Friday, October 23, 2015

Mediocre Practices

I have been in a bit of the October funk.  All teachers normally go through this in October; there are many articles written that discuss this phenomenon.  Usually, I can go through October without feeling that, but this year, I cannot shake it.  All month, I attributed this to a litany of excuses, most of them surrounding the zillion managerial tasks that I must accomplish for many compliance components of my job, and that may be true, but I am allowing my focus to be strayed. I am feeling mediocre.

In my summer of learning at Harvard, there was so much new information learned, thought about, reflected upon; the volume was massive that I continue to be impacted in my practice and thinking.  What is creeping into my soul is Kim Marshall's day with us on teacher walk throughs.  He highlights mediocre practices that we, as principals, should be looking for when we go into classrooms.  Mr. Marshall suggests we identify the practices and eliminate them from our classrooms.  I was so impacted by this, that I put his list in my staff handbook in our instructional norms section.  I am not seeing these practices in my classrooms at the moment, because I cannot get sustained time in them to determine if they are in play or not.  Why?  I, myself, am swimming in mediocre principal practice!

While Mr. Marshall's research and efforts point towards a teacher, they can be pointed directly at any administrator as well.  So, I am self-diagnosing my mediocrity.  What are those mediocre practices, you ask dear reader?  Here is his list for teachers:
 Teacher texting or doing e-mail during class
Going over bell work for the first 25 minutes
Round-robin reading
Teacher lecturing, students tuned out, heads down
Teaching while side conversations go on
The COPWAKTA syndrome ( calling on the person who already knows the answer)
Accepting one-word answers and moving on
Low-quality worksheets, lots of dreary test prep
One-week delay getting work back to students
Finishing a class early and giving students “free time”

What would be the list for principals?  I am not sure, but mostly I am thinking about time spent in my office, when I have been on campus, on tasks that do not directly impact instruction would make the list.  Normally, my Type A self would have found time in the evening or on the weekend to make up that difference; however, a sixteen year old girl with two homecomings to attend has not helped me in that avenue either.  Thus, further exacerbating the October doldrums I have felt.  Perhaps I am over thinking this, but they are my feelings and I am going to own them.  I have high expectations of the principal I strive to be and I am falling short of my own expectations.  If I am falling short of my own expectations, how are my teachers perceiving this?  I am certain that they would extend much more forgiveness, as we are our own "worst enemy".  I am the only one who can change this feeling and I am going to work hard to make the last week of October finish with concerted effort to make November better.  

I have so many things that I want to get better about as a principal that will impact instruction that I know I need to slow down and let those things happen.  It will get better because I want it to get better.  

If you have an encouraging thought to share on this topic, I welcome your comments below!  If you are interested in learning more about Kim Marshall and his thoughts on teacher walkthroughs and practice, here is a nice, concise article that summarizes his best efforts: 
 .http://www.themainidea.net/tmi_pdfs2/THE%20MAIN%20IDEA%20--%20Rethinking%20Teacher%20Supervision%20and%20Evaluation%20--%202-10.pdf  .

Thanks for reading!

Recess--What it Means to Me Today as an Educator

If you ask any group of children what their favorite subject is in school, I bet an overwhelming response will be RECESS!  So many fond memories of classmates and life's lessons are built on the playground.  Children are free to be themselves at recess and stretch their imagination.  The test of friendships occurs on playgrounds.  FUN happens on the playground.

Today, I personally feel that recess is even MORE important than it was when I was in school.  Our kids lives are lived at a frenetic pace.  If they are not overscheduled themselves, then their family has so many more commitments to attend to today than in the past which limits our kids time to free play outside at home.  Screen time is at an all time high for kids today; they often associate play with a tablet or device. This definition of play is one I really do not want them to retain!  These external factors today are why I feel it is even more important for our kids to experience recess during their school day. Additionally, at our campus, recess may be the only time that some of our second language learners feel less pressure to try out speaking English with their friends without the teacher overhearing. Our children need free play time to explore the boundaries of their creativity, as they often do not have those experiences when they come to us.

