Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fostering a Positive School Culture

     It can be felt by EVERY SINGLE PERSON that enters your building. The minute anyone opens your school doors and walks inside, an immediate impression is felt. Often it is one of happiness, structure, and confidence. Sometimes a building may have a sense of chaos, frustration, and discontent. Regardless of whether it is good or bad- the point is that it is there.
     Now, you might be wondering why this matters. One might say, "Who cares what I feel when I enter the school. As long as kids are learning and teachers are teaching, and administrators are dealing with discipline, then everything is right." Sadly, they couldn't be MORE wrong.
     In that instance someone comes into the building, an important connection is being made in their minds- this school is a good school, or, this school is not. It sounds so cliche and corny, but I truly believe that it happens.
     So, that being said, how does a school foster a positive culture? One where students enjoy coming each day to school, teachers are empowered to be their best, administrators devote their time to leading, and parents are confident and feel supported in the education process. 
     It isn't an easy undertaking, and one that may take months or even years to correct. 

     Let me share my experience with my school. I lucked out this past year, when I came to a new school as the 6th grade teacher. The school was in the midst of a massive turnover due to retirement, and the then acting administrator wanted to make several changes to the format and structure of the school. School-wide rules were created as a staff. Discipline procedures were put in place, and teachers teamed and worked together to come up with ideas about how to make classrooms work and run more smoothly. 
     I can't give evidence of my school before I came, but I have been told it was a bit chaotic.
     Due to a series of circumstances, I was made 1/2 day interim administrator and 1/2 day 6th grade teacher of the school the end of September 2014. I continued the process of change we began and I started upping the ante. I made changes and started positive awards for classes to earn. I think the biggest change was that I simply made an effort to expression my appreciation to my faculty and staff, AND to let students and parents know that I appreciated them, respected them, and wanted what was best for them.
     The year seemed to end with agreement from all parties that we had a successful and positive year. Parents commented on the fact that the school "felt "different- several even commented that even driving by felt different (in a good way). I took that as a sign that our school- working together- was on the right path to having a flourishing positive culture in your building.
     Over the summer, I pondered on what I could do (having been hired as the full-time administrator) to help maintain and building our positive culture. Then it hit me!

     I decided to do a theme for my faculty and staff. After all, I didn't have a class or classroom anymore (a post on that coming soon), and I needed to have a focus. I decided on a SUPER HERO theme. Working with my amazing secretary and also with my wife, the three of us came up with some fun ways to surprise the teachers and get the year off to a great start. My wife did the bulletin boards pictured above that is in our front entry of the school. 
     We decided that for the first week of school, we would have a small gift or treat of some kind for each day for each person who worked at the school. We had backscratchers, hand-decorated clipboards, new lunch totes with the school logo, and more! We also had an amazing spread of treats each day for the first week during morning recess! Everything had a note or memo expressing appreciation and excitement for the coming year!
     I am pretty sure the faculty and staff LOVED it, and I feel this set the tone for the year as one of appreciation and dedication.
     Friday of the first week was my favorite day, and one that we will build on for the rest of the year. My wife and I wanted to give each teacher a cape to wear to help students remember that their teacher was a super hero! After much discussion we came up with a plan and made a trip to Wal-Mart.
     Buying all the biggest shirts we could from the clearance rack (over 30), we headed home. Next came the logo design for the cape. We settled on SC for "Super Colts" with the horse from our logo. My wife made a stencil and then spent the next several days cutting shirts and spraying on the logo!

My wife and I also found these awesome Captain America shirts on clearance and you will notice my wife was able to add "Co-" to my secretary's shirt! AWESOME!

     On Friday of the first week, we went to EVERY classroom and presented each teacher (and aide) with his/her cape. I told the students that I had to share a secret about their teacher that they didn't want them to know. They sat right up and were totally interested. When I showed them the cape, the cheered for their teacher. My wife also had a sucker for each student with a mini paper cape and sticker that reminded them that they too, were super heroes. 

    We also gave a cape to every paraprofessional, custodian, lunch lady", speech therapist, computer lab managers...if they worked in the building, they got a cape!  My head custodian LOVED his cape and wore it all over the school grounds and also to the hardware store and any other errand he had to run. As you can see below, he even posed on the school roof while fixing an air conditioner for a picture!

