Friday, November 30, 2012

What's best?

The most commonly used phrase I encounter with parents is this, "I want what is best for my child."  Internally I think one thing...Don't we all?  I mean seriously, I do not know an educator that wants to do the worst for a child.

This phrase brings up an internal struggle for me.  What is best?  I can tell you what I believe is best may be different from what you believe is best?  This phrase that is so often used is truly open ended.  Let me speak to my own son:  Drew is a ten year old in 5th grade.  Drew has challenges, he has Aspergers, and he struggles to understand many social situations.  Drew is a bright boy, shoot he knows more facts about science then I ever could.  His reading ability is off the charts, and his knowledge of Star Wars could likely rival George Lucas.  So the interesting case is this, what is best for Drew?  Do I want the schools and society to conform to Drew?  Do I want Drew to conform to society and figure it out?  What is best?  

I've thought long and hard about this situation.  This situation is unique because it is Drew, but let's be blunt...we all have students that are challenges.  Some are extreme ADHD, some are LD, some are handicapped, and some come to school with so much baggage that learning is an after thought.  The debate is, "what is best?"  I can give you my thoughts, but I am only one.  

What is best?  I believe what is best is that we love and care for each child individually.  My belief is that a student that enjoys school WILL succeed.  Now let's be honest...success is open to interpretation. Some success means a 9-5 job, others success is college.  It all depends on your perspective.  Here is how I created "what I thought was best" in the classroom:

1)  I invested in my students.  
     - I went to sporting events.  
     - I listened to their stories.
     - I learned their likes and dislikes.

2)  I tried very hard to ENGAGE all students.
     - I'm passionate about all subjects.  I loved getting excited and energetic about learning.
     - I created projects that made learning relevant.  
     - I shared the purpose of the lesson with kids.
     - I personalized successes and privatized learning moments.

3)  I communicated with parents.
     - I typically called 6-8 parents a weekend to discuss progress, strengths and weaknesses.
     - I tried very hard to share more successes than failures.
     - I honestly shared with parents what I viewed the biggest issue was.

All of this was my effort to individualize and figure out what is best?  My experience has taught me something, "engaged students succeed!"  I cannot tell you the last time I witnessed a fully engaged student failing.

The phrase will not go away, parents will always say, "I want what is best for my child."  At this point the debate begins, what is best?  All educators will have their opinions, you now know mine.  Engagement is essential.  Engaged students enjoy school, engaged students put forth effort, and engaged students usually learn.  

What is your opinion?  How would you respond to the phrase, "I want what is best for my child." What would your plan be?

Next Week At a Glance:

December 1:  Happy Birthday to Tammy Wohlford
Monday, December 3rd:  Admin Meeting 9-12
Monday, December 3rd:  String Team rehearsal at JSO 4:30-5:30pm
Tuesday, December 4th:  Panther Pride Luncheon
Tuesday, December 4th:  String Team 4-5pm
Tuesday, December 4th:  Fire Drill or Lockdown (depending on weather)
Wednesday, December 5th:  K-2 Assembly
Wednesday, December 5th 2:45 meeting in Library with Sam's Club rep (gift card giveaway)
Friday, December 7th:  Staff Meeting at 8am in Mrs. Soper's room
Saturday, December 8th:  Happy Birthday to Merrie Jo Williams

Great Things Noticed or Heard:

*  I cannot say enough about the Holiday Musical on Monday.  The students were well behaved and the performance was phenomenal.  I was pleased with the student behavior and the positive energy that was in the air.  Thank you Teachers for all you did to help prepare!
*  Mrs. Fitz, you continue to impress!  The Holiday Musical was a hit once again!  Great Job.
*  Next up...Drama Club's performance of Charlotte's Web.  Well Done 5th graders!  I taught 5th grade for nine would have taken me ten years to do what they did in a few short weeks.  WOW!
*  Mrs. Trudell, wonderful work!  You and Mrs. Brue did a great job with all your Drama Club students, you really impressed me.
*  Got a laugh out of Sid this week.  He was eating a snack and dropped a piece inside his violin!  Made me laugh.
*  Students loved the Punk Rocker in me.  I'm not a big dress up guy, but they earned it and I followed through.  I realize some of you knew something was up because I had jeans on.  
*  I got a kick out of Barrett bringing me a birthday treat.  I tried to coax him into giving me ten cupcakes instead of one.  Funny part was that he was willing to give me more than one by the end of it!
*  Wonderful teamwork was viewed in Mrs. Gibbs class this week.  I really enjoy listening to students teach students in a polite, respectful manner.
*  Mrs. Archer's class solved the riddle...well done 1st graders
*  Really enjoyed watching Darby D. welcome a new first grader to Warner.  
*  Hailey B.  made a wonderful picture and brought it to me.  A kindergarten student that works hard and uses her time wisely...precious!
*  Proud Parents left Thursday's Charlotte's Web performance.  Parents couldn't stop raving about the performance.
*  Very impressed with all Warner performers.  I truly believe a few "knocked it out of the park!"  Amazing young adults.

Articles Worth Your Time:

How Teens Do Research in the Digital World

15 unwritten rules for runners

Rock Star Adam Raut

8 Things Skilled Teachers Think, Say and Do

Mr. Powers Daily Tweeter  shared by@MrPowersCMS

5th grade blog   shared by @WiscPrincipal

12 Alternatives to Letter Grades  shared by @baldy7

Videos Worth Watching:

First Year Teacher, well done young man!  (3 min)

This was our Grade 3-5 video of the week.  The message to the students was, "How will you make today count?"  (11 min)  Highly recommend!

Life of Pi official trailer.  This movie really intrigues me, do I finish the book first or watch it on the big screen?  (2 min)

Kid Snippet!  These crack me up! (2 min)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is this week, it is the time to give thanks.  I must say I love what I do.  Some of this may sound cheesy or mushy, but it's the truth.  I'm thankful for being Warner Elementary Principal.  

Three years ago I started at Warner.  I really only knew one or two staff members, everyone else was new to me.  As I reflect back on my first year I realize the number one goal was trust.  Building trust with staff, building trust with parents, and building trust with students.  My first year was a tough year at Warner.  There was death, sickness, tears, anger, and a lot of frustration.  All of that turmoil helped me grow.  I found that all of these challenges taught me about people and taught me about myself.  It is easy to be a nice person when life is good, the challenge is, will you have a strong character when faced with adversity?  Year one was tough, but I learned to trust, I learned that I need others and that I can't do it alone.

Now we are into year three for me.  I can now say with confidence and belief I love the Warner Staff!  I'm Thankful for everyone.  I view us like a family, families have squabbles, families don't always see eye to eye, but families look out for each other and pick each other up when someone is down.  I reflect often, one reflection I recently made was  trying to pinpoint the difference between year one and now.  One huge difference sticks out...EXPERIENCE.  I believe I am the same person that I have always been.  One key difference is experience.  There is no substitute for experience.  

I think back to my first year teaching.  I remember the year vividly.  I had a nice group of kids, Chelsea H., Brian R., Kyle F., Kayla H., and I could keep going (yes I still remember the names, it's a gift).  During my first year I believed I was doing a great job.  Then I sat down for my first ever parent/teacher conferences.  I had a teachers kid.  I'll never forget sitting in the conference and having her drill me with question after question on what I was doing to help her daughter.  Her tone was okay, but her words cut right through me.  After that conference I wanted to crawl in a hole.  My fellow teachers encouraged me and one phrase stuck out..."It's okay, it's your first year."  I despised this statement, I never wanted built in excuses, I never wanted to be viewed as a struggling first year teacher.  I had high standards for myself, I knew for a fact that no one was tougher on me than myself. The point is, there is no substitute to experience.  I grew from my first year teaching.  

