Monday, September 1, 2014

Back to School Special: Open Mic Edition

For the last five years at the #TLChat Virtual Cafe we've offered a FREE webinar to help librarians and teachers of all subjects and levels get ready for the next school year. This casual discussion generates ideas on how to build school allies, support new teachers, & become indispensable to administration & staff at the beginning of EVERY school year. I'm joined in this conversation by amazing, librarians, friends, and moderators Tiffany Whitehead and Jennifer LaGarde......and hopefully YOU! W00t!

Join in! Sept 8th, 2014 - 8pm EST
Participant Link
Back to School Special Wikipage
I Want YOU to Grab the Mic!
This year we've flipped the script and are inviting YOU to step up to the mic and share your ideas, tips, tricks, and cool ways to get excited, energized, and to supercharge the library program or classroom throughout the school year.

How to do it? 
Easy! Just add a slide! Visit our shared and open to edit Google presentation - check out the directions, our example slides, and go to the end of the preso and find or add a blank slide and add your ideas!

What to share? 
Decorating hints, tech tips, new ways to use old standby's, reading promotions, words of advice, PLN building strategies, lesson ideas, how you help new teachers, and ways you connect with your parents and the community. Anything that you think could help someone else make the year go easier!

Be a Sharing Super Hero!
I know it's sorta scary to put yourself out there and share an idea! We all feel that way from time to
time! But let me try and convince you that this year should be your year of shameless sharing!

So many times we are reluctant to share what we create because we're afraid of either looking like a show off, we think what we created may not be "good enough," or we're afraid of critique.

Consider shameless sharing as not shining a spotlight on you, but sharing the cool things going on with your kiddos with their parents and your community! Also consider that there are lots of new teachers and teacher librarians out there who are hungrily looking for ideas & examples!  I get emails all the time asking advice on how to get by that first year of teaching. One of the things I suggest is going back to check out the archives of this BTSN series.

So make this year the year that you GIVE and then GIVE some more! Embrace Creative Commons, Flickr, Slideshare, Wikis, & Twitter - build your PLN and share your AWEsome stuff!

My Gift to You!
Never one to give advice that I wouldn't follow...I created a simple PPT presentation template for my teachers (& FREE to you!) to use on back to school night which you can DOWNLOAD for FREE from either Slideshare or on my wikipage. Download it, modify for your school, and give it to your teachers as a template to modify & personalize to mix up their presos for back to school night.  Save them time & aggravation AND be a superhero!  Go NOW and SHARE Your Great ideas with us!  Please? Pretty, pretty, please? Like, after 5 years of doing this, we need you!  Thanks dear reader!

It goes without saying, that any spam slides or slides from vendors & not real teachers or teacher librarians will be removed forthwith.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

10 Things to do with QR Codes On Back to School Night

Inspired by a recent blog post by the amazing Richard Byrne I wanted to add a few more things to the list I wrote 3 years ago how to use QR Codes to connect with students, parents, and the community on Back to School Night and during the school year. Some of these ideas include examples, links to free downloadables, and graphics that you can snag & use in your school.  I've also updated my popular How to Create a QR Code in 3 Easy Steps Infographic comic tutorial to help out!
FREE Webinar! 
Also, don't miss the big announcement at the end of this blog post about a FREE #TLChat Virtual Cafe webinar - Back to School Special: Open Mic Edition and a FREE Back to School Night PowerPoint you can download and share with your teachers!  This is going to be a crowdsourced presentation where we invite you to add your ideas & slides and virtually "step up to the mic" to share with our PLN!

Set the Stage: Have Parents Download the QR Code Scanning App!
In preparation for BTSN I posted on our school digital newspaper Murray Messages:

QR Codes Hit the Hill!

