What a difference a summer makes

ImageThe weekend before school starts is always a sleepless one for educators.  Countless questions run through your head, ranging from ‘did I make enough copies?’ to ‘what will my students be like?’ As a Superintendent, you think of the same questions… but you also reflect on your summer accomplishments.  I could not be more proud of our upgrades.  Below is a sampling of our upgrading:

The Library Before:

Library - from back looking toward front of school

 

Library - looking toward hallway

The Library now:

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Amongst other things… new carpeting, new paint, a new roof, half of the shelving removed (with archaic materials being removed as well), new furniture, and the entire room is wireless.  Kudos to the Librarian, Ms. Laws, for assisting in this massive project.  It would not have been achieved without her.

Our Main Entrance before:

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Our Main Entrance now:

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Our new entrance features new lighting, new flooring, new paint, and most importantly, four new security doors that are keyless entry operated.  I’m very excited about this new look; the entrance before was prison gray, dark, ugly, and had a bulletin board laced with ‘you will comply’ laws and notices.  I’m excited to hang some display cases showing our student achievements.

A typical classroom before (with no internet connections):

Corner by exterior door looking toward library

One of our newly ‘refreshed’ classrooms:

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Who knew the power of new paint, carpet, and wireless internet would bring so many smiles?

Lastly, I’m proud of new additions, including a conference room, a wellness suite (instead of a nurse crammed into a closet), and a Staff that is excited and smiling again.

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Looking at the last picture… what stuck with me today?  That I am thankful for a Staff that partook in over $900,000 in renovations this summer.  We are learning.  We are growing.  We are moving onward.  We are ready to rock out for the 2013-14 school year.

 

 

5 mistakes for new educators to avoid

As I sit here on the lovely beach of Cape May NJ, I can only escape work briefly, as school starts for me in little under two weeks.  As a new Superintendent, my mind is going in several different directions, but after listening to the girls behind me talking about how in their first teaching position are going to change the world in a 5 lessons, I thought about things to avoid doing for the first year.  Here are my mistakes I’ve either seen  from teachers and administrators, or perhaps even did myself that all educators should avoid the first year:

1image credit: whitneycpbg.com

1. Realize that it’s OK to fail.  Yes, you read it right, IT IS OKAY TO FAIL. FAIL = first attempt in learning. I’ve seen way too many teachers and administrators take out their pitfalls and shortcoming on themselves.  Why do this to yourself? Not every lesson will go right, not every parent conversation will end with the smell of roses in the air, and not every schedule or policy you implement will go as planned. You tweak as you go, you reflect you grow.  Casting yourself as a failure will only lead to burnout… and… ‘aint nobody got time for that.’

2image credit:philly-teacher.blogspot.com

2.  You’re not Superman.  I’m not trying to take the air out of your balloon (or perhaps, give you kryptonite), but I’ve seen far too many teachers coming in ready to turn the world upside down and end up crying in their rooms everyday after school about two weeks later.  I don’t want you to lose that energy, but I don’t want to blow you up with false hope either.  Yes, you will make a difference.  Yes, you will be that game changer.  Will you get everything you want and do it all within the first marking period?  Nope.  And that’s OK 🙂  Don’t take it personally. You will have challenges; you will have some bad days… everybody does. It’s called being normal.

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3. You can play McGyver and fix everything, but also seek output from your peers.  Again, first year folks come in and want to change it all by themselves.  While I love your desire to change for the better, your peers may not.  You need to make allies your first year; seek out other peers for help.  Doing it all alone will make you look like a lone wolf amongst your peers, and could even isolate you.  Who wants that?!?

4 image credit: www.edudemic.com

4. Expand your PLN online. If you’re reading this, you’re most likely on Twitter.  I would hope you know the benefits of the online PLN, and how it grows more and more everyday.  Keep yourself fresh, and join those online conversations.  It doesn’t have to be all of the time, but chime in and collect new resources.  It’s amazing how the PLN cane mold you as an educator.

5 image credit: bloggingcapemay.blogspot.com

5. Take time for yourself.  Especially for my Administrative rookies, you need to be cognizant of your outside life and family.  This job can easily consume your life… don’t let it.  Enjoy your family, friends, and life. Papers will get graded, plans will get made, and conferences will get set.  It will always work out in the end… and don’t forget that.

But, hey, I’m just a Superintendent now, what do I know? 

Now… about that beach…

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Can you imagine….

“Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?” – Sun Tzu

I tell ya, that Sun Tzu dude knew a thing or two.

I remember reading “The Art of War” in undergrad and grad school, and I just kept asking myself what this book has to do with education. Now that I’ve done the dance for 12 years ranging from a teacher to a Superintendent, I can see there is a lot.

We as educators should all be circumventing around this quote. Imagine a classroom with no limits and no bounds. What would it look like? In what direction would you want to go? What would the end goals be (yes, I’m still a UbD guy)?

It’s worth a thought of two as we prepare for a new school year. As a Superintendent, I’ve knocked down more walls, cut more red tape, and made life simpler in 30 days on the job than I have in three years combined as a VP & K-12 Supervisor. Granted, I’m in a much smaller setting, but perhaps it’s because I’m more focused than ever.

The quote above reminded me that I never lost the education bug. In fact, I’m more focused than ever. The possibilities of what I can do.

Get ready kids… the ride has only started.