When I first became principal, one BIG change I made to the campus schedule was to switch our schedule so that children went to recess first.  There was a study that I had read about the flip of recess and lunch, and will include the links to resources and research below, which resounded with me, and my already firm belief that kids love and look forward to recess.  There is so much pervasive anxitety with kids today about the school day(see all the reasons above) that recess is the one portion of the day that they really look forward to at school.  Why prolong it until after lunch?  The study I read found that when kids get their energy out first, then they are more likely to sit quietly at a lunch table and eat the nourishing foods that will sustain their learning for the remainder of the day.  If you will think to the times when lunch is first, you will recall children who rushed to eat in anticipation of play, the voices in the lunch room where highly elevated as that anxious spirit looked forward to what was next in their day--recess!  When we switch that up, children are able to focus themselves to eat a good lunch and prepare themselves for learning for the remainder of the day.  I have noticed that a lot less food goes wasted everyday as they are really hungry for lunch after getting their recess playtime out first.  It'll take a alot of convincing for me to ever go back to the old model of lunch and then recess after seeing how it has worked on our campus for the last several years.

Our Wellness Committee is a group of educators on our campus who sets goals for our entire learning community--teachers included.  One of the large focuses of their work over the course of the last couple of years is improving the recess experience for children.  They have helped get our playground bags full of activities that the children can play during the outside break.  One of their bigger ideas has been to paint the playground with permanent games that can be played with a ball or with the children themselves.  This has been a huge project in the making and I am so excited to reveal the pictures below of their hard work.  I want to thank all of them for their amazing efforts to make our space outside a welcoming area for the kids to play.


Recess before lunch resources/research:
http://www.peacefulplaygrounds.com/recess-before-lunch/

http://www.nea.org/home/43158.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/26/health/26well.html?_r=0

The benefits of recess:

http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/07/26/despite-many-benefits-recess-for-many-students-is-restricted/

Student who NEED recess:
http://www.educationandbehavior.com/classroom-strategies-for-kids-with-adhd/

Professional Book Review: RTI with English Learners by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Carol Rothenberg

I am reading a REALLY great book on ESL RTI Strategies, Implementing RTI with English Learners by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Fray and Carol Rothenberg. I am thinking it may be a summertime PLC as there is already so much great stuff I have learned. One thing that I wanted to share from my reading is their definition of Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 intervention. In the way that they shared, I had a lightbulb moment of clarity. Thus, I wanted to pass it along to you, in hopes that it will reframe your thinking as well.

According to the authors (please don't turn me in for my non MLA proper citations!): "Tier 1 is the regular instruction that all students receive. This does not mean that all student receive the same instruction because core instruction accommodates differentiation. But differentiation within Tier 1 is not considered to be intervention. " They go on to explain that Tier 2 students , based upon assessments, provide supplemental intervention that is designed to catch them up to grade-level expectations. Tier 3 interventions are even more individualized and intensive and require frequent assessments to determine their impact.

The lightbulb, for me, and where I struggle to better define what I have in my head to be Tier 2 is that you can't count Tier 2 intervention when it is part of the curriculum. We expect small groups in the course of instruction. Do those sentences resonate with you? I will share more as I come across more, but I am really enjoying my reading so far. It's provided me some clarity and a lot of affirmation that the excellence we are seeking in our instructional path is all the stepping stones we are putting into play right now. You all are doing a great job implementing the new math and science. I love the flexible groups we have working. I can't wait for our students to grow more this semester!

Part 2 published in a March Smore with the staff:
In a previous Chronicle, I shared some thinking out of a book that I am currently reading (at a snail's pace, I might add) called Implementing RTI with English Language Learners by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey and Carol Rothenberg. I think that the more I read this book, the more I feel like it should be a PLC for next school year. As we transition to having one ESL Specialist on campus, the responsibility for language acquisition and development really falls upon our ESL certified teachers. This book has GREAT thoughts about helping students and would be great to discuss in a group.

In our last look at the book, I shared the author's definition of the tiered system of instruction. The further that I read, the more information there is that supports the model that our district is moving towards for the ESL children on our campus. For students to achieve, Tier 1 instruction has to be solid for ELL students. That is why it is best for the classroom teacher to be equipped with strategies to help ELL students scaffold to learn IN THE CLASSROOM. The old pullout model only serves to continue the gap that those students come into school with from the start. We must use all the bags in our certification toolbelt to keep the kids in the classroom.