     At the end of the day, we had a fire drill, and it was SO AWESOME to see the faculty and staff walking around outside in their capes and enjoying it. What an amazing group of people!
     You might be thinking, "Well bully for you Mr. Hughes. So glad you could do all these things for your staff and faculty. Not all of us can do that." Or, "I am just a teacher. I can't do all this for my school. It isn't my place to do so."
      If that is your impression- then I have failed in this post. It isn't just about only the school leader making the effort, though I concede when the school leader is leading the charge for a positive culture, it tends to work easier, faster, and is more widely accepted. Even if you start in your own little corner of the school by creating a place your students LOVE to come, and then reaching out to your teammates- leaving notes or appreciation, small treats, kind words. You will be amazed at how fast this will move through your school- and soon, your school, regardless of what it was- will become even better! And, it is all because of YOU!

     Our school is moving along this year and I am LOVING the culture of our building. Expectations are set high, and students work to achieve them. Teachers and staff are working well to help and support each other, and parents are coming to the school with praise and concerns for me/us to address. What more could we really ask for?

     Here are some of my year-long goals and plans to keep this positive culture rolling forward:
=I try to make it to every teacher weekly to observe and leave a note about all the good things I see them doing.
=We highlight 4 students each week for the local newspaper- Students of the Week.
=We use Positive Office Referrals (check out the format HERE).
=We have the "Colt's Club". Student earn tickets for a weekly drawing by going "above and beyond". And adult in the building can award them- all have tickets they use.
=We have and maintain a school Facebook page. I am amazed at the positive effect it is having.

     These are just a few of the strategies we are currently employing to foster and maintain a positive school culture. As a school, we will add and remove strategies as needed- but we will ALWAYS be looking for ways to make our culture more positive!

    I am one lucky administrator, that is for sure. I can't wait to see where our school goes next!

-John, Created by MrHughes

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Literary League Back to School Give­‐Away

The Literary League, a group of exceptional secondary English Language Arts teachers, is hosting a Back to School Give-Away. Enter to win a choice of gift cards, middle school and high school ELA resource bundles, and shopping sprees to middle and high school ELA TPT stores.

By the time I grab my books and I give myself a look I'm at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by. It's alright’ cause I'm saved by The Literary League! That’s right, we are at it again! It’s one of the biggest back-to-school give-aways courtesy of some of your favorite ELA sellers. 

We’re teachers too, so we know that feeling of going back to school.  Cure those back to school blues by entering this HUGE give-away. Not only multiple prize packs, but also multiple winners!

The give-away will run Monday 8/31 to Monday 9/14. You’ll see some familiar and maybe even some new faces, so follow our stores and our social media accounts, and stay updated with what’s new! Winners will be announced Tuesday 9/15.

The Literary League, a group of exceptional secondary English Language Arts teachers, is hosting a Back to School Give-Away. Enter to win a choice of gift cards, middle school and high school ELA resource bundles, and shopping sprees to middle and high school ELA TPT stores.

Prize # 1: Gift Card of Choice
Win a $50 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers, Amazon, Staples or Target.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #2: Middle School Resources
Win all of the resources listed below for your middle school ELA classroom.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #3: High School Resources
Win all of the resources listed below for your high school ELA classroom.
Close Reading: Guide Your Students Through the Process
Interactive Notebook Bundle
Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasion
Common Core Literature Bell Ringers for Secondary English
Found Poetry Packet
Introduction to Close Reading for Middle and High School - Model and Practice
Critical Thinking: What is Textual Analysis #2
Fiction and Nonfiction Test Passages
Short Story Starters Task Cards 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize # 4: Middle School TpT Store Shopping Spree 
Win a $10 shopping spree to one of the TpT Stores listed below.
2 Peas and a Dog
The Creative Classroom
Literary Sherri
Mrs. Spangler in the Middle
Darlene Anne
Fisher Reyna Education
Brain Waves Instruction
Stacey Lloyd
James Whitaker's Sophist Thoughts
Created by MrHughes
ELA Everyday

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize #5: High School TpT Store Shopping Spree  
Win a $10 shopping spree to one of the TpT Stores listed below.
Room 213
The Daring English Teacher
Making Meaning with Melissa
Linda Jennifer
Brynn Allison
Juggling ELA

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 03, 2015

Literary League: We're BAAA-AAACCKKKK!