"We embrace mobile media here at MHMS. Proof of which you’ll see in cool black and white when you visit us for Back to School Night! Have a smart phone? Be ready & download a QR code scanner app! We really like the FREE iNigma QR code reader available in both Droid, iPhone, or iPad versions. You’ll see several QR Codes around the building guiding you to different helpful websites (and maybe a secret message or two!) – be ready to scan! Want to learn more about QR Codes? Check out this handy Infographic Comic Tutorial

Now to the list! 
1. Post a QR Code to your teacher blog, website or wikipage!
A while back I created a QR Code Tree that hasd all the important QR Codes for our school, last year I designed a QR Code Pocket - This was an easy way for teachers to share with parents on Back to School Night.
I've also created blank ones for you to download & insert your own QR Codes on top using MS Word, PicMonkey, or Photoshop. Everything I make is Creative Commons - so you can freely take, use, & share!

2. Post a QR Code to a Google Form or Document. 
Just make sure you've set sharing permissions to "anyone with the link" and test it out beforehand - send it to a friend to try out! Or better yet, embed that Google form on a wiki or webpage and make the QR code from that URL! Scan the code on the left to give it a whirl!

3. Create a QR Homework Helpers! 
Create a QR code to your school's Research Resources & Databases webpage. If you district doesn't have any, create a web or wikipage called Homework Helpers and gather some together from your local library system & feel free to nab the national sources listed on our wikipage! That way, on Back to School Night parent's will know where to go to help their kiddos with assignments.

4. Calendar events.  
QR Droid's free QR code generator has field for calendar events.

Complete the form to create a QR code for an event. When parents scan the code the event can load in their preferred calendar apps. Don't forget to double check the timezone!
Try it out! Scan the code above to add the #TLChat Cafe Back to School Special: Open Mic Edition FREE Webinar! 
5. QR YouTube Channel 
Upload all the kiddos video projects to your own or the school's YouTube channel Before you get started, secure admin support, make sure you're following your school and district responsible use policy, and/or send home a video/photo release permission slip before posting anything. If the idea of having a YouTube channel still gives you hesitation or it's blocked in your district, why not try a SchoolTube channel? I also have a Vine video channel to share our Vine Video Book Talks!

6:  Virtual Classroom / Library Video Tour or Greeting
Create a video classroom, library,  or school virtual tour!  Post it to your blog, wiki, or webpage -let the kiddos/parents watch it to become familiar with their new environment or send to late arriving kiddos so that they feel more comfortable!
Want to up it a notch?  Create a video without words - just smiling, walking, pointing -show all the important places in the school, etc or think GoPro! Here's my 2008 Flip Cam example. (No laughing at the quality now, k?) Then collaborate with your ESOL (English as a Second Language) or foreign language teacher to have kiddos narrate a script in all the different languages that can be found in your school! Embed on your blog or school webpage and share with your student services department! How cool is that?

7. Flip Your Orientation! 
Record or animate a library or classroom orientation with maybe a tour, expectations, highlights, procedures, and tips! Saves your voice, makes it fun, & you'll know the students get the same message without you maybe forgetting an important point. Post it to your own YouTube channel! Kiddo comes in late, after orientation, send them the link or let them watch it in class! 

8. QR Photo Gallery 
Whether it's Flickr, Picassa, Smugmug (since 05), or some other digital photo hosting site - let the kiddos & parents keep in touch with all the photo fun with an online gallery!

9. QR Contact information
Fill in the short form under "contact" on QR Droid's free QR code generator, or the MeCard on QR Code Monkey and the code created will give parents access to your preferred contact information.

