Insights Into Learning

Welcome Back (97:365)


source: universalfitnessandtraining.com

source: universalfitnessandtraining.com

As a principal it is difficult to be out of the building. Not only do you come back to mounds of paperwork, emails, and phone calls but you feel that you have missed something. For me it is the learning environment. Sure, people can tell me what happened or what I missed but it is not the same. It is serious business being a principal and the role that is required. A big part of the role is being present!

 

The problem I am facing is that I looked at my calendar and I will be out again tomorrow for another meeting. Well, it is time to get back to finishing everything  I missed and preparing for tomorrow….

 

 

Day 3 Reflections #AERA14 Research and Practice (96:365)


infographic by the amazing @sjunkins

infographic by the amazing @sjunkins

I am so thankful to the good people at Corwin Press for allowing me to attend the AERA14 conference. Since I am writing a book about Social Media and School Leadership, I have been on a quest to find research on the effectiveness/impact in the scholarly world.  I’ve attended a few sessions that have enlightened me to the rigor of the research process required for participation at AERA. I remember my professors in Graduate School encouraging us to get involved with AERA and work on publishing our research. I can see why.

For most academics, this is a labor of love. Very often professors work collaboratively with their colleagues who are in different regions and different institutions. The research, which is required for advancement or continued employment, requires hours and hours data collection, analyzing, writing, rewriting, proposing, etc. Everything is grounded. No stones un-turned. Then, when the publication is approved, they get 15 minutes to share the stage with similar research proposals to willing participants. Did I mention that over 20,000 attend this conference?

 

Hanging with @drmandystewart at the Tweet Up

Hanging with @drmandystewart at the Tweet Up

Throughout the conference I sent out a few tweets and participated in the #aera14 back channel. I was able to meet a bunch of professors who are using Social Media with their students. I have really expanded my PLN, and I tried to encourage others to expand theirs as well. I suggested some of the most prolific K-12 “connected” educators in hopes of bridging the gap. I even shared one of my favorite quotes about twitter PD from my good friend Jenny Grabiec. I look forward to another day of learning while at the conference, but more importantly, connecting with my new PLN whenever, wherever through twitter.

Here are some new members of my PLN – Be sure to include them in your PLN:

April Sanders – Professor at Spring Hill College in Alabama

Mandy Stewart – Professor at Texas Women’s University in Texas

Dan Krutka – Professor at Texas Women’s University in Texas and organizer of the Tweet Up!

Vincent Cho - Professor at Boston College in Massachusetts

Greg McVerry – Professor at Southern Connecticut State in Connecticut

Erich Pitcher – PhD. student at Michigan State University

Jeff Carpenter – Professor at Elon University in North Carolina- Currently researching 21st Century Teaching and Learning

 

 

 

 

#AERA14 Day 2 reflections (95:365)


Day 2 of the AERA conference began with a walk around the Exhibit Hall. Different then other conferences, the AERA Exhibit Hall was not filled with vendors trying to “sell” or lure you in with “chotckies.” In fact, most of the vendors were various publishers displaying the latest research-based literature for willing researchers.

 

I attempted to strike up a conversation with a group of monks from Thailand who were attending the conference as doctoral students. They were dressed in traditional robes, but armed with iPhones and interested in expanding their research libraries. I met a professor from George Washington University who was originally from Ireland. He and I talked about the current situation of United States mathematics instruction under the Common Core. We agreed that the math instruction in the US has to develop past the “mile wide and inch deep” into a process that encourages higher level of Blooms.

 

I attended a few sessions. The one that stood out for me was 38.064 “Learning Our Way Forward: Research and Evaluation Informing System Change and Innovation” with professor Michael Fullan. I’ve seen Michael in other venues such as ASCD and NAESP, and have read his books on change, but seeing him in this venue was different, more personal. The panel he was with discussed the innovations in the Ontario School District, and how that has impacted everything from technology usage to student performance. I learned a few techniques to quantify leadership and changes.

 

 

#AERA14 day one reflections (94:365)


source: education.ucsb.edu

source: education.ucsb.edu

I want to start out by thanking the good folks at Corwin Press for inviting me to AERA 14 and providing me with this opportunity. The first day of the conference was exciting and there was quite a buzz. There were participants from literally all over the world. I met people from Ireland, Thailand, Nigeria and all throughout the United States. I spent time in the press room looking over the thousands of presentations, discussions, and events in the 446 page Conference Overview.

 

I attempted to attend Diane Ravitch’s presentation/discussion. I wasn’t the only one. There were about 35 people outside of the very packed room. I took time to meet and discuss issues with various educators. One important theme in the conversations was the need for innovation in education, and a  deeper look into standardized assessments.

 

As someone who learns from Twitter, I was very pleased to see an active feed from connected educators (#aera14). Looking forward to more learning.

 

Here kitty, kitty (93:365)


source: karmajello.com

source: karmajello.com

I can remember reading Alan Watts in 1996 on the way back from a cross country excursion with my buddy Dan. I was memorized by his writing and out of the box thinking. He challenged the notion of …. well …. everything. Fast forward to this morning (April 3, 2014) and I am listening to a podcast. During the podcast, someone mentioned Alan Watts, and then they played a talk he gave on education system. Again, I was mesmerized.

 

He likened the educational system to a series of experiences designed to get you from one place to another…. one grade to another…. and on and on and on…. I’ve thought about this many times… In school, time is the variable and learning is the variable.

 

Check out this thoughtful video set to the prolific words of Alan Watts (most likely delivered in the 1950s or 1960s). Makes you think about how we have not really changed too much…. But we could…

 

Walking to school with Jacqueline Edelberg (92:365)


source: www.sesp.northwestern.edu

source: www.sesp.northwestern.edu

I recently skyped with author, speaker and innovator Jacqueline Edelberg for a discussion on education. I believe in the power of Social Media, and after reading How to Walk to School I tweeted to Jacqueline about how impressed I was with the book. She tweeted me back and thanked me for the support. Of course, then I asked if I could talk with her about her experiences in writing the book, and her new project. She obliged!

 

Right from the start I could tell how passionate Jacqueline was about education. Her energy and presence is strong! She is funny and personable. She made me feel as if I had known her for a long time. As we chatted about her experiences at Nettlhorst, she brought the book alive. She listened as I talked with her about how we are already implementing the tenets of the book. She reminded me that turning a school culture and climate is not easy, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot either.

 

We talked a lot about her new venture, Youtopia. Jacqueline started Youtopia as a way to take the work from Nettlehorst into the 21st century. She feels that she can impact more change, and in turn, allow students the opportunity to mark progress. In a nutshell, Youtopia is designed to use digital rewards to get students to go the extra mile. I found this concept very intriguing.

 

According to Jacqueline, Youtopia is, “An online engagement platform that provides instant access to plug-and-play gamification tools (points, badges, and leaderboards) to incentivize students to become more engaged in their school and their community.”

 

Want to learn more about the Walk To School? Check out this video about their process:

Tomorrow’s blog will be a guest post by Jacqueline about Youtopia. Until then, be sure to follow her on twitter.

 

 

 

April Fool’s Day (91:365)


Source: www.cute-calendar.com

Source: www.cute-calendar.com

Although today is not a natioanal holiday, maybe it should. April Fools Day can be a very funny day. There are countless examples of April Fools Day pranks dating back hundreds of years. Sometimes, things go too far, and other times, things go just right. What will happen this year?

 

In my school there are many practical jokers. Even as I write this, I can only imagine what they have up their sleeve. Actually, we do not even require April Fools Day to play practical jokes, but it helps.

 

 

The Digital Footprint (90:365)


Imagine everything you have ever said or done being available for all to see? This could be a scary or enlightening experience, especially if you didn’t know it was happening.

(Source: Common Sense Media)

The digital footprint will capture everything that is put into the web. Once we understand this, and no matter the platform, it makes things a lot easier. Develop a positive digital footprint and it could help someone land the job or career they have always desired. Develop a negative digital footprint, and it could prevent someone from achieving their goals.

 

Your choice!

Are you managing decline? (89:365)


Source: abovethelaw.com

Source: abovethelaw.com

Oh, is that a tough question. Are you managing decline? Most likely, as a leader, if you are managing decline then you might not even know it. Hopefully this post will shed some light on why you might be doing more to damage your organization then you think.

 

Like the way things are? Think that change is “too much” for your organization? Attend meetings and come back to your division and try to make things easier for your people? Don’t see how the 21st century is vastly different from the 20th? Want to just clock in and out? Still following the directives of your predecessor? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be managing decline.

 

Competition permeates throughout every organization. For instance, think Health Care providers want to be average? Well, chances are you wouldn’t want to take your insurance money back if you felt they were not top notch. You want to find the best, because it’s your health. Or, how about your cell phone (personal learning device)? Are you OK with average speed? Since there are so many “competitors” out there, chances are the next time you purchase a cell phone, if you do not think the company is striving to provide you with the best product, you will go somewhere else. Are schools any different?

 

Source: mediumjessebravo.com

Source: mediumjessebravo.com

Schools are no different. In fact, the stakes are getting high in the competition for students. Parents, armed with their perceptions or analysis of data, are making choices of where to send their children. Think they want to send their kids to a school where the leader is viewed as “managing decline”? Not anymore! Not with all of the options out available to them.

 

By maintaining the status quo, you are managing decline. You stay the same and everyone else is working to improve and stay competitive. The world is changing rapidly. So if you keep your classroom, school, or district the “same” you are actually declining. When you analyze your school, what are your doing to improve technology, customer service, appearance, before/after school offerings, social media, devices, student learning, teacher learning, leader learning, assessment results, discipline and the list goes on and on.

Continuous improvement? Or Continuous decline? Which do you want to “manage”?

Define World Class (88:365)


Source: www.expectmorearizona.org

Source: www.expectmorearizona.org

We all want our schools to be world class (Well, at least I hope we do). What does this actually mean? Who can articulate it? Can students? Parents? Teachers? Custodians? Secretaries? At our school we are embarking on a project to define the meaning of a world class school. We want it to be able to be articulated by the aforementioned members of the school community.

 

In researching this topic, I came across a blog post by Brad Feld, managing director at Foundry Group. He wrote a blog post a few years ago about this very question. He challenged all of the definitions that people gave about their world class status. He challenged the readers to be able to articulate the meaning more then “we suck less then our competitors.”

 

So what does “world class school” mean to you? Is it a journey or a destination? Help us define it, because eventually we plan to be there….