Sunday, December 31, 2017

Picture Books on New Year's Eve #readallthebooks #goals

Every year it sneaks up on me... my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I've been setting goals since 2013 and some years I've met my goals (usually just barely) and most years I haven't (Read my previous reading goal failure posts here), like 2013---I was not even close! That was the year I was inspired by Donalyn Miller to read a book a day, and I probably could have--the first half of that year I was still teaching first grade and read a picture book or two almost every school day. And then in May, I found out I would be a principal starting in July, my life got busy, and I didn't even come close to meeting that goal. Although I read some AMAZING books that year!

Since then, I've changed (lowered) my goals- in 2015 my goal was 52, a book a week rather than a book a day and I met that one.
Last year, I missed it by two books.

In 2015, I know I met my goal by reading picture books at the finish line-- truly stopping at Barnes and Noble on the way to my parent's annual New Year's Eve Party and power reading them in the children's section. Cheating some might say.

This morning, December 31st was here AGAIN and that 40 book challenge was looming. I'd read 36 books and was prepared for the same result as last year-- missing it by just a few. I got up and finished All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda... 37--check. What next? Onto the halfway finished BFG, now finished-- 38...check! The end was in sight, but I knew I would not read two more novels, even though I have quite a few partly read books in my stack.

And I decided that if needed I would head to Barnes and Noble to meet my goal. I needed to run some errands today anyways.

Why was I feeling so guilty about reading picture books? I headed over to Pernille Ripp's blog for some picture book inspiration and found 38-- THIRTY EIGHT posts on her blog about picture books. And she teaches middle school. Check out her posts here: I love this quote from her most recent picture book post:

"We live a rich life of picture books. Surrounded by stacks of amazing text that makes us wonder, that makes us laugh, and that makes us ponder our even stories; Picture books are one of the most important components of our reading lives both at home and at school."

Clearly, I don't read enough picture books, and I should! I decided that I might have stumbled on a fun new New Year's Eve tradition-- heading to the bookstore to meet my reading goal! I prepared to head out.

And then I started thinking about two picture books I knew I had read this year-- We're All Wonders by R.J. Palacio, and The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by  Drew DeWalt. I checked my Goodreads, and I hadn't logged them yet. And just like that, I met my goal. 

And... I did go to Barnes and Noble read 
(and I bought a few new books!) 

Happy New Year!

My 40 books from 2017

Thursday, December 14, 2017

P is for Popcorn. And other things. #decemberiknowyou

I wrote this blog post for our incredible staff, and the "P is for Popcorn" title came from one of our 12 Days of Stoneridge Cheer that we are celebrating throughout December. Sprits are high, but if you are in education you know that December can feel like a month of Fridays. Hang in there! I hope this post resonates with you. If you don't know what some of it means, just insert any [new initiative/learning/inspiration] happening in your school or district! 

First things first. P is for popcorn and tomorrow there will be popcorn in the staff lounge for you. Enjoy! Our staff is poppin'! Delicious things are happening all around school! Enjoy! 

Related to popcorn, tonight I'm thinking about the letter P and all of you after a long after-school walk and quiet drive home. It hasn't happened in awhile, but often walking or a drive will get my wheels turning and somewhere in the mess of my mind a blog post emerges. And so, after my pizza dinner, (keeping with the P theme lol) I'm sitting down to ponder my letter P thoughts.

December, I know you. P is for parties and presents and pounds of things I shouldn't eat but do. P is for panic for all of the things on my to do list that can not possibly get done. 

P is for pressure. The year is half over and there is so much left to accomplish. P is for our personal lives. Families and changes and houses on the market. P for me is for patch-- $30 at Home Depot Sunday to patch our 1987 roof in hopes we can make it til summer. 

P is for PD - so much learning, even if I love it it seems like too much on my P is for plate. (Can you relate?) 

December, I know you. I love this season and the lights and merry and sparkle and Santa and yet this time of year wipes us out.

And yet, with all of this, I feel happy and full of hope. Our school feels magical in spite of it all, and although in our hearts we may be counting down the days til break, I know you are making every day count. Thank you.

