Thursday, December 31, 2015

My One Word for 2016

 I recently participated in a Voxer book study with approximately 30 fearless women - most of whom have never met each other.  Over 31 days we shared, reflected, and supported each other while reading Notes to Me - Inspirational and Motivational Reminders for Women by Dr. Kimberly Giles and Dr. Tammy Jenkins.  An added bonus was these two powerful authors participated in the Voxer book study with us!

51kp8BPDPoL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg (230×346)



A few of my favorite inspirational and motivational reminders were
Day 4 - Love Yourself - A reminder that self-love is about remembering to be tender and kind to ourselves and remembering to take care of our minds, bodies and spirits daily!
Day 15 - Hey Sexy, Yes You - Just know it doesn't matter how tall, short, thin, or fat you are  - SEXY is a state of mind and all about how you feel about yourself...We are all sexy in our own way.  Take the time today to embrace our inner SEXY!
Day 16 - Joy - You deserve joy not just every now and then but each and every day.  Go get your Joy!!







But back to my One Word for 2016 

At the conclusion of Notes to Me - the authors share:

"Imagine being able to challenge yourself daily, gentle challenges like the little pushes in the right direction that one needs to act and make some positive changes to your life.  Imagine being able to feel confident and able to say "No" to some of the many demands that are placed upon you, without the need to make up an elaborate excuse."


So here it is - my One Word for 2016 

imagine_word.jpg (1584×719)

For 2016, I will not only IMAGINE a life filled with joy, balance, purpose, gratitude, peace, confidence, focus, and love -  I will remind myself each day that I deserve it, set goals to achieve it, and forgive myself on days that I fall short.

...and I will keep Notes to Me, close by as a constant source of inspiration when needed!


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

They Count Also: African American Girls and Math (Dissertation review p.5)

Just spent the day reading my dissertation and just wanted to share!

Chapter 6 - Discussion, Recommendation, and Implications (page 83 of my dissertation) 

Implications for School Leaders

The girls in this study responded to various questions about gender and race; however these responses were limited.   Perhaps this is because they have not been confronted with specific biases that test their awareness of gender and racial issues.  I assert that their parents and teachers never acknowledged the potential impact or influence or race and gender on their educational and mathematical experiences.  Parents may wish to shield their daughters away from this issue but successful teacher of
African American students do not ignore them (Ladson-Billings, 1994).  Teachers need help to understand the strengths and needs of students who come for diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, who have specific disabilities, or who posses a special talent and interest in mathematics.  To accommodate differences among students effectively and sensitively, teachers also need to understand and confront their own beliefs and biases.  When we discourage students from engaging in public conversations about race and social justice, we lose an important component of education.  In a multicultural society, it is crucial to help students consider diversity, understanding and the places where the two intersect and clash.  We need to create classrooms that involve students in quest to make sense of their world.  Such classrooms authentically address equity, educate the whole child, and value each and every student (Brooks and Thompson, 2005).

They Count Also: African American Girls and Math (Dissertation review p.4)

Just spent the day reading my dissertation and just wanted to share!

Chapter 6 - Discussion, Recommendation, and Implications (page 82 of my dissertation)

What do they mean by good? 
African American fifth grade girls in this study believed that their teachers are in control of all of the learning that takes place and passivity in the mathematics classroom is the key to academic success.  The girls often equated being good as "being quiet and listening to the teacher".  The girls did not describe and I did not observe opportunities for the girls to become empowered and independent thinkers.  The girls were comfortable sharing that being quiet in class meant that they were good students.  If they continue to believe that not having a voice or an opinion in class is the key to success, they will learn only how to play by the rules established by their teachers.  Mathematics classes need to become places where originality, independent and creative thinking, and imagination are valued (Turner, 1995). 

They Count Also: African American Girls and Math (Dissertation review p.3)

Just spent the day reading my dissertation and just wanted to share!

Chapter 6 - Discussion, Recommendation, and Implications (page 81 of my dissertation)

One reoccurring theme that was evident from most of the participants' responses was the need to know mathematics in order to "pay bills and count your money".  This simple view of the importance of mathematics may by one reason that African American girls do not pursue mathematics on higher levels.  The need to "get a job" and to "make money" appeared to be the only reason the study of mathematics was important to the participants.  If African American girls perceive mathematics as important only because they have to know how to count money and pay bills and not as an avenue for a variety of educational and occupational opportunities, they will not actively pursue mathematics.  In trying to get students to understand mathematics, teachers may have overemphasized to these African American girls how mathematics relates to everyday life and ignored the connections between mathematics literacy and career flexibility.

For these African American girls to seek out mathematical opportunities beyond the obvious, they need innovate and creative teachers and role models to help them make the connections.  African American girls have the potential and academic ability to become leaders in the mathematical community.  However, the key is to alter the way they view mathematics at an early age.  If African American girls are to become women with an interest in mathematical related careers, their views of mathematics must start to become more wholistic and meaningful.

