Sunday, June 30, 2013

Vacation, Planning, and an Apple Settlement

Family Vacation

Having been on a family vacation the past week or so, I have found it difficult to find time to write or plan for the blog.  Our family had some vacation firsts.  The kids flew on a plan for the first time and the five of us survived living in a small hotel room for 5 days.

I had a very moving experience during the trip.  I had promised myself that I would jog the National Mall to some extent and had mapped out a planned run that would take me out to the Lincoln memorial.  I woke up at 6:30 am and started on my journey.  Having walked over 10 miles the previous 2 days, I took my time.  When I got to the memorial, I found myself the only person there.


I was able to take the above panorama without anyone else around.  It seemed like forever, but was probably more like 5 minutes before anyone else showed up.  I was moved by the grandeur of the monument.   I moved out to the steps and looked out to the Washington monument and the Capital building in the distance.
Throughout the week, I was continuously amazed at the purposeful planning and collaboration that had occurred to make all of these structures work together seamlessly.


I had some time to plan out a schedule that I will try and follow for the blog.  I plan on posting on Wednesdays under the following schedule each month.

Education Technology
Personal Growth
Educational Leadership
Open Topic

Apple Class Action Settlement

I received an interesting email this past weekend regarding a class action settlement that I may be a part of.  The gist of it was that if your child made an unauthorized in-app purchase on a qualified app, you could be eligible for a $5 credit or a refund of the amount hat was charged to you.  Sure enough I recalled that Lauren had bought some coins for some animal game a couple of years ago without our permission.  The process to submit for the credit is easy and took me 5 minutes to complete.  You can find out more information here,

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Leadership Baseline Data

I start as a new Principal in a few months and wanted to get some baseline data of myself so that I had something to compare.  No, there isn't a test I can take that would make it easy to score and have results.

Baseline and Meridian

I did find a very effective way to create some baseline data for myself to reflect on and develop goals and outcomes; rubrics.  In this day of multiple choice tests, we often forget about rubrics.  They are an effective way to evaluate how well someone is doing, articulate where someone is, and identify where someone needs to go.  They are useful in all aspects of education.  Finding the right rubric for myself as a principal ended up being much easier than I thought it would.

The Marshall Memo is some of the best money our district spent in regards to improving educational practice.  For $50 a year (cheaper per person if you buy for more), you get Kim Marshall going through 64 education journals and periodicals.  He then sends you weekly summaries of 5-10 articles from them to your email inbox.  Topics always seem to be related to what my district is working on or discussing.  He is also an author and has contributed to the greater research on education.  Kim has taken all of his research and complied a very comprehensive evaluation rubric for Principals.

I completed the rubric (along with my fellow Principals) to serve as my baseline data as I develop goals for myself this year.  Since this is my first go at a Principal, I did not have some of the necessary experience or frames of reference to accurately evaluate myself in some areas.  In those cases, I tended to go with a 2 ranking because I didn't think I was awful, but also wanted room for improvement.  For the sake of tracking I created a spreadsheet in Google Apps to make it easier to calculate.

My overall rankings (4 point scale with 4 being highest) were,
  • Strategy - 2.0
  • First Things First - 1.8
  • Curriculum and Data - 2.3
  • Talent Development - 1.7
  • Culture - 1.8
  • Management - 2.1
Since this is a self evaluation, I am probably harder on myself than others would be and I am probably not in alignment with my fellow principals, YET.  However, the results didn't surprise me.  The areas I personally feel need work ended up scoring low and the areas I excel scored higher.  My personal goals will end up being centered around Culture and First Things First.  The reason I didn't focus on Talent Development has more to do with our district's current financial situation than my lack of ability to develop talent (I certainly won't ignore it though).  The rubric descriptions provide a very clear vision of what I should be achieving.

This particular rubric is great for long term goal planning, but not really good for day to day evaluation.  Again, Kim Marshall provides a great tool; Nine Hundred Lessons.  This tool is great and can be adapted to just about anything.  The basic premise is rating whatever you are evaluating or self evaluating on "a 4-3-2-1 scale, 4 being master-teacher level performance, 3 being solid professional practice, 2 mediocre, 1 unsatisfactory."  I plan to develop a daily Google Form where I enter my own rating as a principal on a day to day basis.  Simple to do and simple to track.

Baseline and Meridian - by Chuck Coker

Friday, June 14, 2013

Father's day gift

My personal focus for almost 2 years has been my health.    Being a "techie," I do a lot (ALOT) of sitting at a desk.  I love to snack and my snack of choice is any kind of cracker.  In 2011, I looked like this at the annual family summer gathering,

IMG_0747 IMG_0475

I never really saw myself this way, but when I saw these pictures, I asked myself, "do I really look like that?" It took me a couple of months but I finally started on my path to fitness and health.

People often ask me what I did to lose the weight and I laugh and say, "I ate less and exercised more."  I approached my weight loss with the mantra, I can eat anything I want, just not everything I want.

The changes in my body have been amazing to say the least.  I have lost,

  • 65 pounds
  • 8 inches from my chest
  • 9 inches from my belly
  • 6 in from my waist
  • 3 inches from my neck
  • 10 pant sizes (from 46 to 36)

I have been on a plateau for quite some time, so I started with a personal trainer (a former student of mine) back in January.  Most recently I have started running more to shake things up.  All of that has helped, but ultimately it is about eating.  My doctor told me, "you can't out exercise your diet."  She is absolutely right, when I am eating less, the weight comes off.

I have a goal of losing 25 more pounds by my two year anniversary of starting this path (October 2013).

This Father's day I will be running in my first "sponsored" 5k run.  It is my gift to myself.  I suppose all that really means is I am paying to do something I have been working on for the last 3 months.  I am looking forward to the event and already signed up for the Color Run in Sacramento this August.

The person from 2011 doesn't exist anymore; at least from the outside.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Welcome to one of my endless attempts at having a "blog."  Being a new Principal at an elementary school starting this next school year will probably give me lots of material that I can use as a foundation to build upon.

My initial approach will be to focus on one of four things every week in a rotation.
  • Education
  • Education Technology
  • Educational Leadership
  • Personal Growth
That's my best guess at this point and we will see how well I can keep up the pace.