The authors discuss how important peer collaboration is for ELL students in the tiered system. They write that the purpose for having conversations and seeking assistance in teaching ELL students is that it removes the assumption that "each teacher is an independent contractor who has ALL the answers, resources, and skills to meet the needs of all the students in the class." Not one of us can be equipped to serve all the needs of our campus, we must work as a team to help our kids. I strive for our campus to embody this philosophy for the good of all our kids.

As I read more, I will share more. One resource that is too good to go long without sharing is the following link: http://www.interventioncentral.org/ . It is a gold mine of helpful ideas. I hope you will check it out!

Stacy

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Harvard's Art of Leadership Institute: The Professional Development Experience of a Lifetime

"To be transforming, YOU need to be transformed." --Samuel Betances to AOL Participants

Raise Your Hand Texas chose me in May to be in a group of principal that would travel to study at Harvard for a week.  I had spoken to a few other lucky principals who have attended the institutes in the past, and I was promised a life-changing experience.  That's high praise, but we are speaking about Harvard.  I felt lucky and excited to be traveling to Cambridge.

There are several institutes that Harvard offers in the summer for principals, which RYHT sponsors after a rigorous application process.  I attended the institute entitled:  Art of Leadership.  This institute was designed to offer technical and adaptive knowledge that will enhance the principal's leadership skills in supporting teacher effectiveness and student achievement.  I knew from that goal, great things were headed my way for the week.

As I left for the trip, I was finishing the school year, exhausted, and wondering what learning would help me continue to make a positive impact upon my school year.  I really had no idea what I was in for, nor did I know another soul attending the institute.  As I did my pre-reading, and reviewed the materials that Harvard provided ( I have a Harvard University login--this is LEGIT!), I knew I was going to have to do a lot of stretching of myself to get all that I needed to take away from the week.  It is my natural inclination, as an introvert of sorts, to stay in the quiet safety of my own inner world and absorb what is happening around me.  I made a vow that I would leave that Stacy in Plano, and work hard to be a great member of my small group.  I was excited to try so many new things, and network with my Texas participants.

The learning that was laid out for us was an approach to leadership that I had never experienced before in my university classes, vast journal reading, nor excellent professional development that my district provides.  Harvard approached the week with us intensely investigating our leadership behaviors.  We dug deep and really reflected on our practices and how our styles can sometimes stymie our best intentions.  We celebrated the work we do every day with positive, uplifting stories, we laughed at mistakes we all have made, and learned a lot from our journey over the week.

I had many moments of clarity and affirmations as the gifted presenters lead us through exercises which helped us analyze ourselves and the programs that we implement our campuses.  I have some tools from Harvard to share with my teachers so that they can analyze their behaviors and identify some obstacles that may be unintentionally getting in the way of student learning.  By the end of the week, I felt my passion re-ignited, and a belief that I DO have the skills to help our teachers and our students meet success.  The biggest skill I have in my toolbelt is my passion, which will lead me to NOT STOPPING to seek excellence. In the words of Bruno Mars, "don't believe me, just watch."  I am energized and ready to tackle the world.

I will highlight a few of the big takeaways from the week in a future blog post (or two), as there is so much to digest and reflect upon, but I just wanted to write my initial reaction to the week.  I would like to sincerely thank Raise Your Hand Texas for this incredible experience.  I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity.  I look forward to continuing my work with the RYHT team.  I also would like to especially thank Lindsay Harris for starting the week with me as a learning partner, but ending the week as a friend.  To the boys who helped me tour downtown Boston twice in one night (Lance, Todd, and Lee) which led to an evening of so much fun, thank you for taking such good care of this girl.  Brandon, you have the voice of an angel, and I will never forget the moment you gifted those of us in your small group a song to hold onto for a lifetime.  The Super 8 group, well, these folks are just the creme de la creme and will be a sounding board for me for a long time to come--thank you for your listening ears and open hearts.  For all the rest of the awesome Texas cohort, I cannot wait to continue our learning together and for our relationships to deepen even more as our work continues.

