Why reflection is an important tool (283:365)

source: ethicsofisl.ubc.ca

source: ethicsofisl.ubc.ca

It isn’t an app. Doesn’t require technology, or people. The only thing it really requires is experience. Reflection is perhaps the most overlooked tool for improvement. It helps to break the cycle of whatever is holding you back. Reflect. Reflect on the day, the week, a sentence, a look, a glance, it really doesn’t matter. As you reflect on an experience, you can always find a way to do it better. That is the important work.


We all make mistakes, we overlook, we forget and yet we have the unique ability to overcome the learning opportunities to improve.


How do you reflect? When do you reflect?



What is your sushi? (282:365)

source: www.magpictures.com

source: www.magpictures.com

For the record, I don’t like sushi, and I have never dreamed of it. I wish I liked fish, but I can’t stand the taste of it. This post, in a sense, has nothing to do with eating sushi.


I did, however, recently see the beautiful documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Wow, This powerful documentary follows Jiro, an 85 year old man in Japan, who has been working to perfect the art of making sushi for about 70 years! Could you imagine doing one thing, being razor focused for 70 years?


For Jiro it is sushi, what is your sushi?


As I watched the documentary I felt so many connections to education. In fact, Jiro talks about his educational experiences. Jiro said that just because you get good grades doesn’t mean you are going to be successful in life (how ironic because I just blogged about this yesterday). Jiro believes in hands-on learning. He wants kids and adults to follow their passion. It’s interesting, as you will find out in the documentary, that Jiro only deals with suppliers (fish, rice, etc) who are passionate about their profession.


Here are my takeaways from this documentary:

  • Find something you are passionate about and follow you passion – For Jiro it is sushi – What is your sushi?
  • Plan for the long term – In Jiro’s kitchen you have to apprentice for 10 years cleaning fish before you can make one menu item.
  • Once you build your sushi, it is important to train everyone in your vision – Jiro laughs when people think he does everything at his restaurant. He says that 80% of the work is already done by others. He is just there to put the sushi on the plate. He has spent years training and empowering others to perfect their craft.
  • Stick with it – All too often we are looking for the next mountain to climb. In Jiro’s world, his mountain, his challenge is always focused on one thing… making better sushi.


What is your sushi?

Stay in your lane! (281:365)

source: mikecalhoun.wol.org

source: mikecalhoun.wol.org

You are driving down the road and someone swerves in your lane…. what do you do? You see someone ahead in the opposite lane of traffic and they are heading right for you… what do you do?


I know what you are thinking… why don’t people stay in their lane? How does this play out in organizations? What if we all stayed in our lane? I can see both sides of the arguments, and here is why….



Why you should stay in your lane

  • You have a job to do and you should do that job
  • If you worry about someone else, you must not be doing your job
  • Especially in education… it is all about the pay grade and the certification!


Why you shouldn’t stay in your lane

  • Everyone has a perspective and your insight could help the organization
  • If no one questioned anything, what would the world look like?
  • People can have expertise in more than one area

Where do you stand? To stay in your lane or not… that is the question….

Are we teaching citizens or workforce deployment? (280:365)

Owly ImagesI saw a tweet from Chris Lehmann that really made me think. See, his kids at SLA are standing up against the cuts to teachers in the Philadelphia School District. Kids at SLA are steeped in inquiry based learning. They question EVERYTHING! So today, they questioned the budget cuts. Are we ok with this? Unfortunately, I don’t think everyone is… and that is troublesome.


The debate has a long history… do we teach students to be citizens or are we just creating workforce deployment? Honestly, we like to think we are teaching students to become citizens, but mostly we are simply creating the next phase of workers. When you were in school (or if you teach in a school) how often did (or do) you hear people saying things such as:

  • “In the real world you will have to do X,Y, Z” (you fill in the blank)
  • “When you get a real job, you will have to do X, Y, Z” (you fill in the blank)
  • “We are preparing students for College and Career Readiness”

Guess what, if you hear (or say) those things, chances are you are preparing students for workforce deployment. Let’s face it, having a “job” is only a part of your life. So what does it mean to be a citizen? Here are some things we could say and reinforce:

  • We need to be respectful of everyone despite their differences
  • Honesty is necessary for us to trust each other. It could help avoid social and legal issues
  • Compassion is important because sometimes people are sick, hurt or depressed
  • You need to learn responsibility because we need to depend on you
  • Have the courage to do what is right, and stand up for you beliefs


The truth is we do not know what jobs will in the “real” world in a few years, but we do know that the characteristics of a good citizen will help us in many ways. I think education should be more than workforce readiness…. a LOT more!

What really matters? (279:365)

source: www.gdcadvertising.com

source: www.gdcadvertising.com

Ever feel like the educational world has lost it’s grip on what really matters? Honestly, ask anyone right now and you would be sure to get a hundred different answers. Should we be testing more? Should we be testing less? Preparing kids for Digital Age or stick with the pencil and paper…. and what about passion, desire, questions, discussion, coding, mapping, and the list could go on forever.


