Thursday, February 28, 2013

Beating the February Fatigue

Today's blog idea comes from Matt Thompson.  Matt is currently Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning for Scott County Schools.  Below he describes a contest he conducted as principal of Deep Springs Elementary.  The staff would turn in a comic with an alternate caption  based on the theme or topic on top of the comic.  When all comics with captions were submitted, a judging team would rank the entries and the one with the best score would win a gift certificate for dinner.  What a great idea that allows your staff to be both creative but also blow off some steam.

Below is more on the contest, the scoring criteria and three of the comics that were used for the contest.

Starting this week we will have new contest in which someone will win a gift certificate to one of Lexington’s many wonderful restaurants each week.

Each week, we will hand out a comic (strip or one panel) with a specific topic.  Your job will be to provide the caption for the comic within the requested topic.  Points will be awarded for:
  • Creativity
  • Humor
  • Links to life/experiences at Deep Springs
Below is a sample of something that would be appropriate:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mock Interviews

A good way to motivate teachers and staff is to highlight unique events they organize.   The other evening  I participated in such an event.  The biomedical teachers at Elkhorn Crossing School set up mock interview session for senior students with members of the community.  Outside of the official interview, the students, teachers, administrators and members of the community were able to mingle and become more familiar with the expectations of the business world.  This was a great night for all involved.    As we look for ways to make learning more relevant and to find ways to incorporate the local community, I recommend reading the description below.

The biomedical sciences village at Elkhorn Crossing School hosted the first annual Professional Night at ECS. Fifteen seniors completing the capstone biomedical innovations course participated in mock interviews with industry professionals to gain real world experience in the interview process.  Prior to Professional Night, Dr. Adams, biomedical sciences instructor, worked with students on creating a resume and letter of application for current job opportunities and future dream careers. Students also received a crash course on professional interview attire. With resume in hand, students participated in two mock interviews on Professional Night with extensive feedback from industry professionals on their overall performance.  
Click on picture to see  large panoramic view

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hats Off To Our Staff

As I said in mentioned in my last post, I am going to highlight some of the events from Eastern Elementary's Sunshine Club.  Below is part of an email that promotes a upcoming Read-a-Thon and it also promotes the teachers and staff.  What I really like is  the promotion shows all staff members and it promotes the importance of reading to students.  

Eastern Elementary has a new way to celebrate its staff …. with a display created by Erica Wachter saying “Hats Off To Our Staff!”  All staff members posed with a Dr. Seuss striped hat for a photo which was then displayed in the front hallway.  The display is a part of the birthday celebration for Dr. Seuss that Eastern will be having on March 7th at 6:30.  It is also part of the Read-a-thon which also begins on March 7th

Friday, February 22, 2013

Eastern's Sunshine Club

One of my major goals with the blog is to create a format to share ideas.  If you have an idea or event that you would like to share, send me an email and I will post it.  Below, I highlight part of an email from Kelsey Davis of Eastern Elementary.

Really awesome stuff is going on at Eastern Elementary in Georgetown, Ky.  Kelsey Davis and the teachers are organizing a "Sunshine Club", a club that will focus on how to have monthly events to increase student and staff morale.  Over the next couple of weeks I will highlight different aspects and events of the club.
One of the first events is a contest to match faculty names to his or her baby picture.  This is such a great contest because of the conversations it will generate among the faculty.  I have copied and pasted part of the email below that describe part of the process.  I will add other ideas from the "Sunshine Club" and hopefully a couple of the official baby pictures over the next week or two.

One of our first official orders of business is a contest involving your oh-so-adorable baby pictures and trying to identify who the faculty member is. There  are prizes involved for the best guesser! Anyone and everyone is welcome to submit a picture – the more the merrier! So please, please, please send me some baby pictures (email me the file or let me borrow the real deal for a quick scan) by MONDAY.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Student of the Week

A lot of schools recognize "Students of the Week".  In today's blog, I will highlight how Scott County High School not only recognizes academic excellence but also highlights students for leadership, effort, spirit and most improved. By recognizing students in different areas, it appreciates different strengths and it helps develop an appreciation for hard work and growth.  To develop a "Growth Mindset" we must recognize student effort and their willingness to push themselves for constant improvement. The program at SCHS does a great job of recognizing student and helps develop a growth mindset with the students. 

Mrs. Julie Marshall, French teacher, organizes the program.  One of the most unique aspects of the program is the prize list students get to select his or her prizes. What I really like is how teachers and administration personalize prizes as they add their own unique ideas to the list.  There is even a prize that allows lunch with the Principal.  Below is a list of prizes students can select: 

   Student of the Week Prize List
Please choose one(1) and return to Mrs. Marshall in Rm 246
Student’s Name:____________________
____10 minute extended lunch 1 day during your week (to be arranged with your 4th hour teacher)
____Ticket to a sporting event of your choice (non-tournament)
____ Homemade cookies from Mrs. Napier
____2 free homework passes for Mrs. Marshall’s French class
____ 2 free tickets to the fall play
____ two free tickets to the spring musical
____ 2 free tickets to the fall choral concert
____ 2 free tickets to the winter choral concert
____ 2 free tickets to the Ice Cream concert
____ Exemption from 1 reading quiz- GOPO
____  Drop lowest quiz grade in GOPO
____ Drop lowest grade in APUSH (excluding tests)
____ Drop a homework grade from Mrs. Adkins
____ Candy bar from Mr. Marshall
____ 2008-2009 yearbook
____ 2010-11 yearbook
____  library fines forgiven
____ brownies from Mrs. Feeback
____ m&m chocolate chip cookies from Mrs Murphy
____ Drop lowest grade in WHAP (excluding tests and quizzes) (Mrs. Booth)
____ Exemption from one reading quiz or homework questions in WHAP (Booth)
____ one cheesecake from Mr. Maxwell (1 only per semester)
____ pizza lunch with Mr. Howatt
____ two bathroom passes for Ms. Manlief
____ 1 dropped weekly quiz from Ms. Mucio
____ No bake cookies from Mrs. Dant
____ drop lowest quiz score for Mrs. Faulkner’s World Civ or US history class
____ Drop lowest homework grade in Mrs. Beckett’s class
____ 1 day late pass in AP Biology with Ms. Spears
____ Drop lowest grade on the 9 weeks for Biology with Ms. Spears
____ One no dress day in PE from Mrs. Wands
____  $3 McDonalds gift certificate from Ms. Nichols
____ bag of gummy bears from Mr Gravitt
____ free rice krispie treat or no bake cookies from Mrs Pope’s class on Friday

Along with the prize students are recognized on a bulletin board at the front entrance of SCHS.   

SCHS also recognizes an outstanding member of the faculty along with a parent or volunteer of the week.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day.

I encourage each of us as we start the work week to take time to make another person's day a little bit better.  It doesn't take much to make another person's day.  Ann Curry started 26 Random Acts of Kindness after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. I challenge each of us to keep the spirit of these 26 Acts alive.

Consider some of the following for February 17th or any day of the year:

Pay for another person's lunch Make copies for someone else Cover another person's duty Let someone else in front of you in lineBuy lunch for the police or firemen If you need other ideas, I have included a few links below: 
Random Acts of Kindness Ideas
102 Random Acts

Saturday, February 16, 2013



The post below from the administration of Scott County Middle School proves you don't need to spend money to reward your staff.  Sometimes a little time off means the world to your teachers and staff.  Thanks to Cristina Green for sharing the following idea from the administration of SCMS.  

Staff members at SCMS participate in the fun of earning tickets and rewards for going above and beyond every day at their job just like students! We have been working hard to find fun and creative ways to reward staff members since their tastes differ significantlyJ. One very motivating reward we have found is our GOOSE. (Thanks to Melinda Halsey at Western and her donation of a red goose!). GOOSE stands for “Get Out Of School Early” and our teachers have a chance to win the GOOSE at each raffle drawing and have an administrator cover the last 30 minutes of their day. Some staff members have even suggested variations such as, rather than leaving early they would like to leave for lunch one day or have a certain class covered by an administrator.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Minute to Win It - ECS Style

Team competitions are not only designed for faculty and staff but also for our students.  Recently I observed an awards ceremony at Elkhorn Crossing School with a different twist.  The students received certificates for excellence in academics and for perfect attendance but they also had the opportunity to win additional prizes by playing Minute to Win It competitions.