School starts (of has started) and as teachers and principals, we are all left wondering what just happened. Where did my summer go and will it ever come back? Sadly the answer is that it evaporated while we were at the beach, camping, traveling, sleeping in, taking care of family members, dealing with life issues, or working out. OR, just simply being at home with the family. Regardless, it is OVER, GONE, GOODBYE, SEE YA LATER ALLIGATOR! 

Now, the real question is ARE YOU PREPARED for the students? I hope so. I have spent the summer as a new principal working, stressing, and prepping for the amazing school year to come! I have also spent time working with and getting to better know the people below in this list! Let me tell you- THEY ARE EXPERTS AT WHAT THEY DO! 

With the sale going on, it would be worth your time to check out EACH professional educator's shop below and see what they have to make your back to school easy and stress free! WAHOO!

For example, my Language Arts Daily Dose and my Daily Morning Math Sets are perfect for ensuring spiral review and consistent practice of required concepts!

I wish you all a most wonderful back to school experience! ROCK ON!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Primary Chalkboard: Back to School Sale and More!

The Primary Chalkboard is SO EXCITED to share the Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale! Can you believe it? Back to School already? Who'd of thought it possible?

I keep thinking, "WHERE DID MY SUMMER GO?"
Then I remember it went into two family reunions, a church trek with hand carts across the relentless plains of Wyoming to celebrate and appreciate my pioneer heritage... it went into the TpT Conference in Las Vegas, and spending time with my great friends, my 6 amazing kids, and my talented wife! However, it mostly went in to preparing my school for the coming year (which is TOTALLY going to rock, by the way!) GO COLTS! WAHOO!

And, speaking of the coming school year- I wanted to share some of my most popular resources in a fun and visual way! Check out the pictures below! Clicking on any of the pictures will take you to that category in my shop, which will save you time hunting it down amid 100's of resources! Enjoy exploring and, when you find something you love, don't forget to use the PROMO code at check out to save an ADDITIONAL 10% off my already discounted price for a total of 20% OFF everything! (Even my bundles- making them almost 40% off regular price- HOLY COW BATMAN!)

Cheers and HAPPY BACK TO SCHOOL! We've got this- because, well... We are amazing professionals who do what we do for kids!

Check out my Chalkie Pals' pages for more suggestions.
Back to School is EASY-PEASY when you have the Primary Chalkboard on your side!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Created by MrHughes Goes Back to School

Greetings Blog Hoppers!
John Hughes here from Created by MrHughes. I am so pleased to have you stop by as part of the LITERARY LEAGUE BLOG HOP and learn a little bit more about me!

Let start by giving you a little background about me and my teaching career to this point! I started teaching in 2001. My first job was the computer specialist for 1200 elementary students. I had a new class every 30 minutes and never the same class twice in a week. It was an adventure!
From there I moved to 5th grade for three years, and then spent 9 years in sixth, after switching schools and districts. I love teaching science and math, but I have a REAL love for writing and reading! Best subjects EVER!
This past year, I was 1/2 day 6th grade teacher and 1/2 day administrator for our school. It was a crazy adventure and I loved it.
This year will start a whole new adventure- I will be the full-time administrator of my school. WAHOO! I am so excited to work with ALL the teachers and students in my school AND to be in the classrooms helping my teachers. I CAN'T WAIT TO GET THIS YEAR STARTED!

While you are here, I want to share my favorite read aloud novel with you. I have read many, many books over the years and have loved many them. But, my all-time favorite book is...

I enjoy reading books to my students that have children as the main character. Not only children, but children who they can relate to, they can aspire to be like, that they can learn to appreciate. Esperanza Rising is possibly the best one I have! Not only do they get to see life from the point of view of wealth and poverty, they learn that everyone has the ability to change into something better, even at a high price. Pam Munoz Ryan weaves an incredible tail that has roots in her own family history!

As you head back to the classroom, I invite you to think about what stories you plan to read and the reasons you read them.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and getting to know me a bit better! I wish for you a most amazing back to school event and hope you have a fantastic school year! As teachers we give so much and hope and pray it is enough for our students. I hope you will stop by my shop by clicking HERE and check out all the FREE resources I have to offer to get your year started off right! I have getting to know you activities, writing activities, and more- ALL FREE for the taking!

