Week 11 at New Albany High School!

Lorin LoveScience teacher Lorin Love reincarnates as Anna Garcia from the dead to play a review game about diabetes with students in Principles of Biomedical Science! To see how others dressed up on Friday, as well as a recap of our week, please review the Week 11 Storify!

Staff News
Humanities and Art History teacher Rachel Braswell attended a free two-day conference about educating African American Males on Friday, October 23rd and Saturday, October 24th. The conference was not only insightful, but she was able to collaborate with many educators from higher education. The conference was co-hosted by The Ohio State University, Champions for Children, and the United Way. The keynote presenter was David Johns, the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Spanish teacher Sarah Riechley attended an AP Spanish Workshop on Wednesday, October 29th. She, too, was able to collaborate with many other educators and discuss pedagogy, content, and AP expectations!

Math teachers Karen Morlan and Linda Schmidt attended an AP Calculus workshop last week as well. They practiced grading AP exams and collaborated with other teachers from across the country!

Thanks to the Counseling Team for proctoring OGTs last week. It took a great deal of time away from their usual workload and I appreciate their efforts to ensure all our students are able to meet this graduation requirement!

Many of our teachers highlight historical and literary characters during lessons as a way to teach or reinforce the characteristics we want our students to exhibit. To further help reinforce positive character, Jostens created a list of tips for parents to help cultivate character strength at home. This can be a great family activity!

Students As Learners
I appreciate the types of learning activities our teachers develop that not only engage students, but help them to demonstrate learning in unique ways. Following are a couple of examples; one by Social Studies teacher Darryl Sycher and the other by Physical Science teachers Claire Monk and Jessica Dorman:

“As part of the Unit on the Renaissance in World History, my students were asked to choose an explorerSycher 1 and report on them in class. This Explorers Project asked students to provide a short biography of their particular explorer and how his discoveries impacted Europe and the natives that he discovered and encountered. Along with this written portion of the project, students were also asked to display their creative side and make a visual to represent the accomplishments of their explorer. This was used to enhance their oral presentation and make their 16th century explorer “come alive” in the 21st century.”

“Mrs. Monk created this lesson to add a fun twist to the energy unit in physical science. In this activity students get to make their own bouncy ball to collect and analyze data. Once the ball is made students obtained the mass and recorded a video of the ball dropping and the bounce back. Students then uploaded the video into an analysis program, which they manipulated to be able to determine the velocity of the ball dropping and in the bounce back. With this information students then calculated the potential energy and kinetic energy of the dropped ball and drew energy bar charts of the different phases of the motion. Using the law of conservation of energy as a guide, students were able to determine why the bouncy ball did not bounce back to the same height while still having a total amount of energy equal to 100%. While the main learning target of this activity was to investigate the concept of energy transformations students also applied their skills of experimental design to trouble shoot how to alter the recipe to make a better bouncy ball, or how to make one after a failed attempt. Students had to determine what methods led to the best bouncy ball for their purposes. By making the ball themselves they also learned about chemical reactions and how the items we started with changed as a result of the reaction. Solid and liquid reagents became a bouncy rubber-like solid. What better way to spend a Friday before Halloween than making your own bouncy ball to analyze how well it conserves energy while throwing in some chemistry for fun?”

7A'sI believe there are seven A’s of successful schools: academics, attendance, the arts, attitude (behavior), activities, acts of service, and athletics. Every student can have a sense of belonging if they embrace these seven A’s and it’s important for us to create the conditions for this to happen. Coaches Pat Samanich and Brian Finn received the following email from our Special Olympics Swim Coach that celebrates the act of service by our football team:

“I wanted to reach out to both of you to let you know how much we appreciated having your football players at the Special Olympics swim meet this past Saturday. They did an amazing job and were absolutely wonderful to our athletes!!! I had a lot of parents and spectators comment to me directly on how great it was to see them participating and supporting our swim team.

Please thank them from our team and me and let them know how much we appreciated their support!! They are a great group of kids!!! -Casie Ford”

Thanks to all our coaches for teaching our students life through athletics!

Upcoming Events
Monday, November 2nd- Department Chair Meeting at 3:00 pm Professional Library
Tuesday, November 3rd- Election Day; Students Working the Polls; #BowTieTuesday
Wednesday, November 4th- Department Meetings at 7:15 am; Class Ring Orders due
Thursday, November 5th- Department Meetings at 7:15 am; Nationwide Children’s Hospital Wellness Presentation during House
Saturday, November 7th- SAT

Article Worth Reading
Edtech’s Next Big Disruption Is The College Degree

Video Worth Watching
Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling| Emilie Wapnick| TEDxBend

Be Great,

Dwight

Week 6 at New Albany High School!

rr-frameworkAs a follow up to our rigor and relationships in-service on September 14th, we used our Faculty meeting to continue to examine what rigor means and looks like at NAHS. We have and will continue to maintain high expectations for students and Staffulty (staff and faculty) in regards to academic standards, effort, and professionalism. We are coming to understand that rigor in the classroom is based on a continuum of low to high levels of critical thinking. When examining the International Center for Leadership in Education Rigor/Relevance Framework, we understand that one quadrant is not better than the others because all quadrants are necessary for student learning. However, the overall goal is to create more Quadrant D learning experiences for students where they do the work, the thinking, and are asking questions.