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Revisit on First of the Year Goals

I wrote in January about my hopes and dreams for the new year.  As the school year is coming to an end, I felt like it was time to reflect upon where I am with those goals. I am pretty excited about a couple of things that are on the horizon as a result of my goal setting.

So, as a review,  two personal, professional goals that I set for myself in January were:
1) Complete the application to become a Raise Your Hand Texas attendee at Harvard this summer.  I would like to attend the leadership sessions to increase my capacity to be a leader who helps others achieve goals.
This application is due January 18th, so check in on me with my progress towards this goal.  It has to be completed in one session, so if my door is closed this week, that is hopefully what I am working on finishing!

2)  Be selected as the inaugural group of principals who are selected to be a part of the Plano Principals Visioning Institute.  I quietly submitted my application in December, so I hope that I am approved and notified soon.  Your affirmations are welcomed as I wait it out!

So, goal number one was to apply and become an attendee in the Harvard series for principals:  The Art of Leadership.  I have read about this program for years, but the timing was not right to submit an application. Naturally, the year I apply, the application process changes!  I submitted my essay as the first step.  In late March (yes, it took that long for step 2!), I found out that I had been moved into the next round of the application process.  I had a critical thinking activity to attack online with an hour deadline from the moment I clicked the link.  I was only given a week window to complete that exercise, so I waited until I was alone at home to write without distraction.  I submitted and waited to see what would happen next.  In early April, I was invited to participate in rounds three and four of the application process:  a group collaboration activity to be observed in and scored, then a personal interview.  That round occurred on Saturday, April 18th.  I don't think I have been through a more thorough vetting out than this process.  With each step of the process, I knew that this opportunity would not only impact me professionally, but my school.  I really, really, wanted to be picked.  I tried to not get over anxious, as there were hundreds of applicants across the state and they were narrowing their focus to 50-75 to participate in several of the program offerings that Harvard has for principals in the summer.  I am still not sure how many were trying for the Art of Leadership program, but they did interview all over the state for two weeks for the final placement selections.  On Monday, May 11, 2015, I received my invitation to participate in the Art of Leadership at Harvard.  I am going to study AT HARVARD in June!!!  I am tremendously humbled and so excited for June 21st to get here.  Here's a link to the program that I am attending:  https://www.gse.harvard.edu/ppe/program/improving-schools-art-leadership   .

Goal number two for the year was to be selected as the inaugural group of principals to participate in my school district's Visioning Institute.  That invitation has also come forward and we've already held two meetings of the institute.  Currently, our work is focused upon developing our definition of organizational transformation.  I am helping refine the work of the group and we've just about landed on our final attempt on what we hope will drive the rest of our work together.  I have already made many new connections with principals across the district that I previously have not had the opportunity to talk with much less discuss such big philosophical ideas.  I am invigorated by the principals and district leaders that are a part of our group.  It is going to be an exciting time in our district for this group and the new superintendent taking the helm in July.

These two opportunities present a lot more need for reflection. I am really hoping that this will kick start, again, my blogging.  I find it very difficult to find quiet time to write without interruption.  That is one of the biggest challenges that I have to overcome.  I know that my future learning in the institute and at Harvard will need reflection, so I am again, putting this on the list of goals as I refine my goal list for the remainder of this calendar year.

As far as goals set for McCall through our SBIC; the jury is still out as far as that data goes.  We are in the midst of our end of the year testing as I type.  I have heard a lot of celebrations; in particular with a younger student that many of us were extremely concerned about and an older student who is meeting huge success in his last year with us.  I am very proud of all the teachers that have worked so hard to make growth in the children happen this year.  I am holding data meetings with all my teachers before they depart for the summer.  I cannot wait to hear their individual celebrations in the upcoming weeks.

What celebrations are you holding with your goals?


Monday, February 2, 2015

Handwriting instruction


Handwriting.  It is like your first impression, it says a lot about who you are and what you care about.  If your handwriting is sloppy, it might give a big negative impression.  One of the number one complaints that I receive or here from parents it is that parents worry that we are not teaching handwriting in our classrooms; particularly cursive handwriting.  If I were to give an honest assessment, I would answer that they are partly correct.  Direct teaching of handwriting: from how to sit, how to hold your pencil, and how to form letters is a missing link in our classrooms today.  I used to LOVE to teach handwriting and it only takes a few minutes of a school day.  I often have thought about teaching handwriting during morning announcements, no lie, just because I love it so much.  Take some time and teach handwriting to your kids, our parents will thank you!


