Sunday, November 3, 2013

Surviving the first months in educational leadership

Hi Everyone,
It has been a busy school year. I have been absent from the blogging world for quite a while. I have taken the plunge into leadership and taken on a new role. I left my safety net of my school district where I spent years honing my craft as an educator. While I won't disclose my new location of where I work, but I will just say that I have walked into a job and I was completely naive about what I thought the role of an administrator was. I knew I was going to have to make tough decisions, but I never thought I was going to be in a position where I was making tough decisions every second of every single day of my day. I knew the hours were going to be long, but I didn't know they were going to be this long. I went from working 12 hours a day once a week, to working 12-15 hours daily. I have cried tears of sadness, angst, and jumped for joy all in the same day. I don't even know where to begin?

I am learning the value of mentors. I am so incredibly lucky that I have been able to pick up the phone and call mentors who walk this life and have the experience that I am learning. One thing that I have learned is that I am finding my own way. I am finding ways that works for me. I want to try to get to the root of problems, not just brush the problem away by a consequence.

Partnership is so important. I have an amazing partnership with my other admin team. They are my rocks! I couldn't do this job without their support and help!

What have I learned in the last few months:
1. You think you know what to expect, but it is never as it seems
2. Everyday is completely different
3. Rest up over the summer, you will need it once school starts
4. There are decisions that you make daily that people will not like or even respect. How you handle their criticism is how others will judge your character
5. You are always on display, so remember to be positive and encouraging

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What do you stand for?

Dear Educator Beat Readers,
Many apologies as it has been almost two months since my last blog post! Time has gotten away from me these last few weeks. As many educators out there know, the spring is always riddled with parent meetings, annual reviews, last minute evaluations, and much, much more. For me, this spring has been one of inner turmoil. I have seen some of the best educators left feeling disheartened (including myself) at the new teacher evaluation system. Earlier this week, I actually saw a very brave and passionate educator announce her resignation from her teaching position on You Tube! All of my conversations over the last month and watching the You Tube video, have made me sad. I too, have seen over the course of my years as an educator seen the shift from positive, school climates to school climates that are cold and robotic. It saddens me as I went into education thinking that I would be able to make a difference.

What I realized through all of this, is that I still CAN make a difference. However, it is not as a teacher. It is as an administrator. Administration?? Are you crazy? might be the response that you are thinking as you read this. But I have been doing some soul searching and surrounding myself with some very positive and insightful educators. I realized that my classroom has changed. Don't get me wrong, I love teaching students! I love the smiles they have when they walk into my classroom, the amazement in their eyes when they grasp that hard to reach concept.  With that all that being said, there is something missing to me. I love working with other teachers, helping to develop amazing lessons, problem solving for kids, collecting data and analyzing it,  and making lifelong connections with families.  I love the amazing collegiality that I have formed with many of my colleagues. I realized that at the core of my being, there are three things I stand for as a future administrator:

  • Educating the Whole Child
  • Engagement of staff/colleagues and children
  • Creating a community of care and well-being

I realized that I am proud to continue to be an educator and no matter what happens, I will always stand up for the underdog. I will keep fighting the fight through unfair judgements, unfair business decisions, and budget cuts! I will continue to fight for kids and be the voice to advocate for relevant professional development, heartfelt relationships among staff,  and taking care of one another. I don't ever want to be the educator that is bitter and show it to my colleagues. What do you stand for? Have you made a promise to yourself? It's never too late to think about what you stand for?

I included a couple different inspiring videos that I like to watch when I feel the need to get inspired!
Another one of my favorites! Kid President!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring has sprung, time for a sale!

Spring is in the air and its a perfect time for a sale. Take a look at my teacher pay teacher store front!

Positive behavior cash, response to intervention forms, and special education articulation forms are just a few of the items for sale. I have included everything in my store at 10% off.
Pass the word and leave some comments if you would like!

Happy shopping. Sale is on until April 9th, so shop early!
Have a great week!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hungry? Food for thought, literally!

