Social Media- Promote Your School

How do you promote your school?  Here is a great way to promote social media and look like a pro at it too! 

Don't shy away from it just because it says QR Code.  It is very easy to create a QR Code.  I have provided step by step directions and even a video!  Since we want to promote social media on all campuses,  I created posters for Elementary grades and another one for older students.  All you do is create your QR Code, place it on the poster and display in your halls, office or even send home with students.  

 Posters for Facebook, Webpage, Blog, Instagram and Twitter fans. 
Also included: A poster for parents explaining What is a QR Code.

Included in the Social Media Packet:  QR Code Directions Video, QR Code Social Media Editable presentation, QR Code Posters PDF and JPEG Files.  This packet includes everything you need!

Start promoting your school today with this packet.  Download Social Media here.

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Elements of Effective Instruction

I was asked recently what are my elements of effective instruction.  This can be a tough question to answer if we differ on what is important in a classroom.  This can also be controversial if our definition of "effective" differ from each other.  My passion or niche in being a leader is in  instructional methods.  I find myself reading and wanting to know more ways for students to excel in school.  One thing I will admit is I don't enjoy reading the "research papers and theory-type" articles.  I just don't have time for all of that.  I want real.  I want just the meat and potatoes and not all the fluff and jargon.  When I find authors who give you information in a straight forward way, I tend to keep reading. 
So with that being said, I made a list of my elements of effective instruction in an easy to read format. 

 T is for Time. 
Teachers need an appropriate amount of uninterrupted instructional time to teach, to plan and enough time to give students feedback.  If your classes are always cut short, student achievement will suffer.  Are teachers given enough time to plan for lessons?  I'm not an administrator who wants or needs drawn out lesson plans that takes hours and days to perfect.  I would rather the teacher use their time creating engaging lessons than in front of a computer typing and mapping out their every minute of the day.  Students need feedback.  There must be time for teachers to stop and ask questions.  Also, teachers need time to answer those questions and time to reteach when necessary.  Time also means pacing of the lesson.  We don't want it to move like molasses or too fast either.

E is for Engagement and Expectations.
I have shared engagement with you many, many times.   Students must be engaged.  It cannot be an after thought.  We, as adults, can always relate when we are asked to sit in Professional Development sessions that are just dreadful.  Engaging lessons are fun to watch.  I love seeing students excited about the lesson.  They are curious and eager to learn more.  These kinds of lessons make my heart smile!

A is for assessments. 
I believe assessments are important and very useful.  We get tons of data from them.  However, please note that we can over assess.  Assess when it is necessary to assess.  Make sure your assessment is valid by assessing what has been taught.  It must be a fair assessment.  Use the data to determine your direction and focus in the classroom and which students are excelling or those who are inadequately performing.

C is for curriculum alignment. 
Are we teaching what we should be teaching in that grade level.  Make sure it is aligned to the state expectations.  It is equally important that we, as leaders, train our teachers in knowing the standards. 

H is for hands-on, interactive activities.
 Hands-on has been proven to help close the achievement gap.  It helps to rekindle the love of learning.  It fosters critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity.  I have witnessed unmotivated students  get excited about school and become excited about the lesson just because the lesson was interactive.  There are so many instructional strategies now that allow us not to just think hands-on means math and science.  The use of task cards, student response systems and center/station activities allow us to use hands hands-on in reading, language arts and social studies too. 

What are your elements of effective instruction?

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The Need to Breathe

Oxygen is our lifeline.  Think about it.   When you experience a health emergency, the first thing you are provided is oxygen.   We need air.  It's the source of all living things.  We can only survive three minutes without oxygen.  Now with that all being said, let's relate that information to our jobs as administrators.

We need to be given a chance to breathe.  Sometimes the things we encounter each day can feel like the life is being sucked out of you.  At times during a given week, I would only encounter the negative, the bad, and the ugly moments in the form of angry parents, an upset teacher, disciplining of students, home visits that go terribly scary, students taken by CPS, a student loses a parent or sibling, and a teacher battling cancer or a loss of a family member, etc.  All of those things and so many more, weigh on your heart.  I tend to carry the burdens of those experiencing these events.  As administrators, we give so much of ourselves and sometimes we need to be rejuvenated and a breath of fresh air is given to us. 

