Saturday, May 2, 2015

What Every Principal Should Know About Trust

I recently decided to write again on my blog. After five years of working on my doctorate degree, my desire to write was relatively low. May 10 marks the one-year anniversary of my earning my PhD.  My desire to write is on the rebound and so I offer this blog post to you.

I think all the time. My thoughts are often unconnected to my current realities and distracting to what I am to be focusing on at the time. Some now call that off topic, random rambling, and attention deficit disorder. I call it enlightenment. This morning I recalled a conversation I had with a colleague earlier in the week. We discussed the difficulty of gaining trust as a principal. I reflected on my experiences as a leader and knew I had to write. One of the biggest misconceptions about trust is that trust is given initially and is not lost until one has done something to lose it. I believe just the opposite. As a leader, you begin with little trust. Positional power certainly doesn't give you an automatic trust credit, nor does it give you power. Trust begins on a very low level. As a leader, people assess your trust credibility all the time. In the beginning, members of the organization are making observations and gathering information to decide if you deserve any of their trust at all. In short, trust is earned with repeated actions of doing what you say you will do. Trust is earned over time and is lost within a second. It is important that as principals we operate with a high level of emotional intelligence in order to earn and maintain trust. That's the other thing.  Trust has to be maintained. As principals, we must understand that our every action, mannerism, and emotion is under a microscope. Like it or not, people watch everything we do and say, and based on their observations they decide to trust us.... or not.  We must be consciously aware of emotional intelligence daily.  In a recent series of tweets, I shared my thoughts on trust. Here they are:

1. Trust is not automatic. 
2. People don't trust you until you break it. They don't trust you until you earn it. 
3. Trust increases over time.
4. It can take years to earn trust & seconds to break it. Leaders w/ emotional intelligence are highly instinctive about how to handle issues.
5. Great principals understand that facts should drive us & feelings affect us. We make decisions with emotional intelligence-not facts alone.
6. Great principals are reflective. Impulsive decision-making often lacks thoughtfulness and strategy needed for sustainability. 
7. Great leaders understand the importance of listening and patience. The greater the trust, the higher the morale and the more positive the climate.
8. Great principals understand that trust is earned over time by repeatedly doing what you say you will do. Broken trust leads to low morale.
9. Trust is the cornerstone of leadership. 
10. Trust is not easily obtained, but easily lost. 

Being thoughtful earns trust. Making quick decisions cultivates acting without thinking.  There is a great book on this titled, Trust Matters  by Megan Tschannen-Moran  I still have my autographed copy I received the very first year I became a principal.  Every principal and school leader should read it.  My challenge to all my fellow principals, reflect on this question: How are you earning trust?
Be Brave!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

The South Carolina Association of School Administrators' Conference was just what I needed to get inspired for the 2013-2014 school year. Here are a few highlights from the keynotes of Beatrice McGarvey, Stephen G. Peters, Dr. Tony Wagner, and Principal El.

    McGarvey is the author of Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning.

    • We have to change the structure and delivery system of public schools
    • Mass customized learning is the answer and the new paradigm for public schools
    • We have to eliminate the time based structure of schools by using transformational technology
    • We need to create a school structure that makes it possible to individualize and customize learning for every student
    • We have to help teachers rethink about how kids are motivated.
    Stephen Peters is the author of several books, including, Inspire to Teach.
    • Leadership s a behavior not a title.
    • Leadership is about creating more leaders.
    • Schools become successful through careful planning and skillful execution.
    • We can only give what we are full of. What are you full of?
    Dr. Tony Wagner is a Harvard professor and author of The Global Achievement Gap.
    • Knowledge has become a commodity.
    • The nature of work is being transformed.
    • Student motivation is different than ever before.
    • The world is changing rapidly and students need a different skill set than students of the past.
    • Students need critical thinking skills, ability to problem solve, and ability to ask the right questions.
    • Students need to learn collaboration skills, to appreciate diversity, leadership skills, and the ability to adapt.
    • Students need effective oral and written communication skills, and the ability to persuade.
    • Students need the ability to access and analyze information, curiosity, an imagination.
    • The culture of schools is at odds with the culture of learning needed to create innovative thinkers.
    • Schools are about individual achievement, yet innovation is a team effort.
    • Schools treat failure in a way that creates a risk avoidance culture. 
    • There can be no innovation without trial and error.
    • Students need play, passion, and purpose.
    • The world isn't interested in what you know, but what you can do with what you know.
    Principal Salome Thomas El is the author of  I Choose to Stay.
    • Smart is not something you are, it's something you become.
    • Great leaders do not create more followers, but they create more leaders.
    • Every child deserves at least one person to be crazy about them.
    • Failure can be motivating but success can paralyze you.
    • The price of leadership is conflict.
    I learned so much this year. I'm ready to make next year my best year yet. To my fellow administrators, let's keep growing and learning so that we may impact the lives of children in a way that sets them up for success!

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    10 Awesome Apps for Educators

    Here is a quick list of useful apps for educators and administrators. We learned about these in our leadership retreat and the list is too good not to share. Although I use many of these, I learned something new today! New learning is so exciting. I'm sure our students feel the same way when the learning is engaging and relevant.
    1. Reflection: view your IPad on your Promethean bd / download to pc..not IPad..beneficial to have a VGA cable
    2. Airserver- same as Reflection
    3. Evernote:
    • Record guided reading lesson
    • Photograph work
    • Tag by student names, then pull info by tags
    • Email to self, parent, print, use in conferences
    4. Cloudon:
    • Saves files to Dropbox
    • Uses word programs 
    5. Pages: word
    6. Numbers: excel
    7. Keynote : ppt

    8. Camscanner- works w/ Evernote ..takes a picture of document/ converts to PDF
    9. ImagetoText- edit paper documents (worksheets) to use later, can be edited on screen
    10. TagDiskHD-$5.99: watch YouTube at home, copy URL, paste in "enter URL", o.k., downloads video to device & use in classroom 

    This is a draft list from my Evernote file...more details later, but for now explore..and LEARN!

