Turning Dreams into Reality

This morning a 5th grade student came up to me during arrival. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded up piece of paper. He told me to read and then went to class. Usually, these notes indicate a problem….Something I need to look into, investigate, etc. This letter was different.

To: Dr. Cook,

I think we should do a principal of the day at our school.

Because we can learn what being in office is like.

Some kids like myself have a dream of being a principal. I want to learn more stuff

about being a Principal like learning how to solve problems, and how to do write ups.

That is why I should be principal for a day.

From: Demear

 

What’s a principal to do? I sure could use the help!

I decided that the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 22) I will allow Demear to be Principal For A Day.

Let me know if you have any ideas for Demear. I want to make sure I help him turn his dreams into reality!

 

New approaches to the New Year

I haven’t blogged in a few weeks, so I am really dusting off the cobwebs here. I took time away from reading and writing about education over the Winter Break. I needed to rejuvenate myself. I spent quality time with friends, and family. Even though I had 11 days off in a row, it still wasn’t enough.

 

I woke up bright and early this morning (January 2) …. mentally preparing for the day. Instead of trying the latest fad diet or trendy exercise program (which is usually what I do), I relaxed in the morning quiet catching up with my thoughts, and drinking coffee. I finally opened up my zite and read a few articles and shared them on facebook and twitter. After I got ready, I attempted to rustle my kids out of bed, and at least get them excited about returning to school. (That wasn’t easy)

 

When I got to work everything was quiet. I started up my computer and stared at the log in. I actually forgot my password. I called a friend in the Help Desk but he wasn’t around. I told my secretary that I couldn’t log in because I forgot my password. She laughed at me! I remained focused, and finally (20 minutes later) I remembered the password. Winner!

 

After morning announcements,  I went around the school and visited every classroom. Some of the classes were already working diligently so I just waved and listened. In other classrooms I was able to wish everyone a Happy New Year, and welcome them back. Students told me all about their presents, or how they stayed up to see the ball drop. Just another day at school.

 

Source: http://www.economist.com/node/13315818

This blog post was supposed to be about new findings, goals, resolutions, or new ways of looking at myself for 2013… Instead, it really is just about my Winter Break and my first day back. But in all honesty, this is probably the healthiest approach I have had to a new year. No resolutions, no crazy fad diets, no more insane exercise attempts. Believe me, there are plenty of things for me to change, improve, lose, gain, etc.  The difference this year is my approach.

As a Principal, how will I deal with this?

I just posted on my school blog. That was the most difficult post I have ever written…. until now. As a reflective educator, who admittedly does NOT have all the answers, I am left with this question…. How am I going to deal with this? I am supposed to have all of the answers. I am supposed to be strong, brave, committed, and everything else that comes along with being a leader. Me? I am reeling from this tragedy  just like everyone else.

 

I spent yesterday morning reading the tweets of Dawn Hochsprung the Principal of Sandy Hook Elementary who was killed by the shooter defending her school. I hope to think that I would have had the same courage as Dawn, when faced with the same situation. I know through her tweets that she was doing everything she could to make her school safe, as well as create an atmosphere of learning for her students and teachers.

 

I have received several emails from my staff that have outlined their concerns about our safety and security. These valid concerns have made me rethink almost everything about our school. I will begin the process of working with the staff on Monday morning, but once again, I know that I don’t have all the answers.

 

In an attempt to be proactive, I have set up a meeting with parents on Wednesday evening before our Talent Show. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss their concerns about the tragedy, and to ensure that they feel comfortable sending their children to our school. It is my hope that this meeting will be a springboard for the future as we embark on a lengthy process of examining our entire school day from 6:00 AM – 11:00 PM.  Again… I do not have all the answers.
Then I had a epiphany….

 

I read a blog post from my friend Angela Maiers that really helped me. In the post, There is No Lesson Plan for Tragedy, she discusses how WE know what to do because, “Together we are smarter.” I truly believe that statement. Once I get away from the notion of I, and change to WE, I feel more confident, brave, and ready to face the challenges of leading an elementary school after this horrific tragedy. WE will continue to create a world class school, WE will help each other heal, WE will create a safer school, We are a lot stronger because WE work together to solve problems.

 

I know how to deal with this…. WE will deal with this!

