Week 1

Our first full week is now complete.  I am astonished on how smooth it has been this year.  We have had some very large changes in the building that usually lend themselves to causing complications until a system gets put in place to help it run.

This year we are implementing a new students information system district-wide, changing from semesters to trimesters, and some large safety changes.  These are all large changes that would normally cause issues as you roll them out, but so far this year there has been very little disruption to the learning process in the school.

It is going to be a great year!  Having a positive outlook on your work will bring nothing but positivity to those around you.  Even if you have negative people around you, they will not last long to the positivity.

Scraping Away Debris

Working around the house on project are not something that I jump up to do but they are not also something that I will avoid with fidelity.  

Yesterday we had planned two painting projects.  One was to paint my daughters dressers and the other was to paint the back bard door.  My son and I were tasked with the barn door.

I went into this project with quick and easy all in mind.  Brush it off, slap a coat of paint on it, call it good.  That is not what happened at all.  As we got up to the door and started to lay the prep work we notice much of the current paint was flaking and would need to be scrapped off.  I then knew this was going to be a long project.

As I started to scrape away the old paint I started to think about how this relates to the relationships that we build in schools for kids.  As time goes on, we tend to get callused by all of the things that are thrown at us in education.  When we have that callus built up, we tend to not think or hear what people are saying and start to shift our focus to how they are saying without giving any thought to what they are needing from us.

People are like this worn barn door.  Callused.  The only way we can be repaired is if we surround ourselves around people who will help scrape away the callus to help make us anew.

Starting the Year

Starting the Year

So today is Friday of my first week back.  This week should have been busy and very hectic as we start to unfold things and get ready for staff’s arrival on the 13th, but it wasn’t.  Even with registration going on it was not nearly as stressful as the previous two years.

Going into this year I have worked on myself personally to enter with a different mindset.  The work is important, but the people are more important.  There is never a need for me to be rushed with a task and be so rushed that I might say something that would upset another.  Those things are just that, things!  They are not people and they do not have feelings.  They will get completed but never at the sake of a relationship.

Culture takes time

Everybody has heard from others that being positive and creating a culture that you want to see is what ultimately drives the negative and unwanted culture away from you. This is very true and I do believe this. The difficult part of this is waiting for this to transpire. Often times we want to see results right away.

Look for something positive each day, even if some days you might have to look a little bit harder.

These results take time. Time none of us want to spend waiting to see if it works. Culture change comes from the daily work and words that are put forth, not from making a single change and sitting back waiting to see the results. The results will show themselves in do time as long as people are speaking and walking the culture they want in their buildings day in and day out.

I have worked with some fantastic teachers. Teachers who always had a kid-centered classroom and used quality instructional practices in their classrooms each day. On the flip side of that coin, I have work with some people who never have a positive thing to say about students or especially their support structure and administration. Creating a positive culture has a way to reveal who those negative and toxic people are. These are the type of people that will work against the positive with everything they have. When they see that their negativity and toxicity have no hold on the positive culture that is being built, they will “jump ship” to find another place.

Here are SOME things that you can do to help promote a positive culture in your building:

  1. ASSUME THE BEST INTENT – Always assume that teacher have the best intent in their actions in the building. While some are out to cause problems and spread their toxic agenda, many are so isolated in their classrooms that they are not seeing how their classroom is having an effect on the school as a whole. I have seen it on many accounts where it is just assumed that it was coming from a specific teacher that the “act” only had negative connotation to it because that teacher had previously shown their negative and toxic agenda. This is not always the case. Always assume that with each act people have the best intent for kids and for the building as a whole.
  2. RELATIONSHIPS – This cannot be stressed enough. If you want to have a positive culture in your school, take the time to build relationships with the staff that are “in the trenches” each and every day. These are the people that will help build that positive culture that you are trying to accomplish.
  3. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE – Communicate often with teachers. They are focused on kids and it is our job to ward off as many outside situations to protect the instruction time as possible. Teachers want to teach, that is all. They want to make positive impacts on kids. They don’t want to spend time discussing agenda items that are not part of the instruction of students. Keeping teachers informed about what is happening in the office is good. They don’t really care what we are planning for the most part, but they do care when they are not communicated with about things that might take away from their classroom.