10. QR Business card 
QR Code to your school website - have them handy & pass them out on BTSN - Shows you're a professional - even if you have to buy them yourself. Here's an illustrated blog post on how to create them! 5 Easy Tips to Making Out of This World Mini Moo Business Cards
Here's my updated How to Create a QR Code in 3 Easy Steps again!
My QR Code Related Posts:   
The Daring Librarian: QR Code Loo Reviews & Pocket Videos
The Daring Librarian: Google+ Hangout with QR Codes!
The Daring Librarian: QR Code Scanning for Parents
QR Code Quest: a Library Scavenger Hunt
QR Code AT-A-Glance Comic Tutorial
HOT QR Codes in the Classroom & Library
MSET Conference, Colbert, Crabs, & QR Codes
QR Code Custom Jewelry, Swag  
Library in Your Pocket
Mark your calendars & get some ideas ready to SHARE! We're crowdsourcing the preso this year (our 4th!) swapping great ideas how to make yourself indispensable to your admin & school staff at the beginning of the school year! Add your ideas and slides to day by clicking on our Google Presentation BTSN slidedeck! You will see some slides there from me, Tiff, & Jennifer - we'll trim those down when you add yours - look for the slide that says Your Slide & go for it! Don't forget to sign your slide - by adding your name! How else are we gonna know who to "call up to the mic" during our webinar! Add your Twitter handle to join our PLN! I will follow every single TL who is daring, fierce, and sharing and who and adds a slide!
Sept 8th, 2014
8pm EST
- Webinar Participant Link
Back to School Special Wikipage 

Download a FREE Back to School Night PowerPoint Template to give out to your teachers!

As always, thank you for reading! I'm sure I'll tweak this later - but tomorrow I go back to school and I had to knock this out before that AWESOME cra cra starts!
Cheers! ~Gwyneth

Monday, August 4, 2014

Classrom Cribs! Brain Friendly Learning Spaces

Hello friends! This is a rare *guest post from my amazing friend Erin Klein, and her friends AJ Juliani, & Ben Gilipin about a topic that I find very fascinating! I've always had a obsession about interior design and decorating.
Teacher Librarians...what are our classrooms? Our libraries, of course! I also like to call my Daring School Library Media Center an Information Learning Commons...because it's beyond a classroom! ALL these techniques can and should be implemented into the learning areas of our school libraries!  Please keep reading!

Brain Friendly Learning Spaces

AJ Juliani writes: "As we look towards the 2014-2015 school year, one question continually jumps out to me as an educator: How do our learning spaces impact our students?

As a new English teacher I remember getting into my classroom for the first time. I set up the space like classrooms I had seen before; I got my lesson plans in order; packed the filing cabinets with resources; started to make copies of overhead slides; put together an area for reading and stacked the shelves with books I had picked up in college or from my parents house.

Then the students arrived, and all my plans went out the window. I realized very quickly that the type of teaching I had been exposed to and grew up with, and the type of teaching taught at many undergraduate programs…was quickly becoming a past practice. That’s not to say many of the pedagogical and instructional strategies I learned don’t stick with me today (the good ones always will) but these students were different learners than I was…and at the time I was only 22 years old.

Flash forward nine years and the classrooms look very different in my same school district. In the two years since my district began a technology initiative our classrooms have evolved once more. Throughout this process I have tried my best to stay on top of where education is headed and what are the emerging “next” practices. Yet, one area that needs to be improved and is often overlooked is our learning space designs.

How We Design Our Classroom Matters

Brain-based learning theory has been around for a long time, and it has been used to improve the classroom experience in many schools around the world. However, I was shocked how hard it was to find great resources on re-designing learning spaces when I started down the path of re-designing my own school’s learning environment.

Luckily, there are a number of creative and inventive teachers and leaders who have designed their spaces with purpose. In order to share our own work with learning spaces, and the awesome work of others in education, we’ve started a new website:

Classroom Cribs is our hub for “brain friendly learning spaces”. Our mission at Classroom Cribs is to enhance pedagogy and the learning experience with brain-based classroom designs that students will love. And that is the main point. We can (and should) create better learning environments for our students. Spaces that are centered around research and what works.

We recently launched and would love for you to visit and join over 1000 educators who are learning more about learning spaces from our newsletter. And to kick things off, we are starting the first ever “Classroom Cribs Challenge” on August 14th.

Kleinspiration: How-To Set Up Brain-Friendly, Beautiful Learning Spaces! 

The Classroom Cribs Challenge - Starts Aug 14!

