Creating a Culture of Professional Learning

The process shared today is a systemic vision by the superintendent of my school district. He emphasizes the importance of a clear vision focused on instruction and quality teaching in which rigorous learning is taking place.  

We have such an amazing staff that has embraced our vision to be the model of a learner-centered school. In order to produce quality learners, we must start by modeling learning as professionals. We are so blessed to have a quality admin team leading the way!- via Twitter @melyon60 Morris Lyon, Superintendent

I  joined the leadership of this district last year.  

On Year One of the game plan, the district began breaking down the state standards.  In Texas, our standards are called the TEKS.  

Year Two, (the year I joined the team), we incorporated Data Meetings/Data Rooms, PLC time for common planning and collaboration, Content-Based Assessments, and Leadership Walks. 

Now in Year Three, we're implementing Hawk Walks.   You may call these Gallery Walks in your district.  

The goal of Hawk Walks is to ensure quality instruction by balancing student work and products with the standard.  In other words, does the product align with the standard.

Let's take a look at the process.

1.  SELECT AND DISSECT THE STANDARD

Teachers will select a standard of focus.  The standard is totally selected by the teacher.  The teacher dissect the TEK (standard).  He/she will circle the verb, underline the content, and box the content.


2.  STUDENTS WILL COMPLETE A PRODUCT BASED ON THE STANDARD

The work displayed is not a project.  It is work that is the norm- authentic work samples within their current lesson.  We have criteria such as- no names on the front of the work, no grades to be given, and include at least six samples displayed from various learners.  For example, we would like to see work samples from advanced learners, struggling learners, special education, English Learners, students identified through 504 etc...


3.  STUDENT SUMMARY THROUGH A REFLECTIVE PIECE

Writing is a big focus district-wide and adding this component is a critical piece.  As I write this post it is the end of October, and this is our second Gallery Walk/Hawk Walk.  Writing is on the rise.  For the younger grades, we encourage a sentence stem, word banks, and group discussions to assist students in this piece.  The writing reflection is NOT a step-by-step process of the assignment.  It is a reflective summary of their learning.  If you incorporate this piece, please set criteria of expectations.  

REFLECTION EXAMPLES




GALLERY WALKS IN ACTION

Teacher feedback is important to me.   Hawk Walks/Gallery Walks, as well as, the PLC framework allows for teacher input.   As we walk the halls, a few things happen.




1.  Teachers are asked to leave their classroom for a quick minute and share their student's work with the team.  They simply explain the lesson, the state standard, and share any other information about the work samples.  It is a pretty quick process.

2.  At least two teachers are preselected prior to the walks.  This gives the admin team a view from the eyes of a teacher, as well as, they hear our dialogue and see it from our eyes.  

3.  During PLC time, we have deeper discussions about the lessons and the rigor of the standard.  During our next Gallery Walk, all teachers will take a walk during their PLC scheduled time.  This will allow all teachers to be apart of the learning.  

RESULTS

This is still in the early stages, but honestly we are seeing big changes in student and teacher learning.  
But let me share some of the comments teachers are saying.

I learned my students could do more than I realized.

I saw the lesson with the end in mind.  It really made me think about the standard from the student's perspective.

HOW OFTEN ARE GALLERY WALKS

We have a Gallery Walk schedule for the district.  The schedule indicates the date in which to post the student's work and the week in which walks will take place.  Each semester we will have a least 4 gallery walks.  

BIG GOALS

Overall, we want students to master the state standard.  In order to do that, the lesson and activities must always align.  If you incorporate PLC's, this aligns perfectly.   A culture of professional learning is one that is collaborative-not isolated.

Questions you may ask yourself as you consider this process: How can I increase the opportunity for teachers to collaborate?  How can we restructure our current professional development model?  How can we create a culture of ownership and empowerment?  Do my teachers understand the district's direction?  How will students benefit?

With this model of professional learning, it is ongoing.  It doesn't happen just at the beginning of the school year.  As administrator of the campus, I can spot overall strengths happening throughout the building.  I can also determine areas of need for a grade level.

Want to see this in action?  

Come visit our school and speak to our superintendent.  Email me and let's talk.
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Going Digital With Morning Messages

Last school year, I decided to make the leap into recording our morning pledges at school.  Traditionally, I would get on the intercom and have students say the pledges with me.  I was wanting it to be more exciting.  Well, I took on the challenge and began to search for a platform to create our videos.  In doing my research, I found WeVideo.  I used this platform for the majority of the school year, and will do so again this year.  I shared this idea on social media and other administrators have since shared their favorite platforms.  Google Hangouts is one that seems to be another popular option.

