Tuesday, December 31, 2013

PLN Blogging Challenge

Most of you have probably seen the blog challenges going around on Twitter.  Some have been called the Sunshine Award, the Homework Meme, etc.  I haven't really paid much attention to those little chirps until now. 

"Tag, you're it!" was the message that popped up on my iPad, alerting me that I had received a tweet.  Thank you, Jessica Johnson, for "tagging" me and motivating me to dust off the old keyboard.  It's been quite awhile since I've taken the time to sit down and write anything on my blog.  2013 brought many changes for me--as you will soon read below. Hopefully I will be able to get back into the rhythm of writing in 2014.  This challenge may have been just what I needed to kickstart the process!

 The rules of the challenge
  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.  (Thanks again, Jessica!)
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

11 Random Facts About Me

1.  I am a newlywed.  My husband, JD, and I recently got married in Las Vegas.  We are very happy!

2.  I recently received the first stamp on my passport as I traveled outside of the U.S. for the first time in my life.  We visited Aruba for our honeymoon. If you have never been there, I would highly recommend it.  The weather is perfect--88 degrees and sunny every day. 

3.  I have four children--3 sons and 1 daughter, ages 26, 24, 22, and 19.  Three of whom I've called my own since birth and one recent addition via marriage. 

4.  In 2013, I moved from Indiana (where I had lived my entire life) to Georgia.  My husband is from Georgia, and we decided that we were going to make our home there.  In the process, I resigned from an elementary principal position in Indiana that I absolutely loved.  I was very anxious about finding a new position in Georgia, but as it turns out, I found another position that I love very much as well!  I am the proud principal of Bethlehem Elementary in Bethlehem, GA.  As my mother told me as I was preparing for the job interview-- "Good things happen in Bethlehem."  Mom--you were right!

5.  I was a late bloomer.  I began my college career as a 25-year-old mother of three.  I went to school full time and was blessed to have my amazing mom help care for my kids while I attended classes. It was very rewarding to have my family in attendance as I walked across the stage to receive my degree.  

6.  In keeping with the late bloomer theme, I got my first teaching position at the age of 30.  I taught fourth grade for two years before transferring to another elementary in which I taught second grade for six years.   Another fun fact:    The first year I taught fourth grade, my oldest son was in fourth grade, and the first year I taught second grade, my daughter was in second grade.  (They attended a different elementary school.)

7.  I never really planned on becoming a principal.  I absolutely loved teaching and thought that I would always be in the elementary classroom.  Through opportunities to serve as a teacher leader, I found that I had a real passion for instructional leadership.  With some encouragement from the people around me, I enrolled in a Master's Degree program and ended up landing an assistant principal position before I had even finished my degree.  After three years as an assistant, I landed my first principal position.   I can't imagine being anything but a principal now!  (Although, I will ALWAYS consider myself a teacher.)

8.  I would love to write a book.  I am not sure what type of book I want to write yet, but I know when the time is right I will know what I am supposed to write.  Right?  

9.  I love to read.  My parents instilled this in me right from the very beginning.  I can remember many read alouds, and my mom still has some of my favorite childhood picture books memorized from reading them so many times.  While I kind of lost the love of reading for most of my middle school and high school years, I know that it was their love for books and reading and the solid foundation they had set that brought me back to something I dearly love.  When my husband and I were recently with my parents for the holidays, we watched my dad soar through a new James Patterson novel in one sitting.  Needless to say, my husband knows where I get it from now!

10.  It is my goal to run the Peachtree Roadrace in Atlanta in July.  There.  I needed to see that in print.

11.  I recently saw my celebrity crush in concert, and I am not ashamed to admit that I screamed and carried on like a teenager.  It was three hours of pure bliss!

Now, to answer the questions that Jessica posed.

1.  What is your favorite tv show?  New Girl, SportsCenter

2. What is one app or resource you’ve learned about on Twitter that has been a game changer for you at work? I can't really narrow this down to one resource since I believe Twitter has made me a better principal overall.  The resource that I find most valuable?  The people in my PLN.  I have learned so much from them and carry that with me into school each day.
3. What is your typical bedtime? I'm usually in bed by 10 or 10:30, but I've been known to be in bed by 9:00 if I'm really tired.  
4. Best book you’ve read in 2013? Tough question!  Can't narrow it to just one, so here are a few of my favorites of the year:  Allegiant (Divergent Trilogy), Requiem (Delirium Trilogy), Navigating Early, Reading in the Wild
5. Favorite Twitter Chat: #satchat and #titletalk
6. Best place you’ve vacationed? Aruba 
7. How has your PLN impacted you? I have taken many of my PLN's  great ideas back to school with me as a springboard for improvement or inspiration.  When I'm in need of an "educational pick-me-up", all I have to do is click on the little blue and white birdie on my ipad or phone and my PLN is there to help with anything I might be searching for.
8. What motivates you each day to be an educator?  The students and teachers motivate me each day.  I go to work each day eager and ready to learn, and I want my students and teachers to feel the same way.  Feeling like I have the opportunity to make an impact on any one of the hundreds of lives in my building each day is very rewarding.
9. What was the most amazing lesson you ever facilitated or observed? I'm going to "ditto" Jessica on this answer.  She wrote, "I’m always amazed when I see my teachers leading mini-lessons in reading/writing during the Daily 5 block. I wish I could go back in time and teach that way, because it’s so much more engaging and student centered than how I taught."  I feel the same way.  I wish I would have been able to implement this in my classroom.  I am always in awe when I see it working the way it is meant to! (I would also have to add that observing Ron Clark teach a lesson at the Ron Clark Academy was a pretty amazing experience, too!)
10. If you had a whole day to do just what you wanted, what would it be?  Spend time with my family
11. Favorite tv show when you were growing up? American Bandstand, The Brady Bunch, The Bionic Woman, Little House on the Prairie  (Dating myself here....)

Join the Challenge:
The same questions are posed to the following 11 bloggers.  Who's up for the challenge?

3.  John Schu

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate Day

We embraced Teach Like a Pirate Day on October 23.  As a part of our book study, groups of teachers had to perform skits and teach the rest of the staff about their assigned letter/word from the book.  They did not disappoint!    

Pre-K Pirates
We had classroom scenarios, dancing, singing, and some very dramatic reenactments.  I was so very proud of everyone for bringing the pirate spirit to the day.  The students and parents were unaware of our planned theme, so you can imagine the looks we got as the students entered the building for their day of learning.
Kindergarten Pirates
There were many pirate-themed activities for the students such as a kindergarten treasure hunt that included students using a map to find their way to the front office where a treasure box waited with coins that had to be counted and recorded.

3rd Grade Pirates

4th Grade Pirates
5th Grade Pirates

1st Grade Pirates

2nd Grade Pirates

We have challenged our staff to continue to keep the PIRATE spirit alive in their lessons each day!  Aarrrgh!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Channel Your Inner Pirate! Arrgh!

Today, my assistant principal and I channeled our inner pirates as we led our staff through what they thought was going to be a session on critiquing instruction.  We began the session by telling the staff that as we have been doing our walk-throughs, we have been assessing their instruction.  We thought it would be a good idea to give them some practice in doing the same.  We had three short video clips for them to watch.  They were asked to look at what each teacher was doing, what the students were doing, the level of engagement, etc. and be ready to critique it.

Click below to watch on Teacher Tube

After all three video clips were shown, we instructed them to have a conversation with those around them about what they observed.  As they began their discussion, we escaped and ran to our offices to put on our costumes!  We transformed into pirates and rejoined the group.

Arrgh!  We shared our treasure with the staff!

We entered the cafeteria and spoke in our best "pirate-ese" as we told the staff that we hoped we wouldn't see any of that type of teaching happening here. If so, they may have to "walk the plank." We then decided to share our treasure with them--a copy of  Teach Like a Pirate by @burgessdave.  Inside each book, we had placed a paper with one letter of the word PIRATE on it.  We did a jigsaw activity in which we had the staff move to sit with others who had the same letter.  Their task was to read the part about their letter in the first section of the book and design a skit/performance that will teach the rest of the staff what their assigned letter stands for.
A Must Read for Teachers!

Ask and Analyze

Two weeks from today, each group will have the opportunity to present their information in an engaging way.  