Enjoy and Happy Back to School!

P.S. Don't forget to HOP to the next member of this amazing Literary Group and learn more about them, their favorite read, and gather even MORE Back-to-School ideas for your kiddos!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Welcome to An Educator's Life 2.0

HELLO My Friends!

I am so pleased to be blogging again. It has been such a crazy and wild summer with family reunions, church activities, and attending conferences- oh, and amusement parks and such! WOW!
I wanted to stop by and let you know that my NEW goal is to blog at least weekly, and that the content of my blog with change slightly as well. I hope you will enjoy this new direction and continue with me in my journey!

As many of you know, I was hired to be the principal of my school this past year. Due to circumstances with the principal who hired me, he was put on administrative leave the very first day of school. A lead teacher was asked to do the basics to keep the building running until things settled and the district knew what needed to be done. They approached me the last week of September and asked if I would teach ½ day and be the administrator the other ½. THAT was an interesting meeting. I had mixed feelings about the situation as I LOVE TO TEACH!

In the end, and after many long talks with my wife, we agreed that this is what was best for our family, but we would NOT allow money to influence us (which is good, because those of you who think principals make a lot of money- think again! At least not in our district!). I finished the year out doing both and then applied to be the full-time admin this spring. AND… now here I am.
My blog, An Educator’s Life, was started many, many years ago during a technology class. I had NO CLUE what I was doing, and if you were to read my first post, you would probably die laughing!

From there my blog became my ranting wall, my special place to share with friends and family, and when I really started to become an active entrepreneur, a place to share my resources once in a while. Lately it has been a disaster of sale promos and product updates.

Well… all that to say…

WELCOME TO THE ALL-NEW Educator’s Life Blog! I thought about changing the name, and may in the future, but I think it is still fitting for what I do- Educate. Now it is my teachers AND all the students in the school. This is a HUGE responsibility, and one I won’t take lightly.

So, what can you expect here now? 

         1)      Content that is school focused- suggestions, tips, advice for management, etc.
         2)      The thoughts and insights of an administrator in regards to management, testing, state standards, etc.
         3)      Q&A Posts where I will ask for YOUR questions or concerns and then answer them from an administrative point of view.
        4)       Links to websites, resources, and apps that may change the way you teach!
        5)       Anything else that is awesome and ninja like that I feel with be a benefit and worth your time to read!

ALSO, you may want to subscribe to my NEWSLETTER! Use the newsletter form above! I will be sending out my first issue by the end of August. AND, if you haven’t joined the journey on my other social media outlets, you may want to take a gander at those as well.

Pinterest     Facebook     Blog     Twitter     Instagram    

So welcome, welcome, welcome my friends! I am excited for this new journey and I am thrilled you will be joining, or continuing, with me!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

2 For Tuesday!

Summer is underway here in Utah, and life is going great! I hope those that are still in school are winding down your year! YOU CAN DO IT!

I am excited today to be linking up with Cyndie from Chalk One Up For the Teacher for her 2 for Tuesday!

So, what is Two for Tuesday all about? Simple- It is a chance to check out resources that are sale for the remainder of the week- two per participating seller! WAHOO!
I am excited to offer two top-selling resources for a discount this week (end Saturday, June 20):
My Class Votes Awards Kit and my Rules of Divisibility Mystery Mazes!


Remember to swing by Chalk One Up For the Teacher to check out the OTHER amazing deals you can find for the week! 


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Product Review: Happi-Nappi Chair Bags for School Desk Chair

Hello My Friends-
It has been a LONG time since my last post. My life has been crazy-busy. I interviewed for and was hired to be the full-time administrator for my school a couple of weeks ago, and so I am finishing out this year as the 1/2 day 6th grade teacher and the full-time admin.

So, in this post, I want to review a product that I received back in October. This is NOT a paid post, and I always do my best to give my honest opinion of a product. If it is not something I would use, or don't feel is helpful, I will make it very clear in my review!

The picture below is of the Happi-Nappi Chair Bag. Cynthia Talley (the owner of Happi-Nappi) and I had several conversations about her product and she agreed to send me a chair cover to try out. My thoughts after getting the chair bag... THEY ARE AWESOME!