English teacher Lynette Turner shared this one page article that provides more clarity. I forwarded this to Staffulty (staff and faculty) over the weekend to review. Our next steps include further examination of rigor by looking at it through the lens of thoughtful work, high leveling questioning, and academic work.

Staff News
Intervention Specialist Lori Cheney is currently mentoring one of her former students who is now teaching English to students in Japan. He is struggling with some behavior issues with his students, and also how to give constructive feedback. Lori shared how she and English teacher Katie Roberts uses “First Five” with their classes, discussing their and the students’ lives outside of school each day at the start of class for five or so minutes. He has implemented this in his class with great results. She also shared with him the list of relationship strategies generated from our in-service! So, not only are we adding to our own teaching repertoire, we are helping an alum and a teacher halfway around the world!

Several teachers continue to tell our story by posting classroom updates on Twitter or Instagram using our hashtag, #NAHSCommUNITY. Please click here to see week 6 at a glance!

Students As Learners
NHS member M. Pine painted faces for free at the home football game last Friday. She collected $30 in donations to benefit an NHS charity of their choice! It was a wonderful community building opportunity as she interacted with several elementary school students. Students Cassidy Platte, Jamie Schroer, and Sophie Ungless assisted her with this project!
NHS 1

Photo by David Mitchell
Photo by David Mitchell
Library Aide David Mitchell shared how he enjoyed having English teacher Jacqui Loughry’s AP English 12 class in the library Friday morning. They familiarized themselves with the space and other resources such as out databases, new book titles, and more!

Our House Deans and House Leaders participated in a National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) student leadership training program called Raising Student Voice and Participation (RSVP). They worked through a number of activities focused on team building, taking initiative, and strategies to get input from all students to improve school climate and culture. The House Leaders seemed to grow in confidence throughout the day as they implemented a variety of strategies and dialogued about how to serve the student body!

Upcoming Events: Homecoming Spirit Week!

Monday, September 28th- Favorite Sports Team Day; State of the Schools Address 7:00

2015-16 School Theme
2015-16 School Theme
PM at the McCoy
Tuesday, September 29th- Class Color Day
Wednesday, September 30th-House Shirt Day/Powder Puff Game/Bonfire
Thursday, October 1st-PJ Day
Friday, October 2nd- White Out Day or Eagle Spirit Wear
Saturday, October 3rd- Homecoming Dance 8:00 PM-11:00 PM in the Gym

Article Worth Reading
Perfect Practice-Educational Transformation

Until next time…

Be Great,

Dwight

Week 5 at New Albany High School!

http://altered-states.net/barry/newsletter185/
http://altered-states.net/barry/newsletter185/
During our in-service on Monday, we learned the value of creating a safe and welcoming classroom environment in connection with dopamine release and increased learning. As I continue to reflect on the in-service about rigor and relationships, I stumbled upon a brief video that further explains why establishing positive relationships with students can lead to increased achievement. I shared this video with the NAHS Staffulty and asked them to think about how this relates to the importance of rigorous and relevant learning experiences for our students.

We understand that as we develop trust, presume positive intentions, and seek to understand others before being understood, we will create a positive and welcoming learning environment for students and parents. Last week illustrated this in a number of ways, from the nearly 1500 parent/teacher conferences, to the Hollister Company “All Equal” assembly and performance by Echosmith! For more information about what our students and Staffulty experienced, please click here!

Staff News
Please keep Administrative Assistant Beth Johnston in your prayers as she and her family mourn the loss of their 12-year-old Golden Labrador Retriever, Casey. She passed away last Saturday.

Congratulations to Math teacher Chrissie Bolan and her husband, who are expecting their second child! The baby is due to arrive in March!

Congratulations to Assistant Principal Steve Gehlert and his wife Tarin, who celebrated their 11th Wedding Anniversary on Friday!

Science teacher Jessica Whitehead proactively sent a letter of introduction to her students’ parents and to share pertinent information about her classes. Since some of her parents weren’t able to sign up for a conference, the letter provided another opportunity for her to inform parents of her teaching philosophy and course design. Click here if you are interested in reading it! Many of our teachers did this as well, and I appreciate them making connections with parents in a variety of ways! Additionally, several teachers scheduled appointments with parents who weren’t able to come in on the designated nights.

Intervention Specialist Mike Covey created a progress report for each of his students that included their quarterly goals, strengths, and areas of improvement to send to parents via email. Since he didn’t have any parent conferences scheduled, he used the time to send the goals sheets to his students’ parents! This is an excellent way to update them on their child’s progress.

Students As Learners
Many of our students, by nature, are service-oriented. They seek out and thrive on opportunities to serve for the sake of making the lives of others a little better. We have several seniors who volunteer at the Eagles Nest, which is an after school service for students who are 6 to 12 years old. These are some of New Albany’s finest who are sharing their talents with Eagles Nest students after school. They work as tutors, game players, supervisors and “all things creative” in the world of 6 through 12 year olds.