 

Resources

There is no lesson plan by Angela Maiers

Dawn Hochsprung tweets

How to talk to kids about a school shooting by Dr. Laura Markham

Useful resources from Larry Ferlazzo

More resources Dr. Michele Borba

Sandy Hook Elementary information

 

Moneyball, and the importance of systems-thinking, process-centered leadership in education

It was the day after Thanksgiving 2012, and I was not able to fall asleep. As I flipped through the channels I stumbled upon Moneyball. I remember when the book came about about 10 years ago and I really wanted to read it. I also remember when the movie came out last year that I really wanted to see it. So, finally this was my chance! Kids were asleep and I had control of the TV. Nice!

The importance of systems thinking

The importance of systems thinking

Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics with the help of his assistant General Manager, was looking to operate a team with limited financial resources. Their process, known as sabermetrics, was contrary to the conventional wisdom prevalent in baseball scouting for over 150 years. Scouts were looking at prospective players in terms of feel, disposition, and even looks. They asked questions of each other like, “How did the ball sound coming off his bat?” or “Does he have what it takes?” when referring to the players. In a sense, they were looking at the intangibles until Billy asked a familiar question that is often overlooked in organizations, “What is the problem?” I wondered to myself if Billy had gone through Six Sigma training.

 

Billy and his assistant GM used data to discover which statistics really mattered in Baseball. Instead of the flashy statistics that fans usually paid attention to such as home runs and stolen bases, they focused on batters getting on base, pitch counts, even where the ball should be hit. This paradigm shift caused an uproar to the scouts and baseball pundits who had been steeped in traditional baseball analysis. Throughout the rest of the film, Billy remains committed to this process-centered, sabermetrics. There are people within the organization who question him and even challenge him, but he remains process-centered. Eventually, the team found consensus and won. The data worked!

source: the Yankee Analysts

My school incorporates the utility of data analysis for everything. For instance, within the realm of Response to Intervention, we facilitate Universal Assessments for all students, and we use that data to determine whorequires basic  skills instruction in reading fluency, reading comprehension, and/or math. Then, after a cycle of individually and research-based interventions, we analyze the data to determine if the intervention cycle was successful. We also analyze our Office Discipline Referrals (ODR’s). We compare our ODR’s against the previous school year, where the referrals are occurring, and which students are committing the referrals. This data advises us on how to provide appropriate remediation. We no longer have to “guess” if a student needs basic skills or if the discipline is “out of control.” We use the data to inform us and keep us process-centered.

 

This movie reaffirmed Six Principles I have learned about leadership and systems thinking through working in the Millville Public School District with the assistance of our PEG consultants:

  • Organizations need to take time to understand their mission and vision – Why do we exist?
  • Leaders need to assemble key stakeholders to undertake a problem solving matrix
  • Processes need to be charted or flowed to identify how/why things happen
  • Action plans that are developed must be time bounded, and an “owner” needs to be assigned, and held accountable
  • Innovation is important, and there should be processes in place to allow people to push the limits, and take chances
  • Periodic updates on the process ensures a better flow communication, and helps everyone stay connected

 

The story of Billy Beane, and the Oakland Athletics ends with the notion that Moneyball and sabermetrics changed baseball.  They were able to prove that money doesn’t solve everything. I agree. All too often in education we are always looking to “buy” the latest program, or solution as opposed to determining the root cause of the problem and doing the difficult work to solve the problem. If we follow the methodological framework of revered systemic thinkers to identify problems at their core, we will find ourselves true competitors in a 21st century educational environment that we call schools!

 

Moneyball Trailer

Resources:

Moneyball 

Performance Excellence Group

My Skype with Patrick M. Larkin, the Administrator formerly known as BHS_Principal

The Administrator formerly known as BHS_Principal

This is the eighth in the series about educators making a difference

About  4 years ago the inner writer within Patrick Larkin found a way to streamline communication with the school community. He started a blog that would eventually retire the tried and true “School Newsletter.” Not soon after, while at a Blue Ribbon Conference, Patrick heard Will Richardson discuss social media. This was the first time he heard about #edchat and the power of twitter. Something clicked with Patrick, but not immediately. Patrick took time to “lurk and learn.”
 

Sometime after he met Will Richardson, Patrick was contacted by George Couros, who at the time was one of the few principals on twitter. George discussed his idea about connecting principals through social media. Patrick was very interested. He had grown tired of the “email list serves” that had run their course. This new social media, thought Patrick, would allow everyone a faster, more streamlined way of communicating throughout the world.
 

Patrick’s superintendent (Eric Conti or @ericconti)  was supportive of his new interest in social media. He was able to see how Patrick would be assisting his teachers, and students as he learned new information from the other educators. Patrick continued to improve his blog, signed his school up for a facebook page, and shared the great news with anyone who would listen. Teachers and parents began to sign up for twitter, and follow the school on facebook. Then something happened that would change Burlington High School forever. It happened in Iowa of all places.

 

Source: Patrick Larkin

Patrick learned about a conference in Iowa (Iowa 1:1 Institute) focusing on 1 to 1 computing, something that was not common in Massachusetts. Patrick’s superintendent and school board approved a trip to attend the conference with a group of schools in Iowa.  This is where Patrick first met Scott McLeod (co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens) as well as Shannon Miller, Darren Durflinger, and John Carver from Van Meter, Iowa. It was during this conference that Patrick was able to see the impact of all students having their own web-enabled device (1 to 1).
 
 

Once he returned to Burlington, Patrick began to work with his colleagues to build the foundation needed for a 1 to 1 initiative at BHS. All told, it was a year and a half of meetings, research, consensus building that eventually paved the way to have the 1 to 1 begin in September of 2010. No stone was left unturned – they looked at the network, educational benefits, devices, and professional development. The team ended up choosing iPads as the device for the 1 to 1. They were one of the first schools in the nation to embark on such an aggressive 21st century journey!

 

Source: hereandnow.wbur.org

While Patrick was working on the 1 to 1 initiative, he quickly became one of the most recognized names in the twitterverse. Everyday Patrick learned a little more, posted a little more, and connected with scores of educators throughout the world. He and George started the #cpchat, and the connected principals’ blog to allow administrators and teachers the platform to discuss various topics. Patrick attended, and presented at local, state, and national conferences on the importance of being connected.
 

I asked Patrick about his famous office in Burlington High School. For those of you who don’t know, Patrick gave up his office a few years ago. His high school became his office! To Patrick it all made sense, he told me, “I had everything I needed. People could call me on my cell phone (he makes it public), we had wifi so I could use my Ipad or laptop wherever, and I found no need for file cabinets.” So, armed with his mac book, Patrick spent his past few years in the main lobby, hallway, and most importantly classrooms. If he had a confidential conversation that needed to take place, he was always able to find a space. Patrick modeled his connectivity, and was available for all to see.
 

Earlier this summer, Patrick made a decision to apply for a vacated Assistant Superintendent position in his school district. Fortunately for his district, Patrick was selected. His former associate principal ended up succeeding him as the new BHS principal, and Patrick decided to “give it all away – he gave his successor the BHS_Principal name for twitter, the blog, the office.  Everything.
 

Now we will be able to follow Patrick M. Larkin as he embarks on his new journey as Assistant Superintendent. Check out his first post.

Look for upcoming posts on other educators making a difference such as Curt Rees, Jessica Johnson, Shelly Terrell, Kelly Tenkley, Cool Cat Teacher and many more….

Previous posts dedicated to educators making a difference:  George Couros, Justin Tarte, The Nerdy Teacher, Dwight Carter, Chris Wejr, Todd Whitaker, Erin Klein

Resources:

All things Patrick M. Larkin

Prepare to be Kleinspired: My Skype with Erin Klein

This is the seventh in the series about educators making a difference

Erin Klein with other education rock stars!

A long time ago, in a social media galaxy that was far, far away Erin Klein was exposed to one of the most important tools in her teaching tool box. She was at a district conference in Michigan, and heard about this thing called twitter. She didn’t understand a few things about twitter, most importantly the why? Later on that year, she attended a state conference, and heard a guy named Nick, AKA The Nerdy Teacher, present about twitter. He was able to explain the why? “Nick allowed me to see the importance of the PLN, idea gathering, and giving. From that point on I was hooked,” said Klein.