HOW WE USE WeVideo

Forgive my dog, Roxie.   She loves the camera.  She makes an appearance in some videos throughout the school year.  My students know my dog by name!  I love that though.


1.   If you are just starting out, decide if you want to tackle this endeavor or turn it over to someone who's not afraid of the technology.  It is very user-friendly site.  It does take a little time to figure it out. 
2.  Advice first.  Create a template.  This will save you tons of time.   With this template, all we have to do now is add any special information to the end of the daily template.  For example, birthdays, event news, a book read aloud, a joke of the day, or even a YouTube video.  The sky is the limit on this.
3.  We chose to create slideshows for the pledges.  We can get students involved in this section instead of having the slideshows.  Slideshows are a time-saving piece that we decided to do on our end.  However, you do what works for you and your school. 
4.  A special link is sent to your email after completing the recording.  Share the is link with your staff. 
5.  Inform your staff of the time in which you want the pledges to be played.  Our scheduled time is immediately following the 8:00 bell.  Teachers all have projectors in their classroom.  They just click play.
6.  We plan the week out in plenty of advance so teachers have the links by Sunday night.  This year, the counselor also created a Google Drive Folder with a document with all the links by each month.  This saves us the step of having to share all the links by Sunday night.  We can now share the file and build the videos several weeks in advance. 

If I can give you another piece of advice, I will say do what works for your campus.  For the moment, this works for us.  However, that might change throughout the year.  I'm okay with that though. 

LET'S TAKE A LOOK

1.  WeVideo works best in the Google Chrome browser.


If you have ever used iMovie, it is very similar.  You will build all the layers of text, music, transitions, etc...

2.  I record the First Day Announcement using my Macbook's tool called QuickTime. 


3.  Record your special announcement.  Upload it into WeVideo.  
4.  Insert the video in the order in which you want it to play.
5.  Click the FINISH button to save your file.
6.  Copy the link and email it to your teachers, place on social media, or play at your next assembly.  

MORNING PLEDGES AND VIDEO LINE UP

1.  Good morning slide
2.  Pledge to United States Flag
3.  Pledge to Texas Flag
4.  You Matter (I Matter)
5.  Moment of Silence
6.  Hawk Song (school song recorded by my students)
7.  Special section- Principal message, Assistant Principal message, Counselor, student message, birthdays, upcoming event news, etc...
8.  Ending- Have a Great Day.  The Choice is Yours.

WATCH OUR VIDEO

As I tremble at the thought of having everyone critique me on my video, I also don't proclaim to be a pro.  I am pretty certain everyone can do this task at a higher level of success than I can.  However, I am growth-minded and will improve my skills as I use the platform more and more.  

My Video



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Creating a Disc Binder from Start to Finish

The front of the binder was inspired by the famous Rae Dunn. The font creator is A Perfect Blend. I love all of her fonts.

Creating a binder was easy! Let me show you. I decided to give the disc system a good try. I have been depending on a notebook/binder system for years. This will be new to me, but I feel success coming on.


If you like this idea and want to use all of the Principal Binders, this will still work.  All you need to do is punch the holes in the pages using the Arc System.  I have tons of designs that will work.  I decided to use several purchased products this year.  





I created the cover to my binder, and then laminated it using the Scotch Laminator.  These laminating sheets are THE BEST.  It is very durable almost as thick as your driver's license.


I did a little shortcut this year and purchased a few already premade supplies. My life is so busy right now that I'm cutting myself a little slack and not feeling too guilty about it.  The Happy Planner designs called Create 365 are beautiful, as well as, the Martha Stewart items.

This was my first try at creating a disc binder.  I really had no troubles at all.  It was almost too easy.  I have been eyeing it for some time, but never had time to waste or money to blow if it was a mess.  But today I decided to go for it.





 So I printed and laminated the cover on cardstock.  Punched the pages using the ARC System.



 Grabbed the ARC rings and started inserting the paper.  It is wise to just add a few pages at a time.  I think it helps the paper not get ripped or wrinkled.






That is really all there is.  The best part of the system is that you can add a page or pages in any section of the notebook WITHOUT taking the binder all apart.  Just open it up to the page where you want to insert the page and then push it in the arc rings.


