Insights Into Learning

PD Made Easy? (209:365)



The other day I came across a tweet from Alfie Kohn. He simply asked, “Question for prof dev orgs: Do you mostly 1) ask tchrs “How can we help?” or 2) train them to implement the latest mandate from on high?” He made a really good point. I furthered discussed the issue with fellow educator Starr Sackstein.You can discuss this, and other issues with Starr on twitter, or read her new column in EdWeek!


For the most part, Professional Development organizations have existed to simply help/train educators to implement the latest mandate. I’m guilty of this as well…. I started to reflect, “When was the last time I asked the staff what I could do to help?


I developed a quick Google form to ask three simple questions (besides their name).

Here are the questions:

1. What do you need help with?

2. What do you want to learn more about?

3. What are you willing to help others with?


In terms of “Professional Development”  the results of this quick survey will help me help the staff. Simple as that. Knowing I can’t do everything, I did put in the third question in because I truly believe that the the staff can help each other out!  I’m looking forward to a more collaborative approach to building-level professional development. For those who are reading this who work in the building, I embedded the document (I will email the staff as well). For everyone else, I appreciate the support because I may need to call on you to help, or maybe we can help you! …. Power of the PLN!

Are you planning to steal dreams in the Fall? (208: 365)



As you prepare for the students to return to your district, school, or classroom….Think for a minute… What is School for?

I just watched a TEDxYouth Talk from Seth Godin, and right from the beginning of the talk he had me thinking…. What is school for? He recanted how we have spent over 150 years in education with the same introduction,”Good morning Mr. or Mrs. so and so.” Wonder why? According to Godin, school was designed to teach obedience. Ironically, this form of education fit perfectly with the standardized tests, and the future factory employment. YIKES!


Throughout the TEDx talk, Seth provides the framework for the industrialized classroom (basically how we learned, our parents, grand-parents learned and how our kids are learning now… with little change):

  • Process students throughout the year, and the defective ones are sent back for reprocessing
  • Sit the kids in straight rows… just like the factory
  • Build a system based on inter-changeable people (and parts)
  • Train students to “buy stuff”

Towards the middle of the talk, Seth provides 8 things that are going to change completely if we decide how we are going to answer this question… What is school for?


Check out this brilliant talk by Seth Godin for yourself (Thanks to my PLN for sharing)


Gotta love @iamkidpresident (207:365)



You gotta love Kid President! The whole series of videos have taken the internet by storm, and the most recent one I viewed was one of my favorites…. 20 Things We Should Say More Often. This video really makes me want to eat a corndog (even though I don’t like them)!

As you plan your staff or student welcome back, this could be a great video to share. Throughout the video, Kid President does an amazing presentation on why we should say nice things to each other. Kids would really like the video because it will make them think, and laugh. Adults, who probably need this more than the kids, will enjoy Kid President’s delivery and specifically, his content.



Information! What about the gaps? (206:365)

Source: Will Richardson

Source: Will Richardson

Two days ago I blogged about how 90% of the world’s information was created in the past two years. As I went through my twitter feed today, I saw a tweet from Laura Gilchrist, who attended a Keynote given by Will Richardson, that peeked my curiosity (see image to the left). It is funny (or ironic, or just part of the Big Data) that I have been thinking about this topic and how it relates to being a Principal. Of course, Will nailed it! As the amount of information increases, the value of it declines. Therefore, the price of education rises. I went onto his presentation (you can too) and he furthers explains the problems with this dilemma by saying “Big things happen in Big gaps.” He goes on to ask, “Where will you get your education?”


Now, I could be misreading Will’s presentation or making broad generalizations, and if so I will correct….. But the point is this, our job as educators is to provide the opportunities for students to fill in the gaps. Seems impossible, right? How will they “know” all this information? See, that’s the rub… they can’t and they won’t if we continue to do things the SAME way. Will offers a few suggestions to address this dilemma:

Content and Knowledge are everywhere
Teachers are everywhere
Data is everywhere
Networks are the new classrooms
Learning is everywhere (Will Richardson)

He also suggests that we, “Unlearn delivery, competition and assessment.” This is so paramount to the original premise of understanding “Big Data” and the true meaning of 21st Century learning. Now, if only the various departments of education can understand this, and let us implement it.

Here is his complete presentation. I highly recommend that you follow Will on Twitter, check out his blog, and read his books.

.@principalcast to host @DaisyDyerDuerr (205:365)

DaisyHeadshotThis Sunday, July 27, 2014 8:15 PM EST on, the Principalcast Crew hosts the infamous Daisy Dyer Duerr!

Daisy Dyer Duerr is the PreK-12 principal of Saint Paul Public Schools in Saint Paul, Arkansas. She has been an administrator for 9 years, after teaching social studies for 8. Daisy is a 2014 NASSP Digital Principal Award Winner. She’s also a 2013 and 2014 BAMMY! Award Finalist and a frequent speaker at national educational conferences (ISTE, NASSP Ignite, MASSP, Edscape). She established and leads the weekly Arkansas Twitter chat, #ArkEdChat. As an educational leader working in a rural district, Daisy is deeply interested in technology’s enormous potential to positively impact both students and teachers, wherever they may be.


Be sure to join us on Sunday, July 27, 2014 8:15 PM EST on to see Daisy!

Too much information? Or just enough? (204:365)



Did you know that 90% of the world’s information was generated over the last two years? Well, I didn’t until I read this article! So, my question is … how are we preparing our students based on this information? How are we preparing our teachers? Administrators?


In addition, how can we keep up? Or do we need to keep up? These are all questions I pondered after reading this article and preparing for this blog. Here is my feeble attempt to respond.


Impact on student learning

  • I think the first step in understanding this “Big Data” is awareness. I will certainly be sharing this information with teachers and encouraging them to share it with their students (and hopefully parents).
  • Have teachers and students make their own connections to this “Big Data.” For instance, engaging kids in an activity designed to help them not only understand the magnitude of data, but also how they might contribute to furthering the data. Let them explore data, and see what connections they can make.

The Experts 

  • We have been saying f0r a long time that teachers are not the experts in the classroom anymore. If this article’s conclusion doesn’t enlighten the strong holds “sage on the stage” or the “know it all” then I am not sure what will!
  • Granted, with such “Big Data” there will always be experts, but what does the expert in the future look like? What will they know? For the classroom, I see this as the access to information. Designing lessons where kids can become the expert in something will require the participant to understand how much information they accessed to become an expert…..

The Future

  • If we are producing more and more information that adds to the “Big Data” (this blog adds a sliver to the overall) we can only expect that it will grow faster and become bigger. There are those who analyze these trends and forecast what things will be like… All I can say is…. Good Luck! As we produce more and more information, we can only have theories on the impact on the future.

What do you think of “Big Data”?

Uprooted (203:365)

Gathering the supplies for the make-over

Gathering the supplies for the make-over

When was the last time that you took your workspace (or home space) and completely changed it? It always sounds like a good idea, and the end result is usually better then when you started. The hardest part of the change is being displaced. For the past few days, I have been uprooted out of my office. No phone, computer, books, papers, or any other stuff….  I have to be honest, I feel very out of sorts! I admire those who don’t have an office (Patrick Larkin when he was a principal) because it is very difficult not having a home.


I understand that the uprooted feeling is part of the change process. It allows you to take stock of what is important regarding your personal and professional belongings. It requires you to also take the time to prepare for the new beginning. For me, I have had meetings, appointments while being displaced. I’ve kept myself busy assisting with the redesign of the office as much as I could. I have enjoyed painting, spackling and even washing the carpets. Now I am just waiting for everything to get back into place, so I can get back in place.


Why @ktenkely rocks (202:365)

Last night on the Principalcast Podcast we hosted Kelly Tenkely. Needless to say, she rocked the house! Throughout the podcast she told us her story of how she became a ”connected” educator. She talked about her battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis and how being advised to take time off from teaching, eventually lead her to create the Learning Genome Project, and Anastasis Academy.  She discussed her Blogging Alliance days (she blogged every single day for 4 years). Through the podcast, you will learn that no matter what Kelly gets involved in, she always exerts 100% effort!


After the podcast, Theresa and I just looked at each other and went… WOW. Hopefully, you will too!


Think! (201:365)



Lets face it.. things are the way they are because we think this is the way things should be… Sound familiar? Crazy? Maybe a little of both? The fact is that we often get stuck in assumptions or “how things have been done”… For instance, we think schools should look a certain way, smell a certain way, and produce a certain way! When do we ever THINK about this? Even more, when do we ever QUESTION?


Since the summer is a great time for planning the new school year, what will you do this year to challenge the notion of how things have been done? What will you do that will cause you to think, as opposed to react, conform?

Let me know…. your kids are depending on you!

The School Blog: Summer Updates (200:365)

Our Art teacher Meg Peck got a chance to meet Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love!

Our Art teacher Meg Peck got a chance to meet Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love!

I think it is important, maybe even imperative to maintain the school blog through the summer. Granted, there may not always be a lot of information to update, but the school must be seen in all its stages.


For instance, each week as I walk throughout the building and consult with the custodians, I take pictures to chart their progress and then report that out to our community (Our 3rd floor is ready, we are redesigning the Library, etc.) In addition, I ask the staff to submit photos from their summer vacations. I feel this is extremely important so our community can see the importance of travel, rejuvenation, or milestones from the staff. Simple, yet very effective ways of maintaining the summer bridge for the community!

Check out the RM Bacon Weekly (and I mean weekly, even in the summer)

Share your school blog stories! What do you do in the summer? Let me know