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March 5th, 2017

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'Fidget spinners' are all the rage, but some Minnesota schools have had enough. Move over bottle-flipping and homemade slime: Minnesota kids have a new obsession.

'Fidget spinners' are all the rage, but some Minnesota schools have had enough

Fidget spinners are the latest craze to hit classrooms, playgrounds and social media. But some schools say the spinning has gotten out of control. The compact, colorful trinkets are made of plastic or metal and have a ball bearing in the middle, which helps spin the toy's outside weights. The widely accessible spinners are marketed as an outlet for restless energy, but with so many students spinning, some school administrators are finding the fidgets to be more of a distraction than an aid. "We found that early on they were a distraction to learning, because kids were pulling them out of their pockets," said John McDonald, assistant principal at Delano Elementary School.

Counting Down #KidsDeserveIt. On social media, so often we see posts of countdowns to the weekend, Christmas, Spring Break, summer; it is usually accompanied by elation and celebration.

Counting Down #KidsDeserveIt

As students and educators, we often can’t wait until there is a break from school. Why is that? We know it’s because we work HARD! Education is a tireless job and the breaks are something we look forward to and desperately need. This “tradition” has been around for many decades. You may have heard the phrase “perception is reality”; think about it, when someone online, who is not an educator, sees us gleefully posting about how much we can’t wait for a break, what message does that send? Let’s have a quick comparison with anyone who has ever trained a dog. Now let’s come back to school. I don’t know about you, but we’ve had those teachers who talk about how they can’t wait to be out of this school. I (Roman) also had a similar experience.

This is where our disappointment comes in; disappointment for two reasons. North’s principal says he owes his honor to a talented team. Jeff Meisenheimer, principal of Lee’s Summit North High School, says the hardest thing about his job is managing time.

North’s principal says he owes his honor to a talented team

Usually three nights a week during the school year, he wants to attend extracurricular events, academic awards (one of his favorite events) a concert, play or a game. “And of course I want to spend time with my own family,” Meisenheimer said. During the days, he looks at hundreds of emails from students, teachers and parents with questions, and all are eager for answers. Through the week, he weaves into his schedule observing and coaching teachers in classrooms and administrative team meetings. He tries to get into the halls as about 1,850 students change classes or dismiss for the day.

He said many aspects of his job fall in place because he’s surrounded by great teachers, bosses in administration and his own administrative staff. Meisenheimer said the best thing about the award is being recognized by peers who understand the challenges of the position. Greatest lesson: Teacher buy-in is overrated. One of the greatest lessons my 30 years of experience in education has taught me is that teacher buy-in is, sometimes, overrated.

Greatest lesson: Teacher buy-in is overrated

There, I said it. Now, before you stop reading, note my use of the word “sometimes.” As a former school administrator, I realize there is a time and place for buy-in. However, as one of my mentors, a seasoned middle school principal once explained to me, while consensus and collaborative decision-making is important, it can also be paralyzing to innovation. Understanding the balance between growing buy-in and launching innovation has never been more important than in today’s era. As new ideas about teaching and learning go in and out of style, teachers have a right to feel some initiative fatigue.

“My colleagues and I aren’t ready for a digital textbook.” One principal’s Twitter invite and the budget realities he wants to share. When it comes to K-12 education funding, educators look to the Capitol for regular increases to the basic formula to help cover the rising expense of things like building utilities.

One principal’s Twitter invite and the budget realities he wants to share

Recent increases, however, have done little to keep pace with inflation, placing pressure on educators to increasingly rely on school levies, the philanthropic generosity of community members and the creative ability of those within each school building to do more with less. This year, Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a 2 percent yearly increase to the basic formula for the next two years, earmarking $371 million of the state’s $1.65 billion surplus to help schools pay for the basics. The Senate has proposed a 1.5 percent increase for the same time period, adding $274 to the basic formula.

As the three parties debate the overall budget, education leaders across the state are already knee-deep in the budgeting process for the upcoming school year. A rough breakdown Twitter.