Sunday, April 29, 2012

From atop the Soapbox

A Glimpse of Next Week:

Monday, April 30th:  Last day of April (seriously, last day of April)
Tuesday, May 1st:  1st grade Common Core in TIC
Tuesday, May 1st: Boy and Girl Quest 4pm @ Bean Elementary
Wednesday, May 2nd:  Grades 3-5 PLC Assembly @8:45
Wednesday, May 2nd:  Top Teacher Award Dinner 5:30pm
Thursday, May 3rd:  Kindergarten Common Core in TIC
Thursday, May 3rd:  Boy and Girl Quest 4pm @ Bean Elementary
Friday, May 4th:  Grades K & 1 Story Fest
Friday, May 4th:  5th Grade College for a Day at SAU

How do you discipline?

Discipline is a challenging subject in schools.  Picture this, the year is 1999.  People are scared to death that computers will crash and the world would be deemed useless when the clocks strike midnight and bring us into a new millennium!  (Now that we know those people were wrong did they ever apologize for getting people so worked up?)  I digress.  Okay it is 1999, I'm a student teacher in Fremont, Indiana.  My cooperating teacher was Mrs. Easton.  She was a very good 3rd grade teacher.  I loved 3rd grade, students loved being there and didn't question adults.  During my student teaching experience I handled parent/teacher conferences, I taught lessons, I stayed after school and did projects, essentially I did whatever I could to make a good impression.  I was told early on that being a male in an elementary is a blessing and a curse.  The blessing is that discipline will be easier because of your gender.  The curse is that most administrators will place behavioral issues in your classroom.  How true this was!  As I concluded my student teaching experience I'll never forget Mr. Bolenbaugh, the principal asking me to come down to his office.  He wanted me to see something.  He happened to have Casey, a young boy from the room I was student teaching in.  Casey had caused several problems on the bus all year.  I witnessed Mr. Bolenbaugh paddle him.  (I was in total shock...weeks before I watched Fraternity brothers do this to each other, but a nine year old boy?)  Complete Shock!  This event really shaped me.  It made me deeply think about discipline.  The old way was with a firm hand.  Very stern and very authoritative.  If I needed to be, I felt I could do this, but it was not my preference.  My preference was to make sure it wouldn't happen again.  

Now, the deep thoughts, how do I best do this?  As I entered my first year I was against writing sentences and humiliating kids in any way.  I wanted to have consequences, but more importantly consequences that matched up with the violation.  For example, student defaces school property...student either fixes it, replaces it, or gives community service time to the building.  Throughout my 10 years teaching (nine in my own room, one as a student teacher) I handled my own issues 99% of the time.  Occasionally I had the 1% that I needed administrative support, but I always felt that they were "my" kids and I needed to be the one dealing with the issues.  I called parents during school, I emailed, I had students write letters to their parents, anything I could do to get students to feel remorseful and make me believe it wouldn't occur again.  

Then I became principal. Discipline became a major issue.  Here is why, when I was teaching I had a good indication of the "context", as principal I felt as though I had to investigate for a substantial amount of time before feeling comfortable enough to issue consequences.  MY way of disciplining is different, my philosophy is teaching students correct behavior, teaching them right and wrong, trying to get students to see the mistakes they made, ultimately trying to get students to take responsibility.  Now sometimes I must be firm, I must have "old school" consequences like writing sentences, but I do not prefer these tactics.  My preference is making connections with students and teaching appropriate behavior and responsibility.  I'm sure people will disagree with my methods, and I'd be the first to admit I'm still researching to find better ways.  I'll tell you discipline is difficult when you rarely see the incident first hand.  Often times you hear about the incident from multiple sources and then have to decide what truly took place.  My way of disciplining has worked for me, I must treat every situation differently, I can't discipline a kindergarten student the same way I would a 5th grader.  When you get right down to it the goal is educating students, I try and discipline by educating.  The days of paddling are gone.  Students need consistency, clear expectations, boundaries, but most of all love.  Even in disciplining I want the students to know Mr. Gilpin cares.

To finish, my philosophy on discipline is this:  1- make the discipline fit the crime 2- educate the students to why their actions deserve a consequence 3- communicate to parents for support and clarification 4- document discipline so that consequences can be progressive

For the rest of eternity discipline will be an issue of debate.  Schools in some ways are extremely restricted, the debate will go on forever, but my take is this:  have a philosophy, be a strong communicator, don't expect people to always agree with you, and don't make rash decisions.

Great Things Noticed or Heard:

- Friday afternoon I had Tesafaye Starr in my office, he complained of a stomach ache...I offered a cupcake...he accepted.  (Stomach ache???)  Then we proceeded to play Stack the States for 25 minutes!  Tesafaye has the cutest giggle and when the states toppled over he was a real hoot!
- Really enjoyed the 3D rap in Mrs. Garnett's room!  AJ and Rose have great dance moves
- So many cute stories from kindergarten round-up, but Jaylen stole the show when he "Tebowed" after getting finished at one of the stations!  Can't believe he's five years old and TEBOWING!
- Mrs. Valentine's class challenged me to addition math facts.  Very impressed by the speed and accuracy of second graders.
- 3rd graders came back raving about the trip to the zoo!  Words that were flying, awesome, amazing, and fantastic.  Simply reminder to all adults...almost all kids love animals.
- During recess the kindergarten students said they saw a snake, within 5 minutes supposably they saw 50 snakes.  Love the imaginations!
- Witnessed Mrs. Dault without a voice this week.  She did a wonderful job teaching and adjusting with no voice.  Good for her!  Reminds me that the power of flexibility is so important.
- First week of YouTube announcements went extremely well!  Way to Go Deb & 5th grade
- Power went out this week.  Entire building was calm, cool, and collected...great job everyone
- Big Kudos to John Raymond, he tracked down flashlights and helped countless kids in and out of the bathrooms.  
- Happy Secretaries Week to Katie and Pat.  I can attest that they loved all the cards, gifts, well wishes and delicious meals.  Very impressive how everyone pulls together.
- Nice job presenting at the Staff Meeting Breanna.  Great information and the handout was a nice touch.
- Loved seeing forty four balloons in Mrs. Hurt's room!  

Articles worth checking out:

12 Things You Should Be Able to Say About Yourself
How to use Twitter in educational ways
14 great educational apps for kids
10 ways to establish clear boundaries for children
Boy in PJ's, great book and lesson for Upper El.

Videos worth your time:

Teacher Appreciation Story!

The times are changing...

What makes a great teacher?

The cute curiosity of Spring

Panther Pride Picture

Saturday, April 21, 2012

From atop the Soapbox

April 21, 2012

Next Week at a Glance:

Monday, April 23rd:  2nd Grade Common Core in TIC
Monday, April 23rd:  TAT 8am
Monday, April 23rd:  Kindergarten Round-Up 4-8
Tuesday, April 24th:  Bible Release 9am
Tuesday, April 24th:  TEAM meeting 9am
Tuesday, April 24th:  Kindergarten Round-Up 4-8
Wednesday, April 25th:  PLC K-2 assembly @ 8:45
Wednesday, April 25th:  3rd grade Common Core in TIC
Wednesday, April 25th:  Kindergarten Round-up 3:30-8
Wednesday, April 25th:  Western String Team from 4:30-5:30pm
Thursday, April 26th:  Kindergarten Round-up 4-8
Friday, April 27th:  Staff Meeting in Mrs. Valentine's classroom 8am (Miss Hinkley & Mrs. Delor will be sharing MACUL info, goodies, and ideas)

First blog down, hopefully many more to come.  I received a lot of feedback last week.  I felt it was beneficial feedback.  A few things I learned:  1 - my proofreading skills need to be sharpened (my focus was on content, not perfect grammar. In hindsight maybe the focus should have been both content and perfect grammar) 2 - gotta find a way to use tabs (some people thought it was too long; felt like one more thing to do) 3 - showing a personal side surprised people (huh, never thought I was a "tough nut to crack").

Loose and Tight Leadership

We all have them-- these areas in our life that MUST be a certain way.  Maybe as a parent you demand chores be done and vegetables eaten.  Or maybe every Sunday (or Saturday night) the entire family WILL go to church.  Possibly, in your own life, you will ALWAYS put your family before your career.  The point is this: Certain things in our lives are very TIGHT, meaning flexibility is not an option, that we want it this way.  Other things can be considered loose.  For instance, at my house I love to read to my boys every night at 8:45, but some nights they want to cuddle in bed with mom and watch NCIS. I don't sweat it and so either I let them stay up a bit late or read two chapters the next day.  Maybe in your house you'd prefer the TV off at dinner, but if it's on you just deal with it.  Everyone is different, and everyone has things that are considered TIGHT. But then there are other things that are LOOSE. Flexibility is okay, and you're able to go with the flow.    

For two years I have simply been me.  I have tried to lead by example, and I have tried to model. I have tried to share, communicate, and listen.  Some days I feel good about things, other times not so much.  So that brings me to what I envision as TIGHT and LOOSE leadership.  

I'm going to quickly go through some things I personally view as TIGHT:  Punctuality, professional dress, up to date records, communication with parents, collaborating, investment in students, professional behavior, and willingness to differentiate  Here is what I mean by LOOSE:  I really don't care whether people arrive one hour early or two minutes early, but the key is early...I'm not a fan of late.  With that being said, life happens, I get it, so I will live.  Another idea of loose is professional attire. I wear shirts and ties, and I like wearing shirts and ties.  I strongly believe jeans can be dressed up.  I also appreciate sweaters, blouses, nice slacks, and dresses.  Another LOOSE area is communication  Some people email parents, some call, some send notes or letters, some talk face to face.  I don't care how, I just want the communication to occur.  I can be a bit LOOSE with records. Some people have data for everything. I like that, and others have data for what they deem most essential, which I like that as well.  The point is, these things I'm a bit more LOOSE on, just as long as it's done.  

That brings me to my big finale. What does Ben truly value? What does Ben think is most important?  Engagement.  My feeling is that engaged students learn.  Now don't get me wrong, I still think trust, caring, and honesty are very important.  In fact I believe all the little things can assist in student engagement.  What I'm also saying is that by engaging students you've found a way to get their attention, and if you have their attention you can teach, and if you can teach, then ultimately students learn and grow.  

When I enter classrooms, I look at the kids, not the adults.  I look for engagement, I look at their eyes and the body language.  It saddens me when kids say they don't like school, I feel a sense of failure, gosh at one time I was that kid.  I remember despising school in 6th grade.  It was a bad year.  Thank goodness for Mr. Hilger and Ms. Berg in 7th grade.  They made school a happy place for me.  I don't want people to read this and think Ben only values kids having fun. That's not it.  But I do believe there is a connection between engagement, learning, and happiness.  The teachers I remember from my youth engaged me, took me on nature hikes, dissected frogs, created models, and had me cooking in class (what ever happened to Home Economics?).  So, my question is:

How will you engage your kids?

Things I heard or noticed last week:
- Loved it when Mrs. Holton called her students scientists!  Think big and encourage
- Makayla told me she loves it when I wear pink. Glad I could please her : )
- Mrs. King's class smoked through the additional facts in 53 seconds! WOW
- Student Council made a wise decision to save money for bigger items...that's why they are student council reps
- Miss Hinkley received her Board Appreciation Award for being one of the Jackson Area Teachers of the Year!
- 3rd-5th graders applauded the Earth Day Video
- Mrs. Soper's class created wonderful birthday cards for March and April birthday students
- Mrs. Soper's class used the iPad to create Weather Man (or Woman) videos. Very cute
- Mrs. Rouse shot a video with the joke...but it may give you motion sickness
- Livingston loves to engage Mrs. Powers in conversation...I simply love to listen to it from my office : )
- Mrs. Hurt wonderfully handled a "razor sharp" situation!
- Mrs. Oliver and Mrs. Holton were extremely flexible Friday morning...very grateful...very thankful!
- Thank you for a delicious April Birthday Lunch
- Last week a substitute teacher was leaving the building, and I told her thanks, and hope it went well...she said, "It always goes well here. Great kids, and a supportive staff!"
- Got to watch a video of Ben Parrot dancing over spring break.  Kid has got moxi, I'll give him that!
- Kirbie Watson likes the idea of iPad announcements.  Kirbie says, "This is cool."
- Next week we have Secretary Day. Make sure you find a bit of time to gush over Katie and Pat. They're definitely worth it!
- Couldn't stop smiling after talking with Mrs. Dault.  Insightful chat after school on Thursday!
- Picture this: you walk into the cafeteria and see a group of kids huddled around each other, then you hear: this is cool, smell it, I want more, is there any more pieces?  Hmmm, what could they be discussing?  Of course, they were talking about the shards of plastic that Prof. Kuntzelman destroyed.  Science Club loves blowing things up!

Articles worth checking out:  Click on Article to open a new window
Educational Trends to Check out
Your Principles vs Your Principal
Student Participation, is it KEY?
Blog of PrincipalJ, worth your time!

Videos to check out

Give this video time, at first you may be confused, give it a chance.

Sometimes Athletes can get a bad reputation.  Check out this video, thoughtful, inspiring, caring. One person can make a difference.

Intriguing video, would YOU push the button?

Finally, I mentioned in Blog 1 a few people that I get my new ideas from.  I realized after analyzing my blog that I only mentioned my Twitter PLN.  I also have a in person PLN:

My Wife (Amy): if you only knew, she puts up with my quirks, faults, and rants.  
Sue Haney & Mike Ykimoff: My fellow Elementary principals, you two make it so my island is never too lonely.
Eric Swihart: My friend.  We run together, we vent, we have a unique way of sharing, running, and trying to make ourselves better.
The entire Western School District AdStaff:  Thank you for sharing, encouraging, and sometimes just listening.
The Warner Staff: Each staff member has unique qualities that I learn from.  Sometimes you don't even know that I'm learning from you : )

This is Blog 2...I'll be attaching pictures very soon. I welcome feedback.

What will you do for Earth day?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

From atop the Soapbox

Welcome to the New and I believe improved Warner Word!

This Week April 16-20
Monday, April 16th:  After School Science Club with Prof. Kuntzelman
Monday, April 16th:  Crisis Response Meeting (for me)
Tuesday, April 17th:  Panther Pride
Tuesday, April 17th:  PTO meeting 7pm - Brad and Jenny are signed up
Wednesday, April 18th:  Grades 3-5 assembly @8:45
Wednesday, April 18th:  Some staff will be doing Common Core work

Most people that know me know that I have several qualities.  I tend to look at a few that really define me.  In random order here are my most defining character traits (in my own mind):  patient, caring, and analytical.  You may agree or disagree that is completely your choice.  My guess is most people don't know that I analyze everything.  This morning as I was running my mind thought was why have people stopped using the word "darn" and now almost exclusively use the other "D" word which is much harsher?  This thought provoking moment helped me get through a difficult hill stretch.  To refocus, I'm an analyzer, I analyze and over-analyze things.  As I entered my second year as building principal I thought back to positives and negatives of year one.  I've been told my first year was rough...some may mean that I did a bad job or that circumstances of my first year were difficult to handle.  I look back and analyze my first year, I wouldn't change it.  It was not easy...I went home several times wondering why I left teaching.  In nine years teaching I only had  2-3 instances I would deem bad.  In year one as principal I think I hit 2-3 by November.  Maybe I was to sensitive...maybe I still am?  I wouldn't change year one because I wanted people to see the true me.  There were several tough times my first year and if people didn't learn how I would react and who I am then they may never know.

This led into year two.  I analyzed several times how to become a better leader.  I felt 40/60 on leadership and management.  I decided in year two I needed to read more.  I've tried to simply be me, but I needed more I needed to be able to feel more knowledgeable on topics and help my teachers and students grow.  I began by reading Educational Magazines, next came books, after that I signed up for a class, and finally I joined the world of twitter.  Yes, I'm on twitter. The bottom line is I've tried to help myself grow by learning more, reading more, and trying new things.  So the analyst in me has decided my next step is to begin blogging.  I hope to update weekly, but who knows what life will throw at me.  My new mantra is, "change is okay" I think many people get used to routine and feel safe when things stay the same, but change is okay, in fact it's inevitable.  If we don't change what does that say about us?

As I wrap up my soapbox I ask you all this, what top qualities define you?

People that help me get new ideas:

Junior High Assistant Principal using social media & tech as professional growth tools; growing & developing through group collaboration & sharing of ideas. is a new online community devoted solely to education in the 21st Century. We have so much to talk about. Join us!
Husband to greatest wife of all time - Dana. Father of my pride and joy - Seely. Cherokee Middle School principal Springfield, Missouri
Elementary Principal, technology junkie, life long learner, school safety specialist, firefighter, first responder, and family man
wife, mother, elementary principal, lover of learning!
Elementary Principal, Twitter Evangelist, passionate about learning/daily5/cafe/instructional leadership, comoderator of chat, mom of 2 boys 
Passionate Educator,Tiger fan, Theatre Lover,Grandma & Rookie Tech Explorer! Scatter joy!
Principal of New Milford HS (NJ): NASSP National Digital Principal Award Winner (2012), Google Certified Teacher, ASCD Conference Scholar, Author, Speaker
I am the Technology Integration Coordinator at Western School District and Northwest Schools in Jackson County.
Elementary school principal, dad, husband, trout fisherman, technophile, reader, Darth Vader lover, recess kickball legend
Artist, Technology Facilitator & ADE. I'm out to change the world.. one classroom at a time!

One of the most entertaining and informative authors/speakers in education today, Annette has written several books including 101 Answers for New Teachers...
Reading specialist, instructional coach, NBCT, teaching 14 yrs. Family gal. Love books, DMB, STL sports & being surrounded by friends.
Updates from 'yourkids' classroom. Things we're learning, doing, & achieving.

Things I heard or noticed last week:
-Mrs. Valentine is retiring!  Say it isn't so!!!  I'm going to miss our talks, in less than two years I've become a lifelong supporter of yours.  You've taken the time to listen, share, pray, and encourage.  I never cry, so I'll stop typing right now.
-Josh Curl was in the office for a nosebleed, I threw him a piece of chocolate...he said, "you make nosebleed's worth it."  I had to smile.
-Mileage Club started last week!
-On the Mileage Club note, Lucas Inosencio says I just finished my 24 lap, we had only been outside 6 minutes.  Gotta Love the exaggeration of kindergarten!
-I was in Mrs. Beissel's room and several students were working on Power Point.  Mrs. Beissel mentioned to the kids that I'm an expert...yikes!  I was able to share a couple tricks.  Students were very engaged and couldn't stop sharing tidbits about Earth or The Moon.
-At pizza with Mrs. Nash's class, I think every student talked to me and told me something about themselves.  I'm pretty sure you could spend a whole day in Y5's or kindergarten just listening to different stories.
-Janice Chilcote had a very positive spin for Mrs. Smith's newest addition, "look on the positive side, all our new students have been good!"  LOVE IT!  Sometimes new students are okay...we dread, but we will survive.
-D'Andra Clark received a really cool award.  Teaches me, you can't achieve if you don't try.
-Don't park next to Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Moffitt...items from their vehicles may randomly fall out.  The ladies shared funny stories about the inability to get their vehicles cleaned out after Spring Break.
-Mrs. Shearer's classroom openly groaned when they received word that Ritvik was allowed to participate in the class spelling bee.  Made me smile!  Mrs. Shearer said it was an opportunity for someone to beat the County Champ.  Way to spin it in a positive!

Articles worth checking out:  Click to Open in a New Window

Videos you may find Interesting:
You've gotta have a sense of humor on this first one!  I found it after Bubba's Masters Win.

Nice Video on Flipped Classroom

Love this teaching idea!  Must see!!!

Every Wednesday Warner hosts the Western String Team.  Our String Players are, Josh Ostrander, Gezahegn Starr, Ruylie Bruton, and Karter Herrington.

Coming Soon:  Books, Ever Wonder Why, New Videos, Graphs, Poll Question, and anything else that I can think of.  

Some of my Colors...Enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2012

From atop the Soapbox...

Now is when we must do our best work.  The cliche of "it's not how you start, but how you finish" and the "school year is like a marathon" are so true!  We must finish strong and carry out our momentum until Spring Break and then back at it again until the end of the school year.  Keep in mind that the more you stray from your classroom routine/schedule, the more crazy your students will get.  If you stay focused, they will follow your lead.

10 Ways Happy People Choose Happiness

20 Teacher Tips for Beating Fatigue

Check for Understanding

Wonderful Things Witnessed (or heard)
Reading Month was a huge hit!
Loved seeing so many staff members pitching in to make events a success.
Students seemed to love the mini assemblies
Parents sounded much more aware of our guest readers.
Jon Russell and Natalie Stetler loved winning the bikes!
Teachers were extremely flexible the last week, thank you thank you!
Miss Hinkley did an awesome job!  Very grateful for her hard work and loyalty.

April Birthdays:
April 26th - Patti Dault
April 27th - Joleen Hurt
April 29th - Pris Valentine

Calendar Events for April 9-13
Monday, April 9th:  Welcome Back
Wednesday, April 11th:  K-2 assembly in cafeteria @ 8:45
Wednesday, April 11th:  PLC time 2:35-3:35
Thursday, April 12th:  Spring Pictures
Thursday, April 12th:  TSDL meeting at JCISD 12:30-3:30 office staff
Friday, April 13th:  Staff Meeting in Mrs. King's classroom