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Monday, September 29, 2014

Adding the A to STEM...STEAM

STEAM Education aims to bring Functional literacy to all. It promotes bridging the gap between business and educational goals to create a more productive and sustainable global culture based on teamwork. This educational framework is for all disciplines and types of learners with the goal of being more engaging and naturally successful for all members of any educational system.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Faith, Family, Staff and Students

Faith, Family, Staff and students - it is in this order I place the values and important areas of my life. It's what keeps me grounded, centered, and ready for each day. The challenge comes when my faith and family start to slide down that priority list. I have been given an amazing gift from PISD, the gift to be the principal of the best school in the district. Granted, I am extremely biased.

I have always liked this illustration. Used in lots of places, but this comes from:

You have three jars, each one partially filled, one with sand, one with water, and one with large rocks. The challenge? Fit the contents of all three jars into only one. Some people might start with the sand because it would seem to take up less space.

But when you try to put the rocks in, guess what? There's no room

But if you start with the rocks, and then add the sand, you'll find that it fills the crevices around the rocks. The jar looks full, but even now there's room for the water to leach through the tiny spaces between the rocks and sand.

It all fits – as long as you begin with the big things.

The takeaway is pretty obvious. We have to focus on the important things and let everything else fit into the cracks that remain.

For me, the most important things are God and my wife and kids. From there, I try to let the Lord guide me each day and help me keep the main things the main thing.

There are days when the clamor of competing obligations distracts me from where my focus ought to be. But this illustration reminds me that if I mix up the order of importance, nothing will fit well – and I risk losing relationships with those who matter most.

For me this is a good reminder - no matter what your priorities might be, keeping them in order is extremely important.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Not Just Words

I sent this email a few weeks ago, but I wanted to share this out again. I am so thankful to my amazing teachers and my equally amazing new assistant principal De'Cole. The email went like this -

I walked though the door of my house a few minutes ago, sat down in the dark living room, and quickly realized just how exhausted I am.

My wife came in, sat beside me, and simply asked, "How was night three?"

I smiled and replied, "I love my teachers, I love my staff, how did I get so lucky?"

For the last few days I have been trying to think of the right thing to say, the right words to use, so that when I tell you just how much I appreciate what you all do: the time spent, worry and care you put in, setting up your room, quickly getting to know new students, reaching out to parents, staying late, and trying to figure out how to implement the new changes the crazy new principal wants to implement...when I tell you how much I care about you all, how much I appreciate you, what could I say so it's not just words...

It's no secret L left very big shoes to fill. I know I will never be able to fill them, and that's ok...all I can do is be me. As you probably know by now... I am transparent, I am straight forward, and I will always do what I think is best for you and our students. Always, and unapologetically.

I have big plans for this school, I have big plans for all of you, I have hope for building a stronger community, and I have dreams of a campus that works hard, takes risks, loves our kids, and does what is right...even when it is hard.

I appreciate you, I thank you, from the bottom of heart. You have been flexible, willing to go with me, and for that I am grateful.

De'Cole coming to Christie has been an amazing gift. She may be the most passionate person I have ever met when it comes to loving kids. She wants to support you and help you, as do I. Not only is she excited to learn about STEM, the learning commons, and what makes Christie different...but she brings a wealth of knowledge and ideas to make this campus even stronger.

You all have been so positive, so supportive, and I thank you.

Thank you for what you do each day. This is a thankless job sometimes, I hope you will always hear a thank you from me, and know it's not just words.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Something to Think About

You’ll be amazed, perhaps astounded to learn that many of today’s classrooms look completely – like the ones you sat in five, 10, or even 50 years ago. Despite revolutionary technology, the information explosion, and an interconnected planet, not to mention improved teaching and learning methods, the typical college classroom is fixed in time like a museum diorama. Sure, there’s often a computer in the corner that can pull up a YouTube video, maybe even an electronic whiteboard. But the scene rarely changes: rows of hard chairs with little tablet arms, a writing board attached to the wall, an instructor’s lectern – in short, everything geared to the lecture format developed back when the only iPad was a chalk slate.

Can 19th century classroom design be the best way to prepare students for the 21st century knowledge economy? Now that would be amazing. A few classrooms, however, are escaping the educational equivalent of a land time forgot. You’ll find these innovative spaces at well-known schools such as Arizona State University, the University of Michigan, and Stanford University, as well as at small community colleges you may not have heard of before. These schools are reconsidering the relationships between classroom space, furniture, technology, and pedagogy and seeing great results.

Many educators say it’s about time. “A lot of classrooms, in terms of flexibility, ease of use, comfort, proper lighting, I’d give a failing grade,” says Dominique Laroche, director, Office of the University Architect at Arizona State University (ASU) and a faculty associate with the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. “Technology is light years ahead of us. The infrastructure and the classrooms are lagging behind.”

“Students today are far more connected, far more facile with technology than students 30 years ago, but schools haven’t accommodated what kids can do, or adjusted what we try to do with them. You see students using laptops or other devices, but the instruction often isn’t designed to take up on the fact that they’re coming to class with those tools instead of binders and pencils,” says Deborah Loewenberg Ball, dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan (U of M) and a prominent researcher in effective teaching methods.

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