Just Say Yes

A team of phenomenal teachers and I were able to share the transformational story of #SiglerNation yesterday at #NTVC2017. We had shared this story once before (check it here) so on the eve of the presentation I was reviewing my notes for the next day. Having just wrapped up reading Student Voice: The Instrument of Change I was in full on reflection mode and I came upon a stark realization while reviewing for the following day’s presentation. Each of the areas the teachers were sharing the following day was an expression of their voice. They were sharing something they were passionate about to a room full of strangers because they were proud of their efforts. More importantly, they were proud of the way their; dare I say innovative practices, positively impacted the success of their students.

Pictured: Assistant Principal of the Year – Carrie Tracy, Desirae Rieke, Matt Arend & Melinda Hoover

I remember each of the days Melinda Hoover, Desirae Rieke and Dora Deboer came to me with individual ideas they wanted to run with. Melinda was interested in turning her classroom into an environment similar to Starbucks. (She was a 2nd grade teacher). Desirae was looking for some motivation and ways to infuse technology into her classroom. (3rd grade teacher) I recommended she read Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros and join in what would be the first #IMMOOC. Dora had just experienced a taste of what real authentic learning experiences could do to empower the learning of her bilingual students and was brainstorming ways to connect with a wider audience of teachers and learners across the world. (Bilingual Title I Teacher)

I won’t get into the explicit conversations that followed, but for those of you who are reading that are building leaders, there are three words of advice I have for you when a teacher in your building stops by the office, catches you in the hallway or gives you a call out of the blue asking “If you have a minute”. JUST SAY YES!

The realization I came to while reviewing for yesterday’s presentation was that the students who benefited from three separate transformational ideas and the teachers who were ready to jump into something new with two feet who are now sharing their story with audiences across the state of Texas could have missed out on all of it, had I said no. Just like that, it could have been gone. Experiences erased. Aspirations crushed. The next time either of these teachers had an idea they wanted to try. Forget about it. There would have been no way they would come and face the hard truth of getting told “no” again. The classroom complete with couches and Starbucks coffee would simply continue to look like it had for years prior. Desks would be in rows and students in seats. A classroom with 7 laptops of which 3 would be fully functional on a good day, would not be abundantly stocked with iPads. Students who are armed and ready to collaborate and create on their recently acquired Chromebooks would be at the ready for the next worksheet. The students in a bilingual reading intervention group would have never connected with over 7 countries and students from around the world sharing how proud they are of the culture and heritage nor learn about how proud other students and their own parents are of their ethnic backgrounds.

Let’s be honest. You can ask “Why?” or you can ask “Why not?” You can trust the professionals you have hired to take risks to better themselves and their students or you can stifle the very creativity which lead you to hire them.

We all know that saying yes does not guarantee success, but saying no guarantees you will never know. It may not turn out right the first time. We will learn from what did not go as planned and try it again the next day. We will throw away the flexible seating option that was “accidently popped” by a pencil and replace it with a brand new one while revisiting the expectations. When the Google Classroom connection does not work, we will proudly own the #techfail and move on to plan B, because there is always a plan B.

The beginning of the school year is quickly approaching and you can count on at least one teacher asking you the million dollar question, “Do you have a minute?” Hear them out. Ask your questions. Take time to think about it if need be. Follow back around with additional questions or heck, even ask them why. Once you have all your questions answered, you know what to do.

Just say yes!

What will you say yes to this year that will positively change learning for the students and teachers on your campus? Include your comment below.

Welcome to #SiglerNation

Each year principals and teachers across the country strive to create themes, motto’s and yes even hashtags that will inspire their campus community throughout the upcoming school year. Sound right? Been there? Done that? Me too!

We Are Sigler, Sigler State of Mind, Bright Future Campaign, #OwnIt, #IWill are all themes or hashtags that have been introduced at Sigler Elementary to provide teachers, staff and students with a platform to carry forward the great work they will embark upon during the school year. Each theme provided an opportunity to share in detail how a few words can inspire the Sigler community to come together.