With this, I'd like to share some other thoughts on P that I'm hoping you know I feel about you and our work.

P is for patience. If you are feeling like so much is new this year, it's true. New learning at PD cycles, PD days, Personalized PD, books and blogs, VIPs, Houses, Essentials, and even ME your new P is for Principal. It's a lot.

P is for patience because this is a year of planting seeds and pulling weeds. We cannot do it all even if we want to, and so let's find the few ideas that we want to help grow, and weed out things that take time and energy from the things that do not. And know that we will not be able do it all this year. Breathe.

P is for path.  We are on an amazing one and the future looks bright even if we aren't sure exactly where we are headed. We are moving forward. Not at the same pace. Not in the same way or at the same time. On our staff we have ALL kinds of people. Some can learn something today and implement tomorrow, pioneers who move forward with no fear. We need you and yet we can't all be you. Some need more time to ponder and plan. We need you, too! And I want you to know that where ever you are on your path is right where you should be as long as you are moving forward. If you are feeling like others are moving faster or you can't keep up, take a deep breath and know that you are right where you should be. We will get there. 

P is or positivity. I love the smiles, the hugs, and appreciations around our campus. This may be the hardest and easiest thing to do when it feels like everything is just TOO much. Thank you for staying positive.

P is not for police. What? If this sounds weird, here's what I mean. I think sometimes with all of the new initiatives and learning that it can feel like at some point someone will be coming around to check to see if you are doing all of the THINGS. 

That is not me. I know that everyone is at a different place with learning and change. I'm not expecting small groups and math talks and standing on chairs and chants and anything else that feels like too much this year... all at once. 

Which leads me to my next P... prioritize. Choose one thing, maybe two. That's all. And put the rest on a list of things to try next. OR next year. We can't do it all. Today, I finally updated the 2017-18 handbook. Today. The year is half over. So just choose a thing or two to try first and see how it goes. 
And for my final P... be present. Some days the best we can give is to just show up. That's my plan :)

In spite of the busy that December brings, I am so excited for our break and I am even more excited about 2018! If you are wondering about the January 8th PD day I can share with you that the Area 3 Writing Project PD is going to be epic! Some of my favorite teachers EVER are presenting and I am so excited to learn with you on that day! P is for prepare... prepare to be inspired! And p is for permission to just listen and take a small piece back, even if it's just to think about until next year.

P is for peace. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

2018 Book Club Picks #soexcited

It's that time of year again and our book club picks for the year are here! Every December we choose our books for the entire year-- like a draft night for books! And we get a little excited...

Most months have two (you can choose one or both, yay!), and a theme...-ish :) We are taking July off this year. Here is THE LIST!


At the movies

Click below to see what's coming!

Light reading!
Any books by Nora Roberts AKA JD Robb
Nora Roberts is an American bestselling author of more than 213 romance novels. She writes as J. D. Robb for the in Death series, and has also written under the pseudonyms Jill March and for publications in the U.K. as Sarah Hardesty.



Ccchhh changes

Take a little road trip!
Summer vacation :)
This setting sounds familiar!


Short Stories
Try this one on Audible-- Tom Hanks is narrating!



Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Crank it up! #kidzbop

Today I was talking with a teacher and the conversation went to Kidz Bop... and it was brought to my attention that not everyone likes Kidz Bop-- shocking! :) And so, I took the opportunity to encourage my staff to please ask me anything, and to feel free to share thoughts and feedback --about anything! I appreciate knowing what people are thinking! No offense Kidz Bop, but I DO wonder if the only people buying the music are all of us principals with disco ball speakers!

From the "ask Jennifer anything" files... here is how the conversation could go... And please read with all of the humor and sarcasm intended :)

Teacher: Hey, Jen! Kidz Bop sucks!
Me: Right???
Teacher: Why do you play it every frickin' morning outside?
Me: Cuz that's how we roll in TK-5 land-- the land of rated G :/

Seriously, I cracked up all the way home and am most worried that people think I actually like Kidz Bop. It's mostly TERRIBLE. Especially Maroon 5's latest "Cold"-- I love that song and the Kidz Bop version sucks. See exhibit A.

I giggled at the thought of my teachers picturing me in my car listening to it. Nope, mostly all I listen to has profanity and sexual innuendo sprinkled throughout. Remember, Adam and Maroon 5 are my jam. And when my kids were little and in my car, they listened to a lot of it, too. As their mom, I could choose that. But as an elementary principal, I listen to Kidz Bop for two reasons.

Reason #1: It's always appropriate. In a school where we have to be G and can't show a PG anything without parent permission, I know that sucky Kidz Bop is SUPER appropriate. Like Uptown Funk and put some water in it appropriate! With all of our customers under 11, I have to put out G music. Some of what I play isn't Kidz Bop, like Celebration, Can't Stop the Feeling, and the crowd favorite instrumental version of Ice Ice Baby. Awe-some! So audience matters and there is that.

Reason #2: I'm totally lazy. I can click "BUY" and get Kidz Bop super appropriate music without breaking a sweat. I have no time, passion, or talent for editing the f word or sh** out of songs. I will NEVER forget a first grader singing me Thrift Shop in class. Super nasty -- google that song and you will never EVER be able to unsee those words! I was going to write a song parody once to that song. Once I read the lyrics I just couldn't...

Having said all of that... I'm hoping someone on my staff is talented and passionate about editing music and wants to create amazing G versions of real songs! Any Maroon 5, yes, please!  I'd love to have some kid friendly tunes that don't suck on my 2010 iPod touch. Yes, my iPod touch.
Don't judge.

Friday, September 1, 2017

No such thing as an original idea --part two #kindkidsclub

This. One view. And Caroline Hines, our counselor came to me and asked, "Do you think we could do this school-wide?"


And there was no looking back. She took this AMAZING idea and came up with a school wide kindness curriculum-- each grade being the Kind Kids Club and performing random acts of kindness one month at a time. Depending on the grade, community, home, and school acts of kindness were planned. And one class at a time, Caroline created a school (Star Academy- @staracdemyncs) where kindness rules! All this for free, or very close to it. Costs are small, and materials include t-shirts for capes, paint, crayons, markers, and read-alouds. And the impact was clear- she measured it with student, teacher, and family surveys via Google forms.

The outcome? ONE HUNDRED percent of students could define kindness and feel it in our school. One hundred percent.

Free. Or close to it.

This August, I moved to a new school, and the Kind Kids Club is coming with me! I will be starting next week with first grade and can't wait to share my cape and be Captain Kindness! One of my principal friends, Rachael Peck, (@rachaelpeck23) will be kicking off kindness at her school too!

Would you like to spread kindness in your school? Join us! We would love to take the Kind Kids Club coast to coast! Tweet me (@jkloczko) or Caroline Hines (@cjh_counselor) and we would love to share the Kind Kids Club plan with you! 

Be kind. Pass it on!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Three Unexpected Things to Love #principalgifts

There are SO many things to love about being a principal-- the kids, working with fabulous teachers and staff, the families, learning-- the list is endless and I think it's the best job in the world. I can't imagine doing anything else! But in my fifth year as a school leader I have found some unexpected things that are seriously my JAM.

Parking lots! Pickup? Drop Off? YES. I love this.

I love taking out the disco ball speaker for sure. Music makes everyone happy! Check out some of my former students dancing at drop off! But I also love hopping out to the crosswalk, stopping traffic, waving on cars, waving at families, saying hello, and goodbye, and please remember to use the crosswalk. I love helping kid and parents learn traffic rules and that they are especially important to follow inside our school lot --where our most important cargo is being delivered. I love saying good morning and have a great day!

And I really love it when a kindergartner with a rocking faux-hawk says as he crosses the parking lot, "I AM SO GLAD I AM IN THIS SCHOOL!" and pumps his fist with a smile. That happened today.

Lunch Duty! It is seriously the best.

Opening pizza Lunchables and impossible adult-proofed juice pouches are epic entertainment on the daily. As is talking to students, helping a crying student remember that even though his kindergarten teacher is at lunch that we will take good care of him. Watching fifth graders take responsibility for making sure lunch tables are clean and ready for the next grade level. Today a 4th grade teacher ate lunch with the kids and they were having a fry competition-- who had the biggest french fry? This is a thing! I never knew.

Check out this take by Gerry Brooks on Kindergarten lunch duty. It's all real. #truth

Feedback. And Hard Questions.

I never thought I would love this, or need this. I do. Sometimes we think conflict is scary, or that asking questions or expressing challenges could create problems with relationships. Is feedback sometimes hard to hear? Absolutely. But it's so important to say it anyways. Real conversations, saying out loud that "this is hard for me", or "I have a different idea" is what I-- and we need to hear as school leaders. My friend Eric Saibel has inspired and mentored me so much in this area-- and truly it's through the hard conversations and the real honest feedback that we grow and learn. I share this as an administrator new to a school where we are just getting to know each other--and as an invitation to both my staff and families and colleagues to be real with me. I need and want you to push my thinking, and know that through open and honest conversations we will learn together!

What challenges do you love?

Sunday, August 27, 2017

No Such Thing As An Original Idea #steal #share #inspired

As I spend my first weekend after the first full week of school doing virtually nothing (it is a personal goal to rest and recharge so I am feeling good about this!) I'm reflecting on how much of the work I have done in my first official month in my new school was inspired by, stolen from, or shared with me by others! Like most of it. Seriously, the implementation was my own, but original ideas-- no way.

I love teaching and learning, and this includes planning professional development! I was fortunate to have two half days before school started to work with teachers, to build relationships, to have fun, and to learn the nuts and bolts needed to start the year.

It's always a challenge as summer ends and school begins to plan PD that is a mix of inspiration and information -- and that doesn't remind people of the Charlie Brown teacher!

I was hoping for FUN, COLLABORATIVE, and INSPIRING. Here are just a few of the ideas from the first two days with our teachers -- and my evidence that being connected makes me a better, more effective school leader. I could never have thought of these on my own. And keeping in mind isn't that my ideas are good, but rather that I'm modeling good teaching and learning--  strategies and tools I hope to see in classrooms as teachers and students learn together.

Here are some of the ideas that I've stolen/learned from others-- just in this summer alone!

Amazing Apps for telling your school story!
Legend & Quik

Looking for quick and easy ways to animate text or create videos to share your school story via social media? These will make you look like a pro! 
Here are a few I made!

Credit? The Moms As Principals Work Life Balance session at #NPC17-- The National Principals' Conference in Philadelphia! Follow the hashtag #momsasprincipals for inspiration!

Ready to ride a Roller Coaster? The school year is a roller coaster ride for sure! 

Credit? Again... The Moms As Principals Work Life Balance session at #NPC17-- The National Principals' Conference in Philadelphia! Follow the hashtag #momsasprincipals for inspiration!

Do you wanna make a weiner dog? Our Chopped style challenges featured a ballon art round-- using YouTube to teach us how. Better yet, a kid made this video.

Credit? My very first Roseville City School District leadership meeting featured an Amazing Race-- with a weiner dog challenge, of course! I just changed it up with the Chopped format. Follow Brandon Blom, Jamey Schrey, and Derk Garcia for inspiration!

Another Chopped Challenge? Take a photo walk! What one word will inspire you this year? Teachers searched for letters outside and used a photo collage app to create a word collage!

Credit? Amy Fadeji! One of my favorite friends and she always amazes and inspires me to be better! This photo walk idea is all hers!

Finally, Flipgrid! This is similar to a Brady Bunch type video grid and our teachers recorded a quick video to share their passion. I promised I wouldn't share the video, but here is a screenshot to give you an idea! I can't wait for the advanced CARPOOL KARAOKE Flipgrid challenge! Follow the hashtag #principalsinaction for more inspiration!

I first learned about this from Trisha Sanchez, and tried it out with my Principals In Action Voxer group! And during the first week of school, several teachers tried it out with students! 

An original idea? I don't know... but I am so grateful for friends and colleagues near and far who inspire me daily, share ideas freely, and make me a better person and leader. Who inspires you?

Happy idea stealing!