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Pedagogical DNA…..

Some important things to consider when teaching math at the secondary level, particularly high schools.

TPACK2

 

 

 

 

1. Learning is social.

2. Collaboration, Planning, Flexible scheduling, Assessment, Reflection

 

 

Mr. Myers Math Blog

 

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

The Season of Thankfulness #IATF

scar quoteHere it is again, the season of thankfulness……and this year, I want to participate in the social media festivities of publicly expressing my thanks.

Sometimes on days like today, when it’s raining outside and all I can hear are the intermittent snores of my dog Xena, I find myself in space where I am able to notice, and can’t overlook, the scars that remind me of why I am so thankful for family, friends, my former students and teachers, and all of the strangers and congregations that stopped, on several occasions, and prayed for my recovery. scar on arm Nov 2014A family lost a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister and a great grandmother on the day of my accident and, for reasons I still don’t know, my life was spared. The outpouring of love, support, and prayers still overwhelms me even as I write this post.

I am thankful that I survived; I am thankful that I got to experience the birth of my first God-child, the birth of my third niece, the high school graduations of the classes of 2013 and 2014, being accepted into the ELC Ed.S program at UNCG, making sure my intern got a J.O.B., witnessing a very good teacher beat breast cancer, having lunch with one of my favorite 3rd graders, our LU dinners and random get-togethers, being there when a really great guy gets the principalship he deserved, sharing stories and laughs with colleagues and friends, and being able to spend copious amounts of time with people that I love and have grown to love more and more.

I remember when I first saw the scar on my arm…….I immediately thought I’d never wear sleeveless shirts again because the scar was so ugly. And then my leg/ankle were unveiled to my distinct horror. I then thought, “Well, I guess I better not wear skirts either….nobody wants to see these ugly scars.” I have finally gotten to a place where I don’t worry about the scars anymore or what they look like to others, and I am extremely thankful for my friends and family scar on rt ankle Nov 2014who helped me get to this place because Lord knows I was not easy to deal with! As you can see, I am quite blessed that the scars healed so well. I am incredibly thankful for the mercy I received throughout this recovery journey.

Tomorrow I get to celebrate Thanksgiving in a way that I have never done before. A very good friend of mine is doing what she always does and having her traditional ‘family’ Thanksgiving dinner but she invites EVERYONE! This year, thankfully, I get to go AND my parents will be with me. For the first time ever, I get to spend Thanksgiving with what I consider to be my blended family. scar on right leg Nov 2014

So, during this holiday season, I wish all of you safe travels, good times with your families and friends, and I hope you’ll take some time to think about all the reasons you have to be thankful……I know I have. #happythanksgiving #IATF

khai and little kev selfie

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

It’s time……..moving on is never easy

I’ve spent the last three or four days trying to compose this blog entry. I still have this empty feeling swirling through the pit of my stomach just thinking about publishing this post. It’s time for me to move on and I don’t know how to even say it to the community that I love and have worked with for the last three years.

Tonight, the Rockingham County Board of Education approved me as the next Director of Secondary Administration in Rockingham County Schools. Obviously this means that I am no longer the principal at McMichael High School. Just thinking about that makes me incredibly sad; however, thinking about the next chapter of my career is quite exciting and a little scary. I was in this very position about three years ago…..trying to figure out how to tell another staff that it was time for me to leave. It was heart wrenching then and it is even harder this time because the McMichael staff, the Phoenix students, and the entire Western Rockingham community have helped me grow into the person that I am now.

Three years ago I had to look into the eyes of about 40 staff members at North Asheboro Middle School and tell them, after two incredible years, that it was time for me to move on…..move on to a high school principalship. That entire experience broke my heart that day….and remembering what that felt like is what reminds me to dread the heartache I’ll feel for quite some time. It’s really hard to explain, how someone can be incredibly sad to leave but strangely excited about the next chapter. It’s what I feel…..and I really cannot explain it.

