Thursday, November 8, 2012

APB for the love of learning

The question is never too far from my heart and lips.  My mind searches for solutions more often than not. However, a few specific events occurred yesterday that again brought the age-old question up yet again.

Where has the love of learning gone?

At faculty meeting, the 11th-12th grade teachers met to have an open discussion regarding best practices and concerns. Overwhelmingly, the teachers felt defeated and exhausted. They desire to teach and build relationships with the students, but the apathy and lack of concern for things academic zap all their energy. While a few teachers and I attempted to suggest ways to deal with these situations, I still left the meeting frustrated. How can educators reignite the fire for learning when it seems to be completely burnt out?

While these thoughts are stirring in my head, I had several conversations with my 7-year-old daughter. We have had a number of discussions this week about voting and she even made up a "voting game" where all family members need to vote on favorite colors, favorite food, etc. She not only listened to my explanation of the voting process, but she practiced it to see what it was like.

Mackenzie lost a tooth last night. Before going to bed, she set her tooth in a spot on her dresser for the tooth fairy. About 15 minutes after we put her to bed, she was at the top of the steps asking how to spell "fairy" so she could write a note to the tooth fairy. When I went to her room later to check it out, there were 12 questions for the tooth fairy to answer including "what do you do with all our teeth?" and "Can you come to my class?". There were 12 spots listed for the answers and the pencil left right next to the note for ease of use. It wasn't enough for the tooth fairy to simply visit. Mackenzie's curiosity and desire to learn allowed her to investigate and she was lucky enough to get answers.

With these situations occurring within 24 hours, they each meshed in my head to create one question: What occurs that the 17-year-old has lost the curiosity that once existed when he/she was 7?

I do not have the answers, but am filled with more questions. Is America's schooling system promoting the downfall of the love of learning by making each student fit in a predetermined box? Do elements like the Common Core aid or deplete the curiosity in our students in all grades? What can teachers do to rekindle that flame that once existed?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On the lookout: PD is everywhere!

As an educator, I like to go through my normal life seeing opportunities to learn and grow in my profession. I find Professional Development opportunities everywhere. Let me give you today's example:

I began attending a Spin class at my local gym at 5:45am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I am not at all the epitome of health, but I am striving to get more healthy and this type of exercise is fun for me. Not only are the frequent members fun to be with, but the instructor, Mary, is a wonderful encouragement.

Watching Mary teach the class this morning reminded me of several qualities needed in a great teacher.

Mary takes the times to build relationships. She knows those of us who are "regulars" and also takes time to get to know each newbie as well. It is more than just knowing our names. I often encounter Mary asking others about their ill family members, their jobs, or their children. These relationships grow over time as they would in the classroom.

Each member of the class is at a different level physically, so Mary differentiates her instruction. This is done in several ways. She offers to assist new members adjust the height of their seat and handlebars, she gives a range of gears so some can cycle with less resistance, and she will often say "if you need to slow things down, go ahead." While pushing us to our physical limit, Mary also reminds us of "proper form" - the basics of cycling. All of these are ways that both newbies and "regulars" are taught and led. When I encounter my students, I need to remember that they all learn differently and are at various levels in their learning. I need to differentiate my instruction to meet their needs.

One element necessary in an exercise class is encouragement. So often we beat up ourselves when we don't feel like we can go any longer. We find other projects to steal our workout time. Mary is consistently encouraging us that we are "worth the effort" and to not "cheat ourselves" by giving up. She not only encourages, but I truly think she believes in each one of us. Each student in my classroom needs encouragement and for me to believe in them and their abilities.

Lastly, Mary presents herself as a participant, not as the expert. Obviously in an exercise class, the instructor participates, but Mary goes above and beyond saying things like "We'll get there together!" If a new person is struggling she empathizes and lets them know she understands and has felt like that in the past. This is a wonderful reminder for teachers to be a life-long learner participating in the process. 

As you go throughout your day, be on the lookout for opportunities to learn and become a better teacher. These experiences are everywhere - maybe even in your daily routine.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Collaborate with grade level teachers

This past Wednesday, we devoted our faculty meeting time to 7th-8th grade teachers.  I e-mailed them prior to the meeting with some questions to consider leading up to the discussion including classroom management techniques, technology integration, and topics we could collaborate on with various disciplines. The discussion went quite well considering it was our first time doing something like this. One goal we had was to keep the discussion focused on the grade levels in general rather than individual students. We certainly didn't want it to become a gripe session.

