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

source: annechovie.blogspot.com

source: annechovie.blogspot.com

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)

source: selfcarelove.wordpress.com

source: selfcarelove.wordpress.com

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)

Source: news.optuszoo.com.au

Source: news.optuszoo.com.au

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


source: www.123rf.com

source: www.123rf.com

Digital Leadership with Eric Sheninger (7:365)

ericEric Sheninger is releasing a new book Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times on January 14, 2014. The Principalcast Podcast will be interviewing Eric on Sunday, January 12, 2014 at 9:30 EST on teachercast.tv.


The reason we chose to interview Eric is because he has been the champion for the connected educator, specifically, the connected administrator. Administrators throughout the world have benefited from Eric’s tireless efforts to ensure we are prepared for the changing paradigms of education.


Our interview will focus on the practical aspects of the book, and how it can help improve students, parents, teachers and administrators.  If you would like to ask questions, feel free to tweet Principalcast. We will also be giving away a signed copy of the book for one lucky listener on Sunday night.


According to Todd Whitaker, Professor of Educational Leadership at Indiana State University:

“This book is THE book on digital leadership.  There is no one I can recommend more highly than the most connected educational leader today – Eric Sheninger – to help us navigate all of the changes taking place in classrooms, schools and districts.  The book is perfect to help everyone initiate transformational change in a digital world.  Whether you are a cutting edge techie or a nervous newbie this book is for you.”

Once again, be sure to join the Principalcast crew as we spend time chatting with Eric Sheninger on Sunday, January 12, 2014 @ 9:30PM EST on teachercast.tv


Raised by #wiamigos (6:365)

@principalj and her twitter son @drspikecook

@principalj and her twitter son @drspikecook

I often joke with Jessica Johnson and Curt Rees about their “parenthood” in my social media growth. Although it sounds funny, Curt and Jessica are great twitter parents. Recently on a facebook post, Amber Teamann actually thought I was from Wisconsin. I had to tell her I was a New Jersey guy, but Curt reminded me that I was raised by the #wiamigos. He was right!

When I first started out 2 short years ago, it was Jessica and Curt who really showed me the path of the elementary principal in the 21st century. I’ve written about this before, but wanted to revisit the concept from a different perspective.


I think about those who are starting out. Maybe they are making a New Year’s resolution to become more “connected” or they want to take their classroom or school global. If they are anything like me, I needed to see an example. This is main premise to this post….

You never know who you are going to “raise.”


Twitter bio – the first impression

The twitter bio could be the first step for someone to start following you. I’ve said before that Curt Rees had me at “recess kickball legend.” If you read my previous post about Mental Models, you can imagine my perception of what an educational leader could be…. a recess kickball legend? Right on!


The blog – window to the core of leadership

The next step in potential social media parenthood is the blog. I can remember spending a great deal of time during January of 2012 reading through Jessica and Curt’s blog posts. I learned about what they valued, what they challenged, and more importantly, what they highlighted. Both trail blazed a path of positive, student-centered and professional growth that solidified why I wanted to be an education blogger.

Curt’s #worldbooktalk review on Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson


wi amigos

Christian, Jessica, Leah, Tom and Joe

The connections – paying it forward and back

Since both Curt and Jessica played such a profound role in my development, I would include them on my tweets, blog posts, and questions. From there a professional connection grew. Eventually, the relationship grew to the point where our sharing was mutual and all three of us learned from each other. At some point I moved out of my “parents” house, and they have been there every step of the way. I can only hope that I will one day mentor someone so that they can grow their own digital footprint.


I am proud to be raised by the #wiamigos! In addition to Curt and Jessica, the other #wiamigos I have actively learned from are: Pernille Ripp, Tom Whitford, Christian Pleister, Joe Sanfelippo, Matt Renwick, Jay Posick, and Leah Whitford!


Who were you “raised” by? Share your story with our PLN…