Never-ending positivity (80:365)



One of the roles of the 21st century school leader is what I like to call “Never-ending positivity.” Believe me, there are days when I question the job I am doing, or get upset at how others view me or the school, but when the day is over it is all about being positive. In education, there are so many hurdles, obstacles, concerns, not to mention that things are just not fair. The education system is far from perfect, but our kids and families deserve the very best each and everyday.


As I walk around the school, I always try to view the glass as half filled. Even today, as I am home battling a nasty sinus infection, my thoughts are centered on how I can be a better principal Monday morning. How can I, as the school leader, make things better for the faculty, staff, students, parents, and community members? Well, in addition to being competent, following through on promises, and providing a culture based on collaboration, I need to be the person who believes that things are getting better.


Here are some things to consider about promoting a never-ending positivity based leadership model:

– Be honest, but don’t complain about things you cannot control

– Smile

– Ask people how they are, and what you can do to help

– When the going gets tough, the tough stay positive

– No one (administrator, student, parent, teacher, staff) is perfect, and you cannot take things personally

– There is always tomorrow – You can improve every day

– Have a goal – Encourage people to “imagine a better school”

– When faced with budget cuts, insurmountable odds, or any other school based challenges, rally the troops, be honest, ask for help, build a positive reaction!




Yeah, I wore a Tutu (79:365)

Post performance!

Post performance!

I have had a busy few days, and with the onset of seasonal allergies, I almost forgot to blog today. Well, I have to admit, most of my free time the past few days has been spent practicing for the Talent Show at my school…. The perks of being an Elementary School Principal.


A few colleagues and I did our best Saturday Night Live impression and recreated the  Beyonce Knowles/Justin Timberlake “Single Ladies” skit. We tried to be as funny as possible, and the kids and parents loved it.The practices were grueling. We needed to make sure this skit was epic. For now, all I have is the picture to prove it.


I think the picture says it all.



Thoughts on learning (78:365)

Create your own dolls, dresses or whatever you want

Create your own dolls, dresses or whatever you want

I was sitting down chatting with my six year old daughter last night and she was showing me her YouTube. Since she has received her iPad, she has been glued to it. Like most kids her age, she plays games, Minecraft, and watches a lot of YouTube. I don’t even have to fight for the remote anymore!


As she showed me the things she does on her iPad I was amazed. She has found a plethora of tutorial videos to help her create scenes for her dolls. She showed me a whole how to use Play Doh to make dresses video. So that is why she is suddenly into Play Doh… She showed me a series of videos on how to create a house for your dolls. Hmm, scissors, glue, paper, drawing….. creation… That is why my wife is making trips to the store to get these materials;) 😉


I was so proud sitting there with my daughter as she showed me the videos, and talked about her projects. I pretended not to know anything and just learned from the 6 year old creative, innovative and resourceful girl…

21st Century learning. Technology allows for creativity

21st Century learning. Technology allows for creativity

Here are her recommendations:

My Froggy Stuff 

Disney CarToys 


“Frequently Amazing” @techgirljenny (77:365)

infographic by the amazing @sjunkins

graphic by the talented @sjunkins

The other night I was looking through my Twitter feed. I noticed that a bunch of folks were in a chat, so I started following the hashtag #edchatri. As I scrolled through the questions and replies, a quote stuck out from the rest. The quote was from Jenny Grabiec, a Director of Instructional Technology at a private K-12 in North Carolina.

My next professional development is usually found on Twitter. It’s daily. It’s random. It’s frequently amazing ~ Jenny Grabiec


She was absolutely, 100% correct. I immediately re-tweeted the quote and then told her how impressed I was by it. Then I noticed it was re-tweeted a few times, and re-tweeted by others. Next thing I notice is that people began favoring it. Just like that. Somehow I was mentioned in the re-tweets, so I know, as of this post, it was mentioned over 100 times on twitter. BOOM!


I asked Jenny if I could blog about her quote. She agreed and I am glad she did. Her quote embodies the spirit of Twitter for professional development. In just a few short characters, she captures why we are connected. It is daily. It is random! It is frequently amazing!

I want to thank Sean Junkins who made the graphic for this prolific quote! Be sure to connect with both Jenny and Sean. I am sure this team has more in store!


The writing process (76:365)

The writing process can be grueling, hard work, and thankless. Although I love writing, I know it is a very difficult process. Blogging has made it much easier. Blogging everyday is really just a way to work on different aspects to reflection, ideas or thoughts. It is freeing. No editing, a raw manuscript. Stream of consciousness.


There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed ~ Ernest Hemingway


In addition to the blog, I am writing in different venues. As a principal, I write newsletters, emails, District and State documents. I write for my graduate students. I am writing a book. I write and write and write. Some of it is good and some is not.


If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or tools) to write. Simple as that ~ Stephen King


Reading helps so much. I read everyday. I read blogs, papers, articles, and books. I read whatever I can get my hands on. I read for pleasure, knowledge, and even just challenge myself. Reading compliments writing. They literally go hand in hand.


One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple ~ Jack Kerouac



When you can’t be there (75:365)

photo 1

Learning from Bill Sterrett, Erin Klien, Amber Teamann, Joan Young and others!

As I sit in my home in southern New Jersey this weekend, I know that there are over 9,000 dedicated, committed, innovative educators in Los Angeles for the national ASCD conference. Obviously, I would rather be in sunny southern California this weekend, but sometimes I just can’t be at everything!


So what is a connected educator to do? Well, it was really easy and simple…. I followed the #ASCD14 hashtag on twitter. Throughout the weekend, I have been learning from my Professional Learning Community (PLC). I learned about Daniel Pink’s keynote through tweets and folks sharing their notes on google (Thanks Dr. Gentile). I was able to hear about the sessions, and follow links to find more information. I know that Sir Ken Robinson rocked the house as the evening Keynote.


It just took a few minutes here and a few minutes there to feel part of the learning!


Why we need to be ambitious (74:365)

thinking outside the box. Including student work, teacher insight and community support

thinking outside the box. Including student work, teacher insight and community support

Never underestimate the importance of the walls, sidewalks, entrances, lawn, mulch, trees, ceilings, floors, or anything else when looking at a learning institution. I think there are too many people who (especially in recent years) have thrown up their hands when viewing school appearances. It really doesn’t matter if your budget has been reduced, or your custodial staff have been cut. We have a responsibility to always ensure the school appearance represents our mission!


As we compete in the 21st century global market place, the learning institution must change with the time (or at least keep up). For many schools, we are no longer the only game in town. Magnet, charters, school choice, and privates are competing for the same students. The stakes are high. So should our ambitions!



The question? (73:365)



I highly recommend that you read “The Dan Sullivan Question: Ask it and Transform Anyone’s Future.” The book is a quick read, but the message is ever so important.

The question is simple, and it is effective for organizations, businesses and schools. We use it at my school because it makes change less personal and more process-centered. Let’s face it, change can be grueling, and thankless. Change takes time, and eventually, everyone needs to be part of the process.

For me, the Question allowed me to (in the first year) understand  the staff  in a personal and professional way. The discussions that ensued were priceless. Of course some staff took it more seriously then others, but that revealed more about their ability to reflect and plan.

Each year since, I have emailed the staff with the same Question. This year will be no different, but the challenges (perhaps unforeseen 3 years ago) are very different. How will we respond? What will need to change?


Here is Dan’s question:

If we were having this discussion three years from today, and you were looking back over those three years, what has to have happened in your life, both personally and professionally, for you to feel happy about yourself?


The answers to this question will range, and as a leader it can help transform the future of the organization. For instance, say you are a public school that is facing budget cuts, increasing payments to charter schools, and relative progress on standardized assessments. What do you do? Well, you ask yourself the question, and then you ask everyone else the question…

The school of tomorrow, today! (72:365)

In a little more than one month, I will be celebrating my third year as principal. I think we have achieved a lot of goals, and worked collaboratively to  improve the school. So what is next? What is our vision? What is our future?


I think we have an amazing future ahead of us here. I am excited to transcend the federal and state requirements because they are only one indicator of our performance. We want to define our path, and prepare students for a world that they will be successful in. We need to create problem solvers, 21st century thinkers who will excel at what every life throws at them!


I recently viewed a video from the Nettlehorst School in Chicago that signifies what our school could become…. Although this is one school, I think it is a powerful example of what could be…



Are we ready to build the school of tomorrow, today?

The Before and After School Principal (71:365)

During our most recent PrincipalCast Podcast, we discussed the needs of Principals before and after school. The conversation was lively and we had a lot of good information from our live listeners.

In the podcast, the PrincipalCast crew talked about how much time is needed to be effective, how to stay organized, and what our expectations are for staff.

Check out the podcast, and let us know if you have any ideas.