It's Lonely... (1)

If only we could count the times we’ve heard our colleagues say, “As a principal, it’s lonely at the top.”

Well, for me, (Onica), I am no longer a part of that lonely tribe. One year ago, my new tribe became #MomsAsPrincipals, and I had no idea how my life, both personally and professionally, was about to change. Change begins with having an open mindset. I was gifted Kids Deserve It by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome, and while reading it, it became overwhelming evident that mindset matters. I read and reread chapter 2, Don’t Live on an Island. Last year, I was embarking on my fourth year of principalship, and yet, I was still on an island. Why was that? In my typical way of doing, as I read the text, I created a list of bulleted action items in the back of the book; bullet number six – What is Voxer?

What if…

What if we never joined #MomsAsPrincipals?

What if we never “met”…

What if we didn’t share our successes and #failforwards…
These are the questions I (Cindy) think about as I reflect on over a year of connecting.

I (Cindy) began this journey of connectedness awkwardly requesting to join a group of moms on “Voxer,” I never thought I would find my educational “soul sister.”  There is something special about Onica Mayers and her journey that captured me the moment she joined our group.  She was everything I valued in education, held my core beliefs, and challenged me to take on risks that would benefit the kiddos at Vero Beach Elementary throughout last year.  From a distant group of moms as principals, I found a mentor and connection that I know has made me a better leader.

I (Onica) saw a tweet from @LindseyStumpenhorst and read her blog. I leaned over and showed my husband, “See I’m not the only one who thinks there’s a small crazy group of people that dare to be both moms and principals.” That sparked the courage to request to join the group #MomsAsPrincipals and I immediately felt connected. As I listened daily, I began to recognize the members’ voices….but there was one voice that stood out! Sometimes, based on the hashtag that introduced a vox, I would skip it because it wasn’t a topic that pertained to me; but whenever I heard, “Good morning moms, it’s EmerSizzle from Vero Beach,” my ears perked up. When she shared something that was happening on her campus, a mom guilt experience juggling the two worlds, an #Eduwin of the day…it always seemed like the same things were happening in my life and listening to and learning along with CIndy for the past year has made me a better leader.

Onica and I joke that we are living in parallel  universes, from Vero Beach, Florida to Houston, Texas.  We could have never known how much we would rely on each other when our schools and communities would need it most.

There was no surprise that the first one to reach out as I (Onica) endured the emotional roller coaster of Hurricane Harvey was EmmaSizzle. Cindy’s words were just what I needed to hear, “You’ve got this and I’m there for you.”

The moment I (Cindy) found out about Hurricane Harvey and the devastation to Houston, I knew Vero Beach Elementary had to help!  Our school wholeheartedly adopted Kirk Elementary.  As I told my students about my far away friend and the connection I have with her, they too felt connected and inspired.  Our staff rallied and promoted and we were able to collect quite a bit considering 92% of our own students are on free and reduced lunch in our Title One School.  

Just days after organizing the event, we discovered that Mother Nature had other plans, and that Vero Beach Elementary was on the direct path for a category 5 hurricane.  Immediately, our efforts shifted. And, as karma would have it, I (Onica)  had the opportunity to pay forward the support Cindy had given to me as I prepared to lead a school community who needed to reconnect after a natural disaster. My daily voxes became, “Let me know you’re safe. You’ve got this. I’m there for you.”  As the eye of Hurricane Irma blasted Florida, I sat on pins and needles when I didn’t hear from her daily. There it was again…parallel lives.  

My (Cindy’s) school community was overwhelmed with the love and support that poured out of Kirk Elementary towards VBE.  We felt that we had others looking out for us, sending us love and positivity over the networks of Twitter and Facebook.  We became more than two Moms connecting… our school communities had become connected families!

It is almost eerie that we share the same values as campus leaders, No Excuses. We share ideas about supporting teachers and struggling students, getting parents more engaged, and inquire about each other’s personal kids. And over the past year, we have both moved our campuses forward… Kirk Elementary was removed from the district’s monitored campus list for showing significant academic growth and Vero Beach Elementary moved from an “F” to a “C” school in just one year.

