Sunday, July 26, 2015

Back to School....Like a PIRATE!

Back to School....Like a PIRATE! The Challenge is ON!
Passion~Immersion~Rapport~Ask/Analyze~Transformation~Enthusiasm

UPDATED: July 30th, 2016

Update: I wrote this post on the eve of becoming our district's new middle school principal in the summer of 2015. Our building wanted to do something big on those first days of school to show our change in our mission to create a school that our students, staff and parents are beating the doors to get IN, not out. We wanted to get our kids so excited about learning on day one, that they couldn't wait to come back the next day.  What I can say, without a doubt, is the first day of our first year together at Fulton Middle School was one of my favorite, most memorable days of my career. I watched our staff pour their hearts into teaching and showcase their passions for the subjects they teach. I experienced our students enjoying learning, from the first minutes of class. I experienced all of us trying new things, some successfully, some not, which laid the beginnings of a foundation of growth mindset. These first few days set the tone for our year, which truly was amazing! The original blog is as follows and then I've added some BONUS material to the end. Thank you so much for reading and making this year the #BestYearEver for your students, staff, parents and YOU!

Original Post:
Sometimes an article finds us at exactly the right moment. Moving to a new position next fall, I have been in back-to-school mode all summer. First impressions are the most important, so I've been constantly thinking and brainstorming about how to start the year for students AND staff with a bang. My personal mission is to collaboratively create a school that our students, staff and parents are running to get IN rather than out. I knew the traditional first day of rules and rules and more rules would not work.  Then I stumbled upon this treasure:
http://inservice.ascd.org/how-do-you-motivate-middle-school-students-by-inspiring-teachers-to-think-outside-the-box-on-the-first-day-of-school/?crlt_pid=camp.onBhIriAFhHN

I immediately shared it with my leadership team on our Voxer group as well as a few PLN members for feedback. As Dave Burgess says, the snowball began to roll. I had immediate feedback on a Friday night from everyone. An overwhelming WE MUST DO THIS came back to me loud and clear. (on a Friday night in July, I might add!) I shared the article, as well as the amazing quote by my friend Don Wettrick, author of Pure Genius to my PLN and I found there are several others ready to make this happen as well! Then I found a blog by Don on this very topic as well. http://theinnovationteacher.com/create-culture-first/ YES!! Create culture FIRST! When the right culture is cultivated, it's amazing how the need for specific rules diminishes.


I had a conversation with my PIRATE principal pal Jay Billy about how awesome it would be get our colleagues to take this Back to School...Like a PIRATE challenge with us, not just teachers, but school leaders as well. This challenge is to not only make the first few days of school an EXPERIENCE for our students, but to extend this thinking to our staff learning. How can we minimize the mundane and maximize the excitement for our profession; for our passions in education? 



Our theme for our school year at Fulton Middle School is Together, We CAN! This works perfectly for our challenge as well. Jay and I created this Google Doc to collect ideas to KICK up those first days of school. We would LOVE it if you would add your amazing ideas as well. Imagine the possibilities of a year that starts in such a positive way. That snowball will continue to roll into the BEST YEAR EVER! Together, We CAN change the way things always have been those first few days of school. The challenge is ON! Let's make it happen!

Google Doc for sharing:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qXQJWagnbwj7CYeajg24FKmDtRDiQHa2NYosU69Zjjc/edit?usp=sharing

Update: 
Last fall, I had the opportunity to partner with the outstanding educator, Shelley Burgess to begin Lead Like a PIRATE. We hosted weekly challenges through our #LeadLAP hashtag to help us become intentional about our leadership practices and build support within our PLN. Our first challenge for the 2016-2017 school year is from the blog above. How can you TRANSFORM back to school to lay the foundation for an unbelievable school year? Please share out your ideas on the doc above and the #leadlap hashtag. When we share, we help make everyone better! Shelley and I can't wait to see the amazing things happening in your school. Here's to the #BestYearEver!


Toasting to change with our FMS Staff!



Greeting our students and parents on day one!

Opening day assembly with a principal dance off!
Mr. Kerr had a mean stanky leg!

My whip and nae nae was pretty sweet!


But I definitely went down in defeat!




Saturday, July 4, 2015

Together, We Can!


I’m finally coming down from my #ISTE2015 high. What an amazing experience. I learned so much, met incredible people and was inspired beyond belief. This was so much more than a conference about technology...it was about people. People willing to do whatever it takes for kids. There was a common thread with the interactions that I had throughout the conference…Together, We Can! 

Together, we can share best practice to help make a difference in the lives of our students.

Together, we can connect and support each other as educators.

Together, we can reflect and inspire new ideas to support the varied needs of our students.

Together, we can relax, recharge and have fun. This is important and often forgotten in the busy lives of educators.

Together, we truly can change the world and inspire this thinking in our students.

This is what it is all about. When we talk global education, to me that means we are all working for the same team, the same school. The children of the world are ALL our students and positive change can only happen when we truly work together. 


So what will I do to make this happen? I’ll continue to connect with my amazing PLN to learn, share and collaborate. I will help others that may feel isolated develop a PLN of their own. I will lift up my colleagues and be a fountain and not a drain. I will push myself to take risks and continue to learn and grow daily. I will take time to relax and recharge so I can be my best self.

And most importantly to me, I will work to drown out the voices of the critics of our great profession by showcasing the AMAZING that happens every single day in our classrooms and learning communities. So many people truly have no idea what goes on in schools....together, we can change this by making it visible. I challenge anyone reading this to do the same. 

Together, we truly CAN make all of this a reality! Let's do this!