What Did You Learn This Summer – Part 2


Episode #7: What Did You Learn This Summer – Part 2

In this episode, we share our summer highlights, discuss the opening of school, and we review our summer homework on researching tools for GTD (Getting Things Done).

Tools and Websites Mentioned in E7

    • Narro is a a text to speech podcast app. Narro will take your bookmarked articles and read them back to you as a podcast.
    • Pocket is a free service that makes it easy to discover great content that’s personalized to your interests, and save this content so you can return to it later on any device, at any time.
    • Keep is a note-taking service that syncs across all devices and allows collaboration.
    • Executive Summaries is a web-based subscription service for book summaries, reviews and webinars of the best business books.
    • Todoist helps get all your tasks and thoughts out of your head and onto your to-do list anytime, anywhere, on all of your favorite devices.
    • The Secret Weapon is a is “a free organizational methodology for both professional and personal aspects of life that re-organizes emails, ideas, and every to-do big and small into one system.”
    • A Malleable Mind is a website by Matthew Larson, a teacher in New Jersey, who shares his professional learning journey through blog posts, book summaries, and more.

Shoutouts:

Shout Outs are our acknowledgment and thanks to folks who have helped us with this episode or who influence our thinking and inspire us to grow.

    • Martinez: I want to thank the @RascalPride office staff for doing a fantastic job getting everything ready to launch the school year and for welcoming our parents and students as they registered.
    • Staumont: Shout out to @JellickPTA. Man, am I lucky to have an awesome group of parents who are working to support our school.
    • Martinez: @RascalPride classroom teachers get a big shout out for embracing the idea that classrooms must be all about relationships with students. I can’t describe the thrill I feel when I visit classrooms. It has been a real treat and it is making a difference in the lives of our kids.
    • Staumont: I too want to give a shout out (we call them Kudos) to @Jellick_RUSD teachers. They kicked off the year in spectacular fashion.
    • Staumont: Finally, I want to give a shout out to you and my other principal buddies who help, collaborate and share ideas willingly and without hesitation. I am blessed to work with a great administration team.
    • Martinez: My last shout out is to our Superintendent, Dr, Julie Mitchell. She orchestrated a magnificent kick off for our certificated and classified staff focused on relationships, hope, and innovative learning for all.

Please rate and review us on iTunes, that helps others find out about our podcast. 

Connect with us on Twitter @staumont and @jmartinez727 and check out our website betweenthejohns.com

We are elementary school principals in Rowland Unified School District in Southern California. We have launched this podcast as part of our inquiry to learn, share and apply effective leadership practice.

Join our Personal Learning Network as we learn, grow, and connect with others. 

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My First Day of School

I sat in my blue plastic chair behind my desk. If you’re a teacher, you know the one I’m speaking of. It’s just an adult-sized chair you find in a classroom, and it signified I lacked the experience to either buy my own chair or steal one from an empty class before the start of school. It was the beginning of the third period, and my students were working on some crossword or word search ditto as they sat in rows. The classroom was sterile as I had put little on the walls. You could hear their pencils scribbling across their paper and periodic whispering.

It was the first day of school for these junior high students. It was also my first day of school as I had missed the opportunity to open a class during my student teaching. My day probably began like most students. I dressed up in my back-to-school clothes. For me, these were brown slacks and a creme colored dress shirt. I even wore a tie. However, I think I spent 15 minutes trying to get my tie to be the correct length. I anxiously stood at the door of our apartment as my wife took my picture. I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea I would be writing about this day almost 30 years later.

I shifted in my seat and continued to read my students “All About Me” note cards. This was one of those strategies they taught you in the teachers’ school so you can get to know your kids. It was also the same school that promoted, “Don’t smile until November.” Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting to know my students as much as I was evaluating their writing. Their penmanship was awful. I could hardly read their writing due to the misspelled words and slang. I still didn’t know their names yet, but Royce was badgering Ashley about something, foreshadowing a pattern for the year. “You better deal with this now and show who’s in control,” I thought. I looked up from the cards and placed both hands on the desk. Pushing my chair back as I stood, the scraping sound of metal feet on the newly waxed tile floors stopped the talking, and all students eyes met mine.

