I love to think outside the box. Although it is often a cliche, thinking outside the box takes a lot of work. I found this video on youtube that did a great job of explaining the box, giving a few suggestions to begin thinking outside the box, and eventually what it could lead to. Thanks to Kevin Hunter for developing the video.
I am sure by now you have heard of the polar vortex. It goes without saying that most of the country has been dealing with it this week. Along with the vortex, there have been many school closings in the Midwest, delays, and problems with heating units (see my previous post on what happened to us). For New Jersey, this was the coldest week in years! We stayed open for business!
During this polar vortex situation, I thought about the kids at my school. With record lows well beyond the normal winter average, they bundled up an walked to school. Even on the coldest of days, the kids still walked in. Some of them walked about a mile to our school. To me that is dedication. I get to drive to work and the only time I spent outside was scurrying from the car to the building, and the car to the house. It was freezing!!!
Not only am I proud of those students who walked in the bitter cold to attend our school, I am inspired. They are so dedicated to learning, and what we have to offer that they went above and beyond to walk through the pain, cold, and wind. Something brought them to us, something deep down inside…. Stone Cold Dedication!
As a principal, you never know what can happen to your building. We just suffered through cold temperatures that would make you feel, well, really cold! These chilling temperatures can wreak havoc on an older building. Unfortunately, we had a few pipes burst which caused flooding in our cafeteria and a second grade classroom. Even though it was difficult to deal with, I learned three lessons from this experience.
Lessons learned from the flooded classroom:
1. Experience is a great teacher. I learned a great deal about heating systems, valves, and boilers than I had before. Our maintenance staff worked tirelessly to address the situation and ensure we were ready for school the next day!
2. Team work. As we dealt with the various problems a burst pipe can cause, I noticed something happening to people. Everyone wanted to help out. Whether it was well wishes for the teacher on social media, or time spent helping the teacher, our staff displayed their truly caring and cooperative nature. We had to combine classrooms, team teach, and relocate classroom yet everything went smoothly.
3. Always be prepared. Now I know more about heaters and potential flooding areas for classrooms, I can better assist my staff with their classroom set up. Imagine getting the call from your principal that your classroom has been flooded. Did you remember to put things away? Were your things in a safe place? You never know when things are going to happen, so you need to be prepared.
Always be prepared!
It’s real early in this blogging challenge. I am only 2% into this yearly challenge, but I am learning a lot. Things keep getting sent my way! Today, I feel that I need to reflect on how important the reflective journal (or blogging) is to my leadership. Blogging is an opportunity to accomplish two very crucial tools – learning, and reflecting. I believe they go hand in hand… It’s why I read blogs and why I write them.
For instance, each aspect of leadership is filled with the theoretical stuff I learn in books and the practical, everyday actions. If I say I going to be an “open, collaborative leader” how do I react to new ideas by others? Or, if I am going to be a “life-long learner” am comfortable spending time learning a new tool or technique? If I say I am a “detailed leader” do I follow up on my commitments?
I was inspired to write this quote:
The beauty of learning more each day is rooted in the dedication to remaining open
Eric Sheninger is releasing a new book Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times on January 14, 2014. The Principalcast Podcast will be interviewing Eric on Sunday, January 12, 2014 at 9:30 EST on teachercast.tv.
The reason we chose to interview Eric is because he has been the champion for the connected educator, specifically, the connected administrator. Administrators throughout the world have benefited from Eric’s tireless efforts to ensure we are prepared for the changing paradigms of education.
Our interview will focus on the practical aspects of the book, and how it can help improve students, parents, teachers and administrators. If you would like to ask questions, feel free to tweet Principalcast. We will also be giving away a signed copy of the book for one lucky listener on Sunday night.
According to Todd Whitaker, Professor of Educational Leadership at Indiana State University:
“This book is THE book on digital leadership. There is no one I can recommend more highly than the most connected educational leader today – Eric Sheninger – to help us navigate all of the changes taking place in classrooms, schools and districts. The book is perfect to help everyone initiate transformational change in a digital world. Whether you are a cutting edge techie or a nervous newbie this book is for you.”
I often joke with Jessica Johnson and Curt Rees about their “parenthood” in my social media growth. Although it sounds funny, Curt and Jessica are great twitter parents. Recently on a facebook post, Amber Teamann actually thought I was from Wisconsin. I had to tell her I was a New Jersey guy, but Curt reminded me that I was raised by the #wiamigos. He was right!
When I first started out 2 short years ago, it was Jessica and Curt who really showed me the path of the elementary principal in the 21st century. I’ve written about this before, but wanted to revisit the concept from a different perspective.
I think about those who are starting out. Maybe they are making a New Year’s resolution to become more “connected” or they want to take their classroom or school global. If they are anything like me, I needed to see an example. This is main premise to this post….
You never know who you are going to “raise.”
Twitter bio – the first impression
The twitter bio could be the first step for someone to start following you. I’ve said before that Curt Rees had me at “recess kickball legend.” If you read my previous post about Mental Models, you can imagine my perception of what an educational leader could be…. a recess kickball legend? Right on!
The blog – window to the core of leadership
The next step in potential social media parenthood is the blog. I can remember spending a great deal of time during January of 2012 reading through Jessica and Curt’s blog posts. I learned about what they valued, what they challenged, and more importantly, what they highlighted. Both trail blazed a path of positive, student-centered and professional growth that solidified why I wanted to be an education blogger.
Curt’s #worldbooktalk review on Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson
The connections – paying it forward and back
Since both Curt and Jessica played such a profound role in my development, I would include them on my tweets, blog posts, and questions. From there a professional connection grew. Eventually, the relationship grew to the point where our sharing was mutual and all three of us learned from each other. At some point I moved out of my “parents” house, and they have been there every step of the way. I can only hope that I will one day mentor someone so that they can grow their own digital footprint.
I am proud to be raised by the #wiamigos! In addition to Curt and Jessica, the other #wiamigos I have actively learned from are: Pernille Ripp, Tom Whitford, Christian Pleister, Joe Sanfelippo, Matt Renwick, Jay Posick, and Leah Whitford!
Who were you “raised” by? Share your story with our PLN…
We have mental models of what type or who we think should be leaders. A mental model is your thought process of how something should be or is in the real world.
Peter Senge wrote extensively about mental models in The Fifth Discipline. These deeply ingrained assumptions and images frame they way we perceive the world. In turn, our mental models impact organizations in more ways than you can imagine.
Recently, during the holidays, I had an interesting conversation with my 9 year old niece. I was being silly and dancing around with my daughter and my other nieces. So my 9 year old niece said, “I can’t believe your a principal.” I should have replied, “Honestly, neither can I.” Rather, I asked her to share her perception of a principal.
Her idea of a principal is pretty similar to what I thought a principal was supposed to be when I was her age…. She said principals are always well dressed, serious, you never want to go to their office, only the bad kids go there, they have a walkie-talkie, and they never act silly…. Thankfully, I am none of these!
What are your mental models of the principal? Do you realize the impact mental models have on the future of educators and administrators? Let’s not limit the future…. from what we know about the present…
Sometimes, all it takes is to think outside the box (even a little). The other day was in a 5th grade class. The teacher turned the lights out for reading time. Here is the catch… he gave them finger lights he purchased from the Dollar Store. He partnered the students, and by the look on their face, they loved it!
He got the idea by looking through the centers offering of Reading Street, the reading program we are piloting this year. The basis of the center was for the students to “GLOW AND GROW” their reading.
I know that we often think about change in education in terms of what new educational technologies are developed. Honestly, something as simple as turning out the lights and allowing kids to use finger lights is something that could have been done even when I was in 5th grade. It didn’t take a lot of money, it didn’t need to be approved by Informational Technology… It just took some good old out of the box thinking!
I get a message from my twitter mom (Jessica Johnson) the other day… Spike, I want you to participate in the PLN Blogging Challenge. I always listen to my mom 🙂
This is what Jessica Johnson wrote, “If you’re on Twitter then I’m sure you’ve seen people tweeting out the PLN Blogging Challenge, Sunshine Award, Homework Meme, or whatever other names they are giving it. It’s basically like a chain letter for blogging, which I have enjoyed reading others’ posts, but have been avoided joining in myself.”
This PLN blogging challenges gives us bloggers a chance to get to know each other better through this post (and reading each others’).
Here are the rules of the challenge:
- Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
- Share 11 random facts about yourself.
- Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
- List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
- Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
Here are my 11 random facts
1. I have little to no interest in tools
2. I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2001
3. My real name is Spike
4. My first concert was Ziggy Marley
5. I love Dalmatians
6. I hate when people do not return carts to the proper place in parking lots
7. I can’t wait to retire
8. I love Indian food
9. My favorite band right now is Fleet Foxes
10. People say I have “sausage fingers”
11. I hitchhiked up the Pacific Coast Highway in 1996 with my good friend Dan
Now to answer the other 11 questions from the challenge (I just used Jessica’s)
1. What is your favorite tv show? Key and Peele; Game of Thrones; True Blood.
2. What is one app or resource you’ve learned about on Twitter that has been a game changer for you at work? Voxer.
3. What is your typical bedtime? Between 10:00pm and 11:00pm
4. Best book you’ve read in 2013? Linchpin, The War of Art.
5. Favorite Twitter Chat: #njed
6. Best place you’ve vacationed? London, England
7. How has your PLN impacted you? My PLN has helped me to become a better leader.
8. What motivates you each day to be an educator? Making a difference…. everyday!
9. What was the most amazing lesson you ever facilitated or observed? I recently observed a Rocket Launch.
10. If you had a whole day to do just what you wanted, what would it be? Play basketball, soccer, and tennis in the morning with friends. I would drink coffee and play chess in the afternoon. Eat a big Indian meal for dinner, and go to bed early!
11. Favorite tv show when you were growing up? Saved By The Bell and YO! MTV Raps.
Here is who I would like to see complete this…