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Showing posts with label #createdbymrhughes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #createdbymrhughes. Show all posts

Fostering A Positive School Culture- An Administrator's View!

     It can be felt by EVERY SINGLE PERSON that enters your building. The minute anyone opens your school doors and walks inside, an immediate impression is felt. Often it is one of happiness, structure, and confidence. Sometimes a building may have a sense of chaos, frustration, and discontent. Regardless of whether it is good or bad- the point is that it is there.
     Now, you might be wondering why this matters. One might say, "Who cares what I feel when I enter the school. As long as kids are learning and teachers are teaching, and administrators are dealing with discipline, then everything is right." Sadly, they couldn't be MORE wrong.
     In that instance someone comes into the building, an important connection is being made in their minds- this school is a good school, or, this school is not. It sounds so cliche and corny, but I truly believe that it happens.
     So, that being said, how does a school foster a positive culture? One where students enjoy coming each day to school, teachers are empowered to be their best, administrators devote their time to leading, and parents are confident and feel supported in the education process. 
     It isn't an easy undertaking, and one that may take months or even years to correct. 

Click on over to my blog, An Educator's Life, to read MY story and see ideas and suggestions for increasing the positive culture in YOUR school!

Thanks for stopping by!

-John Hughes
Elementary Principal
Owner, Created by MrHughes
Proud Member of The Elementary Chalkboard

To find out more about me and my teaching ideas click below.
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Tell'em What's Up Night! [A.K.A. Back to School Night/Open House]

If you are a teacher, you have been there.

You madly prepare, you sweat, you stress, you make your classroom orderly- perfect even. You
might have projects carefully and lovingly set up on display, and you wait at the front of the room OR at the door with a nervous smile on your face, ready to share those items you feel will most benefit the parents of the students in your classroom. You are confident that this presentation will help ensure the success of all your students. 
Then the reality- if you are like my school- you get 4 parents that show up. Disheartened at the small number, you paste the smile on your face, give your presentation, and then take home a large amount of cookies to your significant other or pet. Cookies that were meant to be refreshments and an enticement to mingle with you and other parents for a few minutes.

OR, in a different scenario, you have your open house stations all ready, papers to fill out, treats to share, excitement to spread. And, during the 2 hours you are there to greet your new students and parents, you get 4-5 that wander through, most with little enthusiasm. They fill out your paper work, take a treat, and shuffle out the door.

We have all been there. As a teacher it STINKS! It frustrating, and hard. After all, you were there- prepared and ready to go. A big smile and lots of hard work. And it seems ALL FOR WHAT?

But, let's rewind these situations for a minute and look at this in a new light! Going from Teacher to Administrator has given me a new perspective on this whole tradition of Back to School/Open House  nights.

First, I tried to find in the history of school where this tradition of back-to-school nights/open house came from. Sadly, Google hath failed me in my quest. HOWEVER, I want to remind you that it is just that- a tradition that was most likely started by a teacher, administrator, and/or school somewhere that wanted parents and students to feel ready to start the year. And, I have also noticed that this seems to be a trend mainly in elementary schools.

Second, I  think that part of the push for a back-to-school event was that it helped teachers think big picture for the year in academics, to review discipline procedures, and prepare mentally. That alone, makes back-to-school/open house worth it from an administrator's point of view.

Third, we, as educators do what we do because we love serving our students and parents. And, if that means that only 4 could make it to your event, that is four kids that you got to meet and help feel special. Those four kids will come to school knowing that they are going to be loved and safe!

So, what does all this mean?
I think it means that when we have those parents and students in our classrooms, we DO need to "Tell'em what's up". AND, we need to embrace that we will rarely get every parent, or even a majority, to attend. Parents are busy, and, when faced with a choice between something they feel they have attended a bazillion times, or getting a chore done, a few extra hours of work, or something else that to them is more pressing, they will choose what will reduce the most stress- and sadly teachers, it won't be back-to-school night. It's okay- we've got this!

This leads me back to the line of thought I have had as principal, and this new perspective where I am coordinating the entire event. I love my teachers dearly, and do my best to ensure they have everything they need to be successful! I kept thinking of all the stress it was to be ready for back-to-school night AND prepare for the first day AND prepare for this...and that...

I truly wanted to simplify teachers lives and reduce stress. But how?

 This, I have decided, means that teachers, administrators, and schools need to start looking for non-traditional ways to share this same information with these busy parents, who, do want to know and be involved, but truly can't attend.

How about trying something like this:

=A prerecorded video that can be emailed or put on a school server/wiki/blog/youtube? This can include the teachers, administrator, librarian, computer lab managers, paraprofessionals, and anyone else that the school deems needful to be included.

=A short written handbook that is mailed out to the parents with the registration papers, or handed out at school registration.  (Could also include links to the videos talked about above)

=A motivation to come. If the school provides a simple dinner (hot dogs, spaghetti, etc.), served at the end of the event, parents will be given one less task at home to deal with, and hopefully feel more enticed to come. The secret is to give each family a ticket to eat for free. These are only given to parents who attend a full session in one or more classrooms.

=An Open House and Back-to-School Night all in one, where parents can come during a set period of time and meet the teacher, but then also schedule 1-2 set presentations during the last hour of the event. (NOTE: This is the option we are piloting this year- and my teachers are excited for it! We are also having a hot dog BBQ at the end to encourage parents, students, and teachers to mingle. IT IS GOING TO BE AWESOME!)

=Others that your amazing school dream up!

 Back-to-School Events aren't going away anytime soon. But, the stress associated with them doesn't need to hang around. Talk with your administrators, your peers, your parents/students. Ask them what needs to take place to make it most useful for them and YOU!

