Building Culture by Starting with "Hello"

Update for Apr 25-29



Last week, we welcomed over 60 new Kindergarten parents to our school for a parent information night. These parents have students who will be kindergartners at Alton Darby next school year.

The night of the meeting also happened to be the same night as our annual Art Show, a performance by the Drama Troupe, and our Spring Book Fair.

Coincidence?

Nope! Well, sort of.  The kindergarten team and Mrs. Bowers and Mrs. Richardson just happened to pick the same night.  But instead of trying to figure out a different night, I thought it would be a good opportunity to showcase the culture of our building.

And it worked!  The attendance for all of the events was great all-around and everything went smoothly despite the rainy evening.

This night was important to me for three reasons.  

Reason 1 is that many parents who registered their students in years past had to go to three different places during the process with none of the places being the actual school we would be sending our student.  Fortunately, our admin team saw the need for change and drastically streamlined the process for parents.  This in turn gave us the opportunity to do something for parents during the registration process that brought the parents to school.  As a parent who experienced the old process twice, I was happy to make this change happen!

Reason 2 is because I am proud of the work we do at ADE, like a proud parent of their child.  I tell everyone I can how amazing our school, our families, our teachers and our kids are.  Most of the time they are taken aback.  “Don’t you have to deal with —-?”  Yes, but it’s all worth it!  The next response during this conversation is either “I need to stop by and check you guys out” or “I wish my kids’ school sounded like that”.  I am on a mission to share our story — Not for bragging rights or for personal gain.

It’s because what I share about ADE is true, and it’s because I believe that the work we do has an impact on other schools and other students.  Our reach and influence on the lives of kids doesn’t stop at our walls — It extends across the country and across the world.  Don’t ever discount the impact you have!

Reason 3 is because I believe that at the core of everything successful is a good relationship.  There is hardly anything that can’t get accomplished with a great relationship.  When we welcomed our new families to ADE last Thursday, we said “Hello, this is our school.  Welcome!” (Not literally like that, but in spirit).  

I had to call a parent earlier this week to tell her about an incident involving her daughter and another student.  The phone call lasted less than a minute.  She said, “If there is anyone I trust with my kids, it’s you guys.  I know that it was taken care of.”

I nearly fainted.

The backstory is that I’ve also called this parent two other times to talk about something involving social media and her kid (that one was so tough I cried) and another time to tell her I was running her other daughter’s lunchbox to daycare after school because she left it outside during dismissal.  In the course of two years, I’ve had the opportunity to be there for this family three different times.

Relationships matter.  Word gets out.  Reputations get established.  Culture gets built.

So here is the takeaway —  We are always building culture.  Start tomorrow by saying “hello” — You never no where it will take you!

Have a GREAT week!

–Herb


Articles Worth Reading — 

“Home-Grown Citizens” (from Educational Leadership, Feb 2016) — We’ve referred to Place-based Learning as a foundation for the work we are wanting to do through “houses”.  Take a look at this recently-published article in Educational Leadership for a solid context of Place! https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ehIKQuxEjsxriQa71X5y45dZk6Qw8mYo9Cv-CDwJ9FM/edit?usp=sharing


“The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure” http://www.ted.com/talks/astro_teller_the_unexpected_benefit_of_celebrating_failure?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=tedspread


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Check Out Last Year — > https://goo.gl/photos/5fXyXMseEZwJY2ui7


Upcoming Dates — 

Apr 4-May 27 — Spring Literacy Assessment window (Grades K to 5)

***State Testing Dates ***
Apr 26 — Grade 4 Social Studies State Assessment
Apr 26 — Grade 5 Science State Assessment

Apr 27 — ADE Walk-a-thon — Follows normal Related Arts Schedule w/ special times for KG; details to come!
Apr 28 — Herb mtg AM
Apr 28 — Grow Together Thursday (Kindergarten Parent Workshop), 6-8PM

May 2 — ADE PTO Meeting, 7PM
May 3 — BIT Meeting
May 4 — ADE Staff Meeting, 8AM
May 5 — Flower Sale Pick-Up, 4-7PM
May 6 — BAC Meeting, 8AM
May 2-6 — Teacher Appreciation Week
May 5 — Spring Flower Sale Pick-Up (This date may change.)
May 11 — Spec Ed Team meeting
May 14 — AD/DC Warrior Dash
May 18 — ADDC Staff Meeting, ADE Media Center, 3:45
May 19 — Herb Mtg AM
May 26 — Grow Together Thursday
May 30 — Holiday, NO SCHOOL
May 31 — ADE PTO Family Luau

Jun 3 — Last Day of School (Students)



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Roll With It!

Update for April 18-22

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The first beautiful Spring weekend led me and many others to hours of yard work.

Once upon a time, I used to look forward to getting outside and scaping the land with shovels, rakes, and garden sherers.

Today, I still enjoy being outside; it’s the yard work that I have come to dread.  Mowing, edging, and pouring chemicals on my yard all take hours of time to do.  Time seems more precious these days and I’m to the point when I’m ready to just buy a goat.

