Tuesday, December 8, 2015

5 Ways to Get To KISS (Not What You Are Thinking About!)

Listen to my podcast on this subject Episode 81.

Sorry to disappoint you but this is not a steamy romance advice column.

Instead, I’m talking about the idea of simplifying things. 

You know… K.I.S.S.
No not the 70s rock band who are almost in their 70s by the way, but Keep It Simple for Stupid.

Oops. Sorry. I used the “S” word.
So let me instead say it this way, Keep It Simple for Steve.

I don’t know about you, but my eyes have a great chance of glazing over whenever someone gives me something to read that uses too many words with no pictures.

I stumble through documents that need a translator.

Giving me an instruction manual that is close to 100 pages, is just asking me to never read it and be inventive. I mean do I really have time for this? “Real men don’t need instructions!”

If I am asked (or required) to listen to a 45-minute program crammed into three and half hours (think about it J ) I am most likely  to nod off or only remember the number of ceiling tiles in the room.

Finally, if you want me to totally not understand what you want me to remember include graphs and charts that I just do not get. Bubble graphs and very extensive flow charts are some of my all-time favorites (Not!)

Before talking, presenting, purchasing, and publishing so forth and so on. I truly believe that if you want practitioners to listen to you, it is imperative that you take the time to revise, critique and edit…so that in the end you Keep It Simple for Steve!

Five Ways to Get to K.I.S.S.
Ask yourself these questions when revising, critiquing, and editing:

1.     Do I have too many words?
2.     Are there any pictures? ( images)
3.     Are my graphs/charts/pictures confusing?
4.     Does the reader need a translator or an interpreter to understand what I am talking about?
5.     Will the reader feel that there is not enough time for it?

If you ask yourself these questions before publishing/presenting, you are on your way to Keeping It Simple for Steve.

Here are some links for getting free royalty free images that will help.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Four Concerns that Teachers May Have About Their Principal

Schools often have a no man’s land that separates the administration and the teachers. I really believe that the bigger the school (student and teacher numbers) the worse it gets. It is unfortunate because these two populations of the school need to be on the same wavelength. They need to become a team. They need to see each other as allies in the drive to help all kids achieve their dreams.

Between a revolving door in the principalship, the role in evaluation, pressures to be visible in the community, requirements to be great at everything like Superman or Wonder Woman, and a push to have all students graduate on time and be able to be accepted at the best universities, a principal can easily become engrossed in what she is doing or needs to get done instead of thinking about her staff and what they think or see or feel.

As a result, some of the teaching staff will develop concerns about their principal. These concerns often fall into four categories: We don’t see you, you make all of the decisions, we meet too much and you don’t appreciate us.

Here are some suggestions for addressing these concerns:

1.      We don’t see you

a.      Make times during the week where anyone can find you and advertise that location to them (I know a principal who has a working office in the main hallway of his school.)
b.      Schedule class visits and make them a part of your calendar that isn’t interrupted.
c.       Serve lunch in the cafeteria. (Put on the hairnet and plastic gloves.)

2.      You make all of the decisions

a.      Create a list of committees that you need and invite anyone and everyone to participate.
b.      When you create teams/committees really let the staff members have input. Do not make all of the decisions. Do not come with the solution. Act as a facilitator instead of a dictator.
c.       Schedule meetings when anyone can participate.

3.      We meet too much. (Faculties need to meet for many reasons, but administrative announcements could be delivered differently.)

a.      Try flipping the meeting. Record yourself talking  about administrative announcements.
b.      Use a blog.
c.       Use a webinar type format.
d.      Try an audio or video podcast that they can access from their phones.

4.      You don’t appreciate us

a.      Celebrate successes by creating rituals for your school. For example, buy small versions of symbols of the school and use these as trinkets of appreciation that the faculty give to each other in a meeting where they are encouraged to say something nice or supportive about another staff member.
b.      Hold functions to encourage them to let their hair down and destress. Have a party off campus. Provide the food, music, environment, and snacks. Let them bring adult beverages. Invite all staff not just teachers but all staff.
c.       Hold holiday celebrations.
d.      Cook breakfast for them. Cook lunch or dinner and serve them. All administration participates.
e.      Ask what they are concerned about and address what you have the power to change.
f.        On work days have a celebration, get what needs to be done and release early.

You can’t please everyone, but it is important to listen and take action. 

After all, as leaders we have the ability to do something about most concerns. 

Take a chance and do something.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Teaching Demands Relationship Building

Relationships are everything in schools. 

Listen to Rita talk from the heart about kids and relationships. 

After listening, I challenge you to reflect on your classroom. Could you do better? Have you made the effort to connect with the toughest of the tough? 

