A Great First Week…GRIT Tested

As I reflect on our first week of school, I cannot remember a time that I began the first week with students with five full days. Collectively, students’ and teachers’ GRIT was tested… and all achieved successfully! This year, Hedges School will focus on a GRIT trait each month.

I was first inspired to understand and motivate our students to become grittier after watching Angela Lee Duckworth’s Ted Talk and reading Paul Tough’s book How Children Succeed. Our Montana Behavioral Initiative (MBI) team was inspired during our summer MBI training to share these traits school wide. I am so proud of this team as they have worked tirelessly to increase positive behavioral interventions and support!

Thank you Hedges Team!

FullSizeRender 25As I reflect on this school year, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the Hedges Team! Thank you for your perseverance, commitment, and collaboration to support our students to achieve high levels of learning. My appreciation for our Hedges Community comes from three perspectives as I have had the opportunity to be a member of this team as a classroom teacher, a parent, and as the principal.

Today my heart is heavy to know my youngest child will spend her last school day at Hedges as an elementary student. While at the same time, I am confident that she is academically and socially prepared for the journey to middle school and beyond. As a teacher, a mom, and an administrator, I thank each of you for individualizing each student’s academic experience and for guiding all of our students to view a growth mindset to continue to achieve increased success! I am deeply grateful to be a member of a team who works together with a respect for each other’s educational knowledge and experience. Our students are incredibly prepared for the next school year because of the time each of you took to develop relationships to know and understand how each of our students learn.

Thank you for your laser like focus and relentless efforts to support our mission and vision:

Learning For ALL…No Excuses, No Limits!

Our vision is to foster and maintain contagiously positive, collaborative, and mission-focused relationships. Together, we guide, support, and encourage ALL students to reach high levels of learning and individualized success.

Enjoy a well deserved and rejuvenating summer! I am looking forward to beginning another successful 2015-2016 school year on August 31st. 🙂

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The Miracle of Our Minds

I am inspired by the powerful messages shared in the video below.  This was the first email I read this morning as a Top Story: Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maier.

As I reflect on what is shared, I am empowered by the opportunities we have to team together and collaborate to lead our students’ towards increased success.  At Hedges School, we think about the problems we have differently… an opportunity to learn. We are committed to finding positive solutions to the challenges we face.  It takes a team and I am grateful for ours!

High Trust Leadership: A Postive Paradigm Shift

Last week I had the opportunity to attend Denny McLoughlin’s High Trust Leadership training.  To say the least, the two days were entertaining, inspiring, and motivating… a positive paradigm shift. There were so many concepts taught and lessons learned that I will have to attend the training again to retain it all.  Below are just a few thoughts that have resonated with my leadership as a parent and as an elementary principal.

  • Everyone is motivated by their own ARFF
    • Achievement
    • Respect
    • Fun
    • Freedom
  • Students always come into school with success
  • Every time a student makes a mistake, we have the opportunity to teach…not punish
  • Teach students how to talk to each other
  • Modeling is teaching; telling is zero
  • Questions develop thinking; telling does nothing
  • Kids are on their way to more success
  • We have to choose to be positive and choose to go to solution
  • Healthy people go to solution, unhealthy people go to the problem
  • Put your energy and focus into the solution

This training was timely as our school is working on our vision statement.  We are still in the draft stage; however, I believe we are on the right path:

Our vision is to be a contagiously positive, collaborative, and mission-focused environment that engages in staff, student, and family relationships.  Together we uniquely lead all students to achieve high levels of learning beyond expectations.

“If you don’t h…

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” John Wooden #SAVMP

I tweeted this quote last week and for the first time, I had one of my tweets retweeted!!! As I reflected on why it was retweeted and selected as a favorite for some, I believe that so many of us struggle with how we use our time.  This week George Couros shared his beliefs on time management in schools:

  1. If it is important (priority), you will make time for it.
  2. You should never look at doing more, but doing things better.
  3. For every thing you are willing to “add” to your plate, you need to take something off.

As I journey through my first year as a principal, I have quickly realized that my relationships with teachers, students, and parents are my first priority. My time has to be spent building these relationships. However, I struggle with how to manage all of the information coming in and all the information that needs to be shared.  I have found that this time of day, the 6am hour, is a wonderful time to catch up with paperwork, research, and emails. When I start early, my time can be spent out of my office and in the classrooms, in the hallways, on the playgrounds, and meeting with parents.

Yesterday I spent a significant amount of my time talking with parents. Although some of the conversations may have presented challenging situations, I felt refreshed.  I could feel relationships building because I took the time to listen and they felt heard. We have amazing parents at our school and I look forward to my time with each of them!

My next adventure is to determine #3…what do I take off of my plate?

Building Trust…one day at a time #SAVMP

As a doctoral student, I have had the opportunity to begin to research the relationship between teacher trust and academic optimism.

“A school with academic optimism has a faculty that collectively believes it can make difference, all students can learn, and high academic performance can be achieved” (Hoy, 2012, p. 85).

This opportunity was empowering as the research was completed with a team of teachers, administrators, and academic coaches throughout the state of Montana. Each of us having a variety of prior teaching and leadership experiences, we focused on one question:

“What are the underlying dispositions/traits/factors of teachers who seem to have maintained academic optimism?”

Focusing on trust, we conducted a survey which included seventy-two teacher participants and a focus group of eleven teachers. One of the most important themes revealed to me was the need for collective trust with faculty and with students’ families.  As I begin the school year as a new principal, I rely on what I have experienced as a teacher, researched, and learned from mentors …teachers maintain academic optimism when there are opportunities for them to collaborate with other teachers and to communicate often with parents. With this in mind, to develop collective trust, I will:

1. Consistently provide time for teachers to collaborate within the school day.

2. Keep communication with parents current.

3. Listen and take time to build relationships.

This video helped me to reflect on the importance of our relationships with students: http://youtu.be/SFnMTHhKdkw.