Primary Chalkboard: Created by MrHughes
Showing posts with label Created by MrHughes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Created by MrHughes. Show all posts

Fostering A Positive School Culture- An Administrator's View!

     It can be felt by EVERY SINGLE PERSON that enters your building. The minute anyone opens your school doors and walks inside, an immediate impression is felt. Often it is one of happiness, structure, and confidence. Sometimes a building may have a sense of chaos, frustration, and discontent. Regardless of whether it is good or bad- the point is that it is there.
     Now, you might be wondering why this matters. One might say, "Who cares what I feel when I enter the school. As long as kids are learning and teachers are teaching, and administrators are dealing with discipline, then everything is right." Sadly, they couldn't be MORE wrong.
     In that instance someone comes into the building, an important connection is being made in their minds- this school is a good school, or, this school is not. It sounds so cliche and corny, but I truly believe that it happens.
     So, that being said, how does a school foster a positive culture? One where students enjoy coming each day to school, teachers are empowered to be their best, administrators devote their time to leading, and parents are confident and feel supported in the education process. 
     It isn't an easy undertaking, and one that may take months or even years to correct. 

Click on over to my blog, An Educator's Life, to read MY story and see ideas and suggestions for increasing the positive culture in YOUR school!

Thanks for stopping by!

-John Hughes
Elementary Principal
Owner, Created by MrHughes
Proud Member of The Elementary Chalkboard

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Getting the Most Out of Professional Development

You hear it announced at the beginning of the school day and you dread it ALL. DAY. LONG! Or, you are happily enjoying your summer break and you get an email or text that makes your heart drop... PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SESSION- attendance "optional", but not really, if you know what I mean.

Yup, we have all been there before. I will admit that in my 15 years of being in the world of education, I have sat through some pretty crumby professional development sessions/classes where I felt I knew more about the topic being presented than the presenter. I was grouchy and didn't want to listen or hear what was being discussed!

On the flip-side of that, I too, have sat through many AMAZING sessions of professional development where I left inspired, invigorated, and ready to get the proverbial party started!

I have spent the past couple of weeks reflecting on this topic. I am now an administrator who will be giving these professional development opportunities to my staff. What made some sessions so amazing, and others so lame?

I realized it was ME! It dawned on me that I played a HUGE role in the value I got out of those professional development sessions. I also realized that there were some key components to getting the most out of each and every session- regardless of the topic, the presenter, or the time of day!

So, read on, dear PD'er! I am excited to share a few of these tips with you!

1) Have A Positive Attitude
No I am not just saying this because I am a new principal. I have been a negative Ned most of my life. I tend to be very pessimistic about many things.  However, I found that when I had a positive attitude, even if I had to "pretend" I was glad about the PD session, that I was more attentive and willing to listen to what was being shared. I tried to smile more in the session and remind myself that something in this presentation WILL make me a better teacher!

Also, be sure to avoid or shut down negative talk about professional development. A simple, "Really? I am looking forward to our meeting today!" is usually enough to get the negative Nellys and Neds to zip it!

2) Get AND Use A PD Notebook/Journal
I learned the value of this from my second principal- Jane Friel. She was a ROCK STAR at modeling for us as teachers things to do and try in our classrooms during PD sessions and Faculty meetings. Each year we would get a new composition notebook that had our name, grade, and year on it. Sometimes were "required" to take notes or reflect on the the learning of the meeting, but mostly it was a place to write down key ideas and take-away points from articles/presentations that were part of the on-going PD at that school. I still have all THREE of the ones I received while working in her school. Even better, I still flip through them from time to time and find the learning still relevant to me today!

I found that when I listened with the foreknowledge of wanting to write down the key ideas, I was able to focus and truly listen. It made a HUGE difference in my learning and understanding.

3) Have A Discussion ASAP!
I have found that when I sit down, whether it is later that day or the next, with a colleague that also attended (or even one that didn't) and discuss key points, that I am able to better retain the information, get new insights from the person I am sharing with, and have a more positive experience overall. In fact, knowing that I will be sharing with someone else, makes me take better notes and ponder about ideas.

However, note that sitting next to your besties and talking off-topic the whole time will NOT be a helpful activity. Side-conversation is distracting to others around you and a real downer for the person presenting. To top it all off, it makes you look unprofessional as well- something we ALL want to avoid!

If no one wants to listen to you when it is all said and done, then write a Facebook post, blog post, share your ideas on Instagram, or even do a quick Periscope video- someone out there will listen and respond! I know I would!

So, I want to make it clear that I understand that some professional development will just suck eggs. That's all there is to it! Sometimes the required topics are annoying- or "just another thing" we have to do. But, if we refer to Tip #1, we will find that regardless of the topic- something useful, positive, and constructive can truly come from ANY training, in-service, or session you are required to attend.

