Posted in Current Posts

13 Reasons Why … Teachers are Effective

It’s that time of year again. It’s when principals reflect on the last school year and start planning for the next.

I’m working on my pep talk for my new teacher orientation. Some of my new teachers are fresh from college. I remember being fresh from college, relieved that the grind of studying and researching were over, and I could finally rest and start teaching.

Ha. A highly effective teacher’s work is never done.

13 Reasons Teachers are Effective

Continue reading “13 Reasons Why … Teachers are Effective”

Posted in Current Posts

Operation Innovation!

“Mrs. Kane, I’m bored!

There is nothing to do out here,” said a sweaty little sweetie at recess.

I looked in disbelief at the multilevel brightly colored playground equipment. How could she be bored? Yet, I heard this complaint at every recess.

It wasn’t always this way.

A decade earlier, our school did not have a playground. The kids played in a big grassy empty lot at the back of our property (don’t judge). They had a whole “tent town” thing going on. They used sticks, rocks, and abandoned lumber, along with other flotsam and jetsam they found in the grass to build the forts. The only problem we had were occasional turf wars.  They were busy and not bored.

They were innovative.

Innovation:a new method, idea, or product, to make  a beneficial change, to introduce something as if new, teaching/allowing/enabling students to take a new idea, an old idea, someone’s idea and make it better.

I’d like to add my own definition: Innovation is not an isolated project or activity; it is a philosophy or “teaching worldview.” It’s allowing children to use 19th century skills (creating, carving, inventing, crafting, composing, designing) in 21st century classrooms.

Innovation is what we do when we have a bad snow storm and lose power-we become innovators instead of consumers. (Admit it. Your kids invent all kinds of games to play when the power goes out).

How innovative are you?

Innovative Teacher Test:

  1. I try new things in my classroom. I am brave.
  2. I make mistakes and my kids know it.
  3. I am transparent. I ask for help when I need it and admit my mistakes (See number 2)
  4. I use technology as a tool.
  5. My classroom is connected.
  6. I am a lifelong learner. Each day I learn something new about education.
  7. My students have voice and choice.
  8. I am very likely to learn it on Sunday and try it on Monday!
  9. My lesson plans are a living breathing document.
  10. I always have a project going.
  11. My kids talk as much or more than I do.
  12. I am one of several teachers in my classroom.
  13. Failure is ok in my class.
  14. I praise process instead of product.
  15. I share ideas with  others.

If you answered yes to ten or more items, you are on your way to becoming  an innovative teacher! If you answered yes to less than ten questions, don’t get discouraged. Get your growth mindset on, pick an item from the list above and start researching!

Check out my Resource Page for innovation resources!

Do you have another item that should be added to the Innovative Teacher Test? Please leave me a comment below. I’d love to chat with you!

By Mary Kay Kane

all rights reserved. copyright 2017


Posted in Current Posts

21st Century Classroom

Seventeen years ago, we were preparing to enter the 21st century.

If you’re over 40 you probably remember stockpiling canned goods, bottled water and beef jerky, waiting  for the giant cyber crash, while hiding in your basement (something to do with 100101010 binary computer code stuff I think). It never happened. Continue reading “21st Century Classroom”

Posted in Uncategorized

Tools and Skills


Honey, hand me the tools and get out of my way.

Today, as a first year principal, I had to do something new – put new handles on a cabinet. This may sound like a fairly easy task … one you could do in your sleep, but remember, for the past 30 years I have lived in the Man House (previous post).

For 30 years, I have NEVER once mowed the lawn, weed-wacked, or operated a power tool of any sort. My handy hubby takes care of everything.

When my husband is not around my two handy sons take over.

Mom, MOM! Had me the tools and get out of my way.

Each year at school, God knowing my great need,  has supplied me with a very handy student. They see me fumbling with the tools … screwdriver ?? … hammer?? … strange socket/wrench thing??? Inevitably, I hear the same phrase:

Mrs. Kane-hand me the tools and get out of my way.

Today, I wanted to finish a detail in my cute, eclectic, shabby-chic girlie office. I wanted to replace the ugly door handles on my cabinet with the cute handles I found at Hobby Lobby (a place where dreams come true).

No handy husband. No handy sons. No handy students.

My friend Carrie popped in my cute office to say hi. I told her my plan and she assured me I could handle it.

I was a little worried.

The cross I tacked up earlier that day stayed on the wall for about 10 minutes.  Pep talk and prayer followed.

Life-long learner. Problem solver. Innovative thinker.

Hand me the tools and get out of my way!

You can see the results below! As a bonus, I included the cross on the floor picture.(Sofie, I will get someone else to hang the cross.)


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What do you think of my new handles? Have you tried something new lately? Leave me a comment below!


Mary Kane from the Principal’s Desk Blog