Monday, January 26, 2015

Have You Ever Wanted to Become a Principal?

I have always had this inner desire to become a principal. Soon after I accepted the fact that I probably wasn't going to become the first women President of the United States, I had my eyes set on being a principal. Despite sounding completely cheesy, I guess one could say I was destined to become a leader.

Officially, my teaching journey began as I accepted my first teaching position 10 years ago. I became a preschool teacher in my home town. I loved the kids, I did not love the pay. I wanted more respect and better income. I knew that I wasn't going to find it there and I knew deep down that I need to try something new. 

Las Vegas almost fell into my lap. If I have realized one thing in my life, when opportunities land in your lap, take them and do anything in order to make them happen. Las Vegas wasn't an opportunity that I was going let slip by and I decided to give it a try. I told myself that I could survive anything for a year. I told myself that if it didn't work out, that I could always move back home.

Well, Las Vegas did work out! I taught 9 wonderful years with the Clark County School District (CCSD) in kindergarten, first, second, and fourth grades. I was able to travel to over 20 countries with the People to People organization. I have met some amazing people throughout this journey including my wonderful husband. I have worked extremely hard to become a National Certified Teacher. I discovered Teachers Pay Teachers and it has shaped me into a better teacher with my world-wide connections and passion for blogging.

If all that wasn't enough, I still had that inner desire to become a principal. That's when I received information about a new cohort program at University of Las Vegas (UNLV). It was a Masters in Urban Leadership and right away I knew it was the program meant for me. I was thrilled with the part of it being a cohort program because I would get to work closely with a small group of people. I also liked the idea of Urban Leadership. I have experienced so much different cultures with all my traveling and this was the opportunity to explore this concept further. It was just a good fit. Therefore, I put my eyes on the prize.

The application process was not easy and I had a lot of competition, but I went into the interview with nothing to lose. I put it all out on the table and really showed them who I was. Fast forward a few months and, guess what...I made it into the program!

Now, the real fun begins ;)

I had my first class on Saturday. I am about to go complete my first assignment and write a reflection of class one, but I wanted to get it all on here first. After the class on Saturday, they held a night reception for all the cohort members, principals, mentors, and important administration from UNLV and CCSD. I felt honored to be at a such a nice gathering. Here are some snapshots from the night...

 Here I am with a fellow co-worker and dear friend, Melanie Boyer, who also made it into the program. In the middle is my current principal, Dr. Cailin Ellis. She is always motivating me to be better and was huge supporter of me getting into the program!

 Here is the whole group. In the front left is our superintendent, Pat Skorkowsky. He is very down-to-earth and gave a truly inspiring speech.

Thanks for letting me share a little bit of me personally today. What an exciting journey this is going to be!  Any bits of advice is surely welcomed! :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Make a Compliment Jar

A co-worker told me about an amazing idea a few weeks ago and it was one of those ideas that I just had to implement immediately.  I introduce to you...
the compliment jar!

So, here is how it works...
Every morning the students come in and pick a chip with someone else's name on it.  **eyes closed**  Then, they put the chip they picked in their pocket (or shoe for those with no pockets).  Sometime throughout the day, the student will give a compliment to the person whose name is on their chip.  It is really important that they never reveal whose name they had for the day and at the end of the day, the chips get returned into the basket.

These little "random" acts of kindness really spread the love around the classroom!

Want to make your own?
So, easy!
All I did was write every student's name on a chip.  I used red/yellow chips that I had several of, but poker chips or any small item could also be used.

Then, place them in a small container so students can pick a name everyday!  That's it!

1. I am going to transfer the names to labels instead of using a sharpie because names sometimes rub off the red/yellow chips.
2. Start with a few reminders including remembering to keep it secret, remembering to give a compliment without revealing you picked that person's chip, and remembering to return the chips at the end of the day.  With these little reminders in the beginning, it will become routine without much effort.
3. Include your name and the teacher will pick a chip everyday too!

Good luck making your compliment jar!  
Seeing the kindness being spread across the room = priceless.
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