ignore the rest?


Anticipate — What excites kids so that they can’t wait to come to school?  What increases engagement among teachers, parents and students?  Our Kids’ EdCamps, while a ton of work, have been the moments this year that parents bring up the most when I ask about how they think the school year has gone so far.  How can we continue to connect teachers’ passions to students’ interests?


A school’s culture is so important to its success. Therefore, it’s important that we celebrate what we feel represents what we stand for, ignore what distracts us from the work we do for kids, and anticipate what’s possible for our learning community.




Articles Worth Reading




“Emergent Workplaces: Learning in the Networked Worker” http://idreflections.blogspot.com/2015/02/emergent-workplaces-learning-in.html?spref=tw


“Learning LittleBits” http://wp.me/pKlio-1RG via @jackiegerstein




Upcoming Dates


Mar 2
Beef O’Brady’s Spirit Night, 5-9pm


Mar 3
PARCC Math –  3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade
Building Improvement Team meeting, 8am
Last day to enter data into Progress Reports (midnight)


Mar 4
PARCC Math – 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade
Spring Flower Sale Begins
Special Ed Team meeting, 12:30


Mar 5
Admin meeting (Herb), 8am


Mar 6
BAC meeting, 8am


Mar 9
PTO Meeting, 7pm


Mar 10
4th Grade Social Studies State Assessment
5th Grade Science State Assessment


Mar 11
ADE/DCR Staff Meeting, 3:35pm


Mar 14


Mar 16
Last Day for Spring Flower Sale Orders


Mar 17
Admin Meeting (Herb), 9:30
Teacher Steering Committee Meeting, 3:40


Mar 19
Class/Group/Staff Pictures
Admin Meeting (Herb), 8am
Mar 20
Spring Flower Sale Money due


Mar 22-27
Spring Break