Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Time is Now....

Each day I contemplate on how well we are doing with our students. I reflect on what is working well and where we need to make adjustments. Thoughts, images, and ideas have been swirling around and this morning I have found a quiet time to process and write them down. As we all know, once you commit your thoughts and ideas to paper you are one step closer to making them happen.

An image struck me this morning, it is the Japanese "enso." Zen circles, or enso, are symbols of teaching, reality, enlightenment and a myriad of things in between. A symbol that seems so simple yet encompasses so many intricacies. Some artists practice drawing an enso daily. I see each person somewhat like an "enso," seemingly simple yet so intricate in detail. 

Every day we are in front of our students is an opportunity to create change, empower thought, develop skills, and assist in their progress towards becoming the most successful people they can be. Imagine yourself looking down upon a classroom, envision the teacher as a masterful artist embarking on his/her new day of creation, see the children as works of art, canvases that have been touched by many artists before and are now ready to receive a new layer of influence. Each child is a unique creation that together we are helping to mold and foster. 

It is our obligation to teach each and every child. It is our obligation that we do everything we can each and every day to TEACH every student and do everything we can to ENSURE every student is LEARNING and GROWING!! 

Something that has been weighing on me is the grading process where we assign students with an "F," a permanent mark of FAILURE. Why, if we are charged with educating would we ever think it is appropriate to provide a mark of "FAILURE" to one of our students? One of our own works of art!! It is our obligation to educate, so we cannot ever give up. Think of it this way, if you are running, trip and break a bone, you go to the doctor. You go to the doctor and receive a cast to help fuse the bones back in place and heal. The doctor does not merely tell you to run better next time and don't fall. The doctor would provide you with guidance on how to run to help prevent a future injury, but he/she would also provide the cast so you can heal. 

I am asking that every educator look at EVERY student as a work of art. I am asking that every educator take time with EVERY one of their students to help each of them realize their full POTENTIAL. I am asking that every educator continues to teach from the HEART and recognizes that we are OBLIGATED to ensure that ALL students LEARN. I am asking that every educator takes time to reflect on his/her mission and work and find the PASSION that made them decide to become an educator. I am asking that every educator harnesses that PASSION and ENERGY to do everything possible to support each INDIVIDUAL student and NEVER GIVE UP.  We CAN change the cycle. We MUST change the cycle. We must PLAN and EXECUTE. 

Allow yesterday to guide us to do better tomorrow. Allow the mistakes of yesterday to become lessons learned that are our building blocks and foundation for tomorrow. The future is created by each of our decisions and actions today. We design our future by taking charge of the present. We are in this together and are stronger together. I ask that if you are with me on this, take time to commit in writing, share with others, chart your course and let's make it a very bright future. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

#Life is such a #beautiful #gift

It is day two of the new year and I feel compelled to write a few words. I have not written a post since June of 2017. Today, while out on a jog I was filled with such positive energy I knew I needed to capture some of it in "ink."

Many of my colleagues and Twitter family have taken to the #oneword resolution for the new year. I have been quiet on posting my #oneword as I have so many words that I feel speak to my current #resolve and #commitment right now. These last few days of vacation I have really been able to reconnect with my sense of #purpose #spirituality and #joy for the life that is around me and in me.

Every life is a beautiful gift that should be #appreciated, #cherished, #polished, #supported, #honed, and #protected. I am committed to putting out as much #positive energy in every encounter I make today, tomorrow, and each and every opportunity I am provided in the future. Channeling the positive energy is what needs to take place in order to suppress any negative energy that exists in our world. Negative energy only sucks out life and I want to help to #grow, #support, and #blossom all the life that surrounds me.

 So.... my #oneword is #positivity.

#Life is a #beautiful #gift

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Closing One Chapter and Beginning the Next....

It is so unbelievable that tomorrow we embark on our last week of the 2016-2017 school year. We have all learned a lot this year, both students and staff alike. We will never stop learning and growing. The post below was shared with me and I thought it a poignant way to end the school year. 

I wish everyone a relaxing summer. A summer that provides you an opportunity to reflect on what went well this year and where you can capitalize on growth for the new school year. We have established quite a TEAM and we will only get stronger with time. 

Trees Shedding Their Bark

Like a tree our growth depends upon our ability to soften, loosen, and shed boundaries and defenses we no longer need.
Trees grow up through their branches and down through their roots into the earth. They also grow wider with each passing year. As they do, they shed the bark that served to protect them but now is no longer big enough to contain them. In the same way, we create boundaries and develop defenses to protect ourselves and then, at a certain point, we outgrow them. If we don't allow ourselves to shed our protective layer, we can't expand to our full potential.

Trees need their protective bark to enable the delicate process of growth and renewal to unfold without threat. Likewise, we need our boundaries and defenses so that the more vulnerable parts of ourselves can safely heal and unfold. But our growth also depends upon our ability to soften, loosen, and shed boundaries and defenses we no longer need. It is often the case in life that structures we put in place to help us grow eventually become constricting.

Unlike a tree, we must consciously decide when it's time to shed our bark and expand our boundaries, so we can move into our next ring of growth. Many spiritual teachers have suggested that our egos don't disappear so much as they become large enough to hold more than just our small sense of self--the boundary of self widens to contain people and beings other than just "me." Each time we shed a layer of defensiveness or ease up on a boundary that we no longer need, we metaphorically become bigger people. With this in mind, it is important that we take time to question our boundaries and defenses. While it is essential to set and honor the protective barriers we have put in place, it is equally important that we soften and release them when the time comes. In doing so, we create the space for our next phase of growth.

Continue to be innovativecreative, and a model of excellence!!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Thank You.....

Thank You.....

Thank you to all of the educators that #create #engaging lessons that are #relevant and #meaningful for students.

Thank you to all of the educators that take #risks to make school a #better place for students.

Thank you to all of the educators that #challenge their colleagues to #reach new heights.

Thank you to all of the educators that #build #relationships with students.

Thank you to all of the educators that take #time to give #real #feedback to students.

Thank you to all of the educators that are using #technology to #enhance and #redefine their lessons.

Thank you to all of the educators that #believe in ALL of their students.

Thank you to all of the educators that are #passionate about teaching and #teachlikeapirate.

Thank you to all of the educators that #listen to #student voices and #lead from what they have #learned.

Thank you to all of the educators that #share and open up their classrooms for other educators to observe.

Thank you to all of the educators that are #reflective and willing to make needed changes because #kidsdeserveit.

Thank you to all of the educators that still remember their #why. 

Thank you to all of the educators that #encourage me each day to become a better person.

Thank you to all of the educators that make learning #fun.

Thank you to all of the educators that make students #laugh.

Thank you to all of the educators that see school as a #home and the students as their #family!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Priorities and Prioritizing

I have been enjoying connecting with my PLN this evening on Twitter. I am super excited about our week long Twitter Challenge; #FSUSDtweets that begins tomorrow.  I am even more proud to see how #EdcampFSUSD which began as merely an idea about only a short month ago has now blossomed into a full fledged REALITY. There is now a Twitter account, a website, a Google folder with many docs,  a multi-member planning team, hundreds of amazing donations flooding in, a date and a location!!

The reason I am so pumped and excited about #EdcampFSUSD is similar to the reasons I was so excited several years ago when I was principal at Crystal Middle School and we were planning our first Innovation Day. There is something so exhilarating to see an idea germinate, then how it grows with input and creativity from others, and it then begins to take on a momentous life of its own. I am so appreciative of the educators that are taking part in planning #EdcampFSUSD. They aren't planning because they will get paid or for kudos. They are part of the team because they are passionate, eager, creative, innovative PIONEERS. They are willing to take on something BIG because of the potential that it can have!! A HUGE shout out to the #EdcampFSUSD planning team. They are: Colleen Hutchinson, David Avery, Allison Klein, Gayle Horsma, Andy Meyers, Shareen Choy, Stephanie Budenthal, Meghan Cannon, Steve Trotter, and Jeff Kubiak.

I am currently reading "Lead Like a Pirate" and I was able to make some good connections with the text while on the drive up to see the in-laws for Easter. The one takeaway that has been at the forefront of my mind since Sunday is the idea of prioritizing our work. Thinking about our weekly tasks and determining of those tasks how many are really having a major impact on student achievement.

I have begun to wonder what are the priorities I am focusing on in my blogs and in my weekly newsletters? Are they the same? Do I send similar or conflicting messages? I have put myself to a test. I decided to copy and paste the last three blog posts into a Wordle and the last three newsletters into a Wordle to see what key words/phrases rise to the top. Here are the results.  There are some similarities, but not enough for it to be a clear, consistent message. There is work to be done.

My blog Wordle:

My newsletter Wordle: 

Now my next task is to evaluate my calendar and cross reference that with what my true priorities are that I want to see happening to have the largest impact on student achievement. I may need to shift and reprioritize. It is always good to reflect and refocus. It is so important to always keep the Goal in mind: Student Success!!! 

Continue to be innovativecreative, and a model of excellence!!

My Family: My motivation to be the BEST that I can be. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

This is what it's all about!!!!!

What an AMAZING day!! Today was a day for the record books!! It has left me feeling  #Proud #Energized #Motivated and #Encouraged. I am PROUD to be working with #innovative, #motivating, and #strong educators. I am ENERGIZED by the positive activities that are happening with students and staff. I am MOTIVATED to employ new strategies to "lead like a pirate." I am ENCOURAGED that the efforts that so many people are putting in day in and day out are starting to pay off.

My day began at Armijo High School where a team from the County Office of Education had begun their visitation to analyze the contents of their Gold Ribbon application. The County Office has the task of determining if the practices highlighted and outlined in the application are in fact taking place at the site. The time I spent there in the morning definitely showed that the Collaborative Coaching Process they highlighted is not only in effect on the campus, but is proactively changing the culture. Teachers shared how they are supporting one another and feeling safe to take risks with new ideas. The team spent the day visiting classrooms and speaking to staff, students, and parents. At the afternoon share out the County team shared that they were happy to announce they were giving their stamp of approval to send the application to the state level. They commented that they were so impressed with what they saw on the campus and what they gained from speaking with the students. It is a telling moment when senior students are able to verbalize that they are aware of the differences in how their teachers are teaching now compared to when they were freshman and sophomores. The students shared they are engaged much more in class since their teachers are having them talk instead of the teacher just talking, and they appreciate that their teachers are learning and trying new ways of teaching. Armijo's Collaborative Coaching Process was referred to as "exemplary."

My next stop was at the PSA where they are in day three of a four day WASC visit. I participated in a similar process as earlier in the morning, but this time the WASC visiting committee is working on validating the items described and outlined in the school's WASC report. The visiting committee will have their findings shared out tomorrow afternoon. The feedback so far is that they have seen a plethora of evidence to support what is written in the WASC report. The committee members we spoke to were thoroughly impressed with the structure, culture, and collaboration occurring at the PSA. They commented that this is the first time they have a seen a school that is a public school employing such a unique structure. I am confident that the share out tomorrow afternoon will be very, very positive. I must also add that the PSA had a Gold Ribbon site validation last week and the County is moving the PSA application to the state level!

Midway through the day I was humbled as a I partook in the ceremony at Matt Garcia Career and College Academy. Today is Victim's Memorial Day which is part of Crime Victim's Rights Week. The Matt Garcia Foundation in collaboration with the District Attorney's office, City Council, Fairfield PD, Solano County Sheriff, and many other community groups unveiled a statue and provided words of wisdom to the youth of our community. The ceremony bells were symbolic of #resilience, #strength, and #justice.

While I was at these three sites, there was so much going on at all of our other campuses across the district. I am so happy I get a glimpse through my "window" of Twitter without even being there. Over at Cordelia Hills, Principal Trotter was infusing innovation at his staff meeting by incorporating Flipgrid into collaborative conversations. Across town at Fairfield High, Assistant Principal Balthazor was infusing innovation at her staff meeting by incorporating Breakout Edu with the staff. These site admin are taking risks and modeling engagement they want to see in their classrooms.

This was a GREAT day in FSUSD. I am super excited to close out my night by starting to read my newest book, "Lead Like a Pirate." Tomorrow I will be part of a group of admin and teachers that will begin planning the VERY FIRST #Edcamp for FSUSD!

Continue to be innovativecreative, and a model of excellence!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The many voices in my head......

"The many voices in my head...." was not just my attempt at a catchy title. I am referring to the many messages/concerns/issues I hear from co-workers, students, family, media, and mostly..... my own self.  Some of the messages are competing and it is hard at times to drown out the "noise."  At times it can seem daunting. I truly want to make things right, help those that need it, fix those things that are broken, and make every day better for our students.  My attempts do not always succeed. But, my hope is that those that are on this journey with me, are able to recognize that my intentions are always good and that my ultimate goal is help our "team" unite and become even stronger than we are right now. I believe that with that strength and trust in one another we can chip away at the resistance that some may be putting up that is getting in the way of change. Not change for the sake of it, but change that makes things better for everyone involved. Change that can be seen and felt. Change that is real and empowers both students and staff so that they leave at the end of the day filled with knowledge and joy knowing that things were accomplished, problems were solved, questions were asked, and yes struggles were had.

The reality?? We are all human. We are all trying to do our best. We have many competing interests tugging at us. Therefore, we must support one another. Tonight, a colleague shared with me something that someone had said about me that at first I thought was unfortunate and I didn't think it bothered me. But, as the night went on, I realized that it really did hurt. It wasn't the words that hurt. It was the idea that someone did not see the "true purpose" behind why I do what I do. It hurt because I want nothing more than everyone to be successful. I do ask people to take risks and try new things and I do push them out of  their comfort zone. But, I do this not out of control, but because I want to empower each and every one of them. That one negative voice took over for awhile tonight....However, I now see it as a challenge!! A challenge that I must work harder to show through my actions and words that I am all about positive improvement and a team working together to be champions.

"The quality of every human activity ultimately depends on our motivation." --Dalai Lama