Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Supporting and Retaining the BEST Educators, One Principal’s Reflection


There is often a correlation between the level of some teacher’s success and the level of effectiveness with their principal.  At times, teachers perform better, when their supervisor performs better.  The following five suggestions were created by one principal, after careful reflection and purposeful contemplation regarding interactions with the very best teachers after several years of working together.      

Display and foster high levels of positive energy.   It is important for all administrators to display a high level of energy when working with students, teachers, and parents.  In addition, it is equally important that school administrators foster high levels of positive energy within the classrooms of the schools they lead. Much like a mirror, when a principal is highly energetic and positive, student and teachers respond and work in a similar manner.

Tell others no, on the teacher’s behalf.  Advocate for your teachers, tell others no, on their behalf, and teachers will be grateful. As most of us know, schoolteachers are some of the most hardest working individuals ever. At times, it is difficult for them to say no, even though they know how quickly their plates can fill up. Step in for teachers, protect them, and keep them from unnecessary work. In addition, let teachers know that you are willing to be the “bad guy,” as needed, in order to protect them. Reassure them, if they are asked to perform certain duties or complete various tasks, that in the end may prohibit them from best serving their students, they can always come to you, ask for your help, and you will gladly and politely say no to other individuals, on their behalf.

Tell teachers yes, anytime you can.  Be very aware of how many times you tell your teachers “yes” and how many times you tell them “no.”  On the first day of school, and regularly throughout the school year, tell teachers that you promise and commit to saying “yes” to them, with any request that they have, as long as it benefits students and their classroom. This promise from the principal does great things for a school’s culture, climate, and staff morale holistically. In addition, it sends a message to all school stakeholders that the principal is willing to do anything and everything in order to help students and increase student achievement in general. When you say “yes” to anything and everything that educators need in the classroom, this shows teachers that you are doing your part to positively impact student achievement and also shows that you will accept nothing less than their individual best when it comes to their teaching, helping students, and getting positive results at the classroom level.

Visit every classroom, every day.  Teacher after teacher reports that one of the number one things that any principal can do to support them and support students is to visit classrooms and be highly visible on a regular basis. School administrators should make it a goal to visit every classroom, every day.  As a former principal, with a school of more than 1000 students, this can be a hefty goal, yet one that pays off big time with everyone on campus. Visiting every classroom, every day, shows teachers that you support them, allows you the opportunity to witness instruction firsthand, gives you the chance to interact with students, and serves as a springboard for great success when it comes to offering individualized feedback to teachers regarding their lesson, classroom management, and other classroom topics.

Follow through and hold everyone accountable.  The best classroom teachers want a principal who is willing to follow through and also hold everyone accountable. With emails, phone calls, promises, and the completion of tasks, never underestimate the power of simply doing what you say you will do.  Often, teachers report that students like boundaries and also like it when there is great structure and high levels of accountability in the classroom, and with assignments. This is true for your most effective teachers as well. It is easy for people to say that they have great follow-through, but saying it and doing it are two very different things. In addition, accountability is something that will help with both your effective teachers and your ineffective teachers. The heightened level of accountability can help bring an ineffective teacher up to proficient levels, and that same heightened level of accountability shows your most effective teachers that their hard work is not going unnoticed, and that you are holding everyone to the same standard.

The above strategies have been utilized regularly in schools and have yielded the highest levels of success.  After a careful review of thoughts, notes and reflections, these items were consistently represented, and in the end, had a positive impact on teachers and in theory, students.

Dr. Davis has been an educator for the past 16 years, serving as a Professor, Educational Consultant, Principal, Assistant Principal of Instruction, and classroom teacher.  He is currently licensed to serve as a teacher, principal, curriculum specialist, and Exceptional Children’s Director.  Dr. Davis is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Education at High Point University.  He has his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Urban Education.  Dr. Davis has presented and been published at the state, national and international level.  He works daily on his personal mission statement, to "Love Kids, Support Teachers, Involve Parents, and Pass it On."

Dr. Davis can be reached at:  jdavis@highpoint.edu

Monday, February 9, 2015

Global Perspectives and Connections: Keys to Being a Global Citizen



In North Carolina, teachers are evaluated on how they encourage students and colleagues to be globally aware. To be a proficient teacher in this area, teachers must “promote global awareness and its relevance to the subjects, (North Carolina Educator Effectiveness System [NCEES], 2015).”  To be characterized as an accomplished teacher, integration of global awareness activities must be demonstrated in the lessons taught (NCEES, 2015). While this is a step toward building a globally-minded student, it is a small step. To give students an edge in today’s marketplace, they need to be more than aware – they need to develop global understanding.

Two significant ways to develop global understanding is through perspectives teaching and real-world connections using today’s real-world tools. Perspectives teaching is teaching students to be open-minded to hear and understand another’s point of view. That does not mean that one has to agree with that perspective, but open to listening to it and understanding the culture from which that point of view stems. This is why having students engaged in collaborative groups is essential in the elementary grades – it is the basis for building the understanding that we all have different ideas based on our experiences and culture. Perspectives teaching can be effectively taught through global literature (including children’s books, fairytales and folk lore, quotes, plays, movies and poetry) and role-playing lessons. Teaching students to compare with their own culture helps them not only understand a new culture, but equally helps them further define their own culture.

Teachers too should be encouraged to read global literature written for adults to gain perspective themselves about a certain region in the world so as they teach perspectives, they can be alert to any possible misconceptions or over-generalizations. Here are a few suggested books for children and adults:

  • Extra Credit by Andrew Clements compares the point of view of a student in Iowa and a student in Afghanistan using landscapes, cultural differences and similarities.
  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba shares the struggle of a village in Malawi and how one boy’s inventiveness helped to solve a problem in his community.  It can also be linked to the use of electricity and how it is used and valued in different communities. 
  • It Happened on the Way to War by Rye Barcott takes you to the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, and shares how one person, connecting with others can make a difference. The videos on his non-profit organization website can be used in class: http://cfk.unc.edu/  while students will be captivated by the story of village children who wanted to play soccer (futbol) but had no ball and how they instead made the ball from plastic bags! Futbol video - http://cfk.unc.edu/2011/03/kiberasoccerballs/

Two great books about how girls/women are treated differently around the world are King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman, and I am Malala by Malala Yousatzai and Christina Lamb.

If teachers help students understand cultures and respect the perspectives that each offers, students will become global citizens who can make significant and globally-minded decisions and differences in the world.

Cathy Dalimonte currently serves as the Assistant Principal at Queens Creek Elementary in Swansboro, North Carolina. She began her teaching career in 1991 and has had an expansive career to include teaching K-5 regular education and STEM classes, and her service as a Curriculum Coordinator and Family Liaison. She recently published Global STEM Navigators in the Science and Children Educational Journal (October 2013).  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Notebooks in the Writing Workshop

Why Notebooks?  

Notebooks provide a safe space for students to document their thoughts, dreams, and growing knowledge of the world around them without the anxiety of producing a perfect piece of work. Inside the pages of a writer’s notebook, students are free to play with written language, doodle, try out bold writing moves, and experiment with a variety of beginnings, endings, and all the parts in between.
The child is the sole audience of the notebook entries until the point he decides to move an idea through the drafting process. “Ownership of authorship” is a critical component to the success of this important Workshop tool. Additionally, the frequency of entries in the notebook cannot be understated as daily practice living the writerly life supports the development of writing. Notebooks are a necessary and integral part of the Writing Workshop!