I then compare that to my first year at Warner.  Adversity, turmoil, and challenge faced all of us.  My first year I was very occupied with staff moral and I found that I relied on others being happy to make me feel happy.  My days were roller coasters, if the staff, students, and community were happy then I felt good.  If I heard someone speak poorly about me I was crushed.  Thank goodness for my wife, many days that first year she just listened, she encouraged me and supported me the best she could.  That first year taught me something very valuable.  The lesson I learned is that I cannot rely on others to dictate how I feel about myself.  Now I have a new perspective, it is rather simple.  My happiness depends on things I can control.  I feel happy when I'm patient with people.  I feel happy when I, "do my homework" regarding certain situations.  I feel happy when I exercise for my own health.  Happiness now comes from inside me, I do not rely on others to make me happy.  I value people's thoughts and opinions, but they do not dictate my happiness.  

I'm thankful for many things.  I'm thankful for my family, my health, my friends.  I'm also thankful for a truly WONDERFUL STAFF!  Every day is my MISSION.  I love what I do, I'm thankful for the dedication and passion that all of you bring to Warner Elementary.  We are a team, we are a family, and you have all helped me grow and improve.  Thank you for having faith in me.  

Great Things Noticed or Heard:

*  It appeared as though everyone enjoyed the Jazz Band performance.  Mr. Bickle's crew not only sounded terrific they involved staff members and kept things upbeat.  Great way to start a Monday!
*  Some of our more lively students really reacted well to music.  Keeping the beat and focused on the Jazz!
*  Heard three fifth graders say, "I'm going to be in the Jazz band when I get older!"
*  Attended the 4th grade Field Trip to Local Businesses.  Very impressed with the student questions, attentiveness, and polite manners.  I was proud of our students.  Well done Mrs. Gibbs and Miss Hinkley.
*  Tremendous parent chaperone support on our field trip, this I'm very Thankful for.
*  Not sure if any of you noticed, but as I walked the halls Tuesday I became more and more hungry.  Our school smelled delicious!  
*  Pancake breakfast, Kettle Corn Popcorn, Turkey Feast, and Pumpkin Pie...Here goes the waistline!
*  We had the pleasure of Miss Kelly Gooch coming to Warner and talking with students about healthy choices.  One second grade girl asked Kelly if it was hard to rule an Empire!
*  Several good questions were asked, I especially enjoyed the questions about, favorite color, favorite team, and favorite food.  #KidsLoveRandomQuestions
*  4th grade singers!  Well done Mrs. Gibbs, that tune got in my head. #StayinAlive
*  Got to see some Charlie Brown Thanksgiving in a few rooms! #Classic
*  Got a kick out of Joey E., Miss Kelly gave him a hug, he couldn't stop smelling his shirt the rest of the day.
*  Three Cheers to Mrs. Fitz!  Students are loving music and we are all looking forward to the Holiday Musical on the 26th!
*  Wonderful Holiday atmosphere this week.  Everyone was upbeat and polite.  The energy level throughout the building was high.

Next Week At a Glance:

Monday, November 26th: Holiday Musical at CAC (Grades K, 2, 4)
Monday, November 26th:  Practice at CAC 9am for grades K, 2, 4
Monday, November 26th:  Art Rotation begins
Tuesday, November 27th:  TEAM Meeting
Tuesday, November 27th:  Happy Birthday to Laura Smith
Wednesday, November 28th:  Assembly in the Gym with grades 3-5
Thursday, November 29th:  4pm School Improvement Meeting in Boardroom
Thursday, November 29th:  Drama Club Performs "Charlotte's Web" 7pm in CAC
Friday, November 30th:  String Team Practice 4pm-5pm
Saturday, December 1st:  Happy Birthday Tammy Wohlford

Articles Worth Your Time:

Michigan Ending Public Education?

Is Michigan going to dissolve School Districts?

Legislature poised to Jam through Bills and take over Districts?

Snyder seeks funding flexibility...critics believe this is dangerous

What's Next by Mr. Bill Powers @MrPowersCMS

Off the Clock: Giving Students More Time to Demonstrate Learning

The Skills Gap shared by @educationweek

Videos Worth Watching:

Hilarious! Thank you Mrs. Gibbs and Miss Hinkley!  (2 min)

What's the Password (3 min)

I often hear that Story Problems are the most difficult for students.  Take the time to watch Ben Rimes video and try to enhance your Story Problem technique.  (14 min)  I absolutely love this strategy to engage students and make learning more relevant!

Pictures ~

Friday, November 16, 2012

Classroom Fluff?

I recently had a discussion with a fellow educator and they referred to this time of the year as the "fluff".  This individual talked about Thanksgiving, then Christmas and how several academic areas get pushed aside.  This got me to thinking.  How important is the "fluff"?  Let me first say that "fluff" looks very different depending on the grade level you are teaching.  Fluff is not just in the classroom, fluff can also occur with assemblies.  So this made me think, should "fluff" be cut out?  Is "fluff" important?  Can too much "fluff" be detrimental? 

Before I dive into my personal opinion I need to reflect on my days in 5th grade.  Every year at Thanksgiving my 5th grade students watched a movie.  Every year it was the same movie, "A Thanksgiving Promise."  This movie had stars such as, Beau Bridges, Jason Bateman, and Courtney Thorne-Smith.  The movie was dated, it was a mid 1980's made for television story.  I never got tired of watching this movie.  It had heroes, villains, bullying, conflict, suspense, and joy.  Year after year I was able to use this "fluff" activity and use it as a teaching tool.  I actually became so comfortable and confident in my planning that I enjoyed the short Thanksgiving week more than any other.  I had it down to a perfect science.  In fact, each year my students had a half-day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I actually had enough materials to make it a full day.  My kids were engaged and excited about what was going on, there were no glances at the clocks and no comments about how slow the day was going.  In fact, students often said, " Wow! This week went really fast!"  That was my feedback that they were so engaged in the learning that they didn't have time to get bored.

As for my opinion on "fluff".  I believe there are two types of classroom "fluff". The first type is fluff with a purpose.  I would view these as: classroom art projects, classroom created books, spelling word searches, coloring pages and anything else that has a purpose, but the purpose isn't in the forefront of your thinking.  I will never criticize purposeful projects.

Then we have the second type of "fluff", fluff as a filler.  This in my opinion is not real educational.  It could be watching a movie that isn't directly related to anything you are doing.  It could be creating a project that has no real value or purpose.  It could even be extended reading time to essentially fill time.  When I was teaching I never did "read-ins" where kids would simply read all day.  I always believed that you could read for a substantial amount of time, but all day seemed excessive in my mind.  I'll admit I did show movies that didn't always have a purpose, but the only times this ever happened were as classroom rewards.  These times were very few and far between.  I tried very hard to have purposeful fluff.  I tried to avoid filler fluff.

My take is this, Classroom "fluff" will always be around.  Take the time to create meaningful projects that have a purpose.  You'll be happier with yourself and your lessons will have flow and reason.  Embrace the Holiday Season with purpose driven projects like these:

1)  Show a Thanksgiving or Holiday themed movie 
*  Write a persuasive paper on the choices of the main character in the movie.
*  Stop the movie 20 minutes from the end and have the students write their own ending.  Complete the movie the next day.
*  Relate parts of the movie to Core Democratic Values, discuss choices, actions, and consequences.
2)  Create a GingerBread House
*  Work independently and make your own design, identify geometric shapes
*  Work with a partner and communicate
*  Design the house on paper first and then see how close they come with real materials.
3) Create classroom crafts to take to Retirement homes or create Christmas tree decorations and decorate trees at local businesses.

If you are searching for purpose driven holiday activities a good spot to begin is Pinterest.  The above ideas were things I tried as a teacher.

Next Week at a Glance:

Happy Birthday on Saturday the 17th to Chris Kline
Monday, November 19th:  4th grade to Local Businesses
Monday, November 19th:  Paul Bickle is bringing his Jazz Band over for a 30 minute performance 8:45am for (Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and 5th grade) Located in the Gym
Tuesday, November 20th:  Rose Queen Kelly Gooch is coming for all grades, check your email for locations and times
Tuesday, November 20th:  Warner String Team 4pm
Friday, November 23rd:  Happy Birthday Suzanne Gibbs
Wednesday the 21st - Sunday the 25th  Enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday.

Great Things Noticed or Heard:

*  I saw Aurora at the grocery store, she ran up to me and hugged me.  Then she proceeded to say, "What are you doing here Mr. Gilpin?"  
*  Book Fair week!  So many students shopped and came out excited to read!
*  Conference Week...As Jenny and Brad stated, we ate like Kings and Queens.
*  Mrs. Oliver made sure to tell me that every time she saw me I was in the lounge...are you saying I eat to much? 
*  Showed a slideshow on Tuesday during lunch.  Kids love to see pictures of themselves.
*  Visited gym on Friday, watched our 5th graders Limbo.  Very impressed with Natalie S. and McKenzie P.  
*  Shout out to Mrs. Struck's 5th graders, impressive job working together in science.
*  Wonderful comments about Pioneer Living from parents, teachers, and students.  Then they came back and watched Little House on the Prairie.  #classic
*  Saw a wonderful creation in Mrs. Kline's room.  Students built a city, the tallest structure was called, the church
*  Terrific assembly with the Spring Arbor Men's Basketball team!  Lots of fun and excitement.
*  Watched Jack paint in Mrs. Nash's room.  Young Five students painting almost every day!
*  I got to dance to the letter "P" in Mrs. Moffitt's room.  Gotta Love Smart Boards!
*  Worked with Tim and Alex R. on Social Studies.  #broughtbackmemories
*  Played Julian K. in checkers and dominated him.  I tell students I do not let them win.  They must EARN it.  Proud that Julian had a good day and earned the right to challenge me.
*  Impressed with Mrs. Delor's data and preparation before a challenging IEP.  #WellDone
*  Heard wonderful comments about Mrs. Soper's Stone Soup.  Only one problem, based on comments I'm afraid to chew.  #PossibleStonesinSoup?
*Began doing daily announcements:  several students commented positively, they even asked why I hadn't been doing that all year. Thank you to everyone that takes the time to watch morning announcements.  I believe it informs our students and sets the tone for the day.

Articles Worth Your Time:

10 tips for using Evernote in the Classroom by Joseph Sanfilippo 

50 ways to use Skype in the Classroom by Katie Lepi   (shared by @ShellTerrell)

Avoiding the Staff Lounge? by George Couros (Truth to this?)  (Shared by @PrincipalBerry)

12 Things Kids Want from Their Teachers by Shannon Schuster  (Shared by @MrPowersCMS)

Apple TV versus SmartBoard

Videos Worth Your Time:

Hilarious 2 minute clip!

Choices, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce?  (18 minutes)

Power of Introverts!  Great speaker...interesting to listen to.  (19 min)

Saturday Night Live Spoof.  This makes me laugh out loud.  (30 seconds)

Kindergarten students learning together!

Panther Pride!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Putting my finger on the issue...

On the surface this should have felt like a good week.  Our TEAM meeting was very positive, several meetings with parents were upbeat, appreciative, and supportive.  I met with a couple students that were suffering, we talked about mom moving away and grandparents passing away.  These conversations were therapeutic, I felt like I made a difference.  The entire week felt as though things were moving forward. 

These conversations made my week feel topsy turvy.  But that wasn't the only thing.  I also felt very reactive, my week was full of meetings and several were scheduled and rescheduled, in fact some days this week I didn't have meetings on my calendar and then suddenly I was sitting in a room discussing a student issue.  I didn't feel 100% prepared. The best way I can explain this is by relating it to my classroom lessons.

