Challenge Accepted…

I have a shortcut button to my blog, right on the toolbar of my Chrome Browser.  It doesn’t do much….just sits there….and stares me down…reminding me that I need to write…and I tell myself I’ll get right to it…then I close the browser…and forget about it.

What that button at the top of my browser couldn’t do, my friend and colleague Carrie Jackson has managed to accomplish.  In her latest blog post, Carrie issued the following challenge:

1) Acknowledge the nominating blogger. 2) Share 11 facts about yourself. 3) Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you. 4) List 11 bloggers. 5) Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you. 

And so Ms. Jackson, challenge accepted!

Eleven Facts About Myself

  1. I’m addicted to technology.  Seriously….I think I need an intervention!  I can’t remember the last day I didn’t check my Twitter, post something to Google+, read my news feed, or yell “OK Google” into my phone!
  2. I’m a big Texas Rangers fan!
  3. I have pretty smart kids! My youngest is a creator…he builds, designs, creates, invents, produces, and experiments! My oldest is a learner and a writer…he blows me away with his wealth of knowledge, specifically sports trivia.  He writes a blog for NFLRush, and he’s a lot more dedicated than I am!
  4. My wife is also pretty smart! She’s a great teacher, and she’s passionate about doing what’s best for kids!
  5. Here’s something you probably don’t know about me….I originally went to school to become a priest!  I learned pretty quickly that my calling was in teaching and serving others through education.
  6. I secretly wish that someone had convinced me to go into computer programming after high school.  Who knew you could make a few bucks doing something like that in the ’80s?
  7.  I love to try new foods.  I’m definitely not an “I’ll have the usual” kind of guy!
  8. I enjoy running, but can never seem to find the time!
  9. Android or iPhone?  Definitely Android!
  10. I’m blessed with an amazing job, loving family, supportive friends, sufficient finances, and vibrant health.
  11. I’m a big fan of taking risks! If there’s a chance it might not work, but also a chance it’ll change the world….I’m in!

My Answers to Carrie’s Awesome Questions

  1. Why did you start blogging?
    1. I started blogging as a way to share my experiences as a first year administrator with my family, friends, and colleagues.
  2. What is your favorite post of your own? Why?
    1. My favorite post is titled, “How Can I Help.” This post sums up my leadership philosophy perfectly.
  3. What is/was your favorite holiday activity?
    1. My favorite holiday activity is putting our home video together during the Christmas break.  We spend New Years Day watching videos from the previous years, then we watch the last year’s video New Years night.  The kids grow up fast!
  4. Share your favorite sports team.
    1. Texas Rangers…I’m a big fan!
  5. In what activities did you participate in high school?
    1. I was a band geek! I also participated in Theater, Speech and Debate, and Student Council.  Yep….I was pretty nerdy! But I wouldn’t change a thing!
  6. What makes you look forward to each day?
    1. My goal is to make someone’s day…every day!
  7. What is your personal theme song?
    1. Lean on Me
  8. If you were a part of the pizza, would you prefer to be the crust or the toppings? Why?
    1. Let’s go with crust. Crust gets overlooked. It lets the toppings take the credit, but we all know that, without crust, it’s just a saucy mess!
  9. Share your favorite television program.
    1. I’m a big fan of “Modern Family.”
  10. Share something you aspire to do in 2014.
    1. One of my goals in 2014 is to become a Google Qualified Educator. (I know…nerdy!)
  11. What is one thing you don’t know how to do that you wish you could learn?
    1. I wish I could learn to memorize names and faces.  I want to be that person that meets someone once, and remembers their name forever!

My Nominations to the Blogging Challenge

  • Davis Wright – @dbacksbaseball6
  • Conner Wright – @connerwright10
  • Brett Stamm – @Bstamm00
  • Josh Lucas – @joshlucasphx
  • Eric Rath – @EricRath1
  • Brad Tyler – @AimChanger
  • Anthony Gilreath – @agilreath
  • Kelly Christopherson – @kwhobbes
  • Jenna Shaw – @Teachbaltshaw
  • Melissa Emler – @melissaemler
  • YOU – Yes, you….reading this blog….I nominate you, too!

My Questions for You

  1. Who is your role model?
  2. If you could have any career, what would it be (besides your current job)?
  3. iPhone or Android? Why?
  4. Tell about one of your proudest moments.
  5. What would you do if you won the lottery?
  6. Who are three people (living or not) you would invite to dinner if you could?
  7. Describe your perfect vacation.
  8. What’s your favorite book? What’s it about?
  9. Share something you aspire to do in 2014.
  10. If you could choose a time period in which to live, what would it be?
  11. What motivates you?

And there you have it!  I’m looking forward to reading some fantastic blogs! Here’s to an amazing 2014! I wish you nothing but incredible experiences, lots of laughs, and continued good heath!  And GO RANGERS!

Be Intentional

image[3]The best part about starting my second year as an administrator is the chance to improve on things that didn’t go so well last year!

I definitely think we had a great year here at Timberview Middle School, but there’s always room for improvement!  I’m think my most common statement was, “I can’t wait to do that better next year!”  And so here we are!  Year two is off and running!  And I’m ready to do things better!  Here are five of my goals:

  1. Learn more student names!
  2. Spend more time in classrooms.
  3. Be a better organizer of my time.
  4. Write weekly notes of encouragement, praise, and thanks to staff members.
  5. Make at least one person’s day better every day!

