Re-Branding the potato, schools, placebos (131:365)



I lucked out today. As I was coming back from the gym, I caught tail end of TED Radio Hour on NPR. As I listened to the broadcast, I was fascinated by a story about re-branding of the potato.  I thought… the potato? There is a story about Fredrick the Great who was looking for ways to feed his country. Basically, he convinced a country that the potato was “royal” and that everyone needed it. He made the potato desirable through making it the prime vegetable in the royal garden. Soon the peasants risked everything to steal the potato, and eventually began grown potato themselves. There were many unintended consequences such as they avoided famine, drove the price of bread down, and galvanized a nation.


Currently, many schools are branding and re-branding themselves. Know why? Simple stated, public schools are being vilified by reformers, and politicians who believe that they have created a more desirable form of education. Some of these education alternatives are actually succeeding because of the placebo effect. If you believe you will succeed, you might just succeed. The question remains….. a potato is a potato, or is it?

Speaking our mind… (130:365)



I hope we are not giving it all away…. I hope we are still going to be able to speak our mind, challenge the process without fear of retaliation. Granted, educators who are working public education are held to a higher standard, but I fear that these lines get blurred when it comes to what is right for kids.


For instance, as I scan the headlines regarding the assessment culture in education, I am seeing a growing number of educators who are standing up and speaking their mind. They are challenging the process, providing data, examples of other possibilities, or just merely saying ‘hold on.’

I just hope it is not too little, too late…

Work in progress (128:365)



Since embarking on the Blog 365 challenge, I have changed the way I blog. For instance, I now view blogs as a work in progress… This can be difficult for some of the readers because I get comments like “Did you check your grammar?” or “You didn’t really finish that post.” I usually reply, “Exactly!”


Blogs are not dissertations, academic papers, or even memos…. Blogs are thoughts, ideas, highlights, pictures, videos, rants, and for me blogs are a journey…. Blogs are a work in progress….


Want to edit? Want to help me finish these posts? Just let me know… there is a lot of work to do 🙂



Honoring the past… (127:365)

alumni night flyerWe are embarking on an awesome journey at our elementary school…. We are having the first Annual Alumni Night on May 30, 2014. The reason for this night is twofold… First, we want to honor those alumni who attended RM Bacon School since the doors opened in 1929. Secondly, we want to showcase the amazing things that are taking place currently and share our plans for the future.


Come out and support us on May 30, 2014 for an evening to remember. If you can’t make it, mark your calenders for next year… we have already scheduled the Second Annual Alumni Night for May 29, 2015!

Teacher Appreciation, they make too much! (126:365)


I am sure this man never talked back to his teacher, and his parents supported teachers. source:

Since today is “officially” teacher appreciation, I thought it would be a great topic to blog about. Teachers make way too much! They are too greedy!

If you read my blog on a regular basis, you have probably seen countless posts about the positive impacts that teachers make. As a principal who believes in the power of teaching, teachers have one of the most important jobs in the world, and I attempt to support teachers everyday. Know why? They support kids and make too much… way too much!

Its a shame that are more then a few jaded administrators, politicians, and ed reformers that vilify teachers. In my opinion, teachers are not the ones to blame when someone doesn’t like something in society. There are way too many variables that are out of teachers’ hands such as socio-economics, family dynamics, and parental/community support to blame teachers for the ills of society. I see teachers everyday fighting a seemingly uphill climb as they deal with being criticized in the press and on the late night talk shows. It never used to be like this. Granted, there are some teachers who have given the critics easy material, but then again so have the police, politicians, doctors, lawyers, etc. every profession has their outliers….One of the biggest criticisms of teachers is they too much money…. way too much!

Taylor Mali agrees. He thinks teachers make way too much as well….. Check out his awesome performance on what teachers make.


Thank you teachers! Thank you for making too much, way too much!!! You made it possible for all of us to achieve our goals!


The end of my “Test Pep Rally” (124:365)

I have been involved with Test Pep Rallies for the past 14 years as a teacher, guidance counselor, vice principal and principal. I have created skits, performed skits, write original songs, made music videos, delivered inspiring speeches, and even made bets about the assessments…. I’m done. Want to know why?


There are a few reasons why I am retiring from the Test Pep Rally scene and so is my school. In the past, drastic times have called for drastic measures. We have not been performing well on the standardized assessments (just like all the other low socio-economic districts in the state/country – can somebody say correlation) and we get in front of the kids every year and basically beg them to do well. I will admit it… It’s pathetic. We only did it to attempt to leave “no stone unturned” in this high stakes accountability environment. Honestly, it didn’t work. It didn’t produce higher assessment results.


Another reason why I am retiring from the Test Pep Rally game happened a month ago. I was looking through my Facebook feed and a good friend, who also happens to be very involved in the Parent/Teacher Chat on twitter, has presented at conferences about family engagement, and is an advocate for education Gwen Pescatore wrote about a Test Pep Rally at her school. All she said was that there could be a better way then to spend 30 minutes at her school. I have not been able to get it out of my head…. I respect Gwen, and everything she has done to promote teacher/parent relationships. Here it is two months later, with a “test prep song” written, and I just decided… that’s it. We are not doing this circus anymore!


So what will I do this week? Well, I will go around to each of the classes and talk with the kids about the importance of the assessment, and more importantly their individual “growth.” That’s it. Plain and simple.


Want to know what others are saying about the standardized assessment movement?

Eric Sheninger – Education Reform is Destroying Childhood as we know it

Anya Kamenetz – What are Education Tests for Anyway? 

John Robinson – Test Pep Rallies: Good idea or waste of time? 


Dirty Laundry (123:365)

Source "Finding Favour"

Source “Finding Favour”

I have written a few times on this blog about Social Venting. I find it difficult to take when people vent on Social Media. I don’t feel that it is appropriate. It doesn’t solve anything. Unlike a conversation with a trusted friend or relative, Social Media does not go away. Your Digital Footprint follows you, and it reveals a lot about you.


In education, we teach the students to “pause before they post” or “wait 24 hours.” We teach about how important a positive Digital Footprint is, and how it can help you in the future. There are countless exercises designed to show kids the power of Social Media, and how essential it is be a positive member of the community.


Adults on the other hand have not seemed to have learned these lessons…. I see posts about a bad day, getting cut off in the car, how much they hate their boss, someone leaves them, they get the wrong order at a restaurant and BOOM it is posted on Social Media. Then, their “friends” chime in and it goes on and on and on…..  What does it solve?



My advice is to throw your dirty laundry in the basket, not on Social Media…


Principalcast hosts ASCD Arias Authors (122:365)


Mark Barnes, Bill Sterrett, and Michael Fisher

Innovation and Leadership:  Strategies & Tips from Three Authors

On Sunday, May 4th, join the @PrincipalCast team (including ‪@DrSpikeCook‪@PrincipalStager‪@PrincipalJ ) for an interactive discussion on the TeacherCast network ( ) with three @ASCD authors (‪@markbarnes19‪@fisher1000 and @billsterrett ) as they discuss learning, innovating, and leading in education. 



Author Mark Barnes ( @markbarnes19) is a 20-year classroom teacher and the author of The Five Minute Teacher: How do I maximize time for learning in my classroom?


Mike Fisher ( @fisher1000 ) is and instructional coach and educational consultant and the author of Digital Learning Strategies: How do I assign and assess 21st century work?


Bill Sterrett ( @billsterrett) is an educational leadership professor, former principal and middle school science teacher and the author of Short on Time: How do I make time to lead and learn as a principal?  Bill spoke on an earlier PrincipalCast (#13) about time management and joins us again today to focus on collaborative and innovative leadership.


For more about the ASCD Arias series: