Our School Our Future Pledge for 2013

With the 2013 new year, join the pledge to make a difference in your school.   Hundreds have joined.  Join the pledge and change your school today.

About Our School Our Future Pledge- Principal Principles wants winning schools and for all  students to receive quality education by strengthening the school's leaders. Let's Stand Strong for Education.  Sign this pledge that you will support quality education in your schools and be committed to being a stronger leader.  

Did You Know:  

More than 1.2 million students in the U.S. drop out of school every year.

Of the 13 million students that live in poverty today, only 1 in 10 will graduate from college.

Pledge today to make a difference.  Sign your name to this pledge that you are committed to excellence and will provide quality education in your school.


your photo name

Things That Matter the Most

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.  

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two “root beers” from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things- your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions. And if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else- the small stuff.

If you put the sand into the jar first there would be no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that matter the most- the things that are critical for your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit your grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play more.

Take care of the golf balls first- the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand. One of the students raised their hand and inquired what the “root beer” represented. The root beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of “root beers” with a friend.


your photo name

It Takes Courage

The video below is of a fourth grade girl.  She is about to experience her first ski jump.  She has courage and what it takes to accomplish this goal.

As several people have pointed out it's more about the emotions and facing your fears and overcoming them, than the jump itself.  The jump is not small.  The launch is a good 6 feet high and it crosses a Cat Track before the landing slope starts-at a guess a good 8 feet horizontal.

If you listen closely, someone beside her says these words: "The longer you wait, you will be more scared."  This is what we all experience when we are faced with something new or change.  However, we just need to take that jump.  It can be a lot of fun.

Do you have the courage to face your fears?

Visit my website at: http://principalprinciples.com


your photo name

Flip My Meeting Part 2

Part 2 of Flip this Meeting

Useful Google Tools to help flip your faculty meetings:

I will share each week tools found with Google.  This week I am sharing Google Drive.  Google Drive is simply awesome to use.  It is similar to Dropbox.

Google Drive- In Google Drive, you can create new documents, spreadsheets and presentations instantly. Work together at the same time, on the same doc, and see changes as they appear.

Create and Collaborate

Share the way you want.

You can share files or folders with anyone, and choose whether they can view, edit or comment on your stuff.

Start a discussion.

Create and reply to comments to get feedback and make files more collaborative.

Go back in time.

Google Drive tracks every change you make—so when you hit the save button, a new revision is saved. You can look back as far as 30 days automatically, or choose a revision to save forever.

Google has everything you will ever need for a meeting.   Try a Flipped meeting this time.  Have all the information disseminated to your team prior to the actual meeting. This cuts down on all the background.  A Flipped Meeting allows a group of people to get together and spend a productive amount of time making decisions and plans.  Don't waste time with your staff.  Your time and their time is precious.   Try Google Drive.

Visit my website at: http://principalprinciples.com

What do you use to streamline your meetings?


your photo name

Google Trends for November


Searching trends is a great way to see what's popular. Use this gadget to see what people are searching for on your own website. For example, show your readers which American Idol contestants are searched for the most.

How it works:

A free Google service that provides charts that show how often words, phrases and topics have been searched for over time. Using Google Trends you can compare up to five topics at one time and also see how often those topics have been mentioned in news stories and find out in which geographic regions the topics have been searched for the most. Google Trends also offers "Hot Trends" which is a snapshot of top 40 fastest-rising search queries in the United States.

Sample of Today's Hot Trends:


your photo name

Quote to Live By

Do you agree?  Share your thoughts.

your photo name

Google's What Do You Love

What do you love?  

I have to admit that I love this website.  I regret that I didn't think about it before now.  It is simple.  Just enter a topic in the search box and see what happens.
(what do you love)

For example, I entered iPads in the Classroom.
I received the following hits:
-videos of ipads in the classroom
-blogs related to the use of ipads in the classroom
-pictures, images
-the latest news about ipads
- and much, much more

Check it out and learn more by watching this Youtube Video.

Tell me what you think.  What do you love? 


your photo name

A Google A Day

A Google a Day

How it Works:

1. Google asks a question.
2.  You find the answer.
There's no right way to solve it, but there's only one right answer.

Check out the Lesson Plans


your photo name

Teaching Writing in Elementary and Middle School

Teaching writing to students can be a difficult task.  Writing is a big focus this year on my campus.  Here are so great resources that I have found.  Click on the images below to find out details of each.

Four Types of Writing Posters


your photo name

Six Traits of Writing Posters

Six Traits of Writing Posters


your photo name

Tech Envy Part 3

Go anywhere and always have your files with you on your wrist.  
You don't have to worry about losing it or having to keep it in your pocket or purse.  It is stylish on your wrist.

your photo name

5 Levels of Leadership

Look what I'm ordering!  I can't wait to read it.  

