Saturday, February 27, 2010

Who Can Help? The Art of Delegation

Some teachers are masters of delegation. Simple classroom jobs are delegated to students. These teachers realize two important concepts:

A teacher cannot do it all. Delegating those things which a student can do and do well leave more time for the teacher to do those things which require his/her expertise.

Allowing students to help with running the classroom gives them a "stake in the program," gives them a sense of ownership, and builds responsibility.

In Organization Made Easy!, the chapter entitled "Focused or Fragmented" examines this concept. Read about how two elementary teachers structured systems giving every student responsibility. Read tips on how something similar could be used in secondary schools.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Bucks Stopped Here

Davonia and I were excited to be featured in current issue of Lakeside Living. Here the pictures which appeared in the magazine.

To read the article, you may access the electronic version of the magazine. The story begins on page 28.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Improve Communication One Blog at a Time

Check out the March/April issue of Principal magazine for my article entitled, "Improve Communication One Blog at a Time." The article discusses the advantages of a principal communicating to faculty and staff via a blog versus other means of communication. The article includes a list of the "Top 10 Reasons to Blog," a list a close friend and I hammered out several years ago.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Organzing Your Students

Organization is a gift that wise teachers give their students, and it is a gift that is useful long after the goodbyes are said in May. In Organization Made Easy!, we devote an entire chapter to organizing students.

One of the central topics is the use of student planners. While some schools have adopted and then left the idea, we explore the subject in enough depth and emphasize the follow-up that is needed from teachers to make the tool work.

We also look at habits and techniques that increase productivity and decrease stress for students:
  • Writing it down
  • Breaking goals into little parts
  • Getting the book bag empty daily
  • Learning to deal with papers
  • Getting everything ready the night before
  • Organizing the locker
  • Using the "one-binder" method

Friday, February 19, 2010

Clearing the Clutter of Bulk Items

Teachers never have enough storage space. The lack of space results in clutter. Get Organized! Time Management for School Leaders focused on eliminating the paper clutter. In Organization Made Easy!, we examine how to handle those three-dimensional items and bulk items. We also look at the concept of "off-site" storage, or at least "out of the room" storage and how a teacher can find and use it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Options in Blogger

I was visiting a blog I regularly read (created with Blogger) and saw something entirely new. The blog had several different pages. In addition to the current posts and archives of previous posts, I now saw links several other pages:
  • A message from the principal
  • A listing of faculty and staff
  • A listing of "8 Characteristics of a Good School"
Click here to take a look at the blog I am talking about.

How can you do this with your own blog? First you must update your Blogger editor. Here are the instructions:

  1. Log into Blogger and choose your blog
  2. Click on settings
  3. Scroll down to the “Global Settings” section
  4. Beside “Select post editor,” select “Updated editor”
  5. Click on “Save Settings” at the bottom

Now, whenever you go to the "Posting" tab, you will not only see a link to create a new post or edit posts, but you will also see a link to "Edit Pages." Clicking here allows you to create a new page!

When you update your editor, there are other advantages. For example, it makes positioning images in your post (such as the Blogger icon in this post) much easier.You can read about these improvements by clicking on this link.

Monday, February 15, 2010

reQall Part 2: Final CLAS Follow-Up

In the last post, we examined reQall. I think you will not only enjoy this video, but will also sympathize with the leading character. We all forget. The good news is that there are tools available that can help. Remember, when we are doing the best we can with the tools we have, our improvement opportunity is to get better tools!

This blog was created over 5 years ago for the purpose of providing the follow-up needed to make professional development work. We covered a great deal of ground in a hour. Hopefully, these last several posts have made the tools we talked about clearer. Thanks again for coming to the session and for your support of CLAS!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The "Inbox," the "Mail Center," and Student Work

Teachers exist in a world where they receive paperwork from anywhere from 15 to 150 students on a daily basis. Having a system which minimizes time spent collecting, sorting, and returning papers is a huge time saver. Read an excerpt from Organization Made Easy!: Tools for Today's Teachers which addresses this subject. Scroll to pages 14-15.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Snow in Alabama is rare. Mere mention of the word causes school systems to close and people to rush to grocery stores to buy milk and bread. Even if you don't normally consume much milk and bread, that does not matter. It's just part of the drill. Here's a shot of our house on this rarest of occasions.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Goodbye, Dr. Jan

I just learned of the sudden and unexpected death of Dr. Jan Borelli. Over the last several years, our paths crossed in many ironic and wonderful ways. Even though we worked several states apart, I came to find out that she attended college at Auburn University, a mere two hours from my house and that her college roommate was from the city where I currently live.