One excellent discussion topic focused on the need for more critical thinking activities in the middle school. While understanding this is a difficult task, we all admitted it is a serious need as we train our students for high school and beyond. This type of discussion could have been lectured to the teachers or sent in a hasty e-mail. However, by bringing it up in discussion, the ownership of adding critical thinking turned from administration to the teachers. That ownership will assist the teachers as they endeavor to enhance their classes.

Fellow administrators, I encourage this interaction with a group of teachers whether broken up by department, grade level, or teams. We are planning 9th-10th grade and 11th-12th grade meetings in the coming weeks. If you embark on this, let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

No office day??

My leadership style as a vice principal has always been to be out in the hallways, classrooms, and cafeteria. I am in this role in education because I love teachers and students so I strongly desire to spend my whole day with them.

Now that I've been in school for 10 days, my desk and office space feel very neglected and it shows. Walking in my office you will be greated by piles of paperwork that haven't been touched and instead has been tossed on the desk to "deal with later". With the implementation of an iPad, I am successful in replying to e-mails in a timely fashion as I walk from one classroom to the next. However, due to the paperwork issue, I am beginning to feel the stress.

My solution? I have made an appointment on my calendar this afternoon with myself and my office. My secretary is able to see my calendar as well so I entitled it "locking myself in this office to find my desk.... shhhhh....." For that hour, my door will be locked, blinds closed, and I will not answer the phone or e-mail while I deal with the piles. I need to view this as a one hour chore that needs to get tackled so I can spend the bulk of my time out and about in the school environment.

Fellow administrators who share my philosophy of getting out of your office, do you have any helpful tips regarding getting this paperwork done? I'd love to learn from you!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What's In A Name?

I hope I am not the only administrator who goes through this. I work with the same students for 180 days, we experience a 10 week summer vacation, and all of a sudden I forget a ton of names. At Open House before this school year started, I was assisting at the check-in table. Students assumed I would remember who they were, but I often forgot or confused one student with another.

Now we are "back in the swing of things" completing day 5 of school. I am working actively to recover my memory of student names. Here are some of my strategies:

1. Introduce myself to new students. I am already familiar with their names so it is simply a matter of connecting the names with faces at this point.

2. In between classes, I am in the hallways. As students pass me, it is like a game of mental gymnastics reminding myself silently of their names. When I find one I can't recall, I refer to last year's yearbook to refresh my memory.

3. I try to greet (by name) as many students as I can throughout the day.This allows the students to know I'm making an attempt.

I was incredibly encouraged this week when a new 7th grader overheard me greeting students and said "Wow. You really know a lot of people."

Why would I focus on this and encourage other school administrators to do the same? Using a student's name indicates that I care enough to know who they are. The name is the first step toward a positive relationship with each student and I look forward to truly knowing as many students as possible.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Week 1 in Review

Our students began classes on Wednesday. I already feel like we never left in June as we are back in full swing.  One of my personal missions this year is to do a little reflection every Friday evening on the good, bad, and ugly from the past week.

I spent a total of 3 hours in my office over the past 3 school days. This is certainly a victory. The addition of an iPad and new wifi access throughout the school building allow me to get e-mails and other communications done while on the go. I was able to visit classrooms, step into the hallway and answer a few e-mails, and then jump into another classroom.

My AP English students will keep me on my toes even more this year. This is the second year I'm back in the classroom once a day to teach AP. I love the interaction and ability to remember what it is to be a teacher. This year's class is very different from last year's (whom I loved dearly) and it is already quite evident that I will be challenged with stepping up my game this year. I view this as a positive experience for me personally as well as professionally.

A veteran staff is a HUGE blessing.   For the first time in a number of years, we have a stable staff. The only new teacher is a long-term sub filling in for a veteran on maternity leave. Working with an experienced staff who already know the school inside and out causes the beginning of the year to be smooth sailing. Last year I was anxiously roaming from one classroom to the next checking on our six new teachers. This year, every room I step into feels like a well-oiled machine.

Calm spirits and creativity are vital tools for every situation. As with any school, situations have come up already that seem "impossible". Classes of 30 students learning geometry in the auditorium, books mistakenly not ordered over the summer, laptops needing a last-minute update from IT, new iPads in an English class, buses from 14 districts attempting to transport our students to and from school. Each situation requires me to remain calm and use the creative problem solving I've practiced time and time again over the past five years in administration. Are all situations worked out? No, but we are making progress.

