Saturday, May 3, 2014

So Much To Do, So Much To Learn

As I sit here at 4:28 in the morning on a Saturday scanning my Twitter feeds, it occurs to me (other than I have no life) that there are so many people out there with so much to contribute and that I really need to be a life-long learner in order to have any chance of taking in even a little of it.  Each day, I try to find something new that I can contribute to my staff and help them become better at their craft.  Each day, I try to make a connection with at least one student and make their day a little better.  I try to be a Principal Like a Pirate (thanks @daveburgess #tlap) Each day, I feel inadequate in that venture.  Much of my inadequacy is due to the fact that there is so much paperwork and minutia that is needed as part of this job that I am constantly distracted from what my focus should be.  I try to use my before school and after school times to meet these demands so that I can be there for my students and staff, but sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day.

Having said all of this, I am so lucky to have teacher leaders that continually challenge me to learn and grow. I am very lucky to have colleagues in my district who listen to my crazy ideas and help me organize my thoughts and support my programs with ideas of their own and clarification. I am so fortunate to have Twitter Friends who post such amazing and thoughtful articles and blogs that continue to inspire me and instruct me.  And ... I am really grateful that I continue to be amazed by the students in my school and inspired to help them succeed and become even better people and students.

I will continue to work every day to make my school and district a better place for these kids.  I will continue to 'fight the good fight' when it comes to meeting the needs of my staff and trying to find ways to support them.  I will continue to learn every day something new and be the "Lead Learner" in my building.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Why I Use Twitter

Two years ago I signed up for a workshop to learn about Twitter.  I went to the workshop, installed the Twitter app on my phone and computer and I was a member.  I learned about #hashtags and @contacts and I even followed a few people who I knew.  That was it. 

Last summer, I went to the National Association of Elementary School Principals conference in Baltimore and was exposed to people from throughout the country who know a lot more than I do about everything. As I listened to one keynote speaker (Todd Whitaker), he said, "If you are not on Twitter,  you are missing out on a world of professional development that is very valuable to every Principal."  

Well, I was on Twitter ... barely.  So I decided to follow @toddwhitaker and a few others and  now it has exploded.  Each and every day (I try to check it at least one time a day and even "tweet" one time a day), I find articles and ideas that the staff at Slackwood are using immediately.  It is the best professional development for educators that I have ever seen.  You can find a community of like-minded people who are continually growing as professionals each time they tweet or read an article that has ideas and programs that are useful.  

One of my people I follow says it like this, "Facebook is for people I know, Twitter if for people I wish I knew"  @julnilsmith.  

So, follow me on Twitter @JayBilly2.

Why We Do Field Trips

Field Trips are one of the things in education that I don’t like a whole lot.  I do not like disruption to my normal schedule and there is usually some type of complication that needs to be dealt with at the last minute.  Having said this… The reasons we have field trips are many and I realize that school is not here to make me feel comfortable and happy.  

Here are a few great reasons for field trips:
·       -  First of all, they are FUN!  Students love to get out of the building and learn and see new things.  Often, they don’t even know they are learning. 
·       -  They give students a chance to connect learning to lessons taught in the classroom with real-life experiences and tangible artifacts.
·        - They give students the chance to see culture, history, and art that they may not see in the classroom.
·         -Teachers get the chance to see their students in different environments and this provides them with information on student understanding and learning.

As departments of education put more emphasis on testing and assessment, things such as field trips are often considered less than necessary.  Exactly the opposite is true.  The more opportunities that students have to learn outside the classroom, the more chance that they will understand the need for the inside the classroom lessons and the world will be more connected to the school. 

One of the biggest gifts a teacher and a school can give to a student is the gift of curiosity.  Seeing something that inspires and even causes more questions increases the chance that learning can be extended and that students will learn on their own. And . . . field trips are FUN!