#Edublogs Club (Post 3)

Prompt: Write a post that discusses leadership, peer coaching, and/or effecting change. 

Here are some sentence starters that may help you as a work on the ideas for your post:

  • The best school leader I have ever worked for/with…
  • Teaching leadership skills to students…
  • The qualities of a true leader include…
  • Leaders don’t…
  • Leaders never…
  • Leaders always…
  • I wish my school administrator/boss…
  • As a leader, I wish to improve on…
  • A leader I admire…
  • Peer coaching…
  • Effecting change…

I LOVE sentence starters, especially for such a big topic as this. It helps me organize my thoughts a bit and make sure to address all parts of the task. I don’t want to get political, so I won’t name names or get too specific with facts and details . . . except with one of the starters. (See below.)

  • The best school leader I have ever worked for or with . . . had a lot of life wisdom to share along with professional experience. This person had integrity and was a real team player. No job was too menial, despite the fact that she was the “face” of our school and the buck stopped with her. She handled discipline, was our instructional leader, and helped the lunch ladies pick up trash students left behind in the quad after lunch. She didn’t play favorites with the teachers, and she was a plain speaker. She believed in every student’s ability to learn, and she knew every one of our school’s students by name – and we had nearly 1000 of them.
  • Teaching leadership skills to students . . . is probably something I should do a bit more of in my classroom. I don’t teach the leadership class, but that doesn’t mean I cannot try to focus on a character trait of the month or some similar endeavor. (Our leadership class has done that for the school at various times over the years I’ve been at our school.) In truth, I like to “be the change I want to see in the world,” though, and try to model good citizenship for my students through being a responsible, good citizen myself. I try to treat every student respectfully and fairly. I am trying to be more mindful. (I even bought and started reading a new book, Mindfulness for Teachers, over Winter Break.) I am hoping that this mindfulness approach to my teaching will transfer to my students; that they themselves will notice will respond rather than react in their relationships with others at our school – staff and peers alike. Hopefully, citizenship and leadership skills will improve as a result.
  • The qualities of a true leader include . . . but are not limited to: (1) avoidance of gossip; (2) enthusiasm; (3) the ability to be a team player; (4) competence and skill; (5) the ability to be a friend to all and to bridge the divides that keep people apart; (6) oratory and empathy skills; (7) integrity; (8) optimism rather than pessimism; (9) patience with others; and (10) respect for others. These are not necessarily listed in order of importance to me; they may change in importance depending upon the situation.
  • Leaders don’t . . . give up. They are persistent in helping their team solve problems. They are willing to think creatively or “outside the box” to solve problems.
  • Leaders never . . . play favorites, as Rudyard Kipling wrote about in his poem “If“. In his poem, Kipling admonished the reader to remember that it is the mature and wise adult who treats everyone the same: “If all men count with you, but none too much” (Line 28). I also love this poem because Kipling additionally wrote about how important it is for someone to not lose their wits when all around him (or her) are losing theirs. Sometimes being a leader is difficult, and he or she must blaze a path or act the maverick, going against the flow and conventional wisdom. This is difficult. Leaders manage to do this and never lose sight of the end goal.
  • Leaders always . . . keep on trying. They are not content once they have reached a goal. Goal attainment is merely an opportunity to reflect and evaluate, and set a new goal. They are not content with what is.
  •  I wish my school administrator or boss . . . made a few more “top down” decisions. (This is applicable to to all levels of leadership in my district.) This is mostly a personal preference for me. Personality wise, I am a “rule follower” and I don’t like ambiguity. Lately, our district has been focusing on “guaranteed and viable” (G & V) standards – non-negotiable skills that all students must demonstrate mastery with – for continued success in school. To give teachers more “ownership” in the process, each site has been encouraged to come up with their own set of G & V standards. This has resulted in confusion and a lack of uniformity across our district. If someone had stepped up to leadership and just said, “These are it!” then my colleagues and I at my site, and across our district, would be able to get to work together more quickly on creating a standard set of proficiency scales, learning goals, and common formative assessments we all could use. I feel like all of us are spinning our wheels and recreating the wheel, each at our own school sites, when we could be more effective and efficient. I like knowing exactly what you want me to do.
  • As a leader, I wish to improve on . . . being more “present” for my students. I get so focused sometimes on all of the assessments I am supposed to administer (and the results thereof), and I start thinking of numbers rather than personalities. I feel like in the last 18 months, I’ve become somewhat detached from my true reason for teaching, which is twofold: (1) I want to share my love of learning with others, and (2) I want to be an advocate for youth. Really, that’s what makes me most happy in my job – just being there each day, sharing what I know, helping them learn new things, and just enjoying getting to work with some really cool youth. My mindfulness practice is helping me to become more present with students in the classroom, to focus on the students’ personalities and emotions, and to enjoy and accept them for who they are (thirteen-year-olds!). I want both them (and me) to stress less and enjoy the process more.
  • A leader I admire . . . well, there are so many! Who would I love to meet and chat with from history (or present day) if I had a chance? The list includes: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Barack Obama; Pope Francis; religious leaders such as Jesus, St. Thomas, the Buddha, Muhammad, and Job (from the Bible); Queen Elizabeth II; Ghandi; Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; Harriet Tubman; Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; writer Jane Austen; Ada Lovelace . . . this is not an exhaustive list.
  • Peer coaching . . . is something that I am currently getting a chance to engage in. There is a peer on my staff to whom I act as a mentor. I hope I am doing a good job! (I think this person would say that I am.) We should probably spend more time together consistently, but this person knows I am available at any time – in person or by text. I try not to give advice, but instead to share my experience and offer my own perspective on issues that have come up. I try to be a good example of what a teacher should be to my peer.
  • Effecting change . . . is hard, plain and simple. As Newton postulated, “An object at rest tends to stay at rest.” This includes inanimate objects as well as humans (I think). Change is scary for a lot of people, and I include myself in that group. People are resistant to change, so getting them to take that leap of faith despite the fear . . . well, if a person can get others to do that, that’s the mark of a good leader. I hope I am inspiring to (at least some of) my students, and that our time together this academic year will lead them to try something new or do something differently. If I can do that, I will have been a success.

