Friday, November 16, 2018

ILT... Huh? It's a WE thing...!


I am currently out of the business of writing blogs… But this might have to become a post. Well it just did. 

I have a great ILT… It is really just Michelle and I, which inherently is great, mostly because she is prepared, ready, and responsive.  

There is a moment in any group activity, when roles are established, barometers are set, language agreed on, and a path forward is determined.  It is hard when that dynamic is changed repeatedly.  My feedback ends there.  I will self reflect at the end, and it will seem a little boastful! It is meant that way, I am not worried about my feedback on how I establish relationships.  Sorry.... block me on twitter... I feed on that... 

This powerful group of 4 has met, I think, 4 times and we are a powerhouse.  We seem to like each other, but more than that, we are honest, we don't worry about repercussions of relationship shrapnel.  We shrug it off... Besides... Ahh... No Worries... 


Think about that word.. Powerhouse - I wrote it 5 lines up. We are a POWERHOUSE of 4, Rachel, Debbie, Michelle, Doug! 

We all have provided the necessary push back at mostly the right time.  We are feeling each other out, and at this level, is a lot of fun.  This is not taught, it is felt, through experience, the best way to learn.  Human connections, we are in human business, no matter how much we deny it.

It is hard to observe teachers on everything they do… That is not this blog post… Just want to be clear!

This is observation and feedback on leaders.  Debbie and Rachel are fantastic!  Michelle is more, a crucial element, the only voice to confirm, determine, drive to crucial… Michelle is the acknowledgement of the which for now is more meaningful.  OK... I agree, make no sense, unless you are there... sorry. 

It is great to find the voice, the MC, it is not easy, as the DJ!  HAHA! 

I truly appreciate you Rachel, Debbie, Michelle, and of course, I appreciate me.  I told you I would come back to me.  I am also pretty special... I recognize it, I also try to make sure I don't make it weird.  If I start to do it, I know my #cddolphins will tell me to breath and pump the breaks!


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Why have I waited...

I have been doing things for me lately... Less posts, less everything.  Still have my loves, "weekly video", posts about my school, conversations with teachers, etc continue..... But less of what I think will "develop my brand..."  I thought that was important at one point.  Then I realized, it is not that important.....

Like, I need to be liked, not "liked", I need to connect, but I don't need much more.

So here it is... This might be my weakest blog post ever. 

I am working on 1 thing now in my personal time.  I am creating my "soundtrack" for my 90's until 2005.... That is it.  Those are the constraints.  It is still who I am, but grown...

I have so changed, but I am still that person too.  I think the music will speak to what I mean.  I am going to let it tell that story.  I will be about 20 minutes long.  It will be mixed, maybe scratched, it will take me a while... if I can figure that out finally...

That is all. For now...

Sunday, October 14, 2018

If you are not continuously learning your passions or practicing them... shame on you.

As an educator we strive to create students that fall in love with learning and pushing themselves.  We strive to try and find what motivates them.  This is certainly easier said than done in a classroom of 25-30 students. 

One thing you can do is continuously strive to push your own interests.  Take care of you, and you will understand your students and their needs more.  I have 2 interests.  Music, in particular DJing and exercising.  I love both equally.  Maybe music a little more, but a good run or lifting session does make me feel better than sitting at turntables for an hour. 

One is creation and one is stress relief.  I would push you to find at least 2 hobbies that satisfy these needs.  Reading, knitting, drawing, walking, adult team sports, etc.  There are many options. 

Just find yours.  It keeps me going and I promise it will keep you going too. 

My writing is just here to document and keep my other 2 hobbies honest.

My number 1 passion is children and their growth, so I have that covered.  Thank goodness my 9-5, satisfies my number #1 need.  I can only imagine if I worked at a bank and I had to have 10-12 hobbies to keep me happy.....

I also know that if my number #1 passion of school pushes more than 50% for too long, I need to push back and be okay with it.  It is always in flux, there are weeks that school hits 75% and that is okay, it just can't be a forever thing. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Today was Today

I am referring to all interactions here as "they" and "them" just to keep it confidential.  This is not about a kid, but our assumed role as educator.  Not what you learn in college, but what you learn in the work. It is inevitable to all of us, and I felt this today more than usual.

It was 8:50, a parent came in.  No big deal, they always come in at this time. They walk back after my dedicated secretary gives me a heads up.  Never had a secretary before CD, but I appreciate her for this, more than she understands. 

