Saturday, June 21, 2014

Schools Out! Why Can't I Sleep?

School ended yesterday for our students.  It was emotional for many as the third graders are moving on to another school.  As the buses pulled out, it really became apparent that there might be a little time to relax and enjoy this little break, even though we still have two days of PD and two more days of administrative meetings. In the afternoon, one teacher asked me, "What are you going to do now that the kids are gone?"  I replied, "I have been trying to get a hair cut and an oil change for about three weeks.  Also, I am not setting the alarm for a day or two. I could really use some sleep."

So why was I up at 2:30 in the morning thinking about what I have to do this summer?  I watched SportCenter 1 1/2 times and then I went for a run. I got to the gym and did a quick work-out and then did a Saturday morning twitter chat called #satchat.

The reason I can't sleep is because there is still so much to do. We still have two days of professional development for our teachers and then two more days of administrative retreat before summer really begins for us.  I also have to focus on cleaning out the office because I have let it go for the last hectic month.  I need to finalize class lists for the summer programs and set up the classrooms so that on July 7, when we start back with our summer program for second language students, we are ready to go.  Wow, there is still a lot to do and very little time to do it.

There are plenty of other things that must be done throughout the summer.  I must make class lists and assignments, get the building cleaned, check in new materials, make a schedule, complete numerous state and district checklists, update the staff and student handbooks, finalize budgets and ordering, etc., etc., etc...

But the real reason I can't sleep is because I can't wait until next year!  Yesterday I sent out my first video parent newsletter (Thanks @ McLane_Ryan and #tlap) and I really like the prospects of communicating with our families using this media.  I had been sending out weekly email documents for them to read but I believe that we will have a better response and understanding using the video.  This makes me excited.  In July, I am going with some of my colleagues to the National Association of Elementary School Principal NAESP conference in Nashville.  I can't wait to get there and learn from some of the biggest names in education.  Last year's conference inspired me to come back and do a book study with staff : What Great Teachers Do Differently by Todd Whitaker, which really gave many teachers great ideas.  I also became more involved in Twitter where I really developed my Professional Learning Network (PLN).  I have learned so much from them this past year.  Through them, I found Dave Burgess: Teach Like a Pirate. This is my philosophy and inspiration for next year.  I hope to see both Todd Whitaker and Dave Burgess at the convention, again.  The convention is so energizing and full of learning opportunities and I can't wait to bring back about 2 dozen new ideas to use here next year.  Sorry staff!

Who needs sleep anyway?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Why I Believe In Being A Principal Like A Pirate

After  reading  Teach Like A Pirate  and seeing Dave Burgess in March, I have taken a whole different approach to being a principal.  I like to think that I always did what was best for students, but maybe I was missing something.  I now think more about the “experience” instead of the lesson.  I am more open to doing the outrageous in front of the students, and for the students’ sake than I previously was.  I want them to remember their experiences at our school and remember me as someone who inspired and engaged them. 

For many years I worked with students with severe emotional and behavioral disorders.   Although I held them to high standards, I always thought it was important that they see me as someone who was going to make the rules and keep them in line.  I also believe that it was important that these students, who could be very dangerous and violent, believed that I was “a little crazier” than they were.  They often commented, “ That Mr. Billy is crazy, you never know what he is going to do.”  This seemed to work for me and help me to communicate with the students.  Eventually, most of these students began to respect and like me (notice I say most).  They trusted me and believed I was there to help them. 

Dave Burgess helped me to step back into the mode of “Making it an experience”.  Being an elementary principal is not so different than working with students who have emotional and behavioral issues.  I need to build a rapport with them and provide them with enthusiastic leadership.   I need to catch their attention and make them believe that they going to be fully engaged and enthralled with everything that goes on during the day.   Whether I am riding the bicycle down the hall to deliver mail to the students, singing as the students get off of the bus in the morning, doing cartwheels across the kindergarten classroom, or using the megaphone into the loudspeaker to make announcements, I want the students to say, “That Mr. Billy is crazy, you never know what he is going to do.”  And . . . “We love him.”

Thank you Dave Burgess for helping me see the way.  It was always in my head, but now I let it out and it helps me connect with the kids.  I will continue to try to create the “experience” that elementary school should be.