Being a male teacher in the classroom I often received students that struggled academically and behaviorally.  This became the norm for me.  In the classroom I was responsible for lesson planning, teaching, counseling and meeting with my Special Education teacher and discussing current levels and needs of students.

In my third year of teaching I began to feel as though I was coming in to my own and I had a clear philosophy and vision of how I wanted my classroom to function.  Early on in the year I discovered I had a really great class.  The students were bright, humorous, and loved being in school.  One stretch stands out for me, I relaxed, I got complacent.  I still planned for the week, but my plans were rough, not very detailed, kinda flying by the seat of my pants.  During this stretch I experienced several behavioral issues and my class was full of drama, I also felt rushed and irritable.  I got home one evening and I was frustrated, I was frustrated with myself.  I took full responsibility for this bad stretch.  I couldn't blame the students, I had to look in the mirror.  My plans were average, my students weren't engaged, I didn't put them in a position to succeed.  I remember saying to my grade level partner, "I didn't even assist my special education students, I just simply crossed off problems and gave them more time, I have myself to blame." I looked at him and I told him this week I was unprepared,  I wasn't my best.  We talked for a bit and one thing stood out, I knew the problem and now I had to be the one to make it right.  I vowed to improve and my goal was to make each day better than the previous.  With this mentality my lessons blossomed, my behavior issues were slim if any, my achievement rose, and my classroom culture was phenomenal.  Students loved being in school.  I was able to put my finger on the issue as a teacher, a major aspect I had to "tighten up" was creating strong lesson plans that engaged all students.

Now as Principal, I put my finger on it again.  I feel best when I feel prepared.  This is very similar to my teaching days.  Being prepared allows me to engage with all groups, it allows me to feel organized and knowledgable.  My goal is to be more prepared, I want to make each day better than the previous.  I plan to do this by listening, reading, and communicating.  Something to think about:  What aspect of your life can you improve to help make each day better than the one before?

Great Things Noticed or Heard:

*  I got a few glares on Thursday when the fire alarm went off : )  (just 7 more drills this year)
*  Jon R. made my day!  He told his Kids Hope Mentor he wants to be just like Mr. Gilpin when he grows up! #proud #rolemodel
*  2nd Grade loved the Air Zoo!  I heard great comments from parents, students, and teachers.  2nd grade will definitely be going back.
*  Mrs. King's class was absolutely freezing...but the kids never complained.  Great kids...and yes, I'm working on it.
*  Very pleased with TEAM meeting teachers, thorough information, good data, and honest feedback on students.  This is how we move forward and help kids get the right programming.
*  TAT on Wednesday was productive.  Kindergarten had never participated in a TAT, I was really impressed with the open dialogue, brainstorming, and openness to trying new things.  Well done ladies!
*  Great chat with Mrs. Struck on a struggling student.  I'm impressed with the "figure it out" mentality.
*  Apple Turkey's in Mrs. King's room!
*  Mrs. Dault has a "higher" power in her room!  If you are looking for a smile enter her room, immediately turnaround and look at the lockers!
*  Great job by our 5th graders with announcements this week.
*  Our CP workers are off to a strong start.  Mrs. Hatler is getting them in the groove.
*  Witnessed very polite and appropriate class elections and our school wide mock election.  Students were respectful of each other and engaged in the democratic process.

Things to Take Note of:

*  Lockdown this week
*  Panther Pride Luncheon
*  Book Fair week
*  Pioneer Living for 3rd grade
*  Picture Retakes
*  No Mr. Raymond all week, everyone needs to pitch in and work together.
*  If there is a fire drill the first goal is that everyone evacuates the building.  The second goal, is to locate all students.  By now your students should know the spot your class goes to, reinforce to them to get out and then rejoin the class.