Here's the article that supports my thoughts, but demonstrate that this is not a "McCall" issue, it is pervasive in our society:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/science/whats-lost-as-handwriting-fades.html?_r=1&utm_content=buffer706fb&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

http://teachertoolkit.me/2014/06/29/penatweet-by-teachertoolkit-and-jeaned70/?utm_content=buffer0a7ed&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Here's a great resource to teach handwriting:

It's called 5 Steps to Achieve Proper Pencil Position, which many of our kids need guidance on here at McCall:

http://blog.upub.net/writing-is-learning-blog/bid/318851/Video-5-Easy-Steps-to-Achieve-Proper-Pencil-Position

Let's let our kids' work shine with beautiful handwriting!

Stacy








Monday, January 19, 2015

What's our "behavior plan?"


I often get asked, what is our plan for behavior?  The behavior management is all mapped out in our staff handbook.  It is a system of positive rewards and natural consequences. It is based on a blend of research based strategies found in Positive Behavior Initiatives and Love and Logic by Drs. Charles and Jim Fay.   After nearly twenty years of working with elementary kids, this approach is what works best with kids and parents in my experience.  Most of our kids come ready to please their teacher and work super hard.  Their parents have an expectation that they are going to listen to the teacher, be a good friend, and complete their work as directed to do so.  Thus, this is what we should work off of daily as well.

Punitive measures and systems often backfire.  The color systems sends anxiety signals to all the children, not just the ones misbehaving.  The color of the day becomes the focus for the discussions at home rather than the awesome learning that took place for the day.  We want the kids talking about all the planning we worked so hard to implement and not the color that the landed on for the behavior. Correct?  Similarly, there is a reason that recess has been built into the elementary age child's schedule. THEY NEED EXERCISE.  If children do not have time to play, they will become restless and irritable.  Taking away recess of the challenging student will never give you the outcome you desire. Certainly, some children may need the structure of being taught expectations that  other children come to school naturally mastering.  Once we teach them, we see big changes and success.  This certainly takes time, but we take the time to close academic gaps and in an elementary school, it is our role to close some of these behavioral gaps as well.

It is my opinion that when children do not have these basics down , there is usually a reason and the reason is the need and desire to be loved.  Most children that display interference in the classroom are giving you, the teacher,  a signal that they need reassurance and your approval.  If you invest in some simple strategies to build that relationship, you can work on the classroom interference coming with a lot less frequency.

I've included a great article on how to build a relationship with your challenging kiddos below.  I've also linked to some blogs that provide a teacher's perspective on the color plan and their thoughts on that.  Very powerful reading.  I do hope you will explore the links/articles below in relation to my thoughts here.

Stacy

The Two-Minute Relationship Builder

Sarah McKibben
What if instead of going head-to-head with your most challenging student, you created an ally in him? During the 2013 ASCD Conference on Educational Leadership, presenter Grace Dearborn shared a strategy for making that happen: the "Two-by-Ten."
Dearborn explained that by spending two minutes a day for 10 consecutive days getting to know a disruptive student, teachers can begin establishing an initial connection. Historically referred to as the "two-minute intervention" by researcher Raymond Wlodkowski, the Two-by-Ten strategy is a way to not only break the ice but also form the foundation for a sustainable relationship—and better classroom behavior.
"It's a motivator, it's a management strategy, and it's a formally researched way [to turn a student from a negative to a positive influence]," says Rick Smith, founder of Conscious Teaching, who often presents the method with Dearborn. Smith says Two-by-Ten gives a disruptive student what he is seeking in the first place: a positive connection with an adult.
"Safety is a fundamental human need and if kids don't feel it, they're going to ask for it," he says. "Oddly, the way they sometimes ask for it is to act out." Although it may seem like they are trying to sabotage your classroom, a student is more likely communicating the message "Would you connect with me, so I can let down my guard?"

