My Moment – Day 46 – Picture Day

If you have not gotten a chance to read my blog about my #oneword for 2016, check out Enjoy the Moment.

As I mentioned in my blog, my #oneword is a call to action for me to be mindful of the moments that make up my day. The moments at home, the moments at work and the moments that happen in between.


The alarm was set earlier than normal today. 

Days like today, require just a little extra time to get ready as the perfect outfit must be selected, with just the right tie and just the right socks, bringing the whole outfit all together. 

Today is class picture day. 

As the principal, each year I am faced with the decision of taking pictures with each of the classes or taking one single picture and then being “superimposed” as if I was really standing there. 

Decisions, decisions. 

If I decide go the superimposed route, I spend about 10 minutes max., getting my picture taken and then the rest of the day belongs to me. I can spend time in the classrooms, finish up appraisals, check emails, return phone calls, be visible in the classrooms or just “swing by”, which I wrote about yesterday, as teachers invite me to come to their classrooms. Sounds like a productive day…right? 

If I decide to take pictures with each of the classes, which this year is almost thirty, I am giving up over two hours of my day. In March, two hours of time is an invaluable resource, but I weigh what I would get to do in those two hours, in making my decision. I get to connect with each of our students, which in my case is over 400. I get to listen to students comment on the new outfit they are wearing or the super fancy dress they wore to school because it is picture day. I get to overhear the girls exchange comments about bows in their hair and guys talk about fancy green bow ties that remind them of St. Patrick’s Day that is coming up soon. I get to see students smile, laugh and spend time with their friends waiting in line for their pictures. I get to do a lot of things, that make me happy as a principal. That is what I get to do. 

As the final classes made their way through class pictures today, two things happened that I would have never witnessed had I chosen to go the “superimposed” route. Some of our students come to school dressed up, some students come wearing what they would have worn, just like any other school day and then some students “really” dress up, like the young man pictured here. Who would have thought, as I woke up extra earlier this morning to put on my three-piece suit, that there was a 2nd grader getting ready at the same time, putting on his three-piece suit. Two amazing looking gentleman…IMO. This moment we captured will be a great memory for us both.

Then there was this. As a title I, bilingual campus, we are fortunate to have support staff that work right alongside our classroom teachers, meeting the educational needs of our students. Of course, we embrace each of the staff members as teachers and want them all to be included in the class pictures. Some choose not to be, which is fine and some absolutely want to be in the picture. This particular classroom had a total of five adults serving the students at some point in the day, which includes our assistant principal and me. Now, if you know anything about getting students set for pictures, we are able to balance the adults on each of the ends. either having two on one side and one on the other or two and two. Adding the fifth adult makes it tricky, however our talented photographer found a way to make it work and look how the teacher embraced her position. Center stage! It was awesome. She loved it. The staff looking on enjoyed it and the students thought it was funny as well.

As the principal, each year I am faced with the decision of taking pictures with each of the classes or taking one single picture and then being “superimposed” as if I was really standing there. 

Which decision do you think I will make next year? What decision does your building leader make? 

What was your moment today? 

My Moment – Day 45 – “Swing By”

If you have not gotten a chance to read my blog about my #oneword for 2016, check out Enjoy the Moment.

As I mentioned in my blog, my #oneword is a call to action for me to be mindful of the moments that make up my day. The moments at home, the moments at work and the moments that happen in between.

I am excited to resume my #moment reflections following what was a restful spring break. 

As I return from spring break, testing season rears its ugly head and the number of brief meetings I am scheduled to be in seems to partner with it. Those brief meetings started promptly at 8AM this morning, my first day back from spring break. As the meetings continued throughout the day and take up space on my calendar for the days and weeks ahead, my time in classrooms seems to be harder to come by. 

(Typing that previous line, reading it and allowing the readers of this blog to see it, serves as a reminder to me that the time I do have, needs to be spent wisely. It needs to be spent in the classrooms. It needs to be spent connecting, learning and sharing with our students and teachers.)

As today was coming to a close, I received a text message from a teacher. 

“Cool budget activity, swing by if free…” 

I typically see text messages, tweets and other notifications on my phone instantly as my phone seems to embed itself into my hand throughout the day, but today I had sat my phone down to make some phone calls at my desk and at the conclusion of my calls, I saw the text. I made my way down to the classroom, but had missed the activity. Upon walking into the room, students were putting the finishing touches on their budget, determining how much money they had left after paying their bills. It was an awesome real-life application of income and spending. The students were excited to experience what it was like to be an adult, make money, pay bills and have to pay for “nice” things. 

