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Monday, December 9, 2013

Sunshine Award

I am truly honored and humbled to be nominated for the Sunshine Award.  It states from these two fine educators:
The Sunshine award gives others an opportunity to learn more about me as a blogger, then, in turn, I will send sunshine the way of 11 other amazing bloggers for you to get to know.
Thank you Amber Teamann & Paul Wagoner for nominating me for Sunshine Award. They are both so much better bloggers than me and are edurockstars! I’m just an old superintendent trying to keep up.

Here are the Sunshine Award Rules:
  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

Here are my 11 Random facts…
1.       I’m a lover of the arts as much as I am sports. I have a lot of money on my walls at my home.
2.       When my granddaughter says “hi Pappa” my heart melts.
3.       I live in Corpus Christ…on the coast, but I am NOT a beach person!
4.       My wife and I have been on 5 cruises, that is our way for travel.
5.       My hobby (which I have not done in a couple of years) is building golf clubs. All the clubs in my bag are built by me.
6.       I get to be on the headphones during varsity football games with the head coach. “You can take the man out of coaching, but you can’t take the coaching out of the man.”
7.       I think I am a pretty good cook and my wife will tend to agree.
8.       I tend to like to landscape, even build flower beds, but only when I am ready to do it.
9.       I went from coaching & being an athletic director to serving as an elementary principal. It was me and 33 women, no assistant or counselor. I’ll leave it that…
10.   “Wizard of Oz” is my favorite movie of all time. I have found it a great movie on leadership…I’ll let you think on that one for a while. And it is the ultimate “chick flick” a movie of two women fighting over a pair of shoes.
11.   Yes, I played in the NFL, and an experience I will always treasure. I hardly ever share that now, heck that was a long time ago! I just wish I was good enough to make more than one year…sigh.

Amber’s questions:

1.       Do you prefer to shop online or stores? Hmm, I will do both, whatever mood I’m in at the time.
2.       How many pairs of shoes do you have? About 20 dress/casual, 5 athletic, 4 boots…I know I probably have too much estrogen, and I have been told that before!
3.       What is your favorite type of music? That is hard since I always listen to sports talk…but I would say ‘Classic Rock.’
4.       Cats or dogs? This is easy…dogs, and I have to say that my Schnauzer, Mally, may be the best dog ever!
5.       What is your typical bedtime? It is rare that I make it past the evening news, unless there is football to watch, of course.
6.       Favorite twitter chat? This is really tough! I’m not going to limit to one - #tlap #arkedchat #IAchat #Alaedchat #edchatri #SBGchat . All of these I have gleaned so much from and mostly because of the moderators of which I admire so much.
7.       Democrat/Republic/Other? I would have normally said Republican, but that party seems to be so anti public education…so I really don’t know now. I am quite conservative in my thinking.
8.       Best place you ever vacationed? Paris! Which my wife won the roundtrip airfare at a Houston Astros game. There is a story behind that, ask me about sometime.
9.       Best book you read in 2013? I will start with Teach like a Pirate by Dave Burges, then Game Changers by Julie Adams, then Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maiers, and now reading David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. I recommend all of those!
10.   Favorite television show when you were growing up? Flipper
11.   What is one thing you never/rarely share you are exceptionally proud of? (See #11 above)
My  11 Bloggers to follow
1.       Angela Maiers (@angleamaiers)
2.       Daisy Dyer Duerr (@DaisyDyerDuerr)
3.       Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd)
4.       Julie Adams (@adamsteaching)
5.       Dave Burgess (burgessdave)
6.       Rafranz Davis (@rafranzdavis)
7.       Kristy Vincent (@bigpurplehat)
8.       Amanda Dykes (@amandacdykes)
9.       Jennifer Hogan (@Jennifer_Hogan)
10.   Kimberly Hurd (@khurdhorst)
11.   Jimmy Casas (@casas_jimmy)
To all of my PLN (and not just the ones listed above), you will never know the impact you have had on me. I am truly blessed to have you in my PLN and will forever be indebted to each of you.  You all are edurockstars to me!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Our classroom is the only level playing...-->relationships