Personalizing the Writer’s Notebook

Whether the notebook is a handful of notebook paper stapled between two sheets of construction paper, a composition book, or a fancy journal students purchase on their own, the main consideration is that students have ready access to their notebooks on a daily basis to make entries that are uniquely their own. One sure fire way to enhance ownership of the notebooks is to allow students to personalize  them. There is no one best way to do this – let students’ creativity soar! If you have a bundle of old magazines, students can select pictures, words, and phrases to glue on the notebook covers.  You can ask students to bring in special photographs and two-dimensional mementoes from home (send a letter home to parents ahead of time) to decorate the notebooks. How about using technology to accomplish this task? One terrific online tool for the www.collage.com. Here, children can easily locate desired images (from approved websites) or upload photographs and produce a one-of-a-kind work of art. Regardless which process is used, be sure to “laminate” the notebook covers with packing tape or clear contact paper for durability – a terrific project for parent volunteers!

Getting Started

For some children, notebooks may be a new addition to the Writing Workshop. Scaffold their understanding by sharing a few trade books featuring notebook entries to give children ideas for the many and varied ways to use their notebooks.  Some titles to consider are Amelia’s Notebook (Simon & Schuster), Max’s Log Book (Scholastic), and Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Amulet).

It is helpful to decide ahead of time how notebooks will be organized and designate sections accordingly. For example, you may want students to leave space at the front of the notebook to allow for the creation of a Table of Contents or to serve as a place for housing collected phrases and snippets of conversations to inspire future writing endeavors. Pages at the back of the notebook may be reserved for helpful writing tips or lists of potential topics. Of course, the majority of the notebook is for students to WRITE. They need lots and lots of blank pages to try out new writing moves in response to minilessons, conduct quick writes, sketch ideas, experiment with poetry, brainstorm, create mind maps, and all of the many ways in which authors practice their craft in the pages of a notebook.

Strategies to Generate Notebook Ideas 

Once your students understand the purpose of a writer’s notebook, have their notebooks personalized and organized, they are ready to begin the important work of growing as writers! Published texts (of all kinds – think beyond books!) are the typical “go to” for sharing interesting text structures and “ways with words”, but don’t overlook the gems found in student writing samples and your own notebook entries.  In addition to mentor texts, support students in finding their own ideas and writing voice by inviting them to try some of the following strategies:

  • Generate Lists – things that are funny, scary, silly, sad and why they make you feel that way
  • Create Webs and Mind Maps – center on a special event, place, person, imaginary travel, etc. and write down every associated detail that comes to mind
  • Write around Artifacts – ask children to bring in a photograph or souvenir from home and record the memories that surround it (the artifact should remain at the point of writing in the notebook – an envelope can be taped to the page for storage, if desired)

Written by Debbie Linville, September 2014

Dr. Debbie Linville served as the Department Chair of the Elementary and Middle Grades Education at High Point University. She has been involved with NCAEE since 2005 and served as the Director of Region 5 and Chair of the NCAEE Regional Advisory Councils. Dr. Linville has been teaching for over 30 years and her passion is enabling educators to promote the proficient, joyful reading and writing lives of children.

Friday, October 3, 2014

How to Find Funding for the Elementary School Conference

School budgets are tighter than ever which makes it a challenge to find funding for an educational conference. Attending a terrific conference can provide the inspiration and motivation to have a successful year, but it's not always easy to receive the financial support you need. If you are interested in attending the Elementary School Conference in October but aren't sure how to pay for it, here are some ideas to get you thinking. We even have an option where you can attend the conference and pay later!

Are You Asking the Right Person?
Maybe you've asked your principal to help pay your way to the conference, and you've been told that there's no professional development funds. A teacher told me told me that very thing last year... but I just laughed! Why? I was handling registration last year and I happened to know that her county has already registered and PAID for over 40 teachers to attend! As soon as I told her, she laughed too, and said, "Obviously I'm not asking the right person." She immediately connected the dots and knew who she needed to call.

So if you have been told that there's no money, maybe you just need to figure out who to ask. It could be that there's a pot of money somewhere in your district and your job is to figure out who holds the keys to the fortune! Okay, maybe not a fortune, but just maybe there IS money available for professional development and it's a matter of figuring how to get your fair share of it. Be sure to explain how your school will benefit from your attendance, perhaps offering to share what you learn in short professional development session for your staff.

