Snacks and Staff Meetings

From PE teacher to Administrator and everything in between

Done with school…

June 9, 2007 by · 1 Comment · mumblings

As I write this title I realize that I am never really done with school, it will always be in my blood and at my fingertips, however I am done with kids and teachers for this year. Now the fun stuff of scheduling, working uninterrupted, cleaning my office, organizing and getting ready for next year begins. I enjoy this type of work and when I am doing it I think to myself that maybe I should go into something where I can “just work”. But then August rolls around and I start to see the kids and I get the butterfly’s , well that’s another post.

I am looking forward to a great collaboration meeting we have coming up next Wednesday where we are going to be talking about Consistency and it’s effect on junior high students and their success. I will be writing about it, possibly in a running diary. That sounds fun and I have never tried that before.

It has been a great school year. I am amazed at how fast it went and the new things that I learn each and every year. You would think that after 5 years in the same position there wouldn’t be that much more to learn, but what do you know there is.

One thing I learned this year?  Well…maybe thats another post as well. I know there is one thing I just have to remember.

Here’s looking forward to a little vacation time.

Changing the Process…

June 4, 2007 by · No Comments · administration, change, Educational Leadership

We just finished our master schedule for next year and when I say we I mean the entire staff. Since I have started here, at Aptos Junior High, the meetings that we have held to build the schedule have progressivley gotten shorter. They started out as 3-4 hour marathons and this year we had two 45 minute meetings.

In the past the schedule was put up by hand with little paper slips. The schedule was created, a long and grueling process, and then evaluated, a longer and more grueling process and then if it was good adopted. If not, all the pieces came down and we started over. When I first got to AJHS I didn’t know anything about building a master schedule so I just sat back and learned. Fortunatley I am a pretty quick learner so last year I took our failed attempts home and built the schedule myself. This was after two 3 hour scheduling meetings and on my anniversary :( Well it turned out that the schedule I built worked fairly well and a modicum of trust was born. Enough trust that this year, I built the schedule first, on a computer, which was another first step and displayed it using our LCD projector.

I was extremely nervous to present this new “master schedule” process to the staff. -Because the old process had been around for so long and was owned by so many staff members this was a big risk. The previous administration did not have a big hand in developing the master schedule. It was pretty much left entirely up to a core group of people, some of whom have retired, but they have left behind proteges who continue to hold on dearly to master schedule building. By building trust with last years successful schedule I had some credit stored up. However I was still nervous.  After some initial discomfort people seemed to warm up to the new idea and we started moving along. Many people commented that they could see the schedule coming together easier than the year before. We addressed peoples concerns and charted them. I then went back and redid the schedule and emailed it out to people and waited. We held one more meeting, got a little more feedback and then we emailed out the final copy and waited… Well after a couple of days of waiting for any last minute comments it appears that we have a master schedule.

Of course I am not naive enough to believe that there are not some rumblings and grumblings in the background. In fact I heard just the other day that some people were upset because we didn’t have 300 little scraps of paper to put up on are 12 foot long piece of butcher paper, (oh how I missed that :))

We are going to put out a feedback sheet this week to try and get some feeling tone around this new process. I know that I will receive both positive and negative and I am prepared for that. No matter what , I know that we have started moving in the right direction regarding a new scheduling process. Change is hard, but in this case it was the right thing to do.

Holding a draft

May 23, 2007 by · 2 Comments · mumblings

The NBA’s lottery draft was tonight. If you don’t know about it, the draft works like this, the worse you are the more ping pong balls you get in the bucket, therefore the better odds you have at getting the best basketball player in college. While there are no guarentees that the player will pan out, usually getting first shot at anything gives you a good chance at making it or him succeed. Don’t forget that this player will be making 10′s of millions of dollars for putting the ball through the hoop. Now don’t get me wrong I love basketball, but what is that player really doing. Basically he is an entertainer, a very good basketball player and one rich man.

With that said the concpet of the draft intrigues me. Lets apply this scenario to schools. You take  worst schools all schools,  give them a bunch of ping pong balls based on API scores (because thats what we have), put them in a bucket, televise it and then the winner gets to select the best teacher first and pay them millions of dollars. Hmmm…that just might work.