And, one more thing.... It will be Teach Like a Pirate Day at our school! Teachers and staff are encouraged to dress up like pirates for the day.  The response in the crowd when this was announced was great!  Everyone seemed very excited about this opportunity.  We are keeping it a secret so that we can surprise our students.  I look forward to sharing how our staff teaches what each letter represents.  Here's to channeling our inner pirates!  Arrgh! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Looking for the Good in Every Day: A Lesson from Pete the Cat

Rockin' in Our School Shoes during 2013 Reading Parade

I am a huge Pete the Cat fan.  Recently, I purchased a copy of Kimberly and James Dean's Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses. Pete, a rockin' character we have come to know and love has the "blue cat blues."  Grumpy Toad lends him some magic sunglasses that help Pete see things in a whole new way.  Throughout the story, Pete meets other friends who are sad, mad, and frustrated.  He lends them his sunglasses and helps them see the brighter side of things.  When Pete breaks his sunglasses, it is the wise old owl who reminds him that he doesn't need magic sunglasses to see things in a new way, he just needs to look for the good in every day.

At this point in the school year, educators can be feeling the blues as well.  Wrapping up the first quarter of the school year is such a busy time.  Many demands are being placed on teachers, and their energy is being zapped.  Report cards, parent-teacher conferences, assessments, data team meetings, and many other things are in full swing at the moment.  It can become overwhelming--but only if we let it.  As the wise old owl reminds us, we need to continue to look for the good in every day.  We don't need magic sunglasses, we just need a positive attitude.  When we consciously choose to focus on the positive, how can our days be anything but AWESOME?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Teamwork: Untangling the Human Knot

4th Grade Teamwork


Our instructional coach facilitated a team-building activity during last week’s Professional Learning Community meetings. Each grade level team was charged with the task of untying the Human Knot. As the teams of teachers worked together to get untangled, teamwork was evident. There was cooperation, communication, and a few laughs along the way. When discussing the activity afterward, each team recognized that it takes all of them working together to solve a problem. Here are a few of their comments. “This helps us see the big picture and that it is not always all about me.” “We worked together to squeeze through uncomfortable situations to get to where we needed to be.” “We had to listen to each other, communicate, and take risks.” “We had to persevere and keep trying things out.” “We had to trust each other.” As our grade level teams embark on the school year, it will be critical for them to keep these values at the forefront of their working relationship. It is also vital that they build this same sense of community, cooperation, and teamwork in their own classrooms.


4th Grade Gets Untangled

Kindergarten Teamwork

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Running, Reading, and Building Stamina

Today I decided to "get off the couch" and begin moving again.  I have taken some time off from running and working out, and I am really starting to feel the effects.  In knowing that I need to re-energize myself and increase my overall well-being, I began the Couch-to-5K program today.  I have the app installed on my phone, and I've used the app at various times to ease back into this thing called "running."  As I was in the midst of one of the running intervals, I began to think about how our students will also be getting back into a thing called "reading" when they begin school in just a few short weeks.  Chances are they have not done much reading over the summer and will be in a situation much like mine in which they are, in a sense, starting over.

As I ran, I had some of my favorite music playing.  I got to choose the songs I had in my playlist, and they were from many different genres.  Most of the songs were songs I have played again and again and know by heart.  A few of them were newer songs that I just added this morning.  This got me thinking about how important it is to allow our students to choose their own reading material, even when they choose books they may have read multiple times.  Of course we don't want them to always choose the books they have previously read, but if we take the time to allow them to "build their playlist" by adding a variety of books to their book boxes, they will have many options.  My music motivates me because it is something I enjoy, much like the books our students enjoy motivate them and can be the impetus for them to continue reading. Let's remember to take the time to help our students build their personal playlists--good-fit books from a wide variety of genres.

If you are not familiar with the C25K program, it is an incremental program that alternates running and walking in increments that gradually increase throughout the program until you are running the entire time. The app has a voice-over that will tell you when to walk and when to run.  Just knowing that that voice would be coming back on and telling me I could walk was a motivator for me as well.  I knew that I only needed to make it just a little bit further before I could take a bit of a break and walk.  The program is allowing me to take baby steps in increasing my endurance.  The same holds true for our students.  We should not expect them to be able to sit and read for 20-30 minutes straight right out of the gate.  They need to have increments in which they read, take a break, and read again in order to increase the amount of time they will be able to attend to the task.  As teachers, it is our job to be sure that we allow for this critical build up of endurance and give our students the chance to take a breath every now and then.

