Cymbolic Symbolism

Just minutes before the Spring 2012 Concert

As an Elementary principal I have had the opportunity to play floor hockey, football, kickball, challenge students in math, substitute teach, write essays, and even tried Double Dutch  with the students, and teachers. Up until the other night, one thing I had never done was perform with a School Band.

Growing up I had an appreciation for music, but never had any interest, or patience in playing instruments on my own. A lot of my friends played the guitar, drums, and even the Tuba, but not me. So in order to grow as a professional, I came out of my comfort zone and played the cymbals in our Spring Concert!

I have to admit that during the practices, I felt just like a kid, and I was treated like one! My fellow band members had little patience for me at first. They would say, “Dr. Cook, you are supposed to play on 23 and 29. See its right here!” I had to inform them that I didn’t read music. They laughed at me! Before long I wore them down, and they all chipped in to make sure I met my marks.

As for the actual playing of the cymbals, I needed a lot of practice. All I was required to do was a cymbal roll. I was told to start in the middle and “roll” towards the outside of the cymbal. It was not easy. I played too quiet, I played too loud, and I messed up a lot. One of the kids in the percussion section told me, upon seeing my frustration, that I needed to play with more confidence.

I got a lot better through one word…practice! I attended as many practices as I could leading up to the performance. I thought about my part, I talked about it to other musicians. I felt like I was a part of something.

My main goal for participating in the concert was to show kids that they could achieve something if they set their minds to it, and used their resources. I tried to show them how difficult it was for me, and that I too have challenges in my life.

Mr. Mazza leading the chorus

I also learned a little more about the correlation between playing in a band and leadership. Although the conductor is in charge, everyone has their parts, and with that everyone needs to be on the same page. Each instrument has its purpose, and there are times for solos, playing along with everybody and letting others take the lead. Every0ne has to work together for the music to sound beautiful. You have to trust that everyone else has practiced, and that they are following the script. Mistakes are bound to happen, and sometimes those mistakes are only heard within the band.

Thankfully, it all came together on the night of the concert. I welcomed the parents to the Spring Concert and admitted that I was nervous (but I didn’t tell them why). Once the concert started, I got into the zone. I remained focused on my objective…cymbal roll. I felt such a rush after we finished our first song. Although I probably missed a few of the notes, I was on cloud 9!

RM Bacon kids working to the crescendo

Thanks to everyone who supported me in my first concert, self-titled, “Cymbolic Symbolism.”

A year of firsts!

With only a few days left in the 2011-2012, I would like to reflect on this school year. This was the year of firsts.

Here is a list of my firsts:

– First full year as a principal

– First year on Social Media: facebook, twitter, pintrest, google+, edmodo

– First ASCD conference!

– First school blog!

– First personal blog!

(And I am sure I forgetting some things!)

It is been such a rewarding year being principal here at RM Bacon Elementary. I could not have accomplished this without the symphony of musicians playing the beautiful music that is our learning.

Here are some things we have accomplished as a team:

– Successfully implemented the “Your Image is Our Image” theme

– Started an Edmodo group with a school in Wisconsin

– Redesigned our Basic Skills Instruction to mirror the RTI process

– Raised thousands of dollars for charities

– Implemented a new math series

– Increased teacher and student use of technology

– Hosted ASCD film crew for Classroom Instruction That Works 2nd edition

– Began an “un” professional development model on Fridays focusing on technology integration and application

– Updated our PBIS model

– Received approval for 21st Century Learning Program for next year

(And I am sure I forgetting some things!)

In addition to all of this, I had an amazing year working with parents, teachers and students on the ambitious goal of being the highest performing Elementary School in Millville within 3 years and  in the County within 5 years. We have established a process-centered approach to being world class.

I am already looking forward to next year…when “Impossible is Nothing!”

 

I was just like you…

Dear Administrators,

I feel like I need to share some really good news with you. And I am not alone. See, I was just like you!

source: en.wikipedia.org

During these past few months I have opened myself up completely to the 21st century. I went full board, having never created a blog, wiki, uploaded a video, nor participated in ANY social media prior to this year. I have never been a techie, or desired to acquire the newest gadgets (Honestly, I held out for a long time from buying compact discs).

I will admit it… I was scared. I had nothing good to say about facebook, twitter, google, blogging, and I too felt that I had learned all I needed to know about the computer (Hey, I was a wiz at the Microsoft office suite). As long as I could get on the internet, I was fine. I knew how to search for things. I could find articles, and resources, or so I thought. As an educator, my mind was made up: we are not allowed to participate in this new found social media stuff anyway. It was all “trouble” and the “devil’s playground.”

