Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Eastern Elementary - "Call Me Maybe"

Eastern Elementary has created a couple of great videos that have been shared with their students and on YouTube.  The teachers, principal and staff are willing to take a chance and let their students see another side of their educators.  Thanks to Lori Beth Mays for the description below. 

Link to Call Me Maybe

Link to All I Want for Christmas

Our staff loves to have fun and we are not camera shy!  Eastern has put together two different YouTube videos for our students.  We had a welcome back video and one before the holiday break.  I can only imagine what we will create for the end of the year.  It’s simple and easy to do.  Select a song that the students would enjoy and video your staff lip singing, dancing, or just being silly to the song.  Upload it to YouTube and share it with your students.  The students will love watching you act a fool. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Wellness Program

A wellness program is an awesome way to increase morale and to build staff relations.  In the next couple of weeks, I am going to highlight a couple of programs that we are doing in Scott County Schools.  The first program is created by Mrs. Amanda Wands, Health and P.E. teacher at Scott County High School.  The below description is the email sent from Mrs. Wands to the SCHS staff. I love the diversity of the program and the fact it uses the resources that are available.  I also love the fact they are encouraged to meet during the weekends.

Here is the information for our wellness program.  Let me know if you have any questions!  :)

We are going to do two, four-week sessions.  After this first session, we can evaluate it and change it up, if need be.  It will begin next Monday, FEBRUARY 4th.  This will give us 8 weeks to get our behinds in shape before spring break.  :)  After our break, maybe we can squeeze in one more if there is enough interest.

This first four-week session will be as follows:

Tuesdays--Walking/running and strength conditioning
Thursdays--Walking/running and strength conditioning

The locations will vary depending on the other activities going on that day.  We will utilize the upper auditorium, the hallways and stairwells, and the gymnasiums.  Wear comfortable clothing.  For all days except Yoga days, where a good pair of tennis shoes.  We will start at 4:00 and go through 4:45.

Yoga info--
If you have a yoga mat, please bring it.  I have some mats I can bring out for those who do not have one.  The cost per session is $4.  (They usually charge $9.)  That makes it $16 for the four weeks.  They will also be bringing in some of their props for us to use.  There is a sign-up sheet in the front office.

Walking/running and strength conditioning info--

We will start and end with some stretching.  You will have a couple of options to do these days to help meet individual needs including walking or running as well as including stairs.   We'll start off using our own bodies as weights and will not need dumbells.  We'll go over everything before we begin next Tuesday.

ZUMBA info--

Is $2 a session for a total of $8 for all four weeks.  There is a sign-up sheet in the front office.  Beside the sign-up sheet is an envelope for the money.

Weekend info--
I will be encouraging everyone to get out and do something 2 of the 3 days we have off, even if is just walking for 20 minutes and doing some stretching.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mindsets - Book Study

Book studies are a great way to develop stronger staff relationships.  I highly recommend Carol Dweck's  Mindset as a book that will start great conversations. Conversations that have personally led me to consider how I have dealt with students and my own sons.  

Dweck believe there are two different types of mindsets, fixed and growth. Those with a fixed mindset believe their talents and abilities cannot be improved through any means. They feel that they are born with a certain amount of talent and typically do not wish to challenge their abilities due to the possibility of failure. Individuals with a fixed mindset frequently guard themselves against situations in which they feel they need to prove their personal worth. Challenges are frequently viewed negatively, instead of as an opportunity for personal growth.
People that practice a growth mindset believe abilities, such as athleticism and mathematical capacity, can be improved through hard work and persistence. When presented with an obstacle, those practicing a growth mindset tend to rise to the challenge. Often, people of the growth mindset do not fear failure; instead, they view it as a chance to improve themselves.

Conversations from our book study have focused not only how we can create growth mindets in our students, children and ourselves.  But it has also led to conversations how we have been creating fixed mindsets by the ways we often teach and praise our students and children. 
Personally through the book study and reading Mindset, I have changed my attitude of how to approach challenges.  I am more apt to embrace struggles instead of giving up after a initial failures.  
To learn more about the book Mindset, I have added a link: Mindset.  I have also added a graphic that is at the end of the book that better explains the difference between a Growth and Fixed Mindset. Please feel free to share with me if you have other books that have generated quality staff discussions.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Super Bowl Picks (The Harbowl)

Super Bowl XLVII will be the first time two brothers will oppose each other as head coaches.  As the Harbaughs square off in the biggest day in sports, you too can have a competition for your staff.  Below are my "lines" for the 2013 Super Bowl.  When setting the sheet, create some lines that don't deal with actually game.  Questions such as "what will be the first advertisement after kickoff? and what will Beyonce first song be? will enable more to participate.

Feel free to copy and paste to create your own competition.  Also, if you have unique lines for your competition, send me an email.  Have fun and go Jack and Jackie Harbaugh.

2013 Super Bowl (The Harbowl)
2 Points for each correct answer

1.       Who will win the game?

2.       Who will win the coin toss?

3.       Which product will have the first advertisement after kickoff?

4.        (Circle One) Who will score the first touchdown?   Anquan Bolden, Ray Rice, Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, other

5.        Over/Under/Push          Total Points Scored = 48

6.       (Circle One) Super Bowl MVP? Colin Kaepernick, Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, Justin Smith, other

7.       Which team will score first?

8.       Over/Under/Push           Flacco touchdown passes = 2

9.       Over/Under/Push           Kaepernick interceptions = 1

10.   Over/Under/Push            Longest field goal = 45 yards

11.   Over/Under/Push            Total points at halftime = 26

12.   Over/Under/Push            Number of Torrey Smith receptions = 5

13.   Over/Under/Push            Number of rushing yards for Frank Gore = 70

14.   Final score of game.  Closest team to correct score will receive 5 extra points.

15.   What will Beyonce first song be at halftime?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Spring Fitness

Take this time to plan an event for the Spring.   We all love to look forward to a special event and an easy one to is to plan to participate in a local road race.  As Spring grows nearer, there will be numerous races every weekend.  Signing up for a race about two months in advance motivates you to get into shape and gives you a goal to work toward.

Send out an invitation to your staff to participate and have opportunities for staff to meet once or twice a week to prepare for the race.  Find a 3K to 5K race and encourage all to participate no matter fitness level.  The focus is to participate and to spend time together outside of work.

For my blog followers in Central Kentucky, a great place to find race information is John's Run/Walk Shop.  This link will take you to the Race Calendar.  If you would like to join me this Spring, I have already signed up for the Shamrock Shuffle on March 16th.  You can sign-up  at this link Shamrock Shuffle Registration.

Wherever you live, the key is getting fit is often easier when you make it a social event.  Have fun and I hope to see you on the road.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Most Depressing Week of the Year

I have posted about Blue Monday before but as the "Most Depressing Week of the Year" is near, I thought it may be appropriate to post again.  The third week of January seems to be most depressing because:  we have often broken our resolutions by then, the weather is usually bad, our holiday spending is now coming in the form of a credit card bill, the days are short and it seems it will be a while until another vacation time.

We can give into the gloom of the moment or take the opportunity to celebrate the occasion.  Plan a contest or special event during this week and let the staff know you are doing it to celebrate "the most depressing week of the year."   Take this opportunity to change the mindset of how we handle adverse situations in life.
The ole saying is when life gives you lemons .....

If you want more about this time of year, I have copied and pasted information on how to change you mood this time of year.

Depressing, huh? Try to cheer up, though, because there are plenty of ways to beat back the oh-so-common winter blues, starting with the basics: certain types of food. 

"Definitely aim to eat salmon for the mood boosting properties found in omega 3s," nutritionist Mitzi Dulan, co-author of The All-Pro Diet, tells Yahoo! Shine. As for drinking, skip the alcohol, which can deplete your happiness and energy levels, and replace with copious amounts of water. "People often forget to hydrate well in the winter," Dulan says, adding that, for a treat, "a portion-controlled piece of chocolate can boost your mood, as it stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain, which improve mood." 

Finally, she suggests, swallow a dose of Vitamin D while you're at it-or get outside for a while if it's a sunny day-as the vitamin "increases serotonin levels in the brain, which affect your mood." 

Before you head outside, you might want to pull on your running shoes so you can break into a jog, because exercise, of course, is also a known cheerer-upper. Physical activity can reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better, according to the CDC, and the Mayo Clinic reports that exercise helps ease depression by releasing serotonin in the body, cleansing immune system chemicals, boosting self-confidence and taking thoughts off of anxieties. 

Getting yourself into the light has other benefits, too, Terman, says. Light therapy can keep your circadian rhythms--whether you are inherently a late-night person or an early riser--in check through winter. "This can greatly reduce the seasonal burden," he says, suggesting that, to find out what you inner clock thinks is early or late, and when best to try light therapy, take the free, online chronotype questionnaire offered by the Center for Environmental Therapeutics (of which Terman is president). 

Aiming to cheer up someone else is yet another way to yank yourself out of your pity party. "Sometimes there's no better mood lifter than getting out of your own head space and focusing on doing something good for another person," One Good Deed: 365 Days of Trying to Be Just a Little Bit Better author Erin McHugh told Yahoo! Shine. "It doesn't need to be big: I find little and constant can be life-changing. It's a truism that you get more than you give, and I defy you to do something nice for someone else and walk away without a spring in your step. Bring a flower. Tell a funny story to cheer someone. Give a compliment. Write a note. It all works." 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Snow Day Pool

A quick and easy competition between teachers is to have a Snow Day Pool.  Have teachers predict the number of snow days in a school year. Teachers write down on a piece of paper his or her final prediction.   A rule to consider is to have the winner pick the closest without being under the final number.  Announce as teachers are eliminated and announce the teachers that are currently the closest as the snow days add up over the winter.   You can hand out simple prizes such as lunch, snow shovels or cover a class in the Spring.

Friday, January 11, 2013

National Clean Off Your Desk Day

The following is an idea from my wife Beth Southworth, I invite you to follow her blog at:Frank Lee Family History Finding unusual days such as National Clean Off Your Desk Day are some of the most effective ways to motivate staff.  As we pull away from the holiday season, it is fun to celebrate for the pure joy of celebrating. 

January 14th is National Clean Off Your Desk Day.  Teachers could compete in a
contest vying for the cleanest/neatest desk.  Custodians could act as judges as
they clean classrooms after school that day.  You could include student desks,
too, and give awards for cleanest classroom. Possible awards include:  A life-size cut-out of Mr. Clean, a bucket of classroom cleaning supplies, cookies or donuts for the class.

Minute to Win It

If you are struggling to create a Team Competition, don’t hesitate to use ideas that are already successful.  A competition we have with our staff are task that are on the game show “Minute to Win It”.    

Task such as: Face the Cookie in which the contestant, using only their face, must move two Oreo cookies individually from their forehead to their mouth or Hanky Panky where the contestant must quickly pull all the tissues out of a box of 160 tissues, one at a time, using only one hand.

It is often difficult to create new and original ideas for competitions.  Websites such as Minute to Win It Game Ideas   give over 150 game ideas for quick and simple competitions with your staff.  We usually have three different task each time we have a competition and give team points for completing the task.  We also ask that a person can only complete one of the three task and that everyone gets a chance to compete if they wish to try. 

Contestants will place themselves in unusual positions, it may be fun to have a camera ready to capture them completing the task. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Positive Note

Often we focus on changing behavior through discipline.  Scott County Middle School is taking a different approach by recognizing positive behavior.  I want to thank Jeri Fendley, Dean of Students at Scott County Middle School, for sharing the post below.   

We all love to be praised by someone.  Scott County Middle teachers have taken on a Positive Note to help build relationships with students and parents.  Each teacher chooses five students in their homeroom class to send a positive(praise) note home to the parents.  Teachers do this once a month until every child in their homeroom has received a positive note.  The feedback we have received from parents has been incredible.  Students even comment about the note to their teachers.  It’s all a part of building relationships with students. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Teacher Survival Kit

 One of my goals with this blog is to create a platform to share team competitions and ways to motivate staff.   Our counselors give our new teachers a “Survival Kit” as school begins.  The kit below is created for teachers but could be adopted for other professions.  I have always appreciated how our counselors help new employees feel they are valued and supported.  

The following is shared by the counselors of Scott County High School and Elkhorn Crossing School.  My thanks to Maria Lyons, Christina Watford, Nick Maxwell, Julie Karcher and Rosalie Calloway the creators of the New Teacher Survival Kit.  Congrats on being the first guest contributor to the blog. 

  New Teacher Survival Kit

1.  Water…to remind you that “water” is necessary for life and you need it to bloom where you are planted.  We are glad you are “planted” at ECS/SCHS!
2.     Sponge…to remind you to absorb everything your co-workers, students, and parents are sharing with you.
3.     Tissues…to dry tears of an upset student or a friend –or to dry your own!!
4.    Band-Aid…to heal the hurt feelings of someone!
5.     Kisses…to remind you to show you care every day.
6.    Pencil…to write something positive on a student’s assignment.
7.     Hearts…to open your heart to love-- “To learn and never be filled, is wisdom; to teach and never be weary, is love.” 
8.    Toothpick…to remind you not to be too picky.
9.    Rubber band…to remind you to be flexible.
10.  Paper Clip…to help you hold things together.
11.   Highlighter…to remind you to “highlight” the positive things that happen each day.
12.   Post-it notes… keep a list of all the wonderful things you do and all the wonderful things you want to do!
13.   Payday…to remind you that your “pay day” is coming soon!
14.  Cents…to have enough “sense” to realize what a valuable asset you are to our school.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
 William Arthur Ward

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Intercom Tunes

Playing music over the intercom is a simple method to increase staff morale.  Below are three simple ways to use music to lift up staff's spirits:

1.  Friday at 4:00 Tunes.  For years we would play a song with a "weekend" theme at the end of day on Friday.  Almost any song by Jimmy Buffet, "Switchin' to Glide", "Everybody's working for the weekend" and many more.  The following site has other ideas:  Weekend song ideas. A simple tradition such as Friday at 4:00 Tunes allows staff to begin to relax and to celebrate the coming of the weekend.  Consider letting a staff member select the song and have the other staff members attempt to guess the song title and which staff member made the selection.