Best Productivity Tip

May 18, 2007 by · 5 Comments · administration, Educational Leadership

I was tagged by Scott Elias in his effort to look for best productivity tips among administrators.

My first thought was “wellthat’s easy, my computer”. I couldn’t do without it. As I thought more I surmised that maybe my computer wasn’t really a productivity tip just a way to be productive, so I came up with some others and here they are.

Productivity tip #1: Return phone calls and emails as soon as possible. I always try to return phone calls within the same day at the most 24 hours. What this does is keep them from building up. I always have people wanting to talk to me regardless, so if I return my phone calls on time it may keep 3 hours of phones calls down to 5 minutes. Usually if I return a call right away I can keep the call to a minimum. By waiting, sometimes things develop and my phone call gets longer. Additionally you would be surprised at how fast it gets around if you don’t return phone calls.

With emails, I always try to answer them as soon as I get them. I read, from another blog, that you should do 3 things with emails. Delete them, act on them, or forward them. I have been trying to do this and it has really helped my inbox become less encumbered. It also has meant that I don’t have to spend an hour at the end of my day answering emails.

Productivity tip #2: Learn how to use Microsoft Word and Excel to your advantage. I see so many teachers and administrators spend hours on lists, letters, hand addresses etc. It makes me cringe. In this day and age you need to learn how to use these two tools together. The best way that they work together is through a mail merge. If you do not know how to use a mail merge then you definitley need to learn. Using a mail merge can save you hundreds of hours upon the course of the year. Developing a good mail merge system is similar to developing a good lesson plan. Sometimes it takes longer in the beginning but the benefit is that you can use it time after time. In addition being able to use Excel to sort and graph data is also a big benefit for administrators. Getting these two tools to work for you will definitley increase your productivity.

Combining tips 1 and 2 and using them effectiveley have definitley increased my productivity in addition to creating processes that can be used by the next person to sit in my seat.

I am going to pass this on to Kimberley Moritz , Kelly Christopherson,(who by the way seems to have a new blog style each time I visit, can’t figure that one out) and Dave Sherman.

7 secrets to my success

May 9, 2007 by · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

I was tagged a while back by Kelly Christopherson and and I am just now getting to it. Testing, master scheduling and discipline seemed to get in the way. Anyhow here goes on the 7 secrets to my success:

1. Be a sponge: I try to soak in everything I can. When I first got into administration I asked questions of my principal constantly, even before he had finished his sentence. It drove him nuts but I sure learned alot. I still do it today, but not as much. Since I know that someday I am going to be a principal I know that I need to learn everything I can. Soaking it all up is the way that I learn best. My hope is that I will be able to empty it out at my next stop.

2. Be Respectful: My goal at work is to be as even keeled as possible. Much harder than it seems by the way. The reason for this is it is much easier to be respectful of others when you aren’t at one end of the emotianal spectrum. When talking to teachers, students and parents I attempt to never raise my voice or get overly emotianal. This allows me to stay focused and more importantly to come across as being very respectful (even though I may be seething on the inside).

3. Listen, Listen, Listen: I love to talk, to hear myself talk, and to talk about myself. One of the hardest skill sets that I had to learn when I became an administrator was listening. And not always listening about educational issues either. I have listened to just about everything from the dog whisperer to the steel rod in someones spine. In fact most of my listening is small talk. Teachers seem to love to converse about everything but education. Although I will occasionally get to listen about issues in the classroom. Listening is one of the biggest keys to being a successful administrator.

4. Remembering: If you can put this together with listening you have got a sure fire winner. It is one thing to listen another to remember. I attempt to do my best at remembering by doing two things: 1. Writing it down on my legal yellow note pad or 2. Writing it in Outlook or on my palm pilot (in date form) By remembering to do things I build upon secret #5

5. Trust: When I first started as the VP at my school, I don’t think there was a lot of trust there. No one knew me, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing and we were a new administration. Over time I slowly gained the trust of the staff. Finishing tasks, following up on discipline, working on computers and understanding the master schedule. These are just a few of the things that helped my build the trust of my staff. Without trust and the feeling that you are working for them and not against them you won’t be able to go anywhere, at all.

