Monday, August 27, 2012

Reframing the 1st day of school

My sister and her family live in Germany.  Everything happens 6 hours earlier there.

So, this morning, I woke up ready for the first day of school.  But, to be honest, that certain special level of excitement was missing.  I didn't necessarily notice its absence, until.... I checked my email before I got out of bed and saw my nieces and nephews posing for their annual first day of school photos and I remembered just how excited our students are for the first day.

I thought about this all day long as I greeted each student to our school this year and visited classrooms to start the year off of a great note.

The important part of setting aside all of the preparation, worry, and work of launching a new school year is remembering that our students, no matter how young, start today wondering how their year is going to go.  They may wonder:

  • Will my teacher like me?
  • Will my teacher help me make friends?
  • Will my teacher pick on me?
  • Will my teacher see how hard I try?
It really is all about them!  

Happy 1st day!

Quick afterthought... Saw a tweet by Joshua Starr, Superintendent of MCPS, asking if our students really forget the rules and need to spend the first day reviewing them every year....  Good question...  Definitely something to think about.  Maybe some of this is setting the tone, establishing boundaries, but how necessary is it?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Amazing speech from IB Conference in Cancun

In July I had the extremely awesome opportunity of attending the IB Americas conference in Cancun.  I have so many links, connections and take-a-ways to revisit and post,....eventually.  But the most inspiring, touching moment of the conference for me was a speech by a young woman who has accomplished much, while also overcoming much.  IB posted the video yesterday!  Reminds me that ESOL learners need to be supported, encouraged and held accountable...success takes hard work, but is within reach.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Connected Educator Book Study

Connected Educator Month is an amazing concept and, although I'm only connecting to a few opportunities, I've already found it to be full of excellent resources that are re-inspiring me to learn, grow and share.  This evening, the book study of "The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age," began with a webinar.  I'm excited to read this book and discuss it with all these folks from around the world.  And... yet another opportunity to better learn a site I don't know too well... Ning.

The resources for this book study are: Book  and Ning.   Meets online on Wednesday nights at 9pm and is archived if you can't be online. 
The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Connecting students with the world

And so the back to school season officially kicks off for me!  All this time off this summer was needed and wonderful.  I'm refreshed and ready for the school year--- mentally at least!  Now it's time for the practical stuff.... welcome back letters, tweaking class assignments, planning PD sessions, meeting with staff members, making sure our building is ready, construction meetings, schedules, lots of county meetings, etc...

In the  midst of all these details, I don't want to lose sight of the great resources and my renewed enthusiam for incorporating both technology and global awareness activities into the core of what we do.  As a PYP candidate school, global awareness is a pillar of our thinking.  So, resources will be necessary.  I recently stumbled upon three highly recommended sites that I don't want to forget about.  Haven't explored them yet, but hope to soon....

Finally, another great, thought provoking resource I viewed last night was the Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree Ted Talk.  Not only do we need to surround ourselves with people who will challenge our thinking, sometimes we need to be that person who challenges the accepted thinking of others.  Not always the most comfortable role to be in, but it's necessary for growth!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

QR code references, Admin Saturday chat and more

With only two weeks until teachers return, I am building a fun, informative, meaningful, hands-on, active PD session in my head.  It will send teachers into our community in small teams with several purposes:

1) See, experience and better understand the divsity of the community we serve. 
2) Use new technologies in meaningful ways to explore, locate resources and get ideas for how to use these same technologies with students (iPads, cameras/flip cameras, online tools...maybe Google Earth...)
3) Inspire thinking about local field trip possibilities, hopefully leading to students taking action to contribute to our community.

One technology tool I'm thinking of incorporating is QR codes... While I've used them before, I've not created my own or incorporated them into PD.  My morning Twitter round-up lead me to several great resources...

  •  A new Twitter conversation for me to follow...although not likely in real time because it is SO early on Saturday mornings.  #satchat   Today's archive had lots of great links... One I'll need to link to once I find it again is a great list for new ( and experienced) principals of summer to-do list. 
Two comprehensive QR resources:
Great resource of picture books to address bullying:

I can't wait to really pull this PD session together! 

Several of these links came from new connections I made through the #geniushour chat the other night...most notablely from JoyKirr on Twitter. The power of being a Connected Educator is amazing.  Thanks to all for sharing so many great resources and ideas. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Where have 5 years gone?

Realizing that I needed a blog just for my own personal use, to document and store all the great links, articles, thinking, and resources I'm finding, I returned to Excursions, which I started back in 2007.  It's hard for me to remember back to that time!  Clues on this site help me piece it all together....

So since then, I returned to school-based positions in an administration realm.  Initially, I served as an Assistant Principal for  two years, and now, I've completed two years as a Principal.  My interests in education remain diverse.  This summer has been full of rich professional development experiences, great professional books, and plenty to make me think about the future of education.  Currently, the most pressing topics in my educational world are:

  • Inquiry based teaching
  • IB/PYP programme
  • Instructional technology
  • Arts integration
  • Staff development
  • Math (of course)
  • and many more....
My favorite books to read this summer:
  • Black Ants and Buddhists
  • Best Practice
  • Instructional Rounds
  • ...and... Many MAT test prep books...
Several more books remain on my summer reading list...I don't think I'll get to the, all, but they will carry over to the fall reading list. 

Hence the return to this blog.  I need a place to document the ideas, resources and connections.  So ...more to come soon. Although, I fully realize this is a dangerous time of year to start anything....I'll try my best!