Monday, December 30, 2013

Black Monday: What type of Coach are you?

In light of the NFL's Black Monday with 5 coaches getting the ax before noon, it brought home a great point for me:    What type of coach am I?

Everyone in education is a coach...Teachers constantly coach their kids...Principals coach their staff...Administrators coach their schools. Ultimately, coaching is your relationship with people, how you interact/inspire/motivate/lead the people you work with has more to do with your success (in the NFL's case failure) than any other facet of your job...no matter what it is.

So what type of coach are you?

"Old School" - Do you rule with an iron fist? Demand respect because you're in charge? You know this will work so we're going to do this and succeed. Are you so focused on the task at hand that you tend to alienate those that don't follow your lead? Can "My Way or the Highway" coaches succeed in the 21st century?

"Players" - Everyone loves this coach...great person...will always be someone I can talk to. Players (staff) feel at home and comfortable, but, are they working to their full potential? Has complacency set in? Can your staff step up during adverse times? You're a people person but what happens when your people don't perform?

"Figurehead" - Is every decision you make second guessed by those above you on the corporate ladder? Do you need approval before making any decision? Are you really in-charge or are you just the one making the decision public? You speak well, are eloquent and toe the company line...but...are you really in control of the situation? Does your staff believe you're the one making the decisions?

"Emotional" - Do you thrive in a constant hyper-state of emotions? Are you jumping up and down high-fiving...I mean fist-bumping everyone in the building when tests scores are above Standard and maybe dragging your iPad when they fall short? Do you ride that roller-coaster of High's and Low's throughout the year?

 "One & Done" - Maybe, just maybe you walked into the wrong situation. Were you ready for the responsibility? Did you do everything you could to better the situation? Good people end up in the wrong situation all the time, can you recognize this and change things before they are changed for you?

Each NFL coach discharged today falls into one of these categories from all that's been discussed, I'll leave it to you to decide which is which. More importantly is where do you fit?

Can you identify you coaching type? Does it fit well with your staff/students? Does it fit well with your leadership team? And the biggest fit of all...does it make your school/classroom the best it can be for your kids?

Coaches and leaders need to be true to themselves first and foremost. To lead you must be genuine, believable and honest or your staff will know it's just an act. Recognize your strengths as well as your weaknesses, know your staff/students and have a vision on what's best for your kids.

The key to successful coaching in the classroom or the boardroom is knowing which of the coaching types you need to apply to get the most out of each of your staff/students. There will be times when you have to be emotional...show your passion...share your enthusiasm. Other times you have to make hard decisions that won't be loved by all but are the right things to do. Be present with your staff/students everyday...get to know them...ask them about their day...build relationships. Do this and your decisions will be easy.

Coaching/Teaching/Leading success hinges on the people you are coaching...your job as a leader is to get the most you can out of each student/staff member each day. Do this and you won't have to worry about Black Monday...or Tuesday...or Wednesday...or Thursday. I can't help you with Black Friday, the retail train is going way to fast to derail.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Is It About You? or Are You About It?

if you live your life to make others better...
yours will be well rewarded

Thank you Nelson Mandela

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

EdCamping in a Blizzard (well any camping in a blizzard)

What happens when a Planned Early Out becomes a Weather Related Early Out?

Just like regular camping...our Hybrid EdCamp-style PD gets postponed and we get a little dejected because we had a great day planned. We had to make some quick adjustments due to 5-8 inches of snow and the ever-present NW Minnesota wind that sent our staff home a little earlier than planned.

At Challenger Elementary and Lincoln High School we postponed our EdCamp-style Show and Grow sessions to our January early out. Staff at Frankiln Middle School were able to use the shortened PD time to share some tips and tricks for integrating iPads in their classrooms.

I'm really jacked-up for the Hybrid EdCamp's...the thought behind this is staff sharing new things they've found useful since the start of our 1:1 program in 2-3 minutes fast paced presentations. Staff will then get to choose which of the presentations they would like more information on and meet with the presenters to brainstorm and apply the tools to their classroom.

