Insights Into Learning

The Iceberg (103:365)



I saw this graphic on Facebook today. It was exactly what I needed to stay motivated. As the spring has sprung in Southern New Jersey, and everyone is outside, I am inside writing. Yes, it is a sacrifice, but I saw what everyone was doing today… and I applaud them! For me, I had a deadline, and a commitment that I made to myself in 1993… to write a book. So now, with an editor and publisher, I have to deliver a manuscript that is the best I can do.


Looking at the iceberg graphic helped me. We tend to focus on the success of others and forget (or not acknowledge) the hard work and determination behind the scenes. We forget about what Malcolm Gladwell talked about when he referred to success…. it is a lot of hard work… 10,000 hours of hard work! Soon I will be able to enjoy this sacrifice. For now, it is back to writing and revising, and writing some more.



Joining in…. (102:365)



Wait… What? Someone is joining in the #blog365 journey? Yes, in fact, Gina Silveria a wife, mother and principal is joining in… She read Digital Leadership, connected with what we are doing at RM Bacon Elementary, and decided that she, too, was going to blog!


I recommend that your follow Gina in her journey! I am excited to learn from Gina as she blogs on “Gina’s Blog.” Maybe you will join too!

Keep an open book (101:365)



School leaders have a responsibility to those they lead. No longer can we sit behind the fancy desks, or the suit and tie and expect to lead our schools. As we reflect on our mistakes, and learn from our lessons, it is crucial to “keep an open book.” Keeping an open book is basically taking everything we do (and since we are under a microscope already) and putting out there for others to see, hear and feel. For 21st century minded leaders, using a blog or other web 2.0 tool makes keeping an open book easy. In addition to blogs and web 2.0 tools, school leaders have Social Media at their fingertips to help them keep an open book.


Here are some basic tips or suggestions:

  • Use a blog or other web 2.0 tool to “tell your story” for yourself or your school or…. both
  • Use Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, Google + or any other Social Media tool to get your message out
  • Be visible and accessible - Many school leaders have less then desirable duties that require them to be monitoring areas such as arrival/dismissal, cafeteria, etc. During those duties, realize that parents, students, and teachers need to be able to access you, not just see your presence
  • Build capacity with your staff – It is very easy to rely on Social Media, or visibility to be a successful leader, but what are you doing to allow others to grow?
  • Keep your book open - Everyone talks about keeping an open door, but do you keep an open book? Are you willing to learn? Are you modeling learning for your staff? Parents? Students?

One Hundred! (100:365)



Today marks the 100th day in a row for blogging. Granted, I have 265 more days to achieve my goal but I can honestly say I am excited! This medium of communication is part diary, part journal, part idea sharing, and part story telling. I think the Blog 365 project is requiring me to be more reflective in my leadership, and diligent with my writing process. Not a day goes by in 365 where I am not thinking about the blog!


Here are the things I have learned during the first 100 days:

- I have to keep track of days – I messed up sometime in the 80′s and had to re-number

- I can not blog every morning – So I either have a few posts over the weekend, or blog after work

- I have never had a lack of material to write – There is so much to blog about

All stacked up (99:365)



My son showed me an incredible video last night. He prefaced it by telling me how awesome it was, and much I would like it. As I say there watching, I told him that he was correct! I watched the video without knowing much about the Speed Stacking phenomenon taking over the world.


Of course, after watching the video, my daughter got her iPad out and started to practice with the cups we had in the house. Maybe soon I will post a video of her or even me trying to “speed stack.” Or maybe we can start a new club at our school next with stacking?


Luke M uploaded this video as his audition for a Speed Stacking competition. Since that time he as had over 1 million views. My favorite part is when he uses the humongous “cups” because it almost serves as a tutorial.

I highly recommend you take the 4:27 to watch his amazing work!


Want more information on Speed Stacking?

World Sport Stacking Association 

Stacking overview 

How SMART is your Goal? (98:365)



In education, we often talk about goals and objectives. We have learned from the Quality Management folks in business the importance of structuring our goals and making them SMART. This process is not easy, and should be done collaboratively.


Here is a breakdown of the SMART goal process

1. Is it Specific?

2. Is it Measurable?

3. Is it Attainable?

4. Is it Reasonable?

5. Is it Time-bound?


I found this website that can assist with this process…. Top Achievement 

Welcome Back (97:365)



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)



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.