How do you handle all of this on a daily basis?  I believe it is okay to say...I just can't some days.  It's okay to say it's hard.  If it was easy, you wouldn't have been the one for the position.  There are some things I have learned over the years when dealing with tough issues and that is to breathe.  Surround yourself with what's good in this world.  Celebrate what's going right.  Breathe and take notice of the goodness all around you. Connect with other administrators who can relate. 

My motto and tag line on this blog is Live, Lead and Learn.  Those three things sum up my philosophy.  Live each day to the fullest and cherish those in your life and the things that make your heart smile.  Lead fearlessly by giving your all and expecting nothing in return.  Learn all you can about everything your heart desires.

Breathe new life into your role as a leader.  Let's stay connected so we can inspire each other. 



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Teacher and Staff Morale Activities-updated

Yippee! The Teacher and Staff Morale packet has been updated!  I wanted to add a few extra pages for November for you.  I think these Thanksgiving gift tags are adorable. 

 If you already own this Teacher and Staff Morale packet, go to the link below and get the updated file.  These Thanksgiving gift tags are burlap and linen designed.  Just print and add your own gift for a friend, teacher or parent.

Here is a look at all the original pages:





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STAAR Accommodations Flipbook Made Easy- Updated for 2015-16

Accommodations Flipbook Made Easy has been updated for 2015-2016!  If you are from Texas, you know all too well the words "Accommodation Triangle."  It is overwhelming to go through page after page of the triangle sections.  Therefore, the flipbook was born.  It has saved me so much time and my teachers so much time too.  Take a look...

 The triangle of accommodations links are shown on TEA's website.  I took all the pages and condensed them into a quick-reference page for you. 
I print each page of the flipbook on a different color cardstock.  For my principal flipbook, I laminate it and then bind it.  I use my accommodation flipbook so much that it has to be laminated.  I don't laminate the classroom teachers because of laminating costs.  The cardstock and laminating has held up all year. 

ASSEMBLY OF THE ACCOMMODATIONS FLIPBOOK

Look below at how I created one large flipbook.  Since the Accommodations Made Easy Flipbook has two sections, I decided to make my flipbook back-to-back.  All I do is flip it over to see part 2 of the book.  I didn't want to have two separate accommodation books.  Having one large flipbook works wonders for me.

Part I and Part 2 are bound back-to-back:

How do I use it?
I use my flipbook in ARD meetings.  It is on the table or in my Principal Binder for all ARDS.   When we are deciding which accommodations to use, I flip through the flipbook to see if the student is eligible for that accommodation for that assessment.  I also use the flipbook during 504 meetings and RTI meetings.  
 
Head over to Teachers Pay Teachers and get the updated flipbook. 
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Mediocre Leadership

Mediocre is defined as - of only moderate quality; not very good.  Synonyms of mediocre are ordinary, average, middle-of-the-road, uninspired, unremarkable, forgettable, etc...

Are you okay with being mediocre as a leader?  Would you like a doctor to perform a surgery on you if he/she was considered mediocre?  No way, right?  Then why is it okay that our schools would be lead by a mediocre leader?

Excellence is not an act, but a habit.  The entire school practices being excellent.  We wouldn't ask our teachers to practice being mediocre.  Mediocrity is not the new excellence.  Mediocrity is simply a choice we make every day.  The saying, "it's good enough" is simply just not good enough.  If it can be done better, why not make it better?  Why settle?  Change your mindset about what is acceptable.

Here are 3 obvious signs of a mediocre leader:




1. Lack Performance-We will fail from time-to-time.  The cards might be stacked against you in some way at some time.  No one is perfect.  We will fall short in our efforts.  Trust me...I have plenty of times.  Lack of performance could also be the result of not putting enough energy, time and commitment to the task at hand.  We need to be vigilant in our efforts- get our hands dirty, roll up our sleeves and break a sweat from time-to-time. If you fail, get back up on your feet and brush yourself off.  Dig deeper.  Rise strong.  Re-evaluate why your performance may be a bit lacking.  It could be due to several reasons- resources, obstacles, your skill set, your expectations, lack of motivation, burnout, etc.   It's important to diagnose the root cause of a lack of performance.  Knowing the cause will help you figure out how to address it and then move forward to success. 