Make it your mission to change it up next year- to cause a little disruption- for good- in your school! I think you will be amazed at the results.

-John Hughes
Elementary Principal
Owner, Created by MrHughes\
Proud Member of The Primary Chalkboard

To find out more about me and my teaching ideas click below.
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Getting the Most Out of Professional Development

You hear it announced at the beginning of the school day and you dread it ALL. DAY. LONG! Or, you are happily enjoying your summer break and you get an email or text that makes your heart drop... PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SESSION- attendance "optional", but not really, if you know what I mean.

Yup, we have all been there before. I will admit that in my 15 years of being in the world of education, I have sat through some pretty crumby professional development sessions/classes where I felt I knew more about the topic being presented than the presenter. I was grouchy and didn't want to listen or hear what was being discussed!

On the flip-side of that, I too, have sat through many AMAZING sessions of professional development where I left inspired, invigorated, and ready to get the proverbial party started!

I have spent the past couple of weeks reflecting on this topic. I am now an administrator who will be giving these professional development opportunities to my staff. What made some sessions so amazing, and others so lame?

I realized it was ME! It dawned on me that I played a HUGE role in the value I got out of those professional development sessions. I also realized that there were some key components to getting the most out of each and every session- regardless of the topic, the presenter, or the time of day!

So, read on, dear PD'er! I am excited to share a few of these tips with you!

1) Have A Positive Attitude
No I am not just saying this because I am a new principal. I have been a negative Ned most of my life. I tend to be very pessimistic about many things.  However, I found that when I had a positive attitude, even if I had to "pretend" I was glad about the PD session, that I was more attentive and willing to listen to what was being shared. I tried to smile more in the session and remind myself that something in this presentation WILL make me a better teacher!

Also, be sure to avoid or shut down negative talk about professional development. A simple, "Really? I am looking forward to our meeting today!" is usually enough to get the negative Nellys and Neds to zip it!

2) Get AND Use A PD Notebook/Journal
I learned the value of this from my second principal- Jane Friel. She was a ROCK STAR at modeling for us as teachers things to do and try in our classrooms during PD sessions and Faculty meetings. Each year we would get a new composition notebook that had our name, grade, and year on it. Sometimes were "required" to take notes or reflect on the the learning of the meeting, but mostly it was a place to write down key ideas and take-away points from articles/presentations that were part of the on-going PD at that school. I still have all THREE of the ones I received while working in her school. Even better, I still flip through them from time to time and find the learning still relevant to me today!

I found that when I listened with the foreknowledge of wanting to write down the key ideas, I was able to focus and truly listen. It made a HUGE difference in my learning and understanding.

3) Have A Discussion ASAP!
I have found that when I sit down, whether it is later that day or the next, with a colleague that also attended (or even one that didn't) and discuss key points, that I am able to better retain the information, get new insights from the person I am sharing with, and have a more positive experience overall. In fact, knowing that I will be sharing with someone else, makes me take better notes and ponder about ideas.

However, note that sitting next to your besties and talking off-topic the whole time will NOT be a helpful activity. Side-conversation is distracting to others around you and a real downer for the person presenting. To top it all off, it makes you look unprofessional as well- something we ALL want to avoid!

If no one wants to listen to you when it is all said and done, then write a Facebook post, blog post, share your ideas on Instagram, or even do a quick Periscope video- someone out there will listen and respond! I know I would!

So, I want to make it clear that I understand that some professional development will just suck eggs. That's all there is to it! Sometimes the required topics are annoying- or "just another thing" we have to do. But, if we refer to Tip #1, we will find that regardless of the topic- something useful, positive, and constructive can truly come from ANY training, in-service, or session you are required to attend.

And, if the offering is optional- make it a point to go. Knowing you are there because you CAN be and not because you HAVE to be, will also make a huge difference in your attitude and learning.

Now that I have shared my TOP 3 TIPS for GETTING THE MOST OUT OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT with you- it's YOUR turn! I would love to hear what tips you have to offer about how to get the most out of professional development! Leave your thoughts in the comment section below! I can't wait to hear from you! SCORE!

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful WEEK! WAHOO!

John, Created by MrHughes

Join me on my journey with one or all of these sites:

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Don't miss the other AWESOME posts from this month. 
Click on the picture to learn and read more! WAHOO!

Advent Calendar Adventure Day 7 from Created By MrHughes

Happy Holidays Friends!
John from Created by MrHughes here with Day 7 of the fun advent adventure!
I am SO excited to be sharing two great gifts with you today!

First, I am thrilled to share my I Have, Who Has 'Twas the Night Before Christmas edition.

Students have to listen to be able to read the next part. They are only given the last few words of the sentence before them. Perfect for comprehension as well. So, listening/comprehension/teamwork all in one FREE resource- TOTAL SCORE! WAHOO! Not only that, but my kiddos love to time themselves and then try to complete it faster each time we read it. I hope you enjoy this wonderful holiday gift!

Secondly, I am going to do the unthinkable! I am going to offer my popular Christmas Dodecahedron Project at 50% off today! WAHOO!

That's right- one of my top-rated resources is only going to be $2.50 today! Get it while you can, because it return to FULL PRICE tomorrow!



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Share the Wealth Comes to the Chalkboard!

Greetings Friends!
It is so wonderful to be posting here on the Primary Chalkboard once again. Life is crazy and with Thanksgiving and Christmas knocking on our lesson planning doors, I figured it was time for a Share the Wealth event to help get quality FREE resources into your hands. Click HERE to be directed to the linky. Thanks for stopping by

 Before you click off to gather all your awesome resources, I had to share this cartoon. It is SO true. Ha ha.

Thanks, and stop by again soon!
-John, Created by MrHughes

To find out more about me and my teaching ideas click below.
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