Targeted Attention

Lisa Kitzmann, a 3rd grade teacher at Eldridge Elementary School in Hayward, Calif., used Two-by-Ten to address the outbursts that were occurring frequently in her classroom. When Eldridge gained a mix of new students because of local school closures, behavior issues in the Title I school escalated.
Although Kitzmann, who refers to herself as a "teddy bear teacher," already connects with students daily, she says the strategy "really helped me target the kids I was struggling with and give them more structured attention."
Curiosity motivated Kitzmann to study the efficacy of Two-by-Ten for her master's thesis. Over the course of a year, she used the strategy on four students (three separate times) and teamed up with a teacher's aide to collect data based on daily observation checklists (which tracked disruptions such as talking with peers, interrupting the teacher, and not following directions) and the number of "red alerts" or behavior referrals sent home to parents.
Kitzmann ultimately found that the students she worked with were "less disruptive, changed their attitudes, and had a stronger drive to succeed in school" after exposure to the Two-by Ten strategy. In addition, the class as a whole was "running more smoothly."
Still, it was a learning process for everyone, Kitzmann explains. Some of the students were more receptive to the conversations than others, but most tended to warm up to the attention by the second week.

A Deeper Connection

Keeping the content of the conversations PG-rated and centered on the student's personal interests is essential to making the strategy work, Smith asserts. Teachers can use an interest inventory to ask questions or just "focus on whatever the kid is talking about to his friends or what he's wearing—his sneakers, backpack, anything at all," says Smith. "If he has a Packers jersey on, that's a sure clue."
The discussions, however, should extend beyond the typical "how are you today, nice to see you," says Kitzmann. Even talking about what the student shared in class or wrote about in an exercise does not have the same effect as when teachers probe more deeply. "The focus of Two-by-Ten is just getting to know the child outside of school," she says. "Find out what his favorite food is, what his favorite hobby is, how did his baseball game go, etc. If [your approach is] authentic, the child will know it."
When a student is especially "resistant and shutdown," Smith recommends striking up a conversation with one of the student's friends within earshot and eventually drawing that student in, even if it takes several days.

Stealth Planning

Two-by-Ten is "one of the most powerful relationship-changing strategies I know," writes Allen Mendler inWhen Teaching Gets Tough (ASCD, 2012). Mendler suggests that, at least for the first few days, teachers build the time into their lesson plans when other students "are engaged in an assignment or project that requires less … direct teaching."
Kitzmann initiated her conversations outside of class when she could more subtly approach a student. "I would do it walking out to recess, walking beside the student to music or PE, checking in on them at lunch, or walking out with them at the end of the day."
Smith advises, especially at the secondary level, that teachers learn the student's schedule and "position yourself in the hall [during passing periods] so [that] you happen to run into him 'by mistake.'" The planning may take a lot of foresight, he says, "but if that kid turns himself around in your class, it will have been worth it."
Allotting time for shorter conversations can also be beneficial as long as they occur every day (not counting weekends) because consistency is what "allows the walls to come down," Smith continues. Thus "half a minute a day for 10 days is better than one 20-minute conversation because [the student] needs that ongoing connection to relax."

Where the Magic Happens

"Does Two-by-Ten solve everything? No," Kitzmann is the first to admit. Although the strategy is not a remedy for disruptive behavior, "in 10 days, you establish enough of an understanding that helps you relate to a child or get a relationship going."
By taking the time to ask the right questions, you learn a lot about the student and often begin to "see the child in a different light," Kitzmann elaborates. "In every experience, I have been surprised by what a student shared, or what they taught me, or how they inspired me."
"Once you make that extra step to connect with a kid, you get results," Kitzmann affirms. "And after the 10 days, the tendency is to keep the momentum going. It just continues; it's natural."
Adds Smith, "You have to remember that the teacher is often pretty guarded as well, initially, because the kid has been acting out. And then as you connect heart-to-heart, that's where the magic happens." 