#EdublogsClub (Post 2)


  • Write a post that discusses your classroom or place of work. Some topics you may wish to address include:
  • The physical space – how you approach layout of furniture, technology, etc.
  • The aesthetics – share a photo and/or discuss decorating your space
  • Staying organized – how you do (or don’t) keep organized
  • Tips, tricks, or advice related to the above
  • Anything else you wi
    sh to share!
  • We want just a little window into your daily work life 🙂

My classroom is my home away from home, so I want to feel as comfortable there as possible. I like it clean and tidy. I don’t like a lot of stuff on my counter space, and the closets are organized.

Our interactive word wall for ELA and HSS terms

I like space to move in my classroom. I have seven tables, at which sit five to six students each. I used to have individual desks, but they were a trapezoidal shape.  Devising seating arrangements for a square-ish, rectangular-ish classroom with trapezoidal desks was difficult. I just didn’t feel like any of us – students or me or any visitors – could move well. The flow is really important. So, this year, with the tables, I feel like that has really opened up the flow to my class. I try to change seating arrangements two times during the quarter, or about six to eight times a year, just to change things up a bit.

My classroom is very colorful. To cover my bulletin boards, I bought some Peanuts Gang-themed fabric . . . about three to four different kinds that all compliment each other. (I love Charlie Brown and Snoopy.) Back in my first year teaching, I made Peanuts Gang characters on tag board, so those hang on the wall, too, in various places.

Linus and student avatars with QR codes to student blogs.

To go with the colorful wall space, I have four different colored chair options for students – red, green, yellow, and blue. I just wanted more than one color, and my principal was game for it. It helps, sometimes, with management, too, because I can say, “If you are in a red or yellow chair, please . . . “ and then give students some directions.

Different colored chairs with student avatars (with QR codes to blogs!) in the background



My students all have a space on my walls, too. Each student makes an avatar at the beginning of the year to represent themselves using an app on their iPads. Then, as we set up our blogs, I also have them create a QR code for their blog and share that with me. I print them out and place them next to the respective avatars.


With respect to organization, I pride myself on staying organized. I want my students to continue to develop their own organizational habits, ones that will serve them well in life as they mature. (I teach seventh graders.) Some students don’t have organizational habits that are as well-developed as others, so I see my organizational routine as sort of a model for them. We do a lot of stuff digitally at our site, so my classroom website has digital copies of all of the current quarter’s assignments available for students to download. I also have an “extras” binder on my countertop for students to obtain paper copies after an absence, or in case they have lost their original. There is a “No-Name Graveyard” in my room for papers that are turned in to me without a name. There is also a “purple basket” which is my special basket. If students have late work, work from an absence, or work they want to turn in early, it goes there. It helps me ensure the assignment gets place in the right “pile” and doesn’t get lost.

#EdublogsClub (Post 1)

Well this is not my first blog post, by a long shot, but I definitely don’t blog as much as other teachers. It was something that I thought I’d start trying after viewing a session about student blogging at the (Computer Using Educators) CUE conference in Palm Springs back in 2013. At the time, my students and I had Google Apps for Education (GAFE) accounts, but Blogger was (and still is) blocked by our district. So, I decided on using Edublogs, and that’s how I ended up here. I’m not a “regular” blog reader – I’m often too busy to sit down and delve too deeply into too many blogs – but I do like to read Edutopia, Edudemic, and Catlin Tucker. One tech tool that I use to keep up with blogs is an app called Feedly. (It is also web-based, too.) All of my RSS feeds “dump” into Feedly, including those of my students, so I can keep up with recent posts a little more easily. I don’t really have too much advice to others (especially the new peeps!) except to just keep after it and build discipline. I got out of blogging regularly myself in the past 18 months because I was working on my Master’s degree; literally every free second I had was spent working on assignments for my own professors or grading my own students’ work and planning for our days. I am joining the #EdublogsClub to recommit to my own blogging, and I am hoping that it will help generate readers for my own students’ blogs. (Sorry I am late with this first post!)