Monday Moanin Thoughts #326 Finish Strong!

Wow we did it. We made it to the third Monday Moanin of May 2019. For many of us educators, the month of May signals the school year will be ending soon. With this comes many invitations to focus more on being reactive than proactive. It is a real challenge to focus on good teaching and learning.  As a young teacher, my principal always reminded our staff to be well planned and intentional for the final weeks of school. Read more

Monday Moanin Thoughts #325 The Month Of May Signals The Home Stretch

It is hard to believe that we have reached May, 2019. Happy Monday Moanin to all of you. As I wrote in the last two MMT’s this is the time of year for a renewal and a good cleaning.  This is  also the time of year for many year-end activities that simply put,  are filled with  lots of emotions and distractions. As a result, dealing with the complexities of this time of year can be challenging and some times paralyzing. Let’s simplify our leadership and enhance our effectiveness by focusing on MVP. Let’s break it down: Read more

Monday Moanin Thoughts #324 It’s Time For Spring Cleaning

Happy Easter/Passover Monday Moanin of April 2019.  For most of us in Michigan we have reached the time of year to begin the annual event of spring cleaning. OMG, we hit the 70 degree mark yesterday. It’s finally time to open up the windows and get rid of the cooped up stale winter air and welcome the newness and hope of springtime.  This may  be a perfect time to conduct a professional spring cleaning. It’s time to let go of some things and freshen up and enhance your practice. Use the questions listed below to guide your reflection. They are: Read more

Monday Moanin Thoughts #323 Get Started On Your Spring Renewal

Happy Monday Moanin to all of you. Many of you may be returning from a much needed spring break. While others of you have already started your last quarter of the 2018-19 school year. Wherever you are in the school calendar it is important to realize that these next few days can set the tone for the final stretch of the school year. It is a great time to focus on those actions that lead to a spring cleaning or better yet, a renewal. The final weeks of spring are filled with many distractions: school wide testing, increased field trips, early dismissal for rescheduled athletic contests, and end of the year activities. All of the above  issues may lead to reduced instructional time and increased pressure for teachers to cover the essentials of their curriculum through a  more narrow window.  This is why the spring may feel like the most difficult and challenging part of the year. Listed below are five suggestions that may help finish the year strong and successfully. I encourage you to focus your energy and get to work on your renewal! Read more

Monday Moanin Thoughts #322, Start Working On Your Spring Message 2019

Welcome to the latest Monday Moanin Thoughts. I am just returning from a 2 week visit to Valencia, Spain where our son and his family are living. It was relaxing and wonderful and I did not think about this MMT until we were home a few days. It became clear to me that this is a perfect week to focus on leadership and begin thinking about your spring message. For many, this is a couple of weeks before a well deserved Spring Break. My mentor always encouraged me to write a welcome back message to staff as they return from their break. If you are planning to do the same, consider getting started on it now.  The goal is to validate the hard work and commitment of your staff and set the stage for the final weeks of school. Below are five prompts from leaders they sent to their staffs that set the tone as they began the home stretch to the end of the school year. Consider using these as a prompt for your message.

Read more

Monday Moanin Thoughts #321 Let These Tweets Guide Your Work This Week, Take Action

Happy  Monday Moanin to everyone. To assist you with your work this week, consider focusing on my top five tweets from December 2018-February 2019. All of these had a minimum of 4000 impressions. They will serve you well as you begin the challenging weeks of late February through the tunnel month of March.

Thursday thought from from @ToddWhitaker; “It is the people, not programs, that determine the quality of a school.” #reachout #reinforce #validate

Friday thought from @DavidGeurin; “Be a difference maker…

1. Getup 

2.Dress up

3. Show up

4. Lead up

5. Lift up

6. Never give up

#lead #model

Thursday thought from @SteeleThoughts; “Great teachers don’t always have the best lessons.  But they always have the best relationships with kids.” #connect #respect #lead

Monday thought from @SteeleThoughts; “Great teachers can look past the bad attitude.  They realize there’s always something else going on.” #payattention #respect #SEL

As you plan for next week, be reminded that Monday the nation  honors Dr.King. Let his quote guide your work. Dr. King wrote; “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of education.”

Have a great week and keep finding the good stuff. MMT will return on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2019.


