A Powerful Day as a School Principal

Whoa! What a day! I love my job, especially on days like this when I get to be with kids the whole day! I had somewhat of a plan, but I definitely woke up knowing that I was going to bring it today no matter what!

Started my day with popping in and out of a 5th grade math team meeting. They were on point breaking down standards with criteria such as parameters, key vocabulary, and language objectives. So cool to see teachers with their curriculum documents all out and digging in together!

I had to sneak out of there, which I hate to do, but the new boxes of Sphero SPRK Edition Robots were calling my name. I’m on a buying rampage with these new technology tools for our students because I feel that our students should have every opportunity in the world for building their computer science skills. Our Instructional Technology Coach, Mr. Benware, has been doing an awesome job of getting these organized and set up for the students.


I typically get outside for car arrival, but I went to the library instead today to set up a course so we had some goals and structures to the Sphero activity. I found a perfect tucked away spot…

Announcements started before I knew it in our state-of-the-art studio. Students led the announcements, ran the video, cameras, and teleprompter with a full studio audience. I’ll write a whole other post about this.

We style our morning student news show with a little flavor of the modern Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Friday’s segment is Games with Guests, which has two teachers volunteer to compete on live video for the students schoolwide. Teachers volunteer and choose their game so you know they are all in! Today’s was Toe Jam Challenge with our Music Teacher Ms. Crouse vs our PE Teacher Mrs. Swanson. It was pretty gross, but also awesome!


We also make sure to celebrate our Watch DOG (Dads Of Great Students) with his kids on the news show and post their picture online. We have a dad or granddad in school for Watch DOGS just about every single day.


On my way back to the office, I caught a couple of 5th grade student leaders gathering collections for the schoolwide Pajama Drive. So of course I had to tweet them out. Side note, great job Ms. Keskel and Mr. Raines for leading these leaders to already collecting 266 pajamas in just one week for the Ashland Gives Back Pajama Drive!


I grabbed my bag, laptop, and 2-way radio and ran back out of my office. Getting back to the library for the Spheros, I felt good not letting myself stop and find busy work. I let the teachers know that they could send students down today and they could choose which students. I didn’t want to totally disrupt their day. Well, maybe just a little…


Mr. Benware and I started troubleshooting the set up of the Ipads to the Spheros right away as students starting getting their hands on them. We had students form partners and use 8 Spheros with the goal today to learn how to orient, drive, and change speed. I told them they were now all “Sphero Heros” and they loved it. Mr. Benware and I were running through different groups of students all day. It was really great to see students of all academic performance levels side-by-side laughing and really intense on their missions.



Mrs. Welch, our Librarian, began her lessons in the other section of the library. Since I was there, I had a chance to see how her students were enjoying augmented reality though Aurasma. They were also reading physical books from the library and virtual books online.



We have been in the process of installing additional projectors and an improved sound system in our multi-purpose room (cafeteria & gym) and this was going to be the day I got them running during lunch! 3rd-5th graders were able to watch videos like Maya the Bee and enjoy the new setup. Teachers came to me later blown away at how quiet the cafeteria was.


Getting out there lets me use pictures to use as positive reinforcement in the hallways. Check out our kindergartners showing us how it’s done!


I had a scheduled observation set for Mr. Oles, one of seven of our 4th grade teachers, this afternoon. He showed off his new skills in using cooperative learning structures. We have been using Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures, but since our full day workday of professional learning, our teachers like Mr. Oles have been blowing it up! Today he had students preparing for a Virginia History exam by doing a modified flashcard review and then an activity called Showdown where students work in groups to answer a posed question from the teacher. He focused on explicit directions and making sure to provide think time. He did a great job!


Back into the library and the Spheros were losing power so Mr. Benware had to get them charging up for next week. I guess that’s what you get for taking them out of the box this morning and using right away… Check out how organized this guy is!

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It seemed right, so I grabbed my party machine and hollered for Mr. Lucciotti, our Assistant Principal, and headed down to 2nd grade gathering resource teachers as I went. 2nd grade teachers have been tweeting out great posts of classroom instruction like crazy but I haven’t been in their room lately so I was going to bring them a celebration. I gathered 3 classes into one class and we led a crazy dance party with lights, a microphone, and Kidz Bop music!  And then, we went across the hall to do it again with the other 3 2nd grade classes! It was fun and a special moment to look around at kids and teachers jamming. Thank you to #PrincipalsInAction Voxer group for suggesting the all-in-one speaker with disco lights!

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I heard the bell and knew I had just a few minutes for my daily #GoodNewsCalloftheDay so I pulled a star 3rd grade student into my office to call her mom about how great she was doing. This is always one of the highlights of my day!


By chance I happened to catch a special moment of support as two of our encore teachers were sharing a hug at the end of a long week!


After school, as I was wrapping up, I decided last minute to join the school volleyball team for a league competition against a nearby school. But I quickly was side-tracked helping Ms. Crouse troubleshoot our new audio system in the gym since we have our Lion King musical coming up in about 2 weeks. Check out the storyboards she created to make sure the students (and me) know where to stand! I also found one of my costars who plays young Simba still there after school and we practiced one of our scenes on stage. She is doing much better than I am of course!


Jumped back in for a little volleyball, but the team didn’t need me to take away another school victory! Great job!


Driving home for the day, I used Voxer voice messages to connect with my colleagues nearby and across the country. If you don’t know Voxer, you are missing out!

I finally walked into the door at home about 7 pm and there is nothing like having my three kids run up to me for hugs yelling, “Daddy!”

When you’re in a zone like this, it’s not work. This job is just too much fun if you take control of your time and energy! If you’re tired just reading this, just think how I “should” have felt yesterday. But honestly, I couldn’t have been more motivated. What a powerful day!

On reflection, few key ingredients to the day’s success really stuck out:

  • I have to take control of my day to actively choose how I want to lead and what I should be doing.
  • Students have to love school and we need to be creating special moments they will never forget. The comments I heard from students, parents, and teachers were things like, “This was the best day of my life,” and “This is why we love this school.”
  • We have to learn by doing as educators. Even if we don’t have it all perfectly planned out, we need to get these new tools in the hands of students because we learn more by seeing them in action.
  • The more I’m out there with my team, the more amazing things I see and am part of. I can’t get stuck in my office! And I only posted what I actually saw today! Our #AshlandSOAR hashtag showed me there was so much more magic that I didn’t even get to see today!

How did your day go?