Three years ago I started my first day at McMichael High School scared to death, excited beyond belief, and with a staff that put their heads down as they walked by me, rarely smiled, and certainly were terrified to take risks both in their classrooms and with their ideas. Today, as I leave McMichael, I can be very thankful for and indebted to our staff; I am also incredibly inspired by them. I am more than thankful that THEY will be the last staff I ever work with (my plan, not God’s….He might overrule me as I have so explicitly experienced!). The teachers I have worked with at McMichael have pushed me to be better, challenged me to take risks with them, learned to laugh with and at each other, achieved far greater results that I ever imagined, and, most importantly to me, been my family and my support particularly through an incredibly difficult time for me personally (about 18 months ago). The people in that building are amazing people and even better teachers. The principal can only be as good as their staff……this is something principals should never forget. The relationships I have with our teachers is something I’ll never forget. We have argued, laughed, disagreed nicely and hatefully, worked together, loved each other, hated each other, defended each other….these are all the qualities of a family. I will always consider the Phoenix community as part of my family.

The children. Our children. I will miss being with our children more than anything. Watching the kids grow into themselves, learn who they are, and find their voice is one of the greatest parts of being a principal. Our McMichael kids are second to none. They have tons of personality and have most definitely, esp. our seniors, learned to find AND use their voices. Graduation is the single best event I have ever been a part of as a professional. I am always humbled to have the opportunity to speak to the seniors as a group for the final time. I’ll miss all the events that make up a high school and I’ll miss the people…..I’ll just really miss the people.

It’s time for me to move on……I knew it three years ago when I left NAMS, and I know it now. I cannot articulate what our staff, our students, and our western Rockingham community mean to me.
I just want to say thank you…..and I’ll miss being your principal. #studentstrong #iwillmissyou #thankyou

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Taking Our Staff to the Movies

2014-04-04 14.05.23  As I’ve walked the halls over the last few weeks, I’ve seen our teachers working incredibly hard to deliver engaging and relevant instruction. Just like most high school teachers across our state, our teachers are trying to get their students ready for the intense, overrated, irrelevant, ridiculous MSL, EOC, and CTE exams they have to take next week. My teachers are tired….incredibly tired. And who could blame them? No one in Raleigh seems to value teachers and that is evidenced by bills and laws that our NC General Assembly supports and pushes through without considering the effects on teachers and ultimately students.

 

Here’s the email I sent my staff on Monday: “We will have a mandatory staff meeting in the Auditorium on Wed. 6/4. Dr. Shotwell (our superintendent) will be here 2014-05-30 12.53.29to discuss budget cuts etc. All staff members are expected to attend.” JUST the email a group of teachers want to receive at the last minute!!! Man they were mad, irritated, and curious. What they didn’t know is what I had planned with the help of Austin, Chelsea, and Dallas aka ‘Triple Threat Productions’.

Since April, these three GREAT kids have been helping me with a project to inspire our teachers and illustrate for them just how much they do matter in the lives of our children!

Ready for the movies.

Ready for the movies.

So, what did we do? Well, the triple threat and I bought out Wal-Mart with all the candy you would find at the movies (Twizzlers, Mike & Ikes, chocolate, Sugar Daddy’s, Skittles etc), popcorn bags, and drinks. We sneaked the popcorn machine into the auditorium and started preparing the stage. Once the entire staff got settled into the auditorium, I welcomed them, gave them a little speech about how much they meant to me and to our kids and told them that today, we were taking them to the movies! The curtain opened and behind me was a blank screen and two tables on either side….one with the candy and one with all the popcorn and drinks.

2014-06-04 18.29.32-1Once everybody got settled into their seats, we played our 40min. movie. The movie is extremely special because we were able to find one child for every staff member in our building that felt like that teacher, counselor, teacher assistant, or administrator had changed their lives and influenced them to be better. The movie contains TONS of pictures that most of the staff NEVER knew I took….and some that I didn’t know THEY took and the interviews with the kids were awesome. Dr. Shotwell stayed the whole time and watched the movie!

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate our staff and I certainly find it very difficult to articulate just how much I love and respect them. But, yesterday, they knew…..and yesterday, they were surprised. And yesterday, for about 45min., I knew that they knew how special they really are to all of us. #itwaswortheveryminute

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

End of Year Thoughts…..

#studentstrong Tagboard

#studentstrong Tagboard

Each year is a learning experience for me. The children and the adults in our building teach me more than they will ever know. Below are a few things I’ve learned this year…..both about myself and about teaching and learning.

1. It’s ok to let others help you….even as the principal.

2. Humor is the best medicine. Hands down.

3. No one should underestimate me, our kids, or our teachers.

4. My animals (Xena and Mr. Moe) are critical to my sanity.

5. Take chances, lots of them. And encourage your teachers & kids to do the same.

6. It’s ok to cry……

7. People will disappoint you.

8. Being ‘present’ with people makes all the difference in the world.

9. Kids want to find their voice. It’s up to us (educators) to provide safe spaces so they can find their voices.

10. If you aren’t careful, your seniors will sneak out the side door at lunch and drive to McDonald’s or Subway to eat….and they will do it until you catch them!

11. Make mistakes….it’s ok.

12. I’m not ashamed of my scars.

13. Get involved. Stay involved. Fight for Public Education at every turn.

14. Playing practical jokes on my teachers is the BEST!

15. Eating lunch with my favorite 3rd grader always brightens my day. #littlecasto #dillardelem

16. Cancer can be beaten. #penny #breastcancerawareness

17. Everyone deserves second chances.

18. Saying “I’m sorry” is critical to effective leadership.

19. Over communicate.

20. Working with a staff who is “experienced” (70% of my staff has 10+ yrs. of experience) is overwhelmingly tiring!!!! #theyaresomestubbornpeople #setintheirways

21. Job-embedded coaching is the most effective way to support teachers and the principal!!! #loveERG #NTI

22. Ask for forgiveness…….

23. Always let your teachers go on Fridays right after the bell. #itsthelittlethings

24. Give people lots and lots of opportunities to be successful

25. Provide support

26. Having great counselors makes all the difference in the world.

27. Get a Fitbit.

28. I love to exercise….I also have an addiction to online shopping.

29. Take selfies with the kids.

30. I really like working with our assistant principal Mr. Whittaker. He’s been one of the most supportive, loyal, funny, and all around good guys that I know.

31. Have a Poetry Slam at your school. Make the time for it. The children will surprise you with their depth of knowledge, bravery to perform in front of others, and their overall persistence to get through tough situations. #inspiring

32. Build your professional learning network. It can really help you grow as a leader.

I feel pretty lucky to work with the students and staff at McMichael. Thanks for another great year…..and here’s to an even better 2014-2015! #studentstrong

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Still Here, Still Recovering…..

For awhile, I wasn’t sure I’d make it to this day. I really questioned whether I could make it through the long, emotional road they call recovery. It’s been 365 days since my life changed drastically. At 7:15am this time last year, I was involved in a serious head-on car collision on my way to work. Sometimes, when I’m driving, I can feel the impact again. I can smell the fumes of the cars. I can still hear the screams of the people trying to help me. I can hear the officer asking me what my name was. I can still see the other driver. I drive by the site of my accident every day on my way to work. And when I drive by, sometimes I still cringe and jerk much like I did the day I was hit by another car. A friend of mine keeps asking me, “what did you learn?” “did you change at all?”  Physically, yes, I changed drastically. I’ve got these really cool scars on my body, I walk with a slight limp (which slows me down chasing the children!), and I’ll never be able to run again. I know I take the time to enjoy things around me and I definitely found the balance I needed in my life (being a high school principal doesn’t always mean having balance). I absolutely believe everything happens for a reason. And I believe my accident was God’s way of saying, “leigh, slow your ass down and let others help you. I’m tired of trying to tell you, so I’m going to show you how to do it!” I was literally forced to give up control of everything. I was rendered helpless. I had to trust people more than I ever had before. I didn’t have control of my own life. Hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. And I wouldn’t trade any of it.

Have you ever watched the make-over shows where the spouse/parent/family member loses a ton of weight, gets a makeover and then sees the people they love for the first time, and sees them feeling like and looking like a new person. I started to feel that way about three days ago as the year anniversary of this accident approached. It’s like I’m finally waking up, 365 days later, and seeing myself, seeing someone different, someone who has changed tremendously, and that simply appreciates the journey from down and out to back in action. My staff at McMichael will never know how much they influenced my recovery and how much they continue to help me. I’ll never be able to accurately articulate for them how much I needed them in “my darkest hours” and how much I continue to need them. They were my angels during a pretty hard time in my life. Those teachers and our assistant principals did everything I would’ve ever wanted while I was out during the spring. Our superintendent didn’t name an interim principal simply because he knew our staff was prepared to lead that school. That is the ultimate compliment for our staff and our administrators. They were amazing. I always told them they didn’t need me, and they proved me right. I’ll always need them more than they will ever need me.

Without our staff and our students, I’m not sure I could have fought back to where I am today. 365 days later, I’m still recovering but my staff and our students still inspire me to be better and to keep fighting through a tough recovery process…..they are #theangelsamongus

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Building An Admin Team: Trust and Loyalty #musthave

loyaltyWell, I’ve had plenty of time to sit around and think these past couple weeks. I’ve thought a lot about what I might want to say here on this blog. What keeps coming to my mind is that trust and loyalty are the most important characteristics I need on an administrative team. I’ll tell you why. Right now, I’m out of commission (surgery) until late February 2014…..and just about a year ago I was involved in the most life-changing event in my life, I nearly lost my life in a head-on car collision. Until that time, and until now, I knew trust and loyalty were critical, but now, after that accident, and during this hard time for me, trust and loyalty are two characteristics I, as a leader, cannot live without.

I know this to be true. I work with the best assistant principal in all of North Carolina. Mr. Whittaker is my professional my rock. He is running McMichael right now, and he’s doing a hell of a job. I have only worked with him for two years…..but I knew pretty quickly that he was someone I could trust. His loyalty and professionalism are second to none, and the job he’s doing right now is something that I could only dream of……you see, we lost our second assistant principal on Jan. 1st, she got a principalship! We were very excited for her and it was well-deserved, but at the same time, for her to leave and me to go out on leave, it really put Mr. Whittaker in a precarious situation. Luckily, I have a NC Principal Fellow intern this year, Mr. Eanes. He’s been awesome….and I’d HIGHLY suggest you contact him so you can hire him (@JoshuaEanes1). These two men are running a 1000 student high school….and doing a great job.

Here’s how I think we built our trust and loyalty:

1. Laughter: My goodness do we laugh. We genuinely like each other. I know no matter what kind of day I’m having, Mr. Whittaker IS going to make me laugh with some off-hand comment. His insight and humor are something I can’t work without!

2. Don’t take each other too seriously: We are all human. I say to them all the time, “to be a successful leader, you must have a large sense of humor and a small ego.” My admin team has embraced this concept. We just can’t take each other too seriously NOR can we take ourselves too seriously. Refer back to #1….laugh at yourself, at each other, and with each other.

3. Reflection: Weaknesses vs. Strengths: It starts with me. I had to reveal my weaknesses to Mr. Whittaker and to Mr. Eanes in order to let them know I believe they complement my weaknesses. Once we got past that roadblock, we all kind of know who does what well. We know when we can’t handle certain parents or children and we gladly just give it up rather than put the children or the parents in a bad spot.

4. Make Mistakes and Own Them: Goodness knows I make SO, SO, SO many mistakes in such a short period of time! And guess what, Mr. Whittaker is right there to let me know it’s my fault! ; )  Really though, administrative teams must learn that mistakes will be made, the team is built on figuring out, together, how to fix the mistakes. We gotta be able to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, and this is how I will fix it.” You’d be surprised how hard that is for some administrators. I believe our admin team is absolutely reflective enough to know when we need to fix our mistakes, say “I’m sorry”, and make it right. And along the way, when we need to, we refer to #1 and laugh at ourselves!

5. Share the Load: This one is so simple. We share the load. The job is hard….really, really hard, but when we all work together to get it done, that’s what makes a  great team. We really don’t care whose “responsibility” the work falls under, if we need to, we pick up and do it. I share everything I know with my APs…..in my opinion, if I know it, they need to know it.

I’m sure there are lots more ways to build trust and loyalty among an administrative team, but these are the ways I’ve found to be successful during my time as a principal. If your administrative team doesn’t work together and you don’t trust each other, your life as a leader and as a principal can be miserable. I appreciate Mr. Whittaker and Mr. Eanes more than they will ever know….and Mrs. Chestnut (new principal) was part of our administrative team too…..#wemissher #shewasthefunniest

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
Lead. Learn. Grow.

Leslie Kinard, Ed.S.

dy/dan

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