There are dozens of Minute to Win It competitions with video descriptions on YouTube.  Elkhorn Crossing principal, Michelle Nichols, introduced each competition with a video and then started the one minute timer.  Below are links to three of the competitions the students played that day.

A Bit Dicey -  Video link to a bit dicey  Played with marshmallows instead of dice.  

Noodling Around - Video link to noodling around

Face the Cookie -  Video link to face the cookie

Mrs. Nichols also used a timer from Minute to Win It countdown clock to add authenticity.

The students really appreciated the staff of ECS for taking the extra step of not only recognizing excellent work but the opportunity to have fun.  The prizes for winning were insignificant, the real reward was the opportunity to play, have fun and be a kid again.

As this blog evolves, I invite you to share ways to motivate all stakeholders in any line of work or profession.

Monday, February 11, 2013

On the Hunt for Positive Behaviors

After reminiscing on my son's 20th birthday it is time to get back to the true purpose of my blog.  I am so fortunate to have teachers, administrators and now a school psychologist sharing great ideas to increase staff morale.  The idea below is shared by Cristina Green, school psychologist at Scott County Middle School.  
Cristina describes a new twist on the Scavenger Hunt that benefits both teachers and students.  I really like the way SCMS finds a way to incorporate a competition that rewards positive student behavior.  

As part of our school-wide positive behavior initiative at Scott County Middle, we've been working hard to find strategies to help us increase our ratio of positive to negative feedback given to students AND to also make it fun for staff. One way we've tried to do this is to do it SCAVENGER HUNT style! Staff members were given their Scavenger Hunt sheets first thing Monday morning and the directions were as follows:
OBJECTIVE: We are on a mission to let the students of SCMS know we appreciate when they do the right thing! Each week, a Scavenger Hunt will be distributed to teachers with specific positive behaviors for you to seek out. And for added fun – some healthy TEAM COMPETITION!
RULES: Review the “target behaviors” to look for. Throughout the week when you see a student who demonstrates the listed behavior, recognize them, give them a CARDS ticket, tell them what they did right, and have them sign the line under that behavior on your Scavenger Hunt Sheet. You must find a different student for each behavior. At the end of the week, the team with the most “finds” will win a prize! GOOD LUCK!
This turned out to be a great activity for staff and the competition component got some more motivated to participate in the fun of recognizing positive behavior!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Happy Birthday Ben

Please indulge me as this post is a diversion from the purpose of my blog.  I do welcome comments to ways your life has change in the last 20 years.  To see how fast the world is changing, I highly recommend clicking on the video link at the end of the post.

Twenty years ago my American Studies students were producing, directing and acting in Our Town.  This timeless classic made me remember a time that was just a bit more simple.

Act II of Our Town starts:
Three years have gone by.
Yes, the sun's come up over a thousand times.
Some babies that weren't even born before have begun talking regular
sentences already; and a number of people who thought they were right young
and spry have noticed that they can't bound up a flight of stairs like they used
to, without their heart fluttering a little.
All that can happen in a thousand days.

My son Ben turns 20 years old tomorrow.  I thought it would be interesting to look back at a world in which the sun has come up over seven thousand times.

20 Years Ago I:
  • Thought emails were actually interesting.
  • Could read an editorial comment and expect someone's name with it.
  • Had no idea what texting would be or become (really still don't).
  • Still watched  video cassette tapes, DVD were as big as albums. And still had albums.
  • Followed the  Reds and Kentucky Wildcats who had 5 World Series/National Championships, now Kentucky basketball has 8 and the Reds are still at 5.  
  • Had no idea what a DVR, Kindle, HD TV, Bluetooth would be.
  • Was pretty happy to get 12 songs on a CD. Now I can get thousands on a ipod the size of a matchbox.
  • Used a map or AAA Trip Tik when I went on a trip.
  • Had no idea that a phone that fit in my hand would be much more powerful than the computer that took up my whole desk.
  • Still had my photos developed and worried about wasting film. 
  • Still rolled up my windows in my car by hand.
  • Went for really long bike rides and never even considered taking a cell phone. Don't even remember if I had a cell phone.
  • Could never imagine - Google, YouTtube, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Pinterest, Words with Friends and Blogs.
  • Cheered for the players in the uniforms.  The players move on so fast now - mainly cheer for the uniform.
To see how fast the world is really moving, I invite to you watch Did You Know video.  It will absolutely blow your mind to think how fast change is now happening.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Teacher Multivitamin Pack

      The following post is courtesy of the Scott County High School Guidance department.  At the start of every school year we would do a one day new teacher orientation.  The counselors would give the new teachers a  bottle  of M&M's labeled Teacher Multivitamin Pack at the end of their part of the orientation.  Each color of the M&M represented a specific healing power.  It was important for the new teachers to understand that we knew there were tough times ahead and we both emphasized with them and were there to support them.  There were a lot of refills over the years.  

Teacher Multivitamin Pack

Yellow  - Kills infection by patience worn thin.
Brown  - Relieves pain caused by changes in schedules.
Red     - Ensures stamina for lengthy parent conferences.
Blue     - Gives energy to get you through the day.
Green   - Increases your power of persuasion.
Orange  - Relieves tension caused by Infinite Campus.

REFILL:  Refill as often as needed in the Counselor’s Office.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Days to celebrate in February

February is often seen as the longest short month of the year.  Football season is over, the weather is cold, the days are still short and there is still a while until another break.  I recommend finding unusual dates to celebrate during this month.
One of my twitter follows is Mental Floss (I highly recommend it).  One of the recent post on Mental Floss focuses on 20 offbeat holidays and anniversaries in the month of February.  Dates such as National Pancake Day (which is today), library lovers day, random acts of kindness day, weatherman day (Bill Meck mentioned this about 20 times tonight) and one of my favorites-  single task day.
My challenge to you is to take one or two of these dates and celebrate with your staff. For instance, on Single Task day - ask that there will be no communication through email.  On National Librarian day, have teachers donate his or her favorite book to the library.  The point is to find different ways to celebrate with your staff.
This link will take you to the 20 Offbeat Holidays in February.  If you are a twitter follower, I would take this opportunity to follow Mental Floss - it has an unique way to look at the world.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Shamrock Shuffle

Happy Super Bowl Sunday - Go Jackie Harbaugh

Spring is right around the corner, Punxsutanwney Phil said it is so.  Where ever you may be, I suggest you find a road race in March or April to help motivate your fitness goals.  No matter your fitness level,   you can find a race that fits you.

For those in the Lexington area, I would like to invite you to join me in the Shamrock Shuffle.  On March 16th the 7th annual Shamrock Shuffle will take place to benefit Lexington Habitat for Humanity. The 3K (1.8 miles) is a perfect length for a beginning race for the Spring.  The St. Patrick Day  atmosphere makes the morning great and helps motivate you to possibly participate in other races during the year.

The official website is The Shamrock Shuffle, take time to visit the site and I hope to see you there on March 16th.

Shamrock Shuffle 3K

Friday, February 1, 2013

Prayer Group

Good Friday Morning - If you were at Eastern Elementary you would had the option to participate in an early morning prayer group.  Lori Beth Mays describes a culture where  staff feel comfortable with sharing their troubles and their celebrations.  My blog seeks unique and diverse ways to build staff morale, my thanks to to Lori Beth and Eastern Elementary for sharing.  

Prayer Group:
Every Friday morning the library is open to any staff member that would like to join others in prayer.  Certified and classified staff come together to  stay connected by sharing praises and requesting prayer for those in need.  One person records the prayer request/praises and then sends it out to the staff members who have requested to be in the prayer group.   This is a great opportunity for us to share concerns in our classroom and in our personal life.  It’s a great feeling to know that you can share your joys and your troubles with others and definitely adds to the family atmosphere at Eastern.