Remember MTV Cribs? We thought, what if that same concept of Cribs...met the classroom! From August 14th to September 14th we’ll be running a challenge that anyone can join.

Here’s the details:

1. Rethink your learning space with the student in mind. What changes will enhance the learning experience?

2. Redesign your learning space and show us how you did it: Take pictures and video.

3. Create a 3-min "Cribs" video showing off your new learning space. Include a 250 word (or less) rationale for “why” you made the changes.

4. Submit your video, rationale, and bio to have a chance to be featured on our site and win great prizes!

How to Get Started

Come visit today and join our newsletter. We’ll keep you updated with new articles, videos, and more free design resources sent straight to your inbox. Then when August 14th rolls around, we’d love to see your learning space transformation as part of the Classroom Cribs challenge!"

Erin Klein, Adam Bellow, Nick Provenzano, Benjamin Gilpin & #MACUL13 friends at Slows in Detroit Michigan! What a wonderful night with amazing BBQ stimulating conversations with friends old & new!

Articles Worth Reading:
amazing thoughts from Nick Provenzano 
#NerdySpaces - My Project for 2014-2015
Reflecting On My Current Classroom Setup #NerdySpaces
More Learning Spaces Thoughts #NerdySpaces @Bretford

Transforming Learning Spaces (2 of 2)
Do You Wanna Play? @Jonharper70bd
(I totally stole most of this list from the amazing Ben Gilpin's blog!)

Photo credits:
Classroom Cribs Logo blog header based on a Flicker Creative Commons photo by Dukelyer
& the Classroom Cribs Graphic Designs are by Gwyneth Jones - The Daring Librarian

*About Guest Blog Posts: You Gotta Know Me!
I don't take offers to post on my blog unless I know you personally or you are an active part of my PLN. That means no businesses, startups, grad students, & strangers. Sorry if that sounds really hard lined but I take the "street cred" of this blog seriously! My readers know that my voice is authentic and I can't be bought (Ok, maybe bribed with hoodies & Tropical Skittles but NEVER bought!)  Please don't waste your time emailing me unless you know me, k?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Trashy, Crafty, & Literary: Upcycling for the Win!

I love books.
I love art. 
I love Etsy.
I love funky stuff.
I love recycling and upcycling.
This artist on Etsy combines both!

Nifty & Thrifty Crafter
Meet Kim Franklin (aka) the Trashy Crafter and here's her nifty thrifty story:
"... I love to go to thrift stores, I think mainly because it's such an adventure!  Anywho, my Mom and I were at a thrift store when we saw them throwing out hundreds of damaged and outdated books.  This made me really sad, there had to be someway to recycled them into something useful and beautiful.  My Mom and I grabbed about 50 books and threw then into the back of our truck and headed home.  The books sat in a corner of my tiny bedroom for a few months as I finished up finals for my senior year at UCSD.
Soon after graduating I remembered my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Bryant had taught us how to roll paper beads from magazine paper, but it was so flimsy and not sturdy.  So I thought, why not turn this beautiful paper into paper beads?  And that is how Trashy Crafter came to be…. It morphed into more than paper beads, we make recycled art, paper flowers and home decor. My Mom and I gather all the damaged and outdated books, hand cut, roll and coat the beads one at a time.  We even create the cardboard holders (for the bracelets) from recycled boxes found at the local Costco in San Diego.  This past weekend I didn’t have a craft show so I got to head out to the the thrift stores, which was awesome fun.  I thought I would check out the books to see if there were any really old or damaged books that I could take and turn into beads.  At my last few shows I have had tons of people asking that I start going classic novels instead of just children books. So I am happy to announce along with some great kid books, I grabbed lots of classic novels… a lot of the books were written in, falling apart or had damaged cover.  All of these books were on the last chance clearance shelf because no one was buying them and they had been there forever.  The lady at checkout asked me what I was doing with them, I love sharing the excitement of recycled crafting :) Which one should I start with??? I am so excited!!!"   excerpts from About the Trashy Crafter & Thrift Store Weekend 

I Admit It,  I'm a Fangirl! 
So super cool, right? I mean, she even sorta writes like me! She even has that penchant for the exclamation point as I do!  Visit her Etsy store, check out her pieces, & try and win a FREE bracelet below!
Here's my Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban bracelet set! I also bought a matching pair of earrings - they're on their way!  

School Library & Classroom Ideas!
Old Books As ART
Let's think of ways we can connect to the kiddos about recycling,  upcycling and art!  Books are precious but they are not sacred. When we weed books or withdraw them because of damage, instead of throwing them away or shipping them off - here are some artsy ideas.
Donate them to the art room and suggest to the art teacher a cool collaborative project!
• Transformed book project
• Literary paper mache of actual letters - that spell words!
• Have the kiddos paint in acrylic over book pages that have been gessoed - or watercolour over raw book pages that have been just glued to a board.
• Origami Book Art

Have the artwork displayed gallery style in the school library! Invite the artists to stand by and talk about their work as other classes walk through to view the installation. Why not video tape the artist talking about their project, upload to YouTube - then create a QR Code to the video URL and post next to the work so that later visitors can scan the codes & learn about the artist and what inspired them to create their the art! (above is just an example)
What are your artistic recycling & upcycling ideas? Leave them in the comments also that's how you can enter to win a FREE pair if Trasy Crafter bracelets!

WIN A FREE 2-Piece Bracelet! 
After being in contact with the artist she has generously donated a pair of bracelets for you... my readers as a FUN Giveaway!
Please NOTE You Do NOT have to use Facebook to enter this contest - you can use your email.  In fact, because I don't do Facebook myself (read why) I would go ahead and use my email addy to enter. But hey, that's me. You be you. I like you the way you are! I just don't want you to see that Facebook thingy below and think, darn, not that again! LOL Good luck!
How do you enter to win? Click the widget below for more info! But basically just leave a comment on this blog post as to who one of your most favourite YA authors either contemporary or from your teen years & follow me on Twitter!
Full Disclosure.
If you couldn't tell I am a Trashy Crafter fan!  I was gifted the bracelet set and I bought for myself the matching earrings. It takes a WHOLE HECK of a lot more to buy space on my blog than $25 bucks. Think first class airfare, limo pickup at the air port, four seasons and a bag of tropical skittles. Srsly, I get emails all the time for paid adverts, vendor blog topic suggestions, people asking to be highlighted, and guest blog opportunities from people wanting to get to you, my dear reader. All of whom I say, "Nay nay good budy" and "I've got my street cred to think of!" (Though I do try and say it nicely!)  But this was special to me. much so that I also begged the artist Kim Franklin to donate a random pair of bracelets to giveaway to you dear reader! Couldn't leave YOU out on the upcycling fun, right? You're welcome. [winks]
50+ Old Book Craft Ideas Pinterest Boards via my pal Donna Baumbach aka Aunty Tech
Connect with your Art peeps on Twitter!  Art Education Hashtags:

via CybraryMan's Educational Hashtag page

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Vine Video Summer Book Trailers

(Warning: This blog post may load slowly because of all the embedded videos. 
To hear the audio, click on the tiny speaker in the top left of each video)