Spring has officially come and being on spring break has already got me thinking about summer. With summer coming, it provided inspiration to be mindful about health and nutrition. Now maybe some already have resolutions to get healthier and move more. This includes me! However, one issue that I have been recently discussing with my best girlfriend was the state of children's diets and how it affects them in school. I have been pondering this topic for a long time and finally decided to write on it. I have been teaching for 12+ years and I have seen first hand how a child's diet can impact their learning potential.
It is no joke as many of us are working parents and don't have the time some days to use the bathroom let alone pack a healthy lunch for our children. The truth of the matter is that children who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to be involved and available to learn. Having pop tarts in the backseat may be an easy option for kids but the nutritional value of a pop tart leaves a whole lot to be desired. The amount of sugar will spike the energy level, but the child will crash hard and that may even be before 8am and they still have 3.5 hours until lunch.
Attention deficit disorder is one of the mot common things I hear as a school teacher. What many adults  may not know is that a child's diet can impact and contribute to the disorder wreaking havoc within a child. I am not a doctor and what I write here is based on my experience as an educator, not with medical research. Kids who drink water, low-sugar, natural drinks and have a diet that is rich in whole-grains, fruit, and vegetables tend to be more alert and engaged in school. Children who eat processed foods that are high in sugar and fat tend to be more lethargic in class and less engaged.
Are you an informed consumer? I ask this question out of a place of caring and well-being. I try not to judge others and everyone has their own individual story to tell. Over the years, I have had hundreds of children pass through my classroom door and I can tell the children who eat a well-balanced diet from those who don't. I can tell by the child's behavior, attention, and overall engagement in class. I can tell by their body size and activity level. That is even before the child open's up and contributes in class. Now, I don't boast ever about being perfect and I work 12-14 hours a day, commute 45 minutes each way to work and run in the rat race like other busy mom's and dad's. My house is not the best furnished or the largest, but it might be the best stocked in whole grains, fruits, and vegetable. Now don't get me wrong, I have my fair share of chocolate, jelly beans, and ice cream, but the treats are rationed and we take each day as it comes, one day at a time.
When I asked the question, are you an informed consumer, I want to know, do you take time to make a grocery list? Are you looking at labels and making sure you can actually read and pronounce the words that make up the food you are eating? Are the first few ingredients corn syrup, high fructose, sugar, or enriched white four? If so, you might consider putting it back on the shelf and opting for the organic brand. My best girlfriend once said to me, "Randee, it's ok to have Mac and Cheese, just buy the organic kind!" Now, you might be saying to yourself, "organic, shmorganic! It's all hype and it is way too expensive!" Well, yes you might be paying more for organic but here is my rule that I try to live by. It the produce is grown in it's own skin and I don't eat the skin, then I buy non-organic and use a veggie wash. If I eat the skin (strawberries, blackberries, etc) then I buy organic. When I can't get organic, I make sure to use a veggie wash. Also, grocery chains are getting back into the game and realizing that consumers are wanting and expecting more. Food grocery chain Aldi, has even started to come out with a few items that are organic and more healthful. Almond and Soy Milk, Organic cereal, and a couple organic pastas have made their way to the shelves at my local stores. Trader Joes is another fantastic chain that has global foods at great prices. If you are in the Chicagoland area, Mariano's is another fantastic store. Fresh produce, meats, deli, and a fantastic bakery to boot! Their prices are very reasonable and you can't beat the quality.
Now, you might be thinking that this educator has gone off the deep end here, what does this blog post have to do with education? Well, I believe that health and nutrition absolutely effects the state of education. As adults we know that if we don't eat well or sleep 7-9 hours a night, our work performance suffers. We are tired, irritable, and often times tend to reach for the comfort food to help us get through the work day. Kids are the same way! They are tired, listless, and cranky when they don't get the proper nutrition. Their brains don't function as well and they are not available to learn! I see the lunches that are packed and it amazes me the processed, high carb, high fat lunches that are sent in. This doesn't include the corn syrup-laden juices and energy-boost drinks that are packed everyday!
When students come back from lunch, they are at a high. They have had 40 minutes to laugh, engage in conversation, and refuel their bodies. Shortly after lunch, the food coma tends to kick in and students can start to be sluggish and tired. Kids who have had proper nutrition are more likely to stay engaged in the classroom versus my student friends who have had processed foods rich in orange cheese powder and patties of beef that are warmed in baggies.
One of my good friends who shares in the same belief of wholesome, nutritious foods, inspired me recently to have a family creed. I saw a very smart family poster in her home and it inspired me to come up with with a few simple rules to live by in my home:
The Educator Beat Family Creed
5. Be Respectful of everyone
4. Follow directions that adults give
3. Hugs and kisses are always welcomed
2. Be open and honest with each other
1. Make healthy choices daily (food, sleep, and behavior)

Wrapping  up this week's blog post, I am challenging my readers to share what they are doing to help their families live a healthier lifestyle? I would love to hear from you. Are you eating dinner together, turning off the TV at meal times, walking more, cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer, turning off the video games? As always, be kind to yourself, your family, and your students.
Keep in touch and until next time, be well!

After I published this, I came upon this article and thought I would pass along. Making informed choices are key! The Truth about Wal-Mart

Saturday, March 16, 2013

RIFTED! It's that time of year again!

Spring is in the air and instead of winter going out like a lion, it is here to stay! This week has been a crazy week and trying to stay sane in an understatement. The topic of this week's blog has to do with the dreaded RIF (Reduction in force) notices that are starting to litter the mailboxes of staff. Every year, school districts have to take a look at their numbers of staff and figure out who is going to make the cut and who isn't. It is a stressful time for many new teachers who are at the bottom of the chain. Not only is it stressful for new teachers, it is stressful for administrators. It is not the type of news that is easily delivered especially when it comes to telling someone that their services are no longer needed for the following school year.

So what do you do when you get that notice that you have been rifted? Well, if you have been a reader of The Educator Beat, you should already have your copy of Competency Based Resumes ready to go and your updated resume should already be completed. However, if you are new to this site, you may want to check out the book Competency Based Resumes and start revamping your resume. The Next step would be to visit my blog archive and scroll down to my blog post, Graduation, Now what!  That will outline some very helpful information about how to handle the interview process again. Now, I have had some questions about letters of recommendation or what can supervisors say about you to a future employer. The truth of the matter is that if you don't expect the person to speak highly of you, don't put them down as a reference. A letter of recommendation is like your passport. You want it to gently roll through the pages and showcase your experience in a positive light. Future employers want to hear from your supervisors and colleagues, but don't forget to include a parent letter, if you have one. Always make sure you have at least three very qualified references that can speak to your work ethic, personal qualifications, and your personality. After all, this is about putting your best foot forward!

Just because you were rifted doesn't mean it is the end of the world. It is very common unfortunately. Most of us in the field have been through it ourselves. The key thing to remember is that if you did a fantastic job in your current position, you will have no worries when landing your new position. If your work was somewhat questionable, than you may have something to worry about.

So remember to keep your chin up, keep talking to others, and networking. It will happen and before you know it, you will be getting ready for the first days of school come August!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Educator Beat

Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth -

Welcome to The Educator Beat

I decided to create a special education teacher support group. I goal is to provide a place where educators who work with and teach special education students can come together to support, network, and provide guidance for those in need. Special education laws and policies may continue to change, but the one thing that doesn’t is the love that educators have for helping children to move forward! 
I hope you will check out the group and respond to the questions regarding how reevaluations, initial evaluations, and mentor training are done in your school district.
Look for the group on LinkedIn..
Search SPED Teacher Support: A professional, positive, networking group dedicated to promoting positive mentors,leadership, and advice for all teachers who dedicate their careers to teaching students with special needs.
What is this web site? What makes this blog different from every other site?
To start off, this blog is solely dedicated to educators! 
My number one goal is to promote positive support, help, and guidance to educators across the electronic waves. 
The second goal is to blog about issues and trends that I have been seeing and bring about conversations for the greater good. 
My third goal is to be able to help students! How is that possible on a web site? Well, my thought is simple. Educators+current tips and trends=student success!

Will this blog be perfect? No, nothing ever is.  Will I make blunders or perhaps put up information that may upset readers? Possibly.  Is it the goal to upset readers?  NO! The purpose is to shed light on issues or news that is going on, either positive or negative. Sparking conversations, sharing tips of the trade, and highlighting positive mentorship in the field. 

Have news or tips that you would like to share for the good of all? Do you like what you see?  email me and let me know! Share this web site with your friends and pass the word!  

Have critical thoughts or news to share about education for the good of all? Email me and let me know! All I ask is that you apply the rule of kindness and let me know your constructive criticism in a thoughtful way that will benefit all those reading! Have links that you want to see posted? 
Know of Teacher or Public Sector discounts?
Have tips or advice for students or educators of all age groups?
Email me your links and some background information to share with others!
Follow me on twitter: @educator_beat