Smack Dab in the Middle of the School

I have often heard stories of a former principal at Sigler Elementary who moved her desk into the middle of the main hallway and sat up shop, smack dab in the middle of the school to better understand who was coming and going and why. Rumor has it the former principal ruled with an iron fist and if teachers passed her desk, set up in the middle of the hall, they were stopped and questioned as to why they were not working with students.

Today, principals can be seen working in classrooms on wireless devices, laptops and smart phones or seen in the halls using a mobile desk to increase visibility, connect with teachers and students or when needed, just get out of the office.

Tuesdays at Sigler Elementary, our school store is open. I love working the school store, but this year I have let my schedule dictate my availability to be present at the store. Realizing this, I have already vowed to make that change for next year. Being at the store is a guaranteed connection with students. Students line up and spend their “starbucks” allowing me to connect with them; asking how their day was, what was happening in their lives and just listening to the conversations they have with other students as they wait anxiously to make their purchase.

Students come to the store during their recess time, arriving around 10:45 and continuing to come off and on until 1:30 or so. This year I have been guilty of trying to do too much. I will be at the store when I need to be and then go back to the office or somewhere else in the building, during the few minutes that exist in between grade levels. I am trying to get it all done and in the meantime, I miss those encounters with students or other parents and teachers who are passing by.

While I did not move my desk into middle of the main hallway today, I did set up shop using my laptop computer and a chair as a make-shift office. It was great! I was able to connect with teachers who passed by, I was able to talk and greet parents who came in the building to eat lunch with their children and interact, joke and love on the students who passed by and who shopped at the store. I specifically recall a student who went out of this way to let me know tomorrow would be his last day as he was returning to New York to live with his grandma. While I breaks my heart to know he is leaving, I am reminded of the power of being present. Had I not been there, I may not have realized he was leaving until it was too late. These moments, even the sad ones, are what I love about bring a principal in an elementary school and I have not made myself as available as I need to be for them.

We are inching towards the last month of the school year and reflections such as this are necessary now more than ever. Find a few moments to take stock in what you value, remember your why and determine whether or not your actions are aligned with your values and why. If they are not…fix it.

Consider this fixed. I am looking forward to the remaining Tuesdays, the school store and setting up shop, smack dab in the middle of the school.

What was your moment today?

My Moment – Day 49 – Connections

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 have previously shared moments about the power of being a connected educator. 

As my PDAS conferences are winding down, I have been using a part of my time with teachers to discuss my work with #TXPVI (which I have previously as well). A large part of the work revolves around the idea of transformation and changing the way we approach our instructional methods. To guide the transformation on my campus, we have been using Alan November’sTransformational 6“. I find these six questions deep and powerful when it comes to truly integrating technology to strengthen instruction across our campus. 

As a part of our discussion, I sent out the six questions prior, having the teachers choose which one resonates with them and then share how we can begin addressing the question with their current practices. I believe George Couros calls that moving a teacher from their point A to their point B.  

My conversation today involved a teacher who would interested in learning more about question #4:

Are there opportunities to broaden the perspective of the conversation with authentic audiences from around the world?
The teacher shared a little bit about the units of study they had been working through and the literature that accompanied them. The students in her small reading group had recently been reading about rural areas, specifically in Thailand and Argentina. She also shared they had a unit coming up that would focus around a variety of different sporting events with pieces of literature that would match. 
She had done her research and share two links with me, that I am interested in learning more about. They are iearn & Around the World with 80 Schools. Are you familiar with either of these? I would love to hear your thoughts? 
Knowing she was interested in connecting her students with students in two specific countries, we sent out the following tweet, including some of our connected colleagues. 
Before our conversation had ended, the tweet had been retweeted and responses were beginning to come in. 
We found a possible connection and then even a resource that may lead to additional connections. 
Later in the day, our friend Mandy, even offered to look up a Google+ Community for us to invest in more connections. 
Top top it all off, the connection that was recommended to us, @gret happened to reach out and let us know she is interested in helping. 
Listen, these types of connections happen! This is a perfect example of the power of being a connected educator. One tweet, sent from an office in Plano, TX, made it’s way to Argentina in a matter of a couple hours. 
The connections are there, just waiting to be made. All it takes is someone who is willing to open their mind, acknowledge they are taking a risk and know they are doing so to provide experiences to students, that otherwise would not exist. I am excited to see how this connection will “broaden the perspective of the conversation with authentic audiences from around the world.” 
Our students deserve this! Stay tuned. 
What was your moment today?