Monday Moanin Thoughts #320 Great Week To Focus On Social Emotional Learning(SEL)

Happy First February 2019 Monday Moanin to all of you. Here in Michigan we have survived last weeks Polar Vortex and are looking forward to a more calm week. Over the weekend I was happy to receive my quarterly book from ASCD. It is titled All Learning is Social and Emotional, by Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher , and Dominique Smith. Through the few chapters I have read it is a book full of important information about learning and a great resource. I want to share some initial highlights and encourage all of us to begin spending some time focusing on the connection between academic and social skills of our learners. The authors define this early in the book. They write;

” In still other circles, worthwhile learning is understood to include mastery of social and emotional skills in addition to academic ones. Proponents of this view of learning-and obviously, we are among them-believe explicit instruction focused on the social and emotional aspects of learning (SEL) will result in improved academic learning.”

Too often the pressures around student performance and achievement as well as the expectations of teachers to deliver on this may cause a growing gap on the relationships between the learner and the teacher. To help close this gap, social skills can be taught and practiced and are critical to the learning and growth of all learners. Skills such as effective communication, teamwork, and empathy to name a few are essential life skills and require attention and focus.

I want to close with two questions to consider focusing on this week. Frey, Fisher, and Smith ask;

“Do students in your school have strong social relationships(with their teachers, with one another, with themselves, and with the school?”

“What communication skills do your students need to develop to improve their relationships with others?”

Have a great discussion and a productive week and keep finding the good stuff.

Monday Moanin Thoughts #319 Improve Your School By Following Dr. King’s Teachings

Happy frigid Michigan January 2019 Monday Moanin to all of you. Today we celebrate the American federal holiday marking his birthday  Let’s honor Dr. King’s memory as we begin our work this week. The following Dr. King quote can help us reflect on the work we are doing in our schools.

” The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of education.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The above quote raises some questions for all us to think about. Reflect on the following questions.

Does your school have high expectations for all learners?

Are there the same opportunities for all learners?

Is critical thinking reinforced in your classrooms? Is it taught?

Is character education a focus in your school?

Is there a culture of acceptance and respect in your school?

Are you serving others in your school community?

As you begin your week, keep the above quote in mind as you reflect on your practice. Consider using one of these questions at your next staff meeting as an opener. It could lead to a very rich discussion on best practice. Have a great week, lead with compassion and keep finding the good stuff.

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that a system which produces beggars needs restructuring.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday Moanin Thoughts #318 What Are You Going To KEEP Doing In 2019?

Welcome to the first Monday and MMT of January, 2019. As you prepare for 2019 consider using a Ken Blanchard suggestion. Blanchard often refers to the following questions; what are you going to start doing, stop doing , and keep doing? Since we are beginning a new year, let’s focus on what you want to keep doing in 2019. Listed below are ten suggestions about what you may want to keep doing in your practice as you begin the week. They are:

Keep paying attention to the needs of your community.

Keep supporting your colleagues.

Keep the learner at the center of all decisions.

Keep working everyday on improving communication.

Keep learning and getting better.

Keep speaking up, your voice is important.

Keep improving your climate and culture.

Keep giving specific positive praise and feedback.

Keep celebrating your successes.

Keep leading with honesty and integrity.

Consider focusing on one of these each week. Have a great start to 2019 and keep finding the good stuff.

Monday Moanin Thoughts #317 4 Holiday Wishes For Schools In 2019

Happy December 2018 Monday Moanin to all of you. We are so close to a well earned Holiday break. For many the first 4 months of the 2018-19 school year has been filled with many challenges and yet it may also feel like it  has flown by.  With 2019 a few weeks away let me share 4 of my doable wishes for the New Year. They are:

Less focus on compliance in classrooms and in offices throughout your school district. Everyones voice is essential to future growth. Encourage the conversations.

Keep principals and teachers in their buildings during the school day. Professional development and training is critical but not at the expense of teachers not in classrooms and principals doing the big picture work of the district and not focusing on leading their building.

Focus more on social emotional learning. Our students are getting more and more anxious. Provide more support and action dealing with this growing challenge.

Improve and enhance communication across the building and district. Work at it everyday. It is essential in providing clarity, direction, and action.

Enjoy your well deserved Holiday break and attack 2019 with a renewed spirit and energy. Keep finding the good stuff.