Next Week at a Glance:

Monday, November 12th:  Mobile Dentist
Monday, November 12th:  Happy Birthday Mrs. Sharp
Monday, November 12th:  Conferences
Tuesday, November 13th:  Panther Pride Lunch in Computer Lab Area
Tuesday, November 13th:  Book Fair begins 8am-8pm
Tuesday, November 13th:  Warner String Team 4pm
Tuesday, November 13th:  Conferences
Wednesday, November 14th:  SAU basketball Assembly grades 3-5 in gym 8:45am
Wednesday, November 14th:  Grades K-2 PLC meeting
Thursday, November 15th:  After School Art Club
Friday, November 16th:  Happy Birthday Mrs. Powers
Friday, November 16th:  Picture Retakes

Articles Worth Your Time:

Apps for Students with Autism

Favorite Formative Assessment: Exit Slip shared by Tony Sinanis

Why every school needs an innovation day, shared by Michael Berry

Defining Differentiated Instruction (MUST read)

Videos Worth Your Time:

"If I can change the attitude the content will fall into place."  -Kafele  (4 min)

Is it true, only 25% of students raise their hands and actively participate? (2 min) (Thought provoking)

With it being book fair week I thought this was appropriate...made me smile. (3 min)

Solution focused Parent/Teacher conferences (5 min)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Professionally Developed

PD...Professional Development..Continuous Learning...Any Where...Any Time...Any Place

These are all common terms for Staff inservice.  I will admit I have been to both productive and useless PD sessions.  As a teacher I rarely got anything out of PD.  I will admit one PD day in particular stands out in my memory.  I was in my seventh year teaching and the district brought in an individual from Louisiana.  I walked into the PD day very skeptical, I was expecting another wasted day and I simply wished administration would just give me more time to plan and work with my grade level teammates.  My skeptism did not last, within minutes the lady had my attention.  The focus of the PD was understanding the four areas all people can be categorized in.  The categories were Type A personalities (controlling, organized, anal), the second Socialist (people that are very social, relationship oriented), the third were Statisticians (people that are all about numbers, data, graphs, etc...), and the fourth were Non-Commitals (people that do not like confrontation, accommodate everyone, try to please people, and need affirmation).  We did an inventory and classified ourselves in certain areas.  The goal was to explain to us that our students also fall into a category.  It was another wake up call that all students learn differently.  What I remember is that she said, a group needs diversity, we must embrace our differences, these differences may cause conflict and frustration, but in the end it will also help us grow.  This was a valuable PD session for me. 

Professional Development began to change for me when I was hired as building principal.  Just two weeks on the job I was sent to Lincolnshire, Illinois for Professional Learning Communities training.  This was a multi-day event.  To this day I still remember the trip and the lessons I learned.  That PD changed me as an educator.

One of my goals as building principal was to open up avenues with Professional Development.  I began with a philosophy of encouraging teachers to attend conferences and I tried my best to support any way I could.  I noticed that District Professional Development often included grade level meetings, discussions, and revisiting common assessments.  A large part of me thought this was insufficient, but the teacher in me also believed this was and is valuable.

After my first year as principal I began to investigate Professional Development.  I started by attending a Summer Institute in Bay City, Michigan.  Then I began by listening and talking with my colleagues, most notably, Ms. Sue Haney, Mr. Mike Ykimoff, and Mr. Craig Raehtz.  I also began to look for resources online.  I networked with local principals and even collaborated with some principals across the State of Michigan.  This led me to investigate Twitter.  I was very suspicious, I thought it was just Facebook simplified.  As I created my Twitter account I began to follow fellow educators.  I followed teachers, principals, and superintendents.  What I quickly discovered was a Professional Learning Network or PLN.  I will be forever grateful to my local admin team, this was not getting rid of them, this was expanding my network and I was now able to Professionally Develop any day, any time, any where.

