SAMtastic Weekly Tip!

August 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  February 12, 2018

Today’s tip: teach people to use you well.

First:  When you are asked for assistance for a management task say YES in a way that teaches people to use you well.  “You need more copy paper?  No worries.  Mrs. Stevens, our First Responder for supplies, can get it for you faster.”  Then, try a pivot:  “When you are at the office ask her to schedule some time for us to talk about the lesson I observed yesterday.”

Second:  “I need just a minute of your time.”  Answer:  “You are more important than a minute of my time.  What is the issue? You need to talk with me about the math standards?  Great.  See my SAM so we can focus on this issue for more than a minute or two.  How about 30 minutes so we can talk this through?”

What you do speaks louder than what you say.  Take every opportunity to share with your staff how to get help fast and use you right.

Steven Pinker’s new book reveals three mental biases that will keep you from achieving your leadership potential.

If you’re pessimistic about the state of world today, Bill Gates and Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker have a message for you: “This bleak assessment of the state of the world is wrong. And not just a little wrong–wrong wrong, flat-earth wrong, couldn’t-be-more-wrong.”

The quote appears on the first page of Pinker’s new book Enlightenment Now. In a recent blog post, Bill Gates calls it his new “favorite book of all time.” Pinker and Gates are optimists. They see the world differently than most people and they have the data to prove it. In the first few pages of Pinker’s book, he makes the point that civilization has made “spectacular progress” in nearly every possible way. Here’s the kicker–almost nobody knows about it because most people focus on the negative. Change your thinking; change your life.

Each chapter of Pinker’s book covers striking accomplishments in 15 areas including: life, health, wealth/abundance, peace, safety, equal rights, and more. In this paragraph, Pinker gives us a small glimpse of “the gifts” we take for granted.

Newborns who will live more than eight decades, markets overflowing with food, clean water than appears with a flick of a finger, and waste that disappears with another, pills that erase a painful infection…critics of the powerful who are not jailed or shot, the world’s knowledge and culture available in a shirt pocket.

Bill Gates says he loves the book because leaders who make a difference focus on positive progress instead of fixating exclusively on problems.

GREAT LEADERS HAVE PERSPECTIVE

Inspiring leaders lift people up because they have historical and global perspective, as I noted in this article about Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. As Pinker notes, “Keep some perspective. Not every problem is a Crisis, Plague, Epidemic, or Existential Threat…problems are inevitable; but problems are solvable.”

Here’s just one example of how Pinker’s book puts our lives into perspective. He asks the question, How long do you think the average person in the world can be expected to live today? Multinational surveys show that fewer than 1 in 4 people answer the question correctly. The answer: 71.4 years. In the mid-18th century, life expectancy for the world as a whole was 29 years of age. And that number had barely budged in the previous 225 years.

According to Pinker, if we had “a shred of cosmic gratitude,” we’d be very happy about all the progress we’ve made just in the last twenty years, let along the last two hundred. But polls show that Americans simply aren’t much happier than our counterparts were decades ago. Pinker says our mental biases are to blame; biases that great leaders have learned to manage or overcome.

      3 COGNITIVE BIASES THAT HOLD US BACK

Pinker cites several built-in biases that prevent us from seeing the world in perspective.

1. Theory of hedonic treadmill. Although we make more, live better and longer than any generation in history, people “adapt to changes in their fortunes…and quickly return to a genetically determined baseline,” writes Pinker. In other words, we’re always chasing rainbows. We might be momentarily happy when we buy a new car or get a bump in salary or land a new job, but we quickly regress to a previous baseline of happiness.

2. Theory of social comparison. This bias explains why people think the world is worse off when it’s actually richer by every measure, according to Pinker. All too often, our happiness is determined by how well we think we’re doing compared to others. Instead, we should be focusing on how far we’ve all come.

3. Availability heuristic. According to Pinker, the bias can be summed up in “Bad is stronger than good.” The psychological literature is well-established on the topic. We “dwell on setbacks more than we savor good fortune,” says Pinker. We focus on dystopian headlines and overlook the positive trends.

According to Pinker, the “steady drumbeat of doom” on the news doesn’t help. When we look for signs of how low the world has sunk rather than how high our standards have risen, the consequences on our mental state are quite serious. Pessimism raises our anxiety, decreases our happiness, saps our energy, and gives us the feeling that the world’s problems are getting worse and can’t be solved. These are not the qualities of leaders who people want to follow.

Since the history of progress is “a glorious narrative…uplifting and inspiring,” leaders who want to inspire others would benefit from reading Pinker’s perspective. Bill Gates already has.
SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  February 5, 2018

Today’s tip:  Four things…including a free book we will mail you.  Read on!

First:  The 11th Annual National SAM Conference was wonderful.  Overall, attendees ranked it 4.88 on a 5 point scale with “5” being the best conference they had ever attended.  Thanks to Betty, Jim, Eric, Carol, Monica, Scott and the dozens of other SAM family members who help make the conference happen each year.  Thanks, too, to the wonderful breakout session speakers and phenomenal keynote presenters.

Second:  The keynote sessions were remarkable.  One national presenter, renowned child psychologist, Catherine Steiner-Adair, spoke on the unintended negative and dangerous consequences of tech use by young children—adults, too.  What made her message click is that she is not against tech and sees many positives…but believes we have overlooked the negatives.  Did you know, for example, that when a person is reading something and is distracted by a smartphone for just a few seconds, research shows they would have to go back nine minutes in their reading to recover what their brain failed to capture in short term memory?  Wow.  Think what this means in a classroom.  Think what this means when you are trying to talk to a teacher and you are both interrupted by tech.  Sobering.   We provided her book, The Big Disconnect, to attendees.  If you couldn’t attend the conference and would like a copy we have a few extras.  Email Monica@SamsConnect.com along with your full name and home mailing address.  She will send you a copy…at least until our supply runs out.  :)

Third:  Since we are on the topic of tech, do you know when Bill Gates gave his kids access to smartphones?  12 years old.  He is even stricter than the Wait Until Eight movement that is sweeping the country.  He believes most tech is far too distracting for young learners and pose other concerns including safety.  Here’s an article about how tech gurus view tech use/access for children:  Read it on businessinsider.com

Fourth:  Think the world is in trouble?  Everything is worse?  Sure seems that way, doesn’t it?  An article last week in Inc. paints a different picture using data…and…importantly…shows why leaders need to accentuate the positive if they are to get the gains they want with staff and students.  “…leaders who make a difference focus on positive progress instead of fixating exclusively on problems.”  Sounds like a good SAM who points out the gains their leader is making each day.  Love it!

The article appears below.

<hr>

Steven Pinker’s new book reveals three mental biases that will keep you from achieving your leadership potential.

If you’re pessimistic about the state of world today, Bill Gates and Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker have a message for you: “This bleak assessment of the state of the world is wrong. And not just a little wrong–wrong wrong, flat-earth wrong, couldn’t-be-more-wrong.”

The quote appears on the first page of Pinker’s new book Enlightenment Now. In a recent blog post, Bill Gates calls it his new “favorite book of all time.” Pinker and Gates are optimists. They see the world differently than most people and they have the data to prove it. In the first few pages of Pinker’s book, he makes the point that civilization has made “spectacular progress” in nearly every possible way. Here’s the kicker–almost nobody knows about it because most people focus on the negative. Change your thinking; change your life.

Each chapter of Pinker’s book covers striking accomplishments in 15 areas including: life, health, wealth/abundance, peace, safety, equal rights, and more. In this paragraph, Pinker gives us a small glimpse of “the gifts” we take for granted.

Newborns who will live more than eight decades, markets overflowing with food, clean water than appears with a flick of a finger, and waste that disappears with another, pills that erase a painful infection…critics of the powerful who are not jailed or shot, the world’s knowledge and culture available in a shirt pocket.

Bill Gates says he loves the book because leaders who make a difference focus on positive progress instead of fixating exclusively on problems.

GREAT LEADERS HAVE PERSPECTIVE

Inspiring leaders lift people up because they have historical and global perspective, as I noted in this article about Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. As Pinker notes, “Keep some perspective. Not every problem is a Crisis, Plague, Epidemic, or Existential Threat…problems are inevitable; but problems are solvable.”

Here’s just one example of how Pinker’s book puts our lives into perspective. He asks the question, How long do you think the average person in the world can be expected to live today? Multinational surveys show that fewer than 1 in 4 people answer the question correctly. The answer: 71.4 years. In the mid-18th century, life expectancy for the world as a whole was 29 years of age. And that number had barely budged in the previous 225 years.

According to Pinker, if we had “a shred of cosmic gratitude,” we’d be very happy about all the progress we’ve made just in the last twenty years, let along the last two hundred. But polls show that Americans simply aren’t much happier than our counterparts were decades ago. Pinker says our mental biases are to blame; biases that great leaders have learned to manage or overcome.

      3 COGNITIVE BIASES THAT HOLD US BACK

Pinker cites several built-in biases that prevent us from seeing the world in perspective.

1. Theory of hedonic treadmill. Although we make more, live better and longer than any generation in history, people “adapt to changes in their fortunes…and quickly return to a genetically determined baseline,” writes Pinker. In other words, we’re always chasing rainbows. We might be momentarily happy when we buy a new car or get a bump in salary or land a new job, but we quickly regress to a previous baseline of happiness.

2. Theory of social comparison. This bias explains why people think the world is worse off when it’s actually richer by every measure, according to Pinker. All too often, our happiness is determined by how well we think we’re doing compared to others. Instead, we should be focusing on how far we’ve all come.

3. Availability heuristic. According to Pinker, the bias can be summed up in “Bad is stronger than good.” The psychological literature is well-established on the topic. We “dwell on setbacks more than we savor good fortune,” says Pinker. We focus on dystopian headlines and overlook the positive trends.

According to Pinker, the “steady drumbeat of doom” on the news doesn’t help. When we look for signs of how low the world has sunk rather than how high our standards have risen, the consequences on our mental state are quite serious. Pessimism raises our anxiety, decreases our happiness, saps our energy, and gives us the feeling that the world’s problems are getting worse and can’t be solved. These are not the qualities of leaders who people want to follow.

Since the history of progress is “a glorious narrative…uplifting and inspiring,” leaders who want to inspire others would benefit from reading Pinker’s perspective. Bill Gates already has.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  January 15, 2018

What could you learn from Bill Gates?  Warren Buffett?  Benjamin Franklin?  Could you follow their five hour rule?

“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none. Zero.” — Charlie Munger, Self-made billionaire & Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner 

Why did the busiest person in the world, former president Barack Obama, read an hour a day, five hour rule, while in office?  Why has the best investor in history, Warren Buffett, invested 80% of his time in reading and thinking throughout his career?  Why has the world’s richest person, Bill Gates, read a book a week during his career? And why has he taken a yearly two-week reading vacation throughout his entire career?

Why do the world’s smartest and busiest people find one hour a day for deliberate learning (the 5-hour rule), while others make excuses about how busy they are?  What do they see that others don’t?  The answer is simple: Learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make. Or as Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Former President Obama perfectly explains why he was so committed to reading during his presidency in a recent New York Times interview (paywall): “At a time when events move so quickly and so much information is transmitted,” he said, reading gave him the ability to occasionally “slow down and get perspective” and “the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes.” These two things, he added, “have been invaluable to me. Whether they’ve made me a better president I can’t say. But what I can say is that they have allowed me to sort of maintain my balance during the course of eight years, because this is a place that comes at you hard and fast and doesn’t let up.”

So, look at your TimeTrack.  When do you schedule time for reading and learning?  Many of you are coming to the 11th Annual National SAM Conference next week.   Great!  If you aren’t coming this year plan for 2019.  In the meantime, start scheduling an hour a week for reading.  Ben did it.  Bill and Barack do it.  Can you?
SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  January 8, 2018

Ready to try a “flip”?   SAM teams look for opportunities to “flip” management tasks to instructional. Here are two examples from NSIP Director Mark Shellinger:

When doing morning classroom visits to observe teacher practice, a high school principal carries five tickets in his pocket.  The tickets say:  My Table:  Lunch Today.  He leaves a ticket on the desk of a student who impressed him—great learning behavior, helping others learn, etc. In the cafeteria the principal has the only round table.  There are six chairs.  He eats lunch with the five ticket recipients and talks with them about why they were selected.  The conversation often expands to what they like best about their school and things they would change.   The principal can still do cafeteria duty but with an instructional twist:  flipping management to instruction.

When doing bus duty an elementary principal tags three students before they get on the bus:  “I would like to see your homework when you come back to school in the morning.”  The next day, the principal has a student desk in front of the school’s entry with two chairs.  She sits down with each of her tagged students and looks at their homework.  Many principals who try this say it makes a big impression on all students…and many want to get tagged by their principal.  What happens when a student says “I don’t have any homework?”  The principal gives an assignment.  For example: “No homework?  OK.  Then copy down your electric meter when you get home and look at it again after dinner.  How much electricity did you use?”  Or, “Bring a book that you have either finished reading or have completed the first two chapters.  We’ll talk about it.”

Flipping can be powerful and is often really fun!
SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  December 4, 2017

This week’s tip:  Look Behind You

Take a look at November.  Open TimeTrack and click on your Dashboard.  Then:

1.    Were you above your baseline for November?

2.    Were you above your goal for November?

3.    Double click on November, the green bar.

4.    Now you see a lot of colors that detail what you did each day in November by descriptor.

5.    Hover your cursor over a color and it will reveal the descriptor.

6.    Is there a relationship between your four kinds of observation and three kinds of feedback?

7.    What patterns do you see?

8.    Use the back arrow key to return to the main dashboard.  Expand the chart, top right.  This shows your time with every staff members.

9.    Are you spending the right amount of time with each teacher?

10. Who is your lowest performing teacher?  How much time are you spending with him/her?  Is it enough?  What is your next step?

11. Who is your highest performing teacher?  How much time are you spending with him/her?  Is it enough?  What is your next step?

 

Taking time to look at last month can up your game this month.  Your data tells a story.  Take time to read and talk about it during your SAM Daily Meeting.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  November 20, 2017

This week’s tip:  Develop your gratitude muscle.

This is a short week.  How about taking a few minutes in your SAM Daily Meeting to explore what you are grateful for in your professional work?

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful.  This quality is in you…but, like a muscle, it has to be developed day by day and conversation by conversation.

This quality, being thankful, is a powerful leadership tool.  Henna Inman, author of Wired for Authenticity, explains the benefits of gratitude at work:

Three Benefits of Gratitude at Work

1)  Gratitude generates positive energy – When we look upon any situation and focus on what’s working rather than what’s not working, research shows we feel happier, more optimistic, more energized, more empathetic. Studies also show its great effects on our overall health and well-being. This energy helps us meet goals, face challenges, be resilient, and inspire others.

2)  Gratitude helps us set the right vision & priorities – As we look at challenging business situations or even our unending to-do lists, we can easily get overwhelmed if we focus on just what’s not working or what remains to be done.  Fear and anxiety can set in. This prevents us from thinking clearly. Gratitude is the antidote to fear and anxiety.  By focusing on “what’s working” we can create a vision for the business or ourselves that is grounded in “strengths” – what’s creating the success we have achieved.  Starting with an understanding of what’s working is a strong foundation upon which to grow and change.

3)  Gratitude builds engagement and results – When we focus on and express what’s good in others, it builds our connection to them.  Others feel valued for their work and cared about as individuals. Latest research on employee engagement indicates “being valued” is a key driver of sustainable engagement. According to Tony Schwartz in this HBR blog, “no single behavior more viscerally and reliably influences the quality of people’s energy than feeling valued and appreciated by their supervisor”.  According to the latest studies companies high in sustainable engagement have a 27% operating margin compared to 10% for companies at low engagement levels.

So, what can you do as a SAM team to develop gratitude habits?

  1. Start your SAM Daily Meeting with a celebration of your own work.
  2. Identify a student, staff member or parent you observerd yesterday doing something you liked, admired or appreciated.  Schedule a celebratory feedback conversation.  Do this with an instructional focus.  Then, do it on the management side.
  3. Use your TimeTrack public notes, at the bottom of each day, as a journal of things/people you are grateful for each day.
  4. Identify what is working in a classroom or meeting before looking for what is not.
  5. Identify something you appreciate about your immediate supervisor and share it.  People do more of what they see as valued and appreciated by others.

In business, leaders like to use the term Return on Investment, ROI.  What is the ROI on gratitude?  Take a look at the article, below.

 

How Feeling Grateful Can Make You More Successful

Erika Andersen , Forbes Magazine

I find it fascinating that we have, here in America, a designated day to be thankful.  It implies that on every other day it’s normal to be apathetic, dissatisfied, and disappointed. And many people seem to think it’s somehow gauche or naïve to be too grateful: I actually overheard a 20-something guy on the subway today say, “I don’t know what there is to be thankful for, given this insane world.” That sentiment is not uncommon.

There’s quite a bit of research, though, to support the idea that experiencing gratitude can positively impact both your mental/emotional state and your ability to achieve the life you want.

Let’s define our terms.  Gratitude is simply “the quality of being thankful.” To get in touch with what this feels like, remember the last time you narrowly avoided a bad consequence: braked just in time to avoid a car accident; got an “all clear” on an important medical test; caught yourself before taking a very bad fall. You feel a wash of adrenaline, and then a heartfelt Thank god (even if you’re not religious). You have an immediate, crystal clear sense of how fortunate you are – not to have crashed your car, not to have a disease, not to have broken your neck.  All at once, you appreciate being alive and whole as the gift that it is, a fragile and wonderful state of affairs, something for which you are profoundly grateful.

When you’re in a situation like that, you realize that ordinary life is more than worthy of your full appreciation and thankfulness. You know, suddenly, that all the things you usually think are necessary in order for you to feel fulfilled and satisfied (wealth, power, true love, more stuff, world peace) are truly icing on the cake.  That would all be great, but – oh my god: I’m alive.

Avoiding a real threat to life or limb makes you realize that feeling grateful is not actually dependent upon having achieved certain things.  Again, this is supported by research.  Gratitude is closely related to happiness (people who feel gratitude on a regular basis self-report being happier), and many studies show, for instance, that happiness is not dependent on income, social position, or age. Researchers have found that some people simply approach their lives with an attitude of thankfulness — and some people rarely feel thankful at all, no matter how wealthy, powerful, beautiful, or healthy they may be.

There was a great little article on Inc.com a couple of years ago by Goeffrey James about the power of gratitude. He talks about gratitude as “an emotional muscle,” one that can (and should) be used and strengthened. He notes, and I completely agree:

People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective.

I would add that people who are grateful not only seek out more successes, they draw successes into their lives.  When you are grateful, others like to be around you. Your appreciation includes and supports them.  You help them see the positive elements inherent in daily life, and to feel more hopeful about the possibility of future success.

For example: Customers (and potential customers) love to feel that you are grateful for their business; it creates strong bonds of loyalty and mutual support. Employees are more committed and productive when they know that you are thankful to have them on your team.  Great resources and partners of all sorts are attracted to you when they feel appreciated for who they are and what they bring to the party. Your relationships with family and friends are more likely to be loving and supportive when you express your gratitude for all that they bring to your life.

And gratitude feels wonderful, too. It’s like a warm emotional light, shining within you to banish greed, bitterness, selfishness, jealousy, envy, meanness – all the most limiting and corrosive emotions.

So, how do you get more grateful?

As Geoffrey James suggests, it’s helpful to think of gratitude as an emotional muscle that will grow and strengthen with intentional use.  We’ve all see those little magazine articles that tell you how to “Build Great Abs at Your Desk in Just 5 Minutes a Day.”  I don’t know whether it works for abs, but it definitely works for gratitude.

I suggest you make two little cards (you can just cut an index card in half, or use the back of your business card) both of which say, “I’m glad…” or  “I’m thankful…” Put one on your desk, so you see it when you’re at work, and the other somewhere at home where you’re most likely to see it often (on the corner of the TV, propped against the lamp on your nightstand, on the frig).

Whenever you notice one of the cards, complete the sentence starter in a way that’s true for you at that moment.   So: “I’m glad…the presentation went well this morning,”  or “I’m thankful…for my husband’s support.” “I’m glad…they decided to do something about the food in the cafeteria,” or “I’m thankful that my daughter got a job she likes.” It can be a big thing or a small thing, personal, professional, or global.  As you do this, and begin to cultivate the experience of gratitude, I suspect you will notice all kinds of subtle and not-so-subtle positive changes: in how others relate to you, in how you feel about your life, in how you weather difficulties.  You may even see changes in your health, or in your closest relationships.

And you may notice, over time, a real change in the whole trajectory of your life. You may find that your efforts to create the career you want and to have a satisfying life are increasingly successful.  You’ll begin to have a practical experience of the positive impact of approaching your life with a focus on gratitude. Which will give you even more to be grateful about.

One of the marvelous things about gratitude – it has no upper limit, as far as I can tell.  You can be as grateful as you want to be.  And what better time to start than this week?

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  November 13, 2017

This week’s tip:  Think About What Your Meetings Teach

You schedule group meetings most every day.  Do you think about the intended and unintended things you communicate when you schedule a meeting?  What do your actions tell attendees?  Do you have a clear plan for the meeting before you invite people to attend?

Holding a meeting is tricky.  People can quickly become restless and dissatisfied if there is not a clear purpose.  If attendees are not directly involved, and have a voice in what is to be discussed, they can quickly become irritated and feel that their time was wasted.

When a SAM Team schedules a meeting they pick one of three descriptors:

  1. Planning, Curriculum, Assessment
  2. Decision Making Groups
  3. Professional Development

A good SAM asks the leader which descriptor fits and who should be asked the attend.  A great SAM asks the leader to identify what success looks like at the meeting and if a bit of  Office Work/Prep might help prior.

Of course, communicating the purpose to the attendees is critical as is being on time and moving the agenda forward clearly and succinctly.  Having meeting protocols definitely help.  Listening more than talking, though, is the hardest part.  Having a hard stop, a time the meeting will definitely end, helps keep people focused and forward thinking.  A meeting the rambles irritates and frustrates people.  A meeting with a clear focus, purpose and ending time gives hope.

Some SAM leaders ask an attendee to facilitate the conversation.  This makes it easier for the leader to listen, observe and participate at a member of the group rather that directing the meeting.

A SAM principal in Georgia, Julia Daniely, has a daily meeting with her leadership team.  She calls it a STANDING MEETING as attendees don’t take time to sit down—instead, they gather around a table and quickly discuss the key things they need to accomplish as a group that day—and then they go to make it happen.

Mayo Clinic conducts walking meetings.  Each attendee wears a lanyard with a card entitled WALKING MEETING as the group strolls through the campus discussing the agenda items.

Participants in both standing and walking meetings generally report everyone is more focused, purposeful and, importantly, the sessions are shorter.

Your meetings as a school leader should model the kind of purpose and engagement you expect teachers to achieve in their classrooms.  Isn’t a class session similar to a group meeting?  Is it reasonable for your teachers to expect you to plan a session for them with the same care and purpose you expect them to provide their students in a lesson?

You teach a lot about what you value and believe by how you schedule and conduct a group meeting.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  November 6, 2017

This week’s tip:  Train people to use you right.

You train people to use you every day by how you act, respond and talk.

  1. Teacher:  “I need more paper from the supply room.  Can you use your key to let me in?”  You:  “Sure.  Let’s go.”
  2. Custodian:  “There’s a mess in the north hallway.  Should I clean it up?”  You:  “Yes.  Please do.”
  3. Parent:  “The cafeteria is giving kids 2% milk.  Can we switch to 1%?”  You:  “Yes.  I will take care of it.”
  4. You:  Look at your phone’s email and messages every time you hear the ding or feel the vibration and respond.

