Thursday, April 28, 2016

Celebrate your SuperHeroes - Teacher Appreciation Week

The success of any campus is directly related to the talent and ability of its teachers.  

Period. The End.  

Sir Ken Robinson said it best when he said that teachers are the lifeblood of the school, and without them, schools will fail.  It doesn't matter how good the principal is or how great the master schedule and resources are, teachers ultimately are the ones who make the kids successful.

Last year, I wrote a post called 26 Traits of Terrific Teachers to recognize and celebrate the wonderful traits that our teachers possess to help very child learn.  But if you really think about it, all educators (teachers, aides, leaders, counselors, etc.) are HEROES.  In fact, they are superheroes because they don't just teach kids and content.  They save kids.  They sacrifice every single day to lead kids to a prosperous future.  When I think of what educators do, I am always reminded of the song, "Heroes", by Casting Crowns.  It is a perfect example of who and what our teachers and educators are.

Challenge - Celebrate your Superheros

This week, I encourage you to tell, show and promote to the world the fact that all of your schools' educators are essential to every student's success.  Reward them. Pamper them, but most importantly give them the reassurance that what they do matters.  They must hear, see and feel that what they are doing is essential because what they are doing is saving the future of our nation.  After all, our future is sitting in every desk in every school, and the only people who can protect that future are our the superheroes who serve those students every day.

Happy #TeacherAppreciationWeek

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Change your Investment; Change your Outcome

Source - Toby Mac
I thoroughly enjoy Toby Mac's music, but I think I like following him on Instagram and Facebook even more.  Every day there is something inspirational that keeps me focused on the important things in life.  Today, I want to share one of those things with you.  All too often, we get tired and think that we really can't change what's going on in the classroom, in our work on in our life; therefore, we avoid confronting it and fix our minds on dealing with it.  Basically our investment in the situation never changes, so our outcome remains the same.

Only we can change the outcome.

If you want your outcome to change,  I want to push you to focus on this quote and ask yourself this question.  "If I want things to change, am I ready change first?"  As long we continue with the same old behaviors, our results never change, but if we make a stronger investment and double down on our belief in ourselves and our abilities, and then we are ready to invest in making choices that are positive and productive.  And if we commit to the new choices we have made, we will see a better outcome in the end.  Our families deserve our best investment, and in our schools, our students deserve our best investment.  Think about it.  A small yet intentional change could be just the thing that will forever change our outcome and our personal impact on someone's world.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Winning The Data Game

As state assessment data begins to roll out, anxiety from school to school begins to rise.  Principals, teachers, parents, and students are waiting on pins and needles to find out just how good or how bad the flood of data will impact their school or their individual future. The greatest fear of all will be how schools are rated and ultimately labeled. Yes, the release of state assessment data is more about condemnation than affirmation. 

Anthony Muhammad said it best. Data is information, not condemnation, and as leaders we get swept away by the flood of data as it is released by the state, the response will be one of two emotions.  We will jump for joy when our passing rates are high and get giddy when our advanced scores go through the roof. 


When the scores go down or they appear to be average, we tend to overreact because of the pending scrutiny and embarrassment that will follow. 

Data is Condemnation
As leaders we have to remember that how we respond to data condemns ourselves as well as those around us. When we talk about being the best school or our scores are the worst in history, we undermine those we lead if not our leadership altogether. If we fix our eyes on passing percentages or advanced performance, we are perpetuating the false narrative that standardized tests actually are the truest picture of learning. Because in the end when we deem students, teachers, schools, and districts as winners, we are also labeling others as losers. If we believe in all kids, then we must have a new approach to our response to data. 

Data is Information
If we truly believe that state data is information, then we should analyze the data through a new mindset. In other words, we mustn't look at numbers in isolation because a number means absolutely nothing unless it has 2, 3 or even 4 numbers to compare itself to. For data to be informational, it must tell people if student performance is growing, stagnant or declining. Furthermore, it should drive people to avoid the temptation of judgment and guide people to identify the contributing factors that caused the growth or lack thereof. 

