Showing Real Leadership

In April and May I wrote about the first two words in our new motto. I wrote about focusing on students and about being in service to others. The third installment of the trilogy is a bit more difficult. Understand that I don’t believe a problem exists that doesn’t have a solution. To use a Star Trek reference (yes, I’m a nerd), I simply don’t believe in the Kobayashi Maru scenario. That fictional no-win/no-solutions scenario is supposed to test leadership, decisiveness and judgment. Captain Kirk goes through the test twice and fails to find a solution. Before his third time to take the test he hacks the computer and reprograms it so he can solve the problem.

Word Work Wednesday

As educators, we know and understand the importance of vocabulary instruction, but we don’t always have the time to make our vocabulary activities engaging and meaningful. Sometimes it may be because of time constraints, other times, it may be that we are just having a hard time coming up with new activities. So, for today’s Word Work Wednesday, I will share an activity to add to your collection in order to help eliminate at least one of the obstacles. I hope you enjoy!

In Service

The BBC/PBS television show Downton Abbey finished its six-year run in mid-February. Like many of you, my wife, Kelly, and I became avid watchers of the show. In the process, I became aware of a phrase that is both very British in nature and quite specific to the Victorian Age and early 20th century. The phrase is in service; a phrase the aristocracy used to identify those serving in professions as butlers, maids, cooks, footmen, etc. To be in service did not mean to be in servitude; in fact, service jobs were highly sought because they offered very stable employment and often carried some prestige in the villages and hamlets. Individuals employed in service were proud of their profession.

How do we intervene with our kids?

As testing season approaches, classrooms across the state are hunkering down and making last ditch efforts to prepare students for the state assessments. The question boils down to this: are these last-ditch efforts really working? The reason the question is asked is because if the strategies and instructional approaches used during this crunch are so successful, why are we not using them throughout the school year? Don’t our students deserve this same intensity throughout the year? Although well-meaning, these “interventions” may not help our students as much as we hope. True enough, there may be pertinent information that soaks into their minds, but to have our students become truly successful, not only on state assessments but any other reading and writing assessment, boils down to these key factors:
• phonological awareness;
• phonics;
• fluency;
• vocabulary; and
• comprehension
In order for our students to succeed, they must be fluid in these areas of reading. So, the question now becomes, how well do we understand these key reading components? By understanding these skills, we are better able to successfully prepare our students for all of the reading assessments they will encounter.

Guest Blogger: Cynthia Alaniz Librarian in Cute Shoes

 Librarian in Cute Shoes  Follow Cynthia’s blog at

The thoughts of an elem. librarian who loves children’s literature, technology, writing, —and throughout it all must wear cute shoes!

#TXLA16: A Wonderful Whirlwind   Monday, April 25, 2016 I attended the Texas Library Association’s 2016 Annual Conference, and though I’ve been home for two days, it is still fresh on my mind.  The time was incredibly enriching and filled with so many incredible moments. I took some pictures, but I couldn’t capture everything. You never can. What makes this conference so amazing? Well-planned and painstakingly organized, the blueprint for this conference is laid out early, with attention to every detail! And the people! All of the dedicated and determined librarians who plan and execute it all make it great for attendees as well as speakers. I had a tiny part to play in it, mostly through the work of two programs (along with some volunteer work for the Bluebonnet Luncheon): Donalyn Miller and I shared many title recommendations in “Book Chat Live” — including picture books, graphic novels, early readers, middle grade, nonfiction. We hope we helped librarians spend money on books! We had more books than time! Isn’t this always the case? Most certainly, working with Donalyn was a wonderful experience! I also moderated a panel of authors in a session appropriately named “Notably Newbery”. This session will get its own blog post here tomorrow! I hope you will come back to read it! I couldn’t possible attend everything I wanted to, but through the beauty of Twitter, and conversations in hallways and ballrooms, I was able to learn from sessions I could not attend. One session I found particularly wonderful was the Poetry Roundup! There is always a great lineup of poets at this event! And listening to these poets read from their work is truly a wonderful experience! Attending this session always give me great ideas to share poetry with my school. Dr. Sylvia Vardell is the moderator and poet planner extraordinaire! I attend Poetry Roundup every year! Newbery winner Kwame Alexander, author of The Crossover, shares a poem for the Poetry Improv with Janet Wong to his left. This is my first blog post about #txla16. Some conferences just can’t be written about only once! Especially ones held in Texas!! I hope you will visit again tomorrow to read more!

It’s Why We’re Here

As an adjunct professor it’s my privilege to teach graduate level courses at two local universities. While I think the students gain from interacting with someone owning my professional experiences, I admit to enjoying the classes because I love the experience of being in a classroom doing something I love – teaching. I thrive on the energy students bring to the experience!

Last Tuesday during the School Law class I teach for future principals, one of the bright young minds in the group stopped the discussion to say, “This stuff is crazy and it makes my head hurt.” There was a long pause without anyone saying anything and then her classmates voiced their agreement.

A Customizable Approach to Restorative Justice School Discipline: Replacing Ineffective, Punitive, Consequences With Human-Centered Educational Practices

“A Customizable Approach to Restorative Justice
School Discipline: Replacing Ineffective, Punitive, Consequences With Human-Centered Educational Practices”

Presented by: Page Nichols and Pender Makin

Traditional school discipline tends to be one-size-fits all, punitive in nature, and largely ineffective in changing student behavior. In fact, disciplinary practices that cause students to be removed from school for any length of time actually exacerbate most of the underlying causes of maladaptive behavior, contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline, and sever the already fragile connections to school, teachers, and peers that need to be strengthened in our most at risk students.

Learning Disabilities and/or Dyslexia– the Future and a Child’s Potential

The term “disability” is sometimes a hard word to hear for a parent at an ARD meeting at school.  The feeling of a significant loss for the potential of a child’s future can overtake a parent at such a time.  It is important to share stories such as the one below that illustrates that the future is not always bleak.  There is always hope if the focus is on the child’ strengths as well as areas of need.

Change With A Purpose

Change was one of the major topics at Monday’s internal professional development. We talked about changing how staff members communicate, changing our understanding of what education means, changing how we plan and deliver professional development for teachers, changing the design of our building, changing our logo, changing our ….  You get the point.  When change is discussed it’s almost always introduced with a cliché, such as:

Celebrate Women ‘s History Month 2016 in February and ALL YEAR Round!



It seems fitting to post about women and their impact on history by opening with a quote from Ronald Reagan’s Proclamation of Women’s History Month, 1987, in light of the recent demise of Mrs. Nancy Reagan, the widow of President Ronald Reagan and passionately devoted keeper of his flame, who died Sunday morning in her Los Angeles home at age 94.   One does not have to be a fan of Reagan politics to appreciate what Mrs. Reagan brought to the office of First Lady and to recognize and respect her unfailing support of her husband.