6. 7-1: In my masters program I remember a school psychologist that stated, “7 positive comments to 1 negative comment, is the easiest way to reduce discipline problems.” Now I don’t know if that is true or not, but I do like the idea. I have a sign above my door that reads “7-1″. I see it every time I go out and every time I sit at my desk. You would be surprised at how easy it is to say something positive to a student. Nice jacket, how are you doing, did you have a good weekend, I liked your project, etc. The kids love it and it goes back to number 2 about being respectful.

7. Love to Laugh: Without humor you got nothing.

Well there they are, my 7 secrets. I don’t know if they are secre.ts, but they definitley have helped my move along in my administrative career

Holding Class

May 9, 2007 by · No Comments · administration, Discipline

Today we had 7 subs on campus, the principal was gone and the custodian. The day seemed to go smooth with the exception of me having to hold class. Mind you I didn’t hold class long, only 13 minutes, and I didn’t even have to teach anything and the class didn’t say a peep for 13 minutes. Thats pretty good classroom management if you ask me, that and quarter will get you somewhere. You may ask yourself, what the heck was he doing? Well I was holding class.Holding a class in at break for the whole 13 minutes. Now, this is the first time that I have ever done this either teaching or administrating so I was curious as to how it was going to go. Turns out it went fine. The students weren’t so happy but overall it worked out ok and I think that they lurned a lesson. And what do you know, I learned a lesson as well and here it is: Even when you are the disciplinarian you can still have kids like you and respect you. I think I already knew this, however my experience today confirmed the fact that this is true.

What I am really trying to post about here is that being the disciplinarian at a school does not mean that you have to be the bad guy. What it means is that you hold students accountable for their actions and you do it in a respectful manner. My goal is always to always say hi to a student that has gotten in trouble as soon as I see them outside a classroom. In this way I let the student know that I don’t hold a grudge and I am still going to talk to them. I feel that the students appreciate this. It lets them see that just because I am the bad guy doesn’t mean I am a bad guy.

I see many administrators who relish their role as the “bad guy”, send them to me and I will bust their chops I hear them say. Well I never have heard that but you get the picture. My heart goes out to those people. I don’t ever want to be the “bad guy”. What I want to be, as I said before, is someone who consistently enforces the rules and holds the students accountable in the face of teachers, parents and other students.

Students need to know that the guidelines are there and that they are going to be enforced and there are consequences if you cannot follow them. That is my job, not to hand out detentions, suspensions and the what nots. I relish the consistency, when I can say honestly to a parent, that overall I am consistent. That I do more than just yell at the kid (did I say yell, I meant speak firmly) or get them in trouble.

One of my daughters favorite conversations at night is to go over the days discipline with me. Daddy did you suspend anyone, did you get anyone in detention. I review the facts, leave out the names and she is satisfied. I realize that it also gives me time to reflect. If I have done something unjust I usually cannot sleep and my first attempt the next morning is to set it straight. However if I have followed protocol, been fair and respectful then I am ok with giving out the appropriate consequences.

I will sleep well tonight, because holding class was the right thing to do.

Cross Posted at Santa Cruz Middle School Administrators

Holding Class

May 9, 2007 by · No Comments · administration, Discipline

Today we had 7 subs on campus, the principal was gone and the custodian. The day seemed to go smooth with the exception of me having to hold class. Mind you I didn’t hold class long, only 13 minutes, and I didn’t even have to teach anything and the class didn’t say a peep for 13 minutes. Thats pretty good classroom management if you ask me, that and quarter will get you somewhere. You may ask yourself, what the heck was he doing? Well I was holding class.Holding a class in at break for the whole 13 minutes. Now, this is the first time that I have ever done this either teaching or administrating so I was curious as to how it was going to go. Turns out it went fine. The students weren’t so happy but overall it worked out ok and I think that they lurned a lesson. And what do you know, I learned a lesson as well and here it is: Even when you are the disciplinarian you can still have kids like you and respect you. I think I already knew this, however my experience today confirmed the fact that this is true.

What I am really trying to post about here is that being the disciplinarian at a school does not mean that you have to be the bad guy. What it means is that you hold students accountable for their actions and you do it in a respectful manner. My goal is always to always say hi to a student that has gotten in trouble as soon as I see them outside a classroom. In this way I let the student know that I don’t hold a grudge and I am still going to talk to them. I feel that the students appreciate this. It lets them see that just because I am the bad guy doesn’t mean I am a bad guy.