2.  Not invested/Checked-out- A school can be successful only if the leader's heart and soul are immersed in the school's success.  Leading is more than a degree.  The leader has to be engaged and invested personally and deeply in the school.  Your attitude and presence is infectious.  You are a community figure.  Everyone is watching.  Make your presence come alive.  Don't just show up to work everyday.  School leaders need to be invested and tuned in to the needs of the teachers and provide guidance and direction. 

3.  Lack Vision- If you haven't established a vision for reaching the campus goals, there is no way to lead effectively.  Effective leaders know how and where they are leading the campus.  Great leaders possess the ability to inspire action.  It may be with their ideas, an inspiring speech or a new approach, but successful leaders can make people take action for change.  Rosalynn Carter said, "A leader take people where they want to go.  A great leader takes people where they don't want to go but ought to be."  What is your vision this year?  Have you set that vision with your staff? 



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Teacher Evaluation and Support System

Texas has a new teacher evaluation system called TESS or T-TESS.  T-TESS stands for Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System.   Every state has some kind of evaluation system for classroom teachers. 

IF YOU'RE NOT A PRINCIPAL IN TEXAS
This notepad is universal and will fit any state evaluation system, grade level or subject.  Today, I'm sharing how it is aligned to Texas.  There are 8 major sections included on the Classroom Observation Notepad: Student Engagement, Rigor Rate, Instructional Strategies, Focus on Instruction, Environment, Classroom Management, Culture and Additional Observations.  All of these eight major  sections are universal and could work in your state.  For example, instructional strategies are evident in every state, every grade and every subject area. 

ABOUT TESS or T-TESS?
T-TESS will be implemented this year in approximately 200 districts in Texas but will be statewide in 2016-17.  It measures teacher effectiveness in three areas- observation, teacher self-assessment and student growth.  Something that I think we will begin to see are teacher portfolios.  I know many states/districts already have them in place.  Portfolios allow a teacher to be evaluated not just based on  45 minute evaluation.  Instead, the portfolio allows a teacher to share their goals and provide evidence of successful teaching from beginning to end. These portfolios are considered artifacts and reflections in a notebook.  Portfolios can be electronic or a traditional hard binder.  As this begins to develop, I will share more details.  Feel free to comment below if you are required to have a portfolio. 


COMPARE TESS/T-TESS TO THE NOTEPAD
Below are snippets of the Texas Teacher Evaluation System from TEA.  A small snippet of the notepad is below to share how each Dimension has been included or addressed.







WHY USE THE NOTEPAD FOR CLASSROOM OBSERVATIONS?
The notepad is an organizational tool which I find very helpful.  Even though, you might have an electronic system, this paper copy is quick, easy and can be filed for later reflection.  I too had the electronic system and I accessed in a classroom.  I find the paper-version practical and a time-saving tool.  When back in your office, just enter your notes in the online system if you have that available to you.  Keep the notes on file in your principal binder or filing system for the end-of-year summatives.

Order a Notepad Today - Two Designs


                                         TpT-Bliss                                           TpT-Journey
                                        Etsy-Bliss                                            Etsy-Journey

                             
 


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Family Literacy Night School-wide Event K-3

Last week, I shared with you my Family Math Night School-wide Event for K-3.  I had some great feedback from it and many requests to create a Family Literacy Night School-wide event too.  So I did! 

Family involvement is very important.  Trying to plan school events can be so time consuming.  There is no need to re-create the wheel of finding the games, invitations, and organizing it from beginning to end. This year your parent involvement nights don't have to be a daunting task.  This can be used as is or you can add to it with your own ideas.  It can be the total package or a starting point.  What and How you decide to use it is up to you. 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Family-Literacy-Night-K-3-School-Wide-Event-2138929
10 stations that are engaging and fun; 95 pages
Includes all the same components as the Family Math Night.
 Here is an overview of all the games and the approximate grade level. 
 Family Literacy Night has your welcome poster, table tent directions, parent invitation, sign in sheet and a letter on ways parents can help at home.
 Station 1- Sequencing
 Station 2: Punctuation Pockets
Station 3: Noun, Verbs and Adjectives Flipbook
Station 4:  Cause and Effect Match- decoder
Station 5:  Reader's Theater- Little Red Hen (includes pictures for acting)
Station 6:  Create a Comic Strip- Superhero
Station 6:  Puppet Station- includes printable puppets
Station 7: Read a Recipe
Station 9:  Bingo for a Book- includes 10 bingo cards and words
Station 10: Cootie Catcher- Story Talk


I hope you find this a big time saver.  Let's enjoy a night of fun and games, and share our love of reading with our students.