Could Two-by-Ten help you reach a challenging student? Learn similar strategies from nearly 90 sessions at the 2014 Conference on Educational Leadership in Orlando, Fl., October 31–November2. Visit www.ascd.org/CEL to register.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 Goals and Resolutions

Wow. Time has passed and in the "busyiness" of school and the year progressing, it has been a long time since I have written on my blog.  That was something that I mentally set in my mind to do at least twice a month back when the school year started.  I did not accomplish that goal last semester.  But, is it really a goal if it isn't written out, shared and worked toward?  For me, that is going to be a no.  I have slowly learned that I need to be accountable to myself with the written word, and a to do list that can be struck through with pen.

In my personal life, I quietly went back to a hardbound family planner that can be written in and reviewed by the entire family.  I invested a lot of money and used technology to customize it back in the summer; I was worried that with a child starting high school, it might get harder to juggle my responsibilities as a mom, wife and a principal without a better system in place.  I have found that I am working a lot better with that system in place, so I am going to merge that into my professional life and see if that accountability will help me stick to my professional goals this semester.

So, we know that as a campus we have goals and they are in our SBIC plan that has been published. Those goals can be reviewed online here:  McCall's Campus Improvement Plan 2014-2015 .  In addition to those goals, I have my own principal goal setting that I review with my boss three times a year, and those can be viewed here:
 https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Zm-nwNUPCdkKsXKXbXJe87E5vpfrfRxtdk3jGT4KzGU/edit?usp=sharing .  I have accomplished my goal of 200 walkthroughs a semester early.  It is my hope that by completing that goal, I can work towards accomplishing some of the other goals listed on the two documents that have been shared.  Some personal professional goals have been added to support those two documents, and have been penned in my planner.  I supposed that I could take a picture and upload that here, but I believe that I will just take my written word and publish them here in hopes that they will be accomplished this semester.

Some additional goals that I came up for myself over the winter break are:
1) Complete the application to become a Raise Your Hand Texas attendee at Harvard this summer.  I would like to attend the leadership sessions to increase my capacity to be a leader who helps others achieve goals.
This application is due January 18th, so check in on me with my progess towards this goal.  It has to be completed in one session, so if my door is closed this week, that is hopefully what I am working on finishing!

2)  Be selected as the inaugural group of principals who are selected to be a part of the Plano Principals Visioning Institute.  I quietly submitted my application in December, so I hope that I am approved and notified soon.  Your affirmations are welcomed as I wait it out!

3)  Help McCall earn some accolades.  Positive PR is positive PR.  I don't know what these accolades may be, but I want our school to be recognized for all the hard work that we all pour into our little school.  Our children deserved to be recognized for their hard work as well. I will be on the lookout for honors and awards and I hope that our community will as well.

4)  Mentor and guide our new teachers and staff to be as successful as the possibly can be at the end of this school year.  I want everyone to finish strong, so it is my hope to continue to provide feedback and support of our new staff members this semester.

5) Inspire and engage instruction, especially in the area of math (targeted in the above linked SBIC goals and  principal goals as well).  I hope to continue to provide feedback and resources that will help us reach our children.  I have been blessed by an amazing staff and I want to continue to provide tools that sharpen the saw and reach our children.  I am so pleased with the our implementation of the Understanding by Design lesson plans, that I know with more understanding of that planning process our instruction will continue to improve during the second semester.

I attended some training over the fall semester with Region 10 (and will conclude the series in February) with the Marzano group that I will implement in January that will support the SBIC goals, principal goals, and my additional goals in points four and five above.  I am really excited to implement their ideas as part of a practice I am already doing--walkthroughs!  I will be reviewing the walk through data that I shared with my teachers before the break (200 accomplished in the first semester--mark that principal goal OFF!) and creating a focus to conduct walkthroughs in math during the second semester.  I feel that by targeting the subject of math only during Plano WTs and providing that walkthrough feedback, we are more likely to hit our SBIC goals in math.  While we have a new math curriculum, some may feel we may need two years to make our SBIC goals a reality, I feel that we are doing a great job of implementing the new curriculum and may see our results sooner with this targeted approach.

I look forward to trying this out in January and February and then reviewing where we are at the end of February.  Over spring break, I will reflect upon these goals and see what may need adjusting and report back to all of my teachers about our progress and what adjustments may need to be made with the final stretch of the semester.  I certainly hope that this approach will help me guide McCall where we need to be in the upcoming months.  Here's to an awesome start of 2015!

Stacy