Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why We Love #NoOfficeDay

Why We Love #NoOfficeDay
This blog post was co-written by Shira Leibowitz, William King, and Myself

Serious critique deserves serious response. When several educators we respect wondered aloud on twitter about whether No Office Day sends a poor message about administrators, we took their reservations seriously.

Upon further reflections, we still love #NoOfficeDay. For those not yet familiar with No Office Day, it is a day (or numerous days) on which principals and other school leaders shut our offices down and spend the entire day where learning happens - among our teachers and our students. Here are some of the original #NoOfficeDay principal posts that inspired the rest of us: No Office Day by David Truss, Be There by Lyn Hilt and International No Office Day by David Truss.

Does No Office Day mean we never spend other time out of our office?  Of course not!  Effective principals are typically hard to find in their offices, because they are the “lead learners” of their building and are usually already in classrooms to observe learning.  #NoOfficeDay days are part of more comprehensive approaches by principals to transform our roles from “experts” directing teachers and managing to full participants in learning, focusing the school on a culture of collaboration to support student learning.  It is a day or several days in which principals immerse themselves into teaching in specific grade levels, certain subjects or throughout the building.  It is time for principals to keep “in touch” with teaching and learning.  

No Office Day is merely one section of a more nuanced tapestry of the role of the principal and the way in which principals and other school leaders engage in learning. We each spend significant time daily in classrooms, not merely “driving by” as walkthroughs have been appropriately critiqued, but reshaping our roles to be more like coaches than evaluators.

It is important to note that while we are out and about all the time many principals still end up spending large amounts of time in the office.  Discipline referrals, parent meetings, scheduling, community partnerships, paperwork,etc.  Some of these efforts are not “busywork” such as meeting with teachers on their own goals and learning and partnering with parents to support their children. Still, it’s unfortunate but its the truth, and we’d be lying if we said we never got caught up in “busywork”.  In some districts, it is more the norm for seasoned administrators to stay in their office and fill the role of manager as compared to instructional leader.  No Office Day allows  the opportunity to light a fire under some of these principals (and central office staff) who haven’t taught a day since leaving the classroom for administration.

We can find No Office Day as more of a celebration of the great things we are doing (coaching, teaching, leading).  Celebrating these things motivates those around us who may be set in their ways and have forgotten what it’s like to be in the trenches.  It’s sad that that’s the case but its true.  Last year all the principals and central office staff (including superintendent) got involved and they had a blasts.  It really changed some of the mindset of our administrators and resulting in regular No Office Days the rest of the year.  

While educators that are not principals, may be critical of #NoOfficeDay, we realize that it is sometimes difficult for teachers to understand all the responsibilities that principals take on day to day.  None of us realized how tough administrators have it...until we became one!

Want to read more from other principals on #NoOfficeDay?  You can find their posts here. 

Edited to add: This is also posted at Connected Principals and has invited great discussion in the comments.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Common Core for the Principals

The September/October issue of the Principal journal from NAESP is filled with articles on the Common Core State Standards for Principals.  As the lead learners in our buildings, it is critical that we are leading our faculty into this new era of teaching with the Common Core State Standards.  Although we do not have to fully implement them until the 2014/2015 school year, there is no time to wait. You must be doing work in your buildings on the Common Core State Standards now.

Want to know what we've done in my district with the Common Core State Standards?  You can read about it in this article from Principal. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Video clips for staff meetings

I love finding ways to use humorous/inspiring video clips for staff meetings or PD sessions.  They are such a nice way to get started on a positive note, to "lighten the mood" if needed, or to give visual to the message you are wanting to share. Twitter has been a great place to gather ideas from others.  My colleague, Curt Rees, has shared 2 blog posts of video clips he's used:
Good humorous videos for staff meetings
More videos to use with school staff

This post is a bit of a "copy cat" from Curt's posts, but I wanted to share the video clips that I used to start the school year with faculty and tell how/why I used them.

I used this video in both my teachers and support staff meetings:

My message along with this video was, "I think each of your jobs can feel a lot like this with everything you have to do.  If you are ever having a bad day and feel like there are just too many balls to hit, please go back to the Positive Pledge...and let me know how I can help you."

I used this video at the start of our staff meeting during the first week of school:

My message to go along with this video is that I know we have a lot going on this year; a new math curriuclum, a new evaluation model and iPads and I want everyone to know that it's ok to ask questions...even if your question feels as silly as when the man asks how to open the book!

This isn't for humor, but I did share this video clip when reminding teachers that at the start of the school year you cannot assume your students know how to do anything--you have to teach/practice all of the procedures (i.e. sharpening pencils, lining up, walking in the hall, etc.)

I also used this video clip when I briefly shared about some of my learning from John Hattie's book Visible Learning for Teachers and for teachers to "Know Thy Impact."

Here's a video clip I did use for humor (although it was at the end of last year). We were working on common core math practices and I used this Big Bang Theory clip just to lighten the mood (we have many Big Bang Theory fans in our building). It does use the math term "algorithm"!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ready for the First Day of Bucket Filling!

I'm ready for the first day of school tomorrow and excited to kick off our Bucket Fillers theme for the year.  Here's my blog post in pictures for you (because I'm short on time)...

As students come to the doors they will see...

Our main hallway bulletin board:

This explains the bulletin board:

Here's another Bucket Filler's bulletin board (put together by our wonderful Counselor!):

My bag is packed and ready to go into classrooms to introduce Bucket Filling:

What's in my bag, you ask?  I've got the Bucket Filler's Pledge:

The book I'm reading to the classes:

A variety of books to give to the classrooms (depends on the grade level):

"Drops" to explain how students can fill buckets on our main bulletin board. I will have them write out something to someone in their home to fill their buckets at the end of the day.

I also have this letter for students to take home, explaining Bucket Filling to their parents.

And I also have a bucket full of bracelets for students to choose from. Each one says, "Have you filled a bucket today?"

I can't forget about staff.  I have finally put some of my Pinterest pins to use in the staff lounge: