Congratulations Digital Principal of the Year!

I really enjoy working with my colleague, Timberview Middle School Principal Carrie Jackson.  She has many qualities that make her a good leader, but the one I admire most, is her humility.

Ms. Jackson was recently named one of three National Digital Principals of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).  This is a HUGE honor!  It confirms at a national level what we already know; Carrie exhibits “bold, creative leadership” as she strives to create an environment that embraces new technologies for teaching and learning.

So today’s blog post is a shout out to a humble leader, dedicated principal, and passionate educator,  who exemplifies the qualities of a “National Digital Principal Award Winner!”

Please take a moment today to read her insightful post on the NASSP Conference Website: Diversifying Community Outreach with Social Media.

She also writes a weekly “Friday Focus” article that discusses topics of interest to the campus and the education community.

And you can follow her on Twitter to learn more about technology, education, and TCU!



Lollipop Moments

Hey Blog Reader!  I haven’t asked much of you.  I’m usually just happy someone has read what I have to say.  And I’m honored and humbled that you have taken the time to see what’s happening over here at “Stealing Second!”  But today is a little different.  I’m asking you to do a little more than just read the blog.  There’s an assignment at the end of this post, and I hope you’ll participate!

Lollipop Moments

Every summer, I share this video with our teen leadership groups.  It’s an inspiring video by the founder of Nuance Leadership Development Services, Drew Dudley.  It’s just over six minutes long, and well worth the investment!

What are Lollipop Moments?

To me, lollipop moments have these characteristics:

  • They are “Life Changing”
  • They are typically inconsequential to the giver of the lollipop moment (they rarely remember sharing them)
  • They can have a positive or a negative effect
  • They are incredibly powerful

My Lollipop Moment

After watching Drew’s video for the first time, I immediately knew what my Lollipop Moment was. I bet you did, too!

During my senior year of high school (twenty-five years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday), I was visiting with my English teacher about a research project.  At the end of our discussion, she asked me, “What are you going to do with your life?”

I had thought about several possibilities, but not the one she suggested:

“You should consider becoming a teacher.  The great thing about teaching is…you’ll never stop learning.”

I don’t know what she saw in me, but there was something that made her think I would be good at it.  And that was it…that single moment changed my life, and changed the lives of the students I’ve influenced over the last twenty years!

The Power of Lollipop Moments

Ironically, “Lollipop Moments” was a topic on the agenda at our assistant principal meeting this week.  Our Directors of Leadership showed Drew’s video, then talked about their experience with lollipop moments.  I was inspired by the story that our leadership director, Dustin Blank, shared with us.  He graciously gave me permission to share it here:

At one time Mr. Blank was a soccer coach.  As with most sports, only a certain number of players could be on the team.  And so, after several days of observing the work of his players, he cut the team from 21 players, to 18.

Of the three players cut, two seemed to be content with having had the experience of trying out, realized they didn’t really work hard enough to make the team, and went on their way.  The third girl, however, was a hard worker.  She was always early to practices, did everything that was asked of her, and never complained.  Regardless of her work ethic, though, Dustin felt she wasn’t talented enough to make the “top eighteen,” and was cut.

After the announcement was made, the young girl came to Dustin and said:

“I knew I wasn’t the best player.  I knew I wasn’t the worst either.  But I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t make the cut.  I just want you to know, that the reason I even tried out, was because I knew you would be a good coach.  And I knew I would learn a lot from you.”

Dustin went on to tell us that, those words, on that day, made a huge impact on the rest of his life.  They changed the way he approached coaching.

Here’s my takeaway

Teachers don’t always realize how powerful their words are!  And we don’t know when one word, one sentence, one interaction with a child, will change their lives forever.  So choose your words carefully, everyday.  And intentionally create lollipop moments for your kids.

Your Assignment

Please share your lollipop moment with us!  Either in the comments section below, or on Twitter (use the hashtag #lpopmoments), or both!  Not only would we like to hear your experience, but the person who gave the lollipop moment would like to know, too!  Why not do the “AP Assignment,” and give that person a call!


Why I subbed for a day…

Yep, I volunteered to sub for a sixth grade teacher last week!

As an administrator, I think it’s very important to understand what teachers are going through. And if my day as a sixth grade teacher is typical of most days “in the trenches,” I have to do a better job of showing my appreciation to those who do it every day.

I actually thought I did a pretty good job!  I was able to hang out with kids all day.  I had a “duty-free” lunch.  I taught the same lesson all day, so by the end I had a pretty good understanding of similes, inference, and capitalization rules (or at least they thought I did).

The only discipline I had to deal with was one instance of horseplay between two students.   I told them to stop, and we went on with the class.  Crisis averted (so I thought!)

I wrapped up my day at 3:40, told the kids to have a nice evening, and put my teacher hat away.  All in all, it was a pretty good day.

Who am I kidding?

Here’s how my day REALLY played out:

  • I forgot to take roll EVERY SINGLE PERIOD!
  • My duty-free lunch was spent talking to kids about grades, and returning parent phone calls.
  • My planning period went by so fast, I barely had time to run to the restroom.
  • Teaching the same thing all day sounds easy enough, but it’s dang hard to keep the energy and excitement in your voice all the way through the day!
  • No matter how great I think I was at teaching, someone always finds fault.

Evidently, not everyone thought I was as amazing as I thought I was. The following morning (with my principal hat firmly in place), I received an email from a parent with concerns about the horseplay the substitute teacher allowed.

So the “administrator me” had to meet with the parent to discuss the “substitute teacher me,” about an issue that “substitute teacher me” had in class.

Why I Was Sub for a Day….

Even though it was frustrating receiving this email,  I really appreciate when parents communicate their concerns to us.  It made me stop and think about all the other emails I get from parents every day. How many times are these emails the result of one-sided conversations?  How many times do they come to me with only half of the story?  As an administrator, it’s my job to make sure I reserve judgment until I hear the whole story.  And it’s equally important that I communicate that to parents and teachers.

So, I’m really glad I took the time to sub for the day.  I am looking forward to many more opportunities to be in the classroom.  In the meantime, I am going to work on empathizing with our teachers, and doing what I can to make their jobs easier.  Being a teacher is HARD WORK!