Are these the wrong response?  No.  We get it.  You want to take care of your people and help.   But keep in mind that you are teaching your people to use you for management, rather than instructional work.  These responses create an “interrupt driven” work life rather than a work day that is intentional.

So what could you do?

  1. Teacher:  “I need more paper from the supply room.  Can you use your key to let me in?”  You:  “Mrs. Jones in the front office can get that for you faster.  She is the First Responder for supplies.  When you see her would you also schedule a time for us to talk about the good work I saw in your classroom yesterday?”

(The first part, of course, lets the teacher know who to see for supplies.  The second part is called a pivot.  You answered the management request and changed the topic to instructional—the way you want the teacher to use your time.  Of course, if you weren’t in the teacher’s room recently you would likely need to say:  “You know, I haven’t been in your room recently.  Would you ask my SAM to schedule me to come in?  Pick a time I can help by sitting with a group of student.  I can help them while I watch you teach.”)

  1. Custodian:  “There’s a mess in the north hallway.  Should I clean it up?  You:  “Thanks.  No need to ask me.  I depend on you to do this work so I am not pulled away from instructional work.  I appreciate your great work.”

(You might give your custodian read-only access to your TimeTrack and ask that he/she help you get to GREEN events on time.  Wouldn’t it be great if your custodian came up to you and said:  “Hello, I noticed you are supposed to be in Mrs. Steven’s room right now. Can I walk you there?”)

  1. Parent:  “The cafeteria if giving kids 2% milk.  Can we switch to 1%?”  You:  “Great idea.  Would you talk to Eloise, our counselor, about this?  She is our First Responder for the cafeteria.”

(You might also say:  “We received initial test scores for freshmen.  Would you be interested in participating in a parent focus group session—would you see my SAM so she can add you to the invitation list?”)

  1. You:  Look at your phone’s email and messages every time you hear the ding or feel the vibration and respond.  Instead:
    1. put your tech away when you are working with people—your full attention is needed.  NSIP Director Mark Shellinger says:  “Making people feel important is the first rule of leadership.  You make people feel unimportant when your attention is elsewhere.”
    2. set your computer so it gives an automated reply to every email:

“Thanks for your email.  I focus my time with teachers and our students during the school day so I can be most effective.  I won’t see your email until 4:00 PM, today.  If you need help sooner would you please contact my SAM? “

(Many SAM teams use this idea and report that it works great!  It allows the leader the freedom to focus on instructional work and lets people get the help they need faster.  It also results in a significant decrease in email.  Hooray!)

  1. set a time each day on your TimeTrack to triage your email messages—15 minutes to separate the wheat from the chaff—the things you need to work with versus the things you should immediately delete or send to a First Responder.  (Some leaders give this task to the SAM or pick a separate First Responder.)
  2. Set email rules.  For example, you may elect not to respond to emails when it is not absolutely necessary.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  October 30, 2017

This week’s tip:  Recognizing good practice takes practice.

Are we in such a hurry that we miss the opportunity to recognize the “wins” that occur in each classroom every day?

Recognizing good performance allows the leader to build on success.  It allows the leader to model and build the kind of learning culture we all desire.  Some leaders worry that saying something positive about a teacher’s work communicates that there are no areas of need or improvement.  This won’t happen if the observations of and the conversations with the teacher are frequent.

 

Try this in your SAM Daily Meeting today.  Talk about a teacher who is struggling.  Start with the graph from the dashboard showing the leader’s time with this teacher so far this year.  Ask:  “What are two things this teacher is doing well?  Then, schedule a Feedback Celebration meeting with the teacher.  If the leader can’t identify anything the teacher is doing well….schedule a 15 observation and ask the leader to intentionally look for good practice.

 

Making sure good performance is recognized, and used as a lever for further improvement, is a key feature of your TimeTrack.  Recognizing good practice takes practice.  You can use your TimeTrack to make sure this happens.
SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  October 23, 2017

Are you a good boss?

In schools we don’t usually think of the principal or principal supervisor as the “boss”.

As a noun, a boss is a person in charge of a worker or organization.

synonyms: head, chief, director, president, principal, chief executive, chair, manager


As a
verb, “boss” means to give (someone) orders in a domineering manner.

synonyms: order around, dictate to, lord it over, bully, push around, domineer, dominate, pressurize, browbeat

 As an adjective, a person who is “boss” is impressive.

synonyms: excellent; outstanding

 

Most SAM school leaders meet the definition of a boss when the word is used as noun and try hard not be “boss” as a verb.  If they are successful, they get to put the word, boss, in front of their name as an adjective:  “I have a boss SAM principal.”

There are specific things a SAM can “push” the school leader to do so people will say:  “My boss is not bossy but is totally boss.”  Inc. magazine shared 21 specific things a boss boss who is not bossy does every day.  How many do you do?  Which ones could you add?  Take a look:

1.     You listen without distractions. Employees will be motivated when you listen attentively and ask thoughtful questions.

2.    You genuinely care about and believe in your people — which in turn, will create a loyal team that is willing to do their very best for you.

3.    You make time to personally connect with your employees. One-on-one meetings can dramatically change relationships for the better.

4.    You empower others by involving them in decisions whenever possible.

5.    You trust people to make the right decision, boosting confidence and mutual respect.

6.    You show appreciation. Even a simple “thank you.” Praise equals validation.

7.    You create opportunities for employees to advance and develop new skills.

8.    You regularly ask for feedback.

9.    You replace blame with responsibility.

10.  You are empathetic and strive to maintain the self-esteem of others.

11.  You understand that by our human nature, people want to be part of something great and aspire to make work rewarding, and meaningful.

12. You communicate often and schedule opportunities for your team to connect.

13. You are emotionally resilient and know how to handle high-stakes conversations.

14.You are open-minded and not quick to judge. You come to understand a situation or behavior by asking questions.

15. You show genuine concern for your employees — the whole person, including their life outside of work.

16.You are authentic and honest. When you are not at liberty to reveal something, explain why.

17. You endorse health and wellness programs and self-care practices.

18.  You welcome new ideas and value collaborative efforts and are willing to shake things up once in awhile.

19.You are not afraid to ask for help and admit mistakes.

20.  You are aware of your impact and strive to see things from the perspective of your employees.

21.  You are able to detach from negativity and let go of control when necessary.

So, boss, what can you schedule today in TimeTrack that will make you better?
SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  October 16, 2017

Follow-up.

I bet you did a lot of the four kinds of observation last week.  Maybe some professional development and teaching a modeling, too.

Take a look at your TimeTrack and see if you can find follow-up events.  A follow-up event is one that you scheduled as a result of a completed event.  A feedback session would be an example of follow-up.  A PLC meeting might be, too.

For every observation, whether it be student supervision, work with students, observation or walk-through, should, logically, have a follow-up feedback session.  A SAM should ask:

  1. a.     “Who did you see last week who impressed you?  Can I schedule a Celebratory Feedback session with her?”
  2. b.     “Who did you see that caused you concern?”  Can I schedule a directive or non-directive feedback session with him?”
  3. c.     “What did you see during your observations that changes what you want to do at your staff meeting this week?  Can I schedule time for you to plan the staff meeting?  Is there someone you would like to help you with this planning?”

 

Take a look in TimeTrack for the month of September.  Were there any professional development sessions you attended?  Your teachers?  Now, see if you can find specific events you scheduled to follow-up the professional development session.  If not, what can you schedule to make sure the time spent in a PD session has value?   This can lead to productive and positive conversations with teachers in individual feedback sessions as well as group sessions:  Planning/Curriculum/Assessment or Decision Making Groups and Meetings.

See if you can find in September a time you worked with parents on an instructional issue.  Yes?  What follow-up have you scheduled?  Don’t’ want to schedule follow-up?  Why, then, did you do the session with parents in the first place?   Can’t find a time in September when you worked with parents on an instructional issue?  Why?  What could you schedule this month?  What follow-up makes sense.

Follow-up.  This is a question that a SAM should ask in EVERY SAM DAILY MEETING.  “You did the observation?  Great!  What follow-up would you like me to schedule?”
SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  October 9, 2017

Mix it up.

I bet you do walkthroughs and observations every week.  Great!  You can’t help improve the practice of others without observing and having conversations.  Consider trying the other two types of instructional observation:

Work With Students:  This is a great way to observe a teacher and help with the lesson at the same time.  Sit with a student or group and assist during the lesson.  Another variation that many SAM teams use is called Grading Papers.  The leader grades a set of papers while watching the teacher teach.  The principal talks with students who did well…and those who could have done much better.  This connects the leader in a way that is supportive of the teacher and gives them something meaningful to talk about later.  Teachers appreciate the help and the leader has a better understanding of the class.  Another idea?  The SAM can ask the teacher ahead of time which student the principal should assist during the lesson.  This is win for everyone:  the student does better, the principal helps the student while observing the teacher and the teacher has a colleague/coach rather than an evaluator in the room.  Perfect.

Student Supervision:  A leader observes the teacher while redirecting student learning behavior.  Principals often do this without thinking…. sometimes by standing close to an inattentive students… sometimes by giving direction:  “Quit messing around and pay attention.”  Teachers appreciate the help and the leader can observe to determine how to help the teacher better manage the class.  Again, everyone wins.

Of course, no matter which kind of instructional observation you do it is critical that feedback is scheduled after.  A good SAM always asks during the Daily Meeting: “What kind of feedback do you want to schedule?”  SAMs assume the principal is going to connect each instructional event with another.  It is this connectivity that leads to improved practice and improved professional relationships in a school and district.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  October 2, 2017

Read.  This may be your best move as a SAM, principal or principal supervisor to spark ideas that can move your work forward.  Reading about transformational work in education and the connected research allows you to reflect on what you can do today at your school or in your district to improve teaching and learning.

As a SAM team member you are eligible to receive the Marshall Memo, a weekly summary of the best stories in education in the United States.  Compiled by Kim Marshall, the country’s leading authority on teacher evaluation and supervision, the memo contains short summaries for great stories and research articles with links to the full text.

Many SAMs use the Marshall Memo in their Daily Meetings.  “Did you see the article about teaching reading skills?  How could you use this article in your work with our teachers?”

If you would like to receive the Marshall Memo please email Monica@SamsConnect.com.  Please include your name and what you do on your SAM team.  Each person wanting to receive the Marshall Memo must make the request individually.  After emailing your request you will begin receiving the memo via email next week.

 SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  September 18, 2017

Here are five SAMtastic Ways to increase your effectiveness:

1.    Be in the Green and Above the Line:  Schedule your instructional work in advance with TimeTrack.

2.    Keep your SAM Daily Meeting short and reflective…use your graphs and charts to select next steps with teachers and groups.

3.    Pick one “win” each day.  This might be a Celebratory Feedback session with a teacher, a conversation with a student or parent about their success or completing a task that you don’t want to do.  The important thing is to get it done and then celebrate your win!

4.    Leave some of your time unscheduled.  You need some flexibility to take advantage of teachable moments and deal with the flow of the day.  As long as you are in the green unscheduled time is just fine.

5.    Take a break. Go play with the kindergarteners, listen to the choir practice, watch a science experiment, take walk outside, have a cup of coffee with the custodian.   You are a better leader when you allow yourself to mentally coast for a few minutes each day.
SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  September 11, 2017

Hello!

Our SAM teams in Florida are in our thoughts this morning.  It is striking the power of a hurricane to do harm.  It is impressive the power of school leaders to put the pieces back together for students and families.  School is, for many students, their one safe place.  They trust their principal, office staff and teachers to have their interests at heart—to care for them.

In order for a SAM team to impact teaching and learning they must create that safe place—a culture that knows, appreciates and cares for teachers and students—a culture that expects each adult and student to move forward academically, socially and emotionally.

Being a SAM team is pretty cool.  You get to impact the future by your actions every day.  The time to take to help a teacher become centered and focused on improving a lesson—the time you take with students to show what you value—the time you spend in your SAM Daily Meeting planning your use of time to have the greatest positive impact—the time you spend asking questions of each other that moves your own practice forward:  these actions lead to a better life for staff and children.

NSIP Director Mark Shellinger says good leaders and teachers start with the heart.  He’s right“If we really want results in schools – if we really want kids to succeed – then the teachers have to be nourished, teachers have to be honored, and the art of teaching as well as the science has to be something the principal respects and invests in.”

 

Our Florida SAM friends will return to school later this week.  They will be doing the same thing you are doing today:  showing their staff and students they care by their actions and expectations.
SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  September 5, 2017

Hello!

Registration opened yesterday for the 11th Annual National SAM Conference

 

318 people have registered in the first 18 hours!

 

If you’ve attended a national SAM conference you know how special and different they are from any other conference in the country.  NSIP Director and founder Mark Shellinger designed the conference to honor SAM teams—to make attendees feel like they work for Apple Computer rather than a school district.

 

Why?  Because you do the most important work in the nation.  You are building the future of this country every day in a place where all kids are equal and get continuous opportunities to learn and be better every day.  America is great country because of public education.  SAM teams make their schools better places for kids every single day.

 

Mark makes a point to find keynote speakers who will push your thinking.  He selects the best from three fields:  educational leadership, business leadership and psychology.  This year he has five keynote speakers lined up who will not just push your thinking but elevate and inspire:

 

Featured Keynote Speakers:

  • Amy HermanArt of Perception  Think you can learn something from art that will improve your ability to work with others?  Amy works with every Navy SEAL, Homeland Security, NYC Detectives and others who want to be better observers of people.  Her session is remarkable and comes with a book you can use every day.
  • Valorie Burton, Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable  Valorie is inspirational, funny and forces you to think and then act to improve your impact when working with others.  Her work, aimed at women leaders, has important applications for every guy, too, who wants to help others succeed.  You will get her book, too, at the conference so make sure to leave room in your carry on.
  • John Antonnetti17,000 Classroom Visits  Georgia comes to the SAM conference in the form of John Anotnnetti, a former principal who can’t help but make people laugh and learn…and then laugh and learn some more.  His book, 17,000 Classroom Visits, will be one you will treasure.  Of course, you will receive a copy of this book, too!
  • Catherine Steiner-AdairThe Big Disconnect  Is it possible that tech is changing how kids learn and adults teach in a negative way as well as positive?  Psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair’s work is sobering and may make you reconsider how tech is used in classrooms…and by you with the adults you work and family you love.  She recognizes the good of tech but cautions the unintended consequences are dangerous.  Her work has garnered national attention and has set off alarm bells in education and family circles.  A national movement to limit tech for children under 14 is catching on as the data shows we may be doing more damage than good.  Yes.  You get her book too.  Hard copy.  Not in digital form, of course.
  • Joseph GrennyCrucial Conversations  From the world of business leadership, Joseph is back!  He wowed SAM teams at the Tucson national conference two years ago as he shared his book Influencer.  This year he will focus on Crucial Conversations, his newest book, and how SAM teams can use his techniques to improve their impact.

If you haven’t registered for the conference yet go to https://goo.gl/wqARR7 and do so today.  This year’s conference will be at a brand new five star resort in South Florida;  JW Marriott Marco Island, adjacent to Naples and Fort Myers.  Mark has reserved every one of the 750 rooms in this resort for SAM teams—all with ocean views.  Once we reach the limit on rooms a waiting list will be started.  Last year we started the waiting list for the conference before Thanksgiving.  The lesson:  don’t wait.  Register now!!

 

Keep in mind that the conference is for SAMs and principals or the district leaders doing the SAM process.  Keep in mind, too, that you must be doing the SAM process with efficacy in order to attend.  Even if you register early you will be bumped to the waiting list if you are not scheduling in advance, using TimeTrack and having your SAM Daily Meeting.

 

When you have your SAM Daily Meeting today be sure to take time to register….right after you get in the Green for tomorrow!
SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  August 21, 2017

This may be the best TIP you will get all year!  If you take it, you will have a much better, and productive, school year. Hundreds of SAM teams swear this is true!  This TIP works for principal supervisors, too!

Remember last March when you were frantic to complete the formal teacher evaluations?  How would you like to get a head-start?

Every district requires teachers to be formally evaluated.  These formal evaluations can be valuable if coupled with the frequent observations and feedback great SAM principals do every week.

Why not get a head start and schedule each of the required pieces in TimeTrack right now?  Sit down as a SAM team and determine what each teacher has to have as part of the formal evaluation.  For most systems there are four things you will want to schedule for each teacher:

1.     Pre-conference  (A time for the principal and teacher to discuss concerns, what the principal will be looking for during the formal observation and what the teacher can share about the lesson to be taught/observed.)

2.     Observation (The set amount of time the principal will observe the teacher.)

3.     Office Work/Prep  (The time the principal will need to complete the formal evaluation paperwork and think through the message(s) he/she wants to give the teacher.  Hint:  If your principal says:  “I’ll do all of the office work at home.”  Suggest he/she do one or two at school.  This will make for a happier and more effective principal.  Really.

4.     Post-conference (A time for the principal to share the formal evaluation paperwork and discuss points of celebration, directive and non-directive feedback to help the teacher improve.)

Keep in mind that the number of observations vary in most systems based on the teacher’s experience and past performance.  Start with the “regular” teachers and get them entered in TimeTrack.  This will make it so much easier for you to stay on track and complete this formal part of evaluation.  It will also allow you to begin scheduling the more frequent informal observation and feedback sessions that we know best help teachers improve.

Don’t forget to use the automatic reminder in TimeTrack to let teachers know in advance of the scheduled sessions.

Does scheduling all of the teachers seem overwhelming?  If so, start with a single grade level or department and get the teachers in that group scheduled….then do a second grade level/department next week.  This will give you a much happier and smoother year.  By the way, a new TimeTrack upgrade will appear mid-year that will allow you to automate this process:  select the teachers, set the time frame, and TimeTrack will pre-schedule for you.   Can’t wait!

 

SAMtastic Weekly TipAugust 14, 2017

Have you set your monthly instructional time goals?

Take a look at your TimeTrack.  At the bottom of each day TimeTrack shows your instructional time percentage goal.  If it says Goal Not Set you can click on the box and it will allow you to set the goals for the month and the rest of the school year.  Your Time Change Coach will be checking in this week to offer support.

Most of you have set your instructional goals.  Great!  During your SAM Daily Meeting take a look at your dashboard and reset it using the options menu to show who you spent time with last school year.  Ask these questions:

  1. Did we spend time with the people we wanted to?
  2. Did it help?
  3. Who should we have spent more time with last year?
  4. What do we want to do this year?

Using you data from last year can have a very positive effect on this year.

SAMtastic Weekly TipAugust 7, 2017

Welcome back!

I know that some you started the school year earlier.  I know that some you won’t start until after Labor Day and still others never took a break and worked through the summer.  Regardless, you don’t want to miss this “start of a new school year” opportunity to think about why you do your work and the value it has for good.

What you say to the people around you matters.  You can help others see the potential miracles ahead or you can extinguish the wonder and passion.  As leaders in your school or district you have likely been overwhelmed with things to do to get ready for the school year.  You’ve likely heard another well intended, but still demoralizing, lecture about test scores, standards and mathematical metrics.

Did you hear about the heart of your work?  Did you hear about how you make a difference in the enthusiasm, passion and joy each educator at your school or district can bring to students?  Teaching is more an art than a science.  We know this intuitively as we see great teachers inspire children to learn and joy is present.  The artist needs to be encouraged.  The artist needs to see that joy can be contagious and is the fast track for student learning…and is honored and appreciated by you, the leaders in your school.

So, break out of the pattern.  Give teachers and other adults your story of why what you do in school matters.  Help them see the joy and value of learning.  Celebrate their wins and their passion for the work will increase.  As your SAM team uses TimeTrack to schedule at/above goal and conducts its SAM Daily Meeting, think about what you can schedule each day that will build a culture of joy and wonder.  Start with this question:  “What did we see yesterday that we really liked…something we know is good for our students?”  Then, act.  Schedule a celebratory feedback session with the person or group and let them see firsthand what you value.

What happens if you can’t think of something that happened yesterday that you really liked?  Then be creative and schedule something you will do today that will support the kind of culture in your school or district that you know will make a difference.  This is leadership.  This is the SAM process.

SAMtastic Weekly TipJune 5, 2017

Today’s tip:  Explore your new TimeTrack features.

Your TimeTrack was upgraded last night.  You will find the complete list of new features and fixes at the end of this email.

Here are a few of the new features you should take a look at today:

You can now use Outlook or any other mail application when sending an email directly from TimeTrack.  Click any email icon in the event entry box.  If you click the Send with Outlook link TimeTrack will create an Outlook email message with the correct address.  This allows you to attach items to the email and use all of the editing and format options.  To use other email applications, like G Mail, iCal, IOS, Android, First Class and Lotus Notes, click the Non-Outlook link.  Of course, you can still send email by completing the TimeTrack template and clicking SEND.  This upgrade simply gives you more options.  Here’s a short video showing how this works:  https://goo.gl/mfeXot

Go to the one day view on your TimeTrack.  Do you see the orange line?  This line is showing the current time of day.  If it is showing the wrong time you need to set the correct time zone.  Click the TimeTrack logo, upper left, select Settings, General Options and then click the SITE tab.  You can then select the correct time zone.

You now have a larger and cleaner entry space for NoteTrack notes.  Your smartphone version of TimeTrack now has easier navigation and event entry features.  There is a search function when you need to change the members of a group.  This will be especially helpful when you change membership of a group for the new school year.  https://goo.gl/UEOqRC

You can now set a percentage goal for Target Descriptors.  Your Target Descriptors give you a quick comparison of how much time you are currently spending on a task, like Celebratory Feedback, to the time you spent when you were last shadowed by a data collector.  Now you can also set a specific percentage goal.  Click the TimeTrack logo, click settings, General Options and select the Target Descriptor tab.

The TimeTrack owner now has complete control over access to his/her TimeTrack.  Go to the TimeTrack logo, click and select USER then click USER ACCESS.  You will find the same drop down menu allowing different levels of access.  You will also find a REMOVE button that gives you the option to delete or suspend access to anyone.

For your charts and graphs you now have the option of including future events.  This will allow you to see the time you plan to work with a person as well as the time you already have spent with a teacher or group.  Click the options button at the top of any graph and select Include Future Events.

This release of TimeTrack also comes with a slew of bug fixes and other minor improvements to make daily tasks easier and more efficient.

 

SAMtastic Weekly TipMay 30, 2017

We have ten tips for the last week in May.  Take a few minutes to read through and select the ones you want to do.  This will help you get your TimeTrack ready for the next school year and benefit from the great work you did this year.