The point of me sharing this was that even with the best of intentions, I get busy, I get distracted and I need these reminders or open invitations from my teachers to “swing by”. The teachers appreciate seeing me in their rooms and the students do too. The text I received at the end of the day from the same teacher is an awesome reminder of why I need to “swing by” when I can. 

“Thanks for stopping by, students like when you come to class.” 

While that instantly made me feel like I am not in classrooms enough, it reminded me how powerful it is when I am. 

If you are an administrator reading this, do not forget to “swing by” and connect with the students and teachers who are working their hearts out in your classrooms and hallways…daily! 

If you are a teacher reading this, do not forget to invite your administrator to “swing by”. I want to. I get distracted, pulled in different directions and sometimes get bogged down on items that keep me away from the classrooms I want to be in. 

No excuses. 

To the teacher who sent the text…

“Thanks for inviting me to “swing by” and reminding me about the importance of surrounding myself with our students and teachers each day.”

What was your moment today? 

Day 44 My Moment – Spring Break

If you have not gotten a chance to read my blog about my #oneword for 2016, check out Enjoy the Moment.

As I mentioned in my blog, my #oneword is a call to action for me to be mindful of the moments that make up my day. The moments at home, the moments at work and the moments that happen in between.

February is a loooooonnnnnngggg month! Funny to think about, since it is actually the shortest month, as far as days within the month…even with this year being a leap year. What’s the recipe for recovering from a long month? Two words. Spring Break. 

While today was a great day at school, sharing takeaways and feedback from last night’s open house, I could not help but think about the upcoming days off from school. Spring break is officially upon us. Do you take the time to unplug, relax and recharge during spring break? What does that look like for you? 

I will be stepping away from Twitter for the week, diving into a few books that have already stacked up on the corner of my desk…otherwise known as my “summer reading list” and spending some time with my son. 

I cannot reiterate the importance of stepping away from the work, if only for one week, to relax and recharge so we may finish strong when we come back on March 14th. 

I look forward to spending time with my son, making new memories and relishing in the moments we have together. 

Whether your spring break is this week or next, I trust you will find time to unplug, relax and recharge. 

You deserve it! 

What was your moment today? 

My Moment – Day 43 – Proud Principal

If you have not gotten a chance to read my blog about my #oneword for 2016, check out Enjoy the Moment.

As I mentioned in my blog, my #oneword is a call to action for me to be mindful of the moments that make up my day. The moments at home, the moments at work and the moments that happen in between.

Concessions, prizes, fitness stations, Sphero mini-golf, used book fair, candid family pictures, a blinking welcome sign, classrooms full of theme park rides, experiences and games designed by students, teachers with the deepest desire for students to succeed and a building full of parents who understand the importance of being present for their children. I am not sure we had room for anything else. Tonight included all of the above as we opened Siglerland. Just look at the crowd that gathered before parents and students made their way down to the classrooms. 

It was just an idea. An idea that started by asking, “How can we do this different?” Open house is a tradition in elementary schools across the country, but the activities, student work and overall feel for open house does not need to be traditional. Make it different. 

Earlier today a teacher asked if this “different” turned out the way I wanted it to. Honestly, I did not have a baseline of what my expectations were. I wanted it to be different. I wanted it to be student centered. I wanted it to be fun and engaging for our parents, families, students and teachers. Had we accomplished that? I thought so. Would we do it different if we had to repeat it? Somethings, yes. We learn through the process. So, did tonight turn out the way I wanted it to? 

Absolutely! 

Tonight turned out the way WE wanted it to for three reasons. 

1. Students were proud of what they created. Students were proud to bring their parents into the school they attend daily. Students were proud of the process they were able to share leading to an authentic learning experience.

2. Teachers embraced the idea of doing something different. It started as an idea. The difference between a good idea and one that never happens are the people that make it happen. In this case, it was the mindset of teachers. Teachers who did not get caught up in “how it looked” but focused more on the process and the potential students can reach when given the time, opportunity and experience. 

3. Parents who recognize the importance of what their students and teachers are doing. We had a full house! Attending open house is a choice. Yes, we advertise, we encourage parents to attend, but we cannot make them. Parents, grandparents, relatives and siblings turned out in droves to experience Siglerland. The comments that were shared with me from grandparents, parents and children help answer the question I was met with earlier today. 

