Notifications Poison Productivity

Turn off your notifications! I dare you! Turn off the badges, banners, sounds, lock screen, previews etc. Turn it all off!

I bet you are having an anxiety attack right now just thinking about this right? It will be okay. It's not like you are going to forget to check your email. Maybe you just wont check it every 15 seconds. Is that such a bad thing?

This summer at #NPC2017 (National Principals Conference) there was a challenge started to put a picture of your most important people on your home screen. When you turn on your phone (actually I think our phones just turn on when we look at them right now:):) your home screen is that picture, then you have to swipe left to get to your apps. Now THAT makes me have an anxiety attack!

My phone is not a picture frame! I do not need my phone to remind me who my most important people are. My phone is for work and getting things done and connecting. Now that I have offended almost all my PLN principals, let me explain. It would take me FOREVER to move all my apps around off the home screen, to another screen and move the 2nd screen apps somewhere else. No. I could not accept that challenge. 

If any of you are still reading here is my thinking:
  • Decide if there is an app or two you have to leave on. (Messages because I have kids. Facebook pages because parents contact me there sometimes. Facebook because I manage a new principal group so I had to turn those badges back on.)
  • Turn off ALL other badges. Those red circles with the number of notifications waiting.
  • You can actually leave previews on or banners as long as they go away easily and quickly.
  • You are not going to forget to check your email, or Voxer, or Instagram, or Twitter. You're just not going forget. Try it. It has become habit so you know you are going to check at some point.
  • Messages clarification - I do not get a lot of text messages. At least I don't think I do but I don't really have anything to compare it to.
If none of the above apply to you maybe you can just turn off your work email at night. Yes, my work email is OFF my phone at night. I check it first thing in the morning when I wake up except on the weekends. Yep, I am guilty of emailing my staff on the weekend at times. They don't have to read it until Monday morning. I just have to get it done when I have time. If it's super important I can send a text through Remind.

Who is going to take the challenge! Let me know if you take the notifications off or turn off your work email. Regardless if your successful or not I'd love to hear how it worked out for you.

Principals Aren't Perfect - It's ok!

This image was making it's way around my principal friends' Facebook pages recently. Let's face it...We are "supposed" to be perfect-ish. Never make a mistake. Have all the answers. Solve all the problems. Know all the things.

You know, principals can really tick people off. Kids, parents, teachers, co-workers, custodians, kitchen staff and other principals. There is no shortage of people I have probably rubbed the wrong way.

It is never my intent to get all up in your business and make you mad. (Unless you do something that hurts or has a negative impact on kids.) Oh no you didn't! It is also not my intent to upset you by telling you to be at work on time. It is not my intent to turn you sideways over "the next new thing." You know what? We are all trying to figure out this crazy world of education!

Principals are still human, moms, dads, siblings, brothers, sisters, grandparents and all the things that go along with all of those rolls too. Believe me I have spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours outside of work....working. Teachers do the same if not more.

Hopefully November will bring peace, calm and thankfulness. With all these gratitude challenges on Facebook everyone I know should be happier and more thankful right? I am thankful for my principal friends!

I might not do the dishes every day either!

Holiday Planning for Your Staff/School - Join our group

The holidays are quickly approaching. Don't wait 'til the last minute! (Ok, some of my best ideas have come at the last minute.) 
This is my 15th year as an elementary principal. I can't even believe it myself. I know you are all thinking, "WOW! You look so young!" You don't have to say it, I know you're thinking it:):):) Even after 15 years I still need help coming up with ideas. I sometimes think I've tried it all then, low and behold someone shares the greatest idea.

In my infinite administrative wisdom I thought I should start a Facebook group of principals only to share ideas. AND I thought it would be even better if I drug my principal BFF +Amber Teamann along for the ride as my co-administrator of the group! I think she likes when I come up with these hair-brained ideas. Little did I know that everyone else feels the same way we do. We all need fresh ideas.

If you'd like to join our principals only "Holiday Planning for your Staff and School" Facebook group click on the link/image below. You HAVE to be a practicing principal and answer the two questions before you gain access to the group.

Let me shoot straight with you....I want my holiday treats to be a surprise for my teachers. But they follow me everywhere! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you name it. (You can follow me too BTW. I strategically linked my accounts. Wink, wink.) My goal has always been for them to gain as much from social media and a PLN as I have. But come on! I can't surprise them anymore!

This is a TEMPORARY group! This group will not live on forever and morph into something else. After the holidays I am deleting the group and it's GONE. So save the ideas as we go. I could probably be persuaded to start the group back up next year. Actually, I already have other ideas for temporary groups for principals. Stay tuned!
What do you think? Want to join us? Click below!