They Count Also: African American Girls and Math (Dissertation review p.2)

Spent the day reading my dissertation and just wanted to share!

Chapter 5  -Research Findings (page 68 of my dissertation)

Teacher's Self Assessments - Confident and Knowledgeable Teachers

Students' understanding of mathematics, their ability to use it to solve problems, and their confidence in doing mathematics are all shaped by the teaching they encounter in school.  To be effective, teachers must understand and be committed to students as learners of mathematics.  They must know and understand deeply the mathematics they are teaching and be able to draw on that knowledge with flexibility in their teaching tasks. Teachers must become aware of personal beliefs, values and expectations that guide their interactions with students.

They Count Also: African American Girls and Math (Dissertation review p.1)


Spent the day reading my dissertation and just wanted to share!

Review of Research (page 15 of my dissertation)

Adenika-Morrow (1996) reported that  "in no academic area does the nexus between race and gender claim more casualties than in the area of mathematics and science-and no group has been more excluded than African-American girls. Studies of women generally overlook women of color, and studies of students of color de-emphasize gender difference" (p.80).  Adenika-Morrow (1996) also suggested that it takes a significant amount of courage for African American females to make nontraditional educational and career choices.  Because of the need for some African American women to become financially independent at an early age, Adenika-Morrow suggests that African American females generally made safe career choices (service and clerical positions, teaches, nurses, and other low-paying female dominated jobs) and avoided obstacles in which they would have to negotiate their way into White, male dominated careers.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Reflections from a 1st timer after #nerdcampli

There are emails that you wish you never opened, emails that make you mad, emails that make you laugh and emails that you want to cherish forever.  The following email is one to cherish.  It came from a first time edcamper after attending #Nerdcampli.  I was given permission to share the email but was respectfully asked not to include names.  For anyone thinking about attending an edcamp - I hope these words inspire you to try one.  






Wow!!  What an incredible afternoon. While I generally don't respond after conferences, I feel I need to say a few things about today's events:

First, thank you for telling me about it!  I am going to be signing up for the one in July as well. 

Second, hearing (and meeting) Lynda Mullaly Hunt was both an honor and humbling experience. What she showed us is that those students who are 'invisible' are really the ones we need to make the MOST visible. I read her novel Fish in a Tree again when I came home. I actually could see some of my students in her novel and will be approaching their education differently. 

In the next session, while I was very interested in listening to how to introduce YA novels to students and make connections to them, it was Mrs. Hunt's session that still played in my mind ('my mind movie' if you will).   I was able to have many conversations with other educators and administrators after her session and wrote down many other books/novels/stories that my students will be able to relate to as well. 

I also will be ordering "affirmation" cards from Vistaprint for my students.  

I apologize for the length, but never have I been so moved, humbled or touched by someone the way I was today. 

I hope to make my invisibles--visible!!

With deepest and sincerest gratitude,


(A very PROUD teacher)


This is just a sample of the responses and reflections shared by our teachers after attending #nerdcampl1.  On behalf of the entire Northern Parkway Admin team - thanks for taking a chance on a Saturday attending this un-conference.  #learningisjoyful 




Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Leaders do have Superpowers

On July 20, 2015 - I came across an #edtechchat on leadership.  I read tweets about what leaders should do, how leaders should act, ineffective leadership styles, and great quotes about leadership.  Although I didn't have time to participate fully in the chat, I did leave something for participants to think about:



Fast forward to the week of July 27, 2015.  I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Long Island Summer Literacy Institute in Merrick, NY (#LiLit15).  My reading session, hosted by Jennifer Brady (@bradylitcoach) reminded me that educators need to lead readerly lives if we expect our students to be readers.

The amazing author Kwame Alexander aka The Newberry Medalist for The Crossover Kwame Alexander inspired us and reminded us that our students won't "dance naked" unless we do (@kwamealexander).

My writing session was facilitated by JoEllen McCarthy (@JoEllenMcCarthy).  In her usual enthusiastic and contagiously joyful way - we were reminded that as educators  - we also need to lead writerly lives if we expect our students to be writers. JoEllen gave us time in our session to write about things that we are experts on.  After listing my areas of expertise on an "Investigations start with I" chart - I chose the theme of leadership (inspired by the #edtechchat) to reignite my writerly life.

Leaders 
Maybe we are not superhuman.
But as people in the position of leadership we do possess superpowers. 

We have the power to 
*belitte
*ignore
*dominate
*intimidate

We also have the power to 
*empower
*validate
*collaborate
*celebrate

Maybe we are not superhuman. 
But we can use our superpowers for good! 