#MyWhy

Why do we do this work?  Many would say for the kids and that is a great answer, but many kids will go through school just fine.  They are elastic and adhere to anything that you put in front of them.  All three of my kids are just like this.  While each of them has their struggles, I truly do not worry about their success in school or if they will reach that finish line.

I do this work for kids who are not my own.  I do this for the kids who do not know where their next meal is coming from.  I do this for the kids who wonder where they will lay their head down tonight.  I do this for the kids who are forced to be adults long before they should.  I do this for the kids who need a positive person in their lives.  I do this for the kids who need somebody to listen to what they are saying and not judge them on how they are saying it.

This video “Change the First Five Years and You Change Everything” really tugged at my heartstrings as to why I do what I do.  Many students have such sad stories.  I will always feel sad for them and word each day to not get mad at them.  I think you should take a look and then decide what is your #MyWhy.


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The Servant Leader

Recently I was given the opportunity to read a book entitled “The Servant Leader” by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges.

Below are my notes that I took while reading this book.


As you lead ask yourself “Am I a servant leader or a self-serving leader”. Be brutally honest with yourself. It will take you to the core of your intention and motivation as a leader. (Pg. 17)

Alice came to a fork in the road. She asked the Cheshire Cat which road to take. The cat asked where she was going, she didn’t know. The cat responded, “Then it doesn’t matter”. Without clear direction, your leadership doesn’t matter. (Pg. 47)

What are the key values of your organization? Which is the most important? True success in servant leadership depends on how clearly values are defined, ordered, and lived by the leader. (Pg. 51)

The vision of your organization must be bigger than you are. Servant leadership starts with a vision and ends with a servant heart that helps people live according to that vision. (Pg. 57)

STRIVING TO BE A SERVANT LEADER

You must elevate growth and development of people from a “means” to an “end” goal of equal importance to the product or service of the organization. Servant leadership requires a level of intimacy with the needs and aspirations of the people being led that might be beyond the level of intimacy and ego-driven leader is willing to sustain. (Pg. 58)

Sustainable servant leadership behaviors will only emerge as an expression of a committed and convinced heart. (Pg. 58)

Servant Leadership Involves ….

  1. Setting the vision
  2. Defining and modeling the operating values, structure and behavior norms
  3. Creating the follower environment with partners in the vision
  4. Moving to the bottom of the hierarchy with service in mind

Servant leaders have a role in facilitating change. Leaders must recognize there are four levels of change that vary in degrees of difficulty and time required.

  1. ”Knowledge” – Easiest and lest time-consuming thing to change. To increase knowledge we can read a book, take a class, or listen to an expert.
  2. ”Attitude” – Emotionally charged bits of knowledge. People either feel positive or negative about something. Changing somebody’s attitude is more difficult than changing their knowledge.
  3. ”Behavior” – Much harder and more time-consuming to change than attitude and knowledge. Now people have to actually do something. Before it was just having knowledge about a topic or adjusting your feelings on a topic. Now you must ACT on a topic.
  4. ”Organization” – Most difficult to change and most time-consuming. You have to influence knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of many different people.

Why is change so hard?
Change is a must. We adapt or we die. The same is true for organizations. As a servant leader, we must determine which changes are needed to implement the vision and help people move in that direction.

The Seven Reactions People have to Change

  1. People feel awkward, ill at ease when confronted by change.
    • Tell people what to expect.
  2. People will feel alone even if everyone else is going through the same change.
    • Structure activities that create involvement. Encourage individuals to share ideas and to work together to help each other through change.
  3. People will think first about what they have to give up.
    • Don’t try to sell the benefits of the change effort initially. Let people mourn their perceived losses. Listen to them.
  4. People will think they can only handle so much change at once.
    • Set priorities on which changes to make, and go for the long run.
  5. People will be concerned that they don’t have enough resources to implement the change.
    • Encourage creative problem-solving.
  6. People will be at different levels of readiness for any particular change.
    • Don’t label or pick on people. Recognize that some people are risk-takers and others take longer to feel secure. Someone who’s an early adopter of one type of change might balk at another type of change.
  7. If the pressure is taken off, people will refer to old behaviors.
    • Keep people focused on maintaining the change and managing the journey.

Encouragement and Feedback

We do the best we can but we still need outside information to help us see how we’re doing. (Pg. 102)

Two main ways growth takes place:

  • When you are open to feedback from other people.
  • When you are willing to disclose your vulnerabilities to other people.

Transposition

As I spend time relearning things that have gotten out of practice, I am having to write articles here so I can have quick access to them.

Transposition on the trumpet is one of the most important skills that an orchestra musician can have in their tool belt.  It is an absolute must.  Orchestral music was written with the instruments of the time and area.  With the advent of the piston trumpet/cornet, there is very little use of older style instruments.  At times conductors will ask for them simply for the timber that they produce to help make an authentic artistic representation of the piece.  Keep in mind, my music history knowledge is very limited and is essentially limited to the Norton Anthology.

Here is some important information that you need to know when you get a piece of music and are not sure what you need to do.  I do not speak multiple languages, but I can make out most tempo markings and instrumentation on a score.

Language Instrument Keys Other
English Trumpet C,D,Eb,E,F,G,Ab,A,Bb,B major, minor, flat, sharp
Italian Tromba DO,RE,MIb,MI,FA,SOL,LAb,LA,Sib,Si maggiore, minore, bemolle, diesis
Frensh Trompette UT,RE,MIb,MI,FA,SOL,LAb,LA,Sib,SI majeur, mineur, bemol, diese
German Trompete C,D,Es,E,F,G,As,A,B,H dur, moll, is, es

I have attached a PDF from Wikipedia with a full list of these, but these are the most common ones that I have come across.

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4/13/18 Clarke Studies & Long Tones

I am getting really tired of Clarke Studies. Regardless of my long hiatus, I have been on Clarke #2 and #3 and parts of #4 for a long time. They are starting to get really old, but at the same time, I know that these are essential studies of all trumpet players along with long tones.

This is the first time that I have had the equipment to record myself and really be able to listen back to the recording. I started my break back when CDs were out but CD recorders were really expensive. Now I am able to record myself and listen back and analyze what I hear.

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4/12/18 Long Tones & Arban’s

Today I took to the horn to spend some time recording long tones.  I have never been the type of musician who played a single tone for as long as possible.  I do on the other hand like playing long tones in Allen Vizzuti Trumpet Method Book 1.  There are a variety of long tones all based on chords.  It helps to hear these chords.  I also buzz these chords using my BERP while fingering.  I will play these tones on both Bb and C trumpets in order to help distinguish between the transposition while always keeping in mind the concert pitch.

Recordings

  1. Long Tones #1
  2. Long Tones #2
  3. Arbans – The Art of Phrasing: Loving I Think Of Thee
  4. Arbans – The Art of Phrasing: Robin Adair

Attacks, a necessary study

Today I decided to spend some time working on my attacks on middle G in the staff and middle C.  This is a very difficult skill.  This along with lip flexibility.  The problem that I am running into is that I took so long off from playing that my skills have severely diminished.  While I still have some skills, I have a serious lack of endurance.  I am so impatient with my practice as I want to have the skill right now but I know that it all comes with time.

Here are two recordings of my most recent practice on attacks both buzzing and playing.

Playing

Buzzing

Any constructive feedback would be appreciated.  Telling me that it sounds horrible is something I already know.  Each day is a step in the right direction.

Practice Mutes

Today I got a LotFancy aluminum trumpet practice mute in the mail (see attached pictures).  It does a great job of stopping the sound.  I can practice when my family is now sleeping.  From what I can tell it is not great for intonation but it will give you a great option for late nights working on technical skills.

I got the mute on Amazon.com

Connecting With The Big Rocks In Your Life!

Many of us have heard the story of rocks, pebbles, and sand filling a jar.  If not I have pasted it below.  See all of us have large rocks in our lives that are extremely important to us.  The problem with the culture of the times is that the less important things (pebbles) seem to consume all of our time pushing out any room for the larger rocks, the items that we will cherish at the end.

As time goes on, sometimes larger rocks get replaced with other rocks that seem to have more meaning in your life.  At times the rocks still stand but you have not had any time due to the pebbles in your life.  I recently have had to opportunity to reconnect with a large rock in my life, music.  I have played the trumpet since I was in middle school.  A very long time…..but I digress.  I have always found some great peace in playing and practicing my horn.  While I did give it a run for a time in my life, I moved ahead to other achievements to help provide for my family.  While my time is limited, I have been able to play more over the last few months.  My son has decided to start playing so it has been another activity for us to spend time together.

This has really just rejuvenated me in my daily life to sit back and take some time to do something that I really enjoy.  Another thing that I can do with my kids and family, much like archery.  Part of the resurrection of playing has been good.  Lots have changed since I was last playing actively.  The internet is so widely ingrained in everything we have that it is so much easier now to find sheet music.  I have spent some time practicing old etudes that I just loved and some that were my complete nemesis.  Much like the Charlier No. 2 Du Style.  Love and hate this thing so much.  But with the internet, easy to find recordings of and be able to listen to how other artists play.  A great recording of this song can be heard here.

Just remember, there is more to life than the pebbles.  Don’t fill your jar with pebbles first.  You won’t have time for the rocks!

A teacher walks into a classroom and sets a glass jar on the table. He silently places 2-inch rocks in the jar until no more can fit. He asks the class if the jar is full and they agree it is. He says, “Really,” and pulls out a pile of small pebbles, adding them to the jar, shaking it slightly until they fill the spaces between the rocks. He asks again, “Is the jar full?” They agree. So next, he adds a scoop of sand to the jar, filling the space between the pebbles and asks the question again. This time, the class is divided, some feeling that the jar is obviously full, but others are wary of another trick. So he grabs a pitcher of water and fills the jar to the brim, saying, “If this jar is your life, what does this experiment show you?” A bold student replies, “No matter how busy you think you are, you can always take on more.” “That is one view,” he replies. Then he looks out at the class making eye contact with everyone, “The rocks represent the BIG things in your life – what you will value at the end of your life – your family, your partner, your health, fulfilling your hopes and dreams. The pebbles are the other things in your life that give it meaning, like your job, your house, your hobbies, your friendships. The sand and water represent the ‘small stuff’ that fills our time, like watching TV or running errands.” Looking out at the class again, he asks, “Can you see what would happen if I started with the sand or the pebbles?”

Purposeful Leadership

Many people have great examples of leaders in their lives.  From Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa to Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy Jr.  All of these leaders are very different in their leadership styles and how they were leading.  One thing that is in common with all of them is that they were not leading projects but instead of leading people.

At times in the educational setting, school leaders get pinned down to being project managers, with the project being the school that they are running.  I recently spent some time with a former high school administrator who said: “High school teachers are just like independent contractors that share a parking lot.”  Spending most of my time at the secondary level,  I never saw it through this lens before.

Many teachers at the secondary level just want school leaders to manage their time and never think about the process of learning that is taking place in their classrooms or to even question what goes on in that classroom.  This, unfortunately, is a plague in many high schools, but many would disagree this actually takes place when in-fact it does.

We have the extreme pleasure of working in an industry where we must day in and day out be life-long learners.  What does that mean exactly?  Each day we must push ourselves further than we did before to learn and hone our practice.  What are you doing to push yourself to learn each day?  I have increased my reading load.  Currently, I have five books on the stand to read in the coming months as we get ready to head into summer.  I have also been working to start a podcast.  It helps me to discuss the topics that I am passionate about.  I am an out loud thinker so when I am driving I look like a nut talking to himself.  I even talk to myself when people are in the car.

Below is a presentation that we made to our staff to highlight the changes in leadership.  Leadership is not a top-down model.  It is a side-by-side model and we work together for the same goal.  It is best viewed as a coaching model.