True leadership isn't a matter of having a certain job or title. In fact, being chosen for a position is only the first of the five levels every effective leader achieves. To become more than "the boss" people follow only because they are required to, you have to master the ability to invest in people and inspire them. To grow further in your role, you must achieve results and build a team that produces. You need to help people to develop their skills to become leaders in their own right. And if you have the skill and dedication, you can reach the pinnacle of leadership-where experience will allow you to extend your influence beyond your immediate reach and time for the benefit of others.


your photo name

Staff Development on Setting Goals: GPS Activity

Growing Productive Students (GPS)

Intro:  I participated in a similar activity a few weeks ago and found the idea behind it exciting.  I tweaked the activity to fit my campus needs.  This could be used in a business  or school setting. It is very universal.  I named it GPS because of the "direction" and "map" references.  Try it out and see what you think.  We all have goals.  The goal(s) may be personal or professional.  If you do not have a goal or set goals, how do you know where to focus your energy each day?

Staff Development for setting goals:

Purpose:  To help your staff know the goals for the year.  As leaders, we are responsible for moving our staff in the right direction.  Sometimes we get off in different directions but the leader provides the road map and direction for the staff.


1.  Using about 10 sheets of paper, write a goal on each sheet of paper or Download here: http://www.principalprinciples.com.

For example:
Student engagement

2. Hang these all around the room so they are spread out.

3. Ask the group to visually locate one of them as a goal they will work towards this school year. No one shares their goal until the end of the activity.

4. Everyone stands and takes 5 steps toward their goal.  While on the way they are making sure not to indicate to any other team members their goal. Now Stop.

5. A person standing closest to you will now become your team leader. This person now leads you toward their goal. This is now becomes your new goal. Reason: Sometimes other people influence us on our journey and we become sidetracked.

6. Take 5 more steps to your new goal with your partner.

7. Don’t become sidetracked this year. Know where you want to go and lead your team in that direction. Is this where you want to end up?  

8.  Set the goal for the campus.  Make sure everyone is moving toward that goal.

As the leader of your business or campus or district, it is our duty to make sure everyone is working towards the same thing.  If not, we will all end up in different places.

I ended the training with this video.  A band is under the direction of the drum major and the band director.  The school or business is under the direction of a leader.  It is the job of the leader to keep everyone in unison so we all move at the same time and in the same direction.  Enjoy the video! 

Teachers analyzing data in small groups and then present the data to the rest of the group.
If you see something in this blog that you like, please share with your co-workers or comment below.  

your photo name

Teaching in the Digital Age

I was observing in a classroom this week and this is what I observed.  This puts things in perspective and reaffirms why I do what I do for the people I do them for.  

iPads in the Classroom

This is a picture of students using QR Codes in one of my third grade classrooms. During math, students solved multiplication problems then self-checked using QR Codes.  

The use of iPads and other technology in the classrooms is the new normal in many schools and classrooms.  Is it in your school?  School leaders should provide students and staff with innovative strategies to embrace and integrate technology in the classroom.

Looking for tips on using tools in the classroom? Teaching in the Digital Age is a great resource for educators to add technology across the curriculum.

I love this YouTube Video of QR Codes.  So Cute!

For more technology tips view my website at: http://principalprinciples.com

If you see something you like, please share or comment below.  I would love to hear your feedback.


your photo name

Leadership Tools for School Principals

Leadership Tools for School Principals is a survival guide for those who are, or who aspire to be, effective school principals. Dr. Nelson Coulter leverages his many years of experience as a school principal and educational consultant, both in rural K-12 schools and in large comprehensive high schools, to provide school leaders with a tool chest of practical ideas. Coulter acknowledges that the myriad of tasks required of principals frequently overwhelms and often distracts from the primary learning-centered responsibilities of school leaders. Found in Leadership Tools for School Principals are strategies for managing documents, meetings, calendars, announcements, phone and e-mail communications, as well as ideas for instructional multi-tasking. Perhaps more important than the logistical strategies included, the book also conveys a way of thinking for school leaders that keeps them anchored to the primary objective of their work and that of their schools - the LEARNING process.

What I Learned from Nelson Coulter:
I had the pleasure of hearing Nelson Coulter speak at a seminar on October 29, 2012.  He signed a copy of the book I had won.  I will never forget these two things he said which are also found in this book.
     There are two standards I use to determine the approach I take with a faculty member who may be struggling or underperforming.  Those two standards are:
  •      Is the underperforming person able to get better (at a pace that is acceptable to me)?
  •      Is the underperforming person willing to get better (at a pace that is acceptable to me)?
Best Wishes to you Stephanie, Nelson Coulter 10/29/12

Order your book here:


your photo name

Reacting to Change: Five Monkeys Presentation

Go to my website at http://principalprinciples.com and down load the presentation of Five Monkeys.  Five Monkeys is part of a staff development for Change.  