They come in as parents to speak to me about an issue or in this case to "make me aware" of a situation.  I love my community and my school.  I love how they want to share with me the inner most "issues" they are having.  I am not going to share that or anything more, but this is more about what all of us as educators need to feel at this moment. 

We are not all counselors, we are not psychiatrists, we are not psychologists, therapists, or doctors!!!

And this is exactly the point.....

******pause*******

We are educators, because our mission is to educate their most prized possession, we are open to everything.  Think about it, no parent sends their most prize possession to a place for extended periods without a great amount of trust and faith. 

With that faith and trust comes an unwritten contract that you are allowed to learn things about their family and their children that their grandparents, mom mom's, sometimes biological parents, uncles, and neighbors don't know. 

This is a great responsibility, but one you sign up for the day you sign the contract to educate.  This is not the reality colleges teach, the reality that reaches, the reason you stay in from season to season. 

I would argue the story I heard today, although hurt, I felt for them, made me want to love my job more than ever.  I don't want hardship, I want success, but I also want to be the rock, the reason they have faith, the reason they reach, the reason they strive to bring them to us, our school, our community, our number 1 on many levels, a beacon of caring, a place of safety, and place for them to learn.  We have more coming to us than others for a reason. I am proud of that with my staff.  It is hard at times, but worth it to see the successes! #cddolphins

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Just an Idea we are going to call "Learning Days"

Over the summer I try to meet with staff a few times in a relaxed workshop setting to generate ideas, discuss visions, and try to create some focuses for the upcoming year.  Over the past 3 years we have done a lot of work with Instructional Rounds (Season 3 linked there for context).  I think we were all feeling like we need to modify and tweak what we were doing.  It was good work, very proud of what we did, and a great learning experience.  I think the sentiment was that we wanted to keep the idea of observing each other, learning together, and growing as a group.

Could we just modify how we did this to give it a new life?


So we began with these question: "How do we best learn?" and "How can we best learn from each other?" or something to that affect, I have since lost the poster that displayed our original questions.  We used a protocol and shared ideas on both these ideas.  Conversation was good, everyone had a voice thanks to our protocol and we paused......

Then we each wrote down some ideas on what this might look like?  We started throwing out ideas based on the following constraints:

  • Because of time and money, I could only give coverage to teachers for 3 half days.
  • There needed to be an "observation" component.
  • There needed to be a debriefing component.
  • We needed to learn from each other.  To respectfully borrow from the clothing line, FUBU mentality.
That was about it, that I can currently remember.  The rest was an open piece of paper or poster to generate ideas.  I heard more than once, "what is your vision Doug, what are you looking for?" More than once I repeated something like, "I don't know, it is a blank piece of paper."  

Truth be told, my staff know me pretty well, and sometimes when I say, "I have no idea," I actually have an idea, I just want input.  Honestly in this scenario, I had no idea, it was a little scary to be honest.  We needed to satisfy the 4 bullets above, but that was about it.

So we created 3 posters of notes and a rough plan.  If at the time, I thought I was going to write this, I would have taken pictures of our posters.  I have to remember to do this in the future.  As a group we have generated some pretty awesome ideas and I need to do a better job documenting them.  I have some pretty talented and creative people!



Pre-Work (graph above shows an even break down of what people want to share. interesting)
  • Fill out “Teacher Best” survey - Doug's job Here is the Form I used.
  • Organize groups - Doug and Michelle's job (Math and literacy coach) - Emphasis on combining similar ideas.
  • Fill out "Teacher Interest" survey - Doug's job - Not created as of this blog post. It will be generated after all the "Teacher Best" survey's are done. This will create the menu to organize people into observation groups.
  • Organize groups - Doug and Michelle's job - Once both survey's are done, the participants (observers) will be matched up with a "Teacher Best" teacher to observe their lesson. Groups of 3-4 teachers. We have approximately 25 teachers total. Substitutes will be utilized for coverages.

