New Header         
      Tuesday, November 26, 2013
 Volume II, Issue 7
Principal Matters!
Top Story

Thank You, Teachers.


As we gather with our families and friends this week, we do so to give thanks.  As educators, we spend much of our time with the brave women and men who we call teachers.  Let's pause for a moment in this busy week to give thanks to people who are an important part of our lives all year long. 





November 26, 2013


Dear Teachers,


As we approach Thanksgiving Day, please know how grateful we all are of you.


Thank you.


Thank you for being hopeful.  Each year you come back and look upon your students and think about not just who they are at the moment, but who they can become.  Even the ones who talk too much.  Or put their heads on their desk the first day.  Especially the ones who don't quite get it yet; your hope becomes their hope, and their hope becomes real over time.  They need you to get there.  Thank you.


Thank you for being patient.  Human behavior is unpredictable.  Your students don't always respond as you expect.  Thank you for seeing beyond the temporary into the long-term.  In a world filled with microwave-speed expectations, you are the person who knows that you are plantings seeds for trees whose shade you'll never enjoy.  That doesn't stop you, because you're patient.  And hopeful.  Thank you.


Thank you for trying.  Lots of people give up easily.  Not you.  You try.  You are at school early and late.  You buy raffle tickets and popcorn for fundraisers.  You come to plays, ballgames, and chorus concerts.  You study and become skillful and knowledgeable.  You don't even scream (or laugh) when people ask you what you do on those three months you have off in the summer.  You never stop trying and you teach your students to do the same.  Thank you.


Thank you for caring.  Your job has grown significantly more challenging through the years.  Uncaring people manipulate data to paint an inaccurate picture of teachers as something less than successful or effective.  Despite the rigor of your job, you still care.  You care about doing a good job because you believe in doing good work.  You care about your colleagues and school.   You care the most about your students, especially the ones who need the most care.  Thank you.


You work quietly and without a lot of recognition to teach our children things they need to know.  In a world too fast for its own good and more cynical than is healthy, you teach children to be patient; to be hopeful.  You teach them to try and to care, and if they learn that, they'll most likely be all right wherever their path leads. 


As we pause to give thanks this Thursday, please know that we thank you for what you do all year long.  Enjoy a couple of days away from school and get rested up for Monday.  Somebody in your class will be waiting to hear your voice, see your smile and be challenged by the work you do together.


Happy Thanksgiving.



MW for PM!

Columbus State  
  Week in GASSP
This Week in the GASSP!  
Highlights from your state association!  
 NASSP Conference: Ignite 14

Join NASSP, 

February 6-8, 2014, in Dallas, TX.  

The only national conference devoted to the unique needs of middle and high school leaders. At Ignite '14 you can immerse yourself in an innovative, relevant, and practical professional learning experience that you can customize to fit your needs. Register today at

NASSP Conference: Ignite 14
NASSP Conference: Ignite 14
Georgia School Leadership Development Conference - March 3-5, 2014 

Got EdTech?  Get Twitter!


There are two types of educators in the world today:  those who are utilizing the amazing connective power of Twitter, and those who need to!  Twitter provides constant, 24-7 opportunities for you to connect to others, learn new content and methods, and develop a network of support across the globe.


One of the most prevalent topics in the education wing (pardon the pun) of Twitter is Ed Tech.  If you would like to expand your knowledge base about the latest in Ed Tech, join other educators from across the country in the following chats; you can see the programming times for these chats below, compiled by Katie at  Thank you Katie.



# Edchat is, as far as I can tell, one of the longest running Twitter chats around (at least in the education realm). There are two Edchat conversations every Tuesday at 12pm NYC/ 5pm UK and 7pm NYC/ 12am UK. You'll find tweets relating to a huge variety of topics in education filed under this hashtag.



#lrnchat is on Thursdays at 8:30-9:30pm ET/5:30-6:30pm PT, and is focused on social media and education. Tons of awesome information here!



#Ntchat is a great chat for new teachers. It happens on Wednesdays at 8pm EST/5pm PST.



#iPadEd is a great ongoing chat about the use of iPads in educational settings. Fantastic resources, 1:1 classrooms and first hand experiences are shared.



Geared towards early childhood educators using technology, #ECETech is an ongoing discussion, and its related friend, #ECEtechChat happens every Wednesday at 9pm EDT. 


