Thursday, February 18, 2016

1,2,3,4,5 Challenge #bringiton

Thanks, Jeff Kubiak @principalkubiak for bringing the 1,2,3,4,5  challenge my way! So thankful to be connected to so many school leaders who inspire me and challenge me to be better every day!

1. What has been your ONE biggest struggle during this school year?

This year has been both exciting and challenging because our new campus is under construction and scheduled to open with 220 more students in August 2016. It's been awesome to be able to design a school from the beginning and dream up a new space for amazing kids. But planning for a new school and growth has meant working on this year and next simultaneously-- selecting furniture, working on hiring 9 new teachers, bell schedules and more while trying to be present every day at school for kids, families and teachers. I like to be out and about as much as possible and I'm definitely feeling less available and visible than I'd like to be. I'm looking forward to being settled in our new school next year!

2. Share TWO accomplishments that you are proud of from this school year.

In my third year as a principal, I'm finally feeling good about having more balance between school and work. The #struggleisreal. Before becoming a principal I used to run about 25 miles a week. I ran three half marathons and even a marathon. But nothing in the way of balance or fitness until this year. Powered by a school-wide goal to be happy and healthy, (read more about it here) we started 15 minutes of dancing 4 days a week, and have Workout Wednesdays where everyone wears workout gear to school- me, the teachers, everyone! It's been a great change in our school, and I've been able to really focus on being more mindful and balanced myself. I have a fantastic and supportive Work. Life. Balance. group on Voxer who helps me practice this and not feel so alone.  In January I started running again. I've lost 30 pounds. I'm scheduled to run my first half marathon in March since becoming a principal. Becoming more balanced and healthy allows me to bring my best energy to my work and my family.

We start almost every school day with dancing. It's amazing. Kids and teachers spinning, kicking, smiling. Just 15 minutes. But it's been the best change. I love watching the kids (and teachers), and can't believe the difference 15 minutes of physical activity and a positive start to the day has made for kids. It's a rare day that I have a discipline problem. Kids and teachers are happy. And healthy. We are having fun! Isn't that what school's all about?

3. What are THREE things you wish to accomplish before the end of the school year?
  • Hire 9 awesome new teachers for our new school! 
  • Finish writing our Star Academy signature practices so we can share what makes our school special with anyone who asks. We all know what makes our school special, people who visit talk about it, but we don't have it written anywhere. It's going to be important with new staff, families, and kids that we can articulate it. We've chosen three things to define: a Connected School Community, Project Based Learning, and Assessment (of all kinds) to write and develop as a school.
  • Have an ESPN style announcement for our 2016-17 staff. Like this!

4. Give FOUR reasons why you remain in education in today’s rough culture.

One: The kids. They need us to make school awesome! Every day I can't wait to see the kids. Drop off is my favorite!
Dancers at drop off. EVERY DAY!
Two: Amazing educators who inspire me every day! From the hallways at my school to the teachers and school leaders I'm connected to via Voxer and Twitter. I have hope. Many people have big dreams for re-imagining school. I can't wait to see what we can create together!
Three: I love it. I cannot imagine doing anything else. My work is my passion! I have the best job ever! 
Four: People who say it can't be done. A school without textbooks? Let me show you how awesome it can be! First graders with Google accounts? The BEST. YouTube unblocked for students? As it should be. Every initiative does not come in a box. Little kids can do big things. Trust teachers and kids and AMAZING things will happen. Say YES as often as you can.

First graders rocking tech.

5. Which FIVE people do you hope will the take the challenge of answering these questions.
These five are just a few who inspire me every day!

Joe Wood @ucdjoe 
Jessica Cabeen @JessicaCabeen 
Brandon Blom @brandonkblom 
Tracey Allen @PrincipalTallen
Rick Rubino @GUSDSUPT 

I also want to challenge Katie Gustafson @mrsgustafson who I am so lucky to work with as part of the #SAVMP program!

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