Teaching, Learning & Blue Apron

It’s a personal post.  Stop reading if you’re expecting edu-leadership reflection and insight.  This is all about cooking with my boys.

No matter how you feel about companies like Blue Apron, I took advantage of a free meal via email from a friend.  What’s to lose?  Nothing but gain for me.  Here’s why.

A box of ingredients for two meals arrives on my porch on Tuesday.  Jacob has baseball practice on Tuesdays; Joshua is between sports right now.  Josh picks which meal he’ll cook on Tuesday.  Jacob gets the other meal for Wednesday.  Joshua likes to follow the recipe exactly and make adjustments the second time around.  Jacob likes to improvise the first time around if he feels like the recipe needs it.

Learning to cook.  Hopefully you had a parent who taught you the basics, the family traditions and even some improvisation in the kitchen.  I’ve done this too.  Joshua even invented a dish we call Tater Tot Casserole.  It’s pretty good.  But now we’re learning to cook a bit differently.

Welcome to Casa Haugen, Blue Apron.  Each recipe comes with a card.  Ingredients and background on one side and six pictures with six directions on the other side.  I don’t direct the cooking experience so much as I serve as the assistant.  I relinquish the “teacher” role to the card.  And we both learn something when we cook: a new ingredient, technique, combination of flavors…

A few observations:

My boys give me good direction.  “Mom, can you mince the garlic while I clean the other vegetables?”  “The pan is heavy.  Can you hold it while I scrape it?”

Direction and coarse correction from me is easier when they’re in the driver’s seat.

Sometimes my help isn’t needed.  “Mom, I got it from here.”

The card is the boss.  Jacob: “What’s next?” Me: “I don’t know.  What’s the card say?”

They’re proud of cooking for the family.  “I think dad’s really going to like this.”  “I hope the hash is seasoned well.”

What’s the learning for me?  Give them room.  Take direction.  Be a partner, not a boss.  Enjoy cooking together.  Let them shine.

My poor kids rarely get a break from their teacher/principal mom.  Or maybe all moms are like me.  Protective, teaching all the time, hovering more than they’d like to, wanting to give independence but struggling… who knows?

This is a new biweekly experience for our family that I look forward to like no other.  Love cooking with my boys!  And learning with them too!


Grab some inspiration… Gimme 5!

I love the blog challenges that float around Twitter.  Not only am I inspired by what I read but I love them for times when my mind needs the structure of a blog challenge.  Thanks #principalsinaction for the inspiration and motivation!  Here goes!

ONE of my biggest struggles this school year.

Building relationships and being patient enough to not take on too much because I KNOW relationships are key.  In a nutshell.  A new school means meeting a whole new staff, student body and community.  It’s overwhelming.  And for me, I feel like building relationships is a strength but I struggle with jumping to other big ticket items that need attention without giving enough time to building quality, trusting, honest relationships.  I’m excited to get started!  It’s a good problem to have, but I rein myself in constantly to say, “You just got here.  Relax.  There’s lots of time.”  It’s the story of education; the push and pull of priorities, crisis, initiatives, demands, desires.  But none of that will ever come to much without solid people behind them.  People who trust in one another, trust the leader and the plan, feel supported and heart, agree that kids are the center of our work and are willing to get their hands dirty together.


TWO accomplishments that I’m proud of this school year.

I’d go back to my ONE biggest struggle since it’s also one of my proudest accomplishments.  I made a huge point of spending time with staff, all of them.  From classroom teachers to itinerant teachers, from one hour a day noon duty supervisors to one day a week Occupational Therapist, from our Therapeutic Spec Ed classroom to child care.  No matter how much time you spend on campus with our students, you are part of the community.  Your voice matters, your ideas need to be heard, your participation is vital.

My second accomplishment is being present with students and in classrooms.  Teachers no longer stop teaching when I walk in.  Students are comfortable telling me about their lesson or project.  I’ve got 85% of the students’ names down pat.  A few just simply aren’t sticking but I don’t give myself away.  Thank goodness for name tags and ipads where I can catch a glimpse of a name when I’m stumped.  Hugs, high fives and “How’s your day going?” are huge for me.  I love that part of the job most.

THREE goals before year’s end

We’ve made a concerted effort to rejuvenate our garden program this year.  It’s very exciting.  Quite honestly, the program never went away, but we need to rethink our goals, how to integrate without interrupting and keep things growing and thriving.  NGSS are helping a lot.  We’re reconvening a Garden Committee with members from the early garden years at our school (2000-2001).  One of my goals is to serve salad from our garden at least three times before the year is out.  Student planted, harvested, washed, chopped and served.  School to Fork.


School rules are so old school.  We’ve taken on crafting school wide behaviors, and they’re almost ready for prime time.  It’ll be awesome to be on the same page about student expectations in various areas of the school.  What it looks like rather than a list of no’s and don’ts.  The disciplinary “Think Sheet” has already been revamped to a multi-flow Thinking Map to get kids reflecting and planning ahead around behavior incidents.  It’s got a good feel. Less about the consequence and more about the plan for next time.  Yes, the consequence exists but that’s not where students and I expend a lot of energy.  We spend much more time on practicing and rehearsing the right approach or strategy.  All about teaching and learning!

RtI is overwhelming.  We’ve got some decent systems in place right now but we’re not based enough in programs nor are we fully utilizing all specialists on campus.  By year’s end, I’d be very happy if we came to some basic agreements school wide around ELD strategies and which specialist handles which aspect of RtI need.  It would be a bonus if we had a list of programs to explore.

FOUR reasons I remain in education despite the challenges.

I love my job!  I can’t imagine doing anything else.

For all the challenges, negative media and criticism, we are preparing future citizens.  It’s such important work.  If you can’t stand the heat… you know.  But if you can weather it, there’s nothing more gratifying that talking to kids about their future.

What do you want to do when you grow up?

I want to work at the Nike store.

That sound fun.  Do you like Nike shoes?

Yeah.  They’re really cool.

You know someone has to design all those cool shoes.  Have you thought you might do that?

<silence>  I guess I hadn’t thought of that.

Well, you should.  I bet you’ve got a lot of good ideas.

<silence>  I do have some ideas.  Maybe I could do that.

Future-thinking.  Especially for my munchkins that struggle, that don’t see a lot of value in the work they do at school.  What’s next?  Dream big.

The third reason?  The negative people just don’t have anything better to do than beat up on education.  I don’t have time for that.  I don’t have energy to waste on trying to convince them otherwise.  I’ll just prove our good work every day at school.  I’ll keep sharing the awesomeness of teaching and learning through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  I’m WAY too cup half full to let the negativity get me down.  There’s way too much good stuff going on.

And finally, I feel constantly buoyed up by my PLN.  Groups like #principalsinaction, #leadwild and #strataproblems keep me excited and motivated.  I stay with this crazy career in education because I’m surrounded by other enthusiastic leaders and teachers who don’t give up and celebrate all The Awesome.  I love this tribe.

FIVE people I hope will take the challenge

Jennifer Kloczko because she’s a huge inspiration!  Good news is, she already posted hers!  Here it is!

Amy Fadeji since she and I can always use a blog nudge.  You’ve been officially nudged, girl!

Eric Saibel because he’s helped me a ton this year with my transition and trying to keep perspective and not drive myself (or others) crazy.

Todd Feinberg since he’s super busy being an amazing principal, dad and hubby.  I’d love to read your take on this blog challenge, Todd.

Mike Taylor because he’s experienced a major transition this year too.  And he’s ROCKED it!