 Stop Wasting Your Time on eMail! 


Yes, I get the irony, but this doesn't apply to professional development you may get from reading this publication or others like it! 


This notion comes from one of our favorite leadership commentators, Drake Baer of Fast Company.  What follows is an excerpt of one of his recent columns; the complete article can be found here. 


By now you may have encountered Mason Currey's Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, a book that puts together the routines of 161 staggeringly creative people. It's an amazing collection for the way it reveals the quirks of genius, like Beethoven's fondness for caffeine, Maya Angelou's motel-based isolation, or Franklin's need to get naked. But among those eccentricites lies a central point: the greats didn't just work, they did deep work.


Unlike shallow work, like answering emails, attending meetings, or reporting on the work they've already done, deep work is when you are immersed in "cognitively demanding activities that leverage our training to generate rare and valuable results, and that push our abilities to continually improve." That's the definition from Cal Newport, the popularizer of the term. Newport read through the first 25 profiles and estimated the hours per day each person was working deeply.


  The result? "The average number of deep work hours turned out to be 5.25," Newport writes. This means that the poets, artists, and inventors featured were able to give nearly a quarter of each 24-hour day to tasks that are immersively difficult.



Thinking Maps    

Science Websites Your Teachers Will Love


From the "Learning Never Stops" blog, please take a look at these science websites that your teachers may find of interest.  This is an excerpt from a blog you may want to read in entirety: 



1- The Why Files 

Why Files
 is a website that helps students understand science through current events or maybe it helps kids understand current events through science. Either way, the site provides a variety of opportunities for students to learn about science in interesting ways. The home page looks like a newspaper and contains a few news stories from around the world. Each story explores is explored from a science perspective and includes pictures, diagrams, and charts to help students understand the topic. In addition to news, the site contains a classroom activities pages with discussion questions and quizzes from stories found on the web page. There is also an interactive section where students can learn about science based concepts through games and activities. Due to its focus on current events, the Why Files is just as useful to social studies teachers who may want to use it for current events and infuse some cross curricular science content.



2- Science (and More) to Music


Science (and More) to Music is a very neat website where you can find songs about a wide variety of topics fromscience, to social studies and even math. The songs are all written and performed by the sites creator Dr. Lodge McCammon. Some of the songs contain lesson support material, some have videos, and all songs have lyrics that accompany the music. Science (an more) to Music is a fantastic resource for teacher to utilize.



3- Science Bob


Science Bob (AKA Bob Pflugfelder) is a website that wants to make science more fun and interesting for kids. The site offers a variety of learning opportunities for visitors including a science questions and answers section, and research section with a huge collection of links to websites, and science fair ideas. The parts that kids might find most interestingare the three areas set aside for science experiments. There is the experiments page which lists materials and instructions for simple experiments that can be done at home or in the classroom. There is the experiments blog which is another page that shares simple experiment ideas only this page has pictures. Finally, there is the video page where you can watch Science Bob perform even more amazing science experiments. Science Bob is a fun and educational website that teachers and parents should take the time to explore. Teachers can integrate ideas from the website into their lessons while parents can use the website to help support their children's education.

national guard

Community of Readers


It's the fifth and final week of our series on "Developing a School-wide Culture of Literacy. "  Our focus has been on what the Principal (and Assistant Principals) can do to lead this emphasis.   One of your most important roles of the school leader is to teach your teachers.  What would they say you are teaching them about reading? 


We've examined the ideas of  "Drop Everything and Read," Book Commercials, READ Posters, and Principal's Book Club.  This week, we take the Book Club to the next step.  


"Community of Readers." 


Ways You Can Build a Community of Readers:


1.  Clubs. Book Clubs:  Simple enough; the clubs at your school add on an important goal:  read a book together.  Why? You've already assembled students and teachers by interests, so why not add a book that the members of the group will enjoy.  This is a perfect hook to reading.  It adds a purpose to reading and a function for your club. 


2.  School-wide Reading:   Get your entire school community to read the same book at one time.  I know, I know, there are a dozen reasons that you can think of why this won't work (money, reading levels just to name a couple).  If you really are committed to this, you can pull it off.  (email me if you would like to workshop through any challenges). 


WHY would you want to do this?  Consider the implications of raising the expectations of your entire school to read and discuss a book?  What a great way to unify your school behind a project.   For a deeper impact, select a book that fits with your school's theme for the year and read it at the beginning of the year.