2.   Class Change Tunes. A simple twist to having music during class changes is to allow staff members select one of his or her favorite songs.  We added a contest to this by having the other staff email the title of the song along with who he or she believed selected the song.  We would give our a simple prize to who was the first to answered both correctly.

3.  Team Fight Song.  Playing your school's team fight song during class change is a great way to increase morale on game day.

Music is one of the most effective ways to increase morale.  If you have methods to use music to increase morale please email ideas to and I will share.  I will end this blog with The Kings and "Switchin' to Glide"(Nothing matters but the weekend from a Tuesday point of view)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

First Publication

The purpose of the blog is to give opportunities to share Team Competitions and other innovative ways to increase staff morale.  Below is the first competition that is described the book Team Competitions .

1.  Scavenger Hunt

Suggested Time:   12-15 minutes
Suggested Points:  5 points per item

Our scavenger hunt has a different twist.  We create a list of 15 to 20 items or characteristics that our staff must find among our students.  Items our competitors had to find in the past include: a receipt from The Waffle House, set of twins, a drivers license with a certain birthday or a John Deere hat.  A list from a recent scavenger hunt is included below. 

            The objective is to find each item on the list from a student and then have the student and the item report to a judge to get credit. We have a 15 minute period of time when students arrive at school before they report to first hour.  As students are preparing for the day or getting off the bus, staff members are looking for things on their list throughout the school.

We have one volunteer judge keep a list for each team and once an item was reported to the judge, the students are told by the judge that another team cannot use their item to get credit again. Judges mark off each item as it is reported to them. It may help to have the judge write the name of the student with the item to keep other teams from using the item again.

Our scavenger hunt is created for a school but can easily be adapted for other organizations.  When creating your list include some items that multiple students may have, some items that only a few students may have, and then a couple of items that only one or two students may have.  Items that are common to only one or two students may take some additional time and planning. For our school, we would look on the student database and find a student with a certain birthday; competitors have to find the student with that birthday and report to a judge to get credit.  Your organization will have your own unique items.

The following page has examples of items we have included in past Scavenger Hunts. 

Staff Scavenger Hunt

Find the following among our students:

1.   A Kentucky quarter
2.    Student with 13 letters in his or her last name
3.   IPod with Hank Williams Jr. on the playlist
4.   A Livestrong bracelet
5.   Any clothing item with “rival team” on it.
6.    A two dollar bill
7.    A shirt with Georgetown Middle on it
8.    A shirt with Scott County Middle on it.
9.    A  D.A.R.E. shirt
10.   A football jersey that can be evenly divided by #9.
11.   An IPod with an episode of The Office.
12.   Set of fraternal or identical twins (both have to be present).
13.   A skateboard
14.   Anything from Starbucks
15.   2007 State Basketball Championship Ring

Email Trivia

Some post on this blog will not be Team Competitions but simple activities to increase staff morale.  The following is an example:  

Next time you need a quick and simple event for your staff, consider email trivia.  Set a time  every hour to send a trivia question by email to the staff.  In school we would send it out as soon as the bell to release class rang every hour for the entire day.  The first one to respond with the correct answer by email would win a simple prize (candy bar, lottery ticket etc...)  I would take the prize to the teacher during that class and  ask the teacher to select a number between 1-30 (if there were 30 students in the class, it would depend on the number on the class roster).  The number selected would then correspond to the student number on the roll.  That student would also get a candy bar or other simple prize.

This activity can easily be adapted for other workplaces.   As you plan this, there are two items to consider.  Let the staff know what time the questions should appear and think of trivia questions that are broad and not so specific that some staff couldn't answer.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year - Blue Monday

The New Year is a great opportunity to start a Team Competition.  January and February are months that can really use a little excitement.  A day to consider having a competition is Blue Monday.  Blue Monday is considered the most depressing day of the year.  The next Blue Monday is January 21st, 2013.  Why not take some time to celebrate this day with your staff of by doing a series of fun activities.  

To learn more about Blue Monday - click on the link.  The Most Depressing Day

The following two paragraphs discuss the six factors that lead to this day being so depressing.  

The original date of "Blue Monday" was mathematically calculated in 2005 by Dr. Cliff Arnall a researcher at Cardiff University. In 2005 Blue Monday fell on January 24th which was the 4th Monday of January. (MSN:news/Jan. 24, 2005 called worst day of the year).

Mr. Arnall created his formula for the most depressing day of the year by working six distinct factors into the equation: weather conditions (Gloomy old January and its typical lack of sunshine), debt level and our ability to pay that debt, time elapsed since Christmas, time elapsed since failing our New Years resolutions, our general seasonal motivational levels, and our need to take action and to have something to look forward to( During January, and depending on where you reside, there are no statutory holidays in the fore-see-able future. Gasp!).