At LHS we're doing a 20 Tools in 60 Minutes (a takeoff on the great job @MarkGarrison does with 50 Sites). While at CES we have staff from each grade level presenting a tool/technique in a little longer period then doing what I call "speed dating" training. Staff choose 4 of the presentations and attend a focused 15-20 discussion group on the tool/technique and how it could be used in their classroom. Then rotate to the next tool/technique on their list.

What I really like about these presentations is that most of the presenters at both schools are "new" staffers. We asked our regular Champion's of Technology to step back and challenged other staff members to present. This is great for our regular trainers to get a little time to recharge (not that any of them need it...they are so pushing forward) and other staff to share their successes.

Check back in in January as I will post how this Hybrid EdCamp turns out...barring another 8 inches of snow :)

Thanks for reading, have a great day and Keep Pushing Forward....Our Kids Are!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Time Flies when you're rolling out 1300+ iPads and 700+ MacBooks

How does one get back on the blogging horse?

Checking my blog and where did 6 1/2 months go since my last post...my "..." key has more dust on it than the Bunker after year two of building construction.

We've seen so many great things in Thief River Falls over the past 2 years, it truly is an amazing place to work and I've been blessed with the opportunities for pushing forward we've had.

Our three main buildings (soon to take care of the District and Area Learning Center building) are all but finished with WiFi access point in every classroom. I'm happy to report that after 3 months of use by all 2000 wireless devices the network has been fully functional (knock on wood). The building projects main goal of upgrading our network infrastructure has been met.

We recently reported to the School Board on the 1:1 program so I thought I'd start the blog express again by recapping how we got where we are today.


Setup/Handout - Getting the devices in the hands of the kids
The investment in the right tools, a good planned process along with some dedicated "Assembly line Workers" made the configuration and imaging of our devices go very smoothly. Using Casper Suite from JAMF Software allowed us to image a MacBook Air in about 4 minutes. I can't stress how important; having a plan and process then sticking with it, is when imaging this many devices. But, most importantly is having great people execute the plan is the biggest key. Our team; LynnDyer (LAN Manager), ScottHetherington (Science Teacher), Kayla Delzer (2nd Grade Teacher) and Kelly Weets (LHS Media Specialist), Jenna Weets (4th Grader) and Jillian Weets (2nd Grader) made the Assembly Line move right along...couldn't have done it without them...can't thank them enough.

Here's a part of the workflow whiteboard we followed. Total Time for 700 MBA imaged and cased 48 hours
The MacBook Air handout at LHS couldn’t have gone better with great presentations at our parent informational nights, communicating our initial goals, outlining our expectations of students and staff and finally handing out the devices to the kids.

The iPad handout at FMS also was very successful. Another round of great presentations on parent informational night and the dedication of staff in explaining expectations to students made the process smooth. We spent progressively more time in setting up Google Doc accounts and AppleID's for each grade starting with 8th down to 6th.

Adoption and Training - Meet staff where they are…

One of the biggest things we stressed throughout our planning process with this large of a program was that we were going to "meet staff where they were"...in other words we weren't going to force feed the devices on our staff. We also didn't want to stifle or hold back our hi-flying staff that were ready to adopt the devices in their classroom. 
It has been great to see the growth in use of the devices in classrooms, driven by students to students and more importantly students to staff. I thoroughly believe that any successful 1:1 initiative will be driven by students, parents and peers. Students and Parents are our Customers...when they start telling you what they want you better be ready to give it to them. The power of teaching peers showing how successful they are in integrating the devices in lessons make adoption by those that are a little skeptical that much easier. We are constantly celebrating our successes in integration and developing "Champions of Technology" help build a unified staff that has several people to go to for help.


Where do we go from here

I can't say enough about our staff at each of our buildings. They aren't afraid to try things and are thirsting for more information. This year we added monthly early out days for Tech Training providing for additional PD and more opportunities for sharing what we learn along this 1:1 journey.

I will be blogging about what we've done, what we plan to do and all of the sensational surprises that we never imagined we'd face (good and bad). Thanks for reading and helping share our story.