Every year I get excited to share with my kiddos our district & local library Summer Reading List (more about that below!) and to try and generate new ways to catch their interest in reading over the break.
This year we decided to create video book trailers using the Vine App! Six second videos that loop with sound. No editing needed, just creativity!
You Gotta ASK For It!
When I originally had this idea, I got permission from my principal and then I emailed & called my district tech leaders Julie Wray @jwwray and Robert Cole @racolej  to see if I could actually do it. Unfortunately, the Vine App wasn't approved yet -sooooo I asked if it COULD be and then I had to scramble to adapt the idea using a flip camera. Luckily, Bob Cole pushed the Vine App through in about a week, and BAM!  We were back in Vine business! Thanks Bob & Julie! You Rock! If you don't ask - it doesn't get approved!
I am posting these videos to Vine under my name because of our Responsible Use Policy.  Vine has been approved for high school students over 13 - but because our kiddos are Middle Schoolers, they create & I post on my newly minted library Vine channel.
Let me assure you that these videos are kid written, storyboarded, and produced. OK, I may have helped a little w/ some creative ideas here and there and held the iPad once or twice....but So cool, right?  Click for the NEW MHMS Daring School Library Media Center VINE Channel!
Why Vine? We wanted a fun, easy way to share video book trailers! With so many of our computers being used for testing, and how long editing takes on iMovie, Vine sounded like the perfect solution! With the added benefit of easy stop action filming built into the App means that kids can experiment and be super creative! Vine videos are easily shareable and embeddable- it's a great vehicle for easy video production. You can embed the videos in two ways, the simple mode or as a postcard. I've shown both types in this blog post.
A Vine for all Seasons & Subjects! 
Vine could be a great project idea for many different subjects. Off the top of my head, quick living history re-telling, public service announcements, science experiment quick clips, artist gallery walk, service learning projects, and healthy living tips! 
Visit our Video Book Trailer Wikispace Page for more directions, tips, a FREE Downloadable Storyboard, & More!
Everything we create is Creative Commons so feel free to Take, Use, & Share! 
The Danny and the Dinosaur Treasury: Three Huge Adventures by Syd Hoff 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky NOTE: This is a High School book & available at our local library - get your parent's permission to read it! This is a great example of how Vine can be used for stop action videos! (Same as the first video shown on this blog)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians Hardcover Boxed Set (Percy Jackson & the Olympians) by Rick Riordan Riordan is pronounced - RYE-or-Dan
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green NOTE: This is a High School book & available at our local library - get your parent's permission to read it! OK?
Super thanks to Mrs. Vanderveen and her AWESOME 7th grade first period ELA class for their creativity, talent, fun, & daring to try something new! Want to do this lesson with your students & kiddos? Visit our Video Book Trailer Wikispace Page for more directions, tips, a FREE Downloadable Storyboard, & More! Here's a related video trailer blog post: The Daring Librarian: QR Code Loo Reviews & Pocket Videos

Summer Reading!
Here's our downloadable Middle School Summer Reading List! Created by a Howard County Public School System Middle School Teacher Librarian and a Young Adult Librarian celebrating our A+ partnership with the Howard County Public Library!

Download our Summer2014MiddleSchool Reading List PDF 

Speaking of the Howard County Public Library System - let me congratulate them again for being named the Library Journal Magazine - Library of the Year!

Other Vine Tips & Examples
Six simple Vine tips
Vine: 12 Ways to Make Your Videos Stand Out - Mashable
12 //Tips on Making// Better //Vine// Videos | David Lee King
No Budget Book Trailers on Twitter Vine
How to Go Out on a Vine for Social Media

Whaddya Think?
Hey dear readers! Did you notice a change to the blog design? Over the years I've changed my blog header at least twice a year - heck,  sometimes twice a week! But I haven't changed the blog template until now! What do you think? Too much? Or just enough?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

How to Train Your (New) Principal

I hope that the blog title got your attention. It was designed to! But you may ultimately find it misleading. Please keep reading!

Before any admins out there start sharpening their pitchforks for me, I gotta say that I really don't think teachers need to train new principals.
Principals come to us already accomplished, trained, vetted, and hand-picked.
Nor are principals really dragons...but then again dragons ARE protective! And a new principal does sorta have to take control of the school which may include a little fire breathing now and then.
Are you still with me?
The conversation I really want to have is with YOU - or rather, with US!  The classroom teacher, school librarian, and educator of any subject who is NOT in charge of a whole school.   I actually think it's the teachers and staff that needs to be trained to be more tolerant!

Cut Me Some Slack!
Why do we seem to give all kinds of slack, assistance, mentoring, and help to the first year teacher but we are all too critical of a first year principal?  I don't think that's fair!
Administration, of ALL jobs, is one that you can only learn while doing. I imagine you can take all kinds of grad courses in Administration but until you sit in that office, walk the halls, bust a move at bus duty, take the parent phone calls, lead a back to school night, or manage a lunch shift - you really don't know what it's like to be an administrator. Because really? Shouldn't we have empathy for that job?
And whew! I don't EVER ever want to be an Admin! That's one job I know I would fail - obvi!  And that's....OK! I think it's working for me as Teacher Librarian and tech leader! See? I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Here's my Tweet last week before starting this post.
Teachers: Be Kind. Be Patient. Be Positive.
We teachers can talk....a LOT! But when we do, I think we need to remember to be positive. We also need to also be kind and patient. I have always believed that a principal doesn't really "own a middle school" until the 6th graders become 8th graders and that any kid who knew the old principal was gone. That's right, it takes three whole years! So, I don't think you can't really judge a new principal the first year. Give them two - three tenure, to settle in! 
If you're an "experienced" teacher (20+ years) like me, new or younger teachers will look to you either unconsciously or subconsciously to learn about your school culture. How does what you say reflect you and your school? A LOT! Don't be the teacher that is a toxic bad mouther or Debbie downer.  Snarky is OK, just try and direct it towards situations or the Kardashians and not students or fellow teachers.

Don't DIS! Talkin Trash & Throwing Shade.
I try to never to "dis" my admin.  It's not honorable, it's not professional, and it's just not cool to be disrespectful or disloyal to your leaders - past or present. This can be challenging if you had some admins who were umm quirky. I've been blessed with having principals who were very supportive of me and our library media tech program. Were they perfect? Nope. But I'm not either!  I try to appreciate and focus on the best in people. I know, pretty Pollyanna, right? [cue eye roll] Which doesn't mean I'm a saint, or that I don't like to gossip now and then. I'm human! But I try to keep the tea and the shade relegated to the idiocy of the Bravo Real Housewives franchise!  Oh and and I hope it goes without saying that social media venting is verboten!

A Few Principal Tips:

• Get to know your new administrator - what they are like as a real person (but don't stalk them!)
• Don't compare them to previous principals (Never say "Well, Mr. so and so always did this - or Mrs. never this did that")
• Listen when they talk to you - without thinking of what you are going to say next (this is hard for me - I get nervous and start to babble)
• Be positive about your situation (Don't bemoan or whine)
• Advocate for yourself, your program, your class BUT be a team player (Yes, I'm doing lunch duty for the first time in 17 years and though it limits teaching some classes, it's great seeing the kiddos in a different venue! Being a cheerful not begrudging team player is good thing.)
• Be understanding if they stumble or fumble (Wouldn't you hope for that, too?)
by maggie khun
• Don't go to them with a critique or complaint without a suggestion on how to fix it (I learned this from my former awesome principal, Mr. Vince Catania)
Don’t be afraid to speak up and share an idea! (This is from my Midwest friend Dr. Justin Tarte, who wrote: "You bring a new perspective and a fresh set of lenses to the table, so be sure to share your thoughts and insights in a collaborative and collegial manner." - 10 things I want all new teachers to know)
• Get Admin permission before you try anything radically new, out of the box, or daring (You never want to take your principal by surprise by a parent phone call! IE:  I'm daring - not stoopid!)
• Document and share the cool things going on in your class or area (This might be a good time to start an Edublog!)
• Don't waste their time with small change or piddling issues (Teachers don't like it when Admins micromanage them, so try not to Macromanage your principal. For example, don't CC them on every email, that's not CYA - that's just annoying.  Don't use them to circumvent a teacher you may have issues with -that's just passive aggressive and will make you look petty. Save your principal for the mountains not the molehills  -Wow, I'm using a lot of cheezy idioms today!)
What should I add here? What did I forget? Add em in the comments and I might edit & add them in!

