October 11, 2013

Tabula Rasa

When I was a sophomore in high school I had a teacher named Mrs. Giest at Largo High School. She loved vocabulary just as much as I did. It was in her class that I was introduced to etymology and latin/greek roots. You have no idea how excited I was to learn about the history of forming words.

From that moment I knew I would have my students complete etymology projects each year and I did just that as a classroom teacher.

One of the words that stuck with me is Tabula Rasa - latin for blank slate or empty slate before receiving outside impressions.

It stuck with me because I made a connection with Tabula Rasa and new mercies that scriptures speak of, with the idea that everyone deserves a chance to recover, right the wrong, atone, have a second chance, etc.

Are you willing to give that student, that teacher, or that parent a tabula rasa. Think about how many times you have failed, disappointed or embarrassed someone and they gave you a clean slate?

Continue to foster visions of success...

October 10, 2013

There is a King in You

During my personal devotion this morning and the song, 'There is a King in You'.  I connected with it for many reasons. Please allow me to build with you on the fact that there are king and queen like destinies for everyone. 

Everyone has a purpose and a future. Everyone has a past. In order to help our community members and students reveal that purpose, we must speak positivity and encouragement each day. For me, speaking life into a situation includes using words or phrases that keep their dream alive. Let's continue to motivate and encourage, even in our thoughts.

Do you really believe that all students can achieve great things? From the core of who you are? It is essential to believe it yourself before you can give authentic encouragement to another.

As a young child, there were several words or phrases we were not allowed to say. At the time I didn't fully understand why my mother added the word 'can't' to the list of things we aren't to say.

But, now, as a mother of six - I get it! She wanted to us try everything before giving up. Don't say you can't, say I have a hard time trying, she would say. That meant, I had to try. So many of us are ready to give up and you haven't even tried. You can open that store, you can go back to school for that degree, you can reach your fitness goals. There is a King (and Queen) in you. 

Live on purpose and be mindful of the words you speak. 

Donald Lawrence's says:

You come from royalty

An aristocratic dynasty
The goal of the enemy
Is that you don't know who you are

There's power when you speak
Be mindful of words you release
But the King in me speaks to the King in you

You were born to rule there is a King in you
Speak with such defeat?
Speak with such low esteem?
But the King in me speaks to the King in you
You were born to rule, there is a King in you

October 7, 2013

Sage on the Stage - Increasing Parental Involvement

Have you ever been to a sports contest for students and think to yourself: 'it would be great if parents were this excited and came out in these numbers for PTA or family workshops.' 

I mean it is during the EXACT same time as a PTA meeting and the entire community is there cheering on the student. 

How can we, then, transfer that same enthusiasm to math night, PTA and honor roll?

Put the students on stage. Let them plan, lead, and execute the activities and the parents will rise to the occasion. To teach is to learn twice so having student presenters is a benefit to them also. 

Student presenters:
Practice planning and problem solving
Collaborate with co-facilitators
Model best practices
Gain great leadership ability
Increase self esteem and self efficacy

Learn from their students
Get accustomed to school wide strategies 

Facilitate and clarify when needed 
Support parents as guides
Ensure family contact info is accurate

Do you have experience with this model or are you willing to try it and share? 


September 12, 2013

21st Century Organization

Being a mother of six children, I am often asked how I do it. While I don't have a full response which satisfies the shocked inquirer, I do know one thing for sure: Technology has helped me to become a more organized advocate for my children.

Taking tweeting and texting beyond its social realm of existence, I have learned that collaborating with practitioners as partners scores a home run for team Student Success. The use of Google Calendar and video messaging services like Google Hangout and Skype have allowed me to meet with teachers while I am sitting in the parking lot awaiting the children's dance class to end (like right now). 

Now the Google Calendar can be synchronized to all family devices and alerts can be programmed also. So if you are always forgetting to do the reading log, place it on the calendar with an audible alert and hold yourself accountable. Count out how many days are left on the lunch account and add it the calendar, with any school testing dates, then doctor and dentist appointments when assessments are not scheduled. The calendaring doesn't stop there. Add weekly chores, SAT words of the week, extracurricular activities and play dates.

Use the tools to your advantage.

September 8, 2013

Back to School: Time to Build

I wonder how other administrators feel as they conduct walkthroughs in their schools. As I enter the classrooms and view student work in the hallways, I feel the positive energy throughout the campus.

The educators in my building make me miss being an educator. They engage students through building relationships with families and communities. Once that foundation of respect, clear expectations and genuine support is established, authentic teaching and learning can take place in a fault-free, non-confrontational environment.

Ways to build relationships with our teachers include:

  • Soliciting their opinion and allowing that data to drive decisions
  • Allowing them to lead programs and professional learning
  • Staff retreats and monthly opportunities to build as a unit
  • Support and encourage learning through attending conferences
  • Remove barriers that may hinder teaching and learning

We build relationships with our kings and queens by: 

  • Greeting them at the door with a handshake each day
  • Checking in with them throughout the day, at lunch and in the hallways
  • Asking their opinion before making decisions which effect them
  • Empowering them to self-advocate and honoring their courage
  • Support them in their community activities
  • Allowing them to create opportunities to lead on campus
  • Coaching them in understanding errors and how to atone with others.
It is through love, understanding, and an unwavering focus of the mission and vision which we are all called to support that provides the greatest opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with our school community.