“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)

source: https://www.facebook.com/StrategicCoach

source: https://www.facebook.com/StrategicCoach

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.


I’m working on spelling (70:365)

Because, because, because, because, because

we, we, we, we, we

always, always, always, always, always

need, need, need, need, need, need

to, to, to, to, to

practice, practice, practice, practice, practice

spelling, spelling, spelling, spelling, spelling

the, the, the, the, the

way, way, way, way, way

we, we, we, we, we

were, were, were, were, were

taught, taught, taught, taught, taught.

The 5 people you meet in education (69:365)

source: www.oucs.ox.ac.uk

source: www.oucs.ox.ac.uk

After about 15 years in education, I have narrowed the people you meet down to 5 “types.” My experiences range from elementary to higher education. No matter the venue, I have continued to meet the same types of people. Please note that this list is not scientific or based on anyone at my current employment.


1. The”Innovators” – These education innovators are always on the cutting edge. They embrace change and work tirelessly to push the envelope. The innovators often do not stay in the same position for long, usually because opportunities are constantly being presented to them. Learn from them quickly because they might not be around (others on this list love when the innovators move on).


2. The “No one listens to me” – These educators are always so close, but no one ever seems to listen. When they interview for positions, they come in second or third. They may feel their ideas are never validated. They get frustrated often, and usually have problems with following through. Usually really good at what they do, the more they feel overlooked, the more disenchanted they become. Sometimes a change of venue, or new leadership can help.


3. The “I’m here for the long haul” –  These educators, usually due to their experience, have literally seen it all. In fact, they have seen their share of “innovators” and “passed over” educators. The majority of these educators are very solid in their approach, have a mature view on educating students. They mentor, assist, and ensure they do their part but they don’t need the credit. When asked what they want to do, most will say “I just want to teach” or “I just want to be an administrator.”


4. The “Life Long Learners” – They enter masters programs to … learn. They challenge their mental models of what education is (and isn’t). They love attending workshops, conferences, and professional learning communities. These educators are always there to help, and hope to learn along the way. They love working with innovators, and the “long run” people and can get along with parents, other educators and most of all, students.


5. The “Know it alls” -They know everything, have tried everything, and will let you know.  These educators have problems sharing. They have problems sharing the materials, the limelight, information, or anything else they “have.”  They probably see the “I”in team. They generally make no apologies for their behavior because they either know it all, have it all, or want it all. If they seek advancement into administration, usually everyone says, “Good luck to those they will supervise.”


Want to add anything to the list? Send a comment

Engaging Schools Through Social Media (68:365)

Amber and Troy Aikman

Amber and  her idol, Troy Aikman

Last week, the PrincipalCast Podcast hosted Amber Teamann, an Elementary Assistant Principal, from the great state of Texas. The purpose of her visit was to chat about the power of Social Media in schools.


In this podcast, Amber reveals how she has harnessed the power of Social Media to connect with other educators throughout the world, tell her school’s story, and grow as a professional. She was an excellent guest, and we hope to have her on soon.


Be sure to connect with Amber on twitter, and check out her blog Technically yours, Teamann.



Show Notes: