Weekly Education Links (weekly)

Here are my Weekly Diigo posts for September 18. Hard to believe we are three weeks into out school year already. I hope everyone has had a smooth opening. Look for my latest post this week!

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Weekly Education Links (weekly)

Here are my weekly Diigo posts for the week of September 4, 2016. We welcomed over 1500 Timberwolves through the doors this past Tuesday. It was a busy week, but I should have a new post for you this week. Stay tuned!

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Weekly Education Links (weekly)

Here are my weekly Diigo posts for August 29. Students come back for us Tuesday, and we are excited to welcome over 1500 Timberwolves back to our school! I hope everyone has had or will have a great school opening!

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Your Most Precious Commodities

I am sitting at the kitchen table, thinking about the next two days. That’s all I have left of my summer “vacation”. I use the quotes because if you are  a principal like I am, you rarely take a full-fledged vacation. But that is another story for another time. I am thinking about the most precious and valuable commodity that we, as building leaders, have. Now, let me take a minute and explain something. I am not taking into account our kids. They are in an entirely different category, far beyond anything else that we can discuss here. Having said that, what I am thinking about are my people, the ones who make up my team, the ones who do the lion’s share of the work around my building. As I sit here, thinking about what a great staff I have, I feel it is important to clarify and give credit where credit is due. Take a minute and think about all the people who make a difference in your school. Want some help? Here is a list of the people I am thankful for.

Custodians

We have a fantastic group of people who keep our building clean. But during this time of year they deserve an extra amount of kudos. Not only do they keep the building clean during the year, but our people are responsible for getting it ready to open during the summer. They pull desks out of classrooms so they can clean and wax the floors. They move desks and furniture and basically scrub everything from top to bottom to get it ready for the new school year. Have you done something nice for them this summer? It is not too late.

Cafeteria Staff

Talk about a thankless job. These people feed 1500 kids and staff every day. And they do it with a smile on their faces, a warm greeting for students and a hot meal, which might be their only one of the day. During the school year, make sure you thank them often.

Front Office Staff

Are you in the front office a lot? If you are like me, I spend very little time in the office. I am out and about quite a bit. While you might be the principal, you are not the face of the school. That title belongs to the people in the front who greet parents, help students, solve problems on the phone (and keep them off your desk) and basically run the day-to-day operations of the school. I know my people spend an inordinate amount of time keeping me straight. Make sure they know they are appreciated.

Teachers

These are my heroes. The work they do, the caring they show, the dedication they have, it cannot be measured. Nor can it be appreciated enough. Teacher Appreciation week is in May, but every day provides you with opportunities to say thank you. Make sure you are taking advantage of these opportunities. Say thank you a lot. Write thank you notes. Recognize birthdays. There are a million different ways to show your appreciation. All we need to do is make the effort to do so.

Assistant Principals

I have been blessed with outstanding assistant principals. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, but they all have one thing in common. They are consumed with making our school the best it can possibly be. They take so much off of my plate and allow me to focus on getting in classrooms and visible and present in the school. While many of their contributions are behind the scenes, their impact is unmistakable.

What kind of things do you do to show your people you appreciate them? Sounds like another blog post in the making.

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Weekly Education Links (weekly)

Here are my Weekly Educational Diigo links for the week of August 15. I will have another bog post coming out later this week on helming new teachers acclimate to your building so stay tuned!

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Weekly Diigo Education Links

Here are my weekly education posts in my Diigo account. There is a also a new post on “What is Important to You”. Check it out. I hope everyone has a fantastic opening week of school. We still have a few weeks left before staff return, and then another week until the big day!

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What’s Important to You?

How many times have you heard that question? What is important to you? What matters, what is critical to success, what do you spend your precious time on? This is a broad question, with many different facets. It applies to your family life, your personal life and your job life. And with each of those areas of your little world comes a different set of expectations and perspectives. It is not a simple question. I read an interesting blog post on the Connected Principals web site written by Richard Bruford about what we keep “tight” in our schools and what we keep “loose”. The blog was titled “What things should we keep loose or tight in our schools?”, and it got me to thinking first thing in the morning, usually not a good thing.

During the summer months, I do a lot of reflecting back on the previous school year. I spend a lot of time thinking about what went well, and what areas do we, as a team, need to address for the coming school year. This article got me to thinking about a couple of things in particular. The first thought centered around cell phones (and any other device) that virtually every person in the building has. How many hours of manpower have we spent trying to “control” the uncontrollable? Too many. I determined that we are not going to spend another minute trying to to do that. I had a conversation with my superintendent about this the other day, and he provided me with the answer I was looking for. He explained that when he was a principal, they created zones based on the design of a stoplight. There were green zones were you could use devices, yellow zones where you should use them cautiously and red zones where they were not allowed. We decided to make it as simple as possible. The cafeteria will be a green zone, hallways yellow zones and the classrooms will be red zones. Simple.

Then I started thinking about the expectations that I, as the principal, set for our staff. I really believe that all of us have our own leadership styles. I also believe that reading leadership books can muddy the waters. Yes, they are “experts” (I mean, they wrote a BOOK!), but do the tips and strategies they espouse fit into my leadership approach? That becomes a whole different scenario. I determined that there are things I value above other things. I believe that you are a professional and that you will perform your duties in a professional manner. I believe that you will do whatever you can, within your power, to help kids be successful. That is the BIG important item. After that I am pretty flexible. I am not a clock watcher. I understand that life happens. I do not make an issue of single mothers Making their children a priority. I work with teachers when it comes to doctors appointments and family obligations. I think I can do this because I treat them like professionals. Now, don’t get me wrong. If things are happening that affect the working environment then we will need to have that conversation.

As we approach the new school year, take some time to ask yourself what is important to you. Not to the experts, but you. Then do some thinking on how you make these important things visible to your staff.

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