The app also allows you to keep track of your time per mile and distance and has a journal feature that allows you to make anecdotal comments about the run.  This has always been a very motivating factor for me.  I am a very competitive person and like to challenge myself and see if I can improve from session to session.  We can do the same for our students.  Charting their stamina by the number of minutes they were able to read and allowing them to see their gains is also another way we can motivate our students and allow them to see their small successes gradually building into more and more time they are able to read without taking a break.

Soon, we will begin the school year and begin the journey of reading with our students.  I hope all educators will remember that we will need to support our students in building their reading stamina.  If we take the time to help them do this in the beginning, we will have them "reading marathons" in no time.

Friday, May 31, 2013

180 Book-A-Day Challenge

This school year, I participated in a "180 Book-A-Day Challenge."  My goal was to read one children's book for each day students were in school.  As I read the books, I displayed my "Principal's Picks of the Week" in the main hall in our display case and posted images of all of the books I had read.  I also promoted the books I had read the previous week on the Monday morning announcements.  Students were able to turn in book recommendations to me, and I selected one student each week to appear on the announcements with me to promote the book he or she had recommended. 

Those of you who have visited my blog know that my goal this school year was to become the lead reader at Mayflower Mill.  This challenge allowed me to successfully meet that goal.  It also caused reading to become contagious in our building.  Not only were students reading like crazy, they were also recommending books to me.  As I would pass a student in the hall, he or she would say, "Hey, Ms. Higgins, have you read....?"  My staff also caught the reading bug and began to ask me for recommendations and began borrowing books from me.  I heard more teachers talking about what they were reading to their students and what they were reading for their personal enjoyment.  Teachers began posting what their class was currently reading on their doors for passersby to view.  Books and the culture of reading became visible and palpable entities that began to define us.

I never thought something as simple as this challenge and the intentional promotion of reading would do so much to foster a culture of reading in our building.  However, I am proud to say that Mayflower Mill is now a community of readers.  What could be more rewarding than that?

Principals and teachers, how have you promoted reading in your building?  I'd love to get some new ideas for next year! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Read Across America

The staff participated in Read Across America Day theme--"Dr. Seuss Day."
This year, our school celebrated Read Across America Day (also Dr. Seuss Day) by having two large group read-a-thons in the cafeteria/gym.  There was a morning session and an afternoon session.  Each session began with me reading aloud a Dr. Seuss book.  I chose to read The Cat in the Hat Comes Back to the first group.  The kindergarten students still think that Little Cats A-Z were in my hat!  The second group was entertained with Oh the Thinks You Can Think! 
Sharing a good book.
Students brought their book boxes and a blanket or beach towel and spread out after the read aloud to do some reading of their own.  Teachers moved from child to child to share books.  Each session was an hour in length, and at the end of each session I had several students ask if we could do this again some time.  It was very rewarding to see over 500 kids engrossed in books and enjoying the shared experience. 

We love to read at MME!

Spreading out to do some reading!

Parent University

Over 400 members of our school community enjoy a meal together at Parent University.
Parent University is an event we hold at our school 3-4 evenings a year.  This idea was conceived as we worked on a school improvement plan that called for strategies to get parents involved in their children's education.  A group of teacher leaders worked with me to design an event that would bring parents to the school to learn about what was going on in our classrooms on a daily basis.
Parents become students during information sessions at Parent University.

The first year of its conception had us running a large group event with breakout sessions specific to grade-level needs.  The first events were attended by a small percentage of parents and only one or two teachers per grade level were present.  Over the past two years, we have grown Parent University into an event that has regularly had 300-400 attendees with every teacher in our building being involved.  How do we get families to come?  We provide a meal which is paid for by our Parent Advisory Council.  We also provide free daycare for families who have children younger than elementary age.  We also not only have the parents in sessions learning about curriculum and instruction, but we have sessions for the students to come and do some fun learning activities.  Then, parents and students get back together to do some learning together.  It has been a recipe for success!

Parents work with their children on research.

The Parent University event we held in February drew over 400 people (parents and students combined).  Our school community shared a meal and an evening of learning.  These events not only keep parents informed of what their children are learning, they also solidify relationships between the home and the school.  Our community comes together to show our students that school is important and enjoyable.  Their presence at the events shows their children that they value what is happening in our school on a daily basis.  My staff does an amazing job of providing parents with the tools they need to be more involved in their childrens' education through the design of high-quality information sessions.  I am very grateful to have such a supportive school community!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Our Favorite Books in January

Staff photos of our favorite books read in January.

What was your favorite book this month?  As part of our focus on all things books and reading, I asked the staff to send me photos of themselves holding their favorite book from January.  It could be personal, professional, a class read aloud--whatever book they enjoyed most.  

We wrote short reviews for our January selections.


After posting their photos on our staff classroom bulletin board, each person also wrote a short review to share with the group and then we posted them on our Read It and Rate It bulletin board.

My favorite book this month was Navigating Early  by Clare Vanderpool.  In this story, Jack, a young boy from Kansas is uprooted from his home in Kansas after the death of his mother.  His father, who has been serving in the Navy during World War II, enrolls him in a boarding school in Maine.  When Jack arrives at the boarding school, he meets an interesting character named Early Auden.  What ensues is an adventure of epic proportions as Jack and Early seek to find answers to questions that have been haunting them.  Early's story of Pi (the number 3.14....) adds a unique twist to the storyline.  It is really hard to describe just how good this book is with a brief review.  I hope you will add this to your "To Be Read" pile.  It is sure to be an instant classic.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Week of Professional Learning in Review

This week, we continued to work on professional learning in the area of writing instruction.  Teachers were asked to bring 2-3 samples of student writing to our meeting on Monday.  They were then divided into cross-grade level teams of teachers from K-2 and  3-5.  Each member of the group introduced each student's piece and read it out loud to their group.  Then the rest of the group gave positive feedback and asked questions. We spent both Monday and Tuesday completing the review of student samples and reflected on what we had gained from the experience.  On Wednesday, we reviewed a video clip of Lucy Calkins conferring with a young writer and critiqued it.  We then explored the Reading and Writing Project's website resources.   To end the week, I moderated a Tweetchat to discuss our learning.  I have included the chat below.  This was our 2nd Tweetchat of the year, and the first time I have used the Storify app to archive our discussion.    I feel it was a very successful week of learning for us, and I plan to continue to incorporate social media into our professional learning on a regular basis. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

What We Believe About Writing Instruction

This week, we continued building our repertoire of knowledge in the area of writing instruction.  Taking a cue from Lucy Calkins we came up with a pseudo "Bill of Rights" regarding writing instruction in our school and listed our beliefs as a staff.  As we continue to learn and grow, we may add some amendments, but for now this is what we all agreed upon.  It is our hope to use our collective beliefs and efforts to create an environment in which our students will flourish as writers. 
What We Believe About Writing Instruction

·       Writing is a subject and should be taught every day.

·       Students should have time to practice writing in class each day. 

·       Students should have a purpose/audience for their writing and frequent opportunities to publish and share.

·       Students should learn a variety of genres/types of writing and have time to practice them.
·       Students should be regularly exposed to mentor texts that highlight what good writers do.

·       Teachers should structure their writer's workshop so there is time for whole group mini-lesson, independent writing time that allows for student choice, conferencing, and sharing.

·       Grade level teams should collaborate on units of study and work together to gather resources, create lessons and assessments, and follow the same general timeline for instruction.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Power of a Challenge

 As of today, I am over half way through my 180 Book A Day Challenge that began back in August. I pledged to read one elementary level book for each day school is in session, based on our school’s theme this year:  “Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader.”   Born from that challenge I have been promoting the books I read on the morning announcements.  I have somewhat slacked from that job as of late, but with the new semester, I am pledging to get back to my regular appearances.  I have been keeping track of my books by printing small images of each book I read and posting them on a bulletin board titled, “Principal’s Picks of the Week” in our main hallway.  The five books I am reading that week or the previous week are also displayed for all of the students to see.

So what have I gained by taking part in this challenge?  One thing I have most definitely gained is a deeper knowledge about children’s books.  Not only do I have better knowledge of the books that are available in our school library, I also have a greater knowledge of children’s literature in general.  I hate to admit it, but before this challenge, the only Sharon Creech book I had read was A Fine, FineSchool.  I had no idea she had written such beautiful, and now much-loved, novels such as Walk Two Moons and RubyHoller.  If not for my challenge, I may have never discovered this!  That would have been a huge tragedy, indeed!  I may have never discovered that the world of non-fiction picture books has really expanded and changed in the past decade to include such beautiful books as Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet or that graphic novels are now all the rage with Jenni and Matt Holm's characters  Baby Mouse and Squish leading the charge! 

I have also gained a school community of readers as a result of this challenge—a community to which I belong and feel very much a part of.  Students recommend books to me or say, “Ms. Higgins, have you read….?”  I feel confident in telling a student I think he would really enjoy Fake Mustache by Tom Angelberger—BECAUSE I HAVE READ IT!     Another bonus is that my staff is also part of this community and we now talk more with each other about the books we are reading—be it for school or in our personal lives.  Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth have been making the rounds among the teachers (one of my favorite series that is not part of my school challenge, by the way), and many of them have also read Wonder by RJ Palacio and Matched by Ally Condie.  One of the greatest gifts I received this holiday season was from one of my teachers who wrote a letter to me, from her heart, and then attached a list of book recommendations.  Has that ever happened before?  No!  Why now?  Because I am projecting my love of books into my school community and showing them that books have the power to connect us all. 

This challenge has connected me with my students and staff in ways I never imagined, and I look forward to completing the second half of the adventure.  What books would YOU recommend I read?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Top 3 for Me in 2013

A new year. 
A fresh start. 
A time to set goals. 
A whole new set of 365 days for us to accomplish the things we didn't get to the year before.

Ah, yes.  It's that time when many of us begin setting new goals for ourselves, or as some fondly still call them "resolutions."  While I am not a firm believer in new year's resolutions, I am a firm believer in setting attainable goals to improve.  During winter break, I had a lot of time to reflect on things that I would like to accomplish during 2013.  Three things kept rising to the top.  I felt that by sharing them, I would be taking the first steps in attaining them.   So, here goes...

1.  Write More
Almost a year ago, I joined Twitter and started a blog.  I had no idea what I was getting into, and during the year I was pretty sporadic about my writing, including the topics I wrote about.  This year, I am hoping to become more disciplined with my writing and really make a commitment to make writing more a part of my daily life.  I am continually inspired by my PLN on Twitter.  Many of them write daily posts on their blogs that I subscribe to and look forward to reading each day.  They inspire me to read, write, reflect, and grow.  They also provide feedback to me when I do publish my posts that helps validate me as a novice writer.  Check out the "Awesome Blogs to Follow" sidebar on my homepage to see some of their amazing work!

2.  Read More
I made a commitment this summer to become a more avid reader, and it is really paying off.  I have read more (and more regularly) in the past 6 months than I have in the past 6 years!  Again, my PLN on Twitter continues to provide the inspiration and supportive atmosphere for reading.  I am continually exposed to reviews and recommendations and love hearing what others feel about what they are reading.  I have found a community of readers (#nerdybookclub) to which I now belong.  I hope to inspire my staff and students on a daily basis to become avid readers as well.  I was honored over break to have more than one of my staff members text me for book recommendations, and I enjoy the conversations I now share with my reading community at school.  I hope to expand on my reading journey in 2013, and I have set a goal on goodreads.com to read at least 213 books this year.  I have linked my bookshelf to the homepage of my blog to help keep track of the books I am reading, hold myself accountable by tracking my goal, and share the joy of reading with others.

3.  Move More
Two years ago, I became a runner.  No...I really did!  Though you wouldn't know it now.  In 2010, I began running and completed several 5K and 10K events.  I slacked a bit in 2011, but I still stayed active enough to survive a couple of races.  However, running began to be something I put "on the back burner" as I entered the world of the principalship that year.  I moved from being an assistant principal to being the principal with no assistant.  I used the extra workload and stress as an excuse to not lace up those sneakers and get out there.  In 2012 I really floundered and running and exercise  began completely fading away from my life.  Those pounds I had shed have crept back and reared their ugly head, the energy I once had is pretty well depleted, and my self-image is really beginning to suffer.  I realize I had basically given myself every excuse in the book to say that I was not worth the time or the effort to exercise.  Well, no more.  2013 is going to find me back in my sneakers and getting out there and getting fit again.  I am really looking forward to the challenge of getting back to the point where I can say, "I am a runner."  What's even more exciting is discovering there is a community of runners with which I can also connect via my Twitter PLN--check them/us out at #runteacherrun.

I truly believe if I can write more, read more, and move more, 2013 will be a great year!