As schools become more prolific with the use of social media and sharing their stories across a variety of mediums, you will find campuses and districts have hashtags to help share learning experiences and opportunities that exist both inside and outside of the school’s walls. Our campus is no different. (Read more about our story here.) Years ago #siglerlearns was introduced as our campus hashtag. Since it’s introduction it has been used to highlight the learning of our students and teachers as well unique experiences and opportunities our students and staff have been afforded. While #siglerlearns has it’s place, our campus has transformed over the years and we are ready for the next step. Do not worry…#siglerlearns is not going away. We are just going bigger.

As time was spent coming up with a theme for the upcoming school year it was as if I had an epiphany. While each of the themes mentioned earlier in the post served a purpose and were timely in their own respect, they each only lasted a single school year. The theme became something to rally around for a year. It was a tagline on a t-shirt. It was celebrated at pep-assemblies. It was mentioned in weekly publications to staff and the community and then with the final school bell of the year, it went away leaving people to wonder what next year’s theme would be.

We are going bigger. There will be a theme, but beyond a theme, we are growing something special at Sigler Elementary and it is time for everyone to be made aware. This is not going away. We are here to stay!

Welcome to the rebirth and re-branding of Sigler Elementary. Welcome to #SiglerNation.

The Faces of #SiglerNation

While schools spend a vast amount of time telling their story and sharing their school’s message we must not forget the faces behind the story. The image you see here captures the faces of #SiglerNation

The Faces of #SiglerNation

These faces represent the voices we want to amplify. We aspire to connect these voices with the voices of other students from across the nation and across the world. We aspire to give these voices a platform and a sincere opportunity to be heard. In the book Student Voice: The Instrument of Change the authors share, “…before there is an “I,” there is a “we.”” Together as students, teachers, parents, administrators and the community we will lift up these voices to connect, grow and be heard.

 The People of #SiglerNation

The great philosopher Aristotle said it best, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” The staff at Sigler Elementary was strong when I was named principal at Sigler Elementary six years ago and since that time, we have only grown stronger. We have grown together. We have lifted each other up. We have empowered one another to reach new heights. The people of #SiglerNation have established new expectations for one another. Together we look to exceed these expectations not as individuals, but as a team, as a staff and as a family.

In the upcoming year, empowered staff from #SiglerNation will look to share their transformational story with other educators in an effort to inspire others to follow in their footsteps and unlock learning opportunities for students around the world. We share this knowing with each opportunity to share comes an opportunity to learn and an opportunity to grow. Sharing, learning & growing is what embodies #SiglerNation.

The people of #SiglerNation know teaching our students is not a job, it is a calling. We are called upon to do better and be better and together we have, we can and we will.

Proud to Represent #SiglerNation

In the end, this is what it comes down to…PRIDE. #SiglerNation was built upon years of relentless work, effort and an extreme sense of pride. We take pride in our approach to educating students. We take pride in our partnerships with parents and our community. We take pride in knowing we want to do school differently…and we do!

Our goal is for parents to choose Sigler Elementary. Our goal is for parents to want to enroll their children at Sigler Elementary; to become a part of #SiglerNation…and they are!

Our goal is for teachers to choose Sigler Elementary. Our goal is for teachers to want to work at Sigler Elementary; to become part of #SiglerNation…and they are!

Our goal is for students to choose Sigler Elementary. Our goal is for students to want to succeed at Sigler Elementary; to lift up and be champions for #SiglerNation…and they are!

We are going bigger and we want you to join us! Come be a part of #SiglerNation. It may mean your children enroll with us. It may mean you come work with us. It may mean you find a way to connect with us. Regardless of what it means for you, #SiglerNation is waiting. We are waiting for you! Throughout the upcoming school year we will seek you out. We will reach out. We want to share our story with you. Our students’ voices will be amplified and shared with any and all who will want to listen.

Are you listening? Are you joining us? What are you waiting for?

Welcome to #SiglerNation