Summertime and #learningisjoyful.  Can't wait until the final day of the Summer Institute as writer, poet and educator Georgia Heard (@Georgiaheard1) will surely remind me of something Joyful!  



Monday, February 23, 2015

Another Recovered Post - PD - Teacher Choice

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Professional Development - Teacher Choice

This year my administrative team made a commitment to differentiate our professional development opportunities for our teachers.  This was particularly important for me because

1) I hate going to professional development sessions that do not meet my skill level.  Whatever the topic is, there should at least be a choice between beginning/intermediate and intermediate/advanced.
and
2) Simply stated - Some topics and presenters are boring.

Our last pd session was held at our school from 3:10 - 4pm and included approximately 36 teachers.  Here is an example of what our school principal emailed the staff:

Team,
Tomorrow's staff development session will be our final session of this school year with the theme of differentiated professional development.
There are three sessions being offered tomorrow where everyone will have the opportunity to not only examine current research in the areas identified below, but also join in a collegial discussion on how these topics impact us here at the school. 
There is NO need to sign-up for a session. We will begin at 3:10 pm tomorrow.  Light snacks and refreshments will be available.  The sessions to choose from are as follows:

(1) Keeping "Learning Joyful" Until the Last Day of School: How to survive the home stretch.  Participants will share research, ideas and strategies to help you through the last 6-8 weeks of school. Participants attending are encouraged to BYOD as a component of the session will explore research found via social media (Twitter) Location: Library 
(2) ADHD & ADD an explanation not an excuse
Participants will focus on attentional differences and how they impact our classrooms. There will be a discussion on what is ADHD & ADD? Participants will walk away with proven strategies to use in the classroom.   Location: 513
(3) Causes and Cures in the Classroom: Getting to the root of academic and behavioral problems.  Participants will explore the work of Margaret Seale to examine strategies and tools to help us diagnose root causes and develop targted, effective interventions for our students. Discussions will focus on how we can help students overcome difficulties and experience real success in the classroom.  Location: 512


Sometimes we attach the name of the presenters but this time we did not.  We really wanted the teachers to choose based on topic not presenter.  Each group had between 10-14 participants.  I conducted "Session 1" because that is my passion (see blog entry #1 and entry #2).  We conducted the session in a collegial circle format where everyone shared ideas, strategies, what's worked, and what ifs.  

Reflections: ~ Many participants remained and kept discussing after 4pm (always a good sign!). ~I shared a lot of the cool stuff I've been learning and inspired by via Twitter. I conducted a mini-Twitter workshop and had 3 more teachers sign up.  I showed them a recent Responsive Classroom chat #rcchat and we searched ideas for Morning Meeting group activities.~Teachers shared websites such as noodle.com, their favorite outdoor learning experiences, and reflected on their best school experiences as students.~One teacher came to my office the next day still excited to share what she wanted to do to close out the year~One teacher texted me the following:  "Your pd" was awesome.  I came to school early today so kids could try noodle.com prior to the test.  They love Zumba"

By the way, we didn't wait for district level permission or approval and did not focus on what might or might not happen as a result.  We just did it because we are passionate educators that are excited about what we do.

Recovered Post

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Questioning??? An empowering skill for all...

"Questioning" was the topic in #sunchat on May 25th.  Many good ideas where exchanged around the topic and I shared the following:

1)Some Ss have mastered art of silence/avoidance 2 questions and 2) Questions are great...if we allow time for Ss to answer them!  And not the same student(s) that dominate all discussions. 

I shared these tweets because as an assistant principal I've noticed that in most (not all) classes questioning is always one directional - from teacher to student.  Typically a teacher will pose a question, a few students will raise their hand to respond, and the teacher will choose a student to answer and the lesson goes on and on and on.  Once in a while a teacher will choose a student not raising his or her hand and 9 time out of 10 the student will sit quietly until the teacher asks someone else to help that student.  That's why I stated that some students have mastered that art of silence/avoidance.  But than again, these are my students -Black and Latino students in a predominately Black and Latino community with a high percentage of low-income households.  Are students in "other" communities taught to speak up confidently and challenge what's in front of them.  Are students in other communities expected to think critically and creatively while students in the community I serve expected to sit quietly and not question or challenge anyone or anything?  While I didn't share these thoughts during #sunchat it was clearly on my mind.  Why didn't I add these ideas to the chat?  Well, the chat was so positive, I didn't think it was appropriate for me to jump in with a Tweet about race/class and communities that are often underserved in the educational system.  But than I read the following excerpt from @JovanDM:

Second - Where are all the black educators on Twitter? by @JovanDM

@JovanDM wrote: Twitter and other social media outlets where educators congregate NEED the voices and experiences of Black educators and other educators of color because our experiences are often unique in that we must simultaneously grapple with the challenges of implementing curricula, integrating technology, navigating race and racism, and addressing students’ social and emotional needs in a way that many, though not all, of our White counterparts don’t have to. Our challenges, frustrations, hard work, innovation, and triumphs will remain the stuff of fairy tales if we don’t share them with one another and the world.

Wow -this spoke directly to my heart and soul and led me right back to my initial thoughts about questioning.  Yes, the #sunchat was about teachers asking good questions in class but should teachers be the only person in the class asking questions?  And if so, how do we really get our students to think critically about anything?  Black and Latino students are sometimes told by their parents not to question authority, just sit back, be quiet and listen to what the teacher says.  If a student questions a teacher or adult in the building they can be labeled as disrespectful, disobedient, or "at risk".   How and when are we to develop a community of thinkers if they are never allowed to question who or what is in front of them?  

If students do not know how to ask questions or if they have been conditioned so long to think that they can't ask questions, than it is our responsibility as educators to model when and how to ask questions.  We must work to empower all students and give all #studentsvoice. 

I am absolutely making this one of my instructional goals for the 2014-2015 school year and as I seek to find my voice in the Twitter and blog world, I will no longer hesitate to add my views as a Black educator to mainstream Twitter chats.  Because if I don't, who will? 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Beyond the Bake Sale - #ptcamp - Week 2 reflections


My role as an administrator in developing partnerships

This year the administrative team at my school has decided to work with cohorts of teachers and serve not only as their immediate supervisor but also as their coach/mentor/partner in education.
By developing more of a partnership with teachers our hope is that we will be able to directly support more teachers, students and families academically, socially and emotionally.  We are a K-5 building with approximately 780 students and 36 class sections.  We will each have 12 teachers (2 per grade) in our respective cohort.

I believe that the key to success in my cohort will be to help teachers develop true partnerships with the families in their classrooms.  I believe that developing partnerships on a class by class level with be more authentic and meaningful rather than trying to meet the needs of all families on a school-wide level at the same time.

We all know what works and Beyond the Bake Sale is a great resource to remind us of best practices. But with all best practices, they only work if you actually do them...consistently....and with the same level of enthusiasm in the beginning of the year until the end of the year.

So as excited as I am about the possibilities, I am more excited about starting small and making meaningful connections with my cohort of teachers, their students and their families.

Success builds Success was a phrase that Michele S. used in reference to the idea of starting with small steps on the way to your goal.  I trust that the success I will have with my cohort of teachers and families will lead to success with all teachers and families in my building.  I will celebrate the growth that is made each day, each week, and each month as we work toward school wide partnership practices.

2/18/14

Beyond the Bake Sale - Week 4 #ptcamp

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Beyond the Bake Sale - #PTcamp Week 4 Reflections

I might not be able to do everything, but I can do SOMETHING!

I have to admit, the last chapter that I read for this week's reflection (Chapter 9) was so far my least favorite chapter in the book.  Up until Chapter 9, I was able to relate to specific ideas, strategies, goals that I had control over.  Chapters 1-8 helped me reshape, refocus and get reenergized.  But Chapter 9 almost deflated me.  Almost, but not quite.  Chapters 1-8 made me remember that I could do something to develop and enhance partnerships, advocacy, and trust, but chapter 9 appeared to take the power away from me and into the hands of the Superintendency and Board of Education.  But I quickly got back on track and told myself I might not be able to do big things that immediately influence what happens on a district and community level, but I can do big things in my school and for the parents, teachers, and students that I work for and with every day. 

So I decided not to spend a lot of time with Chapter 9.  That was my choice.  And we all have choices and the power to make a difference and we have the power to change what we do and how we do it.  So instead of feeling like I have little or no control regarding policy, I'm just going to do SOMETHING that is meaningful and beneficial for my school community...and have fun doing it.   I can only trust that what I do can eventually become policy but I cannot wait for policy to determine what I do.  


~~~~~
Oh, I usually refer back to a tweet that I read or wrote when I'm writing this blog.  So this week I tweeted: MT: Parents have choices.  Sometimes parents just feel like doing something else instead of going to a school event but still care about education.   

I wrote this because all to often in the education community we look at attendance at events as the measure of success and equate that to family involvement.  In my school we moved away from attendance as the only measure of success because sometimes parents are just doing something else and can't change their schedule because the school is having an event.  For example, a typical week for me (Educator and a mom) can include a PTA meeting at the school I work in, a reading workshop at my son's elementary school, a concert at my other son's high school and a Board of Education meeting in either the school district I work in or the school district I live in.  I can't attend all the meetings/events and still have a balanced professional and personal life.  So I have to choose.  And my choice will be determined by which event/activity will I get the most out of, which one is a non-negotiable, and which one will keep me out of the house for the least amount of time.   But if I choose not to attend the reading workshop, will the teachers at my son's school think I'm not involved or I don't care about my son's reading progress?  Totally not a true statement but can be perceived that way based on the traditional lens of attending events = parental involvement.

Another idea I just want to share and get out there is that some parents and students would rather learn on their own and support their children in a different manner.  Some families are just not interested in small talk or social functions.  That is a very hard concept for me to wrap my head around as just my presence on social media indicates I am a social person.  But what about those in our community that are not social.  Are we conditioned in our society to respect their option of being in their own space and learning at their own pace.  I recently came across the book:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Stop Can't Talking by Susan Cain

Q: Quiet offers some terrific insights for the parents of introverted children. What environment do introverted kids need in order to thrive, whether it’s at home or at school?
A: The best thing parents and teachers can do for introverted kids is to treasure them for who they are, and encourage their passions. This means: (1) Giving them the space they need. If they need to recharge alone in their room after school instead of plunging into extracurricular activities, that’s okay. (2) Letting them master new skills at their own pace. If they’re not learning to swim in group settings, for example, teach them privately. (3) Not calling them “shy”--they’ll believe the label and experience their nervousness as a fixed trait rather than an emotion they can learn to control.

Just wanted to add this piece because as we push for partnerships, let's remember that as wide as we open the doors for families to join us, some would rather show their support behind closed doors. 

There's no place like home

Thursday, December 4, 2014

There's no place like home

Back in 1987...

My reflections for this post brings me back to 1987, the year I graduated from High School.  Deer Park High School, Deer Park, NY (Long Island).   Here's my yearbook page:

The page - like Deer Park High School - represents the racial make-up in my high school.  Majority White American , 20-25% Black American, and about 5% other nationalities.   I share this HS snapshot because it helps tell the story of where I've been, what I've done, and who I am know.  I was always pretty friendly and had no trouble fitting in with any group I chose to be with.  Although in the cafeteria, I mostly sat at the "black table".  In HS, I made a point of joining almost every club and activity the school sponsored.  I remember clearly joining the Yearbook Club, not because I wanted to be journalist or photographer, but because I said to myself - if no Black people join the yearbook club, we won't get our stories told or our pictures in the yearbook.  I joined the Prom committee because I thought, if we want to have a say in song selection, at least one of us will have to be on the committee.  I made sure my grade average was high enough for the Honors track because I needed everyone to know that Black students were just as smart as everyone else.  I was on Student Council because I wanted to...well you get the picture.  

Fast forward to college, Howard University(HU) - an HBCU - Historically Black College or University.  For 4 years I didn't have to worry about "my story" being told.  For four years I had the privilege of joining clubs and organizations that I was interested in.  I didn't have the need or internal pressure to be a part of something to be noticed, I just went along and did things that I enjoyed.  I didn't have to sit at the black table but rather sat with people based simply on common interests. 

Post college:  Earned my Masters in Instructional Technology at New York Institute of Technology.  I missed my HU but I really didn't care that there were only a few Black students in my classes (like in high school) because the main goal was to earn my degree, not make friends.  Plus I attended every night class with bff, Michele.  We worked together during the day in a predominately Black elementary school and attended school at night in a totally different world.  



Are you starting to get a sharper picture of my world view?  If not, let me continue.  Post grad work let me to a doctoral program at Hofstra University.  Similar to NYIT with the make-up of doctoral students, the professors I engaged with at Hofstra had a very clear vision of Social Justice and understood their role was to help develop a new generation of leaders that worked to address inequities, enhance teacher performance and maximize student learning.  Although many times I was the only Black female student in class, my voice was never silenced and the perspectives I was able to offer based on my personal and professional experiences were valued.  

But I live on Long Island, one of the most segregated communities in the U.S. (for real - google it).  So every day I am living in world in which I negotiate who I am all day long.  I live in a mixed, mostly African American "wealthy" community,  my sons attend public school in a mixed, majority White middle income school district,  and I am a school admin in a lower-income community of Caribbean, African, Black American and Latino students.  I am part of way to many community organizations because I still feel the need to have my story/voice heard.  

Is it my choice or my responsibility?  Maybe it's a little easier for me to find my voice no matter where I am because I've been doing it for so long.  But what about others who don't participate in organizations, or join committees, or social media chats, or get involved with people who do not look like them?  Have they tried but did not feel welcomed?  Do they feel connected?  Do they think that one voice won't matter?  Is it because of a bad experience or the lack of shared experiences?  Or is just easier to stay in your comfort zone?  

How do we encourage more critical and courageous conversations regarding social justice issues that affect our communities, children and our future if we are unable to sit at the same table together.  

If you are already at the table making decisions and the table is at a restaurant you or your best friend owns, or if you or your parents are already on the school/community board, or if you are expected to be in grad school, you may not realize that it's not easy if you are on the outside.  It's deliberate work, it's intentional, and it's time consuming to alway have to be the one to join something in order to have his/her voice heard.  Maybe if the door was open a little wider with the "come on in we have been expecting you" sign it would be easier.  But if the door, which has been traditionally closed for certain groups of people, remain closed, with no welcome sign, you might not get new people to knock (unless they are like me). 

But by the way, feel free to come to my school, stop by my table, knock on my door, or eat at the restaurant my friend owns.  There's also a house for sale in my neighborhood if you really want to get to know me. There's no place like home. 

My #oneword for 2015 - NOW

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


My #oneword for 2015 - NOW

Inspired by my #ptcamp pln to choose one word that provides you with a vision for 2015 instead of a New Year resolution, a few words immediately came to mind... Joy, Present, and Today.

JOY- I often end my educational tweets with the hashtag #learningisjoyful because I truly believe that education/school/teaching/learning should be a joyful experience.  Joyful as defined by being fulfilled, not just joyful as fun and games.  In my personal life, I strive to have a joyful existence, but the reality is that sometimes I feel sad, depressed, angry, annoyed...anything but joyful.  Although these moments are fleeting, they are real emotions that I experience.  Choosing joy as my #oneword would have "fit" me, but I also think that it would force me to mask some real emotions that I sometime experience.

PRESENT-  is another word that I toyed around with.  It is so important to present at school with my students, colleagues, teachers, parents, etc.  It is equally important for me to present at home with my family.  But sometimes I just want to be alone.  Sometimes I'd rather watch tv, or check my phone, or read a book uninterrupted.  I know it sounds selfish, but as important as it is to take care of others, it is just as important to take care of yourself.  And if taking care of myself means I'm not always present for others, well forgive me.

TODAY I tossed around with the word today the last few days.  I think it was the idea of taking one day at a time that seemed profound.  Or this quote that I read~

But as I thought more about the word today, it seemed somewhat limiting to me, as if I was not allowed to think of the past or the future.

So I decide on the word "NOW".  Focusing on the NOW, allows me to be present for whatever I am doing at the time...present for others or present for myself.  NOW allows me to experience a range of emotions on my journey towards joy And NOW allows me to enjoy today,reflect on yesterday while I plan for tomorrow.  I actually blogged about being in the NOW a couple of months ago.


Learning to Love the Right Now
Sometimes I have to remind myself to live in the now.

To appreciate what I have now.
To love who I am now.
To love the life I have now.

Not the life I had years ago.
Not the life I had yesterday.
Not even the life I had a few hours ago.

Not the life I imagine ten years from now.
Not the life I wish for tomorrow.
Not even the life I might have a few hours from now.

But my Life. Right. Now.

#itsjustthatsimple #butwedrathermakeithard (@docsheilah 7/7/14)


I want to think about the choices I make in the NOW.   I want to start NOW making better choices when it comes to my health and wellness.  I want my children to know that the choices they make NOW may impact their future.  I want to be the best educational leader and student advocate I can be NOW.  I want to love and support my family and friends NOW. I'm sure I will slip up every NOW and then and lose sight of the big idea.  But I plan on living my life with many more positive, intentional and focused NOW moments so I can appreciate the laters to come.  




Happy New Year!
#2015 #bestyearever






Educational Admin + Mom = It's handled!

About a year ago I participated in a Twitter Chat where the topic was related to school administration.    As expected, there were comments that read "administrators should do paperwork before or after school and spend all day visiting classrooms, being visible, etc. etc."  Well I agree AND disagree.  I am a mom of two boys (young men) and most of my before school time and after school time is dedicated to them.  Does that make be a bad/poor administrator if I choose to use my out of work time for my children?  Nope!

In fact the chat was just before Mother's Day 2014 so it seemed especially fitting at the time to write a post about balancing motherhood with educational leadership.

Without recreating the enitre post (which I deleted but luckily saved a word document draft), I just wanted to remind myself..and you if you are reading this...of the following:

...to all of the supermoms out there that are also school administrators, it's ok to carve out some time in your school say to actually do administrative work.  Unlike teachers, we do not have an uninterrupted lunch hour or scheduled preparation time built into our work day.  So, don't feel guilty spending about 25% of your day in your office.  Yes, we have to connect with our students, be visible, lead learners, creative and caring leaders, teacher of teachers, etc., etc.,  but we also have to write reports, make phone calls, complete observations, and sometimes just take a minute to eat, relax and recharge.  Because when our school day is over we have to be moms and just like we have to "be there" for our students and teachers, we have to "be there" for our own children....and sometimes that means staying in your office during school hours and signing off at the end of the day. 

PS - This message applies to all administrators - those that are dads and those that do not have children outside of their school/family children.  Do what works best for you and know that there is no one way to be a successful administrator.  Success is being happy knowing that each day you strive to do the best for yourself, your family and your school community.  What works best for each one of us will greatly depend on the size of your building, your support team in the building, your support team at home and the level of responsibility you have outside of school. 



My professional journey

I've been thinking a lot lately about my professional journey, well not so much about the path that has been taken, but what's in store for me next.  But let's start at the beginning.

I always wanted to be a teacher.  I thought about becoming an accountant for a few months in high school because I love mathematics and heard the pay was really good :) but after taking an accounting course in high school, I knew that I would be bored out of my mind.

I graduated from HS in 1987 and attended Howard University in Washington DC on a full academic scholarship to study Elementary Education.  See, I actually went to school for education, it was not a career change.  I graduated from Howard U in 1991 and was accepted into the Teachers College Masters Program for Mathematics Education.  Yes, I was still interested in pursuing mathematics....but...when I saw the tuition for Teacher's College I decided that instead of going straight to grad school I would seek a teaching job.  I was fortunate to find a job in the Roosevelt School District under the leadership of Charles McIlwain.  Here's a glimpse into that experience that was published in ASCD, 2013.

       Fresh out of Howard University, I was eager to begin teaching, not fully aware of the complexities of working with pre-adolescents, parents, and colleagues.  There were nights I went home questioning my chosen profession.  But with the unfailing support and encouraging words I received daily from my principal, Charles McIlwain, I survived my first year.  His guiding philosophy was rooted in the belief that you must first be able to connect with students before you can teach them.  He took time to mentor you educators and treated us like consummate professionals even when we struggled.  Now that I am an assistant principal, Mr. McIlwain's legacy continues to influence my interactions with students, parents, and teachers. 

I began grad school in my second year of teaching and studied Instructional Technology at New York Institute of Technology.  I completed that program in 1995 and the following year I entered a dual admin leadership/doctoral program at Hofstra University.  Earning a doctoral degree was next on my list as a personal goal after being inspired by the African American doctoral students that graduated from Howard University in 1991 (*I never knew that a doctoral degree was something that someone like me could earn).

I earned my administrative certification in 1998, the same year my first son was born.  In the summer of 2000 I decided to pursue my first administrative position.  Unfortunately there were limited opportunities in Roosevelt SD so I began to look outside of that district. I landed my first administrative position as an elementary AP in the Uniondale School District in 2000.  I had a 2 year old son, I was in a doctoral program AND I was split between 2 elementary schools in the district.  Talk about the number of hats I had to wear on a daily basis!  Doctoral studies were challenging, but I took the slow and steady route (aka the 8 year plan) and accomplished my goal!  Oh and by the way, I had my second son while completing my studies and working full time.

As you can imagine, the last thing on my mind was seeking a new job with young children and doctoral work.  When I completed my doctoral studies in 2006, I needed a minute, more like a year or two to just breathe and enjoy my post-doctorate life with my family.  I did not want the added pressure of becoming a new principal and having to put in extra hours of work just to prove myself at a new job. My children were young and I wanted to be involved in their school life as much as possible and I knew that I could balance so much more as a tenured Elementary AP than a non-tenured Principal. For the last 10 years, I've been actively involved in my children's elementary, middle, and high school PTAs, attended school trips with them, concerts, reading celebrations, etc. all because I was comfortable and secure in my position as AP!

Now that my youngest son is finished with elementary school and my oldest is a junior in high school, I've been asking myself - is it my time to pursue something else?  The answer is always Yes...and No!  No - because I still love the comfort and security of being a tenured elementary AP.  But Yes, because I have so much to offer and share with the greater educational community, not just my school/district.  Maybe I can consult or teach a college course?  I enjoy being part of professional learning communities and being a connected educator.  I have been inspired by my #ptcamp experience (see previous blogs) and I've been able to share my insight via Twitter chats and conferences such as #edcampLI and the upcoming NABSE  - National Alliance of Black School Educators - conference in November.  These experiences keep me motivated.

This is my 24th year as a professional educator and I still get asked why I haven't sought a principalship.  The truth is I just haven't felt like it.  I'm having fun, I'm learning, I'm making a difference in the lives of children and I don't really need another title or new job to continue those things.  I love my balanced life and I don't wish to add anything that will upset it.

What's your story - what choices have you made and what choices are you considering?  Are your choices personal or made due to pressure and the expectations of others?  I'd love to hear from you - please share your professional journey as well as your next steps.