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Reading Activities for K-1

I wanted to take a minute and share a fantastic resource for teachers serving PK-1st grade.  The authors are Dr. Jean and Carolyn Kisloski.  I like to think Carolyn and I are friends.  We have never met in person but I'm a big fan of her blog, Holding Hands and Sticking Together and her teaching style.  She is a kindergarten teacher in upstate New York. We talk and share through our blogs and Facebook from time-to-time.
I knew immediately I wanted to have a copy of her book, Dr. Jean's Reading Recipes. 

 I love this book for many reasons.  As explained in the book, Reading Recipes is like a cooking show.  The chefs get a basket of ingredients and are challenged to create something delicious.  Teachers can relate.  We are given our standards and asked to create some great lessons with it for our students.  The book is filled with great ideas which are all designed to make learning fun and engaging. 
Here's a picture of Carolyn.  The pictures throughout the book are of her and her students.  Reading Recipes gives you the activities AND then shows you what it looks like with Carolyn Kisloski's actual students. Love that!

Here are a couple of my favorite activities in the book:  Vocabulary Parade and Inference Bags

 I was a teacher of kindergarten students for several years.  I wish I had this book as a resource back then.  If you need practical ideas and easy to implement, this is your go-to book.  We could all use practicality in our classrooms.


If you are a principal or teacher for Kindergarten and First Grade students, you need to add this to your list to purchase. 

Visit Amazon to purchase- Dr. Jean's Reading Recipes

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Staff Buffets at school-Yum

Well, I have always said summer is my favorite season.  I don't mind the Texas heat.  I just don't like the cold.  However, I do like all the comfort foods that come with a cooler season.  If you feel the same way and want to create a food bar for your campus, here are some great food ideas.  Just print and frame for the table or if running short on time just tape it to the door of the room.


Food Bars at school are great because it doesn't require everyone to make a variety of dishes.  Everyone knows exactly what's on the menu.  If your campus doesn't have a large budget, take up a small collection to feed the group or ask for volunteers to bring certain items.  If you have followed me for awhile, you know I might have a bit OCD in me.  Well, a bit OCD is saying it lightly.  I like organization even in my meals.  Laughing!  I just like everything to be set up, prepared and if possible always themed.  I guess my brain just works better that way. 


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Welcome-to-our-buffet-and-bar-sign-school-event-2124912

Ok friends...I have been sharing a lot of items with you lately.  What are you doing on your campus?  I would love to hear from you!
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STAAR Accommodations for Students

After a request from a school, I created this math flipbook for students.  It is perfectly sized and will be easy to implement for grades 3-5.  Let's take a look.

Texas Education Agency has strict rules regarding accommodations allowable on STAAR assessments.  You can read about Supplemental Aids on TEA's Website. 


 Refer to TEA's Supplemental Aid policy on the exact wording, as well as, criteria needed to receive this accommodation.  As you can see a student must be identified as Special Education or Section 504.  It's not that simple though.  The student must meet routinely, independently and effectively use the accommodations in the classroom.  That is why starting off the year with this flipbook is the best way to meet this need.  Introduce the Math Flibook to the student.  If the student is successful with thee tools, then that should be documented in the ARD or 504 meeting documents. 
 How I would recommend using this:
1.  Print on Astrobright paper if the student can handle the colors being selected.  Note- some students served in both Special Education and Dyslexia have visual/perception processing disabilities and the colors may not be suitable.  If so, just use white or a soft color.
2.  Laminate for durability.  Since students must use this accommodation routinely, it will hold up to the wear and tear.  Also laminating it, will allow the use of dry erase markers on it.  For example, the place value chart allows the student to fill in the chart and then answer any relating to place value.
3.  Assemble with a metal ring so you can add more tools to it as the student needs them.  This will also allow you to remove accommodations that are not working for the student. 
 There are several sections that allow the student to write notes or work out problems on the charts.

My campus has always used a math accommodation folder.  The folder can take up space on the table or desk.  The Math Flip Toolkit is printed on half pages and then assembled with a metal ring. 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Math-Flip-Toolkit-Accommodations-for-STAAR-2132133

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