I barked, “Hey! Stop talking and finish your work!” The room fell silent, and the eyes of the students quickly fell away to their ditto. I had that sense of power surge through me and thought I had things under control. The first two periods had gone well, and I was not going to let this group get the best of me. I looked down and my desk before I sat down. That’s when I saw it. I could feel that rush of blood leaving my head. It was the third period. My mind screamed, “All morning? How could my zipper be down all morning and I not notice it until now!” I quickly sat down and ever so carefully put my hands in my lap. My left hand grabbed the cloth, and my right hand quickly jerked the zipper up. My mind was racing in my embarrassment. “Did they see? Does anyone know?”

I have no other memories of my first day. The embarrassment overshadowed all else. I told no one until several years ago. I can only wonder what memories my students had of their first day with me. I have no doubt it was unmemorable as well. I look back on this incident with mixed emotions. I laugh at the insecurity and terror I felt. I am also ashamed of my immaturity, as I was focussed on me and not my students. I had no support staff to guide me. No PLN or framework for supporting behavior. It was old school rows, discipline, dittos, quizzes on Friday, and detention for talking back. It was the way it was, but I am still not proud of how I started my career. I also look back at the beginning of my career and wonder who was more nervous that first day.

Today, I see the first day of school through a very different lens. As my colleague John Martinez shares, we smile because it can change everything. We try to make students and parents smile on the first day and every day. I am proud our teachers collaborate around building relationships and implementing Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) at our school. You will not see many classrooms (if any) in traditional rows. Nor will you find time-killer word search dittos. The first day of school is one where we welcome students and let them know we are excited by their wonder, their curiosity, and their desire to be so much more. We are excited to find help our students find their voice, to help them grow, and to help them create.

I am grateful the first day of school will be different for our students than it was for my students so many years back. I have learned so much from colleagues and my mistakes over the years. We will smile on the first day. We will engage students’ minds on the first day. We will make it a safe place to learn and connect with others on the first day. In doing so, we strive to make the opening day memorable, so students are excited to return the second day. And if we do this well, from the heart, the adults will feel the same way; eager to return. I just want to remind everyone to check themselves in the mirror before they leave home.

 

A Smile Can Change Everything

Before we get started…

During a #4OCFpln Voxer conversation a couple weeks ago, Naomi Austin made this statement, “Be the reason that somebody smiles today.” Throughout the morning there were lots of acknowledgments within the group about how we so often do that for one another.

We have tremendous influence on others and I think that a simple smile can be a way to use that influence to seed positivity and love in others and in our world. That idea has resonated deeply for me. Perhaps it has to do with the theme that ‘relationships are everything” that has surfaced repeatedly this summer in my work with colleagues at @RowlandSchools and at @RascalPride. That theme is also central in books I read over the summer (The Innovator’s Mindset, Culturize, The Pepper Effect, Lead With Culture). Just this morning, Amy Storer referred to #positivenoise, an @adobespark remix campaign that Claudio Zavala Jr. started. There it was again: smiles, positivity, connecting with others, and relationship building.

The post below is an expansion of a message I sent to my staff yesterday to launch our first day of school on Monday, August 13. My wish is that those who read it take the message to heart with kids they serve, their loved ones, and all those they interact with. Let’s Be the reason that somebody smiles today.”

 

Give the Gift of a Smile Often

Teachers and staff, this is going to be an amazing year!  I can’t wait to see all the smiles that will light up the faces of our students and parents on Monday and continue every day of the school year. Every time you see a child or adult smile, you are in the presence of a special moment for him or her. Yes, every time, no matter how small the moment. Each smile is significant. Each smile is powerful. Each smile can be transformative. Let’s smile often and direct that smile towards others. How many times have you seen a child change their demeanor because something made her smile. Isn’t it magnificent? You can feel the positive energy radiate from the child. I bet you have experienced that moment too. Those times you were feeling down, having a rough day, or maybe you were just super focused and busy. And then that smile came and changed everything. All because of a kind word, a token of appreciation, a high five or hug. Someone gave you a gift that became your smile. And in that moment your life was different. You might be thinking, “Wait, a smile doesn’t change everything. It doesn’t change the reality or circumstances we may be facing.” Before you stop your thinking on that point, I ask that you consider that any moment can be a beginning, a beginning that can change a trajectory. And that can be everything for a student, friend, or loved one.

Let’s consider a smile a gift that we can share. We are in the life changing business. Let’s give the gift of a smile often and magnify the power of a smile with a kind word, a heartfelt gesture, or a physical touch. Let’s be the reason that someone smiles today and every day.