I see many administrators who relish their role as the “bad guy”, send them to me and I will bust their chops I hear them say. Well I never have heard that but you get the picture. My heart goes out to those people. I don’t ever want to be the “bad guy”. What I want to be, as I said before, is someone who consistently enforces the rules and holds the students accountable in the face of teachers, parents and other students.

Students need to know that the guidelines are there and that they are going to be enforced and there are consequences if you cannot follow them. That is my job, not to hand out detentions, suspensions and the what nots. I relish the consistency, when I can say honestly to a parent, that overall I am consistent. That I do more than just yell at the kid (did I say yell, I meant speak firmly) or get them in trouble.

One of my daughters favorite conversations at night is to go over the days discipline with me. Daddy did you suspend anyone, did you get anyone in detention. I review the facts, leave out the names and she is satisfied. I realize that it also gives me time to reflect. If I have done something unjust I usually cannot sleep and my first attempt the next morning is to set it straight. However if I have followed protocol, been fair and respectful then I am ok with giving out the appropriate consequences.

I will sleep well tonight, because holding class was the right thing to do.

Cross Posted at Santa Cruz Middle School Administrators

Missing and missing.

April 23, 2007 by · No Comments · administration

Well it has been a while since I last posted. I think that I promised I would write about ‘Give the Kid a pencil”. However it seems that that post has gone missing. Additionally I am starting to miss not being able to post as regularly as I want. I just can’t seem to find the time, (which have been what my last 3 posts have been about). Even though I have been missing I have been tagged. THe secrets of my success has been sent my way by Kelly Christopherson, so it seems that even though I am missing people still remember that I am out there. So with a new found interest I will be posting my secrets to success by Wednesday. So cross your fingers at another attempt to get back in the flow. By the way “Give the kid a pencil” is still sitting there.

Blocked or Bored?

April 3, 2007 by · 2 Comments · administration, Blogging, Middle School Blogging

It feels like forever that I have written. I think it is more a block than anything. I am as busy as I have been in the past and even then I managed to write a few words here and there. It seems that now days I can’t find anything to write about. Which is odd, in that I have one of the worlds most interesting jobs and it seems that each day should bring about some new idea in which to pen my thoughts. I have never really been a writer, so I don’t know if this is truly writers block or if I just have caught up with my blog fever and now I have to reenergize myself to continue.

I seem to have forgotten how much I enjoyed reading the different posts in my reader, commenting and then following the comment trail. I know that it takes time and I think like anything when you get out of the habit you have to force yourself to get back into it. I look at some of the other bloggers and they are posting like 4 or 5 articles a week. I know that I can do that, and in fact at my peak I was probally around 3-4, so I know that it can be done. My goal this week is to post to the 3 blogs that I currently work on. This is my first post back here so I am one third of the way there. I am working on a slideshow for the other blog, it will be about student attendance, modeled after the “Did you Know” slideshow.

In regards to subjects to write about, I am trying to get in the habit of writing down topics and then trying to get back to them and start to write about them. My only problem now is remembering where I write down those little topic sentences. I have got them all over the place.

I am also concerned that the limited amount of people that look at this blog will go away and never come back. I feel that I have worked hard to get my little audience and I don’t want to lose them. So that is moving me to start to post again.

With that said, I am working on my next post entitled “Give the kid a pencil”. Should be ready soon.

Encouraging

March 16, 2007 by · 5 Comments · Blogging, Middle School Blogging

I wrote a few days ago that getting people to write comments on SC Middleschooladmin was like pulling teeth. Well I had a meeting today with some of the principals and ap’s and asked them if anyone was even reading it.  You know what they are. Yahoo!!!  What they said was we really enjoy it, we love reading it, don’t change it, we just don’t have time to write on it. Also a few of them stated that they are not quite ready to post to an open forum and I understand that. Sometimes you have to be ready to step out of your comfort zone and maybe just reading is the first step for some of these people. Anyways I was encouraged by the group and I am going to keep moving on and posting to the new site