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.


The Interactive Parent

Act 2, Scene 2
Conversation between student and guardian occurs hours after the school and work day has ended.

Parent:   How was your day? 
Student: Good.
Parent:   What did you learn today?
Student: Nothing.
Parent:   Did you finish your homework?
Student: Yes.

Student puts in earbuds and listens to music while parent goes to prepare dinner and make sure clothes are washed.

How many times has that scene been played in households across America? 

Often times as parents and community leaders, we attempt to engage with our students with limited success. Sometimes its all in the questioning. Instead of asking those input-output questions, try keeping them on their toes by asking a few of the following:

  • Teach me what you learned in mathematics today.
  • How can you apply what you learned in science to our lives?
  • How do you know that number 5 is correct?
  • Bring me your homework and agenda book and show me how they are linked.
  • Describe a challenge you had today.
  • If you could change something about one today's lesson how would you do it? Why?
  • What other supplies or support do you need to make you more successful?
  • What was the best part of your lunch experience today?

These questions solicit a response that is thoughtful and engaging for student and parent. They provide insight on what is really going on the schoolhouse and how you can better support your child. Research says that being able to teach someone else a skill shows mastery on the part of the teacher. That means if your child can teach you why 646 is written six hundred forty six in written form, then you know they have mastered the skill.

Try it out and let me know how it goes below.