Interested in the cover?  Download here.

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August Morale Boosters for your School- Hawaiian Style


Aloha friends!

If you have been reading Morale Magic, you will totally guess what will be happening in August.  I plan on decorating the teacher workroom/lounge in the Aloha theme.  Aloha means welcome or used when greeting someone.  Back-to-School is the perfect time of the year to greet your team in a fun way.  


I can't wait to show you the transformation of the room.  However, it will have to wait a few weeks because the lounge area is under construction.

BEHIND THE SCENES:  

This may look like a hot mess and scare many people, but I couldn't be more excited about what's going to take place in this room.  This room was a former homemaking kitchen back in the day.  The kitchen had not been used in years.  The stove and dishwasher were antiques and really a hazard.  Therefore, the district spent some funds and installed a stainless steel stove and dishwasher.  I can't tell you how excited I am about this!  The teachers and staff in this school deserve a great space to eat lunch and fellowship with one another.


A view of the dishwasher and stove.  I don't foresee us using a stove a lot, but it will be handy when we have an event or celebration.  I just know the old one needed to go.

THE WALL

The wall is being built to close off the room from the gym and concession stand area.  The room is a great size and has tons of storage.  This school year I hope to add an ice machine too.  We did end up having to get some kitchen supplies since the campus has only had a small coffee counter in the office area.  The concession stand is on the other side of this wall as I mentioned earlier.  In order for volunteers to get into the concession stand to work an event, they will have to enter this room.  The wall will still give them access to the concession stand but will allow us to lock the room at night.



This room will also help us store all the bulletin board paper and dicut machine.  Since the floor is not covered in carpet, we had a teacher suggest using part of the room for art and cooking projects.  This will be a great multi-purpose room.  If you look closely at the picture, there are three sink areas.  It appears as though each sink area also had a stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher.  Having a side for art and cooking projects won't be a problem at all.  I also see this room as a great space to have parent events.  I hope you can just feel my excitement.


In a couple of weeks, check back on social media as I unveil the makeover!  Twitter: @principalsteph1  Instagram: principalprinciples  Facebook: Principal Principles


WHERE TO PURCHASE

I purchase most of the items at Hobby Lobby and Wal-mart.  However, after talking to a few friends about this project, they informed me they do not live close to a Hobby Lobby.  They have to do a lot of online shopping or drive over an hour.  You might be in the same situation or you simply prefer shopping from home.  I know my husband would much rather us shop from home than battle the traffic and the stores.  Therefore, I made this Amazon list for you if you want to just grab all of it in one shopping cart. 



PINTEREST IDEAS

If you would like more ideas, check out my Pinterest board.  I started planning and thought you might like to pin the same ideas.  You can follow this board or all of my boards on PINTEREST. (click here)



MORALE MAGIC

Morale Magic is authored by two school leaders. This is an ebook which includes over 500 pages of content. A digital copy is sent to you via email after purchase. Instant Access! Morale Magic includes both book content pages for pleasure reading and printables for each month. Below is a look at just one of the activities for August. You will have at least 4 activities for each month. Some months have more!

(FYI...my ink is running low!)

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The Best Professional Backpack for Commuting

I have tried many different bags to carry all of my files and my computer.  I am always left frustrated with digging for my keys, searching for a pen, etc...  This all changed recently.  I saw my friend, Christine Bedre (The Pickled Principal) with this amazing backpack and, I was sold immediately. I ordered it from Amazon before I left for the TEPSA Summer Conference.  This backpack held all of my presentation materials and travel necessities too.



I commute about 40 minutes to work each day.  For some of you, 40 minutes doesn't seem so bad when compared to your travel time.  I can cut it down to maybe 30 minutes some days if I take a different route through the countryside.  However, that route has many roads without phone reception.  Also, in the early mornings, I run into the fear of hitting deer. 

This backpack carries not only some in-progress files, my macbook, but it also has many essentials for a long day.  I love all of the sections.  I think my favorite sections of the backpack are the two very front ones.  I have pens, keys and business cards in the front.  Anything that I need quickly is located in the front.




I removed all of my "stuff" so you can see the inside easily.


