iPads and Google Forms for Classroom Observations – Team Solution

 The Spring Lake Middle Instructional Leadership Team had a great collaborative growth experience with the Cumberland County Schools Curriculum and Instruction Team.


    The CCS C&I Teams makes regular visits to schools to observe classrooms and give feedback to the principal and/or other personnel. For our visit today, our Executive Director of Secondary Curriculum, John Gibbs, visited with our curriculum specialist in math, social studies, science and literacy. They spent several hours in the building visiting classes, having conversations and ended the day with a group share of plus/deltas. These visits are always positive – at the end we all have a clear direction of the successes and work throughs.

   During our conversation, I learned the C&I team capture walk  through data using a GoogleDrive spreadsheet. They set up multiple fields with specific information they want to collect and later review. All the specialists understand how to manipulate the information, including using colors to highlight certain information for various reasons.

   There is a high degree of synchronicity this week with Google Forms and Walk Thrus/Informal Observations. Earlier this week, after a lot of productive work, I made a post on how to send feedback from a GoogleForm [GoogleForm for Feedback Tool]. Utilizing the features of GoogleDrive is a great way to make sure a team is being data driven and all are going in a good direction.


   I shared our GoogleForm Walk Through tool with them. We started the talk showing the parallels in both spreadsheets – exact same end results and capabilities of looking at data. We next went into a talk about how the GoogleForm streamlines the process adding the information into the spreadsheet. This process is made altogether easier with the use of our iPads. We shared iPads from one of our Project Carts and paired off with the C&I and did more walk thrus using our tool. We wanted the team to compare the experience with iPads vs laptop and reviewing the data at the end.

   This was a great collaborative session for everyone. We got to share our process and tools with a visiting team and we benefited from their feedback on our walk thru tool. This is value of finding the solution through collaboration.

Skyping In – #GRESA Conference

images   Last week, I had the great opportunity to Skype into the conference with a good friend of mine from Georgia. Rod Smith, @IAmRodSmith, is the Director of Technology and Communications for Griffin-Spalding Schools. I contacted him earlier to get his help with an iPad technical issue [he is an iPad guru]. We arranged for me to Skype into his session for school leaders using social media for their own growth and for connecting with their stakeholders.

A main goal was for this group to hear from a current school administrator who using social media. We previously discussed the sharing on the following points:

  • The right tools make the difference – Tools like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck make the difference, whether its scheduling tweets, organizing information, participating in chats or any number other features
  • Connecting with stakeholders – I created this information sheet [Stay Informed@SLMS] at my last school and modified to fit my current district’s social media policies. I attribute this sheet to Communicating and Connecting with Social Media
  • My changed perspective – I am a different educator today than when I first joined Twitter and began diving into social media four years ago. This journey is about lifelong learning and shifting paradigms
  • Participating in chats – I spoke to the group about my active participation/facilitation in two chats:
    • #edfocus – This began as a book study chat and has evolved to include an implementation portion. The main facilitators include @mrbernia and @normandin
    • #ncadmin was started with fellow NC administrator @CSmithGoBlue. We want a forum to keep NC administrators current on new trends but are very fortunate to be joined by administrators across our nation.
    • I encouraged all school leaders present in the session to either join an existing chat or create one specific for their circle and growth

This was a great experience! I’m thankful for the opportunity to share some impactful experiences I’ve had that could help others benefit from diving into social media. We should all can do what we can to help other educators change their perspectives on what 21st century professional development and growth means.

Improving Our PLC – Communication

   When I first became principal of Spring Lake Middle, several people expressed a concern to me about the communication structure. I think it’s a common concern in most schools that teachers feel left out of the loop for a lot of decisions and planning that happen in a school. Schools are complex multi-layered environtments with a lot of moving parts. It’s takes years of commitment, planning and vision building to build and maintain any effective system and a good workable communication system is critical to the process.

   Good school leaders want teachers involved and informed in all aspects of talks or planning. The best ideas come from group share and brainstorming. I’ve been fortunate that the last schools I’ve been an administrator in have had a core group of teachers who either implement great ideas or rally the troops to help drive school initiatives. We need that involvement.

   To help create a more open, effective system, we’ve designed a meeting structure that will address the curricular and operational concerns.

  • Mondays – School administration/leadership meetings [morning]
  • Tuesdays – Grade level meetings [teachers meet with administrative rep]
  • Wednesdays – Collaborative planning [facilitated by instructional coaches]
  • Thursdays – Protected content planning
  • Friday – Instructional/curriculum support training, bimonthly

   Moving foward, we need to focus on several things:

  • Formalize talks and planning – being more systemic about what we do and adding structure [agendas, products] to our meetings;
  • Protect what we are implementing;
  • Communicate the vision – I have to make it my mission to paint the picture of what our school will look like if we build and maintain a great communication structure using this plan.

   It helps that we have a great staff! Once we lay out they need, they are all in for the good solution. Commitment to the vision and plan will be integral in moving us forward