3.  Themed Clubs for the Year:  This is an idea to involve lots of students but providing room for differentiated title choices.  In this plan, students sign up with a teacher to read a series of books during the year (number of books relative to book length or other considerations).   Do you have high fliers in your school?  Put them together to read classics throughout the year.  Baseball lovers?  Get your baseball coach to lead those interested in a series of books about baseball. 


How to fund these ideas?  1)  remember that many books are available for free online; 2)  nearly all of your funding sources support book purchases; 3)  community and civic groups love spending money on a specific project, particularly one involving reading.


Remember, YOU can turn your school into a community of readers if you raise reading to a high priority level among your faculty and students.   ~MW for PM!

Professional Reading 

Daily Rituals:  How Artists Work   By Mason Currey




Franz Kafka, frustrated with his living quarters and day job, wrote in a letter to Felice Bauer in 1912, "time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers." Kafka is one of 161 inspired-and inspiring-minds, among them, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians, who describe how they subtly maneuver the many (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do, whether by waking early or staying up late; whether by self-medicating with doughnuts or bathing, drinking vast quantities of coffee, or taking long daily walks. Thomas Wolfe wrote standing up in the kitchen, the top of the refrigerator as his desk, dreamily fondling his "male configurations". . . Jean-Paul Sartre chewed on Corydrane tablets (a mix of amphetamine and aspirin), ingesting ten times the recommended dose each day . . . Descartes liked to linger in bed, his mind wandering in sleep through woods, gardens, and enchanted palaces where he experienced "every pleasure imaginable."Here are: Anthony Trollope, who demanded of himself that each morning he write three thousand words (250 words every fifteen minutes for three hours) before going off to his job at the postal service, which he kept for thirty-three years during the writing of more than two dozen books . . . Karl Marx . . . Woody Allen . . . Agatha Christie . . . George Balanchine, who did most of his work while ironing . . . Leo Tolstoy . . . Charles Dickens . . . Pablo Picasso . . . George Gershwin, who, said his brother Ira, worked for twelve hours a day from late morning to midnight, composing at the piano in pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers . . .Here also are the daily rituals of Charles Darwin, Andy Warhol, John Updike, Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Franklin, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, Anne Rice, and Igor Stravinsky (he was never able to compose unless he was sure no one could hear him and, when blocked, stood on his head to "clear the brain").Brilliantly compiled and edited, and filled with detail and anecdote, Daily Rituals is irresistible, addictive, magically inspiring.


Thanks to Drake Baer ( ) from Fast Company for writing a column about this book, lea ding us here for this week's Professional Reading segment.  Do you have a book you've read worth sharing with your colleagues?  Send us an email at and we'll feature you and your recommendation in an upcoming edition.
On this date 

On This Date...

November 26, 1941


FDR establishes modern Thanksgiving holiday


President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill officially establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

The tradition of celebrating the holiday on Thursday dates back to the early history of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, when post-harvest holidays were celebrated on the weekday regularly set aside as "Lecture Day," a midweek church meeting where topical sermons were presented. A famous Thanksgiving observance occurred in the autumn of 1621, when Plymouth governor William Bradford invited local Indians to join the Pilgrims in a three-day festival held in gratitude for the bounty of the season.


Thanksgiving became an annual custom throughout New England in the 17th century, and in 1777 the Continental Congress declared the first national American Thanksgiving following the Patriot victory at Saratoga. In 1789, President George Washington became the first president to proclaim a Thanksgiving holiday, when, at the request of Congress, he proclaimed November 26, a Tuesday, as a day of national thanksgiving for the U.S. Constitution. However, it was not until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday of November, that the modern holiday was celebrated nationally.

History of the Holidays: History of Thanksgiving
History of the Holidays: History of Thanksgiving

With a few deviations, Lincoln's precedent was followed annually by every subsequent president--until 1939. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt departed from tradition by declaring November 23, the next to last Thursday that year, as Thanksgiving Day. Considerable controversy surrounded this deviation, and some Americans refused to honor Roosevelt's declaration. For the next two years, Roosevelt repeated the unpopular proclamation, but on November 26, 1941, he admitted his mistake and signed a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.


Thanks to the History Channel's "This Day in History" for today's look back.  You can have history delivered to you everyday by signing up for daily email updates at