What a leader makes (336:365)

source: practiceofarchitecture.com

source: practiceofarchitecture.com

What does a leader make? Leaders make a lot of things and they probably don’t realize it. Here are some things that came to mind as I reflected on what leaders make:

They make the organization collaborative, and prepared for change

They make decisions based on the best interest of the organization

They make it a point to provide feedback and recognition

They make it to work early or they make time to stay late

They make time to learn

They make time for people

They make time to listen

They make it possible for people to grow

They make people feel safe

They make more leaders

They make a difference


What do you think a leader makes?

To Suspend or Not Suspend? (335:365)

source: poster.4teachers.org

source: poster.4teachers.org

To suspend or not to suspend? That is the question. As we learn about the 21st century learning opportunities, and how interconnected our classrooms can be, what happens when it all goes wrong? What happens when kids fight? Harass? Bring weapons to school? Should we still suspend kids? Is that too 20th century?


I posed this question to my PrincipalPLN Voxer group because… I struggle with it! No matter how far our school has progressed, we still have students who violate our norms and expectations… So what do we do? In a Voxer thread that is now over 50 messages long, educators from Alaska to Delaware, from St. Louis to British Columbia have all weighed in on this topic. Guess what? They all still struggle with it as well. There seems to be no definitive stance. The refreshing insight is that we are not giving up on learning more, sharing and growing!


Here are questions I would like to expand further to my PLN:

  • What are your thoughts on suspension?
  • Do you think that suspensions (internal or external) have a place in the 21st Century School?
  • Do you think your administration suspends too much? Not enough?
  • What are some best practices you have found successful with suspensions?


Let’s keep learning together!


Are you are struggling with permission… (334:365)

source: www.clipartpanda.com

source: www.clipartpanda.com

Attending and presenting at conferences leads to a lot discussions, critical thinking, and reflecting. I had the opportunity to attend several events this fall. During these events there was an under current (sometimes an over current if that is truly a thing).  A lot of educators are still dealing with permission issues. They are being held back by personalities, policies, and colleagues. Yikes!


The reality is that we all deal with permission issues of some kind. Some people can’t paint their classrooms, others can’t access YouTube, and others must use the traditional grading system. In every organization their is a gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is responsible for innovation – either they are going to permit it, or they are going to thwart it. Plain and simple. Finding out who the gatekeeper is can be tough work. Working with the gatekeeper (once you find them) can be even more difficult. So what to do?


Here are 5 suggestions for those struggling with permission. Sometimes the gatekeepers just need to see an example:)

  1. Technology – Looking to get more devices to prepare your students for the 21st century and the district is out of money? Try Donors Choose. According to their website, Donors Choose has over 1.5 donors that have supported over 200,000 teachers that has reached over 13 million students. Before you start your Donors Choose, be sure that your district will support these devices.
  2. Feedback Beyond Grades – Are you frustrated with the traditional grading system?  Mark Barnes and Starr Sackstein have begun a movement “Teachers Throwing Out Grades.” They have written countless blog posts, organized Twitter chats, and a Facebook page all to support you in getting beyond traditional grading. Connect with them and they will be willing to help!
  3. Classroom Design – Want to re-design your classroom? Want to make a learning environment? Many districts have strict policies on painting and ordering materials. Instead of becoming frustrated, check out the work of Erin Klein. Erin has been helping teachers with classroom design by showing examples of her own classroom and others. There is a hashtag (ClassDesign)
  4. Discipline – Maybe you struggle with classroom management? Maybe you are looking for other ways to hold students accountable, or maybe you are not happy with your administration’s discipline philosophy. Pernille Ripp has written a few epic posts about classroom management. There are a growing number of apps that have helped teachers with maintaining their classroom with mixed reviews. Another suggestion would be to investigate Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports or  Discipline with Dignity.
  5. Social Media – This one is a biggie. I hear more about the struggles of educators with Social Media then anything else. Teachers report not being able to use Twitter, Facebook or even Google + in the classroom. There are countless resources for the gatekeeper in your organization to read, but the stories about the downsides seem to garner much more attention. My suggestion for this one is simple…. If you can’t use it at your school, you can always use it at home. Edutopia has a lot of great resources on this topic.  Also, Corwin’s Connected Educator Series is a great resource for the hesitant administrator/educator. Eric Sheninger has worked tirelessly with gatekeepers to show them the value of Social Media in the school.

Change is tough. Getting permission is a reality we all face in some form or fashion. Sometimes asking forgiveness is easier, but that only works in some organizations. In whatever you do, be sure to start small. Ask questions and get meaningful discussions flowing. If you continue to hit the brick wall, find a group of educators outside your school to connect with for support.

Change is tough. Stay positive. Seek out support.

Makes you think… (333:365)

source: George Tekei

source: George Tekei

Saw this picture on my Facebook feed.


It had been shared by over 45,000 people and I think the message is very clear.


In education we often feel frustrated with the lack of support for things that can help kids and teachers.


It is especially frustrating when there is waning support for education from politicians who are elected by a select group of people who actually vote.


So what is the answer?

Peace on Earth Begins with Education (332:365)

The Bacon Bears with the Millville City Mayor!

The Bacon Bears with the Millville City Mayor!

For the second year in a row our school participated in the Millville City Holiday Parade. The parade has been around for a long time (not sure when it actually began). We began putting a float in the parade to help our students understand their place in the community. We also want to showcase our school’s rich history within the city (we started in 1929). There were so many current and former students waving to us from the sidewalks.  A great time was had by all!


The theme this was “Peace on Earth.” We feel that peace begins with education (specifically students). No matter what the students deal with, once they come into the school they can be immersed in peace. They can learn to resolve conflicts peacefully while maintaining their dignity. We feel these lessons can be learned by society….. peacefully!


Article about our participation in the parade 



What are you thankful for? (331:365)

Source: creators.ning.com

Source: creators.ning.com

Today is Thanksgiving. Many people report that Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday because it is mostly about enjoying time with family (and eating a lot of food).


What are you thankful for this year? Please feel free to share.


Here are the top 5 things I am thankful for:


  1. My Family – My wife and children are everything to me!
  2. My Extended Family – Having family spread out sometimes makes it hard to connect, but I always know I can count on my my mom, brothers, sisters, aunts/uncles, and cousins
  3. My Friends – Not sure what I would be able to do without my friends. For some reason, they choose to be there for me 🙂
  4. My PLN – Many people in my PLN have become trusted friends, and mentors
  5. My school – I always say that I work in the best school, with the best people focused on the right things!!!!!


What are you thankful for?



What is Powtoon? How can you use it? (329:365)



Have you ever used Powtoon? According to their website, Powtoon assists students with staying engaged and generates motivation in any classroom no matter the age!

Signing up is easy, all you have to is sync your Google +, Facebook, Linkedin or register through an email. Once inside Powtoon, you can watch the demo lesson or get right to work. Powtoon will help you enhance your presentation or help you explain a concept.


Here is Mrs. Devita’s Powtoon on Author’s Purpose that she used in her flipped lesson:


Once you give Powtoon a try, let me know what you think!


Are you stuck? (328:365)

How-You-Can-Avoid-Getting-Stuck-in-a-Rut-295x300I recently watched the TEDx Talk by Dr. Terry Singh and I highly recommend it (I embedded it at the end of this post). Before you watch it, I want you to think for a minute…. are you stuck? Maybe at your job? classroom? or maybe it’s physical? emotional? Maybe your leadership is stuck? organization? department? There are many factors that can make you stuck. It happens to everyone, but only some people recognize it, and still fewer decide to get unstuck.


For instance, maybe you are looking to become more productive and you have a lot of ideas. You start researching, or talking to people but you just can’t seem to put a plan together. As time goes on, you think less and less about the plan, and more and more about the fact that you are not progressing. You throw in a few excuses, and the next thing you know… you are stuck!


Some people may only be stuck for a day, a week and there are others who are stuck for a month, a year or even a decade. So how do you become un-stuck? In the TEDx speech, Dr. Singh recommends, “You have to stop feeling despair before you can feel any happiness.” He goes on to point out that most people jump into the solution before defining the problem. Dr. Singh gives some advice on the process of getting un-stuck… You have to focus on your experience of being stuck. So maybe you need to explore the problem you may have your organization, classroom, or personal life.


You have to focus on your experience of being stuck ~ Dr. Singh


Check out the video….

The Next Gen (326:365)

@appleLouChi and I at #edcampNJ

@AppleLouChi and I at #edcampNJ

The next generation is here. Picture you are in college and you happen to have a professor like Kyle Calderwood. Kyle, for those of you who don’t know, is a professor at Stockton College, and has been a connected educator since 2009. He has had an enormous impact on southern New Jersey as the founder of TeachMeetNJ, and is a mentor to many aspiring educators.

In class, Kyle reviews the power of being a connected educator, and among others, Louis Apalucci is in his class. Louis said his eyes were opened by Kyle, and that he never knew Twitter could be a professional learning tool. Louis graduates in May 2014 and begins his teaching career in September 2014 as a middle school math teacher. As a new teacher, armed with a previously established PLN, Louis dives right in. He has been talking about the power of being connected at his school. He attended EdcampNJ to connect face-to-face with like-minded educators so that he could learn more. I was lucky enough to chat with him over lunch with Glenn Robbins. He has so much potential, such a willingness to learn. This is only the beginning.


Now fast forward 10 to 15 years down the road when newly hired teachers will reference teachers in elementary school that encouraged them to blog, tweet, and post responsibly to Instagram. They will have a PLN. They will have connection. It will be second nature. They might even teach a seasoned Louis Apalucci a few things 🙂