It's never too early to get some rest. Yes, it is only the end of day three with students, yet I have found myself going to bed by 9:30 or 10:00 and don't apologize for it. There were still tasks to be accomplished, but I value my rest. Rather than spend this entire weekend lesson planning and working, I am going to a spiritual conference tomorrow to rejuvenate myself. I have realized I need to take care of me!!!

How was your first (or second or third) week?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

As a mom and an educator, I believe September begins the ultimate "most wonderful time of the year"!

I love the idea of a clean slate for teacher and student alike. I enter each year energized after a summer break. I also come back with many ideas I've learned from my Personal Learning Network (PLN) over the summer.
 So, as I begin school with the students this week, I am reminded of my own goals.

1. Focus on relationships. I need to spend time with teachers and students hearing what is working well and what needs to be improved. Some specific ways I propose to do this include eating lunch in the cafeteria with students on Mondays, eating lunch in the teacher's lounge on Tuesdays, and being in the hallways and classrooms as much as possible.

2. Concentrate on communication. I began a weekly blog for our teachers to relay upcoming events on the calendar, reminders, and tips. It is very basic but I trust that will encourage everyone to hang in there with me and read it weekly. I will update it and e-mail a link each Sunday night/Monday morning. This constant communication is important and I love the ability to expose the teachers to blogging and various other tips which are bound to come from my PLN.

3. Balance. I often struggle with balance. I try to be 100% mom, 100% wife, 100% teacher, and 100% vice principal. That adds up to a disaster and most times results in a downturn in my health. I can place great effort towards each of my roles, but I cannot do everything. There needs to be a balance that also includes caring for myself and my health. I plan to continue with visiting the gym three times per week, eating healthy, finding time to relax, and focusing on having fun. When I am healthy and happy, I will succeed much more in all areas of responsibility.

When I look at these goals, I am struck that none of these are necessarily "educational goals". But when you consider my motto of "Students First, Teachers Second", these make sense. I need to develop relationships with these special people, communicate often, and keep myself healthy and balanced so I can meet their needs.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

It's About Connections

My job situation is unique - I understand. I work as a teacher/vice principal at a private Christian high school. The entire environment is one of trust, love, and friendship. Teachers, administration, and students are connected much more like family than other schools. I love that aspect. This weekend I've had a few reminders that this connection is what my job is all about.

While quickly stopping at the mall on Saturday, I passed by a perfume store (you know the ones hardly anyone enters) and continued on to my store of choice. On my way back past that perfume store, the store clerk, a former student, was standing outside waiting for me. She saw me pass by the first time and was awaiting my return to say hello. Obviously she could have ignored my presence, but she came out to greet me and we took a few moments to catch up.

Today I had the honor of attending a bridal shower of a former student who I now call a friend. She has gone off to college, graduated, and will soon be married. What a privilege to keep communication with former students who know I care. If we had not made the connection while she was in high school, I would miss out on watching her (and many others with whom I communicate) mature and move on to new phases of life.

As the 2012-2013 school year begins, I walk into it remembering that the most important element is the student body -- and I need to build connections with them. As I get to know them and love them, they will realize I care. Our job does not solely revolve around academics, but it must focus also on the relational aspect. What a privilege.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Reminders as I begin

Today was my first day back in the building full time. The teachers join in the fun officially next week (although many are in organizing and decorating now), and the star players in this place - the students - start on September 5th. I can't wait for the buzz of laughter and excitement in the hallways again. It is dreadfully boring to work in a school during the summer.

So now that I am officially back, I am beginning to put rubber to the road. I need to step out of this theory and philosophy discussion of connected education and move into the practical ways I will use this with my faculty, staff, and students.  With this clean slate and a full bag of thoughts, I am reminded of several truths:

1. Baby steps. I love this quote by Joe Girard, the World's Greatest Salesman: "The elevator to success is out of order. You'll have to use the step at a time." I do not need to incorporate a million ways to be connected or use a ton of tools to engage my students. I need to start small - but keep moving, one step and a time, in order to be successful.