I would love to know… what still really matters in education?

Engaging students through CPR (278:365)

source: en.wikipedia.org

source: en.wikipedia.org

Recently, the 5th graders at my school did a unit on CPR. The integrated unit required them to read The Red Kayak. The story is about a boy named Brady who faced a situation that required him to use CPR. After reading it, the students researched CPR using YouTube and other sites and connected it to the story. Their teacher contacted a local EMS member to come out and show the students how to perform CPR.


How we documented it….

The students filmed the project with a Flip camera. Then, they selected a student to tell me the story as we edited the film. We analyzed the story that our EMS guest was presenting, but it was the words of the student. It was a great opportunity to show students the other side of process.

We are looking forward to doing more projects with the students as the creators and producers… Stay tuned!


Enjoy the CPR Video

Did you have an awesome day? Blake wants to know (277:365)

source: www.imgion.com

source: www.imgion.com

I love this kid Blake from Florida and I have never met him. I hope to GHO with him and his classmates soon. Fortunately, I know his teacher, and she raves about him (she loves all her kids mind you). But Blake, from the beginning of his second grade year, decided he wanted to take things to the next level. He liked how Ms. Baselice had all her kids check in each day on her iPad. She asked them questions about their lunch choices, and how they were feeling. Blake liked that. Then, as Ms. Baselice said, he wanted to know how his friends were doing, but not to be nosy. No, Blake really cared. So she did what any great 21st Century teacher would do, she asked Blake if he really wanted to know, he could ask anybody in the world (using a google form of course). Blake made that his Genius project. He developed the form (with some help from his teacher) and then they filmed a promo for his cause… Did you have an awesome day?


Check out his video, and then be sure to let him know if you had an awesome day! 

How do you connect with 400 + educators at one time? (277:365)

source: coolcatteacher.blogspot.com

source: coolcatteacher.blogspot.com

How do you connect with over 400 educators from 6 different countries from around the world at once with out having to leave your house, travel, dress up or register? Basically, all you have to do is join twitter and follow the #satchat hashtag every Saturday, and you will find connections abound.


This Saturday, I had the pleasure of being a co-moderator with the #satchat crew. Scott Rocco, Brad Currie and Billy Krawkower volunteer their time every Saturday to provide the format for the discussion. All I had to do as the co-moderator was provide 6 questions, and be sure to keep the discussion going. Since it is Connected Educators Month, I wanted to do something besides just having an hour dedicated to “preaching to the choir” but rather I wanted it to be an opportunity to discuss how and why were are connected, and more importantly, what are we doing to share this news with others!


Here were my questions…. If you were not able to participate, please feel free to send me a comment of your responses.

  • What did it take for you to become a connected educator!?
  • What do you tell people about being connected?
  • What is the biggest obstacle to getting educators connected?
  • How does being connected assist you with the transparency of your class, school or district?
  • How much time does it take to be a connected educator?
  • What does your PLN mean to you?

It’s funny, I said that #satchat is an hour, but it took me over two hours to go through my feed and connect/reconnect with the participants. So the discussion goes well beyond the 7:30 AM – 8:30 AM time slot. That is why the #satchat hashtag usually trends all day on twitter. It is so powerful!


Here is the storify of the experience.

United in pink… and wearing it like a Boss! (276:365)

Just a few of the staff who were wearing pink.... like a boss!

Just a few of the staff who were wearing pink…. like a boss!

I love the synergy at our school. It is infectious. For instance, each October we celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One of our staff members, who lost her mother to Breast Cancer, honors her mother’s legacy by encouraging us to act.

This year she and another staff member got together and designed shirts for us to wear each Friday. In fact, their passion for this is so contagious that the rest of the district is joining in with their own shirts.


Awareness is only part of it. We also educate the students and parents about WHY we wear pink every Friday. We participate in walks, donate money, and volunteer our time to raise awareness. It is truly something to celebrate as we raise awareness to this awful cancer.

we wear pink like a boss!

we wear pink like a boss!

In addition, a few years back one of our parents was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. We made sure to flood her with positive vibes and support. Her tenacity was contagious! She ended up beating that cancer and now substitutes and serves as an aide for us. We have another staff member, who was a NJ state trooper, who also had cancer and was able to overcome it. She now assists teachers and students with positive behavior support.


The stories go on and on. We have staff members who have had family members diagnosed with the disease. Everyone on the staff has someone (usually not too far removed) that this cancer has impacted.


This brings us together! United in pink and wearing it like a boss!


Just an average day (275:365)

Sometimes I like to rely on the non-linguistic representations (ie pictures/images) to describe a day in the life of a principal. Below you see the awesomeness that I stumble upon on an average day in my school.


The energy is contagious. It emanates from the staff and students like a perfume shop in a local mall. It smells of engagement, 21st century learning, and exploration… Just saying!


Here are some pictures from my adventures in learning (just an average day):


Using legos during Genius Hour


5th graders sharing their first field trip


4th grade students making healthy smoothies as a reward!


3rd grade students using me as a character in their story


Scan a story to read using your device!