    Thursday, March 29, 2012

    The Power of A Team!

    I played sports as a kid growing up in the projects. I always liked the idea of competing. I like winning even more. Although the ideas of competing and winning were exciting to me, what I liked even more was being a part of a team. I liked working with others to accomplish a goal. Basketball was my love. I grew up watching legends like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird,and Michael Jordan. I thought they were all very talented and could score at will. However, Magic Johnson was my favorite. Not only because he was a point guard, but because he was a talented assist man. He could pass like nobody's business. He could see openings that others could not see. He could make one move to make a beautiful play and everyone else benefited from his vision. That is exactly how I see my job as a principal. If I can assist others in the right way, if I can see a way to improve learning when others have blurred vision, if I can create a solid and systematic framework for teaching and learning to occur effectively,I can lead the way to improved student achievement. We have a responsibility as principals to provide a clear collaborative vision for our schools. We are responsible for being innovative in our thinking and action. We are responsible for seeing solutions where others only see obstacles. We have a responsibility to be deliberate in our planning, instructional leadership, and interaction with our teachers and students. As a kid, I'd try to replicate on the blacktop what Magic did in his Lakers uniform. Now, I just try to make the "magic" happen as a school principal. I hope every principal realizes that we are not the star of the team, and we aren't the top scorers. We're just like Magic, trying to make the right move so all students score. Share the ball, Latoya

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    Keeping the Dream Alive!

    This morning I attended our community's 9th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Interfaith Prayer Breakfast.  It was a warm and moving reminder of the progress we have made in so many ways. It is a reminder of what others have not only endured, but also survived and changed so that those of us who were to come after them might have a similar, yet better opportunity.  I often think of how I might have contributed to such, had I lived during the civil rights movement.  It is then that I am reminded, that it is not over.

    The opportunity to help, assist, and give back to our community still exists.  The need has not diminished.  Fortunately, I am able to give back everyday as a principal.  I am provided with the chance to help, assist, inspire, and impact lives each and every day.  It is often easy for us, as principals, to take this opportunity for granted.  We can get caught up in the day to day tasks, meetings, deadlines to meet, and paperwork to complete.  This morning, I was reminded, of just how critically important my work and our work as educators continues to be.  For we are the dream keepers.  We dream, not only for ourselves, but also for others.  It is a part of what we do.  We inspire others to dream.  We help build dreams.  Sometimes, we are lucky enough to help make dreams come true.

    As principals, it is our duty and our obligation, to dream and to dream big for all children.  This week, and everyday, let us be reminded by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to keep the dream alive in our work.

    Let's dream big!


    Saturday, January 7, 2012

    Building Your PLN!

    I am a strong advocate for teaming, collaboration, professional learning communities, etc.  If you've read much of the research around teacher collaboration, you find that it's all basically communicating the same ideas, although it may be classified by a different key term.  In the last year, I've become a huge fan of twitter as a tool for my own collaborative opportunities.  At the moment, I'm extremely proud of my 90 plus followers! What I've found is that while the opportunities for teachers to collaborate can happen within the school building if principals frame and structure the schedule and create a culture of such, it can be much more difficult for principals.  Building your own "PLN"-professional learning network, can seem difficult, but Twitter can help.
    I utilize my Twitter account strictly for professional collaboration with other principals all over the country and globe.  I've read more about leadership, instruction, etc. on twitter in the last year than I have in books.  Make no mistake-I love books. Prior to my principal days, I was an English teacher and I still see myself as a lover of reading and writing.  However, my busy principal days paired with my work as a doctoral candidate makes for a busy lifestyle.  Catching an #atplc chat on Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. eastern for a few short moments seems quite easier with my smart phone in hand. The wealth of knowledge and resources shared in a few moments or even an hour cannot compare to what might be learned from a single book alone.  For those of you striving to get connected this year, here are a list of a few of my favorite tweeters who have significantly impacted my learning:

    Couple those above with a few of these and you're sure to learn more:

    Get connected.  Learn something.


    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    A New Year!

    For some reason, I always feel as if I celebrate the new year in August.  For educators, it's the start of what we strive to do each year-improve student achievement.  It's the sights and smells of new notebooks, pencils, book bags, and brand new boxes of crayons and markers.  It is the beginning of new relationships as teachers get to know their students, students get to know their teachers, and parents and teachers forge relationships to work together in the best interests of their students.  A new year for us is when summer ends and school begins.

    Of course for principals, we work in a continuous cycle of trying to improve ourselves as leaders, teachers, and learners.  This cycle requires a great deal of self-directed renewal.  We have to constantly renew our passion, continue our learning, revisit and revise our goals, and refocus our energies.

    For 2012, I am striving to renew my passion, to continue my learning, to revisit and revise my goals, and refocus my energies.  To do this, I plan to commit to writing on this blog on a regular basis.  For those of you who are also principals out there, don't forget to renew yourself-even if it is the middle of the school year.  The kids are counting on us.