2. Focus on the CONNECTEDNESS - not the tools. This applies to both my teachers and students. I am considering some basic ways to encourage teachers to connect and share best practices with one another that do not involve technology at all. We can ease into technology use after we get a conversation started.

3. No man is an island. I am not traveling this road by myself. I met for lunch with two fellow English teachers who have also been on a "connected educator" journey this summer. We shared ideas but also shared fears and frustrations. It is always helpful to know that we are not experiencing any of this alone. Reach out and talk about it -- the good and the bad.

Here I go! I'm stepping out and trying new ideas all with the goal of engaging and encouraging students to become life-long learners. I look forward to June 2013 when I will reflect on the year and see all that has been accomplished if I remember my ultimate goal and the these reminders.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Practical Ways to Be a Connected Educator in the Classroom

Since the beginning of August, I've been attending webinars, bookclubs, online chats, following educators on twitter, etc. in order to become a more connected educator myself. All along, I've wondered how to go from the discussion of importance of being connected to the actual act of becoming connected.

I only teach one class - AP English Literature. The rest of my day I am a Vice Principal handling various administrative duties. I have found myself for the past few years knowing connectedness is important, and 21st century skills are vital for me and my students, but I have made a million excuses as to why I cannot use these tools in my classroom.

This past week I was encouraged by a few interactions I've had with teachers. I've seen how we can actually use these tools. I can no longer make excuses for my personal classroom.

First, there is a 6th grade teacher in my building, Joanna Lieberman, who just recently became a connected educator. Joanna didn't just stay with the theory of connected but actually has begun to implement it for her upcoming class. She will have her 6th graders blog about the various parts of the world they learn about in World Geography class. The blog she created contains various elements that I've been learning about like a word cloud created in Wordle, a Flag Counter to track where website visitors live, and Joanna clearly expresses the requirements of students as they blog. Check it out at I am so excited for her and, more importantly, her students.

Secondly, I attended an online bookclub last night with PLP regarding the book The Connected Educator by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. We started out in a main room with about 70 participants from all over the world to discuss the first chapter of the book. This is a format I am familiar with as I attend webinars and bookchats often. While I receive a ton of information in such a setting, I do not feel the need to raise my virtual hand and speak into the microphone since so many others speak. However, Sheryl then broke us up into small groups of 6-8 teachers to discuss more intimately. I did not have my microphone hooked up and therefore only participated in the smaller discussion via the chat box and my speedy fingers. I felt that I missed out on a major part of the bookclub due to this fact. Afterwards, I began thinking that it would be a wonderful experience to connect my classroom with another somewhere else in the world if I could create that intimate discussion level.

Lastly, I learned from a first grade teacher, Kim. Kim was in my small group during the bookclub chat last night. I don't recall where Kim lives and teaches, but I recall vividly how she contributed and encouraged me. Like me, Kim did not have a microphone, but she shared via the chat box that this past year she had her 1st grade classroom skype with another class in another school. She saw the idea while on twitter and just jumped in to implement it. She often had to use her own personal laptop because the computers at school could not always handle the programs necessary. I began thinking.... if this teacher in 1st grade can hear about an idea on twitter and incorporate it with such young students, I need to be brave enough to simply try a new idea with my 12th graders.

What will I try first? I'm not exactly sure. I believe I will use Edmodo this year in my AP class, but I would also like to find some authors to chat with via skype or other online forums. It is time for the rubber to meet the road and for me to move from theory to practice.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why I am a Life-Long Learner.... Lessons from my Grandmother

It has been over a week since my last post. In that time, I have done a lot of thinking and reflecting.

My grandmother passed away this week at the age of 82. Whenever someone passes from this life, we as humans reflect on life in general. My grandmother had many lessons to teach me - some, I am sure, shaped who I am today.

Janet had a difficult life to say the least. She was born in January 1930 - right in the midst of the Depression. She was given up by her biological mother at 4 months old due to financial struggles. A family adopted Janet, but at the age of 12, she was taken from that home and placed in an orphanage until she returned to live with her biological family again. From the age of 12 until she married at 17, she moved from her mother's home to aunts, uncles, and grandparents who assisted in raising her. This constant relocating obviously had an affect on her education. Janet rarely stayed in the same school for more than a year. In fact, some academic years found Janet studying at four different schools. The learning gaps were great and frustrations must have been high.  At the age of 17, as a junior in high school, facing another move away from a school, Janet chose to drop out of high school. Soon after, she married my grandfather and started a family.