What if we didn’t connect?

Would our schools have had the successes we experienced?

Would our staff and kiddos felt as supported and valued?

Who would have ever thought that a connection on social media would lead to this?

Are you still on an island? It’s up to you to get off. If you are a leader, teacher, parent, you don’t have to walk the path alone.  We are better together.

http://cbs12.com/news/local/were-pretty-far-apart-were-close-at-heart-vero-beach-principals-helps-school-in-hous

Guest Post Written By:

Onica Mayers
Principal at Kirk Elementary School
Houston, Texas

Cindy Emerson
Principal at Vero Beach Elementary School
Vero Beach, Florida

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Relationships Matter

This was a letter to my teachers…

I think sometimes I have one of the best jobs in our school for building relationships with kids. While that may sound strange since I don’t have a classroom, it makes a lot of sense if you think about it. You see, I have lots one-on-one time with many of our students. Sometimes they are in crisis and sometimes they are with me because they made a choice that landed them in my office. Either way, it’s just the two of us building a relationship.

As we spend time together, I get the opportunity to learn more about them and help them try to figure out the why behind their behavior. I also get to teach them better ways to handle their emotions or situations. Sometimes, I have to re-teach those lessons over and over. But, during those lessons, I’m also building trust. They know I care about them….that I believe in them.

While this all sounds positive, there is a downside to all of this. If I’m having those moments, you, the teacher, are not. How often do you get 20 or 30 minutes to work one-on-one with your student during the day? How often are those moments happening when you don’t have 23 other kiddos to teach? The reality is that in order for you to devote that much time to one student, you must be giving up your breaks, lunches, and before or after school. While this is possible, it’s not fair to you. You need balance, too.

My point to all of this? If you ever want me to come in and take over your class while you take what would normally be my time with them to solve an issue, I’d be happy to do that. I’ll come in and teach, read a book, or lead a discussion. I would be happy to give you the time you need if you thought that might make a difference.

Now…please know that I get that sometimes you might not feel ready to help them because of what they might have just done. Sometimes, we are just too frustrated to be effective. I completely understand that. Heck, sometimes I have them sit there awhile because I’m frustrated that they are back for an issue that we have gone over many times. (I call this a Principal time-out at school and a Mommy time-out at home.) I just wanted to give you the opportunity to switch it up.

Now, below you will see an image of a great behavior management tool that may make a huge difference for you. If you have a kiddo that you are struggling with and you decide to try this, I would love to hear how it worked for you!

If you would like to learn more about this method, click here: https://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/the-2×10-strategy-a-miraculous-solution-for-behavior-issues/

Thanks for reading!

Top 10 Reasons We Are Excited for #NPC17 (in Memes)

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10. 
Sessions & Supporting our PLN!
The sessions are all at the same time! How could we possible choose?

 

 

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9. We’re in Philly!
We’ve heard the food is on point and with such a rich history it seems like the perfect place for educators to gather!

 

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8.  Adult Time!
We love our kids, but hanging with other adults make us feel like…

 

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7.  Professional Development Maximized!
Whether you are spending your time in midday sessions, the Innovation lab, or rise early for the Connectathon – take notes! There will be so many great things to take back to your school!

 

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6. Outfits! (PIA/MAPS Shirt!)Check out this amazing gear! Look for us wearing these on Sunday and Monday! All kids are our kids!

 

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5. Future Ready Principals Meet Up!

Sunday, July 9, 2017, 5:30–7:00 p.m. (ET) The Brewery Room at the Field House Sports Bar. There may be drink tickets involved…
RSVP: http://futureready.org/7-9-17

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4.  Life Long Friendships!
We can not wait to meet current connections, but the excitement of meeting future PLN is so exciting!

 

 

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3. MAPS Social!
A gathering of rockstars! All are invited! Are you ready? We sure are. Monday at 5:30, this is serious. We have presents.
Hilton Garden Inn, Tenth Floor Bar & Grill.

 

 

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2. For the first time in forever!
Mom as Principals has been an active group for over a year, all of the original members have never met face to face…until now. This could be dangerous.

 

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1.  – P.D.A.
Get ready for high fives, handshakes, and hugs. We’re bringing it, I hope you’re ready.

School’s Out….

….for the summer!

As the 2016-2017 school year concludes, discussions of ‘summer break’ begin. Many around us who say, “I’m sure you’re so excited for summer” or “You don’t work over the summer, right?” are surprised to hear that most administrators do work during summer months. In fact, our never-ending To Do lists are filled with items that keep us busy, even when students and teachers are not in the building:

*End of the year Reports for the State
*Class-building for the following year
*Scheduling – ugh! Is there an app that helps us do this?
*Interviewing & hiring Staff
*Creating a PD schedule for the upcoming year
*Preparing for the 1st week back with staff & students
*Organizing our spaces so we can start the year refreshed and under control

In addition to our principal responsibilities, summer is a time that we focus and spend more time on our own learning. All seven of the MAP bloggers will be attending the National Principals Conference in Philadelphia in July and look forward to presenting on tips that help us manage our professional and personal roles. We are excited to connect F2F (face-to-face) with other colleagues with whom we have connected with on Twitter and Voxer! We continue to learn and grow as professionals through the power of our PLN.

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While the summer months provide administrators with time to renew and plan for the coming school year, what better way to become inspired and motivated for the future than to get lost in a good book! Check out summer reading lists from each of our Moms As Principal bloggers below:

Tracey Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 4.34.05 PM

Claire Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 4.34.15 PM  Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 4.34.25 PM

Lindsy Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 4.34.33 PM

Liz    Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 4.34.40 PM

Kelley  Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 4.34.52 PM

Melissa Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 4.57.16 PM.png

Lynn    Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 4.35.01 PM

Most importantly, we try to remember that summer is a precious time to hit the reset button, relax and spend time with those we love. It’s a great time of the year, when we actually take a break. Many of us have planned brief get-aways with our families, and truly look forward to unplugging and being present in those moments, making new memories. We commend fellow MAPS member Esmeralda Moseley on her auto-reply email message:

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School is out for the summer, but our students and staff are never very far from our mind. We’ve said it before….use this time to recharge and refresh!

I’ll Be There For You (When the rain starts to pour)

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When I started my journey as principal, I knew it would be lonely at the top. What I wasn’t prepared for was how lonely I was when I got home.  I have wonderful friends, but I inadvertently pushed them away by either talking about my new situation or not saying anything at all. I needed to talk and I needed support, but I didn’t want to burden anyone with the rush of change I was dealing with. Even with my husband, he either gets one-word answers about my day or he ends up listening to me for an hour because I just can’t stop talking. When the floodgates open…watch out.

Fast forward to last Saturday night…

I was at home catching up on Voxes from the Mom Bloggers when the thought occurred to me that these ladies have walked me through the last year and a half of my life. They may know more about my days than my husband does. They know when I’m happy…they know when I’m sad.  We even joke about how we are living parallel lives when we experience similar days or situations.

What is hard to explain to others is how you can be friends with someone you may have only met once or not at all. How do you build a friendship with someone by just dropping voice messages in an app? The only way I can explain this is by sharing some of the things we have encountered as a group:

  •      Illness/Surgery
  •      Successes and struggles at work
  •      Mom fails
  •      Wife fails 
  •      Our children’s personal struggles that have led to feelings of helplessness
  •      Deaths of family or friends

Every day, we go to Voxer to:

  •      Check in with each other
  •      Cheer each other on
  •      Vent, cry, laugh and even talk in hashtags when we are being particularly silly

These ladies have helped me not feel so alone. They tell me the truth. They challenge my thinking. They make me a better mom, wife, and educator. I will forever be thankful for their support and their friendship.