Becoming Intentional

Good goals, don’t you think?  There’s one problem, though.  If I’m not intentional about them, they will simply become words in a blog.  Year two will end and I’ll say the same thing…“I can’t wait to do that better next year!”  So how can I be intentional with my goals?

Intentionally write them down

By writing my goals down (in this blog, on my desktop, tacked to my bulletin board, etc.) I am constantly reminded of the things I think are most important.  I can’t hide from my goals – they are everywhere!

Intentionally schedule time in my week

By placing these items in my weekly calendar, I’m more likely to complete the tasks.  I have an awesome assistant, and she has scheduled specific time in my week for me to observe classes, write notes to staff, etc.

Intentionally tell everyone!

By telling my friends, family, and colleagues about my goals, they can help hold me accountable.  If my principal knows that my goal is to write more notes of encouragement, and I’m not doing that very well, I know that she’ll gently remind me of my goal!

Game On!

Good luck to all of my friends and colleagues who are beginning another exciting year as teachers, administrators, parents, etc.  Set some amazing goals…and be intentional!

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

 

 

Why I Lead

This summer I ran across a tweet from one of my role models, George Couros, inviting administrators to join him in his initiative called the School Admin Virtual Mentor Program. I immediately signed up!  I mean, what part of that doesn’t sound amazing? School Admin – that’d be me! Virtual – sounds intriguing! Mentor – who doesn’t need more mentors in their lives? Program – if there were no program, there would be no School Admin Virtual Mentor part I suppose!

I have some amazing mentors here in Keller.  My colleague, Carrie Jackson is an admin Rock Star!  She’s not just an amazing principal, but a great person in general.  I’ve learned so much from her in regards to building relationships with students, staff, families, and the community.

My district assigned mentor is Brett Stamm, and  he’s an incredible resource for me.  He is always willing to help out when I have a question, and takes time out of his busy schedule to meet with me.  And he’s brilliant!

These guys, along with many others both in Keller and in my Personal Learning Network, inspire, educate, and motivate me to be a passionate leader.  I look forward to adding the influence of leaders from around the world through the SAVMP.  I encourage everyone to follow the #SAVMP hashtag this year and learn along with us!

And now….on to the show!

The first “assignment” for the SAVMP is to reflect on “Why I Lead:

I lead because I want to be a role model.

This may be the number one reason I lead.  I want to live my leadership through my daily life.  I want students to learn life skills (like mutual respect, empathy, the ability to make mistakes, the importance of laughing, and how to get along with people) through observing my actions every day.  I want teachers to understand what it means to be passionate about a career, truly care about kids, and trusting one another, through seeing me in the halls every day.  And I want my own children to understand the importance of loving your family, taking time to be a kid regardless of age, and the passion needed to be a true Texas Rangers fan, through my interaction with them every day.

I lead because I want to serve.

One of my favorite books on leadership is called, Fred Factorby Mark Sanborn.  Fred is a mailman, and one of the best descriptions of a leader I have ever seen.  Check out the link to learn more about Fred.

Fred’s leadership, according to Sanborn, is focused on these specific areas:

  1. Making a difference.  Fred took an otherwise monotonous job, delivering mail, and made it into an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those he served.  He knew not only the names, but the stories of all those on his route.  He was passionate about serving others.
  2. Relationships. Mr. Sanborn says, “Fred is proof that, in any job or business, relationship building is the most important objective, because the quality of the relationship differentiates the quality of the product or service.” I believe this is true in educational leadership as well.  They won’t follow you if they don’t like you!
  3. Creating value for others.  As a school administrator, I think this is crucial!  I believe it is my job to create value for our teachers, staff, students, parents, and community.  It doesn’t even have to cost anything.  An, “I appreciate what you did for our kids today,” goes a long way toward creating value.  My goal this year is to create value for someone every day, whether it’s an unexpected email, a positive phone call home, or an impromptu breakfast for the office staff.  It’s our responsibility!

I lead because I want to leave a legacy. 

Dan Pink, in his book Drive says, every man’s life is a sentence.  My sentence is,  “He thought of others first.”  I lead because I want to think of others first.  I want to do what’s best for kids…always.  I want to help teachers understand that what they are doing is the most important job in the world.  I want our community to know that we are there for them. I want our parents to know that we love their kids!

That’s why I lead.

 

 

Planting Shade Trees Under Which We’ll Never Sit

trees-053“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit” – Nelson Henderson

I have to say, teaching middle school is not for everyone! It’s hard!  I mean, really, really hard! Our teachers have to deal with the changes in hormones, emotions, physical characteristics, and even voices of our students.  One day, Johnny is sweet, polite, and respectful, and the next day he’s shaving!

When I tell people that I am an assistant principal at a middle school, they always ask me what I did to deserve that! Did I lose a bet? Upset the superintendent?

Then I tell them I chose this job. And every teacher who works in our school chose their job, too.  And in my opinion, this is one of the most fulfilling jobs I could ever imagine doing.  We are planting shade trees under which we’ll never sit, and it’s worth every second!

Our students are shade trees that are just beginning to grow.  They’ve been fed, watered, and nurtured all the way through elementary school.  Their leaves are beginning to fill out, and the roots have potential for grasping firmly to the soil.  They will make more choices during their middle school years with regards to their future than ever before.  And though we are a crucial part of this growing process, we won’t be the ones who sit under their shade.

But it’s comforting to know that these students we are influencing every day, will grow up to be amazing, kind, brilliant, beautiful adults, who will contribute to our world in ways that will make us proud to be called their teachers.

 

 

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!