Reasons abounded for my grandmother to be a poorly educated woman. Her life was difficult, her education was sporadic, and she never finished high school. However, the grandmother I knew was a voracious reader, loved writing, and was very intelligent. I saw a love for learning in my grandmother more than many people who have college degrees. In fact, anyone who knew Janet can confirm she was often found with a book in hand, a letter being written to a pen-pal, or the tv on watching Jeopardy (her favorite show).

During Janet's last days of life, I reflected on my own life and excuses I make.

As an educator, I desire to jump into the 21st century of education and learn all I can. I am developing my PLN, attending webinars, and tweeting and blogging. However, I also make excuses regarding how difficult it will be to implement such learning in my classroom. Then I look at Janet. It was difficult for her to learn anything given her environment, yet in her later years she often read 250+ books each year.

I can say connecting with other educators around the globe is a struggle. Then I look at Janet. She has been keeping pen-pals from all over the world for as long as I've known her. They learned from one another regarding lifestyles, habits, locations, and more. She has even visited pen-pals on occasion. Given the ease of twitter, facebook, blogs, and other technology, connecting can be done easily for us today.

I can complain how colleagues have let me down and I no longer want to communicate with them. Then I look at Janet. She forgave everyone who deeply disappointed her during her difficult life - including her biological mother. I need to forgive those who have offended me and move on to learn from them.

Thank you, dearest Mammy, for the lessons you taught. May I continue on this journey to be a better educator, learner and woman because of you!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Inspiration from the Olympics and CE12

"If you only do what you know you can do - you never do very much." - Tom Krause

As I sit on my couch on this Sunday evening, laptop open and tv on, I am inspired. The Olympics are on my television right now... diving, track and field, beach volleyball, gymnastics, and more. What makes these athletes so amazing? They are talented, but even more than that, they have spent years - sometimes entire lifetimes - pushing themselves beyond their known limits. They never "only do what they know they can do". They push themselves to the next level, achieve greatness, and then push themselves some more.

As an educator and a member of an educational administration team, I need to live my life that way. I cannot "only do what I know I can do". That limits me and also limits my ability to inspire others including my teaching staff and my students. I would never expect my students to only do what they already know how to do. The entire concept of education is to learn something new and move to a different level- so why wouldn't I want that for myself? 

But, how can I move forward? What is the next step? One specific tactic (and a way I encourage my teachers) is to connect with other educators. Some have been down the education road more than the rest of us and have great wisdom. Other tackle problems differently and we can benefit from their problem solving skills. Connected Educator Month (#ce12) has allowed me to follow various educators and educational leaders on twitter. What have I received from this connectedness so far? I have about 50 blog posts and articles saved in my Pocket account which I will begin to tackle reading this evening. These will expose me to new ways to get things done, teach more effectively, or at the very least get me thinking about education. I value my Personal Learning Network and hope to grow in a way that will inspire others to move beyond what they already know to achieve greatness.

Friday, August 3, 2012

My Wish for Connected Educator Month

For the past six months, I have actively grown my PLN and followed various great educators who encourage connecting on a daily basis. I suppose I could be considered part of the connected education community.  So, when "Connected Educator Month" (CEM) began, I was excited and anticipating all the wonderful learning I would partake in throughout the month. 

I have spent 7 hours in the past three days in webinars and discussions in association with CEM, plus multiple hours following #ce12 on twitter, but I must say I am somewhat disappointed. I feel the majority of ideas shared so far are focused on the concept of building a PLN or sharing very broad, philosophical information rather than the nuts and bolts of how to utilize much of this in the classroom. This appears to be "preaching to the choir" as those who are tweeting about #ce12 are already somewhat connected. Will teachers connect more after CEM? Sure, its possible. However, wouldn't we be better served by balancing the philosophy discussions with the actions needed to move forward? 