When I was the high school principal at two high schools with  very high low economic population, I would tell my teachers, “Your classroom is the only level playing field all of your students have.” I would give the example of my daughter; Emily Roberts goes home to a nice house, a place to study, a computer with internet access, and two parents with two degrees and high expectations from both. Joe Poverty goes home to a house with no place to study, maybe one parent or no parent(s) since they had to work 2-3 jobs, is responsible for preparing supper for his siblings and getting them to bed. And then is he able to begin his homework. He may have come home from working at his job to help support the family or from participating in an extra-curricular activity. I would then ask, “When assigning homework, do you consider what your students go home to? Is it fair that you grade the homework of all students with the same grading standards?”
Several times when a student was suspended for a discipline issue, and did not have a way home, I would drive him home. This practice opened my eyes to what many of my students went home to. During the drive I would talk to him/her about the issue, but more times than not, I would just talk to help me understand what he was going through at that time of the school year.  I sometimes built closer relationships with these kids (low economic backgrounds) than with other students. I soon found that when I built a relationship with them, they would almost always turn around their bad choices and would soon begin to improve their performance at school.
I think all educators would agree that we must build relationships to discover/understand about our kids’ lives, other than just them as students. Once those relationships are established, we see our kids grow, learn, excel, and perform at a higher level than we thought possible. When I was discussing her book, Julie Adams (@adamsteaching), Game Changers 7 Instructional Practices That Catapult Student Achievement,  said “Relationships maybe THE most important factor of a productive learning environment." Daisy Dyer Duerr (@daisydyerduerr), principal at a K-12 campus in Arkansas, who moderates the weekly #ArkEdChat, continually stresses the importance of relationships in her chats. I could go on and on about all the professional educators who know and see the value of relationships with our students.  
As educators, when we realize that our school is the only level playing field that our kids have and when we  work (yes it takes work and time) to build relationships with them, we will see them perform for us and have better discussions at a higher cognitive level, because they want to please us. Of course there are boundaries, but when we honor students as people worthy of respect, this will lead to enhanced learning. This is enhancing kids' lives, which goes beyond teaching them a subject matter.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The 3 A's of Education

I have been an elementary principal, HS principal, and now superintendent. At each initial faculty meeting I have made the statement: "I believe in the 3 A's (I never know how to type that if I leave out the apostrophe it just come out as As...) of education." Those 3 A's are academic, athletics, and the arts. From my perspective, if a school does not have all three areas included, then it is not complete or it is out of balance. I sometimes picture a triangle with academics on the top corner and the other two on the bottom. I believe that we must provide an area/program/activity where each student can succeed.

I must begin with academics. This is the reason we are in this profession, to teach the child. However, I like to say our job is to enhance the lives of the children we teach. Each state has standards/objectives that we all must teach. In Texas, it the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS). We are one of the few states that did not adopt the Common Core.I choose not to comment on that. As we all know there are so many components that make the whole child. As professional educators, it is our mission to teach all of those areas, from the mind, body, and emotions. I have found when we touch emotions, learning blossoms.

I love the arts. When my youngest daughter was in high school, she was required to take one credit of fine arts. She was having a hard time deciding what to take. However, we knew that the theater teacher was popular and did a good job of directing the One Act Play, and preparing her students for competition in speaking events. Long story short, she earned her degree in theater and minored in communications. She now teaches speech and debate. One thing that I noticed was that these kids that were in theater and speaking events practiced as much, researched their roles or topics for hours, worked as hard as athletes did in their sports. They learned the value of  hard work, sacrifice, setting goals, and preparation. I can say this about band and choir as well. Research also backs up the fact that the arts contributes to the success of the student academically. Students that participate in the music arts had better abstract conceptual thinking, stronger motor development, coordination, creativity, and verbal abilities.

For those that know me, athletics was and still is a big part of my life. I was fortunate enough to play at the highest level. Sometimes I think back at those days and say "Wow, I really did that!" I think one thing that tends to separate athletics from the rest is responding to adversity at the time it happens. Tom Landry once stated, "Fotball doesn't develop character; it only reveals it." It is through adversity that character comes out. So many other activities allow one to reflect, correct, and move on when adversity takes place. You do this in athletics too, but during contests, players must do this "on the fly." I think that athletics tends to develop leadership and discipline, as well.

As I stated above, we should strive to teach the whole child. To accomplish that, we should provide a program for each student to "have a niche." I want to have a school full of students that "allows the school to pass through the student, not merely students who pass through the school."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Steering the ship... #SAVMP

As I reflect on the awesome responsibility of leading in the field of education, I must first say that education is the best profession in the world. How many professions have the privilege of enhancing the lives of people that will shape the future. It is there that the enormous responsibility lies. Every day that we enter the classrooms, our words and actions do have a huge impact on our students.

When I look at the different positions that I have held (teacher, coach, athletic director, elementary principal, high school principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent) I often wonder what impact I have had on the students and teachers that I have taught or lead. On occasion, I get a note of appreciation, an email, or a phone call that confirms my calling. You see, I do consider my position as a calling. I can only hope that the people and students that I am fortunate enough to lead are able to glean from that calling and the passion I have for my position.

I went through a very dark and deep valley last spring in which,  I was able to witness something that was not planned. It was at a board meeting where some 20+ parents attended and all were there in support of me. There were about seven that voiced that support. As I listened to them saying such wonderful accolades on my behalf, tears began to come into my eyes. That was a confirmation to me that told me I am doing something right. As leaders, we understand that it will often be rocky roads or unsafe waters. However, we must stay the course of doing the right thing for the right reasons, and what is best for students.

I lead because I care. I care first and foremost for the students. We can actually mold lives, build character, and motivate performances. I care for the administrators under my watch. They have an enormous responsibility to carry out the plans that I have given them. I care for each teacher that personally touch students' lives on a daily basis. They are my heroes; they are the ones on the front lines everyday, planning, facilitating, and teaching. It is through them that makes the difference in kids' lives. It is them that build relationships which impacts the students to do remarkable accomplishments. I believe all of us have at least one teacher that we can name, that made a difference in our lives. As we understand it is not about the money but about those students that tell us that we made an impact on their lives.

I lead because it is in leadership, I can make a difference. I can only pray that the difference I make is a positive one.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Setting Sail

The following is truly a step of faith and going out on a limb. I know I would have never attempted writing a blog, if not for my PLN on Twitter. There are too many to thank and for fear of leaving some out, I will choose to say a huge thank you to all of my colleagues and especially my #TLAP PLN. You just don't know what kind of impact you have had on my professional life through our chats in the evenings. I will be forever indebted to you. Many of you think I am much more than I am and I'm truly honored and humbled by your thoughts of me.

I must begin with a book that has had a tremendous impact on my life, See You at the Top by the late Zig Ziglar. I had the privilege to sit under his teaching the course (The Richer Life, now Born to Win), listening to hours of his tapes, and attending seminars he presented. The book and he gave me the inspiration to reach higher and attain more than I ever thought possible. And most recently, the book, Teach Like a PIRATE, by Dave Burgess has invigorated my professional life and outlook. The book has enabled me to get know some of the most progressive and innovative minds in the educational field. Sometimes I am in awe of your thoughts, practices, and ideas. You make me realize I have so much to learn and strive for my in career.

I should finally and most importantly want to say thank you to my wife of 38 years. She has been my rock and advocate throughout my whole career. She willingly moved from city to city, house to house, as I advanced through my coaching and administrative career. We have been in different school districts (she a little more) and towns across Texas. As a result, we have made friends and gained colleagues which has enhanced our lives. She has been my best friend and my cheerleader my whole life. With her spiritual gift of encouragement, she has definitely made me want to achieve more than I ever thought possible. I am forever grateful to have her as my wife and life for these past 38 years. We have two beautiful (both inside & out) daughters, one grand daughter and another grand baby on the way. I am so blessed.

I also want to thank all of the professional educators that I have either taught and coached along side or had the privilege to lead. Many of them have made and impact on my professional life.

As a teacher, coach, and administrator, where would I be without the students that I have had the opportunity to touch their lives. They are the only reason I continue as an educator. They give me the motivation and inspiration to come to work each day. I absolutely love what I do.

As I reread the above, I believe that I must say and acknowledge my lord and savior Jesus Christ. He has been by my side through my valleys and mountain tops of which I am so thankful. Without Him, I am nothing, with Him, I am everything. John 3:30