Archives for posts with tag: administration

Connecting with the community is one of the greatest challenges of every school that I’ve worked in.  Too often, we settle for the excuse of “That’s just the way it is in (fill in any town in America)”.   I would argue that communities that are the most difficult to engage are the communities that most desperately need to be heard from in order to improve our schools.

In the coming school year, we will be using Celly to connect with parents.

Cell is a free service that allows users to create “Cells” or groups of users that can engaged in a text message dialogue.   Cells can be set up for classes, teams, clubs, PTO, or the entire school.

How it works;

Users create accounts, then sets up Cell.

Other users can set up an account using their cell phone, then join the cell that was created. Once they join, they will be able to participate in the text dialogue.

Celly can be used to deliver announcements to all group members such as;

“Report cards going home today, make sure you ask your child and celebrate their hard work!”.

It can also be used to poll participants to get feedback.  This will make for an easy way to get community feedback on school decisions.

For someone who doesn’t like the sound of his voice, Celly is a much preferred option.  When I record a message using our Alertnow system, I record and rerecord the message at least 4 times.  I would much rather send a text alert.

This will be a great resource for connecting with families and ensuring a two way dialogue.

Bullying is a problem in every school.  School leaders must take proactive measures to ensure the safety and comfort of every student in the building.  Students will not learn if they are not comfortable.

Picture taken from http://www.hopewellva.gov

As much as we encourage every student to come to administration with reports of wrongdoing, it doesn’t always happen.  After a meeting with my principal, we decided to add another resource to our fight against bullying.  We want students to be able to text message us directly to report anything that they would not be comfortable doing in person.

Using Google Voice, we were able to set up a free account.  This will allow students to report discipline violations through text messaging.  While we just established the service, I believe it will be a great resource to our school’s fight against bullying.
Google Voice is a free service that has a ton of great features.  If you’d like to learn more, be sure to visit their sight.  Our school district uses Google email services, but the feature of Google Voice was blocked.  I had to set up an alternate email address for our school.  This wasn’t a problem because I was able to forward all received texts to my work email.


I write this post after sitting through three days of professional development.  The county that I work for asked that we send a team, thus we did. Prior to attending, I was looking forward to learning new methods of helping our students learn and grow. Unfortunately, I learned unintentional lessons from those presenting.  Here are a few pointers for myself and other professional development presenters.

1. You don’t need to prove your value, we trust you. You’ve already proven your value, which is why I’m taking time from my school and attending your seminar. You don’t need to give stories of your teaching career and how great you were. I’m attending your workshop, because I believe you can offer me tools, information, or strategies that will help me reach my students more effectively.

2. Use the best resources that you have. There were approximately 75 educators in the room, perfect for networking and sharing ideas.  Unfortunately, this did not happen.   Instructional leaders need to put the materials into the hands of those who will be using it. Then, let the professionals work together to plan implementation. This will give teachers comfort with using the new tools while providing support from the experts.

3. Practice what we preach. We ask our teachers to get away from standing at the board and lecturing. Yet, when we attend PD, that is typically what happens.  How are our teachers supposed to get away from lecturing, if we never expose them to anything else?  Use the format of the training as training itself. We can teach others about any number of topics in a format that will give them exposure to a new way of teaching.

4. Read your audience. It is appalling to look around and see a room full of disconnected, disengaged, distracted audience members.  I’m not disappointed by the audience’s behavior, but rather by the fact that the presenter continues as if everyone were paying attention.  As part of my teacher walk-through observations, I look at what percent of the students are engaged.  If a huge portion of the class is not engaged, I have to ask myself if the teacher is effectively engaging the students.

5. Don’t let them leave empty handed.  How many times have you gone to a workshop, and thought “I can’t wait to try that”?  Weeks and months go by, and you still haven’t put anything you learned into practice. At that point you’ve forgotten what it was that you wanted to try. Give the learners time to create a lesson, or plan a unit that incorporates one thing from your workshop.  Make them use their time to do something productive.  That will increase the odds that it will get used.  If you are really on top of it, you will have the participants record what they plan on using and their contact info.  In a few weeks you can send them an email asking them how it went in their classroom.

6. Respect the clock.  NEVER hold a group late.  If you are not finished, invite those that wish to continue the conversation to stay longer, but never require everyone to stay past a set time.  If anything, reward hard work with an early release.  The people will leave on a positive note, and remember your PD in a much better light.

Working as a first year administrator, I’m always looking for opportunity for professional growth.  My daily drive is about 25 minutes each way.  Thus, I have time to listen to plenty of podcasts.

Eduleadership >> Radio – Justin Baeder Justin interviews school administrators to bring you the best ideas for leading your school.  I have really enjoyed listening to Justin and his guests.  Each episode, he talks with other tech driven school leaders and shares their best practices.  There hasn’t been a post since October, of 2011; hopefully he’ll get back to posting some new shows soon.

EdAdmin – Part of the EdReach network, the EdAdmin show highlights the ideas and insights from the innovative administrator’s point of view. Hosted by Chris Atkinson, who does a good job bringing together creative and well spoken administrators to talk about relevant topics.  My only complaint is that there have only been three episodes so far.

Practical Principals – This is most definitely my favorite educational podcast.  Unfortunately they stopped recording April, 2011.  With the tagline “What you didn’t learn in grad school”, Melinda Miller and Scott Elias, do a great job of sharing their insight into the profession.  They are both technology driven, and creative in the way they manage their schools.  Their chemistry is great and really fun to listen to.

NPR Topics: Education – This isn’t really a show, but rather a collection of NPR stories that week that apply to education.  I enjoy keeping up with education news, but when I listen to other podcasts on my drive, I can’t tune into NPR.  The shows are typically 10 to 20 minutes long depending on how many education pieces they aired that week.  This is a great way to keep on top of educational news and policies.