In fact it must be noted that the first "big" thing I discovered through my PLN was blogging and staff newsletters.  Jessica Johnson @PrincipalJ , Curt Rees @WiscPrincipal , Bill Powers @MrPowersCMS , and Todd Whitaker @ToddWhitaker were instrumental in modeling and sharing resources.  I still look to these individuals on a daily basis.  I now have an ever growing PLN, and I enjoy not only "tweeting" with my PLN but also sitting face to face with them.  Thank you Dan Spencer @runfardvs , Brad Wilson @dreambition , Sue Haney @susankhaney and Jason Herrington @jmherrinton5

Essentially my point is Professional Development is about opportunities, attitude, and what you put in to it.  Each week I attach articles and videos that could be valuable to you, I will never require you to read them, but for those of you that choose to, I hope you find new perspectives, helpful tips, and knowledge to help yourself grow.  

A wise man once told me, "If you're not moving forward, you're falling behind."  I hope you find value in Professional Development, and I encourage you to learn any time and any where.

Things to take note of:

*  PTO meeting Monday at 7pm
*  TEAM meeting Tuesday morning
*  Report Cards completed next week
*  Fire Drill next week
*  TAT on Wednesday with KDG & 5th grade

If you're looking for a Professional Learning Network these are good spots to find support:

1) Twitter
2) Pinterest
3) YouTube for Educators
4) REMC (Michigan site)
5) Edutopia
6) Edudemic
7) Teachers pay Teachers
10) JCEA or MEA

Next Week at a Glance:

Monday, November 5th:  IEP in Middle School 8:30am
Monday, November 5th:  7pm PTO Meeting
Tuesday, November 6th:  TEAM meeting (schedule will be out Monday morning)
Tuesday, November 6th:  Warner String Team 4pm-5pm
Wednesday, November 7th:  K-2 Assembly at 8:45am
Thursday, November 8th:  After School Art Club 3:45-5:15pm

Great Things Noticed or Heard:

*  The consensus is Halloween should be on a Friday or Saturday...students were dragging this past Thursday.
*  Got a kick out of Seth W. trying to pronounce "napkin".
*  4th grade book pumpkins were amazing!  Loved the creativity, imagination, and artwork.
*  Received a Halloween treat on Wednesday, the little girl licked her finders and then grabbed the brownie.  I simply smiled and said, "thank you".
*  Great costumes from many students, but I truly loved the adults dressing up!  Way to go Mrs. Oliver, Mrs. Holton and Mrs. Palmer!  Kudos to Mr. Lenhart, Mrs. Shearer and Mrs. Struck!  Bravo Miss Hinkley and Mrs. Gibbs!  Hooray Mrs. Moffitt, Mrs. Schaible, Mrs. Bunker and Mrs. Kline!  Superb Mrs. Delor and Mrs. Hurt!  WooHoo Mrs. Archer, Mrs. Reed, Mrs. Dault, Miss Bacon, Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Chilcote!  Amazing Mrs. Nash and Mrs. Miller!  Lookin' Good Mrs. Campbell, Mrs. Buratovich, Mrs. Walz, and Mrs. Trudell!  Boo to Mr. Gilpin...the kids told me I could do better.
*  Well done to teachers for surviving Halloween Parties.  I fully understand parties are a major stress.  I heard several wonderful comments.
*  Great idea to help expand vocabulary Miss Hinkley!  Nice Halloween touch.
*  Brody got to go home!  Dad's comment was, I've been waiting 71 days for this!  Tears of Joy!

Articles Worth Your Time:

Building Educators Interest in Social Media by Scott Rocco
Common Core: 7 Recommendations
Technology Changing How Students Learn (NYTimes)
Educate Innovators, Not Test Takers (shared by Dan Hickey)
Evernote for Collaboration (by The Nerdy Teacher, aka Nicholas Provenzano)
15 Free Learning sites You've Probably Never Heard Of
Ten Reasons People Resist Change

Videos Worth Your Time:

Video made to pump students up for taking a test.  Nice way to motivate. (3 min)

Mike and Mike in the Morning...with a little Gangnam Style! (1 min)

If you need a laugh this is for you! (7 min)

Power of One Teacher's vision (14 min)

Jenn Schaible sent this to me, worth your time! Thanks Jenn (3 min)

Thoughts and Prayers with Storm survivors~