From L to R: Will Dimon, Gavin Heiserman, Claire Klodell, Krista LaSpina, Morgan Handmaker and Katie Boley. (Not pictured, Jordan Inman
From L to R: Will Dimon, Gavin Heiserman, Claire Klodell, Krista LaSpina, Morgan Handmaker and Katie Boley. (Not pictured, Jordan Inman

I received the following email from an Ohio High School Athletic Association referee about our JVB Boys Soccer coach and team after they lost to Thomas Worthington on September 8th:

“In an evenly played game that was tied 1-1, New Albany was called for handling in the box in the last seconds of the game. A (Penalty Kick) PK was granted to Thomas Worthington that would essentially decide the game. As a New Albany player was escorted to the sideline due to receiving a yellow card, the New Albany head coach told the officials that the PK call was the correct call and he understood, and he helped calm down his players frustrations with losing a game at the last second. His excellent sportsmanship was a great example for the student athletes, who modeled that behavior themselves in the post game handshake line as well after losing the game. It was nice to see everyone, both coaches and athletes, being very respectful and gracious to all involved after a physical game.”

Congratulations to Coach Cody Thomas for being a positive role model and teacher for his team during a difficult situation!

Upcoming Events
Wednesday, September 23rd- Comp Day No School
Friday, September 25th- Interim Progress Reports
Monday, September 28th- State of the Schools Address

Articles Worth Reading
30 Questions To Ask Your Kids Instead of “How Was Your Day?” spotted by Science teacher Jessica Whitehead

Protecting or Ignoring? A perspective on digital citizenship.

Until next time…

Be Great,

Dwight

Week 3 at New Albany High School!

As I prepared for my day on Friday, I searched through one of my books for some daily words of wisdom to tweet and came across the following quote that really resonated with me:

“Understand the difference between being at work and working.”

What came to mind was the positive feedback I received about the NAHS Staffulty (staff

http://www.sussexvt.k12.de.us/school/images/2015/open-house.jpg
http://www.sussexvt.k12.de.us/school/images/2015/open-house.jpg
and faculty) from parents during our Open House on Tuesday, September 2nd! Parents were genuinely pleased with the event because they saw and felt the love and joy we have for our craft as educators. But, more importantly, they felt how much we care for their children. As the saying goes, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We strive to create a greater sense of community because we understand the importance of establishing positive relationships with our students, parents, and community members that will translate into a positive school experience for our students.

Another example of we connect with our students is the way we use social media to share positive messages and images about our school. I’ve been summarizing weekly events using the website, Storify, to capture articles, images, and inspirational messages that are posted daily. We tag each message with the hashtag, #NAHSCommUNITY. To review last week’s story, click here!

Staff News
Athletic Secretary Mary Ferguson was at the home football game two weeks ago to assist with ticket sales. It was so good to see her smiling and back in action! Please continue to keep her and her husband in your prayers.

Special Education Coordinator Molly Salt shared with me her appreciation for Joanne Mannarelli, Erik Jablonka, Bubba Kidwell, and Pat Samanich for working together to help a struggling student in need last week!

Students As Learners
What We Expect of Students (2)Last week I shared that our students had the opportunity to work together to determine what we should expect of them in regards to their overall behavior. Nearly 1500 students over a two day period came up with a list of characteristics we should expect of them in our school community. I used a word cloud website to create an image of the words or phrases that were most popular among the students. I am very pleased, but not surprised, by what they came up with because these are behaviors I get the opportunity to observe from our students on a daily basis! In fact, they are aligned with our core values of respect for self, respect for others, respect for the learning environment, and respect for the community.

Redd Ingram: Photo by Katie Roberts
Redd Ingram: Photo by Katie Roberts
English teacher Katie Roberts asked junior Redd Ingram to guest star as the “Grammar Graduate” in her CP English 10 class earlier last week. He led a quick review with sophomores demonstrating his learning by teaching underclassmen who enjoyed hearing it from a different voice than Mrs. Roberts. This is an excellent example of differentiating the process and increasing student voice!

Choir teacher Karrie Horton invited me to her A Cappella Choir class onKarrie Horton Friday to listen to them create and record their own arrangement of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is”, for entry into a competition to sing on stage with the band on October 14th! It was an example of formative assessment at its best! Mrs. Horton gave immediate feedback to students as they made corrections. The students also made suggestions about how they could improve their performance. They were encouraged to truly make the song their own in order to showcase their talents! To learn more about the contest, please click here.

Upcoming Events
*Friday, September 11th- Red, White, and Blue Day for 9/11 Remembrance
*Monday, September 14th- In-service Day, No School for students
*Tuesday, September 15th- Parent/Teacher Conferences
*Wednesday, September 16th- Picture Retakes
*Thursday, September 17th- Parent/Teacher Conferences

Video Worth Reading
Common Sense Tips for Digital Parents

Until next week…

Be Great,

Dwight

Happy New School Year!

LobbyIt takes a great deal of teamwork to prepare for a new school year. Parents, Staffulty, students, and community members mentally prepare for a rush of activity, which is soon followed by a settled-in feeling after new, but familiar routines are re-established. The New Albany High School Team worked together to create a meaningful and positive first week of school for each other and our students! The House Deans and Social Committee did an excellent job decorating the lobby, the Scheduling Team created systems to help students make necessary schedule changes, and the Administrative Assistants were responsive to a variety of requests from teachers, parents, and students. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Who loves Kid President? If you are like me, you raised your hand and smiled as you thought of one of his inspirational messages. In honor of a new school year, please take a few minutes to watch Kid President message to “Be More Awesome!”

There was nervous energy in the air as the first day of school approached because of our new schedule, office hours, ACT Period, and larger class sizes. However, the following email from a colleague just about sums up our thoughts and feelings about our first week back:

“…I want to let you know that this week has been one of the best starts to a school year I can remember in my career. Furthermore, the new schedule you and others put so much time and effort into is a huge improvement to our school. Thank you for that!”

Staff News
Several staff members posted pictures of the first week on a few social media sites that provide a glimpse of our experiences. We are using the hashtag, #NAHSCommUNITY to share images, links, and other important information.

As I visited classrooms this week or walked the halls, I appreciated seeing so many teachers greeting students at the door and engaging them in brief conversations during passing times. I noticed how some used our theme, “CommUNITY”, as inspiration to classroom design or bulletin boards. These simple acts are helping to create a sense of belonging and community that leads to overall student success and positive morale!

I sat in on Mr. Eric Carmichael and Mrs. Christine Chamberlain’s class and listened to an intriguing discussion about history and the writers of history. The students were reflective in their responses and challenged each other’s thinking in the process. Mr. Carmichael also shared with me a strategy that he and Mrs. Chamberlain used to get to know all their students. They asked students to create a large name card so they could take their pictures and then take a picture without the name cards. They essentially created digital flashcards of students’ images to review them all week. By Friday, they knew the names of all their freshmen students! What a creative idea!

Students As Learners
senior seminarOur Senior Seminar Team, which is a group of teachers who facilitate our Senior Seminar program, worked diligently all summer to support a number of seniors in completing their projects. Projects ranged from video game design to an architect internship and everything in between! About a third of our seniors took advantage of Senior Seminar Summer Institute. This continues to be a model program that allows students to demonstrate their development of strong communication, collaborative, creativity, and critical thinking skills while pursuing their passions. I’m extremely proud of our seniors and members of our Senior Team!

I noticed a group of students wearing blue scrubs, latex gloves, and carrying clipboards and beakers walking the halls this week. Their teacher was also wearing the same thing! I followed them to the second floor of G building and stumbled upon a “crime scene.” There was yellow caution tape, strange marks on the floor, and obvious signs of foul play. It was a Project Lead The Way Biological Science lab designed by Lorin Love and the students are loving it! They are gathering evidence and making inferences about the cause of the crime and who is responsible. It is a great example of differentiated instruction and making learning relevant to students!

During lunch duty on Friday, I saw several groups of students discussing a reading assignment, working on class assignments, or discussing other topics presented in classes last week. I also saw classes outside in the Quad; our Introduction to Engineer students were using the track, and our photography students have been all over campus! It feels really good to have the students back on campus! I also appreciate the level of student engagement incorporated in course unit designs so early in the school year.

The implementation of ACT (Academic Coaching Time) Period has been very successful this week.academic coach The vision of ACT is to create an academic success plan for every student. Each Academic Coach has been assigned 20-25 students who they will meet with during ACT period on Wednesdays or Thursdays. The focus is to provide adequate time for students to complete assignments, work on skill development, to participate in peer assistance, and be exposed to academic enrichment or intervention strategies. ACT period provides us an opportunity to measure our success in the areas of academics, attendance, and student discipline.

A few teachers have shared with me the agreements that students have developed that will create the conditions for a comfortable learning environment. I appreciate the effort to include students in this process!

Upcoming Events
Monday, August 24th-BOE Meeting 6:30pm
Wednesday, August 26th- State of the Eagles Address 1:55pm Gym; Senior College Night Meeting 7:00pm McCoy Center
Thursday, August 27th- State of the Eagles Address 1:55pm Gym
Friday, August 28th- Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 5:30pm MS Cafeteria
Wednesday, September 2nd- Open House 5:30pm-7:30pm

Articles Worth Reading
Happier Students Get Higher Grades
Tips for Successful Parent/Teacher Communication

Be Great,

Dwight

Today’s Professional Development

http://groveland.spps.org/uploads/hanging_light_bulbs.jpg
http://groveland.spps.org/uploads/hanging_light_bulbs.jpg
Access to and opportunity for professional development for educators has grown exponentially due to the use of technology, the need for more relevant and timely learning, and a growing dissatisfaction with the traditional model of “sit and get.” There are more options besides attending professional conferences. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy attending quality professional conferences to listen to dynamic speakers, attend a variety of breakout sessions, present, and connect with other educators to discuss hot topics in education and share best practices. There are also many other ways we can engage in meaningful and relevant learning experiences on our own time, at our own pace, and in the place of our choosing. We have to come to accept that learning is a 24/7/365 endeavor not bound to traditional office hours. Technology has flattened the traditional professional development model by providing so many opportunities for those who want to take responsibility for their own growth and development. Following are six effective professional development strategies that are on the rise for educators.

1. Webinars– Webinars are web-based presentations where participants register for and login at a specific time to interact with a presenter and and other presenters. Edweb.net provides a variety of webinars four to five days a week and there is a list of communities educators can join that are relevant to them. Most of all, they are free and typically occur after the school day. I’ve facilitated a webinar for Edweb.net and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The moderator managed the questions so we were able to have an interactive and engaging dialogue about the topic. I encourage perusing this site and consider joining a community that interests you.
2. Podcasts– Podcasts are web-based interactive conversations about a particular topic. Most podcasts are recorded live and archived for future use. One that I enjoy is PrincipalCast, hosted by Dr. Spike Cook, Theresa Stagner, and Jessica Johnson. These are weekly podcasts that include guest presenters that provide their thoughts and best practices about topics like implementing the Common Core State Standards, teacher evaluations, life after the principalship, pedagogical strategies, technology integration, and so much more. I also recommend you read this article for a list of 51 podcasts for educators.
3. Twitter Chats– A Twitter chat is a topic-based discussion on Twitter that is curated using a specific hashtag. Thousands of educators participate in weekly chats and school districts are starting to host their own chats in order to continue conversations outside of the school day. If you are going to participate in a Twitter chat, I encourage you to use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to allow you to follow the thread of comments. Check out this calendar of the most popular Twitter chats, which was created by @cybraryman1.
4. Blogging– Blogging is a way to make one’s learning visible because it’s a reflective process about ones thoughts, ideas, successes, and struggles. There are many free blog sites, such as Edublogs, Blogger, and WordPress that many educators use for their own professional and personal growth. A few blogs I often read are:
a. A Principal’s Reflections by Eric Sheninger
b. Connected Principals: Sharing. Learning. Leading
c. DCulberhouse: Engaging in Conversation Around Education and Leadership by David Culberhouse
d. Leadership Freak by Dan Rockwell
e. Life of an Educator by Dr. Justin Tarte
f. RaFranz Davis: Social Learner. Tech Specialist. Digital Diva by RaFranz Davis
g. The Jose Vilson by Jose Vilson
h. The Principal of Change by George Couros
i. This Is Seth’s Blog by Seth Godin

https://www.mnnonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/VictoriaEstrella.com_collaboration-10-01-14.jpg
https://www.mnnonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/VictoriaEstrella.com_collaboration-10-01-14.jpg

5. YouTube– It is reported that YouTube is the third largest search engine in the world! Needless to say, if there is a topic you want to learn more about, search YouTube and I’m certain you will find a few videos that will increase your knowledge about a particular topic. Even better, you could create your own YouTube Channel to share your expertise with others.
6. Skype– Skype removes time and distance as barriers and provides a means to engage in a conversation with a group of people or individuals to discuss relevant topics. Additionally, it provides a simulated “face-to-face” interaction that is still important to have.
7. Google Hangout– Google is flattening the collaborative efforts by providing asynchronous means to dialog, discuss, and communicate about topics of interest. Many schools have created Google Hangouts for teachers to continue relevant discussions and share best practices that improve student learning.
8. VoxerVoxer is an app that is on the rise in the world of connected educators. It allows for the same type of connectivity as Twitter, but it allows users to create groups for participants to actually chat live. The messages can be saved and archived for future reference. I’ve recently created a Voxer account and have joined the Digital Leadership and NASSP15 groups to keep in contact with other like-minded leaders. Other examples of how Voxer is used include book studies, interviews, and topic based discussions.

These are just a few examples of relevant professional development and you may notice that they are tech-based. However, these do not replace the importance and power of face-to-face collaborative learning among peers. Consider adding one or two to your toolbox as you continue along on your journey as a life-long learner!

Be Great,

Dwight

10 Ways Principals Can Use Twitter to Enhance Stakeholder Engagement

twitter-apple-keyboardBefore I joined the Twitterverse, I was critical of its use and, quite frankly, was turned off by the concept all together. I often read and watched what seemed like ridiculous stories of what celebrities shared about their lives from the foods they ate, who they had lunch with, or whom they were dating. I saw no purpose for it all. However, all that changed about four years ago when my former district embarked on a digital journey.

I had the opportunity to participate in an intense, three-day social media boot camp facilitated by Debra Jasper and Betsy Hubbard, founders of Mindset Digital. They showed the participants a number of ways to harness the power of Web 2.0 tools to share stories, improve communication strategies, engage students, and improve instruction to meet the needs of today’s learners. What was even more significant is that they showed us how other educators were using these tools on a daily basis to make their teaching and learning visible to the world. It was overwhelming and exciting at the same time. I gravitated towards Twitter and have learned 10 ways I could use it as a building principal:

1. Visible Learning– Concise and thoughtful messages posted on Twitter in real-time about what teachers and students are experiencing in classrooms, in extracurricular activities, or in service-learning projects creates a window into the world of your school. It increases the level of transparency that removes the mystery of school.
2. Highlight teachers– What gets recognized gets repeated, so sending out tweets about the amazing lesson ideas that teachers come up with shines a much deserved light on those whom positively change lives and impact futures.
3. Storytelling– We learn best through story, and Twitter gives a principal a chance to tell brief stories about the activities that go on daily. To enhance visibility, simply create a hashtag for your school, encourage others to use it, and begin posting to Twitter.
4. Expand One’s Personal Learning Network– It is often said that, “The smartest person in the room is the room.” Twitter gives a principal the opportunity to connect with educators outside of the school to learn about pedagogical strategies, connect with educational thought leaders, and communicate with other principals who are doing similar work.
5. Participate in Twitter Chats– A Twitter chat is an easy way to engage a meaningful exchange of ideas, approaches, and hot topics in education. There are a number of chats nearly every day of the week!
6. Start a Twitter Chat For Your Building and/or District-Principals can set up a Twitter chat for his/her school or district as a way to extend staff meeting conversations, discuss relevant articles, or have a book study. The possibilities are endless! Ask a few teachers to join in and off you go!
7. Communicate/Interact With Students– Besides interacting with students in the hallways, classrooms, and events, sharing daily messages via Twitter is an easy way to connect with a large group of students in a short amount of time. Remember to pause before you post.
8. Share Daily Words of Wisdom– I start nearly every day with a brief tweet of words of wisdom. I get the daily messages from a book entitled, 8,789 Words of Wisdom. It starts the day on a positive note for me and for those who receive them.
9. Provide Extracurricular Updates– Principals attend many extra-curricular events and one of the best ways to promote your school is to tweet highlights while at a sporting event, Science Olympiad, etc. Students, parents, and other staff members appreciate the real-time updates. The participants in the activities really appreciate it as well!
10. Post Links To Articles/Blogs– Share articles and blogs that are aligned with building goals, professional goals, or that challenge your thinking. This is one the best ways to contribute to others’ learning as well because what you post may spark an idea, provide the support they need to press on, or launch a new initiative.

I didn’t begin by doing all 10 of the strategies listed, nor should you. Pick one and try it out. Over time, using Twitter will become a part of your daily routine because you will recognize the positive impact it has on creating a culture of learning, sharing, connecting, and story telling.

Be Great,

Dwight

Stop Thief!

OS20059Luckily, I can only count on one hand the number of times someone physically stole something from me. Regardless of the number of times it’s happened, I felt violated, frustrated, and angry. The nerve and audacity of someone to take something that doesn’t belong to them is baffling. While I’ve experienced this only a few times, others may have experienced this more often.

There is another type of thievery that exists by those who intentionally or unintentionally steal joy, happiness, or peace from others. They don’t just steal it, they rob it. The difference between a thief and a robber is proximity. Thieves take things when no one is around. They sneak around and look for opportunities to pounce so they can leave unseen or unheard. Robbers have little regard for the individual and take things by force, yielding their arrogance or greed and forcibly take what they believe they should have. Both are selfish acts.

These thieves disguise themselves as policy makers, concerned friends, concerned parents, naysayers, or so called “realists.” They lurk among us with a critical eye waiting to suck the life out of a well- thought out lesson plan, creatively designed unit, or a new idea, all in the name of preservation of the past or fear of change. They steal joy with words of doubt, critique in the form of unsolicited feedback, or a relentless list of questions. After too long it becomes more difficult to bounce back from such acts of thievery. It requires more energy to fend them off, energy that should be used on something much more productive or positive.

As educators, this can happen almost on a daily basis, yet there are four things we can do to positively respond to such acts:

1. Make sure you are not a thief. When others enthusiastically share ideas or take calculated risks by trying something new in the classroom, speak words of encouragement and support.
2. Daily recharge your battery. We have a finite amount of willpower each day. Focus on things that speak life to you each day and get the necessary rest to be able to face new challenges the next day.
3. Develop a Personal Learning Network of trusted colleagues who not only believe in you, but also will be a critical friend to help you become the best you can be.
4. Become a trusted and critical friend to a colleague in your building. Your experience can be a valuable resource for others and just the support they need to grow.

Stop the thief, but also make sure you are not the one who needs to be stopped. Note to self: don’t be “that guy.”

Be Great,

Dwight

Photo credit: http://www.movingtomerida.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/stop-thief.jpg

My Letter To My New Staff #NAHSeaglespride

July 30, 2014
NA LogoDear NAHS Team Member,

We are in one of the most exciting times to be an educator. We are facing many challenges, yet we have some of the best opportunities to engage learners, the community, and each other to continue to shape what teaching and learning can look like at New Albany High School.

New Albany High School: Over 130 Staff and Faculty (Staffulty), 1300 students, 2600 parents, and 1 focus: To be Great. What does greatness mean? Greatness is neither a destination, nor a moment in time, but it is a journey towards a consistent pattern of behavior that results in constant progress and achievement. We often celebrate great moments in our lives, like anniversaries, graduations, birthdays, victories, and other milestones. Schools should look for moments to celebrate students and Staffulty as often as we can with intentionality and purpose in order to create an environment where all have a sense of belonging.

I hope this letter finds you in good health, relaxed, and rejuvenated for a great year at NAHS. I appreciate your enthusiastic reception in April, as it was very welcoming. I enjoyed the Peace Week Kickoff ceremony and the other activities you invited me to in the spring! I am looking forward to getting to know you and learn more about the rich traditions and history of NAHS.

Meeting with the Principal
As the start of school is quickly approaching, I invite each departmentconversations-matter to meet with me, including Administrative Assistants/Secretaries, and Cafeteria Staff and Custodians, to discuss successes, your hopes and dreams for our future, and what steps we can take together to make NAHS even better. If you are able to attend, these will be informal conversations so there is no need to bring anything. I understand some of you may be on vacation during these times so if you can’t make it, we can meet at another time. Your family and personal time comes first.

Below is a list of dates and times that I have set aside for us to meet:
Friday, August 8th: 9:00-10:00 AM; 10:15-11:15 AM
Monday, August 11th: 10:15-11:15 AM; 1:00-2:00 PM
Tuesday, August 12th: 9:00-10:00 AM; 10:15-11:15 AM; 1:00-2:00 PM
Wednesday, August 13th, 9:00-10:00 AM; 10:15-11:15 AM; 1:00-2:00 PM
Thursday, August 14th: 9:00-10:00 AM; 10:15-11:15 AM; 1:00-2:00 PM
Friday, August 15th: 9:00-10:00 AM

Department Chairs, please call or email Sherrie Kauffman to set up an appointment. Again, this is not mandatory or an expectation, but simply an invitation for us to talk. Please let Sherrie know the room number where you want to meet.

Staff and Faculty Family Picnic!
Please mark your calendars and make plans to attend the 2014-2015 Staffulty Picnic on Sunday, August 17th at Jefferson Community Park in Gahanna from 4:30-8:30 PM! The building administrators will fire up the grill and provide the burgers, hotdogs, and brats, as well as the beverages and paper products. You will receive a Google Doc for you to RSVP and let us know what side dish you will bring. You are encouraged to bring your spouse or significant other and children for a fun and festive time together as a NAHS Family! If you have any games, such as Corn Hole, Badminton, or Volleyball, please bring it.

New Years in August!
Traditionally the start of a new year is celebrated on December 31. Many people spend that time either celebrating, praying, reflecting, and resolving to do things differently in the future. But, why wait until December?

We are ringing in the 2014-2015 school year with a “Happy New Year” celebration the first thing in the morning on August 25! To help welcome our students, you are invited to join us outside along the front sidewalk leading to the E Lobby and at the at entrance doors at the bus loop to enthusiastically greet students as they enter the building! If you are interested in joining us, we’ll gather at 7:15 AM. Together, we can make it a very memorable start to a new school year!

School Theme
NAHS You MatterIn order to foster an even greater sense of community and build upon the traditions of NAHS such as high academic honors, athletic championships, quality performance and visual arts, House, House Games, Peace Week, and Senior Seminar, I would like to introduce the use of an annual theme. The purpose of a theme is to convey a message within a story. The theme will be our annual mission in that it will highlight our approach to teaching, learning, school culture, and the celebration of our success. The stories we create and tell this year will focus on creating community.

This year’s theme is “YOU Matter.” Together, we will create a sense of oneness and make every effort to show each individual student and Staffulty member how important they are to the overall success of NAHS. “YOU Matter” focuses on the whole person, including academic success, attendance, attitude, participation in athletics, the arts, and school sponsored activities. More information will be coming throughout the year. In the meantime, I encourage you to spend some quality time the first week of school establishing positive relationships with students. The following are a few examples of how to incorporate our theme this year:

● Create a class blog and post a topic on the board for students to write about as a bell ringer. Sample topics include, “What is one challenge you have overcome in the last week?,” “What have you done to make someone else’s day?,” “What is one way you can make a positive difference at NAHS this week?,” and “Who are two students you have met this week and what did you learn about them?”

● Place a blank name tag on students’ desk and ask them to write an adjective of how they feel that day. For example, “Hello, I am grateful!” Then take a few minutes and ask for a few volunteers to share their adjective.

● Random Act of Kindness Cards can be distributed throughout the first quarter as a way to tangibly let someone know they made a difference.

I have a special request. It would be a welcoming sight as our students, parents, and guests entered the building if they were greeted by a large bulletin board of pictures of our Staffulty. However, instead of the standard school picture, you are invited to drop off to Sherrie a 3X5 or 4X6 picture of you and your family, or you doing your favorite hobby, to be added to our Staffulty collage. For example, I may submit a family photo we took for my daughter’s first birthday. Be creative and let your personality shine!

New Staffulty and Changes
We have added a few new members to the team and we are excited to have them with us!

Assistant Principal-Kristy Venne (former Dean of Students)
Dean of Students-Todd Keenan
Director of Special Ed-Sheila Saunders
Mandarin Chinese- Sammie Si Zhao
Receptionist-Lynn Guthrie (former Instructional Aide)
School Counselor Secretary- Shannon Gominez
Spanish-Hannah Macko
Special Ed-Dawn Psurny
Special Ed- Eric Jablonka
Wellness- Dominique Alexander
Welcome Center Registrar- Robin Davison (former School Counselor Secretary)

Important Dates
August 11th -New Student Orientation – Monday, August 11th 9:00-11:00 AM
August 17th- Staffulty and Family Picnic-Sunday, August 17th 4:30-8:30 PM at Jefferson Community Park in Gahanna
August 18th- Schedule Pick up for Seniors and Juniors: 9:00-Noon and 1:00-4:00 PM
August 19th- Schedule Pick up for Sophomores and Freshmen: 8:00-Noon and 1:00-4:00 PM
August 20th- Opening Convocation/District In-Service-no students
August 21st- Professional Learning
August 22nd- Staff Work Day
August 25th- First Day of School

I look forward to serving as your Principal!

Be Great,

Dwight

The Seven A’s of Successful High Schools

SuccessDefining what it means to have a “successful” high school is quite the challenge, with stakeholders often disagreeing on the approach to take. Some primarily focus on what’s easily quantifiable, such as standardized test schools, national normed tests, attendance data, grade point averages, and discipline data. While these data points are important, they don’t always tell the whole story or clearly define the success of a school.

