Sunday, July 9, 2017

Moving Forward

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Looking back, I am thrilled with a decision I made at the beginning of summer vacation. I began the summer by offering time for teachers to sign up for "Individual Meetings" with their new principal. I figured I would have a few people who would want to meet and discuss things. My purpose behind the meetings  were: 1.) meet me and talk to me face-to-face, 2.) allow me to meet my staff members, and 3.) allow staff members' voices to be heard.

I needed to get a feel for the building. What direction were we headed? Where are teachers' ideas around initiatives within the building? How can I serve the community to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of the initiatives?

The decision to provide the meetings was a great one. I have had 30 staff members sign up to meet with me - and not just my classroom teachers. I've met with an interventionist, assistants, my nurse, and classroom teachers. I love hearing the differing perspectives. I love this initial face-to-face time to get to know my staff. From what I have gathered, I've landed in a gold mine.  I'm beginning to notice trends, which helps guide me to better serve my school community. I'm thrilled with the responses of how many staff members who signed up. Just astounded.

  Moving forward - It's going to be a great year, one that I will chronicle in this blog. Thanks to discussions with a member of my Twitter PLN, @PrincipalFrench, I will heed his advice and keep my posts shorter, so as they are less intimidating for me to write and actually press "Publish."

It's been great having the time to reflect this summer, and it's been beneficial for me. I will be intentional about making time to reflect during this first year as an administrator. Plus, I love reflecting with my PLN because you all are awesome!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Slowing Down

So I feel this is a trend that I've been experiencing, and after today, it is something I'm most definitely going to be more cognizant of - SLOWING DOWN.

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Now, the first two weeks of my summer break I took completely off. It was wonderful. Days by the baby pool with my 1-year-old daughter and my wife. It was nice. But since then, I have been going a mile a minute. I have a lot to plan for, and I'm excited to get started. However, yesterday I remembered when I worked at the after-school daycare program. I sat down next to a Kindergartner one day and asked if she knew the alphabet. She excitedly responded with, "Yeah!"

"I bet you can tell me every letter, huh?"


"Okay, what letter comes after A?"


"What letter comes after E?"


"Okay, what letter comes after L?"


I couldn't help but chuckle, but we recited the alphabet being sure to slow down after L.

Then today, I had to get some tables from my mom. I backed into her driveway to park in front of the garage. I stopped my vehicle, got out, but little did I know that the vehicle did not go into park as I thought I put it! My car began to move slowly backwards, allowing me to stop it just in time for it to HIT THE GARAGE DOOR! I needed to slow down and focus!

I'm ready to hit the ground running with my new position as principal. But I need to go at a nice pace. I don't need to be backing into any other "garage doors" - literally or figuratively.

What's your "secret sauce" to ensure you stay at a nice pace?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mutual Mind-shift

"Mr. Baumeyer, I just wanted to say that that thing is working out awesome in my class!"

"The rubric?"

"Yes! It is awesome. It helps so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me."

"You are a presence in the building, and I appreciate your help with that. And I mean that."

As I was filling a refrigerator with water bottles, this teacher stopped me.With my mind on the day's to-dos, I was caught off-guard but in the best possible way! I will take a moment to explain how this came about and what work we put in the past couple of weeks.

It all began with a concern over a child's grade in one class period. The teacher and I discussed the grade and what all calculated into the grade.

We started discussing the idea of creating a rubric for the three standards that were being scored. I had in my head to use a 3-2-1 scale: Mastered, Progressing, Not Proficient. This was a new idea for the teacher. She had a different idea and liked her system of deducting a point if a child was not working towards Mastery of a skill. This is when the first mind-shift had to take place, and that mind-shift had to come from me!

My gears were turning!!!
The teacher and I were working together, and I had to support her work while coaching towards a more efficient system of scoring. I had to acknowledge that she was comfortable with her system. How could I incorporate her work into what I was thinking? How could we synergize to create a Win-Win for both the teacher and the students?

Over the next week, we worked on creating the rubric. After a few drafts, we settled on a 3-column rubric and still used the Mastered, Progressing, Not Proficient column headings. We also incorporated her system of points into the rubric.

Now I am seeing a mind-shift from her! Taking the time to stop me to show excitement over the rubric is so great, and it confirms that the work we put into the rubric was time well-spent. I'm happy she finds value in the rubric. I'm glad it is helping her and her students because that is the goal.

Her words have inspired me. They are encouraging! Although I don't doubt that I'll be a good administrator, her words have shown me that what I do matters. With a shared vision and shared solutions, a culture of collaboration can be created and/or maintained.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

One Cafe Manager...Serving Culture for Breakfast

Lisa Garrett. Cafeteria Manager at Stockwell Elementary. Many would consider her job a small part of the school environment - but I have news for you, all of the staff at Stockwell would wholeheartedly disagree with that statement.

Lisa greets the staff each and every morning with an email. Her energy and voice come through the email and invigorates us all for the day to come. Below is an example of such an email:
Sorry Peepsters – I just couldn’t start out the day any other way after last night.  It’s been 108 years in the making but my Cubbies finally pulled it off and cancelled the curse of the Billy Goat.  Can I get a big old Wahooooo…..  (Sorry Ms. Brocato!) 
Now that I have that out of my system (well, not entirely!), what can I do for you today?  Pizza and turkey and cheese sammies are going to be sliding across the serving line today, but if you fancy something else… know what to do.  (Oh yeah, the tuna salad got lonely and swam away with the pimento cheese spread, but I still have plenty of chicken salad.)
Have a stupendous kind of day Folks.  GO CUBS!!!!  Toodles J
Trivia:  Who won the first American Nobel Prize for science in 1907?