Jan and I were both Editorial Advisors for the National Association of Elementary School Principals at the same time and shared an interest in blogging. We were avid readers of each others' blogs. When my first book was in manuscript form and was sent to reviewers, the comments of one particular reviewer struck me. For some reason, I had this feeling that of all of the people in the country to whom this manuscript could have been sent, that Jan Borelli had been the reviewer. As it turned out, that was indeed the case. Not only were her comments extremely helpful in honing the manuscript, but following the book's publication, she was an avid supporter.

The picture of Jan with me that you see here was taken at ASCD two years ago. That event marked the first opportunity I would have to present at a national convention. When it came time for my presentation, Jan was on the front row. Later during the convention, I attended her session, joining a standing-room-only crowd. At the conclusion of her session, she publicly recognized me and encouraged everyone in the room to read the book I had authored.

At that conference, Jan had been asked to blog about her experiences at the ASCD conference. Her very kind words were as follows:

But my favorite presentation of the day was by Dr. Frank Buck. Who would imagine that from 5:15-6:15 on Saturday afternoon 240 educators would stay to learn how to "Get Organized: Time Management for School Leaders?" But they did. Frank was fun and engaging, but more importantly, he was "rubber hit the road" on the mark for simple ways to organize our professional endeavors for success. He described and trained us on five tools, techniques and practices to make life easier: the tickler file, the "signature tool," repeating tasks, documentation, and emptying your e-mail every day. We laughed and stayed engaged the entire hour as we learned and had "smack your head" moments of enlightenment. Everyone around me was going to the Exhibit Hall to find the Eye on Education booth to get a signed copy of Frank Buck's book. I know I will be first in line tomorrow!

Others who know Jan will probably nod as they remember times when she gave a "leg up" to those around her.

I enjoyed reading "Dr. Jan's Blog" and sharing from several states away her thoughts about those things dear to her, whether it be turning a school around, the latest accomplishments of family members, or her passion for horses.

Of all of the posts she wrote, my favorite is one from December 2007. I had tried to call Jan at Westwood for several days just before that post appeared and found it odd that nobody was answering the phone on weekdays during early December. The post not only answered that question for me, but provided a look inside the feeling of community that is alive in a place called "The Hippest School in America."

Below is that post in its entirety. I encourage those who have not read Jan's blog to do so and enjoy the wealth of wisdom and wit that is there and that will continue to move and motivate readers even though Jan is no longer with us in body.

The Frigid Plains, Tamales, and Family

In Oklahoma, we have been experiencing the aftermath of a pretty massive ice storm. We were all glued to our windows as the rain poured and the temperatures dropped; and it was all amazing and awe-inspiring. The quiet beauty of the coldness; and then the nastiness started... a lot like a good date gone bad.
At first we just noticed the trees bending with weight; and since we are in the usual dry and dusty plains, we don't have a preponderance of trees... and those we do have, we honor. So, we watched with concern. Then the lines strung from one pole to the next began to buckle from the weight; and as we stood outside we could hear "snaps" of wires breaking and limbs and trees tumbling.

Electricity disappeared, and we were reminded of how important electricity is. People all over the state were scrambling for generators as over half a million homes were suddenly without power; and state records for the horror of the ice storm began to be made. And, my own home was without electricity and phone service and, worst of all, our internet service was gone.

School was cancelled beginning Monday and continued to be cancelled through Friday. Since my school is on a year round schedule, we planned to begin our winter intersession this coming Monday, so it's been sad to lose the excitement that young children inspire as the holidays approach. Wednesday, all my faculty and staff and myriads of parents came to the school to make tamales for our xmas sale to raise funds for a marquee.