Teaching is fun because of the kids not in spite of the kids. 

Rita's message is inspiring and no matter how the political climate may have you down. No matter how much you may be thinking about early retirement. Rita's message will remind you of why you became a teacher. If you haven't taught, you will know why you want to be a teacher.  

There are very few professions that can say that they make the impact that teachers do, maybe a family practitioner or a doctor delivering a baby, but teachers can make positive, lifelong connections, if you try.

Take Rita's words to heart- You make a difference! 

Celebrating Veteran's Day, November 11th, 2015

Thank you to our veterans.
Our freedoms are thanks to your sacrifices.
Thank you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

So You Want to be a Teacher Workshop at HGRESA, Nov 10th

If you are looking to teach in Georgia, this workshop is for you.

Hope that you will join us for just $25 on November 10th from 
9-3:30 at the Heart of Georgia RESA in Eastman, Georgia 31023.

Featuring Danny Kofke, Author of How to Survive on a Teacher's Salary, A Simple Book of Financial Wisdom and A Bright Financial Future

Find out more at www.hgresa.org

Ok, so I sound like I'm selling cars and maybe even a set of especially sharp kitchen knives, but you will love the workshop!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Classroom Management: Tip #1-Classroom Space

It is almost October and you are getting a little frustrated with some of your students.
Matter of fact, you are fretting going to that one class.

There are many roads to take to discover what the issue is and address it.

Keep in mind, You Can Do This!

One such avenue is taking a closer look at your classroom arrangement.

 Keep in mind that what you are trying to get good at is managing behavior so that you don’t have to revert to trying to discipline the class into doing what you want them to. 

(By the way, this never works. Have you ever seen the pirate flags and bumper stickers found in popular tourist spots that say something like, “The beatings will continue until morale improves?” This type of adult focus will fail as you might guess, so it is important to take a different path.)

I have visited many classes over the years and found numerous positive and supportive room arrangements just as I have found others that make you wonder where the kids are supposed to work.

Kids need space to move, work, and interact that doesn’t put them on top of each other. Here are three suggestions:

1.     On a Friday after school has let out, stop and look at your classroom. Is there too much furniture? Come on now, I was a teacher. Many of us are very good at finding that extra piece of furniture that we just can’t live without:  a lab table, a couple of filing cabinets, a rocking chair, antique book cases, one more puppet stage, an extra table and chairs, a large couch, etc. Too much furniture reduces the space that the kids and you have to move around. This can create a cramped feeling that makes kids on edge with each other. (This doesn’t mean that you can’t have that cool furniture, it just means that you should get rid of something when you add.)

2.     How about the actual arrangement of seats? Does it create deep rows that mean some of the kids are so far from you that they feel safe from being discovered for their off task behaviors? Have you placed the seats so that you can’t walk among the kids? Set-ups like these encourage misbehavior because there is a feeling of safety with so much (other kids, desks, and distance) between the teacher and the students at the furthest edge of the classroom.

3.     Think about where kid sits who is most likely to be off task and where you have the kids focus their attention most of the time. For example, do you talk from behind a podium at the front right of the room and your number one fidgety, off-task kid sits right near that podium. In other words, all eyes are on him? Maybe you placed the most unfocused student near the lab materials, tables, and equipment where the temptation is too much not to mess with stuff while he should be doing something else? If this is the case, it is time to change seat placement.

Classroom space can be a killer. The more students you have the more you should work to reduce the furniture that gets in the way of easy movement in the room.
As always, the number one key to classroom management is you.

You must understand that your behaviors have the greatest impact. So take a moment to analyze the use of the physical space in your classroom and make some adjustments.
You will be amazed how much it will help.

Here are some additional resources that can provide further suggestions.
Remember, you can do this!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

3 Strange Conversations I Have Had as an Educator

Art Linkletter was a radio and television personality. One his most famous programs was called House Party which ran from the 1940s through 1969. Arguably, his most famous routine was called Kids Say the Darndest Things. During this segment, he would ask a question of a child, usually somewhere between the ages of 3 and 8, and then work with what was said.

As an educator working with kids and adults, you never know what might happen. No matter what their age there are usually unique situations that arise. Some of these events would make you want to laugh and others cry, but no matter what there were many days where you might be wondering if you have been set-up by a hidden camera show (For those of you who remember Candid Camera -it has spawned many others- the situations could be quite funny).

Many of the comments were not funny at the time, but as you look back you wonder how you kept a straight face. Notice that I have included adults in this list. Here are just a few of the many that I remember. Do you have some that you remember?

·         Stripes and dots don't go together

I was a 10th grade high school world history teacher. One day during a lecture/discussion a young lady in the front of the class raised her hand. (Let’s call her Tammie.) I thought, “Awesome! When she asks a question it is usually right on the money and is excellent for keeping the class on topic.” She excelled at being insightful. She could talk with most adults about any topic, especially history. You want your topic to be connected to today? She would do that every time. I called on her, “Yes, Tammi?” Her response was, “Mr. Miletto did no one ever tell you that stripes don’t go with dots?”  The combination of my tie and shirt was evidently bothering her. So much for that wonderful conversation…

·         Sir, Please get down off the fence and pay at the main gate

During my early days as an assistant principal I was at a school that won very few football games. We were a new school and at that time other schools would pay you to come play them at their homecoming. Needless to say, when you have a consistent record of losing, your fan base dwindles instead of grows. Matter of fact, you mainly see parents of players, cheerleaders, band kids, and JROTC and fans from the other school and that is about it, especially if it is raining.

My career took me to a different environment. The new school was much bigger. Close to 2400 kids and was constantly going deep in the state playoffs. My new colleagues told me, just wait until the first game you have never seen anything like the number of fans that we have. I was thinking, “Yea-yea.”

I knew I was “no longer in Kansas” when we had to close down the parking lot two hours before school let out and make sure that no one had started placing their blankets and chairs inside the stadium. The parking lot was filled at least two hours before the game. A local church sold parking places. People were warned not to park in neighborhood driveways. I was amazed at the number of people. It got worse. As the game was beginning, we noticed that there were adults coming through the woods behind the stadium.  They were trying to climb the fence to sneak into a high school football game! Mind you…these were not kids. One gentleman was partway up the fence as I demanded, “Sir, please get down off the fence and pay at the main gate.” Wow, never thought that I would have to say that to someone. My duty station became that tree line for the rest of the evening.

·         And You Paid to Go To School, Right?

As a staff member at a high school, you may have duty throughout the school day. Often these stations are located at the bus ramps before and after school and in the cafeteria at lunch time.  The bigger the schools the more important it becomes to have an adult presence throughout the school campus to help prevent fights, smoking and other unwanted activities.

One wonderful September afternoon, I had duty in the cafeteria. This school was quite large. Matter of fact, there were 4 lunch periods and each had around 600 kids. On this fine day, I decided to stand outside the boys’ bathroom (the door opened into the cafeteria). This way I could smell cigarette smoke and hear what was going on in the restroom while watching the kids in the cafeteria.

As I stood there contemplating the earth, the universe and everything else, a young man came up and stood next to me. He didn’t say anything. He just planted himself against the wall next to me. I figured that soon he would say something and it didn’t take long.

“Mr Miletto, How many years did you go to college?” I answered, “I’m still going to school, but at this point eight years.” He commented, “And you pay to go to school right?”  “Well, yes.” “Ok…where are you going with this?” He noted, “So you paid to go to school for eight years so that you could watch us eat lunch?” Gee, “thanks for summing up my life like that,” I joked, and he smiled and walked away saying, “No problem.”  Yeesshh..

I have many more but let’s stop there.

Do you have any stories? 

Come on, I’ll be that you do.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

3 Scents that Always Make Me Think of School

School is back in session and often my brain will recall scents, smells, or odors that were always a part of my school days. 

Do you have any? 

Some of these no longer exist in schools and some have new scents that have replaced the old ones, but, no matter what, these are stuck in my memories. 

As a result, if I happen to  run into one these odors, my brain races back to those days of being with teachers, friends, and learning math, science, history, English and having fun on the playground.

Come on you know what I am talking about. 

Here are a few examples- school paper towels, yeast rolls, brand new textbooks, chalk, new pencils, pencil sharpeners (hand operated), bus diesel, bus seats, wax on the floors, and there are so many more.

Do you have any?

Here are three of my favorite-

1. Freshly, mowed yard

2. Damp, purple copies from a duplicator

3. School Paste with that minty freshness (didn't eat it, myself, but I sure had friends who enjoyed a good paste snack now and then)

So, how about you? 

What scents bring back those days of school?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

3 Reasons Schools Should Make Social Media a Priority

Unfortunately, social media and schools have had a love-hate relationship. This is because of the sensationalized issues surrounding students harassing each other or staff members making major, career-ending mistakes.

The baby doesn’t need to be thrown out with the bath water.

Those issues are really small compared to the benefits of schools and school districts making social media a priority.

Here are three reasons why social media should be made a priority:

1.     To Connect with the Community

Take a look at these numbers (please keep in mind that there are so many other tools in social media-I am just highlighting a few.) 

The total number of social media users worldwide of all ages is equal to 179.7 million*
·        Youtube users 1 Billion… 43% of US users are Baby Boomers
·        58% of US users are Gen-X (34-54);
·        72% of US users are Millenials (18-34);
·        81.9% of US users are Teens (14-17)

Every one of these populations is served by our schools. Even though not included in this data, elementary level kids, as well.