Change is hard and unsettling at times.  It can knock us off balance and push us beyond our comfort zone.  Some times we have trouble just keeping up with our daily routines.  However, at times we have to abandon what isn't working and try something new.  Our responsibilities in life can be demanding, and consume our energy.  This leads us to react positively or negatively to it.  However we decide to react, change is the one thing that is always constant.  Attitude plays a big part in the success or failure of our change.

Download the presentation here.

your photo name

Provide A World Class Education

Provide a world class education for our children.

Our schools are built for learning.  We are in the business of teaching and learning.  What are our highest aspirations for our students?  How do you know if we are fulfilling their dreams?  Start today providing the best instructional strategies for your students.

your photo name

STAAR Test Resources for Principals and Schools


your photo name

Will Social Media Choose the Next President?

Social Media Election

your photo name

Be The Change

Be the change you wish to see in the world.


your photo name

19 Ways to Bold Learning

  1. Forget open book / phone tests.
    Let’s have open network assessments where students can use the tools they own and love for learning. School should not be a place where we force kids to unplug and disconnect from the world.
  2. Stop wasting money on textbooks.
    Make your own texts with things like wikis.
  3. Google yourself
    If we’re not empowering ourselves and our students to be Google well, we’re not doing a good job.
  4. Flip the power structure from adults to learners
    Empower students with the tools and resources they need to go where they want to go and explore and develop their interests and passions.
  5. Don’t do work for the classroom
    Support learners in doing work that is worthy of, can exist in, and can change the world.
  6. Stop telling kids to do their own work
    That’s not reality any longer.  Support them in collaborating, interacting, and cooperating with others.  
  7. Learn first. Teach second.
    We must come into our classrooms knowing that we are learners first. If we think we are teachers first, we are not giving our students the powerful learning models they’ll need to be successful.  
  8. No more how-to workshops
    Educators should know how to find out how to on their own. When we come together it should be to talk about how we are doing.  
  9. Share everything
    The best work of you and your students should be shared online. This will help us all get better.
  10. Ask questions you don’t know the answer to
    The learning of high stakes tests with predetermined answers is not as powerful as the learning that comes from finding our own new and unique answers.
  11. Believe that you want to be found by strangers on the internet
    If you think kids aren’t going to interact with strangers on the internet, you’re wrong. Let’s embrace that and support kids in being smart when doing so and learning a lot about the minds they are meeting.
  12. Rethink the role of the teacher
    We should not be doing the same work that 20th century teachers did. Consider how technology can and should change our roles.
  13. Toss the resume
    No one cares about your resume anymore. The internet is the new resume. What will people find when they look at who you are online? That is what you should be focusing on.
  14. Go beyond Google to learn
    Build your personal learning network and learn with and from the people you know via places like Twitter and Facebook.
  15. Go free and open source
    We have a budget crises, yet schools are wasting millions on things that are offered for free.
  16. Create an UnCommon Core
    Don’t ask how you will meet the common core, empower kids to think about how they will change the world.
  17. Stop delivering the curriculum
    This is no longer necessary.  Information can be accessed without a teacher.  Move beyond delivery to discovery.
  18. Be subversive
    When a student is told to do a standardized test, stand up and say NO! We have to be disruptive and push back.
  19. Stand up and scream
    Tell everyone that education is not about publishers and politicians but rather it’s about what students and parents want and how teachers can best give that to them.
What are your top 3? I love #7, #14, and #17.
Makes me think about all the possibilities we need to consider doing differently in schools.  

What would you add to the list?

your photo name

Connect with Your Audience in Real Time

I attended a workshop this week and we used this during the entire meeting.

TodaysMeet helps you embrace the backchannel and connect with your audience in real time.

Encourage the room to use the live stream to make comments, ask questions, and use that feedback to tailor your presentation, sharpen your points, and address audience needs.

Imagine you're giving a presentation where you can read the mind of every person in the room. You'd have an amazing ability to adjust to your audience's needs and emotions. That's the backchannel.
Using Twitter at social media conferences has become a great way to do just that. But Twitter isn't appropriate for every situation.
  • Your audience isn't on Twitter.
  • You don't want the discussion to be public.
  • You need to see only relevent updates.
That's where TodaysMeet comes in. TodaysMeet gives you an isolated room where you can see only what you need to see, and your audience doesn't need to learn any new tools like hash tags to keep everything together.

Try it now, just put a room name in the box below and hit enter.

How can I use it during my meetings?
1.  Your staff uses their iPads and during the meetings you stop and ask questions.  They type in their response to the questions.
2.  At the end of a meeting, you ask them to reflect on the training.  
3.  During a training, they ask questions and at an appropriate time the questions are answered.  

The list is endless.  How can you see Todays Meet being used in your business or school?


your photo name
Back to Top