When I became a high school principal seven years ago, I wanted to take a much broader approach to defining the success of my school and as I begin my first year in a new district and a new school, I am even more confident in what I call the seven A’s of successful high schools. These seven areas provide a framework for high schools to focus on the development of the whole child, which is a concept we cannot overlook in today’s high stress, high demand culture. Following, I’ve outlined each of the seven attributes I consider essential in a successful high school, as well as my rationale for selecting each.

Attendance-Students have to not only be in school, but they have to be on time every period, every day, and be present mentally. Presence matters and is an easily identifiable characteristic of successful schools. Successful schools create an environment where students want to be there and be engaged every day. For example, create multiple ways for a number of students to have their “names in lights”: either read over the announcements, posted in the local newspaper, their pictures on display on digital monitors throughout the building or tweeted out by school officials for demonstrating positive behavior. Find inexpensive and creative ways to establish levels and layers of recognition of progress and achievement. Check out www.jostens.com/renaissance for suggestions and ideas.

Academics– Schools that offer a variety of relevant course offerings not only meet the needs of students, but stretch them to experiment with unfamiliar content, encourage them to learn by doing, and solve local, state, national, and global problems in creative ways. This provides opportunities for teachers to connect with other educators beyond the school walls and model the collaborative learning process. I recommend that a school review its program of studies annually to ensure it’s providing the best opportunities for students. One of the most important things a principal can do is to support the development of new courses that meet the needs of today’s learners. Support teachers who create classes that tap into students’ passions.

Attitude– it’s important that school leaders create a culture that celebrates a positive attitude of students, staff, and parents. One’s attitude is reflected in one’s behavior. One’s attitude, be it negative or positive is contagious. So, creating a culture that eradicates negativity leads to a much more pleasant environment and place where there’s a sense of belonging. For example, at Gahanna Lincoln High School, we established the PRIDE Award, based upon our school motto: Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence. The PRIDE award allowed staff to give the award to any student who demonstrated the character straits we deemed important. Each month, these students’ names would be scrolled on the morning announcements. Students would go to the lobby to receive a certificate and take a group photo that would be posted on the school’s Facebook and it would also be posted on Twitter. In addition, we invited the students and their parents to a quarterly morning breakfast to be celebrated even more! It was amazing to see so many parents attend a 6:45 AM breakfast with their cameras. I’m certain they went to work and showed off pictures of their “baby!”

Acts of Service– Community service is the norm in successful schools and it doesn’t always have to be large one-time events. Classes or entire grade levels can partner with a number of local organizations, such as the Ronald McDonald House, a local food bank, an animal shelter, the Red Cross, nursery homes, or assist neighbors with home projects. The possibilities are endless as long as there is a plan and desire to help others. This not only creates a sense of belonging for students who have the heart to serve others, but also establishes solid school-community partnerships. For example, students at Gahanna Lincoln would annually have a homeroom competition to provide canned goods to the local food pantry, Gahanna Residents in Need (GRIN). They would collect so much food that they satisfied the needs for many families throughout the winter and spring seasons. This also sparked other organizations to give. Another example is how students at New Albany High School collected coats during the winter months to give to children in need. Simply ask your students what they want to support and why, and help facilitate the action!

I have to share the story of a young woman named, Shayna Fowler, who attends the same church I go to. She just graduated from Pickerington High School Central and she is a difference maker! She has committed herself to a life of service and has helped hundreds of tween and teen girls through a program called, “The Butterfly Project.” She is headed to Kenya this summer to help orphan children. You can learn more about Shayna here.

Athletics-A solid athletic program provides an outlet for many students, creates opportunities for students to connect with each other around a common interest, and the focus they may need to perform academically. In addition, athletics foster positive relationships and increase school pride as the school community rallies around the teams that are in-season, providing weekly opportunities to celebrate students and the school.

The Arts-A robust performing and visual arts programs gives students the opportunity to stretch themselves, fulfill a passion, perform in front of authentic audiences, and immerse themselves into creative outlets. The Arts provide a showcase of the talent that exists within a school and brings the community to the school to see students in action. For example, high schools like Gahanna Lincoln and New Albany have a Fall play and Spring musical each year. Both performances involve a wide range of students, including those who want to perform on stage to those who work behind the scene by being a part of the build or stage crew, working the lighting, or playing music in the pit. Both schools earned an invitation to the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland for their outstanding theatre productions. Gahanna Lincoln High School, under the leadership of Cindi Macioce, attended the summers of 2005 and 2013. New Albany High School, under the leadership of Elliot Lemberg, will attend this summer.

Activities– Successful schools have a number of clubs and extra-curricular activities, such as a Gamers Club, Table Tennis, Japanese Anime, a Programming Club, Chess Club, or a Writers Club for students who express themselves through poetry and spoken word. It’s important to honor student voice by allowing them to decide which clubs they want to have at school. The only stipulation is that a school employee has to agree to be the club advisor. Use school announcements, social media, and other web 2.0 tools to share meeting times and dates as well as highlights from club meetings.

Focusing on the 7 A’s will lead to an overall successful school by giving every student the opportunity to thrive. The 7 A’s encompass areas that appeal to all stakeholders, finding a nitch for everyone to be a part of building a positive school culture. As a final step as a building principal, I track data and share results with students, staff, parents, and the community to ensure buy-in and continued school success.

Be Great,

Dwight