1)    Update Individuals and groups:  Take a moment to consider staff members who are leaving. TimeTrack allows you to deactivate individuals while still preserving their data.  TimeTrack also allows you to add new staff.  For a short video on how to do this, CLICK HERE: https://goo.gl/6S1saq

2)    Update Calendar Access: Review who has access to your calendar.  Remember, deactivating an individual from your staff list DOES NOT remove any access they may have to your calendar.  Also, consider who else could benefit from access.  How about teacher leaders?  Counselors?  Department Heads?  In many SAM schools the leader gives access to other so they can better support the leader’s work.  Just click “TimeTrack”, choose “User”, and then choose “Calendar Access”. Just click “Remove” to disable a user’s access.  For a short video on how to do this, CLICK HERE: https://goo.gl/5AsOuV

3)    Set Contact Days for the Upcoming Year: Make sure your summer days are set to non-contact.  This will ensure that TimeTrack has all of the information it needs to keep your percentages accurate. Take a look at the calendar for the upcoming school year, and set your vacation and holidays. Just click “TimeTrack”, choose “Settings”, and then choose “Contact Days Setup”. Choose the days you will be in the building, then click “Set”.  For a short video on how to do this, CLICK HERE: https://goo.gl/eqzgh3

4)    Review Target Descriptors and Optional Descriptors: TimeTrack allows you to select the descriptors that you’d like to give the most attention.  As you reflect on the past year decide which descriptors you want to increase your time doing in the coming year.  If there are additional areas you’d like to track, create optional descriptors. For a short video on how to do this click here: https://goo.gl/zTK9G2

5)    Consider TimeTrack features that you might not be using:  TimeTrack has had 47 separate upgrades, or releases, since 2012 with a wide variety of options we could only dream of when we started.  A new mobile upgrade for TimeTrack will be released this summer as well as a new upgrade for the desktop/tablet versions.  A new feature, Connected Events, will be released in September.  This will allow automated scheduling of the required pieces of formal evaluation:  pre-conference, observation, evaluation preparation and post-conference.   Are you currently using Birthday Reminders, Calendar Feed and NoteTrack?  If not, use the links below:

 

  1. Birthday Reminders – https://goo.gl/6oYdmE
  2. Calendar Feed – https://goo.gl/8RtC43
  3. NoteTrack -  https://goo.gl/FlvM1E
  4. Pre-Set Time Blocks – https://goo.gl/fgJZvj

 

6)    Review FirstResponders for the Upcoming Year:  Review your First Responder list and ensure that all of your areas are still covered.  Are there new staff who will need to be trained?  Add them to your TimeTrack.  Do you have new office staff who need to be trained in using First Responders and the Communications Protocol?  If so, add this to your TimeTrack.

7)    Review your Monthly Goals for Next Year: Do you have a goal set for each month for the coming school year? Your coach can provide valuable feedback, and will help you get to where you feel comfortable. Just click “TimeTrack”, choose “User”, and then choose “Monthly Goal % Setup”

8)    Download the TimeTrack Mobile App: Be sure to make the TimeTrack App available to others in the school.  Many custodians, for example, have the principal’s TimeTrack in read-only form on their smartphones.  This way they can help the principal stay on track all day.  “Excuse me Principal Ellen.  Aren’t you scheduled to observe in Mrs. Steven’s room?  Can I walk you there?  Follow the links below to download the app to your phone and/or the smart phones of other staff members the leader approves.  Remember, the principal must give access from his/her TimeTrack for the app to work for others.

 

  1. iOS App Link – https://goo.gl/xndHsT
  2. Android Link – https://goo.gl/NhcHQv
  3. Short video about the features of the mobile app, CLICK HERE: https://goo.gl/eS5WHr

 

9)    Review the TimeTrack “Info” menu and SAMsConnect.com:  There are a lot more resources available to you on our website.  Click the TimeTrack logo, upper left, and select “Info.  The SAMsConnect.com website will keep you informed of upcoming NSIP events and has an extensive archive of SAMtastic Weekly Tips, HD presentations from past conferences and other video and print resources. You can see for yourself at HTTP://WWW.SAMsConnect.COM

 10)  Reflect on the Past School Year: Time Change Coaches have created great tools to help you take stock of the past great year and consider ways to make the next even better. You can find these tools by following the links below:

 

 

  1. Instructional Leadership Plan – https://goo.gl/Y5FWAi
  2. SAM Goal Template – https://goo.gl/xgFOfn
  3. Reflection Guide – https://goo.gl/uKYHlG

Special thanks to Time Change Coaches Debbie Daniels, Carol Merritt, Rick Delagardelle, and Deb Sykes who provided help with this special SamTastic Weekly Tip.

SAMtastic Weekly TipMay 22, 2017

What can you learn from three principals who have done the SAM process for ten years?

Today’s SAMtastic Weekly Tip features comments from three principals who have been doing TimeTrack the longest.  Each principal is approaching their ten year anniversary in SAMs.

Ridgely Elementary principal, Ken Gilmore, Springfield, Illinois, is the longest continuing user of TimeTrack in the same school. Council Bluffs, Iowa, principals Doreen Knuth and Kim Kazmierczak hold the record as the longest TimeTrack users who have changed schools, also ten years.  Here’s what you can learn from their experiences.

Ken Gilmore says:

I think I am like most SAMs principals and we operate with a much different mindset than other administrators in our district. This accountability keeps me from unraveling during those tough times of the year. When someone is monitoring your schedule and the most minute details of your week then how can you feel alone or isolated as an administrator? I don’t. I feel well supported from Jane and my two SAMs. They are the reason I feel that every week is productive and meaningful. I love my work now more than ever. I could retire at the end of next year but I am too energized by this work to consider it.

TimeTrack is an essential tool for me to organize visually where I am devoting my time instructionally and what I am doing that is managerial. The SAMs Program has been a significant learning curve for me where I am continually gaining new insight into my daily challenges. TimeTrack and the data that is right there in front of me causes me to look at how I am accomplishing my work and tasks through a different lens. My challenge continues to be the unforeseen interruptions that can attempt to derail my day. With an instructional schedule already pre-calendared, I am able to look for the next available opportunity to regain the focus of the day and resume the schedule. I will say after all these years, the staff can tell when I have been pulled off course and I sense they are rooting for me to “recalculate”, as my GPS in the car says to me, so I can get back on track. TimeTrack has gifted me with a true sense of movement and that we are always moving forward. This is excellent for morale because nothing is ever sprung on the staff at the last minute, they are much more secure in what is planned for the week because of pre-calendaring. TimeTrack truly helps me to connect the dots so much more can be accomplished in a timely manner. It also shows me where I am not spending enough time or devoting enough attention. This can help me to avoid future pitfalls for neglected areas.

I opened a second office on the opposite side of our building on the second floor at the beginning of April. This allows me a space to meet with teachers and students as well as to meet with my instructional SAM more frequently since she is two doors away. Creating a physical space imbedded with the classrooms provides a close proximity to be much more engaged in the ongoing learning than my official office on the other side of the building, which was separated from the classrooms. This concept seems like an over indulgence in a crowded building for a principal to have two offices (it also doubles as the second floor material storage closet). Yet it has improved my efficiency with time and how I can even catch a teacher and walk with them or interact with a student in a way that I wasn’t utilizing before. It is also a much quieter space and I have noticed people are much more open to conversations than when we meet in the office complex. I found some furniture and must have looked pitiful because teachers brought down items I needed to make it a real office. The district was great and even got me a phone! My next step is to work on recording the briefer feedback and interactions on TimeTrack since they have added a richer dimension to my day. This is my first month of experiences but I love it. I feel like I am a better principal and I am better because of SAMs.

Doreen Knuth says:

Having a SAM has afforded me to flip my numbers from my initial shadowing.  On average I spend at least 70%, if not more, of my time on instruction.  Having a SAM has definitely reshaped the work that I do.  Over the years I have gained so much more experience as an instructional leader.  I have been able to have quality uninterrupted time (which was unheard of prior to having a SAM) with individual teachers and teams of teachers focusing on instructional practices and student achievement.  TimeTrack has always been the tool that has helped me stay focused and prioritize the “right” work.  I have loved all of the improvements that have been made over time, however the very best for me was when it went from the stand alone version to being cloud based. I was able to utilize Time Track everywhere!!  Our district truly hires principals as instructional leaders, and I could not be that without a SAM.  As Kate Knudsen, my SAM, reflected over the years as part of a SAM/Principal team she said one thing that is a plus in our district is that it lets teams and individuals work to their strengths.”

Kim Kazmierczak says:

The benefits of the SAM partnerships are numerous and hard to quantify.  I’m definitely able to get into classrooms more and facilitate professional development consistently.  The SAM role continues to support my calendar along with making certain that I am doing my ‘instructional duties’ efficiently.  The modifications to TimeTrack over the years have made this job easier as it allows for delineation of who I work with and for what purpose.  I also appreciate that we can use a group function and have specifics in each managerial/instructional categories. SAMs Jessica and Dan are excellent at the many fiscal responsibilities that occur with running a secondary building.  They are very efficient and make sure our bottom line always balances.

Time Change Coach Jane Chard, who works with Ken and his SAMs, says:

Ken has shown a lot of growth over the years. He and I credit part of this growth to using two SAMs. One handles the technical aspects of the calendar – scheduling events, coding, reconciling, and encouraging next steps and follow up. The other SAM pushes him to look at data and keeps him focused on improving instruction in the building. She asks reflective questions, and utilizes the work of the ILT to help him think creatively regarding his mission, vision, values and goals.

Ken has a knack for organization, and he is very adept using technology to create tools to collect data and provide opportunities for personal and written feedback. He has been pushed over the years to pre-calendar, and this has helped him stay on track and get done those things that are priorities.

The annual SAMs’ conferences have provided tremendous learning for him. He shares the learning with his staff during PD opportunities. He is also an avid reader of professional books and he incorporates that learning into actual practice.

Ken uses SAMs to think reflectively and to problem solve. He has created opportunities through collaboration and feedback sessions to learn and make changes where needed.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  May 15, 2017

How do you deal with robocalls?

Those annoying automated calls used to arrive only on landlines.  Now they arrive on cell phones—even unlisted and protected numbers.   SAM teams always look for ways to limit interruptions to their work.  One simple way to decrease robocalls is to register your number on the Do Not Call List.  This federal service is free and easy to use.  https://www.donotcall.gov/   Click the link, list up to three telephone numbers and give an email address.  You will get a email back to activate protection.  Be sure to register your cell and school office numbers.

The best way to avoid robocalls is not to answer numbers you don’t recognize.  You can tell your smartphone which numbers to allow—all others will go directly to voicemail.  Go to the privacy settings in your phone’s utilities.

New York Times article last week reviewed apps designed to give even more protection:  https://goo.gl/TqtauH

On a related topic, the worldwide ransomware attack is a good time to review your protection.  Your school/district IT gurus likely have you covered.  There are things you can do to increase your tech security and safety.  Here’s two stories worth reading:

From the United Kingdom’s  TheTelegrah:  https://goo.gl/N7861B

From the United States’  Wall Street Journal:  https://goo.gl/9qNNMf

SAMtastic Weekly TipMay 8, 2017

How keen are your observations?  Take look at the coaching notes Mike Rutherford, Rutherford Learning Group, drafted designed to help school leaders develop a keen eye for observing instruction.  Mike has done a lot of work with SAM teams and understands the importance of skillful observation.

Mike offers interesting way at looking for the three “C’s” when you visit a classroom:

  1. Culture- the unwritten “ways we do things around here”
  2. Climate- the classroom’s mood or “local weather”
  3. Community- the degree of inclusiveness or “family atmosphere”

Here’s a link to read his coaching notes:  http://goo.gl/T2p3FO

Here’s a link to see a video of Mike asking the questions:  “How Talent Friendly is Your School?”  He made this presentation at the 7th Annual National SAM Conference in San Diego, January, 2014.  http://goo.gl/CgCk3f

SAMtastic Weekly TipMay 1, 2017

This week’s tip: What can you learn from those who are leaving?

It is May.  The end of the school year for many is in sight.  As a SAM team, what can you learn from the adults and student who are leaving?

Schedule time to discuss with departing staff their experience with you and the school.  Here are four focus questions:

 

  1. What did we do together that helped improve your practice?
  2. What could I have done that would have been more helpful?
  3. What are we best at as a staff and school?
  4. What should we work at to improve?

 Exit interviews with students can be helpful, too:

 

  1. Tell me about teachers who you learned the most from.
  2. If you were going to change something at our school that would improve student learning what would it be?
  3. Which adults at school will you miss?

Taking time to listen can give you great insight on where to focus your time.  

SAMtastic Weekly TipApril 24, 2017

This week’s tip: How you work is far more important than how much you work.

A recent Stanford study determined that productivity per hour declines significantly when you work more than fifty hours a week.  Since most school leaders exceed this amount it might be time to stop and think:  “Do I work too much?”

Take a few minutes to read the article, below, from Entrepreneur magazine.  It focuses on ten things you can do to be more productive, effective and happy.  All ten can be scheduled in your TimeTrack.  Two of the ten are the focus of every SAM Daily Meeting.

How Smart People Work Less and Get More Done

Travis Bradberry  Apr 4, 2017

 

Some people have an uncanny ability to get things done. They keep their nights and weekends sacred and still get more done than people who work 10 or 20 hours more per week than they do.

A new study from Stanford shows that they are on to something. The study found that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working any more. That’s right, people who work as much as 70 hours (or more) per week actually get the same amount done as people who work 55 hours.

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” – William Penn

 

Smart people know the importance of shifting gears on the weekend to relaxing and rejuvenating activities. They use their weekends to create a better week ahead.

This is easier said than done, so here’s some help. The following are some things that you can do to find balance on the weekend and come into work at 110 percent on Monday morning.

 

1. DISCONNECT.

Disconnecting is the most important weekend strategy, because if you can’t find a way to remove yourself electronically from your work Friday evening through Monday morning, then you’ve never really left work. Making yourself available to your work 24/7 exposes you to a constant barrage of stressors that prevent you from refocusing and recharging. If taking the entire weekend off handling work e-mails and calls isn’t realistic, try designating specific times on Saturday and Sunday for checking e-mails and responding to voicemails. For example, check your messages on Saturday afternoon while your kids are getting a haircut and on Sunday evenings after dinner. Scheduling short blocks of time will alleviate stress without sacrificing availability.

 

2. MINIMIZE CHORES.

Chores have a funny habit of completely taking over your weekends. When this happens, you lose the opportunity to relax and reflect. What’s worse is that a lot of chores feel like work, and if you spend all weekend doing them, you just put in a seven-day workweek. To keep this from happening, you need to schedule your chores like you would anything else during the week, and if you don’t complete them during the allotted time, you move on and finish them the following weekend.

 

3. EXERCISE.

No time to exercise during the week? You have 48 hours every weekend to make it happen. Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a soothing neurotransmitter that reduces stress. Exercise is also a great way to come up with new ideas. Innovators and other successful people know that being outdoors often sparks creativity. I know that a lot of my best ideas come to me while I’m surfing. While you’re out in the ocean, the combination of invigorating activity and beautiful scenery creates the perfect environment for an influx of creativity. Whether you’re running, cycling or gardening, exercise leads to endorphin-fueled introspection. The key is to find a physical activity that does this for you and then to make it an important part of your weekend routine.

 

4. REFLECT.

Weekly reflection is a powerful tool for improvement. Use the weekend to contemplate the larger forces that are shaping your industry, your organization and your job. Without the distractions of Monday to Friday busy work, you should be able to see things in a whole new light. Use this insight to alter your approach to the coming week, improving the efficiency and efficacy of your work.

 

5. PURSUE A PASSION.

You might be surprised what happens when you pursue something you’re passionate about on weekends. Indulging your passions is a great way to escape stress and to open your mind to new ways of thinking. Things like playing music, reading, writing, painting or even playing catch with your kids can help stimulate different modes of thought that can reap huge dividends over the coming week.

 

6. SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH FAMILY.

Spending quality time with your family on the weekend is essential if you want to recharge and relax. Weekdays are so hectic that the entire week can fly by with little quality family time. Don’t let this bleed into your weekends. Take your kids to the park, take your spouse to his or her favorite restaurant and go visit your parents. You’ll be glad you did.

 

7. SCHEDULE MICRO-ADVENTURES.

Buy tickets to a concert or play, or get reservations for that cool new hotel that just opened downtown. Instead of running on a treadmill, plan a hike. Try something you haven’t done before or perhaps something you haven’t done in a long time. Studies show that anticipating something good to come is a significant part of what makes the activity pleasurable. Knowing that you have something interesting planned for Saturday will not only be fun come Saturday, but it will significantly improve your mood throughout the week.

 

8. WAKE UP AT THE SAME TIME.

It’s tempting to sleep in on the weekend to catch up on your sleep. Though it feels good temporarily, having an inconsistent wake-up time disturbs your circadian rhythm. Your body cycles through an elaborate series of sleep phases in order for you to wake up rested and refreshed. One of these phases involves preparing your mind to be awake and alert, which is why people often wake up just before their alarm clock goes off (the brain is trained and ready). When you sleep past your regular wake-up time on the weekend, you end up feeling groggy and tired. This isn’t just disruptive to your day off, it also makes you less productive on Monday because your brain isn’t ready to wake up at your regular time. If you need to catch up on sleep, just go to bed earlier.

 

9. DESIGNATE MORNINGS AS ME TIME.

It can be difficult to get time to yourself on the weekends, especially if you have family. Finding a way to engage in an activity you’re passionate about first thing in the morning can pay massive dividends in happiness and cleanliness of mind. It’s also a great way to perfect your circadian rhythm by forcing yourself to wake up at the same time you do on weekdays. Your mind achieves peak performance two-to-four hours after you wake up, so get up early to do something physical, and then sit down and engage in something mental while your mind is at its peak.

 

10. PREPARE FOR THE UPCOMING WEEK.

The weekend is a great time to spend a few moments planning your upcoming week. As little as 30 minutes of planning can yield significant gains in productivity and reduced stress. The week feels a lot more manageable when you go into it with a plan because all you have to focus on is execution.

SAMtastic Weekly TipApril 17, 2017

This week’s tip: vibrate, ding, ring and sing.

Pamm Moore, Assistant Superintendent in Millville, New Jersey, is doing something different and she loves the results.   She used to be exactly like me.  I check email constantly.  My phone and watch vibrate, ding, ring and sing whenever I have a text message or email.

Pamm changed things up when she started the SAM process.  While once she was constantly attentive to email she now checks it no more than 3 times per day (morning, mid-day and late afternoon). After a few months of this new practice she admits that she really is no less in touch than she ever was and is now able to be much more focused on whatever she’s doing in the moment.

The last event every Friday on her TimeTrack is pretty interesting:  “email – read/unsubscribe.”  She’s found that even though it’s only once a week, her conscious effort to evaluate her email and to unsubscribe from senders that are of no importance to her has resulted in fewer incoming messages.  Therefore, fewer messages to open and read on a regular basis. This allows her to spend more of her time attending to the important messages that are now much easier to see because her inbox is less cluttered.

After the 10th Annual National SAM Conference Pamm started scheduling meetings of her SAM principals for the hour before each month’s regular principal’s meeting. These principals share a common SAM vocabulary and focus and find the time together to be really valuable.  Pamm’s SAM, Chris Finney, decided that the district’s SAMs would benefit from a similar meeting.  She held one meeting and found she was right.  She is scheduling a second near the end of the school year. The SAMs appreciated the networking and recognition.  Some of the SAMs commented that it was the first meeting they’ve ever attended that wasn’t just a training for new software or data entry.  This district “gets it” that SAMs play an important and sophisticated leadership role.

Very cool.  Thanks to Time Change Coach Dave Sechler for sharing Pamm and Chris’ story.

SAMtastic Weekly TipApril 10, 2017

This week’s tip: First, Break all the Rules.

Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?  First, Break All the Rules, subtitled What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (1999), is a book authored by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, who offer solutions to better employee satisfaction with the help of examples of how the best leaders work with others. The book appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for 93 weeks.

Colorado Time Change Coach Kent Schnurbusch uses the authors’ twelve guiding question to encourage his SAM teams to better focus their instructional leadership work.  All of the questions connect to TimeTrack instructional descriptors—Kent encourages his SAM teams to focus on the six highlighted below:

1.    Do I know what is expected of me at work?

2.    Do I have the materials and equipment to do my work?

3.    At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

4.    In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing my work?

5.    Does my supervisor at work, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

6.    Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

7.    At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8.    Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?

9.    Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work?

11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

Kent uses TimeTrack, too, as he works with his SAM teams.  Here’s how he uses the six questions:

“Each of my ‘fave six’ are tracked within the data that is collected within the individual dashboard of data within the TimeTrack calendar, documenting interactions with the staff.   Number 1, Do I know what is expected of me at work? Is documented in my data surrounding “employee supervision” and “direct feedback.”  Number 4 is documented within my charts and graphs related to “feedback celebration.”  Number 5 is also documented within “employee supervision” as it relates to building a strong, caring culture that extends throughout the school and to every student.  Certainly, number six and twelve are documented in “professional development” and “planning, curriculum and development.”  Finally, number eleven, In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?, is tracked within the data found within your dashboard included within “walkthrough, observation, feedback: directive, non-directive and celebration.” For those of you who have the capacity to merge your data with other instructional leaders within your building, the data is compounded by the recorded events of other calendar users within your building.”

Kent connects this leadership book really well with the work of SAM teams.  Working on even one of the twelve questions can move your SAM work forward.

 

SAMtastic Weekly TipApril 3, 2017

What group have you spent the most time with this year?  Take a look at your TimeTrack Dashboard.  Did you spent the most time with the group you intended?

What “wins” can you identify?  Things that improved because of the time you spent with this group.

Have you celebrated the wins?  Would the group members identify the same wins?

What didn’t the group accomplish?  Do you know why?  What would the group members say?  What are you going to try next?

Would you be comfortable asking the group how they would like you to modify the time you spend with them?   What do they value most?  What don’t the value.  It is a scary question to ask…but you only move forward by being transparent—let them know you want their help in helping them…and that you don’t know all the answers.  This is a powerful message.

The SAM process is all about being reflective.  It is about a willingness to model what you would like every staff member to do:  take the risk of admitting you don’t know everything….that there is more than one way to advance…but that you can all be better by helping each other.  Powerful!

Another tip:  Take a look at the performance rubric.  You will find it by clicking the TimeTrack icon and then Info.  Your Time Change Coach will be asking your team this month where you are on the rubric.  Take a few minutes and self-assess.  The rubric is not a grade—it is a way of looking at the variety of ways you can use the SAM process to improve your work in improving teaching and learning.  You are doing great things as a SAM team.  Use the rubric to consider your next steps.

SAMtastic Weekly TipMarch 27, 2017

This week’s tip: What did you enjoy doing last week?

It is a simple question that can be hard to answer.  During your SAM Daily Meeting look at your TimeTrack events from last week and ask:  “What did I enjoy doing last week?” 

Finding the joy is a key element in moving your own practice and the practice of others forward..  The relentless push for academic gain often ignores the importance of joy and fun.  It is critical that school leaders help build a culture that celebrates the joy in teaching and learning—and that starts with the leader finding joy in the work of improving teacher practice.

Take a look at the most recent research, below.  This March 24, 2017 article from Inc. may change your focus in a way that will move your practice forward.

Do you possess this crucial leadership quality? If not, here’s how to get it.

Transparency. Passion. Communication.  You know that they’re all important traits of effective leaders. But are they the most important qualities?  Not according to a recent study conducted by The Alternative Board, which surveyed hundreds of entrepreneurs across the world to find out about their outlook for this year as well as more about their leadership styles.  The results might surprise you. According to respondents, positivity is the most important trait a leader can have, with 47 percent of participants citing that quality. Yes, positivity even beat out passion (27 percent), the ability to be personable (26 percent), and decisiveness (23 percent).  All right, so an optimistic outlook is important for being a strong leader. But what can you do to ensure that you’re spreading those good vibes to your team? Here are a few key tips to be more positive in your leadership role.

FOCUS ON STRENGTHS, RATHER THAN WEAKNESSES.

Your team is made up of different people — people who have varying capabilities and shortcomings. However, as the leader, you should make every effort to base your conversations on your team members’ strengths, and not their weaknesses. Not only will this make conversations more beneficial and demonstrate that you have a high opinion of your employees, but it can also serve to make your team that much more productive. In fact, the Corporate Leadership Council discovered that engaging in a conversation that centers on an employee’s strengths will improve performance by nearly 37 percent. So focus on what your employees bring to the table, rather than on what they’re lacking. While those tough conversations might still need to happen every now and then, making an effort to stay primarily zoned in on strengths will lead to a much more positive atmosphere for your team.

CELEBRATE YOUR WINS.