You may be thinking I'm not a backpack-kind-of-girl.  I thought the same thing for a long time.  I fought that same fight until I met up with Christine at Starbucks to begin planning Morale Magic.  Shopping for a professional looking backpack that is office/school appropriate and stylish can be a bit tricky.  Some bags can leave you looking unprofessional.  I'm totally fine with the look of this backpack even carrying it on my back with my dress and heels.  However, I can switch it out if going to a fancy meeting.  In that instance, I can carry my Dagne Dover bag. 




What do you use to carry your work essentials in each day? Have you converted to a backpack yet?
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Motivational Playlist for Your Next Presentation

The right songs can make all the difference in a presentation.  With that in mind, I have compiled a list of my favorite songs.  Just recently, Christine from The Pickled Principal and I, presented in Austin at the TEPSA Summer Conference.  We had such a blast.  This was our largest audience so far since we launched our new book, Morale Magic.  If you haven't heard about Morale Magic, it is an ebook with over 500 pages of morale-boosting activities for your campus.



The right music is essential for your events.  Since our session was to motivate and bring some spark to the day, we wanted our songs to reflect that mood.

PORTABLE SPEAKER

Let me first share the best way to project the music.  It is the best device ever.  I purchased the Bose Portable Bluetooth Speaker several months ago.  It has been the best investment ever.  This little speaker amplified the entire ballroom.  The first ballroom seated 800 attendees.  The second ballroom seated around 500-600.  In the larger ballroom, the speaker filled the room with adequate sound.  When we wanted it louder, we sat the mic by the speaker.  However, 90% of the presentation was loud enough without using the mic with the speaker.  In the smaller room, the speaker alone was all we used.  It is that good!  The sound quality and volume can't be beat.    If you want to use this in your school for an event, I don't see why it wouldn't work.  We have even used the Bose speaker outside for car duty.  If you have a large event, like a school dance, two speakers can be paired together .  I have done that at my home as well.  Since it's a bluetooth speaker, I used all the music already downloaded on my phone and just played it from there.  Another suggestion: login to your iTunes account on your MacBook or iPad and play music directly from that device.  All you need to do is turn your bluetooth on so the speaker locates it.


MY TOP 40 PLAYLIST 

I have a download sheet in case you want to print this to save for later.  FYI: I subscribe to Apple Music so I can download as much music as I want for around $10 a month.  With Apple Music, you can access millions of songs, curated radio and playlists, and music recommendations, all in the Apple Music app. You can also access your music across other devices, as long as you're signed in to Apple Music with the same Apple ID, and download music to listen to offline.

1.  Celebration - Kool & The Gang
2.  Build Me Up Buttercup- The Foundations
3.  Man in the Mirror- Michael Jackson
4.  Meant to Be- Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line
5.  Let's Get it Started - The Black Eyed Peas
6.  Bennie and the Jets- Elton John
7.  Walking on Sunshine- Katrina & The Waves
8.  Roar- Katy Perry
9.  Firework- Katy Perry
10.  Uptown Funk- Kidz Bop Kids 
11.  Call Me Maybe- Kidz Bop Kids
12.  Fight Song- Rachel Platten
13.  Shake It Off- Taylor Swift
14.  When We Stand Together- Nickelback
15.  Eye of the Tiger- Survivor
16.  I Gotta Feeling- The Black Eyed Peas
17.  Don't Stop Believin'- Journey
18.  Little Red Corvette- Prince
19.  Ain't No Mountain High Enough- Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
20.  This is How We Do It- Montell Jordan
21.  I Got You- James Brown & The Famous Flames
22.  My House- Kidz Bop Kids
23.  Best Day of My Life- American Authors
24.  Never Gonna Let You Down- Colbie Caillat
25.  Whatever It Takes- Imagine Dragons
26.  The Champion- Carrie Underwood
27.  Best Days- Graham Colton
28.  Just the Way You Are- Bruno Mars
29.  Count On Me- Bruno Mars
30.  Walking on Sunshine- Katrina & The Waves
31.  No Excuses- Meghan Trainor
32.  Waiting on the World to Change- John Mayer
33.  Thunder- Kidz Bop Kids
35.  Happy- Kidz Bop Kids
36.  That's What I Like- Kidz Bop Kids
37.  Timber- Kidz Bop Kids
38.  The Greatest Show- Hugh Jackman (The Greatest Showman movie)
39.  Woman Up- Meghan Trainor
40.  Most People Are Good- Luke Bryan

*Kidz Bop Kids is used for appropriateness and audience sensitivity.  

DOWNLOAD MUSIC HANDOUT



MORALE MAGIC

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