Register Now and  Pay Later 
What if your principal has approved you attending the conference but he or she isn't sure if the check can be sent to us in time? Or what if you've been approved, but your federal money has not come in yet and you aren't sure if those funds will be available before the conference?

We accept purchase orders, so check to see if your school can send one with your registration form. But what if that option isn't available either?

If an administrator is willing to sign a statement authorizing you to attend now and pay later, we have a Payment Authorization Form he or she can complete to guarantee payment by November 15th. Download the forms on the right, fill out the registration form yourself, and have an administrator complete the Payment Authorization form and sign it. You can register more than one person at the same time, but you'll need to have each person fill out an individual registration form. List everyone's names on the Payment Authorization Form and send all the forms to the address given.

Keep a copy to send in when payment is made later. If your funds become available before the conference, bring a check with you along with copy of the Payment Authorization Form. On-site registration costs $15 more than the regular rate, but if you have registered in advance and sent in this form, you will not have to pay the onsite fee.

Registration Fee Payment Options
When you register for the conference, there are three main payment options available:
  1. Online (Credit Card or PayPal) - Pay online with a credit card and you'll receive an email receipt for your records. You might be able to submit it to your school for reimbursement later. 
  2. Check - Download the registration form from the registration page, complete it, and mail or fax it in with a check. We prefer school checks, but we will accept personal checks too. You can register as an individual or as a member of a team. If you are registering with a team of 5 or more educators, you qualify for a 20% discount. Details are on the registration page
  3. Purchase Order - Download the registration form from the registration page, complete it, and mail or fax it in with a school purchase order. 
Remember: If you are not able to use any of these methods, you can use the Payment Authorization method described above.
Reserve a Rom Now!
Please make your hotel reservations at the Embassy Suites Resort Charlotte/Concord by October 4th and use the Group Code AEE to receive the discounted room rate. If you are reading this after October 4th, there's a chance that the code might still be accepted if rooms are available, so give it a try.  If you aren't sure you want to stay at the Embassy Suites, read this blog post for 7 reasons why you might want to do so, including convenience, luxury, the evening Manager's Receptions, and a free hot breakfast each morning!

Wishing you the best of luck with your efforts to obtain funding to attend the Elementary School Conference! We hope you'll join us Sunday at 1 pm on October 19th when the conference begins until Tuesday noon when we wrap things up. Attending the conference will be a terrific way to network with colleagues and learn new strategies for the coming school year!

Laura Candler
NCAEE 2014 President

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

7 Reasons to Stay at the Embassy Suites During the Elementary School Conference

Are you planning to attend the Elementary School Conference next month? It will be held at the Embassy Suites Resort in Concord, NC, near Charlotte from October 19th to the 21st. It's hosted by the NC Association of Elementary Educators, and it's open to all elementary educators ... you don't have to be a member to attend.

If you ARE planning to attend, please consider staying at the Embassy Suites during your visit. NCAEE has reserved a block of rooms at a special discounted rate, but that discount ends on October 4th. You can find step-by-step details for registering at the end of this blog post or at the bottom of the registration page.

If you are wondering about the $50 gift card giveaway, please see the information at the end of the blog post. The contest is over and a winner was chosen!

7 Reasons to Stay at the Embassy Suites
Here are 7 reasons why you should stay at the Embassy Suites during the conference:
  1. Luxury and Convenience - Staying onsite during a conference means you can relax and enjoy yourself in the beautiful new Embassy Suites hotel. No need to get up super early to drive to the event and look for parking! You might even want to arrive on Saturday to include time for a visit to the spa, golf course, or one of their great restaurants! 
  2. Free Internet Service - The Embassy Suites is offering FREE Internet service to Elementary School Conference participants who stay at the hotel! It's not normally their policy, but they have made a special exception for us. 
  3. Free Manager's Evening Reception - Network with colleagues during the manager's reception where you'll enjoy free drinks and snacks. Beverages offered include wine, beer, and mixed drinks.
  4. Free Hot Breakfast - The Embassy Suites offers a full, cook-to-order breakfast for all registered guests. This year NCAEE is offering a free luncheon instead of last year's continental breakfast, so if you don't stay onsite, you'll need to grab something to eat before you arrive. 
  5. Discounted Room Rate - Our discounted room rate makes the price reasonable, especially if you share a room with a friend. In fact, your half of the room cost will be about the "state rate" for reimbursement. To get that rate, register with Group Code AEE.
  6. Great Shopping - The hotel is located near the Concord Mills Mall, so after the conference ends each day, you can shop till you drop! 
  7. Support NCAEE - Staying at the Embassy Suites is one way you can support NCAEE and make it possible for us to continue hosting the Elementary School Conference. We receive a substantial discount on conference meeting room fees by reserving a block of guest rooms for our attendees. However, if we don't fill at least 80% of the rooms by the deadline (October 4th), we'll have to pay a HUGE penalty. How big? Some years we've had to pay over $6,000 in penalties because we didn't meet that minimum! Yikes!  

How to Make a Reservation
The Embassy Suites has a conference rate of $139 plus tax, which remains valid for reservations made on or before September 27, 2014. When phoning in your reservation, call 1-800-362-2779 or 704-455-8200 and be sure to tell the hotel that you're with the "AEE" group.

To register online, click this link to go to the hotel web page:
  1. Click Make a Reservation.
  2. Enter the conference dates: October 19-21, 2014. (If you want to stay Saturday, enter Oct. 18-21)
  3. Enter number of rooms and people.
  4. Then click Add special rate codes.
  5. Under Group Codes, enter AEE.
  6. Then click on the box to Check Availability.
  7. Complete your reservation. 
  8. Check your email for your hotel reservation confirmation code.
If you haven't registered for the conference yet, please visit the NCAEE website where you can learn more about it and sign up. Thanks for your support, and we look forward to seeing you next month!

$50 Amazon.com Gift Card Contest
To encourage conference participants to reserve a room before the September 27th deadline, we hosted a giveaway of a $50 Gift Card to Amazon.com to a participant who reserved a room at the Embassy Suites by September 27th.

The contest is over, and the winner is Carla Johnson-Royal! We just notified her and she will pick up the gift card during the conference.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Join the 2014-2015 NCAEE Team!

If you're an elementary educator in North Carolina who wants to make a difference, we want you on our team! The NC Association of Elementary Educators (NCAEE) is an active organization with a mission to advocate for elementary students and teachers by providing outstanding professional development across the state. Through our efforts, thousands of teachers have been inspired by motivational speakers and educators like Ron Clark, Dr. Jean Feldman, Dr. Harry Wong, Dr. Marcia Tate, and many others.

We are a volunteer organization, run entirely by educators who have a passion for making a difference in elementary education. NCAEE is led by a Board of Directors, and each year some of our Board members rotate off the Board and we bring on new folks. We also have positions available at the regional level. If you're interested, please read on!

How to Get Involved with NCAEE
There are three levels of involvement in the NC Association of Elementary Educators:
  • NCAEE Members 
  • NCAEE Regional Advisory Council (RAC) Members
  • NCAEE Board Members
Becoming a member is easy! You can join online from our website and pay a small membership fee, or you can attend the Elementary School Conference and complete the membership information form during the conference. Your membership fee is included in your registration payment. Members support our organization by attending the conference and sharing information about NCAEE with others.

Regional Advisory Council Members assist our Regional Directors with determining the needs of their region and implementing one-day regional conferences to meet those needs. Click the map above to see a larger view and find your own region.

NCAEE Board Members include all eight Regional Directors and others such as the President, President-Elect, Treasurer, Secretary, and At-Large representatives from various facets of elementary education including university professors, DPI, central office administrators, principals, etc. Visit our Leadership Page to see a complete listing of all Board members. Board Members attend all Board meetings and have an active voice all aspects of our organization. We generally have two face-to-face Board meetings a year and four or five online meetings. You can read more about our organization on our website and in our by-laws.

State and Regional Conferences
In order to understand the various roles in our organization, you need a learn a little about what NCAEE offers to elementary educators. We are most well known for our annual state conference, the Elementary School Conference that takes place each fall. This year's conference will take place in Concord, NC, near Charlotte, and features well-known speakers as well as practicing educators. A Conference Committee made of Board Members works with a conference planning organization to coordinate this event.

We also seek to inspire educators through smaller, one-day or evening conferences in each of the eight regions in our state. Our most recent conference was the Region 3 session that took place on August 4th in Franklin County and included opportunities for educators to learn about funding resources for classroom projects, attend workshops presented by teachers for teachers, and attend a Q&A panel discussion with NCDPI consultants. The event was a success, as you can see from the feedback we received from Crystal Williams, one of the attendees:
"Thank you for all you did to make the Regional Conference a success.  I appreciate your support.  It was an extremely beneficial conference and I can't wait to share the resources & ideas with others."
Regional Advisory Councils
Who's responsible for planning and organizing these regional events? That's the job of the eight Regional Directors who each work with 4 or 5 Regional Advisory Council members to find a location and coordinate the events of the day. Regional Advisory Council members do not attend Board meetings, but they meet online or face-to-face with other council members to determine the needs of their regions and plan an event that will meet those needs. We currently are in need of several Regional Directors and a good many more Advisory Council Members. All Regional Advisory Councils will hold their first meeting on Monday, October 20th, after the last session at the conference. The time and location will be provided to RAC members before the conference. If you apply to become an RAC member, please plan to attend the Elementary School Conference this year.

How to Apply for a Leadership Role in NCAEE
Getting involved in a leadership role with NCAEE is a wonderful way to share your knowledge and expertise with others in our state. We welcome all educators, including classroom teachers, retired teachers, administrators, and educational consultants. All you need is a desire to make a difference in elementary education and a willingness to work hard to help NCAEE fulfill its mission.

If you are interested in taking on a leadership role in our organization, please complete the Google Doc form on the right. You may not hear from us right away, but we will contact folks as positions become open.
We are excited about our upcoming Elementary School Conference and hope you will plan to join us at the Embassy Suites Concord/Charlotte for that event. You can learn more about it and register now from the NCAEE website. Our organization is growing, and we know that there are many talented and passionate educators across the state who would welcome becoming involved with NCAEE. We look forward to meeting you this October!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Register Now for the Elementary School Conference!

Conference Dates: October 19 - 21, 2014

Are you planning to attend the upcoming 11th Annual Elementary School Conference this October? We're excited that this year's conference will be held in a brand new location, the Embassy Suites in Concord near Charlotte, NC. Our theme is "Mind, Heart, Body - Educating the Whole Child," and we have a terrific lineup of speakers who will share engaging strategies to keep you motivated during the 2014-2015 school year!

Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a PIRATE is our luncheon keynote speaker, and in his fast-paced, entertaining session he will share ways to dramatically increase student engagement and design wildly creative lessons.

Our featured speakers include The Bag Ladies, Dr. Kathy Kennedy, Pat Calfee, Kathy Bumgardner, and Laura Candler. You can read more about their sessions on the conference registration page here.

How to Register
The Elementary School Conference is hosted by the NC Association of Elementary Educators, but it's not just for NC teachers. It's open to all elementary educators, no matter where they live. Registration is open, and there are many payment options available. You can register and pay online with a credit card, or print out the registration form and mail it in with a check or purchase order. We also have a 20% Team Discount for groups of 5 or more. Get the details on our registration page.

Free Conference Registration Giveaway
To help promote the Elementary School Conference, we hosted a giveaway for TWO free conference registrations!

The giveaway ended on Monday, September 8th, and our winners were Amanda Righter and Lindsey Gaudet. Congratulations!

Please help spread the word about the Elementary School Conference by sharing this blog post with them or by sending them directly to the NCAEE website. We hope to see you at the conference this October!