Practice Makes Perfect - Lunch Doodie

Posted in cafe-a-gym-natorium
200 children sitting side by side(touching) at a table with food and sharp objects....Now that you have that picture in your mind you understand why I changed the word duty to "doodie." You might only understand if you have ever had lunchroom supervision duty.

Total disclosure: My school practices PBIS methods but we are not an official PBIS school. We visited PBIS schools and did our Pinterest research. (LOL) Well you know what I mean. We do believe in being specific in our teaching of routines and behaviors in all school settings. 
I can assure you that children have not been taught how to eat lunch at a table with 25 other students in the school cafe-a-gymn-atoriaum. Think about it. Where does your family eat dinner? The car? Standing at the counter? Watching TV? Gone are the days of the sit down family dinner! Not in all cases, I know.

Seek first to understand. Next time you have lunch doodie stand and look at the kids. Try to guess how many sit down to a family meal 1-5 nights a week at a table? Better yet, ASK THEM! (I highly recommend you also ask them if their parents have told them to chew with their mouths closed. To their credit they may not remember being told not to chew with their mouth open:):):)

How do we practice? My goal/suggestion is at the beginning of each quarter do a refresher lunch training.

  • Special class teachers are the lucky few who are assigned lunch doodie. (Art, music, pe, library, etc.)
  • We do not have a separate lunchroom and gym. Lunch has to be scheduled around PE.
  • At the beginning of special classes for each grade level, once a quarter, the teachers bring them to the cafe-a-gym-natorium instead of their special class.
  • The special class teachers are in the gym with me to go over rules in case I forget any of the rules.
  • We are all in this together. The kids need to see that we all heard the same rules.
  • If you have access to the lunch trays I recommend "pretending" to get their supplies carrying a tray and then practice "dumping" their trays after they are done.
  • If you are a really nice principal you could include a cookie on their tray for fun. (I think I am nice but I totally forgot this bonus last time we practiced.)
They may not have sit down dinners at home very often but they do school lunch like this EVERY DAY.  Once we teach them how it works they can be successful in this crazy environment!

What are your lunch doodie secrets of success??

Progressive PD for Teacher Workday

Who doesn't plan events around food? I mean really. If you feed them they will come.
Friday was a 1/2 day teacher workday. The kids were here for the morning and then teachers worked in the afternoon. It is the end of the quarter and time to work on Report Cards but our report cards self-generate through the program we use. 
The teachers finished their DRAs (Developmental Reading Assessment) about 3 weeks ago. Guided Reading groups are starting and teachers are getting organized to kick this off. Since we all learn best from each other why not share all the great things my teachers are doing within my own building?
Let me address Pinterest......Yes, they can get a bazillion more ideas on their own by going to Pinterest. However, it's pretty powerful to see that teachers you do life with every day are even better than Pinterest! I know right?!
This idea came from an #edcampsgf session and one of our intermediate school teachers. At the beginning of the year they participate in a progressive luncheon (Walking Tacos) to travel around the building to see how other teachers IN THEIR OWN BUILDING set up flexible seating. Our activity was a spin-off from that event. 
(Full disclosure...I did not go to their event. I've heard how great it is for a couple years so I reached out to their instructional coach for the directions. You too can reach out to their Instructional Coach for more info: Michelle Sechler at

Instead of lunch we did a "snack." Trail mix to be specific. 

  • Credit where credit is due - I asked one of my teachers if she would be willing to put together a team and organize this. (Afterwards I thanked them with $25 TpT gift certificates:)
  • Each class had a bucket of one ingredient for trail mix. You decide how many ingredients and which ingredients you need by classroom/teacher numbers. 
Silver buckets outside classroom to reduce mess:) 

  • I bought all the ingredients and my secretary put it all together. I think it was my secretary and teacher who took a cart around with all the supplies and placed them outside the classroom.
  • Teachers were asked to showcase how they organize for guided reading. (Kindergarten doesn't DRA until Dec. so they showcased data binders.) If they weren't ready or wanted to show something else that was okay to. But everyone is getting set up for guided reading so I thought might be most helpful.
  • Upper grade teachers started in the lower grade hallway and vice versa. 

Reflection of activity: We scheduled an hour but it only took about 45 min.. We came back together as a group to reflect together. Teachers were asked what went well and what we could do different.
  • Schedule this after guided reading has been in place for a while so they have samples of student work.
  • How do special class teachers fit into this? They did participate but obviously they don't teach guided reading.
  • October is super overwhelming! Later in the year when teachers aren't so stressed.
  • Have the teachers stay in their classrooms while other teachers visit then switch. We left feedback notes but having the teacher there to clarify would have helped too.  
My teachers are amazing! Just when I think they can't get any better they surprise me again!