Real Work

Day 1 Plan - Observation Day 
  • Observe lesson with concentration on what questions you would ask the teacher being observed. (30 - 45) minute lesson observation. We are only writing questions we need answered. This is not to give the teacher being observed feedback, but to "learn" from what they did, choices they made, etc. 
  • The “observed teacher” joins the group for the debrief (not feedback) to answer questions and provide more context for later planning. (45 min - 1 hour)
  • The “observed teacher” goes back to their classroom.
  • The rest of the group begins planning a lesson/activity based on what they observed. (rest of the day)
  • Role Play/Practice with the group (rest of the day)
Pause - Take a deep breath



Each participant in the observing cohort does this on their own. Recording will be assisted by Doug or Michelle for set-up.

  • After the observation and planning on day 1, the group of teachers record a lesson teaching based on what they observed and were modeled. This recording holds you accountable for trying what you wanted to try after seeing a model lesson.  
    • This should be accomplished within 3 weeks of day 1. As a group we decided there needed to be a quick "jump in" and turn around. We know if you don't practice what you observe or learn quickly, it goes away faster. 
    • The participant or observing group from day 1 selects 5-7 minutes of the video they want to share with their cohort and then get feedback.

Final Meeting Day

  • Day 2 - half a day - Hopefully 4th week, or as soon as we can. The teacher guides us through their video and gets non-inferential feedback.



After all of this we hope to accomplish a few things:(This is the most important part!)
  • Gaining a new perspective on something. A new way to teach, manage, or guide a lesson.
  • Push the idea that we are all continuous learners and we can not stop practicing the skill of learning.
  • Push community by opening up our classrooms and trusting that we will observe and provide feedback to each other that is beneficial in a way that keeps inferences out.
  • Model to students that teachers are learners too.
  • Continue to promote an atmosphere of collaboration and sharing.
  • Maybe have a little fun, we often joke around a bit when we are working together.
I think if I added more to that list above I would be stretching. I also think if we can accomplish all of those things in a day and a half, we would have accomplished a whole heck of a lot!

Disclaimer - I really look forward to these days as they are a true break from "principal things" and allow me to be a learner right along with other educators.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Yeah... Whatever

Been a while, no post to think
Not because the thoughts didn't sink
No apprehension, season, allergies, no reason
Hip Hop grabbed a minute, not apprehension
Comprehension, Got so far off the rational mark
The blog, a start
Always for me, but here it is my cognition
Inducing a notion, a motion, an emotion
I rhyme way too much with I.O.N

Pharoahe Monch may be the...
Say my name... Say my name...
That was the game... Oh No
The point it is only the grind
The everyday, the greatest times
Too many forget the reason
Change in season, treason
Induction meaning, without definition
Not understanding, vox me in the morning

I realize 40 is the journey
This is the time, experience date
History delivered
Finally, always felt a kid
A wait till your time ...ager
Maybe what I do, what I did
Reading now, a definite page tuner

This one for me, need to do
For me equals for them
If I am worthy, repeat no jury
Forever up at night, mind fury
2:23 am last, maybe 3:00 tonight

Want to amp it up
Not rest it down nope
Privilege is my rope
Use it to believe it
Rest is not acceptable
Strive for regular
Never gone achieve legitimate
For that I leave
Hoping to exit legit







Monday, August 27, 2018

Don't forget the one that does not connect right away - My Daughter's story

So today was the first day of school for my students and for my kids.  My middle child, my daughter sometimes has a difficult time in situations.  She is my creative, my attitude, my go the other way child.  She is the generally the best behaved and I think in most situations my introvert.

She came home today and reported that she sat by herself at lunch.  She did not know anyone.  She is in 4th grade.  She seemed fine with it (her attitude), by I know she wasn't.  She has always had friends in her class to start the year, but not this year.

She did not want myself or her mother to intervene (her attitude).  So I am putting my faith in her teachers that I know are wonderful, to recognize and do the subtle things that teachers do to make sure she starts to make connections and friends naturally.

So this is my call to all teachers.  Recognize those kids, the one's that seem to walk alone at recess, sit alone at lunch, and maybe can't find a friend at group work time.  Intentionally make opportunities for them, be strategic, not overt in helping them make connections.  Allow them to share their interests in non-embarrassing ways.  Allow them to find others with similar interests naturally.  Do all those wonderful teacher things.  I know my daughter counts on it and so do thousands if not millions of other kids.

Even more than the kids, the parents of those kids that start every year with this anxiety are counting on you.  It is hard being a parent and trusting all this with a total stranger, but someone you know has your child's best interest at heart.  It is a trust thing, and acceptance thing, but certainly not an easy thing.  It's got me stressed out, although I know it will all work out.