Did Siglerland turn out the way I wanted it to? Yes! I know that because the feedback received, the smiles on parents and students faces and the sense of accomplishment on each of the teachers faces as we all realized we did this! 

It’s the moment. It’s the moment at the end of the night, when the building is quiet. It’s when the building is empty and the families, students and teachers have left for the night. It is the moment when I am left standing in the middle of the building realizing the success WE; teachers, students and families had during Siglerland that warms my heart. It is the moment in the eerie silence that I am reminded once again, I am one #proudprincipal. 

Thank you teachers, thank you parents and thank you students for making #Siglerland and huge success! 

Check out some images from Siglerland by clicking here

What was your moment today? 

My Moment – Day 42 – Life Sized Heroes

If you have not gotten a chance to read my blog about my #oneword for 2016, check out Enjoy the Moment.

As I mentioned in my blog, my #oneword is a call to action for me to be mindful of the moments that make up my day. The moments at home, the moments at work and the moments that happen in between.

I received a text message today from a 3rd grade teacher that read, “You need to come check yourself out down here. The girls out did themselves.” The 3rd grade students were working on people they admire and who possess hero qualities. 

Of course, I did my best to make my way down to the 3rd grade hallway to see the work our students had done. There, standing next to Albert Einstein, sharing a hallway with Clara Burton, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ruby Bridges was Me! 

Look closely at the detail these children put into their heroes. There are two specific details that I love about their version of me. Well, actually three. Normally when students draw pictures of me, they fail to get the hair right. They love to remind me that I do not have much on the top of my head. In this case, I believe they nailed it! The two details that really got me…and I mean really got me were my “daily planner” and the notebook I am carrying in my hand.  


Look closer at my daily planner. These young ladies broke my day down and did it well. They included morning announcements, conference times, a school assembly and were kind enough to let me have a snack before leaving at 1:00PM. A day ending at 1PM. Love it! Notice the notebook in my hand? What you cannot tell from the picture is what is written in the notebook. The handwritten notes, in the notebook, are letters from students, sharing the kindest of words, about me. The honest notes from students nearly brought me to tears.

The most humbling part of the moment I had in 3rd grade today? These girls consider me and their teachers heroes. When I look up the word hero, it is defined as: a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. What an honor. I associate the word hero in my life with my parents, grandparents and other people who have influenced me and helped in molding me into the person I am today. The idea that students hold me in the same regard reminds me how awesome our responsibility truly is.

I do not wake up in the morning to be a hero. I wake up in the morning to be a positive influence in the lives of our teachers and our students. I wake up in the morning to encourage and inspire teachers and students to be the greatest version of themselves. I wake up in the morning to be the one who can listen when teachers and students need someone to do just that…listen. A life sized hero? Never in my wildest dreams.

What we must realize as educators is that our students do see us as heroes. Students do admire us. They grow up wanting to be us. They see us as courageous. They see us as being noble and they see being a teacher as an outstanding achievement. We make a difference in the lives of our students, each and every day.

At the end of the day…we are all life sized heroes!

What was your moment today?


My Moment – Day 41 – 2×10 Strategy

If you have not gotten a chance to read my blog about my #oneword for 2016, check out Enjoy the Moment.

As I mentioned in my blog, my #oneword is a call to action for me to be mindful of the moments that make up my day. The moments at home, the moments at work and the moments that happen in between.

Relationships are at the center of everything I hold dear as a husband, father, friend and principal. Embracing the relationships I have with our staff and students are the absolute favorite part of my day. Cultivating these relationships just does not happen. It takes being intentional. In order for relationships to be forged, there must be a desire to want it to happen. It takes time. 

Are you familiar with the 2×10 strategy? If not, read more about it here. The article states, “The 2×10 strategy is simple: spend 2 minutes a day for 10 days in a row talking with an at-risk student about anything she or he wants to talk about. Simple enough right? I would challenge you do this with with any student, not just at-risk students. Furthermore, I would challenge you to spend the same amount of time in getting to know teachers or colleagues. We all want to be heard and we all have a story to share. 

I have been using this strategy with a few young men recently at school. We spend portions of the lunch/recess time together. I do not spend it all with them, but I sit down and spend a few minutes to see how they are doing, how their day as been and give them the opportunity share whatever is on their minds. I just listen. Today, as I was listening I was reminded of the image seen to your right.  My conversation with one specific young man always begins with a review of how his morning as gone. Today, I noticed a comment on his behavior chart that mentioned his homework had not been completed. This is not a blog post to debate homework, although that debate is a worthy one. I will spend a moment reminding us all about the unique circumstances students possess. 