Does your Data Condemn or Inform?
The data is in your hands. Will your rhetoric condemn your organization or the other organizations that you are in "competition with"?  Will you tout the fixed mindset of passing and advanced scores?  Will you identify winners and losers, or will you align your rhetoric to the belief that all kids can learn, and we will only gauge our effectiveness as an organzation based on student growth?  

When we fix our eyes on growth, we actually promote the idea of learning for all. We value all teachers. We promote all schools. Winning transitions from a competition into a collaborative effort, and most importantly all kids benefit. The data is the same, and our response is the game. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

#LoveMySchoolDay Success and Challenge

Well, year 3 of #LoveMySchoolDay was fantastic, and we doubled our participation from last year.  We had nearly 12,000 posts from all 50 US states and over 25 countries on ALL 7 CONTINENTS which was completely amazing.  It was so inspiring and exciting to watch the hashtag trend on Twitter, but it was even more exciting to see all the educators, students and communities displaying everything they are doing to make learning meaningful and powerful.

To get a better picture of what #LoveMySchoolDay did to promote all the good in schools, check out the photos and videos that were shared. Not only will you smile, but you will be challenged to use the power of social media to tell your story even better.  Of all the things that I saw, there was one video that stood out, and it was by Julie Gauthier, principal at Ridgewood Elementary in Port Neches-Groves ISD.  She invited the local news station and school board members to help tell her school's story.  I didn't think of that idea, but I am definitely going to borrow that one next year.

Click here to watch the video.

Now Here's the Challenge!!!
It's easy to get excited about #LoveMySchoolDay for one day and then go back to business as usual, but I want to challenge you to to not let #LoveMySchoolDay be the only day that you tell your school's story.  This day was designed to displays all of the examples that we can and must tell our school's story every single day.  Remember, someone is always telling others about your school.  If you don't promote and share what's happening in your school, people's perception of your school will be based on outside influences which may not always be good or even factual.

The final challenge that I'll leave with you has to do with leadership and keeping the spirit of #LoveMySchoolDay alive and well until next April 11, 2017 (click here to accept your invitation now) when we do it all over again.  In order to keep that spirit alive we must embrace this quote by Jon Gordon if we truly want to be the kind of leaders that create the kinds of schools that all students deserve.

Friday, April 1, 2016

6 Ways to Re-recruit your Staff!

Signs are up advertising for job fairs.  Buses are parked on corners with banners advertising openings, and websites are bursting with all kinds of teaching and leadership positions.  Yep, spring time means recruiting time, and it is time to get out there and find new faces to fill your vacancies.

But are you doing the 'right' recruiting?
You see.  There's a reason that you have to fill all of those spots.  People are leaving.  Sure retirements are a natural phenomenon.  Advancement opportunities create vacancies, and people move.  But does every vacancy on your list fall into those categories?

How many people are leaving for a lateral move?  How many are leaving for greener pastures?  How many are leaving because of the culture that they currently work in?  If you don't know the answers to these questions, that is a problem that will create more recruiting work for you now and more work when you have to support them all next fall?

Is it Time to Re-Recruit your Employees?
Re-recruiting your current employees is an essential process to ensure that your organization continues to grow, and here are 6 ways you can better your chances of keeping your quality people on staff next year.

Recognize your staff on a frequent basis for all the hard work they have done.
Empower your staff to lead, experiment and most importantly take risks.
Teach your staff what you know and ask them to teach you.
Appreciate your staff through both word and deed.
Invite your staff to lead with you.
Nurture your staff when they fail, when they stumble and when they make mistakes.

Retaining your staff is nothing more than making the extra effort to recruit them all over again.  It may seem like a lot of work, but when compared with the task of training new faces who take their place, re-recruiting is a much better investment that will pay a huge dividend in the end,  a more successful organization next year and more time for you to invest in making all of your staff members even better when they return next year.