Thanks to MAStewartMA.blogspot.com for inspiring this post!nded my first administrative position as an elementary AP in the Uniondale School District in 2000.  I had a 2 year old son, I was in a doctoral program AND I was split between 2 elementary schools in the district.  Talk about the number of hats I had to wear on a daily basis!  Doctoral studies were challenging, but I took the slow and steady route (aka the 8 year plan) and accomplished my goal!  Oh and by the way, I had my second son while completing my studies and working full time.

As you can imagine, the last thing on my mind was seeking a new job with young children and doctoral work.  When I completed my doctoral studies in 2006, I needed a minute, more like a year or two to just breathe and enjoy my post-doctorate life with my family.  I did not want the added pressure of becoming a new principal and having to put in extra hours of work just to prove myself at a new job. My children were young and I wanted to be involved in their school life as much as possible and I knew that I could balance so much more as a tenured Elementary AP than a non-tenured Principal. For the last 10 years, I've been actively involved in my children's elementary, middle, and high school PTAs, attended school trips with them, concerts, reading celebrations, etc. all because I was comfortable and secure in my position as AP!

Now that my youngest son is finished with elementary school and my oldest is a junior in high school, I've been asking myself - is it my time to pursue something else?  The answer is always Yes...and No!  No - because I still love the comfort and security of being a tenured elementary AP.  But Yes, because I have so much to offer and share with the greater educational community, not just my school/district.  Maybe I can consult or teach a college course?  I enjoy being part of professional learning communities and being a connected educator.  I have been inspired by my #ptcamp experience (see previous blogs) and I've been able to share my insight via Twitter chats and conferences such as #edcampLI and the upcoming NABSE  - National Alliance of Black School Educators - conference in November.  These experiences keep me motivated.

This is my 24th year as a professional educator and I still get asked why I haven't sought a principalship.  The truth is I just haven't felt like it.  I'm having fun, I'm learning, I'm making a difference in the lives of children and I don't really need another title or new job to continue those things.  I love my balanced life and I don't wish to add anything that will upset it.

What's your story - what choices have you made and what choices are you considering?  Are your choices personal or made due to pressure and the expectations of others?  I'd love to hear from you - please share your professional journey as well as your next steps.


Thanks to MAStewartMA.blogspot.com for inspiring this post!

Just Push - My leadership poem


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Just Push - My leadership poem

JUST PUSH
One day the teacher walked us to the room
The door was closed, the keys inside.
The teacher tried the door, but it didn’t open.
We waited until got another key.
That’s when he realizedit was open all along.
All he had to do was push.

Sometimes,
I think he does us the same way.
Has us waiting,
while he looks for the key of knowledge,
to let us in, when really, all he has to do
is give us a little push
by just thinking…
we can.     
(written by poet lindamichellebaron)

This is one of my favorite poems by lindamichellebaron.  I have it on the cover of my school binder and I read it or parts of it each school day.  I was recently asked to submit a statement of my leadership vision and realized that it was this poem and the idea and action of "pushing " is what shapes my leadership vision.  I am always pushing myself to grow professionally (and personally) and I am always, always pushing the teachers in my school to push past their comfort zone and think about ways to enhance their practice on behalf of their students.  




Intellectually pushing others to think creatively and critically about educational issues that impact the teaching and learning process is what I believe truly defines my leadership style.  As a leader, I am never satisfied with the status quo, particularly educational patterns that do not intentionally improve the academic, social, and emotional growth of all students. 

Every day I ask: “Are we doing this for the best interest of students or just because it’s always been done this way?”  I believe in student empowerment and student voice and believe that we should never underestimate the unique gifts inside each and every child.  I believe that diversity – if truly valued – allows all students and families to be appreciated and respected for the totality of who they are. I believe that before you can teach any child you have to believe in them and respect them as individuals. I believe that you can and must push stereotypical view of what teaching is out of your frame of reference and believe that it is ok to do something different in order to get different results.   I believe that all children can be comfortably pushed to reach their full potential.  I believe that in order to grow you must push...if not we will remain on the other side of the door. 

What poem drives your leadership vision?  Please share! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

My Office

Dear Teachers, 
My office...

Is not a place to fear.
Is not a place for punishment.
Is not a place to yell at children.
Is not a place for solitary confinement.
Is not a place to judge.
Is not a place to offer life sentences.
Is not a place for corporal punishment.
Is not a place to humiliate and belittle children.

My office...
Is a place of comfort.
Is a place for learning.
Is a place for caring.
Is a place for listening.
Is a place for laughing.
Is a place to rest, relax, regroup and refocus.
Is a place to talk.
Is a place for understanding and empathy.
Is a place for discipline with dignity.

Teachers, if you need a time out - please stop by my office for a minute...it really is a relaxing learning space.  

 However...as an assistant principal, I take my role of supporting children academically, socially, and emotionally seriously.  If you send a student to my office for a time-out, please understand and respect what will and will not take place when I am with children.   Yes, if warranted, there will be appropriate consequences given but I will never hurt or embarrass a child in the process. 


By the way, I am not in my office often but my office is always available :)