Haters Will Hate
I know it's not cool to look like a suck up, brown noser, or sycophant, but if you get unwillingly caught in a "let's bash the principal conversation" - say your piece or just "remember a task," smile and walk away.
Here's an example of what your piece can be:  "give the guy/gal a chance - so far he's been fair to me and I like how he's seen in the hallways and talks to our kiddos"  Or something both truthful and positive. 
Got a lot of hating going on in your school? There are always "that group" of toxic people - and they LOVE to recruit!  Don't give it energy! And don't for a minute believe that it won't somehow, someway get back to your admin, too! 'Cause it will.  Also, after a long time principal leaves his followers and those who he has brought in will most likely leave. I've experienced that a large turnover of a school's teachers happen every 5 years or so. If you want to move, move. If you want to stay - have an open mind & always keep the kiddos a priority. Lady Gaga on Twitter, Haters, & Change 

Even though my new principal, Mr. Joshua R. Wasilewski, has said we could call him by his first name, I don't feel comfortable doing it. I'm afraid I will slip up in front of the kiddos plus - there's a respect factor there for me that I really believe in. No matter that's he's a few [cough] years younger than me (When did that happen? When did principals get younger than me!? LOL) I really respect my new principal and he's doing a great job! He's there - in the hallways, in the classrooms, he smiles and talks to the students. He has even gone out during recess and played hoops with the kids.  He shows true interest in our staff and our community.  He's been supportive of me, our library media program, & our TV Studio. He's also Tweeting AND he's even helped me with my SLO's!
Now if he could only take away my lunch duty.....Just kidding!
Let's give first year principals time to get their feet wet, grow into the job, bond with the kiddos and always remember to be loyal and supportive. Teach your principal that they can trust you.  Every day.  Be kind. Be patient. Be positive. Be Professional.

New Principal Resources:

The postings above are from The Connected Principal blog - which is an amazing site that comprises the "shared thoughts of school administrators that want to share best practices in education. All of the authors have different experiences in education but all have the same goal; what is best for students."  I really think this blog is a "must share" with your principal. Maybe even encourage them to contribute! I just wish they would get a slick graphic blog header - it's too plain, it doesn't embody it's awesomeness! But then again, you know I have issues where graphics are concerned

I also really admire Principal Eric Sheninger,  his Tweets & blog are truly inspiring! I consider him as one of my online Principal leaders. Thank you Mr. Sheninger for your generosity and vision for our schools and our kiddos!

On a Personal Note: Turn Challenges into Blessings
OK, I put this last because it's a little personal - you can stop reading if you wanna, I'll just cry on the inside! J/K
This school year I had a triple challenge which turned out to be triple blessing.   Last summer I had a total knee replacement fixing a knee that was hurt 10 years ago in an impact injury, my (only ever) Media assistant of 20+ years had the nerve to retire [grins ruefully] and I had to train a new assistant for the first time and one I wasn't given a chance to interview or help hire. Oh! and I got a new principal.
I was really nervous about all three. And guess what? It all worked out AWESOMELY! Knee feels much better, my new assistant Ms. Kathi Bell is amazing and every day is fun learning with her, and my new principal rocks! SO WIN! Whew! I originally wrote 3 long paragraphs here going into detail then I realized it was WAY too much information! LOL When blogging, try and differentiate between sharing and cathartic unloading!

Thanks for reading!  This time of year I seem to get reflective. And maybe a bit verbose.  I even wrote a blog post called Time and Tide Reflection that gives some thoughts to teachers about a "mental wrap-up" for the school year.
I always think and try to say to as many who will listen, that we have the BEST JOB in the whole world! I truly celebrate the passion and the privilege that I have to be a teacher and a librarian.
Why? Because every year we get a new start! All the mistakes we made or things we forgot to do we can do next year!  And the kiddos....they are amazing! Yeah, Pollyanna. Sickening. I know.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...