**The head of the University of Chicago physics department, Albert Michalson. The University of Chicago has more Nobel Laureates associated with it than any other institution (64). In 1942, the University of Chicago became the site of the world's first controlled atomic reaction. (Kapowwie!)

Not only is she a shining face and personality for the children, but she also takes care of the staff. We can't say enough how much we appreciate her. 

The following happened yesterday:

Lisa sent out an email saying that she had a batch of scrambled eggs with bacon, and that if teachers wanted some all they had to do was walk to the cafe and get some. Well, in my role, I serve two buildings, and that happened to be a day where I was at my other building. I playfully emailed back, "WHAAAAATTTT?!?!?!? I’d be all over that if I was there today." 

I went about my business at my other building. About 20 or 30 minutes later, guess who I see coming up to the building? ? ? That's right....LISA GARRETT! In her hands are two bags, each with a helping of delicious eggs and a cup of fruit. Hand delivered. I was speechless. Absolutely speechless.

The positivity that she brings to our school culture could never be accurately expressed with words. She doesn't do any of these things for recognition, but she more than deserves some! 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The First Few...

It's hard to believe that I've already been in my new position for a few months - three to be exact. I can't count the amount of new experiences I've already had. I'm lucky to have two fantastic mentors to guide me. They've given me the trust and autonomy to be the leader I aim to be. But, of course, my position has its challenges (as we all have).

I serve as assistant principal for two elementary schools. Let's be honest, one challenge is the amount of meetings - sometimes it seems doubled!! I have two student bodies - one at just about 600 children and the other at around 910 children - to learn and keep up with (though one of the students bodies I'm partly familiar with).

One of my buildings is the building I taught in for six years. Although I believe there are benefits to knowing the culture of the building already, moving into the administrator role in the same building can be challenging, especially with evaluations. I keep the heart of evaluations at what is SHOULD be, though, and all of my feedback conferences have gone very well. The purpose is to provide feedback to help teacher growth. And seeing all of the excellent teachers "do their thang" helps me grow!

The biggest challenge is, (since this is all new), is thinking, "Am I doing this 'right'?" As I've become more familiar with my position, I've learned that sometimes I'm just going to fall flat on my face. But like we teach the children, I have to learn from those failures.

I work with two fabulous administrators. Both are effective, but each has a very different leadership style. It's such a benefit that I get to see two styles of leadership. I think about my own style and adapt things I like from each of my principals.

How lucky am I that I get to work with two staffs? I get to see 60+ educators brilliantly lead their classrooms each day. The more great practices I see, the more great practices I can add to my tool kit. I tell teachers that I am not the instructional expert. The teachers are! I am lucky enough that I get be an outside perspective in each classroom.

Looking Forward:
The main thing I keep in the forefront of my mind each day is my 5 Word GPS. I'm excited for what the rest of the year has to offer!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

5 Word GPS

     A few years ago, when I read Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess, my life as an educator was changed. It was almost as if I had the permission to do what I had always done or wanted to do! Along with all of the ideas for lesson hooks, the 5-word GPS stuck with me. It made me very intentional about what I wanted students to take away from the classroom. Now, as I enter my first year in an administrative role, I thought it was important to create a 5-word GPS for this year. 

Image was created using @WordSwagApp and edited with Fotor

     I have taken three courses this summer in my Educational Leadership master’s program. In many of the resources for those courses, there have been some common themes. I reflected on which themes were most important to me and those that would help me be the kind of leader I imagine being. 

My Five Words
     Teachers need to feel empowered and respected. I wanted to gear my five words around traits that would help all staff feel respected. I want to be involved as much as possible. I want to visit as many classrooms as I can.(I realize there will be plenty of times when my other responsibilities will keep me from visiting as many classrooms as I would like.) Students and staff need to know that I am proactive and visible within the school. I want staff to know that what they see is what they get. Tough decisions and critical conversations will take place with confidence. Teachers will get all of the support from me as I can possible give. 

     As the year progresses, I will reflect on my five words. Am I getting to my destination? I know there will be days where it seems like I am taking wrong turns, but persistence will be crucial and my GPS will get me back on course. A fun and exciting year awaits!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Through a New Lens

A few weeks before school let out for the summer, I applied for a new position. I am currently obtaining my Master's in Educational Leadership through Indiana State University, and the position opening, if I got it, would provide so much great experience for me. Two weeks after applying I landed an interview. And a few days after the interview, I was offered the position of Elementary School Principal Intern, which I gladly accepted!

I will not be in the classroom, which I will sorely miss. I have a calling for leadership, but I will always feel classroom teachers are doing the most important job. The Principal Intern position is a school administrator position. So, under the guidance of the great principal and other administrators, I will be working in a full-time administrative role and looking at everything through a new lens!

It's going to be interesting seeing everything through the new lens. I'm going to learn so much, and I'm very excited about that. There will be hard times as well as great times. I know a crucial part to my success will be to build relationships with the staff and children.

What is your advice for my first year in an administrative role? What about my first day in the administrative role?