It does not get lost on me that my childhood does not compare with the up-bringing many of my students have. I certainly did not grow up with a lot of money, but I did not go without. I had everything I needed. I keep that in mind, because the last thing I want to do is pass judgement, assume or pretend to understand circumstances that are not mine. 

As this young man opened up today, he shared he didn’t do his homework last night because he didn’t use his time wisely, which I thought was a very honest answer. We went on to have a discussion about what he did do with his time. Yes, he admittedly watched a little bit more TV than he should of when he arrived home, but he was home alone. After watching a show or two, he let me know it was dinner time. I asked what he had. He went on to share that he and his mom had a deal that each Monday, he gets to cook dinner for her. While listening to him share and observing his body language, you could tell he was proud of being able to cook the hamburgers he had prepared the night before. I had been talking with him for weeks now and this was the first time I had learned about his interest in cooking. He likes to cook eggs, bacon, hamburgers, toast (which was easy), spaghetti, macaroni and sandwiches. This is way more than I was cooking at his age and to be honest, I am not sure I cook that much in a week as an adult. (Applause for my amazing wife goes here…) The young man went on to say after dinner they had a little bit of time for homework, which was cut short, because bed time came promptly at 8PM. 

Why do I share this exchange? I believe we assign homework to students and just expect that it is going to happen. Each of our students has a unique set of circumstances that at the end of the day, they have very little control over. Yes, teaching them responsibility is important and yes, homework has its place. (Remember, not debating this right now) I am just asking all of us to get to know our students well enough that we understand the unique set of circumstances they possess. 

The 2×10 strategy may be what you need in order to find just a moment each day to learn more about your students and their circumstances. 

What was your moment today?  

My Moment – Day 40 – Surprisingly Awesome

If you have not gotten a chance to read my blog about my #oneword for 2016, check out Enjoy the Moment.

As I mentioned in my blog, my #oneword is a call to action for me to be mindful of the moments that make up my day. The moments at home, the moments at work and the moments that happen in between.

While listening to Google Play Music over the weekend, I stumbled across an advertisement for a podcast, titled, “Surprisingly Awesome”. OK, stumbled across is a stretch…fact is I am cheap and haven’t purchased the add free version of Google Play Music, so I stumble across ads regularly. 

“Surprisingly Awesome”, which you can read more about here, takes everyday or otherwise “boring” topics and turns them into something…you got it, “surprisingly awesome”. I just started listening, but the first podcast was about mold and the second is about free throws. Other topics include concrete, Tubthumping, interest rates, broccoli and adhesives. I think we would all agree, these topics do not scream “listen to this podcast now” but admittedly so, I listened and learned about mold for over thirty minutes today. In the intro, to the podcast Adams Davidson and McKay state the objective is “trying to convince each other that something that seems like it might be really boring is actually really awesome.

Now, place yourself in a classroom…as a student. How many times do students enter classrooms and feel as if what they are about to learn is boring? If students feel it is boring at the beginning of the lesson and feel the same way at the end of the lesson, are they really going to be able to apply their learning? Nope. It’s boring! 

Whose responsibility is it to ensure the content students need to engage with is not…boring? Is it the students’ job? Sure, we hope they enter the classroom with a mindset to learn. We hope students enter with a mindset to explore, apply and create based upon what the learning target is for the day. We are kidding ourselves if we think that is just going to “happen” for all students. We as educators, must make the learning meaningful. We must make the learning “surprisingly awesome”. 

Fractions, history, writing and yes, even reading for some students may be defined as boring. I do not like hearing that as a principal, but the fact of the matter is, some students find certain content areas or areas they are not interested in…boring. 


It is our job as teachers to turn what starts out as boring into something “surprisingly awesome”. How can we engage students who must learn about fractions, history, writing and reading and make it awesome for them? It is not doing it the way we have always done and it is not about doing it in a way that works for us. We must demonstrate a growth mindset as educators and think outside of the box. We must find ways to make the learning experiences awesome for students so that at the end of our lessons, what started as boring for students is “surprisingly awesome”. 

I would love to hear how you turn boring into “surprisingly awesome” in your classroom?

What was your moment today?