However, today while I was getting sunburned and overusing muscles I don’t normally use, I came to the conclusion that my outlook on yard work is my problem and I needed to own it.

I needed to remind myself that this happens ever year.

It’s all about my mindset and how I framed the work ahead.  

I got to be outside on a beautiful sunny day.  I got to work at something that I would be able to appreciate for months to come. I got to get exercise.  I found myself slowing down and taking my time to notice what’s around me.  I even started getting creative and imagining how I was going to redo some of the landscaping.  

I share this because if we’ve been teaching for more than a year, we all know what happens in May — discipline increases, we (kids and us) are starting to focus on summer, things get busier as we try to wind down.


This happens every year.  It probably always will.

Anticipate it.  Adapt to it.  Adjust to it.

Change your mindset — We get this opportunity to use the excitement of the school year ending. 

We get to give kids the chance to put all of the skills they have learned from us this year to do something truly amazing.

Roll with the energy and excitement!

Have a GREAT week!

–Herb

Articles Worth Reading — 

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Upcoming Dates — 

Apr 4-May 27 — Spring Literacy Assessment window (Grades K to 5)

***State Testing Dates ***

Apr 19 — Grades 3, 4, 5 Math State Assessment

Apr 26 — Grade 4 Social Studies State Assessment
Apr 26 — Grade 5 Science State Assessment

Apr 19 — ADDC Staff Meeting, 3:40 ADE Media Center
Apr 21 — Herb Meeting AM
Apr 21 — ART SHOW!
Apr 18-22 — Book Fair
Apr 21 — New Kindergarten Parent Night, 6:30-7:30pm
Apr 22 — K-5 Interim Reports
Apr 27 — ADE Walk-a-thon
Apr 28 — Herb mtg AM
Apr 28 — Grow Together Thursday

May 2 — ADE PTO Meeting, 7pm
May 3 — BIT Meeting
May 4 — ADE Staff Meeting, 8am
May 5 — Flower Sale Pick-Up
May 6 — BAC Meeting
May 2-6 — Teacher Appreciation Week
May 5 — Spring Flower Sale Pick-Up (This date may change.)
May 11 — Spec Ed Team meeting
May 14 — AD/DC Warrior Dash
May 18 — ADDC Staff Meeting, ADE Media Center, 3:45
May 19 — Herb Mtg AM
May 26 — Grow Together Thursday
May 30 — Holiday, NO SCHOOL
May 31 — ADE PTO Family Luau

Jun 3 — Last Day of School (Students)

Change, Debt, and "Owing the World"

Update for Apr 11-15

Labeled for reuse — https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8302/7986922181_a3dd3b12b0.jpg
This week, we went deeper into R-Factor with students at our school community meeting.  We shared with them the power of pressing pause and getting our minds right.  I loved seeing the “press pause” signs students starting taping to the walls in the hallway.  I also enjoyed the anecdotes about students using these strategies with peers — 

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Common language is powerful!

We also went deeper into the concept of “adjust and adapt”; being ready to take on change and getting better at dealing with change.  

One of the most powerful lessons from this part of the R-Factor training is our response to new situations determines our level of stress.  Anticipating change and getting better at adjusting and adapting reduces our stress and increases positive outcomes.

A few weeks ago, I read a couple of pages out of Seth Godin’s book What To Do When It’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn) and today they make more sense to me after experiencing this week than they did when I first read them.

The first read by Godin focused on the phrase “It will be okay” – Something we say to ourselves that means, “It will turn out the way we want it to.”  

But as Godin reminds us, it almost never turns out the way we want it to.  

He suggests we start saying and thinking the phrase “Something will happen” because something always will.  We just have to have an open mindset and anticipate the right thing.  

I told someone the other day that I do my best to help grow authentic experiences at school — I try to listen and wait, sort of like a fisherman waiting for the right fish.  I’ve been trying to think “something will happen” more because what actually does happen usually far exceeds my expectations.

——

The second read talked about the feeling that we are owed something and it spurred additional reflection, but again it feels different after this week.  

Sometimes we hold this notion that we are owed certain things in life.  Not things like getting paid for work we do or rights we have.  This is more along the lines of “I’m a good person…the world owes me for it” or “I have x amount of experience, so I am owed that opportunity”.  

Godin shares that this becomes toxic because this mindset creates massive amounts of disappointment.  For example, what you think you are owed usually differs from how someone thought they should pay you back.  We also set ourselves up for disappointment when we assume something must happen as a result of something we did.  This disappointment and the constant mindset of feeling that you are owed something can be toxic.

I found myself agreeing with two truths shared by Godin:

1. No one owes you anything.
2. It’s actually you who owes the world.

Wow — That’s turning the expectations table, don’t you think?

“Owing the world” connected with me as a blend of my faith, servant leadership, and R-Factor.  I am doing what I do because I want to serve others.  I also know that my Response to a situation is someone else’s Event.  So given those two ideas, and given the statement in #2, remembering that “I owe the world” keeps me humble and keeps me focused on working towards positive outcomes.

We all have good intentions when we work hard and then expect certain things to happen for us.  