The workday gets busy. Your team is attempting to chug its way through a seemingly endless amount of tasks on your to-do list — which means you don’t often get the chance to step back and appreciate everything you’ve already accomplished. However, continuing to do this is sure to lead to burnout for both you and your team. Your employees will begin to feel like they’re never quite enough, which can throw a real wrench in your morale. Make it a point to celebrate wins, make note of progress and accomplishments, and offer recognition to notable employees each and every week. Taking a break from the hustle and bustle to remind your team that you appreciate them will have a great impact on how you’re perceived as a leader. Need some convincing? A study conducted by Cornell University discovered that recognition has a hugely positive impact on employee engagement — with 41 percent of the variation in engagement attributable to the strength of recognition an employee receives.

BRING SOLUTIONS, NOT JUST PROBLEMS.

As a leader, it’s your duty to oversee everything — and that occasionally means pointing out places where balls are being dropped or things aren’t up to par. It’s all part of the job.  But here’s the thing you need to remember: If you foster a reputation as that leader who just continually pokes holes in things without any resolution, you’re bound to make your entire team a little frustrated and disheartened. Rather than just highlighting flaws or shortcomings in projects or processes, also come armed with some sort of resolution. No, this doesn’t mean you need to micromanage or do all of the thinking for your team — nobody wants that, either. However, if you can ask a thought-provoking question or provide a suggestion that gets the conversation rolling, your team is that much more likely to be productive and forward-thinking, instead of being discouraged and irritated.

Positivity is an incredibly important trait to have as a leader — and the stats are there to back that up. Use these three tips to be more positive in your leadership role, and the morale of your team is sure to follow suit. ■

 

SAMtastic Weekly TipMarch 20, 2017

This week’s tip: Time Spent with One Teacher

Take a look at your instructional time data for a person your SAM team believes is not improving.

 

Then, click the OPTIONS button and select a short time period, like the last six weeks.

 

 Now, look at the chart and click the frequency button, bottom left, and ask these questions:

1. Is the interaction frequent enough to get improvement?

2. Is there a relationship between the four kinds of observation and three kinds of feedback?

3. Who else is trying to help?

4. What haven’t you tried yet?

5. Have you asked the person what would help?

6.  What professional development has occurred?  Did it help?

TimeTrack is structured to provide a running record of your instructional leadership work.  It is most effective when the SAM team uses the charts to be reflective and actively contemplate new approaches to improve teaching practice.  Considering your frequency of interaction can help.

SAMtastic Weekly TipMarch 13, 2017

 This week’s tip: SAM Summer Conference

Registration is now open for the 2017 SAM Summer Conference, Marriott Savannah Riverfront.  The summer conference is a much smaller version of the Annual National SAM Conference and combines a workshop/keynote/breakout session format.

Please use this link to register for the conference:   http://registration.samsconnect.com

 SAM Summer Conference

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 and Thursday, June 29, 2017

Note: You should arrive Tuesday, June 27 for the conference, Wednesday and Thursday.

The $795 conference fee is not normally included in district and school SAM service agreements. This includes hotel room for two nights (Tuesday and Wednesday nights, check out Thursday), dinner and music Tuesday night, breakfast, lunch and dinner Wednesday, breakfast and lunch, Thursday. Entertainment will include a dinner cruise on the Savannah River on the Georgia Queen sternwheeler Tuesday night (must arrive by 5:30 PM).

Two of the confirmed featured keynote speakers are Laura Vanderkam, author, 168 Hours and LaVonna Roth, Ignite your S.H.I.N.E. and be Unstoppable.  The third keynote session speaker, to be confirmed next week, and breakout sessions featuring the work of outstanding SAM teams, will compliment an interactive workshop where attendees will try a new TimeTrack data activity developed for the state of Missouri.

To register for the SAM Summer Conference use this link:   http://registration.samsconnect.com

If you plan to attend the SAM Summer Conference and would like to submit a proposal to be a breakout session presented please complete the form at this link:

http://www.samsconnect.com/?page_id=1121

SAMtastic Weekly TipMarch 6, 2017

This week’s tip: Don’t Multitask

Do yourself a favor and take five minutes to read the article, below, without trying to do anything else.  This may be the best tip of the year!   Then, take a look at the three notes at the end about speakers who have confirmed for the 11th Annual National SAM Conference and HD video of the 10th.  Can you read the article without doing anything else?  Can you wait to read the article before looking at who will be keynoting at Marco Island?

 

Why Smart People Don’t Multitask

Memory and Mind,  published February 7, 2017

Reader Resource

You may have heard that multitasking is bad for you, but new studies show that it kills your performance and may even damage your brain. Every time you multitask you aren’t just harming your performance in the moment; you may very well be damaging an area of your brain that’s critical to your future success at work.

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

A special skill?

But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers — those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance — were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another.

Ouch.

Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

Multitasking lowers IQ

Research also shows that, in addition to slowing you down, multitasking lowers your IQ. A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child.

So the next time you’re writing your boss an email during a meeting, remember that your cognitive capacity is being diminished to the point that you might as well let an 8-year-old write it for you.

Brain damage from multitasking?

It was long believed that cognitive impairment from multitasking was temporary, but new research suggests otherwise. Researchers at the University of Sussex in the UK compared the amount of time people spend on multiple devices (such as texting while watching TV) to MRI scans of their brains. They found that high multitaskers had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control.

While more research is needed to determine if multitasking is physically damaging the brain (versus existing brain damage that predisposes people to multitask), it’s clear that multitasking has negative effects.

Neuroscientist Kep Kee Loh, the study’s lead author, explained the implications:

“I feel that it is important to create an awareness that the way we are interacting with the devices might be changing the way we think and these changes might be occurring at the level of brain structure.”

The EQ connection

Nothing turns people off quite like fiddling with your phone or tablet during a conversation. Multitasking in meetings and other social settings indicates low Self- and Social Awareness, two emotional intelligence (EQ) skills that are critical to success at work. TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that 90 percent of top performers have high EQs. If multitasking does indeed damage the anterior cingulate cortex (a key brain region for EQ) as current research suggests, doing so will lower your EQ while it alienates your coworkers.

Bringing It All Together

If you’re prone to multitasking, this is not a habit you’ll want to indulge — it clearly slows you down and decreases the quality of your work. Even if it doesn’t cause brain damage, allowing yourself to multitask will fuel any existing difficulties you have with concentration, organization and attention to detail.

SAMtastic Weekly TipFebruary 27, 2017

This week’s tip: Breathe.

Kids who get in trouble at a SAM school in Baltimore, Coleman Elementary, are sent to a meditation room rather than the principal’s office.  Principal Carlillian Thompson makes a point of scheduling a little bit of “Blue” time on her TimeTrack each day, too.  She knows the research about being centered and in the moment.  She also knows that the Mindful Moment Room works for her students.

Take a look at this CBS News story about Coleman’s work with meditation:  https://goo.gl/OApYiB

A SAM principal in Denver, Alex Magana, starts meetings with mindfulness activities.  He makes a point to incorporate mindfulness in his daily work with students and staff.

Take a look at your own TimeTrack.  Would it help to schedule ten minute of mindfulness time?  Simply click PERSONAL for the category and then give it a try.  A ten minute break at your most stressful time of day could make you an even better leader.

Other mindfulness resources from the 9th Annual National SAM Conference in Tucson:

o   David Gelles – Mindful Work

o   HD Video

o   Kirsten Olson – The Mindful School Leader

o   HD Video

Ted DesMaisons – Mindfulness and Improvisation

o       Handout

 

SAMtastic Weekly TipFebruary 20, 2017

 This week’s tip: Look at the time you are spending managing your school.

Sal Sedita is a Time Change Coach.  He works with SAM teams in Buffalo, New York and Hampton, Virginia.  Take a look at the “tip” that came from his meeting with two other Time Change Coaches:

Friday morning, at our weekly TCC session, Dave Caban, Joe Gentile, and I were discussing various uses of the data SAMs could apply to help their principals. We thought a SAMtastic Tip could go out to all teams suggesting that the SAM access the dashboard and then choose the option that would show the time the Principal spent on Management.  Then the SAM could drill down on the data in the lower center graph on the dashboard and show the principal just how much time he/she was spending on each of the management descriptors.  Then the reflective questioning could take the track of “How much of this could be done by First Responders?”, “Are there any in place who should/could be doing this?”, “Should we add First Responders to cover some of these?”

TimeTrack has a wealth of data that you can use.  Looking at how you spend time managing the school can help you find more time to spend with teachers to improve their practice.

Another Time Change Coach, Dave Sechler who works with SAM teams in New York City, asked each of his SAM team members who attended the national conference to reflect on what they learned in Fort Lauderdale that they can apply to their work today.  Smart!

SAMtastic Weekly TipFebruary 13, 2017

 This week’s tip: The Learning Zone.

Your SAM Daily Meeting is your Learning Zone.  It is a time for reflection about your work.  Eduardo Briceno, co-founder of MindsetWorks, makes a strong case for spending more time in your “Learning Zone”.

Briceno identifies two “zones” that the most successful people occupy at any given time:

  • The learning zone
  • The performance zone

Briceno claims that spending all your time in the “performance zone” can actually harm your effectiveness.  Take a look at his TED Talk,  “How to get better at the things you care about.”  or read an article about Briceno’s work from Catalyst Magazine, below.

 

The Learning Zone

The purpose of the Learning Zone is to soak up everything we can to improve.

The world’s most successful leaders, including Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg, intentionally devote time to the learning zone.

They devote a minimum of 5 hours a week to reading.

  • Oprah shares that her books were her “personal pass to freedom.”
  • Mark Cuban reads at least 3 hours every day.
  • Billionaire investor David Rubenstein reads 6 books a week.

Setting aside time every week to learn, and to improve, is the most reliable way to move from your current state to your desired state. Leadership is a continuous journey…. we never arrive at our pinnacle of leadership. There is always more to learn.

The Performance Zone

The performance zone is where we intentionally apply what we have learned, and we work towards mastery.

Mastery is a journey. It is not a destination. However our path to mastery will include both incremental steps and quantum leaps forward towards our goals, and even beyond them. Quite often we underestimate our potential and capacity for achievement, simply because we cannot visualize achieving such high levels of greatness.

The secret of performance is understanding the importance of both zones. We cannot excel without both.

“The performance zone maximizes our immediate performance, while the learning zone maximizes our growth and our future performance.

The reason many of us don’t improve much despite our hard work is that we tend to spend almost all of our time in the performance zone. This hinders our growth, and ironically, over the long term, also our performance.” ~Eduardo Briceno

Additional Strategies for Improving Performance

Aside from nurturing our learning zone and our performance zone, what else can we do to achieve peak performance?

1: Take Care of Our Health.

Obviously, the most important factor in successful learning & growth is health. A consistent exercise regimen, healthy diet, healthy sleep patterns, and healthy stress reduction techniques like mindfulness and meditation ensure our minds and bodies are ready for growth.

2: Manage Your Emotions in a Constructive Way.

Emotions can get the best of all of us. The goal is not to suppress them, but to address them in a healthy way so that we can move past them, rather than creating additional problems. Unresolved anger, resentment, fear, and contempt create tremendous barriers to personal and professional progress.

3: Love What You Do.

In a recent keynote speech, I shared that building a business is always challenging, but should rarely be painful, and should never be miserable. Know the difference between stress and misery.

I am a fan of the “boiling frog” analogy. People often accept a difficult, stressful situation as “normal” because they have lost perspective that life is meant to challenge us but not destroy us or make us miserable.

Realizing we are miserable or unhappy is the first step to change. Knowing we can create something better for ourselves is the second step. Creating the courage to do so is the third step.

Peak Performance is Within Your Reach

Whatever you want to improve in your life – a relationship, a skill, public speaking, writing, your leadership – focus on segmenting efforts into learning zones and performance zones.

You will become both smarter and better.

SAMtastic Weekly TipFebruary 6, 2017

 This week’s tip: email moves.

Email moves?  Yes.  Do you feel like your email controls you? Does your smart phone vibrate, buzz and ding to take your attention away from the people you want to influence?  The best SAM teams control the email so instructional leadership can come first.  Here are email moves that work:

1. Set two 20 minute events each day on your TimeTrack calendar to look at email—don’t look at your email at any other time.  This is SO MUCH harder than it sounds but can make a huge difference in your focus.

2. Set the automatic reply feature on your email with a message like this:

Thanks for your email.   During the school day I do not use email so I can focus on my work with teachers and students. If your issue is an emergency please contact my SAM, Ellen Stevens, at the school office.

 

  1. Pick a person to vet your email—separate the items you need to deal with from items a FirstResponder can handle.
  2. Train people to use email in a manner that helps you:
  • don’t respond to emails you’ve been cc’d
  • identify someone who cc’s you on everything—ask them to stop
  • don’t cc people unless absolutely necessary
  • feel free to ignore emails that don’t fit your goals or needs—you don’t need to respond
  • if the content is important schedule a time to talk with the person
  1. Take email off of your smartphone if you carry it around with you all day.
  2. Disable the notification features, sounds, vibrations, screen notices, on all of your devices.  These are distractions that pull your focus.

These email moves will take a bit of the stress out of your day while allowing you to focus on the work you value most:  improving teacher practice and student learning.

It is counter-intuitive:  you have to disconnect in order to really connect with the important work.

SAMtastic Weekly TipJanuary 30, 2017

 

 This week’s tip:  Timing.  When do you observe?

Beginning of the lesson?  Middle?  End?  Morning?  Afternoon?  First period?  Last?

Many SAM teams pay close attention to the frequency of the principal’s interaction with each teacher.  All teams track the amount of observation time.  Some SAM teams make a point of varying the time of day and the part of a lesson the principal observes. This can give the principal a more accurate view and a greater ability to assist with improvement.

You can use your TimeTrack data to determine when to schedule. 

 Still another approach, when the SAM schedules the time with the teacher, he/she can ask: “What time of day has the principal not seen you teach?” This kind of question can engage the teacher in a powerful way.  Kim Marshall, author of Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation, suggests that varying the time of the observation is an important issue of fairness, too.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  January 23, 2017

 Ready to try a “flip”?   SAM teams look for opportunities to “flip” management tasks to instructional. Here are two examples from NSIP Director Mark Shellinger:

When doing morning classroom visits to observe teacher practice, a high school principal carries five tickets in his pocket.  The tickets say:  My Table:  Lunch Today.  He leaves a ticket on the desk of a student who impressed him—great learning behavior, helping others learn, etc. In the cafeteria the principal has the only round table.  There are six chairs.  He eats lunch with the five ticket recipients and talks with them about why they were selected.  The conversation often expands to what they like best about their school and things they would change.   The principal can still do cafeteria duty but with an instructional twist:  flipping management to instruction.

 When doing bus duty an elementary principal tags three students before they get on the bus:  “I would like to see your homework when you come back to school in the morning.”  The next day, the principal has a student desk in front of the school’s entry with two chairs.  She sits down with each of her tagged students and looks at their homework.  Many principals who try this say it makes a big impressing on all students…and many want to get tagged by their principal.  What happens when a student says “I don’t have any homework?”  The principal gives an assignment.  For example: “No homework?  OK.  Then copy down your electric meter when you get home and look at it again after dinner.  How much electricity did you use?”  Or, “Bring a book that you have either finished reading or have completed the first two chapters.  We’ll talk about it.”

 Flipping can be powerful and is often really fun!

SAMtastic Weekly TipJanuary 16, 2017

 Music can make you happy.  It can change the mood of the people around you, too.  Take a look at the article from Inc. magazine, below.  Would it be worth using music during passing periods?  While you are waiting for your SAM Daily Meeting to start?

Read the article and try a song!

Science Says Listening to These 5 Songs Will Make You Remarkably Happy

Music has long been tied to deep emotion in all living beings–including happiness.

By Peter Economy

For as long as sound has existed, music has always been tied to deep emotion in all living beings. It’s one of the stimuli that are most likely to evoke a memory or intense reaction, one of the strange phenomena that allow humans to access a different mental or emotional space than the one they were in before.

The reason for these sensations, as discovered in a study by the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, is that the experience of listening to music releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for tangible pleasures such as food, sex, or drugs. Certain instances of dopamine release were associated with “chills”–physical changes in heart rate, breathing, and temperature, due to listening to music.

For the listener, musical chills feel something like a sudden onset of emotion–a mental reaction followed by an actual physical reaction of the body to the sound. Sometimes, we are able to identify such chills by the feeling of shivers running down the backs of our spines; others, we think of them as goosebumps rising on our skin from being so moved.

In the study, a number of brain imaging techniques were employed in order to monitor the changes of dopamine when listening to certain music. It was even concluded that this was the first time such a substantial dopamine release was brought about by an abstract reward–in this case, music.

The research team discovered that 5 songs in particular across a number of genres created musical chills in the people who listened to them–and, ultimately, a positive emotional response. These 5 songs have been shown to trigger dopamine release and subsequently increase your happiness:

 

  1. “Clair de Lune” – Debussy
  2. “Adagio for Strings” – Barber
  3. “Piano Sonata No. 17 in D Minor (“The Tempest”)” – Beethoven
  4.  ”First Breath After Coma” — Explosions in the Sky
  5.  ”Adagio for Strings” – Tiesto

 

NSIP Director Mark Shellinger always looks for a song to get the national conference off to a great start.  This year he selected this one:  https://goo.gl/xHoVh8

Listen and see if it makes you feel good.

PS:  The 10th Annual National SAM Conference is rapidly approaching.  Over 850 SAM team members from 22 states will meet in Fort Lauderdale to hear six keynote speakers, 32 breakout session presentation and great interaction and fun!  One of the speakers, author Mike Schmoker, was featured in Principal Leadership.  Take a look at The Marshall Memo summary of his article, below.  What he suggests has relevance to SAM team members.

 

Mike Schmoker on Three Focus Areas

In this article in Principal Leadership, consultant/author Mike Schmoker says the key to schools succeeding with all students is prioritizing – isolating and focusing on “only the most vital, game-changing actions that ensure significant improvement in teaching and learning” and then sustaining a disciplined, laser-like focus for a significant amount of time. “Time and energy are precious, limited resources,” he says, “and if we squander them on too many initiatives or on the wrong ones, we will fail… Less is more.”

Where should the focus be? Schmoker believes three areas have the strongest track record of success, are easy to understand when presented in professional development, and lend themselves to being continuously refined as they are implemented by teacher teams:

Consistent, schoolwide implementation of a coherent, content-rich curriculum – Teachers should have clear, specific direction on which skills and concepts to teach – the what and when – with discretion on the how to and some room each week for teachable moments and personal passions. Curriculum focus “may be the single largest factor that affects both student achievement and reading proficiency,” says Schmoker.

Mastery by every teacher of the components of effective, explicit instruction – Of paramount importance is ongoing checking for student understanding (minute by minute, day by day, week by week) and adjusting instruction based on assessment insights. This is especially important for project- and problem-based learning.

An intensive, curriculum-wide emphasis on fairly traditional literacy – “We have overcomplicated instruction in reading, speaking, and writing,” says Schmoker. “To succeed, students simply need vastly more time to purposefully read, discuss, and write about worthy, substantive literature and nonfiction across the curriculum (as often as possible, in the interpretive and argumentative mode).”

Only a small fraction of schools are implementing these practices, but those that are (like Brockton High School in Massachusetts) are making dramatic gains. The common factor in Brockton and other successful schools is a leadership team working with colleagues in a way that is highly focused and relentless and provides plenty of opportunity for review and practice. “To the greatest extent possible,” says Schmoker (who is critical of the way teacher-evaluation rubrics are being implemented in many districts), “this should occur in a climate that emphasizes helpfulness and growth, rather than evaluation.”

“The Power of Focus” by Mike Schmoker in Principal Leadership, January 2017 (Vol. 17, #3, p. 42-45), e-link for NASSP members; Schmoker can be reached at schmoker@futureone.com.

SAMtastic Weekly TipJanuary 9, 2017

Your tip for the week after New Year’s is a question to consider:  Did you make a New Year’s Resolution?  If not, any of J.K. Rowling’s Top 10 Rules for Success, might be worth considering.  In 2004 the creator of Harry Potter became first person to become a billionaire by writing books.  Here are her Top 10 Rules for Success.

1. Failure helps you discovers yourself.

She went from living on state benefits to multi-millionaire status within 5 years.

2. Take action on your ideas.

The Harry Potter books have become the best-selling book series in history.

3. You will be criticized.

Anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers asked that she use two initials, rather than her full name.

4. Remember where you started.

She was diagnosed with clinical depression which she claims gave her inspiration to create the Dementors in the Potter series.

5. Believe.

Twelve publishing houses rejected her original Harry Potter manuscripts, but eventually small publisher Bloomsbury gave her a chance with a small advance.

6. There is always trepidation.

She conceived the idea for Harry Potter in 1990. The 7 years that followed saw the death of her mother, divorce from her first husband and relative poverty until Rowling finished the first novel.

7. Life is not a checklist of achievements.

She named communist and civil rights activist Jessica Mitford as her “most influential writer”.

8. Persevere.

She’s the United Kingdom’s best-selling living author, with sales in excess of £238m.

9. Dreams can happen.

In 2010, she was named the “Most Influential Woman in Britain” by leading magazine editors.

10. We have the power to imagine better.

Harry Potter is now a global brand worth an estimated US$15 billion.

The author elaborates on her top 10 list in this YouTube video:  https://goo.gl/aHB3yg

SAMtastic Weekly TipDecember 19, 2016

 Your tip for the week before Christmas is a question to consider:  Is rest a skill?

The author of The Distraction Addiction and Rest makes a strong case that practicing rest makes sense for people who want to be successful in their work.

“Rest turns out to be like sex or singing or running.  Everyone basically knows how to do it, but with a little work and understanding, you can learn to do it a lot better.” 

The research is clear that adding “blue” to your TimeTrack, personal time, makes sense during your work day.  It is also clear, as author Alex Soojung-Kim Pang explains, that learning to rest better will improve your work results.  It may seem counter-intuitive but disconnecting from work, especially during the upcoming Christmas and holiday break, will likely make you a better leader.

Here’s a link to an article about the book, Rest, that appeared in the New York Times yesterday:  https://goo.gl/NR1lbk

 

 SAMtastic Weekly TipDecember 12, 2016

Take a look at your three target descriptors.  Double click on any white space and look at the bottom of the event entry box.  If the three descriptors next to the flickering flames are in GREEN it means that you are doing more of this descriptor than when you were shadowed.  If the descriptor is RED, it means you have done less.

Hover your cursor over the target and the percentages will appear.

Schedule one “target descriptor” event each day.  Feel free to change your target descriptors as you like.  The purpose is to focus on what you think will most likely move the practice forward for the educators you select.

Want to change a target descriptor?  Click the TimeTrack logo, upper left.  Select SETTINGS, GENERAL OPTIONS…and then click the Target Descriptor tab.  Use the drop downs to change your targets.  Make sure to click SAVE.

SAMtastic Weekly TipDecember 5, 2016

 Welcome to a new month!

Take a look at November.  Open your Dashboard and do/ask the following:

 

  1. Double click on November, the green bar.
  2. Now you see a lot of colors that detail what you did each day in November by descriptor.
  3. Hover your cursor over a color and it will reveal the descriptor.
  4. Is there a relationship between your four kinds of observation and three kinds of feedback?
  5. What patterns do you see?
  6. Was your instructional time for the month of November greater than your baseline?
  7. Was your instructional time for the month of November greater than your goal?

Taking time to look at last month can up your game this month.  Your data tells a story.  Take time to read and talk about it during your SAM Daily Meeting.

SAMtastic Weekly TipNovember 28, 2016

Many SAM teams use Focus Groups to help the leader best align effort and time to improve teaching and learning.

Focus Groups were initially created as a marketing research tool.   Wikipedia:  A group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members. During this process, the researcher either takes notes or records the vital points he or she is getting from the group.” 

A SAM team can use this concept to talk with parents, students and staff about issues, ideas and practice that can help move instruction forward.  For example, one high school SAM principal conducts a focus group every week with selected students.  His topics range from homework policy to budget decisions.  The purpose is to see/hear the student point of view and develop of sense of ownership in decision making that is ted to instructional/learning goals.  Another SAM principal meets with select parents weekly and uses the agenda for the upcoming staff meeting to frame the discussion.  Still another SAM principal meets with teachers from different grade levels to foster understanding of the challenges and work each level is engaged.  A SAM principal supervisor brings four different business partners together every six weeks to discuss progress toward meeting mutual goals.

Scheduling a focus group is easy.  The descriptor is Decision Making Groups and Meetings because the leader uses the information gained to make the best decision possible to improve teaching and learning.

SAMtastic Weekly TipNovember 21, 2016

 Do you appreciate A.R.T? 

 Many SAM teams and Time Change Coaches believe the best part of the SAM process is the Daily Meeting.  If gives the leader a chance to stop and reflect.  So much of the leader’s day is interrupt driven.  The SAM Daily meeting gives the leader a structured way to practice the A.R.T. of leadership:  Analyze~Reflect~Think.

 Every team’s SAM Daily Meting is unique.  As long as the team is scheduling in advance and practicing A.R.T. ~  they are doing it right! 

 

 Every day you create a Picasso…as long as A.R.T. is a part of your SAM Daily Meeting.

 Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  NSIP Director Mark Shellinger led us in the “Turkey Song” Friday.  Take a look at our Thanksgiving greeting!  https://youtu.be/3IVcCPjtMdY

 

 

SAMtastic Weekly TipNovember 14, 2016

Take a look at the leader’s management time.  Go to the Dashboard.  Click OPTIONS and select Management.  Expand the center chart, bottom, to see where the leaders spends time doing management tasks.

Consider:

 

  1. Are there First Responders who are making a difference?  Schedule a meeting with a group of First Responders and show them how their work increases the leader’s time on instructional work with teachers and students.
  2. Are there areas where a new First Responder is needed?  Discuss and consider what pulls the leader away from instructional work—can this be lessened?
  3. Are there First Responders who would benefit from more training?

 

Does the office staff make teachers and others asking for time feel valued and important?  Is a daily view of TimeTrack available for staff?  Posted in the staff room?  Office door?  Discuss in your SAM Daily Meeting if making TimeTrack more available to staff would make access easier—and help keep the leader on track.

Several schools give the day custodian and other support staff the TimeTrack app so they can help get the principal to where he/she is scheduled.  Would this help?

See a great news story about Illinois SAMs:  SAMs help principals be “instructional leaders they were hired to be”   http://bit.ly/2fHULGo

 

 

 

 

 SAMtastic Weekly TipNovember 7, 2016

A recent study* of successful schools determined that the leader’s high expectations coupled with high support made all the difference.  Here’s an illuminating quote from a teacher in a successful school:

“My mother has been teaching forever. My father has been teaching for 10 years.  They don’t get observed. I get observed every week and have a meeting about it every week.”

What would teachers in your school say about your frequency of contact?  What does your TimeTrack show?

Look at your TimeTrack dashboard.  Click on the graph, upper right and then click EXPAND.  Go to Options.  Look at time range and select the last six weeks.  Now, look below and select Compare Individuals of a Group.  Select a group—like Fourth Grade Teachers…or Science Teachers.  Now, scroll to the bottom and click Apply.  Are you surprised?  Do you see a significant difference in the time you are spending with these educators?

Many SAM principals make sure that they have at least one “touch” with each teacher every week.  This “touch” might come from the principal, vice-principal or coach…but the touches are connected, discussed and followed-up on each week.

SAM teams do their best work when they reflect on what they have done and then decide what needs to be scheduled.  Think about the “touches” you had with each staff member last week and what you can do this week that connects and will move teaching practice forward.

*Schools the Work, New York Times, 11/4  https://goo.gl/gcsO9g

SAMtastic Weekly TipOctober 31, 2016

Quick.  Who is your best teacher/educator?  Who is your worst?

Now, look at your TimeTrack dashboard.  Click on the graph, upper right and then click EXPAND.  Go to the options menu and select Compare Individuals and select the two educators.

Is the time you spend with these two educators and very different performance levels the same?  Different?  Why?

Many leaders spend very little time with their best performers.  The research suggests this is a serious mistake.  Your best performers are often the ones who will benefit the most…grow the most…with time you invest.

You have a moral obligation to work with your lowest performers.  You have the same obligation to work with your best.  They are your key to moving adult practice forward that will best benefit students in your school.  This also sends a message to every adult about what you value.  Why keep this a secret?

It’s Halloween today.  Why not give yourself and your best performers a treat?  Spend time observing your all-stars and then listening to them talk about their work in a non-directive feedback session.  This isn’t a trick…but it can have amazing results.

SAMtastic Weekly TipOctober 24, 2016

Does email drive you right up the wall?  Here’s a six-step approach many SAM teams use to get off the wall and stay in the green:

1.   Schedule in TimeTrack two or three times during the day the principal will look at email.

2.   Turn off notifications of incoming email on the principal’s smart phone, laptop and desktop computers.  A leader does not need these distractions.

3.   Set your email so it sends an automatic message to each sender.  Here’s a sample message you could modify and use:

Thanks for your email.  I focus on instructional leadership work using my TimeTrack calendar at Stevens Middle.  I have set times during the day that I look at email so I am not distracted from my work improving teaching practice. 

 If you need to schedule time with me, or need immediate assistance, please contact my SAM, Joyce Edwards, (502) 665-7525.

 Only our best for our students,

 John Adams, Principal

4.   Have your office staff use your First Responders as much as possible.  Be sure they use the SAM Communications Protocol so each caller feels important and not pushed away.  We’re all in this together!

5.   Use your delete key liberally.  Most emails do not require a response or can be forwarded to a First Responder.

6.   Don’t try to substitute real conversation with an email.  You might think it saves time but it often misses the mark and keeps people from getting better.  You wouldn’t be happy with a teacher who sent an email to a student instead of teaching the student.  Why should a principal do this when working with teachers?  Take time to listen, talk and relate.  This is leadership at its best!

SAMtastic Weekly TipOctober 17, 2016

This week’s tip:  Schedule six “connected” events over a two week period with one teacher that your team believes will result in a positive change of practice.

 

During your SAM Daily Meeting identify a teacher your leader would like to spend time with to improve a specific teaching practice.  Then strategize on what would help.  Think about how the events you schedule need to “connect”.  A Walk-through or Observation needs to connect with a Feedback session. 

 But doesn’t a Professional Development session need to connect with the Walk-through and Feedback session, too?  How about a Teaching and Modeling session for the teacher followed by Non-Directive Feedback session and then an Observation to see if the teacher is able to use the techniques modeled?

 Make sure to schedule a Celebration Feedback session when your principal sees the change of practice you set out to accomplish.

SAMtastic Weekly TipOctober 10, 2016

The question that got both presidential candidates to be reflective last night, and caused the audience to stop and think, was one that can help SAM teams, too.  “Donald, what do you admire about Hillary?”  “Secretary Clinton, what do you admire about Mr. Trump?”

These were my favorite questions as they caused both candidates to stop and think.  Do you do this in your SAM Daily Meeting?  “What did Mrs. Stevens do in her lesson that you most admired?”  Are we in such a hurry that we miss the opportunity to recognize the “wins” that occur in each classroom every day?

Recognizing good performance allows the leader to build on success.  It allows the leader to model and build the kind of learning culture we all desire.  Some leaders worry that saying something positive about a teacher’s work communicates that there are no areas of need or improvement.  This won’t happen if the observations of and the conversations with the teacher are frequent.

Try this in your SAM Daily Meeting today.  Talk about a teacher who is struggling.  Start with the graph from the dashboard showing the leader’s time with this teacher so far this year.  Ask:  “What are two things this teacher is doing well?  Then, schedule a Feedback Celebration meeting with the teacher.  If the leader can’t identify anything the teacher is doing well….schedule a 15 observation and ask the leader to intentionally look for good practice.

Making sure good performance is recognized, and used as a lever for further improvement, is a key feature of your TimeTrack.  Recognizing good practice takes practice.  You can use your TimeTrack to make sure this happens.

SAMtastic Weekly TipOctober 3, 2016

As a SAM team member you are eligible to receive the weekly Marshall Memo, a compilation of the best articles in education. 

 

 Kim Marshall, author of  Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation, reads sixty-four select publications each week and selects five to ten articles he believes have the greatest potential to improve teaching, leadership, and learning. He then writes a brief summary of each article, provides e-links to full articles when available, highlights a few striking quotes, and e-mails the Memo to subscribers every Tuesday.

Kim also features “Classic” articles from years past. You can retrieve any article and review the “classics” by going to Kim’s website: www.marshallmemo.com Enter SAM in the e-mail box and Project in the password box.

 

We provide the Marshall Memo as a professional development support service.  If you are not currently receiving the Marshall Memo, simply email Karen@SAMsConnect.com and make your request.  The Marshall Memo will appear in your in-box the following week.

SAMtastic Weekly TipSeptember 26, 2016

This week’s tip has five parts:

 1) Be in the Green and Above the Line:  schedule your instructional work in advance with TimeTrack. It feels great to arrive at school in the Green because you have a plan for the day that aligns with your goal of improving teacher practice and student learning.

 2) Use one graph and ask one question in your SAM Daily Meeting….this almost always leads to a next step with a teacher or group.

3)  Pick one “win” each day.  This might be a Celebratory Feedback session with a teacher, a conversation with a student or parent about their success or completing a task that you don’t want to do.  The important thing is to get it done and then celebrate your win! 

4) Leave some of your time unscheduled.  You need some flexibility to take advantage of teachable moments and deal with the flow of the day.  As long as you are in the green unscheduled time is just fine.

5) Take a break. Go play with the kindergarteners, listen to the choir practice, watch a science experiment, take walk outside, have a cup of coffee with the custodian.   You are a better leader when you allow yourself to mentally coast for a few minutes each day.

SAMtastic Weekly TipSeptember 19, 2016

This week’s tip:  Find your leader’s low point of the day and schedule a 15 rejuvenating break.  It will increase the likelihood that your principal will be effective in working with others to improve performance.

There is no correlation with working longer and positive impact.  In fact, the reverse is true.  Principals are driven to make a difference. Often they think that working longer will get them to their destination:  improved teacher practice and student learning.  This just doesn’t work.

Schedule a mental/physical break for your principal at the time of day he/she is “out of gas”. It could be as simple as shutting the office door and turning out the lights for 15 minutes.  Other ideas: walk the outside perimeter of the school; take a power nap; listen to classical music for 15 minutes in the car; drive to Starbucks and order a cup a coffee…anything to give the leader a mental break.   You will be amazed how this can improve the leader’s attitude and impact.  You will be happier, too!

At the last National SAM Conference two keynote speakers addressed this issue and how mindfulness exercises can help.  You see these presentations in HD video at our website:  www.SamsConnect.com

Here are direct links to the sessions:

http://www.samsconnect.com/?page_id=2873

http://www.samsconnect.com/?page_id=2907

You don’t have to make every event on TimeTrack INSTRUCTIONAL to have a positive impact. PERSONAL time is not only good…it is necessary.

SAMtastic Weekly TipSeptember 12, 2016

Hello!

This may be the best TIP you will get all year!  If you take it, you will have a much better, and productive, school year. Hundreds of SAM teams swear this is true!  This TIP works for principal supervisors, too!

Remember last March when you were frantic to complete the formal teacher evaluations?  How would you like to get a head-start?

Every district requires teachers to be formally evaluated.  These formal evaluations can be valuable when coupled with the frequent observations and feedback great SAM principals do every week.

Why not get a head start and schedule each of the required pieces in TimeTrack right now?  Sit down as a SAM team and determine what each teacher has to have as part of the formal evaluation.  For most systems there are four things you will want to schedule for each teacher:

 

  1. Pre-conference  (A time for the principal and teacher to discuss concerns, what the principal will be looking for during the formal observation and what the teacher can share about the lesson to be taught/observed.)
  2. Observation (The set amount of time the principal will observe the teacher.)
  3. Office Work/Prep  (The time the principal will need to complete the formal evaluation paperwork and think through the message(s) he/she wants to give the teacher.  Hint:  If your principal says:  “I’ll do all of the office work at home.”  Suggest he/she do one or two at school.  This will make for a happier and more effective principal.  Really.
  4. Post-conference (A time for the principal to share the formal evaluation paperwork and discuss points of celebration, directive and non-directive feedback to help the teacher improve.)

 

Keep in mind that the number of observations vary in most systems based on the teacher’s experience and past performance.  Start with the “regular” teachers and get them entered in TimeTrack.  This will make it so much easier for you to stay on track and complete this formal part of evaluation.  It will also allow you to begin scheduling the more frequent informal observation and feedback sessions that we know best help teachers improve.

Don’t forget to use the automatic reminder in TimeTrack to let teachers know in advance of the scheduled sessions.

Does scheduling all of the teachers seem overwhelming?  If so, start with a grade level or department and get the teachers in that group scheduled….then do a second grade level/department next week.  This will give you a much happier and smoother year.

SAMtastic Weekly TipSeptember 6, 2016

Hello!

Registration for the 10th Annual National SAM ConferenceMarriott’s Harbor Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale, January 26-29, 2017, is now open.

Today’s tip has five parts:

1.     Register soon as all 600 seats and hotel rooms were taken by early November last year.  To register: http://registration.samsconnect.com/

2.     Consider coming a day early for the pre-conference.  There are five all-day sessions with incredible presenters.  These sessions are limited in size and rich in content.  A list of pre-conference sessions is at the end of this email.

3.     Consider coming as a team.  The conference is for SAMs and their leaders and offers an incredible opportunity to work with and learn from over 600 leading educators from twenty-two states…as well as six nationally recognized keynote speakers and thirty breakout session presenters from the fields of education, business, leadership and social psychology.

4.     SAVE the Dates on your TimeTrack, January 26-29, 2017.

5.     Consider being a breakout session speaker. You have a lot of experience, knowledge and insight that your colleagues from across the country would appreciate.  Complete the one-page proposal form:  http://goo.gl/P1VpKW

 

SAMtastic Weekly TipAugust 29, 2016

Hello!

Most SAM teams start the new school year by talking about the last one.

Take a few minutes to think about your wins:

  •      Who are the teachers and other staff we helped the most?
  •      Which instructional descriptors did we have the greatest gain?
  •      Were we at/above goal each month?
  •      Did we have our SAM Daily Meeting most days?
  •      Did our First Responders do a good job?  Do they feel appreciated?

Talking about these things can help make your TimeTrack planning easier and more effective for the new school year.  Here are few things to consider as you work on your TimeTrack for 2016-17:

Check that you have the right people on the list.  Go to the TimeTrack logo, click SETTINGS and Individual/Group Set-up.

  •      Deactivate any staff member who has left the school.
  •      Add any staff member who is new.
  •      Check that group membership is still the same.  Did a fourth grade teacher move to third grade?
  •      Add staff member birthdays.

You can then Click the OPTIONS tab at the top and tell TimeTrack when you want the birthday reminders—day of, day before, week of, etc.  The reminders will appear on the left side of any calendar view.  Thanks to the many SAMs that suggested this new feature!

Looking for more ideas to get the most out of your TimeTrack?  Take a look at this one page “Summer Set-up Guide” Time Change Coach Dave Sechler created for his teams.  http://goo.gl/4nu6fF

 

SAMtastic Tip: May 23, 2016

As May comes to an end it is a great idea to get your TimeTrack ready for summer and a new school year.

Many leaders elect to use TimeTrack all summer long—even days they are not working.  Be sure to tell TimeTrack not to “count” your vacation days so the charts and graphs of your work stay accurate.  You can do this by “de-clicking” the contact day box at the top of each TimeTrack day.  A faster way:  click the TimeTrack logo, click SETTINGS and then Contact Days.

Your TimeTrack dashboard will automatically reset July 1 for the new year.  Your data for the current and past years will still be available.  Click the Dashboard, then the Options button and select Date Range.

Do you have teachers who are changing assignments?  Be sure to update the groups and enter new teachers and other staff members, too. Click the TimeTrack logo an select SETTINGS and then Individual/group Set-up.

Now is a great time to enter all of the special school events, holidays and vacations that you have planned for the new school year.  Be sure to include the 10th Annual National SAM Conference—January 26-29.  Conference registration will open Labor Day.  Plan to arrive Wednesday so you can attend the pre-conference all day sessions Thursday.  Pre-conference presenters include: Ken Williams, Starting a Movement, Paul Bambrick Santoyo, Leveraged Leadership, Kim Marshall, Rethinking Teacher Evaluation and Supervision and Paul and Willow, Top 20 Teachers.  If this intrigues you wait until Labor Day when we will announce the featured keynote speakers.

Never attended a national SAM conference?  Take a look at what it is like:

https://youtu.be/T1ltZBrjsBw

To see keynote sessions from past national conferences:  http://www.samsconnect.com/?page_id=1507

 

SAMtastic Tip: May 16, 2016

How keen are your observations?  Take look at the coaching notes Mike Rutherford, Rutherford Learning Group, drafted designed to help school leaders develop a keen eye for observing instruction.  Mike has done a lot of work with SAM teams and understands the importance of skillful observation.

Mike offers interesting way at looking for the three “C’s” when you visit a classroom:

Culture- the unwritten “ways we do things around here”

Climate- the classroom’s mood or “local weather”

Community- the degree of inclusiveness or “family atmosphere”

Here’s a link to read his coaching notes:  http://goo.gl/T2p3FO

Here’s a link to see a video of Mike asking the questions:  “How Talent Friendly is Your School?”  He made this presentation at the 7th Annual National SAM Conference in San Diego, January, 2014.  http://goo.gl/CgCk3f

 

SAMtastic Tip: May 9, 2016

This week’s SAMtastic tip is: use the rubric.    Your Time Change Coach will be asking you to self-assess your progress with the performance rubric.  This is done formally at the end of every school year and can be very useful in celebrating wins and setting new goals.  You will find the rubric in your TimeTrack calendar.  Click the INFO tab at the top and select either:

 SAM/Principal Team Performance Rubric

 SAM/District Leader Team Performance Rubric

 Self-assess and then talk with your team members about your progress.  Once your team and coach agree on your current performance level, and new goals, your profile sheet will be updated.  You can, of course, ask your Time Change Coach to revise the performance level on the profile sheet at any time during the year.

 As you discuss your work consider your three “target” descriptors.  Are you meeting these goal?  Do you want to change your target descriptors?  You can do this by clicking the SETTINGS tab and selecting General Options.  Be sure to click SAVE is you make any changes.

SAMtastic Tip: May 2, 2016

What group have you spent the most time with this year?  Take a look at your TimeTrack Dashboard.  Did you spent the most time with the group you intended?

What “wins” can you identify?  Things that improved because of the time you spent with this group.

Have you celebrated the wins?  Would the group members identify the same wins?

What didn’t the group accomplish?  Do you know why?  What would the group members say?  What are you going to try next?

Would you be comfortable asking the group how they would like you to modify the time you spend with them?   What do they value most?  What don’t the value.  It is a scary question to ask…but you only move forward by being transparent—let them know you want their help in helping them…and that you don’t know all the answers.  This is a powerful message.

The SAM process is all about being reflective.  It is about a willingness to model what you would like every staff member to do:  take the risk of admitting you don’t know everything….that there is more than one way to advance…but that you can all be better by helping each other.  Powerful!

Another tip:  Take a look at the performance rubric.  You will find it by clicking the TimeTrack icon and then Info.  Your Time Change Coach will be asking your team this month where you are on the rubric.  Take a few minutes and self-assess.  The rubric is not a grade—it is a way of looking at the variety of ways you can use the SAM process to improve your work in improving teaching and learning.  You are doing great things as a SAM team.  Use the rubric to consider your next steps.

 

 

SAMtastic Tip: April 25, 2016

This week’s SAMtastic tip is: practice happiness.    Psychologist and best-selling author Shawn Achor has made a career studying the science of happiness. “Scientifically, happiness is a choice,” Achor says. He explains that research has shown you can rewire your brain to make yourself happy by practicing simple happiness exercises every day.

Research supports Shawn’s premise . Take a look at his suggestions from a recent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation story:

1.     Gratitude Exercises. Write down three things you’re grateful for that occurred over the last 24 hours. They don’t have to be profound. It could be a really good cup of coffee or the warmth of a sunny day.

2.     The Doubler. Take one positive experience from the past 24 hours and spend two minutes writing down every detail about that experience. As you remember it, your brain labels it as meaningful and deepens the imprint.

3.     The Fun Fifteen. Do 15 minutes of a fun cardio activity, like gardening or walking the dog, every day. The effects of daily cardio can be as effective as taking an antidepressant.

4.     Meditation. Every day take two minutes to stop whatever you’re doing and concentrate on breathing. Even a short mindful break can result in a calmer, happier you.

5.     Conscious act of kindness. At the start of every day, send a short email or text praising someone you know. Our brains become addicted to feeling good by making others feel good.

6.     Deepen Social Connections. Spend time with family and friends. Our social connections are one of the best predictors for success and health, and even life expectancy.

 

Consider scheduling in TimeTrack one of Shawn’s activities each day.  A happier, more centered, present and focused school leader is far more effective in driving improved teacher practice and student learning. Some of Shawn’s ideas could easily be incorporated in your SAM Daily Meeting.

You can see a CBC video featuring Shawn Achor by clicking this link: http://goo.gl/Y2zuFM

SAMtastic Tip: April 18, 2016

This week’s tip:  Focus Groups

You can learn a lot by not talking.  Try scheduling focus group meetings with people you don’t hear from a lot.  Students, parents, support staff and community members are almost always pleased to be asked to participate…and what you learn can be valuable.

Focus group meetings are easy to facilitate.  Simply explain you would like to hear ideas and thoughts about your mission and vision.  What is the school doing well?  What could we do better?   Many SAM principals share their data with focus groups and ask for suggestions and ideas.

Some SAM principals conduct focus group meetings with students the day prior to a staff meeting.  This can give the leader great anecdotes to share with staff about school issues while engaging students in a meaningful way.

SAMtastic Tip: April 11, 2016

This week’s tip:  Take advantage of SAM PD.

Where can you find the best SAM professional development?  Some of the best resources are as close as your SAM Daily Meeting.  The reflective questions you ask can lead to the very best professional growth.  PD tools are built-in to TimeTrack, too.  Click on the logo and then INFO.

The annual National SAM Conference is consistently rated as the best leadership professional development conference offered in the US.  Make sure you have the dates for the 10th annual conference in your TimeTrack:  January 26-29, 2017.  Registration opens on Labor Day.   Many SAM teams use the HD videos from prior conferences.  Here’s a quick link:  http://goo.gl/zhgX86

The Illinois SAM State Conference this month features author Ken Williams.  ($100, does not include hotel, April 28, Bloomington—register by April 20:  rhendee@ludaschools.org

The Georgia SAM Summer Conference, June 7-8, 2016, is celebrating its fourth year bringing SAM teams together for two days of outstanding professional development sessions featuring national and state speakers.  SAM teams from other states are invited to attend:  $795 and includes two night’s luxury accommodations at the Lodge and Spa, meals for two days and conference sessions and materials. Use this link to download and complete the registration form:  http://goo.gl/5StE6r   SAM teams in Georgia have received information earlier on cost and registration,  Georgia SAM Summer Conference keynote speakers include:

Will Parker, author, Principal Matters, speaker and principal at Oklahoma’s Skiatook High School

Valorie Burton, author, Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable, speaker and founder of The Coaching and Positive Psychology Institute

Mojdeh Henderson, North Carolina SAM Principal and highly rated speaker at the 9th Annual National SAM Conference

Jevon Lewis, Arizona SAM Principal and highly rated speaker at the 9th Annual National SAM Conference

The National SAM Innovation Project also provides SAM team members the weekly Marshall Memo, a compilation of the best education and school leadership articles.  Contact Karen@SamsConnect.com if you would like to be added to the distribution list.

The annual Iowa SAM Conference, December date to be announced, offers an opportunity to learn from other SAM teams and features state and national speakers.

One of your best PD resources is your Time Change Coach and other SAM teams in your district or state.  Ask your coach to help connect you with colleagues doing great work.

SAMtastic Tip: April 4, 2016

This week’s tip:  What did you enjoy doing last week?

It is a simple question that can be hard for some to answer.  During your SAM Daily Meeting look at your TimeTrack events from last week and ask:  “What did I enjoy doing last week?”  Finding the Joy is a key element in moving your own practice and the practice of others.  The relentless push for academic gain often ignores the importance of joy and fun.  It is critical that school leaders help build a culture that celebrates the joy in teaching and learning—and that starts with the leader finding joy in the work of improving teacher proactive.

Jonathan Eckert, an associate professor of education in Illinois, authored a great piece on finding joy last month in Education Week.  We’ve reprinted the article, below.

So, during your SAM Team meeting today discuss the joyful events of last week…events that make you happy and glad to be a school leader and SAM team.  Then, schedule a few more this week as well as a follow-up session with the people you found joy in last week.  Celebrate.  Enjoy.  Teach.  As Jonathan suggests in the article below:  “This is the only way to grow.”

Published Online: March 29, 2016

Published in Print: March 30, 2016, as Finding Joy in Teaching

COMMENTARY

Bring Joy Back Into the Classroom

By Jonathan Eckert

 

I teach to entertain myself. For the past 20 years, I have shared this key to quality instruction with elementary through college students.

They all look at me like I am a bit egocentric and a little crazy. I don’t think I am.

My own entertainment is only one ingredient of the whole recipe for a productive learning environment. But if I am not enjoying teaching, student learning will suffer. If I am bored, burned out, or beaten down, it is highly unlikely that my students will engage in vibrant learning. This is true for assessment, content, and classroom management—the three cornerstones of quality instruction.

One way to judge the quality of an assessment is: Do I want to grade it? If I get tired of assessing essays that try to persuade the principal to say no to school uniforms, I change the assessment. If I can’t bear to read another policy memo about a particular topic, I change the syllabus. If I do not enjoy assessing the assignment, my students rarely enjoy completing it. The quality of the work suffers.

What about teaching the same content day after day? I taught four sections of science to 7th graders for years. Photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and asexual reproduction were not what got me out of bed in the morning. The key for me was to focus on how 100 different individuals interacted with the concepts during the labs. Suddenly, asexual reproduction became fascinating when I heard students trying to make sense of it. “How can a potato get jiggy under the ground?” one student asked.

Classroom management also has to remain fresh. I posted a magnetic Elvis Presley replete with an extensive wardrobe on the front board of my 5th grade classroom. If the class got too loud, I would remove, for example, Elvis’ Hawaiian lei. This equaled one less minute of recess. A lei and the removal of his sunglasses equaled three fewer minutes, and so on. The students could earn these items back for quality work. At the end of the week, if Elvis was dressed like “the King,” we had 15 minutes of recess. Eventually, I only had to take a couple steps toward Elvis to quiet the classroom.

Admittedly, some of my techniques are a bit quirky, but that is the point. We should engage students in ways that we enjoy—a teacher’s enjoyment is a precondition for student engagement.

“A teacher’s enjoyment is a precondition for student engagement.”

Teaching morale has declined over the past two decades. Promised K-12 improvements, meanwhile, have included increased rigor, more testing, and “teacher proofing” a narrowing curriculum. Many of these changes have taken the joy out of the classroom because teachers have lost control of what is taught, when it’s taught, and how it’s assessed.

This situation should not come as a revelation to anyone who has stood in front of students recently. In the schools I visit across the country, I hear a common refrain: “Teaching isn’t fun anymore.” This is a tragedy for all of us.

The only way to build better learning environments is through trust. I still find classrooms where trust exists, but they are becoming increasingly rare. A fear of testing, failure, and loss of control is now the norm. We know that safe learning environments are essential for students, but they must first exist for teachers.

School improvement has to start at the classroom level. The implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act could create more-supportive teaching conditions. States and districts could reconsider accountability policies that erode trust and support. Instead, they could support professional learning that promotes expertise and differentiated roles for teachers. However, our work is more human than many policymakers grasp. And so teachers and administrators must lead the way in prioritizing learning that embraces risk, inquiry, and hard work.

Principals and teachers need to take back their schools, so teachers can take back their classrooms. Teachers and principals must be fearless. Teachers have to stop blaming others—principals, district offices, and departments of education—for what they “have to do” in their classrooms. Great teachers find what works for them and their students, and they run with it. They beg, borrow, and steal ideas and then make them their own. They find their own versions of a magnetic Elvis and take a risk.

This is the only way to grow.

Many veteran teachers repeat the following mantra to their students: “I am not here to entertain you.” Maybe teachers should start telling themselves, “I am here to be entertained by my students’ learning.” If teachers find enjoyment in their students’ learning and growth, they will never stop learning and growing themselves.

Jonathan Eckert is an associate professor of education at Wheaton College in Illinois. He is the author of The Novice Advantage: Fearless Practice for Every Teacher (Corwin Press, 2016).

 

SAMtastic Tip: March 28, 2016

 Take a look at your instructional time data for a person your SAM team believes is not improving.

 Then, click the frequency button and ask these questions:

 1. Is frequency of interaction good?

2. Is there a relationship between the four kinds of observation and three kinds of feedback?

3. Who else is trying to help?

4. What haven’t you tried yet?

5. Have you asked the person what would help?

 TimeTrack is structured to provide a running record of your instructional leadership work.  It is most effective when the SAM team uses the charts to be reflective and actively contemplate new approaches to improve teaching practice.

SAMtastic Tip: March 21, 2016

This week’s tip:  How can you make your teams better?

 Each of us is a member of multiple teams.  Many of us create teams:  subject or project groups, Professional Learning Communities, etc.  Today’s tip is a way to make each team better and is borrowed from reviews by Kim Marshall and Business Insider of a New York Times story about Google’s Project Aristotle.

From Kim Marshall:

Project Aristotle began looking at group norms – the culture of unwritten rules that guide people when they collaborate – and hit pay dirt. It turned out that two group norms were shared by virtually all of Google’s most effective teams:

-   Equal air time – In teams that got the best results, members participated roughly the same amount during meetings. “As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well,” said Google researcher Anita Woolley. “But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.”

-   Interpersonal sensitivity – Effective team members had the ability to intuit how colleagues felt by their tone of voice, facial expressions, and other nonverbal cues. The members of less-effective teams were less tuned in to their teammates’ feelings.

These characteristics help create psychological safety – a team culture in which individuals have “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up,” says Amy Edmondson, a Harvard Business School professor who has studied high-functioning groups. “It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.”

From Business Insider:

It’s common wisdom that most modern workplaces rely on teamwork, but some teams are simply better than others.  In recent years, Google set out to build the “perfect team,” as Charles Duhigg writes in The New York Times Magazine this weekend.

The tech behemoth launched a venture in 2012 called Project Aristotle, which gathered data by analyzing many studies and actually observing the way people interacted in a group, according to The New York Times.  Down the line Project Aristotle landed on the most fundamental component that ultimately makes a team successful: psychological safety.

Psychological safety enables employees to be comfortable opening up to their colleagues and taking risks.

The New York Times points to a study written by Amy Edmondson in 1999 which discusses the term. She writes that it’s a ”shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.” Additionally, it’s “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up.”

In other words, that could mean feeling comfortable telling your boss that someone in your family is sick, or revealing what’s truly bugging you outside — and inside — of the office.

The Times points to an example of one mid-level manager who confided in his employees that he had Stage 4 cancer. The team — which originally didn’t work particularly well together — then continued to open up to each other about their own personal issues, and ultimately felt more comfortable discussing a survey about how the team worked together.

From The Times:

What Project Aristotle has taught people within Google is that no one wants to put on a ‘‘work face’’ when they get to the office. No one wants to leave part of their personality and inner life at home. But to be fully present at work, to feel ‘‘psychologically safe,’’ we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations. We must be able to talk about what is messy or sad, to have hard conversations with colleagues who are driving us crazy. We can’t be focused just on efficiency.

Read the full article here.

SAMtastic Tip: March 7, 2016

This week’s tip:  Who do you need to spend time with today?

 Are you spending time with the people who need you most?  At your SAM Daily Meeting today take a minute to take a look. 

 

Try this three step process:

 1.        Ask each SAM team member to select two educators they think the leader should be spending the most time.

 2.       Click on your graphing portal.  Click the expand button on the graph on the top right.  This will show the time spent with each educator.

 3.       How many of the educators you picked are in the “Top 5”? 

Lastly, pick the educator you all agree needs the most time.  Open his/her graph and then click the Frequency button at the bottom left.  Ask this question:  “Is the interaction frequent enough to get the change you desire?”  NSIP Director Mark Shellinger often says:  “Leadership is taking a person or group to a destination they might not get to on their own.”  You can use your time data to see if you are moving in the right direction.

 SAMtastic Tip: February 29, 2016

This week’s tip:  Take the Leap:  Schedule a Focus Group Meeting

Happy Leap Year Day!  February 29 comes once every four years.  What are you doing with this “extra day” today?

Take a look at your TimeTrack Dashboard and focus on the time you spend with groups and ask these questions:

  1.  Are you tracking time with the groups that can have the biggest impact on teaching and learning?
  2.  What is your purpose or objective in spending time with a group?
  3.  Can you identify positive changes tied to the time you are spending with these groups?
  4.  Are there groups you would like to spend time with?
  5.  Can you tie your work in the four kinds of observation with what you are doing with these groups?
  6.  Are there student or parent groups you would like to spend time with this week?

Consider scheduling a focus group session once each week with a group you do not regularly see or interact with regularly.  For example, if you have staff who assist teachers in the classroom, aides or para-professionals, schedule time to hear their stories so you can better support teaching and learning.  You don’t have to have something to say in a focus group session…other than a sincere expression of interest and desire to help.

You can do this with parents and students, too.

Listening may be your most important leadership practice.  The first rule of leadership is to make others feel important.

SAMtastic Tip: February 22, 2016

This week’s tip:  Take a breath.  Do two important things.

 So, the weekend’s over. Your TimeTrack is in the green and you are getting ready for the day.  Take a breath.  Think about something you are happy about at work,  someone you appreciate, something you did last week that made a difference…or simply take a few minutes for yourself.

That’s the first important thing.

The second?  Take a look at your TimeTrack calendar for today.  Which events are you looking forward to doing?  Is there an event that makes you smile?  Is there an event where you will make a difference in another educator’s life?  If so, great!  If not, which event can you adjust so it will make that kind of difference for another educator?  Great!  Your staff is lucky to have you!

SAMtastic Tip: February 15, 2016

This week’s tip:  email moves. 

Email moves?  Yes.  Do you feel like your email controls you? The best SAM teams control the email so instructional leadership can come first.  Here are email moves that work:

  1. Set two 20 minute events each day on your TimeTrack calendar to look at email—don’t look at your email at any other time.
  2. Set the automatic reply feature on your email with a message like this:
  3. Thanks for your email.   During the school day I do not use email so I can focus on my work with teachers and students. If your issue is an emergency please contact my SAM, Ellen Stevens, at the school office.
  4. Pick a person to vet your email—separate the items you need to deal with from items a FirstResponder can handle.
  5. Train people to use email in a manner that helps you:
    •  don’t respond to emails you’ve been cc’d
    • identify someone who cc’s you on everything—ask them to stop
    • don’t cc people unless absolutely necessary
    • feel free to ignore emails that don’t fit your goals or needs—you don’t need to respond
    • if the content is important schedule a time to talk with the person
  6.  Take email off of your smartphone if you carry it around with you all day.
  7.  Disable the notification features, sounds, vibrations, screen notices, on all of your devices.  These are distractions that pull your focus.

These email moves will take a bit of the stress out of your day while allowing you to focus on the work you value most:  improving teacher practice and student learning.

It is counter-intuitive:  you have to disconnect in order to really connect with the important work.

SAMtastic Tip: February 8, 2016

This week’s tip:  Graph Options. 

Graph options?  Yes.  Many SAM teams make a point to look at the time spent with a teacher four ways:

1) Click OPTIONS at the top.  Look at the time spent with a teacher for the last six weeks.  Is the time enough to help the teacher improve?  Are the events connected?

2) Click the Frequency button at the bottom of a teacher’s chart.  If you were the teacher would you think the frequency of interaction with the principal was enough?  I there connection between the four kind of observation and three kinds of feedback?

3) Click OPTIONS again at the top.  Are there other school leaders who are using TimeTrack?  Are they spending time with the same teachers?  How does their work connect?

4) Click the Options tab at the bottom of the Dashboard.  What do the optional descriptors tell you?  Are you doing the things you planned?  Are you doing the things that will move teacher practice forward?

SAMtastic Tip: February 1, 2016

This week’s tip:  Timing.  When do you observe?

Beginning of the lesson?  Middle?  End?  Morning?  Afternoon?  First period?  Last?

Many SAM teams pay close attention to the frequency of the principal’s interaction with each teacher.  All teams track the amount of observation time.  Some SAM teams make a point of varying the time of day and the part of a lesson the principal observes. This can give the principal a more accurate view and a greater ability to assist with improvement.

You can use your TimeTrack data to determine when to schedule.  Still another approach, when the SAM schedules the time with the teacher, he/she can ask:  “What time of day has the principal not seen you teach?” This kind of question can engage the teacher in a powerful way.  Kim Marshall, author of Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation, suggests that varying the time of the observation is an important issue of  fairness, too.

SAMtastic Tip: January25, 2016

This week’s tip:  10th Annual National SAM Conference.

Now is the time to add to your TimeTrack a valuable and unique professional development and renewal experience.

The 10th Annual National SAM Conference will take place a year from now, January 26-29, 2017.   Plan now to attend as a SAM team at the luxurious Marriott Harbor Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

SAMtastic Tip: January 19, 2016

This week’s tip:  TimeTrack Calendar Feed.

Calendar Feed is really amazing!  It automatically sends all of your TimeTrack events to any other calendar:  Outlook, Google, iCal, First Class, IBM Lotus Notes…everything.  It automatically makes corrections, updates, deletions, additions…everything…on as many secondary calendars as you choose.

Good vibrations:  Calendar Feed also allows you to receive reminders and notifications on your smartphone or smartwatch…tones, beeps, taps and vibrations:  your choice!

Set up TimeTrack calendar feed once and then you can forget it.

Click here for set-up directions:  http://goo.gl/UlAJtQ

 

 SAMtastic Tip: January 11, 201

Ready to try a “flip”?   SAM teams look for opportunities to “flip” management tasks to instructional. Here’s an example from NSIP Director Mark Shellinger:

When doing morning classroom visits to observe teacher practice, a high school principal carries five tickets in his pocket.  The tickets say:  My Table:  Lunch Today.  He leaves a ticket on the desk of a student who impressed him—great learning behavior, helping others learn, etc. In the cafeteria the principal has the only round table.  There are six chairs.  He eats lunch with the five ticket recipients and talks with them about why they were selected.  The conversation often expands to what they like best about their school and things they would change.   The principal can still do cafeteria duty but with an instructional twist:  flipping management to instruction.

 

SAMtastic Tip: January 4, 2016

Happy New Year!

Now is a great time to prepare for your SAM Daily Meeting and a successful SAM year.  Use the check-list, below, to get off to a perfect start!

  1. Check the days TimeTrack has been “counting”.  You want TimeTrack to only use days you worked.  Vacation days must be changed to “non-contact”. You can do this at the top of each day in the five-day view or go to the TimeTrack logo, click and select contact-day set-up under settings.
  2. Take a look at your target descriptors.  Are these the three that you still want to concentrate your efforts to increase?  If not, which three do you want to increase the most?
  3. Click on the TimeTrack graph portal. Look at the graph in the upper right—are these the five people who most need your time?

One more thing:  What is the due date for completing all evaluations?  Take a few minutes to enter this date in TimeTrack and assess what needs to be scheduled to meet this requirement:  pre-conferences, observations, office work/prep to complete the paperwork and post-conferences.

SAMtastic Tip: December 14,2015

So, how did your SAM Daily Meeting go Friday?

Most teams do a great job celebrating the wins, scheduling follow-up and staying in the Green.  Great!

It is important to move to the next step, however, in order to take full advantage of the SAM process.  Asking a question at each SAM Daily Meeting using the TimeTrack charts and graphs helps the leader reflect on his/her effectiveness and “next steps” to help teachers and other educators improve.

Here are three questions that work with most every chart or graph:

  1.  What improvement do you see in this person’s work?
  2.  What haven’t you done with this this person that you think might help?
  3.  Who else could help this person improve?

Randomly select a chart or graph by clicking on your TimeTrack dashboard and give it a try.  TimeTrack Charts and Graphs aren’t a “got you”.  Instead, they are a “get you”…how can you use this data to get the teacher or other educator to move forward?  This is hard work but incredibly valuable.

SAMtastic Tip: December 7, 2015

So, do you like the new TimeTrack app for Apple and Android smartphones?  Yes?  Great!  Here’s a five minute video demonstrating the cool features.  https://goo.gl/1c5IVh

Iowa  had its annual state SAM conference last week followed by the SAM Academy.  Kim Marshall, the national expert on teacher evaluation and supervision, was the keynote speaker and did a great job connecting his work with the work of SAM teams.

He shared ten mediocre instructional practices SAM leaders should be looking for and engage teachers in conversation:

  1.  texting or doing email during class
  2.  the Do Now becomes the Do Forever
  3.  round-robin reading
  4.  teacher lecturing
  5.  teaching while side conversations are going on
  6.  the COPWAKTA syndrome*
  7.  accepting one one-word answers and moving on
  8.  finishing a class early and giving “free time”
  9.  one week delay in getting work back to students
  10.  low-quality worksheets and lots of test-prep

*COPWAKTA:  Calling On People Who Already Know the Answer

You can see Kim’s keynote from the last national SAM conference by clicking here:  http://www.samsconnect.com/?page_id=2490

SAMtastic Tip: November 30, 2015

TimeTrack has come to the Apple store and there is no charge for SAM teams.  You can download TimeTrack to your iPad or smartphone and have easy access to your TimeTrack and any other TimeTrack calendars you’ve been given access to.

The new TimeTrack app allows you instant and constant access to your calendar.  You can add, delete and edit events, see day/week/month/year views, search for prior events and add NoteTrack notes.  You can even dictate NoteTrack notes by clicking the microphone button. Very cool.

To see your charts, graphs and other data you will still need to use a desktop or laptop…these features will come to smartphones next year.

To download, go the Apple store, search for TimeTrack and look for the SAM app in blue and orange.

SAMtastic Tip: November 23, 2015

Every day in the SAM process you discuss how the leader can be more effective. Do you also talk about wins?  Do you talk about happiness?  There is overwhelming scientific evidence supporting value of being happy, focused and in the moment.  But how do you “get happy”?

Take a break today and watch one of five TED talks on happiness.  It might change your life.

Happiness TED talks:  http://goo.gl/4blkmG

Or, read a great article from the New York Times on the value of giving thanks:  http://goo.gl/Q4pHIc

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: November 16, 2015

NSIP Director Mark Shellinger shared a secret with me.  Would you like to hear the secret?  It is the secret to helping others perform better and it isn’t someone’s opinion.  Instead, the secret has been proven time and time again.

Here it is:

“We feel better and perform better when four core energy needs are met: sufficient rest, including the opportunity for intermittent renewal during the work day; feeling valued and appreciated; having the freedom to focus in an absorbed way on the highest priorities; and feeling connected to a mission or a cause greater than ourselves.”  Tony Schwartz, New York Times

Think about the four core energy needs during your SAM Daily Meeting:

  1. Is the leader rested?  Do you have any BLUE in TimeTrack—a time for renewal?
  2. Do you have a TimeTrack event scheduled this week that will show the leader values a specific person and their work?
  3. Do you include a question or two using the graphs of the leader’s work with individual teachers and groups?
  4. Do you celebrate the great work you are doing that is serving a greater and higher purpose:  helping kids do better every day?  Do you schedule Celebratory Feedback with teachers each day?

Want to read the New York Times article?  Click this link:  http://goo.gl/M5c4KG

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: November 9, 2015

There are lots of great ways to structure your SAM Daily Meeting.  Here’s a template that many SAM teams use every day:

  1. Celebrate!  Find something great that the leader did yesterday.  School leaders need positive feedback, too!
  2. For each scheduled event ask:
    • Did you do it?
    • How much was instructional?
    • What follow-up would you like?
  3. Any other instructional work we did not capture?
  4. Ask one question using your TimeTrack graphs.
  5. Any First Responder issues that we need to discuss?

Using these questions will keep you in the green and above the line!

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: November 2, 2015

 Use your TimeTrack Dashboard in your SAM Daily Meeting today. 

 Pick a graph showing the time spent with one person or group and ask:

Can we see a positive change of practice?

  • What is working?
  • Is my work with this person or group connected?
  • Is my work with this person or group frequent enough?
  • Who else can help?
  • What is my next step?
  • What would this person or group say they would like?

 

 Using your Dashboard can start great conversations that can lead to better teaching and learning.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: October 26, 2015

TimeTrack includes easy to access definitions of each instructional descriptor and examples of events you can schedule…as well as a host of other useful items and tools.

Click on the TimeTrack logo, upper left. 

The INFO drop-down menu includes:

•             Profile Sheet

•             Time/Task Analysis

•             Data Collection History

•             SAM Daily Meeting Seven Elements

•             Descriptor Definitions and Examples for Principal Supervisors

•             Descriptor Definitions and Examples for Principals

•             SAM/Principal Team Performance Rubric

•             SAM District Leader Performance Rubric

•             NSIP Service Overview

•             SAM Daily Meeting Flip Book

•             First Responders Flip Book

•             TimeTrack Graphs and Charts

•             Principal Supervisor Standards

•             Principal ISLLC Standards

•             PGCPS Aligned Standards

•             Exporting Data to Outlook

•             Exporting Data to Google Calendar

Most everything you need is built-in to TimeTrack.  Let me know if you want hard copies and when you’d like to update your profile sheet.  You can always reach me at Jim@SamsConnect.com.

 

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: October 20, 2015

Does email drive you right up the wall?  Here’s a three-step approach many SAM teams use to get off the wall and stay in the green:

Schedule in TimeTrack two or three times during the day the principal will look at email.

Set your email so it sends an automatic message to each sender.  Here’s a sample message you could modify and use:

Thanks for your email.  I focus on instructional leadership work using my TimeTrack calendar at Stevens Middle.  I have set times during the day that I look at email so I am not distracted from my work improving teaching practice. If you need to schedule time with me, or need immediate assistance, please contact my SAM, Joyce Edwards, (502)665-7525.

Only our best for our students,

John Adams, Principal

Have your office staff use your First Responders as much as possible.  Be sure they use the SAM Communications Protocol so each caller feels important and not pushed away.  We’re all in this together!

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: October 12, 2015

 This week’s tip:  Check who has access to your TimeTrack.  Are there people you would like to see your calendar and who can’t?  Are there people who have access that you would like to change?

 If so, you can make the changes yourself. This includes adding and removing SAMs and other staff members.  Click on the TimeTrack logo, top left.  Click on USER and then CALENDAR ACCESS.  Simply follow the prompts to add or remove access.

 If someone has access and the REMOVE button is absent, and you would like to make a change, you can contact me for assistance. 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: October 5, 2015

 This week’s tip:  Schedule six “connected” events over a two week period with one teacher that your team believes will result in a positive change of practice.

 During your SAM Daily Meeting identify a teacher your leader would like to spend time with to improve a specific teaching practice.  Then strategize on what would help.  Think about how the events you schedule need to “connect”.  A Walk-through or Observation needs to connect with a Feedback session.  But doesn’t a Professional Development session need to connect with the Walk-through and Feedback session, too?  How about a Teaching and Modeling session for the teacher followed by Non-Directive Feedback session and then an Observation to see if the teacher is able to use the techniques modeled? Make sure to schedule a Celebration Feedback session when your principal sees the change of practice you set out to accomplish.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: September 28, 2015

 Here are five SAMtastic Ways to increase your effectiveness:

  1. Be in the Green and Above the Line:  schedule your instructional work in advance with TimeTrack.
  2. Keep your SAM Daily Meeting short and reflective…use your graphs and charts to select next steps with teachers and groups.
  3. Pick one “win” each day.  This might be a Celebratory Feedback session with a teacher, a conversation with a student or parent about their success or completing a task that you don’t want to do.  The important thing is to get it done and then celebrate your win!
  4. Leave some of your time unscheduled.  You need some flexibility to take advantage of teachable moments and deal with the flow of the day.  As long as you are in the green unscheduled time is just fine.
  5. Take a break. Go play with the kindergarteners, listen to the choir practice, watch a science experiment, take walk outside, have a cup of coffee with the custodian.   You are a better leader when you allow yourself to mentally coast for a few minutes each day.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: September 21, 2015

 This week’s tip:  Find your leader’s low point of the day and schedule a 15 rejuvenating break.  It will increase the likelihood that your principal will be effective in working with others to improve performance.  Taking time to be “centered”, mindful, is a great leadership move.

 There is no correlation with working longer and positive impact.  In fact, the reverse is true.  Principals and principal supervisors are driven to make a difference. Often they think that working longer will get them to their destination:  improved teacher practice and student learning.  This just doesn’t work.

 Schedule a mental/physical break for your leader at the time of day he/she is “out of gas”. It could be as simple as shutting the office door and turning out the lights for 15 minutes.  Other ideas: walk the outside perimeter of the school; take a power nap; listen to classical music for 15 minutes in the car; drive to Starbucks and order a cup a coffee…anything to give the leader a mental break.   You will be amazed how this can improve the leader’s attitude and impact.  You will be happier, too!

 You don’t have to make every event on TimeTrack INSTRUCTIONAL to have a positive impact. PERSONAL time is not only good…it is necessary.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: September 14, 2015

 Is it your birthday this week?  Think how you would feel if no one remembered.  Why not enter staff member birthdays in your TimeTrack calendar?

 TimeTrack has two note sections, NoteTrack and Notes.  Notes are public.  Anyone looking at the calendar can read what is written. They appear at the bottom of each calendar day.   NoteTrack is private. Only the TimeTrack owner can see these notes.

 You can use Notes as a reminder of staff member birthdays and other special events.  This way you will remember to congratulate teachers and other staff members.  Remember what NSIP Director Mark Shellinger always says in training: 

 “Improving teacher practice starts with building positive relationships…and the first rule of leadership is to make people feel important and valued.”

 Want to learn how to use NoteTrack?  This is a really cool feature that only the calendar owner can access.  It allows you to enter notes during a walkthrough, meeting or office time and retrieve them later.  It archives your notes, allows you to retrieve all the notes associated with any staff member and print/copy/export/email.  It is very easy to use. Click here to see a five minute overview on NoteTrack:  http://goo.gl/p21euy (scroll down, it will be the sixth video)

SAMs can help by entering birthdays for their leader in Notes.  Principals can help by thanking their SAMs….every day.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: September 7, 2015

Registration for the 9th Annual National SAM Conference, JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, Tucson, Arizona, January 21-24, 2016, is now open.

Today’s tip has five parts:

  1. Register soon as all 600 seats and hotel rooms were taken by early November last year.  To register: http://goo.gl/bEQhYS
  2. Consider coming a day early for the pre-conference.  There are seven all-day sessions with incredible facilitators and presenters.  These sessions are limited in size and rich in content.
  3. Consider coming as a team.  The conference is for SAMs and their leaders and offers an incredible opportunity to work with and learn from over 600 leading educators from twenty-two states…as well as six nationally recognized keynote speakers and thirty breakout session presenters from the fields of education, business and leadership.
  4. SAVE the Dates on your TimeTrack, January 21-24, 2016.
  5. Consider being a breakout session speaker. You have a lot of experience, knowledge and insight that your colleagues from across the country would appreciate.  Complete the one-page proposal form:  http://goo.gl/BsTTJI

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: August 31, 2015

This may be the best TIP you will get all year!  If you take it, you will have a much better, and productive, school year. Hundreds of SAM teams swear this is true!  This TIP works for principal supervisors, too!

Remember last March when you were frantic to complete the formal teacher evaluations?  How would you like to get a head-start?

Every district requires teachers to be formally evaluated.  These formal evaluations can be valuable when coupled with the frequent observations and feedback great SAM principals do every week.

Why not get a head start and schedule each of the required pieces in TimeTrack right now?  Sit down as a SAM team and determine what each teacher has to have as part of the formal evaluation.  For most systems there are four things you will want to schedule for each teacher:

Pre-conference  (A time for the principal and teacher to discuss concerns, what the principal will be looking for during the formal observation and what the teacher can share about the lesson to be taught/observed.)

Observation (The set amount of time the principal will observe the teacher.)

Office Work/Prep  (The time the principal will need to complete the formal evaluation paperwork and think through the message(s) he/she wants to give the teacher.  Hint:  If your principal says:  “I’ll do all of the office work at home.”  Suggest he/she do one or two at school.  This will make for a happier and more effective principal.  Really.

Post-conference (A time for the principal to share the formal evaluation paperwork and discuss points of celebration, directive and non-directive feedback to help the teacher improve.)

Keep in mind that the number of observations vary in most systems based on the teacher’s experience and past performance.  Start with the “regular” teachers and get them entered in TimeTrack.  This will make it so much easier for you to stay on track and complete this formal part of evaluation.  It will also allow you to begin scheduling the more frequent informal observation and feedback sessions that we know best help teachers improve.

Don’t forget to use the email function in TimeTrack to let teachers know in advance of the scheduled sessions.

Does scheduling all of the teachers seem overwhelming?  If so, start with a grade level or department and get the teachers in that group scheduled….then do a second grade level/department next week.  This will give you a much happier and smoother year.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: August 24, 2015

TimeTrack® 5.0 is now active.  This speedier version of the unique SAM calendar includes a series of upgrades to make use easier, intuitive and more productive…including search options for people, events, topics and notes.

 The new smartphone interface includes easy navigation, event entry and the option to dictate TimeTrack notes using your phone or tablet.

 The look of the calendar improved using icons to increase space and to allow the Dashboard to appear with the calendar view with forward and back options to move between graphs, charts and the calendar instantaneously.

 TimeTrack’s configuration options are now fast and easy to use… setting goals, adding groups and individuals and accessing a wide variety of features and supports is a snap. Click on the TimeTrack logo, upper left corner to access.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: August 17, 2015

Have you scheduled your SAM Daily Meeting for every day this week?

 Do you have a back-up plan if one of your SAM team members is absent? Here’s a few ideas used by other SAM teams when the SAM is absent:

 1.      Train another staff member to substitute.  This can be a great way to help others in the school understand what the leader is doing as he/she increases instructional time and thinks about the impact on teaching and learning.

 2.     Do the SAM Daily Meeting by phone.  This works great when the leader or the SAM is away from the school or office.  You can cover the basics and be sure that you are in the Green for the next day.

 3.     Two Days at Once:  Many SAM teams will cover two days during the SAM Daily Meeting when they know a team member will be absent.  This way they can schedule in the Green and can ask the follow-up questions when the team is back together.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: August 10, 2015

Hello! 

Welcome to the first SAMtastic Weekly Tip of the 2015-16 school year:  Update Your TimeTrack

 Open up your TimeTrack and go to the SETTINGS menu, upper left.  There are three areas you will want to update for the new year:  Contact Days, Monthly Goals and Individuals/Groups.

 Take a few minutes to let TimeTrack know who your new staff members are, which days are holidays and what instructional percentage you want to reach each day.  This will help get you off to a great start.

 Meet as a SAM Team and discuss the best time to have your SAM Daily Meetings this year.  Also, review your current three priority, or target, instructional descriptors.  You can change the target descriptors by going to SETTINGS and selecting GENERAL OPTIONS.

Finally, get to Green.  Take a few minutes now so you are scheduled at/above goal.  It will feel great!

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: June 1, 2015

Hello! 

This week’s SAMtastic tip is: pick two 

 

Pick two people you intended to see improved practice and invested time in during the 2014-15 school year.  Do these three things:

  1. Print/review the graphs showing the time you spent and the frequency of interaction
  2. Pull the evaluation document you completed
  3. Review with your SAM team members

Then, discuss the progress/next steps and schedule a time to meet with the people you selected.  Show them their graphs and ask:

 

  1. Does anything here surprise you?
  2. What would you like me to do more with you?
  3. What are you planning to work on over the break?
  4. What gains did you see in your practice this year?
  5. Are there others in the school that you would like to work with more often on practice?

 

These conversations can be really helpful as you reflect on your SAM work—wins and potential wins!

Notes:

  1. Save the Date: 9th Annual National SAM Conference, Tucson, Arizona, JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, January 21-23, 2016 –  Registration opens Labor Day
  2. SAMtastic Weekly Tips will return the first Monday in August.  Have a wonderful break.  You deserve it!

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: May 26, 2015

Hello! 

This week’s SAMtastic tip is: Exit Interviews 

 You can learn a lot from people who are leaving your school or district. Schedule time to discuss with departing staff their experience with you and the school.  Here are four focus questions:

      1. What did we do together that helped improve your practice?
      2. What could I have done that would have been more helpful?
      3. What are we best at as a staff and school?
      4. What should we work at to improve?

 Exit interviews with students can be helpful, too:

  1. Tell me about teachers who you learned the most from.
  2. If you were going to change something at our school that would improve student learning what would it be?
  3. Which adults at school will you miss?

Taking time to listen can give you great insight on where to focus your time.  

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: May 18, 2015

Hello! 

This week’s SAMtastic tip is: discuss your First Responders.    Which of your First Responders have made the most difference for you?  Take time to talk with these staff members and show them how they have helped you increase your instructional time.  Take a few minutes to show them your Dashboard.  Make the connection for them that they make a difference.

 Which of your First Responders is not working out?  Discuss as a team why it isn’t working.  Is it a lack of training?  Do you have the “right” person assigned?  A few minutes of reflection now can be very productive.

PS:  Save the Date: 9th Annual National SAM Conference, Tucson, Arizona, JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, January 21-23, 2016 –  Registration opens Labor Day

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: May 11, 2015

Hello! 

This week’s SAMtastic tip is: use the rubric.    Your Time Change Coach will be asking you to self-assess your progress as a SAM team with the performance rubric.  This is done formally at the end of every school year and can be very useful in celebrating wins and setting new goals.  You will find the rubric in your TimeTrack calendar.  Click the INFO tab at the top and select either:

 SAM/Principal Team Performance Rubric

 SAM/District Leader Team Performance Rubric

 Self-assess and then talk with your team members about your progress.  Once your team and coach agree on your current performance level, and new goals, your profile sheet will be updated.  You can, of course, ask your Time Change Coach to revise the performance level on the profile sheet at any time during the year.

 As you discuss your work consider your three “target” descriptors.  Are you meeting these goal?  Do you want to change your target descriptors?  You can do this by clicking the SETTINGS tab and selecting General Options.  Be sure to click SAVE is you make any changes.

 Finally, congratulations to the SAM Team at Parker Varney Elementary School, Principal Amy Allen and SAMs Ginger Drechsel and Maureen Stone.  Last year their Manchester, New Hampshire school was tagged as “failing”. Last week it was named the state’s best.  This SAM team gained the equivalent of 70 days of instructional leadership time this year and the results are amazing.  Take a look at the news stories, below.  Congratulations!

 

Manchester school honored for excellence

By MARK HAYWARD

New Hampshire Union Leader

MANCHESTER — A Manchester elementary school that only last year suffered from failing test scores has won a statewide excellence award — an award that usually goes to well-funded suburban and rural schools.

Parker-Varney Elementary School received the Elementary School of Excellence award — or EDie — from the New Hampshire Excellence in Education committee. The award was announced at a school assembly Monday.

“It’s a big deal for us, to go from being designated a priority school and making these improvements,” said Amy Allen, who took over Parker-Varney as principal in January 2013. No Manchester school has ever won the EDie award, Allen said.

She said the 620-student school takes a student-centered approach to education, which involves getting students actively involved in their learning. It also has students go online every day for instruction. And it has quadrupled the number of parent volunteers in the school.

 

MANCHESTER, NH – Spirits were high at Parker-Varney Elementary School Monday following the surprise announcement that they had been named the best school in the state, as Elementary School of Excellence, an annual determination by the New Hampshire Excellence in Education committee.

Other schools honored Monday included Ashland Elementary School, which won the K-8 award, and Bow High school, which earned honors in the high school division

The “ED”ie Awards recognize New Hampshire public schools that meet high standards of excellence and can serve as representatives of the many excellent schools throughout the state. Students, faculty, and community members were surprised by the award announcement during a school assembly at Parker-Varney.

The selection process is rigorous. It began last December, when Manchester School District submitted an application that described various aspects of Parker-Varney’s culture and successes, including how the school personalizes learning, specific innovations that have made an impact, key strengths of the school, and how the Parker-Varney school could serve to inspire others.

“We know we must transform the way we educate beyond the traditional methods,” said Parker Varney principal Amy Allen. “So much of our success is a result of our dedicated teachers who embrace innovation and evolve to meet the learning needs of our students.”

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: May 4, 2015

Hello! 

This week’s SAMtastic tip is: practice happiness.    Psychologist and best-selling author Shawn Achor has made a career studying the science of happiness. “Scientifically, happiness is a choice,” Achor says. He explains that research has shown you can rewire your brain to make yourself happy by practicing simple happiness exercises every day.

Research supports Shawn’s premise . Take a look at his suggestions from a recent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation story:

1.     Gratitude Exercises. Write down three things you’re grateful for that occurred over the last 24 hours. They don’t have to be profound. It could be a really good cup of coffee or the warmth of a sunny day.

2.     The Doubler. Take one positive experience from the past 24 hours and spend two minutes writing down every detail about that experience. As you remember it, your brain labels it as meaningful and deepens the imprint.

3.     The Fun Fifteen. Do 15 minutes of a fun cardio activity, like gardening or walking the dog, every day. The effects of daily cardio can be as effective as taking an antidepressant.

4.     Meditation. Every day take two minutes to stop whatever you’re doing and concentrate on breathing. Even a short mindful break can result in a calmer, happier you.

5.     Conscious act of kindness. At the start of every day, send a short email or text praising someone you know. Our brains become addicted to feeling good by making others feel good.

6.     Deepen Social Connections. Spend time with family and friends. Our social connections are one of the best predictors for success and health, and even life expectancy.

Consider scheduling in TimeTrack one of Shawn’s activities each day.  A happier, more centered, present and focused school leader is far more effective in driving improved teacher practice and student learning. Some of Shawn’s ideas could easily be incorporated in your SAM Daily Meeting.

You can see a CBC video featuring Shawn Achor by clicking this link:  http://goo.gl/Y2zuFM

 

NSIP founder and director Mark Shellinger has incorporated positive psychology in SAM process work since its inception in 2002.  He will feature several mindfulness speakers at upcoming state and national conferences.

PS:  We made an error in the April 20 SAMtastic Weekly Tip.  The amazing Georgia principal who is featured in a New York Times editorial is Clayborn Knight.  We erred on his first name.  Sorry Clayborn!  You can see Clayborn, and his SAM Susan, in action at this link:  http://goo.gl/4fmjeL 

 

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: April 27, 2015

Hello! 

This week’s SAMtastic tip is: celebrate a colleague.  So, for example, let’s celebrate the SAM team at Pleasantdale Elementary, Doraville, Georgia.  The team is consistently in the green and always connects their time with change of teacher practice.  They are enjoying the results with a 20 point gain in a student achievement as measured by their district’s assessment tool, CCRPI.  Congratulations to Principal Terri Brown and SAM Margarita Thomas. Terri summarizes the importance of being mindful about tracking time:  “How do you spend your time? Where you spend your time is kind of like how you spend your money.  It’s what you value.”  Terri talks about her daily SAM work and its impact in this short video:  http://goo.gl/EDwTKT

 Let us know about your success by emailing me at Jim@SamsConnect.com  Take time in your SAM Daily Meeting to talk about a win, success or movement in the right direction.  Sometimes this is the best thing a hard working SAM team can do.  You might start with the SAM Team Performance Rubric and celebrate your “wins” in each of the three areas.  

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: April 20, 2015

Hello! 

Do principals matter?  As editorial in the New York Times last week answers the question with a loud and enthusiastic yes…especially when the principal has a SAM team, uses TimeTrack and builds a First Responder structure.  The editorial focuses on a Georgia SAM principal, Clayborn Knight, and links to a video detailing his SAM work:  http://goo.gl/4fmjeL  Take a look at the video and think about the way this SAM team makes sure Clayton’s instructional leadership, building teacher capacity, comes first.  Consider how the school uses the SAM Communications Protocol to help the front office protect the principal’s time while meeting management demands.

Use this link to read the editorial:  http://goo.gl/NTusX8

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: April 13, 2015

Hello!  Does peer pressure impact what you do?  Your teachers?  Students?  Sure it does.  Would you like to see a cool, short and entertaining video on how to stop it?  If so, click here:

http://goo.gl/LsQOxW

The fellow featured in the video, Joseph Grenny, will be a featured speaker at the 9th National SAM Conference in Tucson, January 21-23, 2016.  He is the author of Crucial Conversations and Influencer, two bestselling books aimed at improving leader effectiveness.  Very cool.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: April 6, 2015

Do you ever talk with teachers about how you manage your time?  Kim Marshall shared an article in last week’s Marshall Memo about teacher time.  The steps sound a lot like what you do every day as a SAM team:

4. Effective Time Management for Teachers

In this Edutopia article, consultant Maia Heyck-Merlin (author of The Together Teacher, Jossey-Bass, 2012) suggests seven steps to help teachers organize their lives for success – and keep their sanity:

Select a tool to plan the week. Whatever worksheet you use – a handwritten template, a typed-in template, or a digital platform – the key is putting all time commitments and to-dos in one place so they can be viewed together.

            • Plan the next week before the weekend. On Thursday or Friday, spend 30-45 minutes sorting the week’s accumulated sticky notes, student work, office memos, and other stuff into piles – short-term to-dos, long-term items, meeting follow-ups, etc. – and fill out your planning template for the following week. The goal is to have next week’s worksheet totally ready by Friday afternoon so as to maximize weekend R&R.

            • Set priorities for the week. These should include big-picture classroom and personal goals – boosting student attendance, improving class culture, getting students reinvested in Big Goals for math, finalizing plans for the big field trip, planning a baby shower.

            • List out all your meetings and appointments. Heyck-Merlin recommends keeping one master calendar for your personal and professional lives to avoid “collisions” – items like grade-level meetings, report card nights, staff retreats, doctor’s appointments, your brother’s birthday.

            • Decide how you will use discretionary time. Your sanity is definitely improved by getting the most out of prep periods, lunch, before- and after-school time, etc. – and that requires deliberate planning.

            • Allow flexibility for the “hallway ambush.” There will always be unexpected requests and crises, and Heyck-Merlin recommends carrying your master calendar/list at all times (on a clipboard, in your pocket, or in a device) to make instant revisions when the unexpected happens.

            • Review and adjust daily. “Things change,” she concludes. “Life happens. At the end of every school day, sit down for five minutes and cross off what you’ve accomplished, roll over what didn’t happen to another time slot, or decide to delete something you had intended to do.”

Some SAM teams include teacher leaders as members.  Some SAM school offer TimeTrack to select teachers to track their own time.  NSIP provides additional TimeTrack calendars as a free service as long as the leader is at the third level of the SAM team performance rubric and the SAMs are willing to help the teacher with set-up and use. Ask your Time Change Coach to make the request for additional TimeTrack calendars.   

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: March 30, 2015

Take a look at your instructional time data for three staff members your SAM team believe are not improving.

 Then, click the frequency button and ask these questions:

1. Is frequency of interaction good?

2. Is there a relationship between the four kinds of observation and three kinds of feedback?

3. Who else is trying to help?

4. What haven’t you tried yet?

 TimeTrack is structured to provide a running record of your instructional leadership work.  It is most effective when the SAM team uses the charts to be reflective and actively contemplate new approaches to improve teaching practice.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: March 23, 2015

Great Apple news!  You can now export TimeTrack events to any iCal on any Apple device.  Cool.

 You can export TimeTrack to Outlook and Google, too.

 You will find the simple directions by clicking on the TimeTrack INFO tab and also at the SamsConnect website. 

Here’s the link for the simple steps to export to iCal: http://goo.gl/yNCzcf

Here’s the link for the easy steps to export to Outlook: http://goo.gl/LdY4oX

 Here’s the link to export to Google:  http://goo.gl/az9hR4

 Finally, for those SAM teams looking forward to using the new Apple Watch, we are pleased to report that TimeTrack will work on these cool devices when the upgraded smartphone TimeTrack app is released this summer.  Can’t wait!

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: March 16, 2015

Do you practice C.O.T.D.?

Middle school SAM Wendy Duncan, Georgia, gives her principal a C.O.T.D., compliment of the day, in the notes section of his TimeTrack calendar.  She gets a head start on her SAM Daily Meeting by including a positive comment for her principal on his TimeTrack calendar.  Smart.

 This positive connection also increases the chances that the SAM Daily Meeting will happen and that reflective conversation will lead to improved practice.  Also Smart.

 The template for a SAM Daily Meeting suggests starting with a positive comment.  You’ll find the template at the INFO tab in your TimeTrack calendar.  Here’s a quick link: http://goo.gl/CZJ9nH

 Finally, here’s a C.O.T.D. for Wendy“Great work keeping your principal in the green, positive, proactive and successful!”

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: March 9, 2015

Have you wondered what instructional work other SAM teams schedule?  What creative things do they do to increase contact with parents, build teacher capacity and increase student engagement?

What a Great Idea! is an interactive list shared by your SAM team colleagues across the country.  Each idea is presented in a one-page format and organized by activities with teachers, parents, students, support staff and others.

Check out the principal who spends a day each week shadowing a student so he can experience school from a different perspective.  See how a SAM team hosts focus groups with parents, students and teachers to engage each group in school improvement efforts.  See how a principal invites teachers to observe her teach and give directive and no-directive feedback.

