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…..you 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?  

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Passionately RPGing

My students know about my passions. I know about their passions. We discuss our passions everyday and make connections to help us connect to information. The next passion I plan to incorporate into my classroom is some good ol' fashioned RPGing.

I've dabbled with incorporating bits and pieces of an RPG before. During a math review lesson, the students fought a Cave Troll by answering questions correctly. It was a lot of fun, and it was neat seeing the children doing their best to answer questions clearly and completely to ensure they hit the troll.

I have 4 sections of a grid-board that my buddies and I use to play D&D. They are magnetic and dry-erase. Each one is 20 inches X 20 inches. I envision using these in multiple ways.

Actual picture from a D&D session.


When we play D&D, the Dungeon Master of the session must set the scene. The DM creates an engaging story-line full of NPCs (Non-Player Characters), a detailed setting, and a clear plot. What if the students were tasked with creating a story-line for something similar? Then, other children can explore that story-line or setting. I imagine this will help children to be very clear on details of the scenes in order to be able to explain it to the players .

Action Review Game:

Just as we did with the Cave Troll, I plan to have children defeat monsters with review questions. The beauty of this strategy is that it can fit any content area. 

Other Possibilities?
  • Since the boards are a grid, they can easily be utilized to review area/perimeter of rectangles. 
  • Area/Perimeter of other polygons? 
  • Each board can be a great work-space for group work. 
What do you think? How else could these magnetic dry erase boards be utilized to engage students? 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

My Students Rock!

I begin class each day with the children in the front of the room to have a discussion. We talk about the day, how our evenings went, and any other pressing issues that the children want to talk about. It provides a nice, comfortable platform for children to air any concerns or any good news, as well.

One particular day I shared with the children how frantic I was that morning. To make a long story short, I had an assignment due for a masters course that I turned in a couple days early, but I was afraid it wasn't received. So, I shared how nervous I was, and of course the children were very supportive.

Later in the day, I received the news that my assignment was indeed received, and I saw my score. I was so excited that I just said out loud to the class that my professor did receive the assignment and I shared my score with the children.

The amount of support, clapping, and hooting and hollering that the children showed in that moment was mind-blowing. It was an unprompted show of respect. I was literally speechless. Their smiles showed how much they cared and how much concern they had for me.

I do my best to build solid relationships with each child. I definitely believe that our morning discussion time helps with building relationships. This is the first year that I've been so consistent with that routine. And now I wouldn't change that it. Are there any academic standards being covered during that 5-10 minute conversation? No, not really. But the pay-offs are amazing. The children are learning to show empathy towards others. They are finding ways to show their support of others. And isn't that what we want for our future society?