I think the lesson here is that we should work hard, but keep our minds open to the possibilities and unexpected outcomes that come from our hard work.  

Let go of the toxicity of feeling owed; serve others and stay open to possibilities.  

That is something you owe to yourself.

Have a GREAT week!

–Herb

Article Worth Reading —

“9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should ‘Unsettle’ Us” by @willrich45 https://medium.com/modern-learning/9-elephants-in-the-class-room-that-should-unsettle-us-8335b2cef9aa#.bq0nkgujj

I really hope you take the time to read this — This list and the changes that are detailed reflects my goals for education.  This is what drives me, what excites me, and what keeps me up at night.



Quotes Worth Sharing — 

Upcoming Dates —

Apr 11 —  Connection Time w/ Herb
Apr 12 — 3, 4, 5 ELA State Testing (AM)
Apr 12 — Tech/Media Planning day w/Teams
Apr 13 — Spec Ed Team Meeting, Noon
Apr 13 — RTI Team Meeting
Apr 14 — PD w/ Dr. Donna: “Connecting Classroom Language to Student Success”
Apr 15 — School Community Meeting: Walk-a-thon Kickoff
Apr 19 — 3, 4, 5 Grade Math State Testing
Apr 20 —  Thrively survey due
Apr 20 — ADDC Staff Meeting, 3:40 ADE Media Center
Apr 21 — Herb Meeting AM
Apr 22 — Interims Go Home
Apr 26 — 4th Grd (Soc St), 5th Grd (Sci) State Testing
Apr 27 — ADE Walk-a-thon (during related arts time)
Apr 28 — Transfer Meeting

Getting Really Good at Change

Update for Apr 4-8

After 10 years, I think it’s safe for me to say that a career in education doesn’t get easier.


I used to think that after working at something for a few years would lead to efficiency and allow me to be more supportive of each student in my class.


But a funny thing happened on the way to the future.


iPads, social media, connected learning, Twitter all happened within the last 10 years and they changed a lot about learning.


If I were to place my bet on what will happen over the next 10 years, I’d bet on change.  I’d also double down on the fact that it’s not going to get easier for educators who are expecting years of experience to equal “ease of use”.


So how does the mild-mannered educator deal with this reality?


Accept it.


Expect it.


Embrace it!


Get really good at change!  Yes, it’s possible!  


And it starts with…you guessed it: A growth mindset.


Actually it starts with recognizing the mindset you have when you are face-to-face with change.  Do you find yourself trying to cling to the comfort zone or thinking of the opportunity?  If you are in the former, consider this —













So how do we overcome our default response of seeking to stay in our comfort zone?  

Practice.


Build skill.


In this case, we need to press pause and get our mind right when faced with change.  We need to identify our mindset and adjust it if it will not lead us to embracing change.


But think about it – It takes practice, just like a sport.  It takes mental reps that will take you through the process of pressing pause, getting your mind right, and readying yourself to consider the opportunity that change brings you.


So in a way, this does get easier —  but only if you are willing to put  your focus on getting better at change and then committing to practicing and building skill.


Have a GREAT week!


-Herb



Articles Worth Reading — 



52 Of Our Favorite Inspirational Quotes For Teachers http://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/52-favorite-inspirational-quotes-for-teachers/ via @teachthought


Personalize Learning: Personalized Learning Through the Eyes of a Child http://www.personalizelearning.com/2016/03/personalized-learning-throug


Three lessons on innovation that I learned during my 12 years at Apple: http://www.fastcompany.com/3058271/lessons-learned/three-lessons-on-innovation-i-learned-during-my-12-years-at-apple by @KelliRichards via @FastCompany 


Upcoming Dates

Apr 4 — School Community Meeting: “Press Pause, Get Your Mind Right”
Apr 4 — PTO Meeting, 7PM
Apr 5 — Herb meeting out of building AM
Apr 5 — BIT Meeting, 8AM
Apr 5 — Steering Committee Meeting, 3:45, ADE
Apr 6 — ADE Staff Meeting: R-Factor Training – R4
Apr 7 — Herb meeting outside of bldg AM
Apr 8 — KG to Franklin Park Conservatory
Apr 12 — 3, 4, 5 ELA State Testing (AM)
Apr 12 — Connection Time w/ Herb (Email-Schedule limited due to testing)
Apr 12 — Tech/Media Planning day w/Teams
Apr 13 — Spec Ed Team Meeting, Noon
Apr 13 — RTI Team Meeting
Apr 14 — PD w/ Dr. Donna: “Connecting Classroom Language to Student Success”
Apr 15 — School Community Meeting: Walk-a-thon Kickoff
Apr 18 — 3, 4, 5 Grade Math State Testing
Apr 20 — ADDC Staff Meeting, 3:40 ADE Media Center
Apr 21 — 4th Grd (Soc St), 5th Grd (Sci) State Testing
Apr 21 — Herb Meeting AM
Apr 22 — Interims Go Home
Apr 27 — ADE Walk-a-thon (during related arts time)

Apr 28 — Transfer Meeting

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