Baby Boomers, Gen-X, and Millenials are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and guardians of our kids. 

Do they use video to receive and deliver messages? Yes.

Do you think our school communities are interacting on-line?

Check out these numbers:
·        Facebook 156.5 million
·        Twitter 52.9 million
·        Pinterest 44.5 million

I think that I could guarantee you that your families are connected through social media.

Seth Godin, entrepreneur extraordinaire, speaker, and author of many books such as The Purple Cow and Poke the Box talks about how there are people who are waiting for that leader to come along to take them on a journey. In his book Tribes, Seth explains that a Tribe focuses on the idea of creating and connecting with groups of people who are interconnected by a common leader and an idea; in other words Tribes who are waiting to be lead.

Think about the school and system community as that tribe that is waiting to be rallied around your ideas. Social media can help you connect and deliver your message and ideas.

2.     To Tell Your Story

Everyone wants to tell the world what schools do, the political arena, the news media, businesses who are not associated with schools in any way, reformers who believe that they have the solution, so on and so on. 

How about we use social media to do it for ourselves?

Who knows our story better than us?

The answer is easy: No one.

Social media creates the opportunity to tell our stories.

Whether we want to celebrate the awesome news of what our teachers and students are doing like working with local government, writing books, participating in community service, and winning awards or whether we want to share some news or specifics about recent events or accomplishments you name it, social media can help.
The platforms can help us spread our words and stories.

3.     For Personal and Professional Learning

The third reason why schools and systems should embrace social media is for the wealth of personal and professional learning opportunities that are available. Let’s  look at YouTube.

If you have a question there is a high possibility that someone has posted a video about it. 

Let’s start with your car, need to replace the cabin filter, a tail light, fix a flat, I guarantee you that you will find help.

I have saved myself heartache and money simply from using handy tips from YouTube to help me with preventative maintenance on my car.

Do you have hobbies like keeping tropical fish? 
Help is just a search and a click away. 

You can even connect with other hobbyists who will talk specifically to your issue or challenge.

One of my favorites is cleaning a musical instrument. 

I play the trumpet and there have always been mixed messages about how to properly clean the instrument. Search and click. What do you know? 
I now have a home tutor for cleaning my trumpet.

Let’s talk professional development from blogs like Lynda Williams’ on science, or using YouTube video clips to learn about the science behind mindset with Dr. Carol Dweck, or understanding more about the dysfunctions of teams with Patrick Lencioni.

As educators, you can find any number of consultants, teachers, and experts in specific fields whose thoughts are shared on YouTube, blogs, websites and video and audio podcasts. For example, want to learn about changing your focus on grading practices listen to Rick Wormeli, want to know more about formative assessment you could listen to Dylan Wiliam, want to learn about flipping the classroom or music and movement in the classroom how about Dr. Lodge McCammon or Rae Pica

I think that this would be a great place for a plug for my own educational podcast Teaching Learning Leading K12.

There is so much that can be learned from getting involved in social media that being afraid is only holding you, your students, school, and community back. 

So let's review:

3 Reasons Schools Should Make Social Media a Priority

1.     To Connect with the Community
2.     To Tell Your Story
3.     For Personal and Professional Learning

So what are you waiting for?
Let’s get started...

Here are three helpful resources for using social media in the classroom and school. Check them out.

3.     BAM Radio Network

 Links for social media data used in post


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Retirement Doctor gives a Shout-out to Teaching Learning Leading K12 on Radio Interview.

Tom Lowry is The Retirement Doctor. 

He is a retirement specialist who helps individuals develop an understanding of what they need to do to be comfortable after they retire and stop working. He is a five-time winner of the Five Star Professional Wealth Manager Award, host of The Retirement Doctor Show on WDUN AM 550 and 102.9FM which broadcasts out of Gainesville, Georgia, and the author of the book Prescription for a Happy Retirement (2014).

Recently, we were both speakers at Camous Benefits Summer Series Conference (An organization that provides benefits packages for educators).

 "Who Me? 3 Reasons Why You Should make Social Media a Priority This School Year!" was the title of my presentation. Tom and I talked about the importance of learning how to use social media to tell your story and manage your brand. Tom did something really cool when it came time for him to be on the Bill and Joel Show on air he had the hosts give a shout-out to  www.teachinglearningleadingk12.com, my blog.

Check out the retirement advice for teachers from Tom (if you listen to the end he tells you how you can get a free copy of his book Prescription for a Happy Retirement) and then hear the shout out at this link:  Tom Lowry, The Retirement Doctor

Check it out!