I was good. All good. I knew a lot more then my predecessors. I have worked with administrators in the past who didn’t know how to turn on a computer. They couldn’t text, or had no idea what a url was. They were just fine, and some almost reveled in their learned helplessness. Let’s face it, I thought, there were hundreds of thousands of effective principals since the beginning of time who never even wrote an email.

source: kerrywills.wordpress.com

Then a strange thing happened on my way to being comfortable. I found out that as a 38 year old first-year principal, who was a self-described progressive in education, that I was already a dinosaur (insert dinosaur sound). I have called educators dinosaurs before. Gulp. We all know how that story ended: Extinction! Well, I didn’t want to be extinct.  And I don’t want you to be either! I had ask myself some tough questions: Am I modeling 21st century skills for my teachers and students? Am I really progressive? Do I really know where education was going? The answers were clearly, NO. So I DID something about it. I TOOK a LEAP. I got off of the comfortable road!

So, this is your homework assignment for the summer.  You need to start something. Depending on where you want to grow, there are plenty of resources. And I am willing to help, and so are all the connected educators near you, and thousands more are just a click away. Actually, we are all just a click away from you!

We are not trying to keep anything from you. We want EVERYBODY to be connected. This is not a competition. Rather, it is a privilege that you are in the position you are in. With the gift of being an administrator, there is a responsibility to your teachers, parents, students, and most of all, to yourself. Now, what are you going to do with this precious gift?

Ask yourself these questions….Here are some resources for you.

I want to know how to access the cutting edge information on education. Where do I start?

Twitter.com – It is free, and you will have access to Professional Development at your fingertips 24/7. I recommend to start with the following educators:

@NMHS_Principal, Eric Sheninger, High School Principal

@stumpteacher, Josh Stumpenhorst, Teacher

@PrincipalJ, Jessica Johnson, Elementary Principal

@web20classroom, Steven Anderson, Technology Supervisor

@gcouros, George Couros, Principal and founder of Connected Principals

I want to know how tell my classroom, district or school’s story? Start a school blog or a personal blog using (Blogger, edublogs, or Word Press).

Justin Tarte, Life of an Educator

Dave Gentile, The Road To Excellence is Always Under Construction

Pamm Moore, Learning to Lead

Spike Cook’s RM Bacon School Site, RM Bacon Weekly

Curt Rees, I know this much is true

How will I be able to do all this? You have to make time. Just like the teachers you are frustrated with, you can’t punch in and out. You have to be willing to put in the time, and be committed.  The more you are connected, the more you will become inspired by what folks are doing.

How can I learn all of this? Like the famous book by Anne Lamott Bird by Bird you have to start small and take it one bird at a time.

I guarantee that you have a teacher in your building or an administrator in another building that can help you out with your transition to being connected. You just have to open yourself up to the possibilities.

For those of you who are reading this because you are connected, my challenge to you is to print, email, forward, or even read this to another administrator that you feel could benefit.

Remember, I was just like you!

Resources:

My Prezi on Social Media in Administration:

http://prezi.com/thmleuo19vp2/copy-of-copy-of-social-media-for-administration/

Great Article on the Power of the Principal:

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/2012/05/the_power_of_the_principal.html

Twitter accounts for Technology:

http://paper.li/DrSpikeCook/1333674940?edition_id=300ef930-a924-11e1-a2b7-00259071bfec

 

 

 

Memorial Day: Taking a day for remembering

My Father Joel Howell

Every year my wife and I try to attend a Memorial Day service and talk with our children about the importance of the day. We have attended parades, services, and even visited local parks.

 

 

My Brother Billy Howell

Although we never served, my wife and I have a lot of family members who did. My father (deceased)served in the Army during  WW2, my brother was a career Navy Seal, and his son currently serves in the Navy.

 

 

 

Theresa's Grandfather Anthony Caratozzolo

My wife’s family also had many who served. Her father was in the National Guard, her grandfathers (both deceased)were in the Navy during WW2, one Uncle was a Green Beret in Vietnam, and another Uncle is a Commander in the Coast Guard. This is just the immediate family.

 

 

Henry in his camo room

We teach our children to “thank a vet for his/her service” whenever we see them around town, in a store, or at a restaurant. My son, through the power of Call of Duty, has his whole room camouflaged, and he has already told us that he would like to be a soldier. Who said video games had no positive impact on children?