Click this link to access What a Great Idea!: http://goo.gl/78H7Oa

Click this link to submit your own idea to share with other SAM teams:  http://goo.gl/BTJ8NZ

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: March 2, 2015

Who do you count on to help improve teaching practice in your school?  Many SAM teams involve assistant principals, instructional coaches and teacher leaders in Daily Meetings.  One Arizona SAM team invites a different staff member every Wednesday to participate.  They report this builds commitment and ownership in the process and frequently brings new ideas on how the leader can more effectively improve teaching and learning.

 

Many SAM Teams have extended complimentary TimeTrack calendars to teacher leaders, instructional coaches and assistant principals.  This way the team can look at the data from all of the leaders in the school working to improve practice.  There is no charge for additional calendars.  There are two conditions:

 

      1.  Your team must be working at the third level of the performance rubric.
      2.  Your team and Time Change Coach must provide training and support to the new TimeTrack users.

 

Contact your TCC if you are ready to expand the number of leaders using TimeTrack every day.  Check your progress on the SAM Team Performance Rubric, too.  Simply click on the TimeTrack INFO tab and select the rubric.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: February 23, 2015

How do you connect with parents and guardians instructionally?

Many SAM teams schedule time with parents each week. 

 One idea is to select a parent randomly to meet with the leader to discuss the student’s aspirations.  What works for the student at the school?  What does the student like about school?  What are his/her challenges and successes? 

Other SAM teams schedule a weekly focus group and invite three or four parents to participate. The leader facilitates a discussion about how the school can better meet student needs and how parents can help. The leader asks what is working and what could the school do better.  Some leaders will share professional development work staff are engaged and ask parents for their thoughts. These focus groups can both engage parents and spark new ideas to improve teaching and learning.

In your SAM Daily meeting ask what you are doing to engage parents instructionally and then use TimeTrack to schedule. 

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: February 16, 2015

Reflection.  TimeTrack and your SAM Daily meeting are designed to get you to think about how your work as an instructional leader improves teaching and learning.  How does this impact you as a SAM team? Are you better today as an instructional leader?  Are you a better SAM team?

This week’s tip:  Take a minute in you SAM Daily Meeting to discuss how you’ve changed over the year.  What would you like to work on next?  

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: February 2, 2015

Who is your First Responder for the SAM Daily Meeting?

Scheduling in advance, discussing work completed and considering its impact have to be done each day.  So what do you do when a team member is sick or out of the building or office?

      1. Many SAMs train a teacher leader or other staff member the 7 Elements of a Daily Meeting.  That way if the SAM is sick the teacher can step in as the First Responder.  You can find the 7 Elements in your TimeTrack by clicking the info tab or at the SAMsConnect website: http://goo.gl/CZJ9nH

    2.     Some SAMs conduct the Daily Meeting on the phone. This works when the principal is away from the school, too.

    3.     Some school leaders fly solo and complete the SAM Daily Meeting on their own.  These leaders and the SAMs understand the importance of completing this process every day.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: January 26, 2015

Check your descriptors and contact days.

 Picking the right descriptor when you enter events is important if you want the leader’s time in the graphing system to be accurate and of the best value. 

 You will find definitions of each descriptor with examples and suggestions for SAM teams built-in to your TimeTrack calendar.  You will find new separate definitions for principal supervisor SAM teams, too.  Go to INFO at the top left of your TimeTrack and select the descriptors for principals or principal supervisors from the drop-down menu.

 Another tip:  Go back and check the vacation days in December and January and make sure TimeTrack is not counting these days.  You can change a day from being counted by clicking the contact box at the top of each day in the calendar view. This will change the day to gray and will keep it from impacting your time data.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: Jan 19, 2015

Make the connection.

In your SAM Daily Meetings this week try to make the connection between your work and the improvement of teaching practice.

Pick two teachers at random. Print the charts showing the time the principal has spent with each.  Discuss this central question:  “Has the time the principal has spent with each teacher improved his or her practice?”  If not, what is the next step?  If you do see a connection, how can you capitalize on this work?  What would the teacher say would help?

Improving teacher practice requires a lot of time, thought and contact. With TimeTrack and your SAM Daily Meetings you can make sure that this happens every day.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: Jan 12, 2015

How much is enough?

 How frequent should observations be?  Most SAM teams pay close attention to the frequency of interaction the principal has with each teacher.  This is a powerful factor in achieving improvement.

 But how frequent should the principal’s observation of a teacher be?

 There is not a “right” answer. Some experts suggest ten separate observations in a year.  Others suggest thirty.  Some SAM teams schedule one observation each week for every teacher. 

 Most teams vary the kind of observation.  In the SAM process there are four:

1.       Observation (longer, usually formal/summative)

2.       Walkthrough (shorter, usually informal/formative)

3.       Work w/students (principal works in a classroom with kids while teacher is teaching, informal/formative)

4.       Student Supervision (principal helps redirect students who are not engaged while teacher is teaching, informal/formative)

Talk about the number of observations you want to plan for at your next SAM Daily Meeting. Take a look at your data for the last month.  How many times did the principal see each teacher?

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: January 5, 2015

As a SAM team member you are eligible to receive the weekly Marshall Memo, a compilation of the best articles in education.  Kim Marshall, author of  Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation, reads sixty-four select publications each week and selects five to ten articles he believes have the greatest potential to improve teaching, leadership, and learning. He then writes a brief summary of each article, provides e-links to full articles when available, highlights a few striking quotes, and e-mails the Memo to subscribers every Tuesday

 Kim also features “Classic” articles from years past. You can retrieve any article and review the “classics” by going to Kim’s website: www.marshallmemo.com Enter SAM in the e-mail box and Project in the password box.

We provide the Marshall Memo to all SAM team members as a professional development support service.  Simply email Betty@SAMsConnect.com and make your request.  You will begin receiving the Marshall Memo the following week.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: Dec 29, 2014

How much is enough?

How frequent should observations be?  Most SAM teams pay close attention to the frequency of interaction the principal has with each teacher.  This is a powerful factor in achieving improvement.

But how frequent should the principal’s observation of a teacher be?

There is not a “right” answer. Some experts suggest ten separate observations in a year.  Others suggest thirty.  Some SAM teams schedule one observation each week for every teacher. 

Most teams vary the kind of observation.  In the SAM process there are four:

1.       Observation (longer, usually formal/summative)

2.       Walkthrough (shorter, usually informal/formative)

3.       Work w/students (principal works in a classroom with kids while teacher is teaching, informal/formative)

4.       Student Supervision (principal helps redirect students who are not engaged while teacher is teaching, informal/formative)

Talk about the number of observations you want to plan for at your next SAM Daily Meeting. Take a look at your data for the last month.  How many times did the principal see each teacher?

 

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  Dec 22, 2014

When do you observe? Beginning of the lesson?  Middle?  End?  Morning?  Afternoon?  First period?  Last?

 Many SAM teams pay close attention to the frequency of the principal’s interaction with each teacher.  All teams track the amount of observation time.  Some SAM teams make a point of varying the time of day and the part of a lesson the principal observes. This can give the principal a more accurate view and a greater ability to assist with improvement.

 You can use your TimeTrack data to determine when to schedule.  Still another approach, when the SAM schedules the time with the teacher, he/she can ask:  “What time of day has the principal not seen you teach?” This kind of question can engage the teacher in a powerful way.

Kim Marshall, author of Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation, suggests that varying the time of the observation is an important issue of  fairness, too.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip: Dec 15 , 2014

Where do you schedule meetings?

Many SAMs have the scheduling of meetings down to a science.  After the SAM Daily Meeting they email a teacher requesting that he/she select a time.  The SAM shows the teacher the principal’s calendar and says: “You can pick any white space.” Easy.

But do you consider where to meet?  Many sociologists suggest that meeting in the teacher’s classroom can be more conducive to conversation.  This also removes the principal from the management distractions that occur in the office area. 

Give it a try.  Next time a teacher selects the date/time for a meeting, ask one more question:  “Would you like to meet in your classroom, the principal’s office or another location?”  Everybody likes choice!

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  December 8, 2014

Are you ready to audit your TimeTrack calendar? 

December is a great month to “go back in time” and check that you are counting the “right” days. 

You only want to count days that you were working.  If you were sick, on vacation or experienced a snow day it is important to tell TimeTrack so it does not count the day.  You can do this one of two ways.  You can remove the “contact” checkmark above the calendar day.  This is the easiest and fastest way to audit and correct your TimeTrack.  The other way:  Go to SETTINGS, select Contact Day Setup, click on the days you do not want to count and then click SAVE.

Auditing your TimeTrack will make your graphs and charts more accurate.  One North Carolina SAM told me she does this every month and is amazed how it increases her principal’s overall instructional time.  Cool.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  December 1, 2014

Are you spending time with the people who need you most?  At your SAM Daily Meeting today take a minute to take a look. 

 Try this three step process:

 1.        Ask each SAM team member to select two educators they think the leader should be spending the most time.

 2.       Click on your graphing portal.  Click the expand button on the graph on the top right.  This will show the time spent with each educator.

 3.       How many of the educators you picked are in the “Top 5”?  Are you happy with how you are investing time?

 Lastly, pick the educator you all agree needs the most time.  Open his/her graph and then click the Frequency button at the bottom left.  Ask this question:  “Is the interaction frequent enough to get the change you desire”

 NSIP Director Mark Shellinger often says:  “Leadership is taking a person or group to a destination they might not get to on their own.”  You can use your time data to see if you are moving in theright direction.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  November 24, 2014

TimeTrack® will be upgraded again tonight with new graphs for Optional Descriptors.

 Optional Descriptors are a third level of instructional time tracking.  You will now have a suite of graphs for time spent by Optional Descriptors you create.

 To create your own third level of tracking, go to the SETTINGs menu, select Optional Descriptor Setup and follow the prompts.

 The new Optional Descriptor graphs are accessible at the portal on the left side of the TimeTrack.  Look for the Optional tab at the bottom of the Dashboard.  You can click on any bar to see a breakout of time by individual.  There is a frequency display, too.

 Optional Descriptors will be available for management tasks later in the school year shortly after the release of a new TimeTrack smartphone interface.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  November 17, 2014

How do you share your First Responder list?  Last week’s tip focused on the “why”.  This week we have three interesting ideas for sharing how your First Responders are:

 1.       Print and post your First Responders list in the staff bathrooms.  Tape a copy above the urinals and on the inside of the stall doors.

 2.       Make a poster for the office with the First Responders listed along with the management areas.  Send the list home with students, post in the faculty room, put it on your website…the possibilities are endless.

 3.       Do a skit at parents’ night or a staff meeting. Have your principal walk across the stage and have six different people stop him/her and ask a management question.  Have the principal refer each to the correct First Responder.  Explain why this helps the principal get to the classrooms to observe and assist with instruction.

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  November 10, 2014

Does your staff know about your First Responders?  It is important for your staff and school community to not only know about your First Responders but also know the “why”.

 Many schools share their list of First Responders with a “why” paragraph at the top.  For example:

 Principal Adams works hard to keep his focus on improving teacher and learning.  He has a TimeTrack calendar where he intentionally schedules his time…just like a teacher’s lesson plan.

 First Responders at our school attempt to deal with management issues so we don’t pull the principal away from his instructional work.  We schedule the principal for any management issues that the First Responder is unable to solve.”

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  October 27, 2014

There are lots of great ways to structure your SAM Daily Meeting.  Here’s a template that many of teams use every day:

 1.       Celebrate!  Find something that the leader did yesterday.  School leaders need positive feedback, too!

 2.       For each scheduled event ask:

 Did you do it?

      • How much was instructional?
      • What follow-up would you like?

 3.       Any other instructional work we did not capture?

 4.       Ask one question using your TimeTrack graphs.

 Using these questions you will be reflective, in the green, above the line!

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  October 20, 2014

This week’s tip: TimeTrack includes easy to access definitions of each instructional descriptor and examples of events you can schedule.

 Look at the INFO tab on your TimeTrack.  You will find this drop-down menu at the top-left-hand corner.

 The INFO drop-down menu includes:

      • Your team’s profile sheet
      • Your annual Time/Task Analysis (shadowing data)
      • Your Time/Task Analysis data collection history
      • Definitions and examples for all of the Instructional and Management descriptors
      • An overview of the daily meeting process
      • An example of a typical daily meeting
      • The performance rubric
      • A summary of the NSIP service agreement
      • Electronic copies of the “Daily Meeting”, “First Responders”, and “TimeTrack Graphs and Charts” booklets

 Most everything you need is built-in to TimeTrack.  Let me know if you want hard copies and when you’d like to update your profile sheet.  You can always reach me at Jim@SamsConnect.com.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  October 13, 2014

This week’s tip: 

 Does email drive you right up the wall?  Here’s a three-step approach many SAM teams use to get off the wall and stay in the green:

1.      Schedule in TimeTrack two or three times during the day the principal will look at email.

2.      Set your email so it sends an automatic message to each sender.  Here’s a sample message you could modify and use:

Thanks for your email.  I focus on instructional leadership work using my TimeTrack calendar at Stevens Middle.  I have set times during the day that I look at email so I am not distracted from my work improving teaching practice.

 If you need to schedule time with me, or need immediate assistance, please contact my SAM, Joyce Edwards, (502)665-7525.

 Only our best for our students,

 John Adams, Principal

3.      Have your office staff use your First Responders as much as possible.  Be sure they use the SAM Communications Protocol so each caller feels important and not pushed away.  We’re all in this together!

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  October 6, 2014

This week’s tip:  Schedule six “connected” events over a two week period with one teacher that your team believes will result in a positive change of practice.

 During your SAM Daily Meeting identify a teacher your leader would like to spend time with to improve a specific teaching practice.  Then strategize on what would help.  Think about how the vents you schedule need to “connect”.  A Walk-through or Observation needs to connect with a Feedback session.  But doesn’t a Professional Development session need to connect with the Walk-through and Feedback session, too?  How about a Teaching and Modeling session for the teacher followed by Non-Directive Feedback session and then an Observation to see if the teacher is able to use the techniques modeled? Make sure to schedule a Celebration Feedback session when your principal sees the change of practice you set out to accomplish.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  September 29, 2014

Five SAMtastic Ways to increase your Effectiveness

 1.       In the Green and Above the Line:  schedule your instructional work in advance with TimeTrack.

 2.       Keep your SAM Daily Meeting short and reflective…use your graphs and charts to select next steps with teachers and groups.

 3.       Pick one “win” each day.  This might be a Celebratory Feedback session with a teacher, a conversation with a student or parent about their success or completing a task that you don’t want to do.  The important thing is to get it done and then celebrate your win!

 4.       Leave some of your time unscheduled.  You need some flexibility to take advantage of teachable moments and deal with the flow of the day.  As long as you are in the green unscheduled time is just fine.

 5.       Take a break. Go play with the kindergarteners, listen to the choir practice, watch a science experiment, take walk outside, have a cup of coffee with the custodian.   You are a better leader when you allow yourself to mentally coast for a few minutes each day.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  September 22, 2014

This week’s tip:  Find your leader’s low point of the day and schedule a 15 rejuvenating break.  It will increase the likelihood that your principal will be effective in working with others to improve performance.

 There is no correlation with working longer and positive impact.  In fact, the reverse is true.  Principals are driven to make a difference. Often they think that working longer will get them to their destination:  improved teacher practice and student learning.  This just doesn’t work.

 Schedule a mental/physical break for your principal at the time of day he/she is “out of gas”. It could be as simple as shutting the office door and turning out the lights for 15 minutes.  Other ideas: walk the outside perimeter of the school; take a power nap; listen to classical music for 15 minutes in the car; drive to Starbucks and order a cup a coffee…anything to give the leader a mental break.   You will be amazed how this can improve the leader’s attitude and impact.  You will be happier, too!

 You don’t have to make every event on TimeTrack INSTRUCTIONAL to have a positive impact. PERSONAL time is not only good…it is necessary.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  September 15, 2014

Is it your birthday this week?  Think how you would feel if no one at work remembered.  Why not enter staff member birthday’s in your TimeTrack calendar?

 TimeTrack has two note sections, NoteTrack and Notes.  Notes are public.  Anyone looking at the calendar can read what is written. They appear at the bottom of each calendar day.   NoteTrack is private. Only the TimeTrack owner can see these notes.

 You can use Notes as a reminder of staff member birthdays and other special events.  This way you will remember to congratulate teachers and other staff members.  Remember what NSIP Director Mark Shellinger always says in training:  “Improving teacher practice starts with building positive relationships…and the first rule of leadership is to make people feel important and valued.”

 Want to learn how to use NoteTrack?  This is a really cool feature that only the calendar owner can access.  It allows you to enter notes during a walkthrough, meeting or office time and retrieve them later.  It archives your notes, allows you to retrieve all the notes associated with any staff member and print/copy/export/email.  It is very easy to use. Click here to see a five minute overview on NoteTrack:  http://www.samsconnect.com/?page_id=350

SAMs can help by entering birthdays for their leader Notes.  Principals can help by thanking their SAMs….every day.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  September 8, 2014

Get the most out of TimeTrack by using Google Chrome.  TimeTrack works with all browsers but if you have a need for speed Google’s free browser, Chrome, is the ticket.

Chrome was designed for new cloud based applications like TimeTrack. Using Chrome will ensure a faster and more responsive connection.

Installing Chrome is easy and can usually be done without the assistance of your school’s IT staff.

To install Chrome follow the steps below:

1)      Download Google Chrome using the following link:  http://www.google.com/chrome

2)      Click the blue “Download Google Chrome” button.

3)      On the next menu, make sure that the box next to “Make Google Chrome my Default Browser” is NOT CHECKED.  This way you can use your current browser for other applications.

4)      Click the blue “Accept and Install” button. Google Chrome will be installed, and a Chrome browser window will open.

5)      In the new browser window, log into your TimeTrack Web calendar.

6)      Follow the directions HERE to create a shortcut to your TimeTrack on your desktop.

Congratulations!  When accessing TimeTrack Web through your new shortcut, it will open in Chrome.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  August 25, 2014

Has your email address or cell phone number changed?  You can easily update them in TimeTrack so we can stay in touch!

Just log in with your existing account, and go to the “User” menu. Click on “User Information” and make any corrections you would like. 

Remember, once your email address changes, this becomes your new TimeTrack username as well.

You can change your password from the “User” menu as well.  Click on “Change Password”.  Then enter your old password, choose a new password, and confirm it!

While you’re updating your contact information, why not make sure your school information is up to date as well?  The profile sheet displays all of the information we have on file about your school.  To view it, go to the “Info” menu and click “Profile Sheet”. If you need to make any changes or additions to this information, just email me at jim@samsconnect.com.

 

SAMtastic Weekly Tip:  August 18, 2014

Remember last March when you were frantic to complete the formal teacher evaluations?  How would you like to get a head-start?

Every district requires teachers to be formally evaluated.  These formal evaluations can be valuable when coupled with the frequent observations and feedback great SAM principals do every week.

Why not get a head start and schedule each of the required pieces in TimeTrack right now?  Sit down as a SAM team and determine what each teacher has to have as part of the formal evaluation.  For most systems there are four things you will want to schedule for each teacher:

Pre-conference  (A time for the principal and teacher to discuss concerns, what the principal will be looking for during the formal observation and what the teacher can share about the lesson to be taught/observed.)

1. Observation (The set amount of time the principal will observe the teacher.)

2. Office Work/Prep  (The time the principal will need to complete the formal evaluation paperwork and think through the message(s) he/she wants to give the teacher.  Hint:  If your principal says:  “I’ll do all of the office work at home.”  Suggest he/she do one or two at school.  This will make for a happier and more effective principal.  Really.

3. Post-conference (A time for the principal to share the formal evaluation paperwork and discuss points of celebration, directive and non-directive feedback to help the teacher improve.)

Keep in mind that the number of observations vary in most systems based on the teacher’s experience and past performance.  Start with the “regular” teachers and get them entered in TimeTrack.  This will make it so much easier for you to stay on track and complete this formal part of evaluation.  It will also allow you to begin scheduling the more frequent informal observation and feedback sessions that we know best help teachers improve.

Don’t forget to use the email function in TimeTrack to let teachers know in advance of the scheduled sessions.

Does scheduling all of the teachers seem overwhelming?  If so, start with a grade level or department and get the teachers in that group scheduled….then do a second grade level/department next week.  This will give you a much happier and smoother year.

 

SAMtastic Tip: February 1, 2016

 

This week’s tip:  Timing.  When do you observe?

Beginning of the lesson?  Middle?  End?  Morning?  Afternoon?  First period?  Last?

Many SAM teams pay close attention to the frequency of the principal’s interaction with each teacher.  All teams track the amount of observation time.  Some SAM teams make a point of varying the time of day and the part of a lesson the principal observes. This can give the principal a more accurate view and a greater ability to assist with improvement.

You can use your TimeTrack data to determine when to schedule.  Still another approach, when the SAM schedules the time with the teacher, he/she can ask:  “What time of day has the principal not seen you teach?” This kind of question can engage the teacher in a powerful way.  Kim Marshall, author of Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation, suggests that varying the time of the observation is an important issue of  fairness, too.

The district set the readiness training date some time ago.  It is Monday, September 19, 3:30 PM until 5:30 PM at the Four Seasons Hotel at the Harbor.  We really need you to attend this session—we want to make sure you fully understand what the SAM process and the commitment you are making.

 

Please use valet parking when you arrive at the hotel.  We will give you a pass to use so you will not be charged when you depart.  We’ll have a special dessert bar for you and other light refreshments.

 

We’d suggest you bring your secretary and an assistant principal/counselor/instructional coach/teacher leader, if possible.

 

SAMtastic Weekly TipOctober 17, 2016

 

This week’s tip:  Schedule six “connected” events over a two week period with one teacher that your team believes will result in a positive change of practice.

During your SAM Daily Meeting identify a teacher your leader would like to spend time with to improve a specific teaching practice.  Then strategize on what would help.  Think about how the events you schedule need to “connect”.  A Walk-through or Observation needs to connect with a Feedback session. 

 

But doesn’t a Professional Development session need to connect with the Walk-through and Feedback session, too?  How about a Teaching and Modeling session for the teacher followed by Non-Directive Feedback session and then an Observation to see if the teacher is able to use the techniques modeled?

 

Make sure to schedule a Celebration Feedback session when your principal sees the change of practice you set out to accomplish.

week’s tip: SAM Summer Conference

 

Registration is now open for the 2017 SAMSummer Conference, Marriott Savannah Riverfront.  The summer conference is a much smaller version of the Annual National SAM Conference and combines a workshop/keynote/breakout session format. 

 

Please use this link to register for the conference:   http://registration.samsconnect.com

 

SAM Summer Conference

 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 and Thursday, June 29, 2017

Note: You should arrive Tuesday, June 27 for the conference, Wednesday and Thursday.

 

The $795 conference fee is not normally included in district and school SAM service agreements. This includes hotel room for two nights (Tuesday and Wednesday nights, check out Thursday), dinner and music Tuesday night, breakfast, lunch and dinner Wednesday, breakfast and lunch, Thursday. Entertainment will include a dinner cruise on the Savannah River on the Georgia Queensternwheeler Tuesday night (must arrive by 5:30 PM).

Two of the confirmed featured keynote speakers are Laura Vanderkam, author, 168 Hours and LaVonna Roth, Ignite your S.H.I.N.E. and be Unstoppable.  The third keynote session speaker, to be confirmed next week, and breakout sessions featuring the work of outstanding SAM teams, will compliment an interactive workshop where attendees will try a new TimeTrack data activity developed for the state of Missouri.

To register for the SAM Summer Conference use this link:   http://registration.samsconnect.com

 

If you plan to attend the SAM Summer Conference and would like to submit a proposal to be a breakout session presented please complete the form at this link: 

http://www.samsconnect.com/?page_id=1121