I have been using a different brand of chair pockets with my students for several years and I have LOVED them. To me, these chair pockets are a requirement in my classroom. Students use these to keep papers organized and out of their desks as well as their

Then, THIS happened. This amazing and wonderful bag! Ladies and Gentlemen- This bag is da bomb! Let me tell you why:

1) It is extremely well built! That is huge for students, esp. in upper grades where they tend to be hard on everything (you should see my playground equipment).

2) Pockets are deep. My daughter (who is in my class and was MORE than willing to test-drive this for me- which was actually a fight for the students on who wanted to use it!) said that she disliked the deep pockets, but we talked about it and she agreed that the deeper pockets were nice in that everything stayed put. She told me that getting her file folders out was harder and that her folders were getting ripped.  Given the choice, I would still take the deep pockets because papers aren't hanging out and falling out.

 3) There are many more pockets that you would find on a typical chair bag. LOVE THAT!

Here are several more shots of this awesome product:
 You can see how deep the big pocket it! A teachers dream of not having to see all the papers!

It does hang lower than other chair bags I have used, but that doesn't bother me, in fact I think it helps to  keep the chair better balanced and keeps it from becoming top heavy and tipping over.

I also like that it is shorter in the front so that it gets less wear and tear from students feet, etc. as they sit in their chairs, on their feet on their chairs, etc.

This is just simply one amazing product. Here is a short video about the company and how they make the bags:

You can learn more about these useful and well-constructed bags (including current pricing and even more suggestions for use) by clicking HERE!

So, do I recommend this product? ABSOLUTELY! I LOVE MINE!
Are there drawbacks? Only the possibility of  the deep pockets being harder to manage for some students- but I do NOT think this is a huge issue and I would buy these for my class in a heart beart. The price is the same as or less than the ones I currently use, and the quality is higher, in my opinion!

Thanks for stopping by- YOU ARE ALL ROCK STARS!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Picture Your Selfie in Vegas Giveaway!

 Can you picture it now?  YOU in LAS VEGAS? 

How about YOU in LAS VEGAS attending a one day session of the SDE conference?

Primary Chalkboard is giving away YOUR CHOICE of a 1 day session at SDE!

So, will it be Singapore Math, Differentiated Instruction, I Teach K, I Teach 1st, or the newly added I Teach 2nd? 

How fun is that?

BUT, that's not all, we're also including a $25 gift card to the SDE bookstore, CRYSTAL SPRINGS.

So, NOW can you picture YOURSELF in VEGAS?

Oh, you say you need money for airfare, hotel accommodations, or just some spending money while you are here?  Well, we've got that covered, too.  How about  
to help you out with that?!?!?

NOW, can you picture YOURSELF in VEGAS?

Here's how to enter for a chance to win.

Hop through our Facebook pages and collect a tip for your (possible) visit to Vegas.
Be sure to "like" each page as you hop through so that you can collect the tip.
Each tip will have a number on a playing card.
Add the numbers together and enter the sum  on the Rafflecopter on the Primary Chalkboard blog for a chance to win.
Be sure to add a comment and include #primarychalkboardsendmetovegas.

For an extra chance to win this, take a selfie, post it on IG with #primarychalkboardsendmetovegas 
Don't forget to tag us in your picture! @primarychalkboard

The winner will be picked on the evening of April 5th.

A HUGE thank you to SDE (Staff Development for Educators) for their kind and generous donation!

Good luck! WAHOO!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teachers Are Heroes!

Howdy Friends!
Teachers Pay Teachers is celebrating TEACHER HEROES!
I think that really qualifies all teachers and even all those that are support staff in schools. I have learned, more than ever before, over the past 5 months as principal that schools have to have EVERYONE on board to function successfully!

So I am so pleased to honor teachers everywhere. The best part, is that a sale is being held in YOUR honor. You can save 20% off of all my resources (Just remember to use the code: HEROES)

In the comments below, feel free to leave a tribute to an teacher that has made a difference in YOUR life! :)
Click HERE to see ALL the awesome Secondary Teachers that are contributing!

Check out my Store HERE!

Happy Shopping and Honoring! :) WAHOO!

You Might Also Like Reading These:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...