Sunday, July 7, 2019

What's Next

Ever since I shared that I would be moving to Greensboro, NC, the number one question I get is "what's next"? A logical question for sure, and one that I will try to explain below.

First, a little history leading up to this. For the past 15 years, I have based most of my life decisions on professional opportunities. I have moved to different cities and taken different jobs based on amazing opportunities that have presented themselves. I have no regrets on any of them and I am proud to have been able to work in several sectors of education.

The one thing I have sacrificed the most, however, is my personal life. My family. My wife has been a trooper as we have moved to different places so she can support my dreams, even finding ways to make her dreams work within that. I have two children as well who have never gotten to play on a sports team or go to an after school activity because mommy and daddy were too busy.

Flash forward to this year and I had to make a difficult decision to leave a school that I was leading and in love with. I loved the teachers, students, and families at Moore. We did many incredible things in two short years. I think back with only fond memories.

I decided that it was my chance to support my family as they are now able to fulfill their dreams. My wife landed an amazing job as a pediatrician and my boys will be able to start sports and activities in the fall with me on the sidelines.

As for me, since many have asked, I'm keeping my options open. I will not be jumping back into a principalship right away. It is a job that requires the right mindset and right now I would not have that. I do plan on occasionally traveling to continue professional development opportunities that I have not had a chance to do as much the past couple years. And, of course, you'll see me at places like Ron Clark Academy, Get Your Teach On, and Get Your Lead On. I will also be working on projects with friends. It is exciting to be able to work on my terms and schedule for a while. I absolutely see myself back in a school in some capacity in the future, but I want to make sure I find the right fit and opportunity.

I appreciate all of the kind words and thoughts from people over the past month. It's been a blessing knowing that people are out there cheering you on.

So that may not answer every question about "what's next" but when I figure it out I'll let y'all know :)

Monday, May 27, 2019

Ambassador Program

I recently posted a video with one of my 5th grade Ambassadors doing a Greeter training (click link to see the video). This prompted a lot of questions about Ambassadors, Greeters, and how I set this all up. For all those wondering, here you go!

What are Ambassadors?

Ambassadors are a special group of my 5th graders who are expected to be representatives of my school. They conduct tours for guests, attend community events, attend district recruitment events, and partake in other events that require representation.

How do you become an Ambassador?

At the end of their 4th grade year, interested students have a week to apply for the position. The application is simple: obtain signatures from their homeroom teacher and three of their specials teachers (art, music, PE, etc.) and write an essay on why they believe they would be a good Ambassador. Based on the completed applications, my leadership team selects the top 15-20 to interview. For their interview, the student meets with my leadership team and is asked a series of questions (e.g. Tell us about your greatest strengths that would make you a good Ambassador. What is your favorite part of Moore and why?). We are not so much concerned about what they say, but how they think quickly on their feet, remain calm under pressure, and speak clearly and fluently. After the sit-down interview, the student does a mock tour down the hallway with members of the leadership team, explaining the school to the best of their ability in a short amount of time. Again, we're not concerned as much about what they say as we are in how they hold themselves, speaking voice, remaining calm, etc. In the end, 6-8 Ambassadors will be chosen.

How do you train Ambassadors?

Ambassadors begin training at the end of their 4th grade year. They begin learning the way to greet guests, talk about the school, differentiate their conversations depending on who is in the building, and building confidence in their skills. Much of this is modeled at first by the outgoing 5th grade Ambassadors, who also do one-on-one training with the newly inducted Ambassadors. During the summer, I bring in the Ambassador for at least two or three "boot camp" training sessions, where we dig in deeper and begin the real tough training. I admit, I fuss a lot at these sessions because the Ambassadors are the face of the school, and I need to ensure that they are top notch. Once the school year starts, training continues for several weeks with intense scenario role plays. All of the training is based on a system I created called S.P.E.C.I.A.L. You can read more about it here

What are Greeters?

In addition to my Ambassadors, every K-5 classroom in my school has two important jobs: classroom greeter and hallway greeter. The classroom greeter is an assigned classroom job where anytime a person walks into a classroom (administrator, school guest, parent, etc.), that student walks over to that person, shakes their hand, and greets them. The greeting usually goes along the lines of "Good morning, my name is _______. Welcome to Ms. ______'s room. Today we are doing _______. It was nice to meet you." The hallway greeter has the same idea, but is done in the hallway. A pre-assigned student approaches a guest or administrator in the hall, and greets the person. You can see a video about Greeters from a local news station here.

What is the secret to successful implementation?

Solid training and constant feedback is necessary in order to make this program successful. If teachers are not bought in and held accountable, and administration is not firmly behind the implementation, then this will not work. It is best when consistent messages and modeling are heard and experienced.   

Need help making this happen?

I am currently booking professional developments for the fall. If you need help bringing this to your school, you can contact me here.

Also, check out Abe Hege and my book, The Limitless School, which is all about building positive school culture. It has an entire chapter on making positive first impressions within your school!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

What Keeps Me Up At Night

Excitement from an awesome day
Conversations I had to say.
News that elated the entire school
News that simply added fuel.

An angry moment
A sad encounter
A scary situation
A meaningful dedication.

The child who just did the unthinkable
Everyone who expects me to be reachable.
Praises from strangers far and wide
Critiques that are painfully justified.

The teacher who has had enough
The teacher who is merciful and tough.
A wall that separates forty students
You hope both act with deliberate prudence.

An upcoming meeting
A ceremonious greeting
A lesson to teach
A presentation to preach.

Social media to manage
An image to uphold
Watching every word
While still finding lines to blur.

A constant array of echoing voices
Sifting through the limitless choices
Identifying those you trust most
Reflecting on words that keep you engrossed.

THIS is what keeps me up at night.