Books & Resources
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I’ve worked my butt off to build a class that is outrageously engaging, fun, educationally sound, and dearly loved by students. It wasn’t easy when I started, it wasn’t easy last week, and it won’t be easy next week either. It’s not supposed to be easy—it’s supposed to be worth it. You can build something incredible if you put the effort in on the front end, and then keep putting the effort in until you turn the lights off and close your door for the last time. But it won’t be “easy.”
I saw Dave’s amazing Teach Like a PIRATE presentation at ASCD. It must not have been easy for him to deliver such an amazing presentation…but it was worth it! I just finished Dave’s book last week, and it’s truly impressive.
If you are looking for a book to read together as a staff, or for a gift to show appreciation for how hard teachers work, I highly recommend Teach Like a PIRATE.
To make it easier to create a tickler file system, here’s a printable PDF (2 pages) of tickler file labels, sized for Avery 5160 standard mailing labels.
Note: I’ve also included two other labels:
- BILT, which stands for “Before I Leave Today”
- To Sign – a great folder to keep outside your office for signature-only items
Enjoy, and please send me any feedback or suggestions.
The Principal Center is growing rapidly, with great discussions taking place around focused, timely topics such as starting the school year with staff. We’re giving away an iPad 2 to one of the first 100 people to join in the discussion – add your thoughts by August 31 to participate.
Beyond these timely topics, one of the best opportunities for collaboration is around mutual interests and needs. If you’re working on a particular issue, or interested in a particular topic, The Principal Center can connect you with other school leaders who are in the same boat through our various groups.
Right now, we have groups for elementary, middle, high, alternative, and private/parochial school leaders, as well as central office leaders. We just added an iPad users’ group and several geographic designations (such as rural schools and country-specific groups for the UK and NZ).
We’re also looking to add newsletter clubs, book discussion groups, daily announcement clubs, and other kinds of groups that will encourage professional growth and share the load of providing high-quality communication.
What would you like to see at PrincipalCenter.com? If you’re not a member yet, here’s how to join.
Dr. Mike Schmoker discusses his new book Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning, in which he explains that we can get dramatically better results in our classrooms by focusing on a few essential elements, including a coherent curriculum, high-quality whole-class instruction, and large doses of reading and writing across the curriculum. He argues that much of our energy today is spent on distractions from these essential elements, without which add-ons like technology and project-based learning will have little impact.
Download this episode (MP3 format, 27:08, 13 MB)
Dr. Schmoker was kind enough to answer quite a few questions on the EdWeek forums, and graciously made some time to speak with me about his book’s message in this week’s episode of Eduleadership Radio.
Follow Eduleadership Radio:
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Special thanks to Twitter colleagues @justintarte @chubbuch @wolfball33 @jwporteous @northeagles @MrBernia @eevansHHS @Akee123 @jdahl84 and @POUSDsupt and others for the great conversation about Focus at #edfocus, and especially to Justin Tarte for organizing the discussion.
It’s May, which means principals around the nation are finishing up teacher evaluations (or just did). Here’s the spreadsheet I developed this year to keep track of whether I’ve completed each step of the evaluation process for each staff member.
The main problems this spreadsheet is designed to solve are:
- There are a LOT of steps to completing evaluations, and deadlines are critical
- It’s hard to keep track of whether I have received back all of the forms that I must complete, sign, give to teachers, and get back with their signature.
There are columns for:
- Teacher Name
- Evaluation Cycle (we have four cycles in my district, each with different requirements)
- Goal-Setting meeting (date)
- GS Form received (date)
- Mid-Year Reflection received (date)
- 1st observation Preconf completed (date)
- 1st observation completed (date)
- 1st observation Postconference completed (date)
- 1st observationreport done (bold=returned)
- 2nd observation Preconf completed (date)
- 2nd observation completed (date)
- 2nd observation Postconference completed (date)
- 2nd observationreport done (bold=returned)
- Final evaluation meeting date (bold=met)
- Final evaluation report done (bold=returned)
Here’s how I use it:
- I filled the first column with the names of my various staff members
- I filled in the second column with the evaluation cycle they’re on, and filled “n/a” in each cell that is not applicable to that teacher (for example, some cycles do not require a 2nd evaluation)
- When the date for one of the above steps is set, I fill that date in the appropriate cell. Similarly, when I have written a report, I fill in the date that I completed it.
- For meetings, when we have actually met, I bold the date. This helps me keep track of meetings that were canceled so I can be sure to reschedule them.
- For reports, I bold the date when I have received a signed copy of the report back from the teacher.
- I put ***** in the cells that identify the reports I need to write next.
If you have a tool you find useful, feel free to email me – I’d love to hear from you.
Here are the slides from my recent presentation at the Association of Washington School Principals’ Assistant Principals’ Conference in downtown Seattle on February 10.
Thanks to everyone who joined me for this session.
My new High-Performance Administrator Daily Planning Sheet is designed to help you plan your day to maximize your impact on student learning. You can download the PDF here.
This sheet is easy to keep with you throughout the day to ensure that you’re keeping track of your work and getting things accomplished. It also fits well with the workflow I recommend in this article.
This document is inspired by David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner, a sheet Seah created to guide his work as a self-employed designer. For principals, time is one of the most important and difficult-to-manage factors in effectiveness; in particular, I find it hard to connect the big-picture goals with my day-to-day actions and use of time. I developed this sheet about a week ago and have been using it daily, making small refinements each time.
Here’s a quick overview of how to use it:
- At the top, list one or two major goals for your school, and one thing you’ll do today to advance those goals
- In the Communication box, list people you need to talk to, and figure out when you can talk to them (based on class schedule, your availability, etc.
- On the right side, write out your schedule, including both actual meetings and things you plan to work on at various times. Write in the hours based on which hours you’re at work.
- In the “Task Inbox” section, write down anything that you need to do that comes up today; later, copy anything that’s not done into your full to-do list system
- At the end of the day, check off each “inbox” as you clear it out
I would appreciate your feedback if you try it – leave a comment or use the contact form if you have any insights to share.