It was an endearing time that continued through Thursday for the heartiest of tamaliers. The parents brought their small children and taught us how to make tamales, and we the faculty learned an age old custom. I am pretty sure none of us will forget this ice storm nor the experience of working together for the children of the school. Most of us don't speak Spanish nor do our parents speak English, but there we were shoulder to shoulder in the most difficult and precise act of creating tamales; and we felt a bond that still warms us all, as we sang or hummed Christmas song. I worry about most of the children. I worry about their needs for warmth and food.

Our church, NorthHaven, has been in service to our community here in Norman. Those without homes, food, electricity have found their way to NorthHaven and have found the welcoming presence of our pastor, our pastoral staff, our members. The ice storm gave us more than a lack of electricity and some personal crises; it gave us moments of family and community.

I have not been feeling very bloggy lately. Maybe I'll crank back up or not....

reQall: CLAS Conference Follow-Up

The final tool we examined was reQall. I have no doubt that many of you have already established an account. Here are a couple of posts that cover the service in more depth:
  • Oh No...Jott's Not Free (But reQall is) This post provides an explanation based on my initial experiences. Actually, I was mistaken about one point in that post. For you to "share" a message with someone else (have what you say sent in am e-mail to them), they do not have to have a reQall account. All who you have to do is add them to your contacts in reQall.
  • Demonstration of reQall This video provides an explanation of the service
  • reQall Videos Here are two more videos which demonstrate the capabilities of reQall.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Organization Made Easy! is Available for Purchase

Organization Made Easy! is now available through Eye on Education. Though many of the tools can be used in any profession, the book with all of its scenarios and examples is written for teachers.

Over the next month, you will see posts periodically which highlight topics from the book.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Do You Know What You Want to Know?

Google's ad during the Super Bowl illustrates a point that is becoming more important in our society. Finding information is easy provided we know what we want to find.

Google Docs: CLAS Conference Follow-Up

Google Docs is a powerful, free tool which allows you to post documents which you can access from anywhere, allow selected others to access from anywhere, or allow selected other to edit from anywhere. During the session at the CLAS Assistant Principal Conference, we looked at several example of its use:
  • Handling maintenance requests for a school system.
  • Handling ticket requests for an event.
  • Gathering survey results.
Here are two posts which will give additional insight into the use of Google Docs

Friday, February 05, 2010

Blogging: CLAS Conference Follow-Up

At the CLAS Assistant Principal Conference, we briefly touched on the concept of using blogs as a communication tool. Here are several posts which address blogging:

In addition, in the right-hand column, you will see a button taking you to Your Own Blog in 10 Minutes or Less. This blog consists of a set of post, each taken from a blog I had maintained. Each is designed to demonstrate a particular techniques.

Over the next few days, look for other posts related to topics from the CLAS Conference .

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

CLAS Assistant Principal Conference

For the assistant principals who attended the CLAS Assistant Principal Conference, this post is designed to help you get started with your own iGoogle page. When getting started with any endeavor, it often helps to see an example. Some months ago, composed a post listing the gadgets that I have on my iGoogle page, what they do, and the quickest way to get them. To revisit that post, click on the link below. If you like some of those, each one is only a click away from being added to your iGoogle page

Click here to see that post.

Here are several related posts that you may enjoy:
Google Reader

Thanks again for coming to the workshop!

Monday, February 01, 2010

January Wrap-Up

For those who may be new to this blog, the past month has been special for several reasons:
  • Organization Made Easy!: Tools for Today's Teachers was released a few days ago.
  • January was national "Get Organized Month."
  • This blog turned 5 years old a few months ago.
To celebrate this trilogy, readers saw the following occurrences on this blog:
  • Every day featured a new post...well, sort of. Actually, each day's post was one of my favorites from the last 5 years, more or less a "best of" series.
  • Eye on Education teamed up with us to feature blog posts from her on their blog.
  • Eye on Education featured a story from my teaching career in their "Tales from a Teacher's Heart" series.
In February, we will resume a schedule of posting new content every other day. At present, there is plenty of material waiting in line to be presented in this space. All of it is designed to help you navigate through life a little more successfully, with a little less stress, and a smile on your face!