August is not only CEM, but also Laurie Halse Anderson's "Write Fifteen Minutes a Day Challenge" Month. While Laurie Halse Anderson has exhibited amazing writing success, she brings this month of challenges down to the level of the average person with or without writing experience. She encourages all to join in the writing challenge (philosophical), and she also provides down-to-earth writing prompts and ideas to get started (action steps). On yesterday's challenge, the following quote was shared:

“When I start writing, I rarely know what I’m writing about. Am I writing about all of those great abstract nouns that you’ve ever heard about — love, integrity, honor, compassion or whatever? The writer’s job is to take those great abstract nouns and turn them into flesh and blood and bones. Then they are real.”
Harry Crews 

So, Connected Educator Month participants, I encourage you to discuss philosophy but also bring those "great abstract nouns" down to action steps for us. Show us how being connected has helped you specifically. Share a story from your school where having students collaborate improved learning. If you are a Project-Based Teacher, give us specific ways you implement that learning in your classroom and the success you observed. Link us with resources that have meant a lot to you in your classroom experiences. We are already members of "the choir", but we want to improve our craft. It reminds me of the famous Chinese proverb: "Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Give us the philosophy but also teach us HOW to implement that thinking specifically for the most benefit to all. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Advice for New Administrators

As we continue embarking on Connected Educators Month, I would like to take some time to share what I've learned as a school administrator over the past five years.

When I got out of college, I began teaching English to 10th-12th graders at a private Christian high school. After five years of teaching and leading the English department, I was asked to step into a Vice Principal role. My reaction was still from my teacher mind: "Why on earth do they need another administrator? They don't appear to do any work all day!" However, after significant thinking and praying about it, I took the job. Walking into my first year as an administrator filled me with fear. I had no idea what I was doing.

Fast forward five years and I am here to tell you I love my job. Are there difficulties and frustrations? Absolutely!!! Are there times I disagree with decisions made by the administration team? Certainly! However, I have grown immensely both personally and professionally.

If you are stepping into an administrative role this coming school year, allow me to pass on some treasures I've learned over the past five years.

1. Keep the focus in the proper place. Schools are about the students!!! Teachers, staff, and other adults are secondary. All decisions need to be made with the students' needs in mind.

2. Remember what the life of a teacher entails. Don't ever forget the struggles and frustrations as well as the desires you had while you were a teacher. Teachers cannot understand the role of administrators, but an administrator who forgets the life of a teacher becomes ineffective. I enjoy encouraging teachers and motivating them towards growth. This even requires me sometimes to step in and cover lunch duty so a teacher can go make those last minute copies, find upcoming learning opportunities for your teachers and share with them, write an encouraging note, etc.

3. Paperwork and phone calls are a never-ending part of the job of an administrator. However, during the hours that the teachers and students are in the building, try your best to be out of your office. I actually create appointments in my calendar to go to the cafeteria and eat with the students, meet with teachers in the teacher lounge, walk the halls, and visit classrooms. In order to be the best administrator I can be, I need to build these relationships with these interactions. If I am in my office, I have an open door policy where teachers and students alike know they are always welcome to stop in and chat.

4. Be a life-long learner. Not only will this improve your own skills, but it models what we desire for our students and teachers as well. After I entered administration, I went back to school and received my Masters Degree in Educational Administration. I continue to grow by attending various webinars and developing my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I read many books, articles, blog, etc to see what is going on in education beyond my school's walls. This is vital to me personally and professionally.

5. Be ready to apologize. Unless you know something I don't, we are all human and therefore we make mistakes. Our judgement is not always the best. We often have the best intentions, but our actions and reactions can get in the way. I have found that it is best to dismiss the pride and apologize - whether it be to a fellow administrator, teacher, staff person, student, parent, or community member. Be sincere in the apology and watch the relationships heal and grow over time.

Recommended Reading:
I am a prolific reader. Here are some books that have helped develop my leadership abilities as an administrator.

1. What Great Principals Do Differently: 18 Things That Matter Most by Todd Whitaker. (Also follow him on Twitter @ToddWhitaker. He is a great resource for your PLN) A quick read encouraging Principals to be their best and keep proper perspective.

2. If You Don't Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students: Guide to Success for Administrators and Teachers by Neila A. Connors. This book has specific suggestions on how to encourage teachers and keep them positive.If you do, the students benefit.

3. Looking Forward to Monday Mornings: Ideas for Recognition and Appreciation Activities and Fun Things to Do at Work for Educators by Diane Hodges. This also has specific ways to make the work environment more encouraging and fun for the teachers.

Questions for you: If you are already an administrator, what else can you add to assist our new cohorts in the roles in their schools?  If you are entering a role of administrator, what fears do you have? Perhaps we can assist each other along the path.

Add me to your PLN. Twitter: @monicahawk1