 

Theresa's Father Anthony Caratozzolo

So, thank you for a taking a few minutes to read this post. For me it was the least that I could do to remember those who have served both in my family and my wife’s family. In some small way, we are all making a difference for the future as we remember the past.

 

 

Theresa's Grandfather John Fredella

 

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day

http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/memorial-day/

 

 

Conversation with a Futurist Part 5

During the ASCD12 conference in Philadelphia I attended a session with Futurist, Watts Wacker. He began the discussion by saying that he did not come to answer questions, but rather to ask them. He immediately had my attention. Then he began to speak, and I tried my hardest to keep up. Here is the stream of conscious notes I took. In order to develop deeper understanding I took the notes, and separated them into 5 parts. I also worked with a mind-mapping genius to bring the text, and concepts to another level. I hope it hurts your brain like it did mine.

Part 5 of 5

Who would be crazy enough to tell British Petroleum, after one of the most major oil spills in the history of the world that they should partner with Greenpeace? Watts did and now it is Beyond Petroleum.

So you need to think BIG. Explore your curiosity. Why not challenge convention?  How about play? We are players who enjoy having fun. Seriously, when was the last time you had fun?

Think about innovations vs. conception. There are some people who can innovate and there are others who can create. Creatives are not always great conceptualizes and yet, conceptualization can be taught.

Reflect on the concepts of asymmetry, and maximizing your weakness. What is your golden ratio?  How do you live in virtual space?

Why did we stop teaching philosophy in schools? Philosophy helps us understand:

Ethics

Language

Community

Knowledge

 

 

If you have a problem to solve, try to use physics. Ask yourself what is leadership? Then ask yourself these questions:

Do you know who you are?

Are you being true to yourself?

Are you setting goals?

Are you developing lasting relationships?

Do you ask for help?

Are you standing up for your beliefs?

Do you help others?

Do you take responsibility for your actions?

Are you looking your best?

Does your head hurt yet?

Missed parts?

Part 1

Part 2  

Part 3

Part 4

Resources:

ASCD 12 Virtual Resources: http://ascd.social27.com/ASCD/ASCD_Home

Watts Wacker’s web site:  www.firstmatter.com

Triz-Journal: http://www.triz-journal.com/

Joseph Kony: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Kony

Kony 2012: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kony_2012

Conversation with a Futurist Part 4

During the ASCD12 conference in Philadelphia I attended a session with Futurist, Watts Wacker. He began the discussion by saying that he did not come to answer questions, but rather to ask them. He immediately had my attention. Then he began to speak, and I tried my hardest to keep up. Here is the stream of conscious notes I took. In order to develop deeper understanding I took the notes, and separated them into 5 parts. I also worked with a mind-mapping genius to bring the text, and concepts to another level. I hope it hurts your brain like it did mine.

Part 4 of 5

Pintrest Logo

Fortunately, Art is back and it begets design. Take for instance Pintrest. Have an idea about a design? Try Pintrest? How about a bulletin board? A garden? Want to create your own art? Try Pintrest. Then, you can print your creation in 3D. Heard of that? 3D printers are a reality. (see video below)

Is life is too short or is life is too long? We are working diligently on improving everything from our medicine, diet, exercise, and general quality of life. We have the beginning of diet based on blood type. We have exercise routines established for any type of workout you would want to do, or not do?

source peoplejam.com

Remember Maslow? Watts asked this question to the audience, “What is more important to us? The anticipation of the event, and remembrance of the event?”  I can remember being a kid and anticipating an upcoming event. I would think and think about the event. Anticipation. Or I can think back to those special events as a child. Memories.

RM Bacon QR Code

Literacy provides us with the ability to read and write. Now you can read and write your own code, your own apps. Why wait for someone else to do it? We are learning to love to learn. Think about inspiration, what inspires you? You can literally explore whatever inspires you.

source: art.com

Watts uses the Cowboy way. When you are out on the ranch there is no time for euphemism. You need to be direct and succinct and you don’t need no fancy words. He spent time as a cowboy on a ranch helping people. Even though he is a world renown Futurist, people only saw him a Cowboy on a ranch. People will treat you like the role you are. Try to be something, and people will treat you as such. Start today by telling people you are a _______. They will treat you as a ________.

Here is a story on 3-D Printers:


Missed parts?

Part 1

Part 2  

Part 3

Resources:

ASCD 12 Virtual Resources: http://ascd.social27.com/ASCD/ASCD_Home

Watts Wacker’s web site:  www.firstmatter.com

Triz-Journal: http://www.triz-journal.com/

Joseph Kony: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Kony

Kony 2012: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kony_2012

Conversation with a Futurist? Part 3

During the ASCD12 conference in Philadelphia I attended a session with Futurist, Watts Wacker. He began the discussion by saying that he did not come to answer questions, but rather to ask them. He immediately had my attention. Then he began to speak, and I tried my hardest to keep up. Here is the stream of conscious notes I took. In order to develop deeper understanding I took the notes, and separated them into 5 parts. I also worked with a mind-mapping genius to bring the text, and concepts to another level. I hope it hurts your brain like it did mine.

Part 3 of 5

Einstein theories are now laws. We all grew up hearing about the theories of Einstein because at that time that is what they were… theories. Each of those theories, through the scientific process, has been proven.

There is a dichotomy with the Establishment vs. the Movement. For instance, the current President ran on the platform of hope and change as the movement. Once elected, he became the establishment. Listen carefully in the fall as the new election cycle unfolds. The other side will be talking about… change. The lesson is each side needs to respect the other side. Why? Because sooner or later, the position (establishment or movement) will change.

traxarmstrong.com

Game play has changed. Think about what games were like when you were growing up? What is the object of monopoly? Chess? Checkers? Scrabble? To beat your opponent. Have you watched any of the new games in town? Ever watch someone play Call of Duty? The object is to beat the game not each other. Now major gaming is collaborative. Not just collaborative in the sense of the kids in the neighborhood playing together at someone’s house. It is a worldwide collaboration through technology that pairs up anyone who has a system. X-Box will even provide statistics showing who is playing around the world.

So the kids are playing differently, so shouldn’t we provide them with something different in the classroom? There really should be no more lectures in the classroom, it will be (should be) all collaborative. Learners, with an understanding of their role, can work together to solve a problem. Sound familiar?

 

Missed parts?

Part 1

Part 2  

Resources:

ASCD 12 Virtual Resources: http://ascd.social27.com/ASCD/ASCD_Home

Watts Wacker’s web site:  www.firstmatter.com

Triz-Journal: http://www.triz-journal.com/

Joseph Kony: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Kony

Kony 2012: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kony_2012

Conversation with a Futurist? Part 2

During the ASCD12 conference in Philadelphia I attended a session with Futurist, Watts Wacker. He began the discussion by saying that he did not come to answer questions, but rather to ask them. He immediately had my attention. Then he began to speak, and I tried my hardest to keep up. Here is the stream of conscious notes I took. In order to develop deeper understanding I took the notes, and separated them into 5 parts. I also worked with a mind-mapping genius to bring the text, and concepts to another level. I hope it hurts your brain like it did mine.

Part 2 of 5

There is a Renewal of Thought. With that said, is it a renewal or a merely a shift?

sabotagetimes.com

Although some feel that our votes do not matter, we really can vote against anyone. For instance, Joseph Kony’s reputation was taken down with the help of Social Media. How did it happen? Kony 2012 was a film created by Invisible Children that advocated the capture and persecution of the Ugandan Leader Joseph Kony for the alleged atrocities he has committed against children. The campaign began on March 5, 2012 and the goal was to have him arrested by December of 2012. As the video went viral, the world spoke – over 86 million times.

Google is in everything, and they are ahead of everything. Want an answer to a question? Google it. Want directions, web sites, mail, social media, computers, software, and information? You got it, google. In this age of uncertainty, business is competitive, predatory, symbiotic, and parasitic. Yet the goodness business model exists. All we need is do right to do well.  Did you know Panera bread is experimenting with a pay what you can model? The underlying philosophy is that business is an obligation. For example, Toyota has an obligation to providing the most cost effective automobiles, but that is not their mission. Toyota’s mission is to be your car company for life. Simple as that. In addition, me is now a business model.

careforpa.org

It is clear from the age of information that there lies an opportunity to learn anything you want. You can learn more than your doctor about something. That was almost impossible just 25 years ago. We revered doctors. Now they are a means for us to get our own medical treatment. We all have the ability to develop our own algorithm about whatever we want. Authority is no longer a thing. Been in a classroom lately? The students, with their access to hand held devices (calling them a phone is so last age) that can instantly reveal that the teacher doesn’t know everything.  Uh oh, teachers, embrace that or the students will send you packing! Be your own self authority.

 

 

Missed Part 1?

 

 

Resources:

ASCD 12 Virtual Resources: http://ascd.social27.com/ASCD/ASCD_Home

Watts Wacker’s web site:  www.firstmatter.com

Triz-Journal: http://www.triz-journal.com/

Joseph Kony: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Kony

Kony 2012: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kony_2012

Like Crabs in a Barrel

Have you ever heard the story of crabs in a barrel? Basically, it goes something like this. If you have a bunch of crabs in a barrel they will work to pull each other down as they attempt to climb out of the barrel. Furthermore, it is said, that if they were to work together, then they could all get out of the barrel. If you haven’t, please take the time to read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crabs_in_a_barrel.

In education, are we much different than crabs in a barrel? Think about your classroom, hallway, grade level, school, or district for a minute. Ponder on those who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty, those that transcend the status quo. Now think about how they are treated by others, even yourself. Are most people saying positive things about them? Or do they develop conspiracy theories on “how they got to where they are?” Others may say that another’s success can be attributed to the clothes they wear, their age, their race, if they play a particular sport, or maybe are involved in a particular social media endeavor.  You have heard it before. There are so many adages at work to pull us farther down into the barrel such as, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Or so and so always gets the opportunity because s/he is in the right crowd.”

Ironically, we often find ourselves telling our students to not “pull each other down into the barrel,” but are we setting the proper example? Kids often fall prey to the crab mentality. Students who make the honor roll, excel at an instrument, or are advanced proficient on a state assessment are often looked at in a negative light. Think about it, kids aren’t much different than we are, are they?

Here are some things to ponder about being a crab in a barrel:

–          Why do we have trouble celebrating others successes?

–          Why do we make up excuses when someone else has a success, as opposed to attributing it to hard work?

–          What will it take to change the crabs in a barrel paradigm?

–          When was the last time you helped to celebrate someone else’s success?

–          Are you building up, rather than tearing down?

–          Do we think another person’s successes will cause you to have to do more work?

bigstockphoto_Key_To_Success_509650-1xkrlsc.jpg

Here are some things that are said, with maybe the best intentions, but still work to pull down, rather than build up:

–          You are working too hard, you are going to burn out!

–          You know, you won’t get paid any extra for all of this extra stuff

–          You are starting to make us look bad!

–          Why do you ask so many questions?  I want to get out of this meeting!

–          Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

–          I didn’t do ______________(insert project) because, well, what are they going to do?

–          No matter what, we are protected by the union.

–          So, how well do you know the ___________(insert leader position) outside of work?

As we strive for world class education for all students, we do not have time to pull each other down into the barrel.  We need to change the paradigm, and turn that story into a fable, not a documentary.

 

 

Conversation with a Futurist? It hurts your brain, and so will this post

Watts Wacker and Spike Cook

During the ASCD12 conference in Philadelphia I attended a session with Futurist, Watts Wacker. He began the discussion by saying that he did not come to answer questions, but rather to ask them. He immediately had my attention. Then he began to speak, and I tried my hardest to keep up. Here is the stream of conscious notes I took. In order to develop deeper understanding I took the notes, and separated them into 5 parts. I also worked with a mind-mapping genius to bring the text, and concepts to another level. I hope it hurts your brain like it did mine.

Part 1 of 5

Guess what happened? While we were all sleeping Big Brother happened! Have you read the book 1984 by George Orwell? Who would have thought that it actually came into being? And we bought it? No, it was not imposed, we chose it, and pay for it month after month. Did you know the city of London tapes everything? There are cameras throughout the entire city.  No matter where you go a camera has its lenses focused on ….You!

We are in the 5th age as humans. Some people think that we are still in the age of information but according to Watts that has already come and gone.

First, there was the hunter gatherer age. We traveled great distances on foot looking for our food, water, and survival. Then we had the agricultural age. We learned how to plant our food. This lead us into the industrial age where we attempted to maximize our output and products in a way that would keep costs down. Then we did a quantum leap into the information age. Technology boomed during this era, and humans needed to simply understand how this impacted them, but as the technology developed one thing became certain: uncertainty. Which lead us into this new, current age of uncertainty. In this age there is no box. The only thing that is constant is change.

Also, there are 7 generations on the planet at the same time. This has not happened in the history of the world. Is this a good thing? Stay tuned for part 2.

Mind Map for Part 1 (Click to enlarge)

 

Mind Map Resources

12/21/12 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxQsLLOYC7Q&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Planet Earth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6v2L2UGZJAM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Big Brother http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJTLL1UjvfU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Resources:

ASCD 12 Virtual Resources: http://ascd.social27.com/ASCD/ASCD_Home

Watts Wacker’s web site:  www.firstmatter.com

Triz-Journal: http://www.triz-journal.com/

Joseph Kony: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Kony

Kony 2012: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kony_2012