With the help of social media, Erin worked feverishly to establish herself as a 21st century teacher. She took over a classroom that had one piece of technology, an overhead projector. She had a background in Interior Design, and wanted to ensure that the room was a welcoming, comfortable, and brain friendly. She used her new found knowledge to sign up for adopt-a-classroom. In a short time, she was able to raise $1,000.00 dollars to purchase technology for her classroom. Her superintendent was so impressed that he purchased a SMART board for her classroom. Over the course of the next 3 years they added 30 SMART boards throughout the school!

Brain friendly learning

Erin considers teaching a lifestyle. When I asked her about time, she told me that she is a multi-tasker, and is always doing something. She is not the kind of teacher that spends time in the teachers’ lounge. Rather, she eats her lunch, interacts on social media, blogs, reads, and connects. During her preparation periods she is busy helping other teachers, grading papers, and planning. She values time. So when she is home she attempts to be a mommy, and a wife. Yet, her daughter continues to be Kleinspired, and has a blog of her own. Her husband is super supportive. He gets it. He was the one who came up with Kleinspiration, the name of her blog! For the Klein’s blogging and social media has become a family activity!

She spends time on her blog on the weekend. Have you seen it lately? It is possibly the most aesthetically pleasing, resource-filled blog out there. During the 2011-12 school year she blogged 300 times. In November 2011, for instance, she posted 57 times! 57 times!  She spends time blogging as a way to categorize her own learning, and assist teachers with their learning. She credits Kelly Tenkley, Lisa Dabbs, Richard Byrne, Steven Anderson, and The Nerdy Teacher as social media mentors, who also serve as her PLN, critical friends, and potential material for all things Kleinspired.

A classroom or a living room?

In the blogging world, Kleinspiration has become one of the most important sites for parents, teachers, and administrators. She walks her talk. Anything that she blogs about is directly related to student engagement, achievement, and 21st century learning. She does take time to reflect. For instance, in her most recent post, I am not an expert, I simply love what I do, Erin discussed her visit to family in Chicago. In addition to spending time with her family, she “worked.” Understand this: Erin doesn’t consider all the blogging, reading, and other social media as work. For Erin, its fun!

I suggest that if you haven’t already, plant yourself a learning seed, and get on the Kleinspiration journey with Erin. You will be glad you did!

Erin Klein’s application for SMART Exemplary Educator:

Look for upcoming posts on other educators making a difference such as Curt Rees, Jessica Johnson, Shelly Terrell, Kelly Tenkley, Patrick Larkin, Cool Cat Teacher and many more….

Previous posts dedicated to educators making a difference:  George Couros, Justin Tarte, The Nerdy Teacher, Dwight Carter, Chris Wejr, Todd Whitaker

Resources

All things Erin Klein

The Wejr Board: My Skype with Chris Wejr

This is the fifth in a series about educators making a difference.

Chris Wejr presenting

Chris Wejr (pronounced Weej-er) is currently the principal of Kent Elementary School in Agazzi, BC. Because Chris’s last name is pronounced similarly to the famous Ouija (pronounced wee gee) and he loves talking about the future of education, he decided to name his blog The Wejr Board. The question is… where will this blog post take you? Keep your fingers placed gently on the mouse and find out.

Chris began his social media journey in 2009 as a result of helping a local dance studio who was embarking on a social media journey of their own. He was on facebook since it started, and even signed up his school in order to connect with parents. Yet, it took about a year for him to finally make that first post on his own blog.

He credits George Couros and Patrick Larkin (founders of #cpchat) for helping him see the power of twitter, blogging, and social media in general. Chris feels that twitter has been one of the most important aspects in connecting educators throughout the world. “Because twitter is limited to 140 characters, it is difficult to build relationships and connections,” noted Chris, “But it allows us to begin our connections which lead to reading blog posts, direct messaging, and skypeing.”

What a view! Kent Elementary Garden

Chris has received so many ideas from twitter that he has been able to share with his teachers, parents, and even students. His goal is always clear, how can this make my school better? If there is an area that he needs to know more about or research, he turns to twitter, and rarely is disappointed by what he finds.

Even though Chris was reluctant at first to blog, he now engages in the practice regularly. He feels the most important part of blogging is making it personal. For instance, his facebook account was recently hacked, and the person began sending out inappropriate messages on his behalf. After he dealt with the situation, he made sure to blog about it so that others can learn (Power of A Positive Digital Footprint – A Personal Story). When he writes his blogs, he likes to use material that allows him to spread ideas, which hopefully leads to bigger ideas for others. As for his process, he usually writes, edits, waits, read again, and then posts. 

When I asked Chris about his series of posts on awards ceremonies, his passion for the subject was evident. He wants to be able to recognize all students, but not in the way Robert Dinero’s character did in Meet the Parents (I didn’t know that they made trophies for 8th place). Chris has learned a great deal about award ceremonies from the First Nation People Sto:Lo. “The Sto:Lo people have awards embedded in their culture, and the focus is to acknowledge everyone because everyone matters.” So when Kent Elementary has awards ceremonies, they honor the learning, the intrinsic motivations of each learner. This is not to say that everyone gets an award, but the teachers are encouraged to discuss the students in terms of their passion, and future goals. According to Chris, it has to be authentic.

Dad and daughter.. first bike!

Towards the end of our conversation, I asked Chris to dust off his Wejr-board and tell me about the future of education. He sees technology as what we do, and in the future he sees educators making the learning more relevant, and personal. He sees educators transitioning from judges to coaches that focus on the process, not just the product. He sees an educational community that creates the conditions for everyone to be successful. He said, “We all know that kids are never standard, so why do we always try to make learning, and assessments standard?”

I brought up the issue of time with Chris, and he said, “I agree with George Couros when he told you it is about priority. I tweet at about 3 times a day (morning, lunch and evening). I have 18 month twins, a wife, and other interests as well. I just balance my priorities. I am able to get it all done.”

Chris Wejr is a learning leader, and based on our conversation he continues to work on building the capacity for his students, teachers, and parents to learn as well. He is always open for dialogue, and I am sure would be willing to break out the Wejr-board to help you with a problem or a question.

 Look for upcoming posts on other educators making a difference such as  Erin Klein, Todd Whitaker, Curt Rees, Jessica Johnson, Shelly Terrell, Kelly Tenkley, Patrick Larkin, and many more….

Previous posts dedicated to educators making a difference: George CourosJustin Tarte, The Nerdy Teacher, Dwight Carter

Resources:

Everything Chris Wejr

Sto:lo Nation  

Re- Thinking Awards Ceremonies

Mr. Carter’s Office: Where learning is the constant. My Skype with Dwight Carter

This is the fourth in a series of educators making a difference in education.

Dwight Carter

When Dwight Carter thinks back to the days when he entered into social media, he can’t help but remember how difficult and skeptical he was. In fact, he wasn’t even thinking of social media; he was focused on building an additional wing onto his high school. All the signs for Clark Hall were pointing to the 21st century in terms of technology, learning spaces, and even scheduling. Before Dwight could fully engage in the planning process, and truly understand 21st century learning spaces, he had to become a 21st century school leader.  So he did what any other person who is seeking a change would do … He went to Boot Camp (now referred to as fastforward camp).

About 3 years ago Dwight Carter, and other administrators from his district, went to fastforward camp. At the fastforward camp, Dwight learned about twitter, and blogging, as well as personalities such as Shelly Terrell, Patrick Larkin, and Eric Sheninger. He read Shelly’s The 30 Goals Challenge. When he reflects on that process, Dwight feels that it was a mindset shift. He admits that the eventual success of Clark Hall would not have been possible without the help of his participation in social media.

Be great!

Blogging was scary at first for Dwight. He understood the 21st century mindset shift that occurred during his days in fastforward camp, but he still had difficulty with putting his words into cyberspace. Eventually, he started blogging because, as he says, “Reflection is at the heart of my leadership, and blogging provides a platform for me to do that.” Dwight quickly became a “rock star” on twitter, and through his blog, began to attract a lot of followers. During this time, the learning space across the street was being built, so was Dwight’s passion for 21st century learning.

Clark Hall opened as a multi-use learning space. From the floor to the ceiling, from the chairs to the tables, the paint, the

Clark Hall

space, everything was designed to foster collaboration, creativity, and technology. When I asked him about a typical day in Clark Hall, he said, “Students check in for the first 15 to 20 minutes. Then they decide how they are going to spend their time for the rest of the day. They continue to check in with their teachers throughout the day. There are no bells, no lockers, no remnants of 19th century learning.” There is even a new type of library at the high school, an “un quiet” library that allows students to talk, connect, and collaborate.

 

Clark Hall – Government Room

Social Media, as I am learning, can be a double-edged sword. After reading, “Disconnect to Reconnect” you really get a chance to understand what was recently going on with Dwight for the past few months. One of the perils of 21st century learning, and participating in social media is the toll it takes on the individual. As we discussed in our conversation, it was evident that Dwight had to take a break. He told me he went through a time where everything was a potential blog, or tweet, and he was losing focus. He sees the role of the principal as the chief communicator for their students, and with that comes a lot of responsibility to be true to yourself. Dwight absolutely loves being a principal, but he had to take a break from Social Media to eventually reconnect!

As for the future of Mr. Carter, he is looking forward to being a principal for as long as the district will have him. He is excited for the beginning of the second full year of Clark Hall. In fact, he will be presenting the Clark Hall story at The Jostens Renaissance National Conference in Orlando, FL.  According to Dwight, “It’s one of the most uplifting and inspirational conferences for educators. They treat all educators that attend like first class citizens! The speaker lineup is powerful including speakers such as Todd Whitaker and Kevin Carroll.” Dwight wrote about the conference in his post Something to Believe In!

As Dwight would say, “Be great!”

Look for upcoming posts on other educators making a difference such as  Chris Wejr, Erin Klein, Todd Whitaker, Curt Rees, Jessica Johnson, Shelly Terrell, Kelly Tenkley, and many more….

Previous posts dedicated to educators making a difference: George CourosJustin Tarte, The Nerdy Teacher

Resources:

Clark Hall

Dwight Carter

The Physical Environment Matters 

Social Media, Consumerism, and Gadgetry” Dwight discusses social media

The Nerdy New Year’s Resolution: My Skype with The Nerdy Teacher

This is my third post in the summer series about educators who are making a difference.

The #edubros with Moby

When the Skype conversation started, and being the aspiring comedian, I asked, “So, do I call you Nerdy? Nerdy Teacher? Nick?” He laughed, and I knew that he had a sense of humor!

It was January 2010, and while most people made New Year’s Resolutions that lasted a few minutes, hours, days, or maybe weeks, Nicholas Provenzano began his foray into social media. Fast forward two and half years, and he is still going strong! The Nerdy Teacher began as a goal for Nick to write more. He was in the process of earning an educational technology degree, and heard some chatter about blogging, twitter, etc. His first post, The Nerdy Teacher, had about 4 reads. To date it probably has 20. To those who are just starting out, doesn’t this sound familiar?

The Nerdy Teacher 2.0?

The Nerdy Teacher credits his social media god-parents Kelly Tenkly (@ktenkely) and Shelly Terrell (@shellterrell) for giving him the early encouragement. They began to take an interest in The Nerdy Teacher by re-tweeting, commenting, and showing a general interest in his pursuit of storytelling. Later that year, he attended ISTE10, and he met so many people who were “connected.” His global perspective broadened, and he saw the importance of being connected.

For a long time, The Nerdy Teacher was the only person in his district using social media. He had a supportive principal and department chair who allowed him to explore ways to use social media to teach, instruct, and assist students. Slowly, more teachers got on board, but he admits, there is more work to be done. The students he teaches, he says, totally get it!

The Nerdy Teacher is a writer at heart, and his blog provides the venue to convey his message. He doesn’t follow any traditional rules with his writing. His blog process is informal. He sits down, writes, gives it a once over, and posts. Although, he does have some ideas that are “slow cookers” and he waits to write, then post. He doesn’t like schedules or deadlines because he feels it hampers his creativity. There are times that he may post 4 days in a row, or may take 10 days in between posts. To the Nerdy Teacher, his blog is a reflective place, and he wants it to stay that way.

Nick talked about his series about watching TV shows, and connecting it to education. These posts were popular with readers because, as he says, “A lot of us grew up watching the same things. We had a shared experience that impacts our views on teaching, learning, and even blogging.” He finds making a personal connection to something a form of inspiration for his blog. The Nerdy Teacher also credits his father who had some foresight, and purchased a Macintosh computer when Nick was young. “My Dad was so right,” he said. Yes he was right!

Classic vacation picture

The Nerdy Teacher sees the future of education being a place where learning is individualized, using growth models, and more technology – all of this, he says, won’t be cheap. As for the future of The Nerdy Teacher, according to his Dr. Nerdy? post, he is considering pursuing a Ph.D. or a school administration degree. Tough choices that he allows, you the reader, to help him with. Send him your opinion, as of now he already has 21 comments! Tell him what think!

Look for upcoming posts on other educators making a difference such as Dwight Carter, Chris Wejr, Erin Klein, Todd Whitaker, Curt Rees, Jessica Johnson, Shelly Terrell, Kelly Tenkley, and many more….

Resources:

The Nerdy Teacher

It’s not about TIME, it’s about PRIORITY: My Skype with George Couros

I challenged myself this summer. I decided that I was going to seek out instructional leaders making a difference in education. I wanted the selections to be people I have never met in person. So I scratched off Steven Anderson, Tom Whitby, Lyn Hilt, Joe Mazza, Ned Kirsch, Katrina Stevens, and Eric Sheninger (All folks I met in person at ASCD 12). They are making a difference in education. I wanted a real challenge for myself since I am somewhat new to all of this. I wanted to connect online, Skype, write, reflect, learn, and post. Here is the first in the series.

@gcouros

I went through my twitter account, and the first person I looked up was George Couros. By now, we all know George. In fact, he was the first “education” person I followed on twitter back in January. George is the driving force behind Connected Principals, #cpchat, Blog 184, #learn365, and a host of other initiatives. Currently, George is the Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning with Parkland School Division, located in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada. With a super-supportive administrative team, this position was recently created to allow George to do what he does best: innovate, and motivate students, teachers, parents, and other administrators!
Our discussion covered a plethora of topics, and lasted close to an hour. George was fresh off of an exciting trip to ISTE12 in San Diego, and after he completed his day, he and his brother Alec were preparing for a trip to Australia for a few weeks to speak, consult, train, and spend time with educators “down under.”

Source: @gcouros

George gave me a brief history lesson on his social media journey. Similar to most, George was very hesitant to join in on social media. It was through constant prompting from his brother, Alec that George decided to give it a try. He dove in with everything he had. Back then, he said, there were a lot of teachers online. He continued to hear a constant theme; I wish my administrators understood the power of social media and connectivity. The rest, they say, is history.
We spent a great deal of time discussing blogging. George is very passionate about blogging, and he has a unique approach. He views it as an online portfolio, a space where he can write what he wants and about what intrigues him. He eschews editors and rarely cues blogs for future posting. Rather, he gets inspired, writes, posts, and walks away. His inspiration comes while he is running, spinning, or just whenever. He wants his blog to be personal. He doesn’t over think it. He wants the readers to see the struggles, the mistakes, and the occasional error.

Source: @gcouros

On June 9, in Fall Apart; Fall Together, George set Twitterverse into overdrive. He shared a very personal struggle that he had been dealing with during the past few months. He was not himself, a bit off, maybe disillusioned or burnt-out. What helped him the most was helping others. He spent some time with animals in the Edmonton Humane Society. After this experience, he used his influence through Twitter to encourage people to help out animals who needed a home. He learned a lot about people through this experience. He also put it out there for everyone to see (and read). He told me that he received such an outpouring of responses to that blog post. Yet, people were not necessarily responding on his blog or on Twitter. It was through email, and direct messages that he began to see something emerging. He discovered there were many people out there with the same state of mind, and searching for something or someone to help them. These people were school administrators, teachers, parents, businesspeople, etc. These people were hurting. George’s blog posted helped them.

George and his dogs. Source: @gcouros

So as we go through the summer, know that George will be in Australia (and I am sure blogging and posting), and we can continue to follow his journey. What I think we can all learn from George is for us to be real, and even vulnerable in our blogs, leadership positions, classrooms, and even at home. You never know who you may help out.

Look for upcoming discussions with educators who are making a difference: Justin Tarte, Todd Whitaker, The Nerdy Teacher, Jessica Johnson, Curt Rees, Erin Klien, Chris Wejr, Dwight Carter, and more!

Resources:

The Principal of Change, George Couros

Interview with George Couros by Howard Rheingold: