Monday, November 12, 2018

What Were You Called To Do?

Kicking off the new series at church the other week, Pastor Scott Sinner, inspired me to really think about the work that I do.  His message wasn’t about being a principal or a teacher, but what he shared was easily relatable to life as an educator and the lives that we live every day.  The message was about the spiritual gifts people are given by God, and the idea that God will nudge you to put your gifts into’s what you are called to do.

No matter what you believe or who you believe in, I think most of us can agree that we all have “gifts” or talents within us. These gifts can help guide us in our life and into what we were called to do. When I look at my life, the path that is set before me, I’m called to make a difference; specifically in the lives of children. Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a teacher.  I wanted to work with children. I wanted to be able to reach all kids and make a difference in their lives. As the years passed by I realized even more that I wanted to really reach the kids that were known as the tough ones or the ones that seemed to need more than kid next to them. As a principal I continue to have have the ability to make a difference every day; not just with the students but with my staff too.

When you feel you’re called to do something it becomes who you are and you put time and care into it.  I try and give it all that I can. It’s not something I want to do half ass or with minimal effort. I want to do it to the best of my ability. This can be exhausting some days.  It can be emotionally draining. It can beat you up. But that doesn’t mean we give up. If we choose to give it all on some days and not the others, we never know the chances we might miss.  

At the end of the message, Scott shared, “We have to bring it every day and every week. Every day is game day.  You better bring, strategy, care, enthusiasm...”  That’s exactly how I feel about education.  You never know what moment you will reach the student that needs it most. Imagine the possibilities if we lived everyday like it was game day?

So what were you called to do?  

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Behavior - It's Not Personal

As a mom and a principal behavior is something I encounter quite often.  
And the behavior I am referring to is not the loving, positive kind that we’d
love for our kids to show every day.  It’s the yelling, the refusal, the arguing,
the poor attitude. It’s the things that can wear on you. It can get you down.  
It can exhaust you. At the end of the day, one thing I have to remember is
it isn’t personal. It can feel like it when it’s happening, but it’s not.   Whether
it’s one of my children at home or a child at school, the behavior I see is
happening for a reason and the reason isn’t me. Maybe they’re hungry,
tired, bored, frustrated, angry, sad, or something else...there are so
many possibilities.  

As a teacher, it can sometimes be hard not to take things personally.  
You put so much time, energy and love into your students. However,
what I see a lot of times is a student that is struggling with so much more,
and the way they are behaving isn't because they are trying to disrespect
you. Their behavior is often  because of a lack of skills or something else
going on in their life.

As the adult I need to take time to be there, to listen, to try and support
the child to process what he or she is feeling in the moment.  I need to
try and determine what the reason is and how I can help. The help may
not occur in the moment because, in the moment, it’s not always the
best time to teach.  

If you’re a parent or if you’re in education (or both), you can probably
relate.  Next time you’re in a situation where you are experiencing some
difficult behavior, I encourage you to take a step back.  Take time to try
and think about what could be causing the behavior. And always
remember, it’s not personal. Through it all the child needs to know
that we are there to support and help, and no matter what, when it’s
all over, we are still there for them and will welcome them back with
a fresh start.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Feedback Shouldn’t be a Secret

Feedback shouldn’t be a secret whether it be in school or life. This isn’t anything profound but it really hit home this summer while watching my son play All Stars for baseball.

Long story short, he’s been a starter for the past two years and then this year he sat the bench. He was confused and he didn’t know why. In his mind, he gave 100% at practice and put in extra work on his hitting because he knew he’d been struggling. He constantly wondered what it took to get playing time. As I listened to him try to come to his own conclusions it made me wonder why the coach wasn’t talking to him. Why should he be left to wonder what it takes? Why should he be trying to figure out on his own what areas he needs to improve in? Shouldn’t his coach play a role?

The baseball field can be just like the classroom (or really, school in general). A student shouldn’t be left wondering what the target is they’re supposed to reach or coming to their own conclusion about how they are doing. Teachers need to be clear to their students on the goal their striving for and what they need to do to get there. Feedback should be given along the way to support the student in attaining the goal. It shouldn’t be a secret.

As a leader I also need to be able to give teachers feedback on how they are doing in order to help them improve. It shouldn't be a sign off at evaluation time with no feedback and support along the way. Feedback should be part of the process.

All that time my son spent wondering he could have been working, if he had received the feedback.

Don't keep it a secret.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Hall of Fame

“If you don’t become a hall of fame baseball player, then become a hall of fame teacher, a hall of fame firefighter, a hall of fame dentist, a hall of fame carpenter…be in the hall of fame in whatever you do, “ Oscar Carillo, Director of Baseball, All Star Village, NY. 

This was from the opening ceremonies speech for a weeklong baseball tournament in Cooperstown, New York for my oldest son.  The location of the tourney and the speech by the director was no coincidence.  All Star Village is in the same place as the Baseball Hall of Fame; boys come from all over the country to play in this tournament throughout the summer.

This past week, 52 teams descended upon All Star Village with hopes to make it to the championship game.  Many of these boys, including my own, have hopes and dreams of one day becoming a professional baseball player, and like others that came before them, they want to be just like those who made it into the Hall of Fame. 

In reality, many of them won’t.  The likelihood is a small percentage.   This isn’t meant to deflate them or crush their dreams, but rather get them to see that they can have the same qualities that those in the hall of fame have.  It's not just for baseball.

When I think about my boys, I want them to grow up and always work to be the best they can be in wherever life takes them. I want them to work hard and keep striving to be in the hall of fame author, a father, a construction worker, a police officer...anything. Not only do I want this for my boys, but for all of my kids at school too.  

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Share the Positive

Why is it that we focus on the things that don’t go well? The mistakes. The mess ups. The bad things that happened? 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I think about my own personal conversations with friends. Sometimes they probably think I don't like my job. They must think I’m miserable. 

But in reality, I’m not. I love what I do. 

Yes, some days are hard. Sometimes I’m exhausted by the time I leave. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love what I do. 

For some reason though when I go to share things with others, it seems like I focus just on the negative aspects. When I leave work at the end of the day I pick up the phone and share the things that didn't go well.  

I don’t think it’s just me. I hear it from others too. I'm not sure why it happen, but it does...with friends, with family, and with colleagues.  I am not saying to keep it all in and not share the mistakes and rough times. We all need someone to talk to and share the hard moments and tough times. 

Instead just make sure to also include the positive. Take time to reflect on things that went well. Share it with others. It’s my challenge to myself (and all of you too!). 

Just this past week....
- I worked with a student who’s making positive growth in behavior choices. 
- I watched some engaging lessons in classrooms. 
- I got to connect with our youngest students while subbing in TK. 
- I sat down and talked with a couple parents who are dedicating so much of their time to helping support our school. 
-  I had a chance to celebrate reading with students during lunch in my office. Talked books and ate pizza. 
- Made positive calls homes to recognize students based on recommendations from

And those are just to name a few.  I know when I look back on each day I don't want to just think about the things that get me down.  I also want to reflect on the things that make me smile...because there are always many of them!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

#OneWord - Strength

As soon as January hit, posts started popping up about people's one word for 2018.  To be honest, I just wasn't feeling it this year.  There wasn't a word that stood out in my mind.  Actually there we many words, and I didn't want to take the time to think about narrowing it down to just one.

After reading many blog posts from members of my PLN, I was inspired to write one of my own.  It's kind of like positive peer pressure.  I began to reflect on this past year, but more recently I thought about my time over holiday break.  I have made it a priority to be at my gym as much as I can over break and I have really enjoyed it.  On New Year's Day we made the gym a family event and took both kids. The boys dragged their feet and didn't want to go, but I think back now to the conversation in the car on the way home. Both boys talked about how much they enjoyed it, and although it was tough, they shared how good they felt now that they were done.

Reflecting on that day helped me come up with my one word for 2018.  Strength.

I want to make it a priority to work on my strength at the gym.  I go through ups and downs where I'll get to the gym for a couple of weeks and then I got MIA for the next two.  I want to make it a priority.  I want to build my physical strength which will also help with my emotional strength.  Working out clears my head, releases stress and helps maintain my emotional strength.  My emotional strength is needed as a mom and as a principal.

I want to focus on having strength to have tough conversations when needed.  I tend to be non confrontational in my professional and personal life, but sometimes those conversations are needed.  Conversations are needed to help us grow and learn.

I need strength to handle all the things our job throws at us throughout the year.  It seems when things are going well and no big issues are happening, bam, things change.  I want to have the strength to not let those things get me down; strength to keep going.

I need to have strength to come home after a long day and be there for my family just like I'm there all day for the school community.

For 2018, I'm focusing on strength; physically and emotionally.