They have a dream (17:365)

"I Have a Dream"

“I Have a Dream”

I was in a first grade classroom the other day. Kara Lunemann did an awesome lesson on similarities and differences in regards to Martin Luther King, Jr. Even though the kids were in first grade, she used rigorous questioning and challenged them to think about what the world would be like if Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t challenge the process.


The students analyzed the differences between brown and white eggs and related it to skin color. Each of the students could not understand why people used to judge each other based on this. “That’s just silly,” one student said to me.


After analyzing the eggs, she showed a video which combined some of MLK’s words, with easy to understand information to help the first graders comprehend his impact.  As the students watched the video, the students were swaying to the beat. They were all smiles!


As I walked around the room, I noticed that the students were writing their own stories about MLK, Jr. I had to take a picture of one of the student’s illustrated story (at the beginning of the blog post). Cute and very important. What a great lesson, and now the students know why they off from school on Monday!


MLK had a dream and so do first graders!


Switch your zoo (16:365)

unnamedRecently I was in a second grade art class. The teacher began the lesson by reviewing mythological creatures. She talked with them about the symbolism, and stories of these creatures. After showing the kids examples of some from Greek, Roman and Egyptian history, she brought them to the 21 at century using the site Switch Zoo.


The kids explored the site and created their own creatures. They thought it was the coolest thing. The art teacher said she used to do this lesson by having the students cut out animals from magazines. She said there would be many issues associated with the activity such as getting the magazines, time spent cutting and choosing animals, and connecting to the Greek, Roman and Egyptian history.


Once they completed their newly formed creatures, the students wrote a description of their newly created mythological creatures!

In addition to the site, there is an app for those who have a device… Check it out and bring your art lesson to the 21st century… 

Ignite the fire, feed the desire (15:365)



The theory of positivity is simple… You need to remain positive, be an example, and understand that it is all about perspective. The most important and influential people are positive. Think about this … do you enjoy learning from someone who is negative? In reality, though, it can be extremely difficult to maintain the theory of positivity.


There are two suggestions for maintaining …. ignite the fire, feed the desire……

1. Ignite the fire – Find your passion. Is it work, home, school, reading, writing, or technology?  Find that which makes you get up in the morning.
2. Feed the desire – The more you are able feed your passion, the more you likely you will be able to continue on the path to positivity.

My advice.. it is easier to stay positive. Life is too short to dwell on the negative. Each day make sure to ignite your fire and feed your desire… Be careful, though, it can be contagious…



Twitter and the information sift (14:365)

tweetI understand that folks are reluctant to engage in social media. I was there, and it is only been two years of being engaged in social media. Recently I was thinking of a new way of sharing the importance of the social media tool twitter. Most people say they don’t have time to get on twitter. Ok, have you pondered this?

Without social networks, navigating the web can be next to impossible. For instance, many people use google as their primary search engine. A recent search of “connected educator” yielded about 11 million results. Is there anyone who has time to sift through 10 results let alone 11 million results? This is where twitter can become a major asset in the information “sift”.

Using the twitter example from above, a search for “connected educator” would direct you to the 5 most popular educators, recent tweets with the term, and resources for blogs, wikis, and educational online materials. To the busy educator, the twitter search results serve as both a life preserver and a catapult. Either way, there is distinct possibility of entering another sphere of learning.

If time is a concern, then maybe you need to try twitter….

Learning About Digital Leadership (13:365)

ericLast night the Principalcast crew interviewed Eric Sheninger about his book Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times. What an interview!


Even though Eric admitted to us that he was up way past his bedtime (usually in bed by 8 or 8:30) he was as energetic as ever. We asked Eric a series of questions for the new or soon to be connected educator, and he answered them with such passion. He is committed to helping new educators become more connected. He said that becoming connected will help their class, their school, and their district transition to a 21st century experience.


Throughout the podcast, Eric mentioned how Social Media is more about the people then it is the devices. He feels that free tools such as twitter are essential in connecting to “smart people” and that it becomes easy to learn from them. Eric reminded us a few times throughout the podcast that if it were not for people who came before him, that he wouldn’t be where he is today.


Our live audience asked several interesting questions that allowed Eric to expound upon the pillars of digital leadership. According to Eric, the pillars of digital leadership are the same pillars to any effective leadership. In fact, he said they are really one in the same. We simply have new tools to collaborate.


I will post the podcast once it is up on you tube and itunes, but I had to reflect upon this experience as soon as it was over. Here are my 5 takeaways from our podcast with Eric:

1. You never stop learning

2. The principal needs to provide time for teachers to collaborate

3. Never mandate use of social media or technology – Just provide the incentive

4. Focus your social media efforts to make your school and community better

5. If you don’t know an answer, ask someone from your PLN


Thanks again to my awesome co-hosts Theresa Stager, Jessica Johnson and our wonderful producer Jeff Bradbury!



Importance of sleep (12:365)



Balancing a post a day takes a lot of organization. I find that writing a few posts at a time and scheduling the publishing date makes things a lot easier. This morning, I really thought I had one scheduled for the normal 6:00 AM time. Nope. I didn’t and I slept in. When I realized this upon waking, I figured why not just blog about sleeping. I’m really good at it. (Sometimes)


I am true believer in the power of sleep. Our circadian rhythms are important to mental clarity, disease prevention, and cell rebirth. Oftentimes, the busy educator would rather forgo sleeping in order to “get everything done.” When we are in the “sacrifice syndrome” and we are under a lot of pressure our natural tendency is cut out sleep. Bad move. It might work for a day or two, maybe even a week, but eventually it will catch up with us. When we lose out on precious sleep we become cranky, short with others, and end up being a bit irrational.


Next time you are feeling that inclination to cut out on your sleep, think twice. It could have negative effects on your productivity, your perception of situations, or even worse lead to disease. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Stone Cold Dedication (10:365)



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!

Lessons learned…. and always be prepared (9:365)

We may have lost some materials, but we gained a sense of community and preparedness

We may have lost some materials, but we gained a sense of community and preparedness

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!

I’m learning more each day (8:365)

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