And, if the offering is optional- make it a point to go. Knowing you are there because you CAN be and not because you HAVE to be, will also make a huge difference in your attitude and learning.

Now that I have shared my TOP 3 TIPS for GETTING THE MOST OUT OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT with you- it's YOUR turn! I would love to hear what tips you have to offer about how to get the most out of professional development! Leave your thoughts in the comment section below! I can't wait to hear from you! SCORE!

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful WEEK! WAHOO!

John, Created by MrHughes

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Don't miss the other AWESOME posts from this month. 
Click on the picture to learn and read more! WAHOO!

Summer Learning - Keep YOUR Learning Edge!

Greetings My Primary Chalkboard Peeps!
Summer break is either underway or nearing it's glorious entrance into your life! WAHOO! I just LOVE my summer break- it gives me a chance to recharge, relax, and start formulation my plan of attack for the next year.
This summer comes with a whole NEW challenge, as I was just hired as the administrator for my elementary school. I am just flat out stoked about it! I have a great vision of where I want my school to go and how we will get there. It will be a wonderful adventure and I can't wait to share all the details along the way both here and on my blog, An Educator's Life!
Anyways, I digress.
Over the summer, after I have had a chance to sleep in for a week or two, and have had a chance to tackle some projects that have been in the wings waiting, I begin to "wonder".
I wonder if I will be able to keep up the next year.
I wonder if I am aware of the most recent research that will give me the edge I need to help my next class.
I wonder if I was effective in my math instruction.
And my "wondering" goes on and on. I hope I am not alone in this line of thought!

So, my mind then goes to the next logical step... HOW TO ADDRESS all my wondering questions!

Every summer, I devote small amounts of time to reading educational blogs, articles, and professional magazines. In doing so, I find that I still enjoy my summer (hiking, swimming, reunions, and family outings), but I also have a game plan formulating in my teacher brain!

So what exactly DO I read?

That is a great question. Let me share a few of  my tips to MAKING time, and a few of the sites/books that I am currently reading and/or read from frequently!

1) Figure out what it is you want to improve in next year.
     -It can be overwhelming to try and read about LOTS of topics. Narrow it down to one or two and study the heck out of them!

2) Make time to read at least weekly.
     -I tried to MAKE myself read every day one summer. I found that it took the enjoyment out of my summer break, and that I started to resent the opportunity I was trying to make for myself. Now, I set a goal to read ONE article and ONE chapter from a professional text each WEEK! Tons of flexibility and still gives me some accountability. I also feel like I am able to think about what I read and consider if that new learning is worth adding to my skill set for the coming year. And, I can usually finish ONE book in a summer. Easy-Peasy!

3) Share what you are learning- start a blog, share on social media, keep a learning journal, or just simply tell a good friend- teacher or not- what you are learning about.
     -I think it is key in the summer learning cycle, to share what you are learning- with someone- anyone that will listen. I mean, don't become "that person" that scares others away, but find someone you can share your learning with. If you don't, you won't remember it!

4) Enjoy it AND your summer. Remember, this is simply to help you "up your game"! If it becomes tedious, or interferes, then simply adjust it. It's YOUR learning!


1) I just LOVE ASCD! Their Educational Leadership magazine is simply amazing. Here is a free SUMMER edition that ANYONE can read. Click HERE. Once you get to the link, use the left side of the screen to read the article you want to read.

2) Because I want my teachers to use data more to drive their instruction, I am focusing on data-driven classrooms this year. I am reading TWO different books on the topic currently. Again- I try to read one chapter a week in in each!
I am reading:
So far I am loving them! Learning lots about WHY data is important, and how to collect and use data that is helpful!

3) I also love reading newspaper articles each day about what is going on in my state in the education world. I feel empowered knowing what my state and patrons think about education, what the trends are, and what to expect during each legislative session. I also feel prepared to answer parents questions when they arise. In Utah, I love Utah Policy. I get a daily digest of newspaper links for major headline information. Education appears nearly everyday. You can subscribe HERE if you are from Utah (or if you want to read Utah policy).

4) I should own stock in this site. I think 1/2 my paycheck goes to them each month...ha ha. I search their site frequently for books/ebooks about the current topic I am studying. Sometimes there are great FREE E-editions that I will download.

I think that I have probably passed the TMI (Too Much Information) line, so I will leave it at that. Remember, that summer learning IS important, it IS easy, and it WILL help you be a better teacher this fall when you return to school.

Here is to an amazing summer break with a wonderful learning edge!

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Advent Calendar Adventure Day 7 from Created By MrHughes

Happy Holidays Friends!
John from Created by MrHughes here with Day 7 of the fun advent adventure!
I am SO excited to be sharing two great gifts with you today!

First, I am thrilled to share my I Have, Who Has 'Twas the Night Before Christmas edition.

Students have to listen to be able to read the next part. They are only given the last few words of the sentence before them. Perfect for comprehension as well. So, listening/comprehension/teamwork all in one FREE resource- TOTAL SCORE! WAHOO! Not only that, but my kiddos love to time themselves and then try to complete it faster each time we read it. I hope you enjoy this wonderful holiday gift!

Secondly, I am going to do the unthinkable! I am going to offer my popular Christmas Dodecahedron Project at 50% off today! WAHOO!

That's right- one of my top-rated resources is only going to be $2.50 today! Get it while you can, because it return to FULL PRICE tomorrow!



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SitSpots, Math Facts Show Down, and Lines...OH MY!

      Okay, I have to be honest here- when I first heard about Sit Spots, I didn't think they would have any place in my 6th grade classroom. After all, my kids don't need to be reminded where to sit on the floor, and I didn't want them to be "toys". But, I decided to look at their product line anyways.

     As I browsed the Sit Spots shop looking at their line of products, I found these:

     You might asking yourself "WHAT ARE THOSE?"

     Just the COOLEST lines ever!!! These Sit Spot lines are vivid colors that the students can't miss. The custodian can vacuum over them, and they don't (at least they haven't YET) picked up dirt and mess. They have been down now for 20 days of school and they look brand spankin' new. My 6th grades tromp all over them.
     I placed these four lines where I needed the students to stay in place. Now, when we line up to go down the hall, the number of the day is told to line up on the red line. The other students line up behind. No more peeking in and out of the doorway, or goofing around. My 6th graders know exactly where to be!

     We also do activities at my SMART Board and before my lines, the students would tend to crowd the board. NOW, they don't because they have to stay behind the line or go to the end of it. ha ha. Works like a charm! Here are some examples:

     The blue and green ones that you see in the top picture are my Math Facts Show Down lines. We do math facts show down and that is where the two contenders must stand. For math facts show down, two students stand on the lines and I show them a math fact flash card. First one to say it get to the card and stays on my right (I stand facing the students). The non-winning student goes to the end of the line and the next student in line steps up to the green line. We do this until I run out of cards. The winner stays until he/she loses. At the end, the students count how many cards they have and we cheer!

     I can't tell you how much I love having these lines. I also got several other Sit Spots products that I will be using soon and will share how it goes with those as well.

Sit Spots offers a free sample to see if they will work in your room! WAHOO!
Click HERE to send for your free sample. Totally worth the time.

Thanks for stopping by-
John, Created by MrHughes

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How-To: An Easy Way to Post Planner Information & Reminders

Greetings Everyone!
John Hughes here, from Created by MrHughes! I am SO excited to be a part of the primary chalkboard and represent all the upper grade teachers out there! WAHOO!

Today, I want to share a quick way to post your daily homework assignments for students to see. I just moved rooms this year so I had a bit of a dilemma! In my old classroom, I had a white board that was dedicated to the daily planner information. I choose to leave what I write for homework up ALL WEEK so that students who are absent can see what they need to do to catch up, OR, so that students CAN see that I really DID assign "that" assignment. 

In my new classroom, there just wasn't a board that I could use. I was really quite unhappy about it as this is part of my teaching routine and one that I don't want to change! (If you don't do planners, this is still a great way to write reminders of upcoming events for the week and such). 

As I was going through the treasures that were left by the previous retiring teacher, I found a box of old whiteboards that were cut from shower wall material. As I counted them out, I was pleased to see that I would have plenty of extra boards. I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do.

-5 Whiteboards (or similar writing surfaces)
-3 Inch Mailbox Letters (I got mine at Wal-Mart for $3.00)
-Double-Sided Tape (You want heavy duty tape for this)
-Cupboards/Space to Hang Boards

First, you will need to mark each board with the day of the week. I only use the first letter (except for Thursday, which I use a TH).
(Monday was hung up before I took the picture- Opps!)

I put a good amount of double-stick tape on the back. You don't want them falling off and breaking.
Decide where you want to hang the boards. Mine are pretty high up, but I am tall and can reach them easily. I love that the students CAN'T reach them!

This is what mine look like hanging up. It is simple, clean looking, and just big enough to write their daily homework and reminders on (I give VERY little homework).

Here is a day up-close:
I write the date, subject, and assignment. EASY-PEASY!

My administrator LOVES it because he can see what assignments I have been giving just by looking on my wall, and parents love it because they can pop in and see what we have been doing as well.

I hope this easy tip will inspire you create a space to share your assignments!
Cheers and have a great school year-
John, Created by MrHughes

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