Excitement for reading (296:365)

source: wimpykid.com

source: wimpykid.com

Today I was in a second grade class. The kids were in between activities and the teachers was giving them time to read. For the first time in a long time, I had a student call me over because he wanted to read to me. As I knelt down next to him, he started reading his book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, with such ease. He was pointing out aspects of the story that he thought might interest me. Since the book has some cartoons embedded, he read them with the inflection that the author intended. 2nd grade! He was so excited to share his learning with me. It was really cool.


After I left the class I Googled the book to see the level (I think my son started reading the series in 3rd grade). Turns out it has a grade equivalency of 5.3, a Lexile measure of 970L, and a guided reading level T. I know there is always a range with students, but I have to say I was more impressed after realizing level of the book. I think what impressed me even more is that over the last two years I have seen that student grow and mature.


My point with all of this is that learning is a process. In schools, we have to build the climate and culture to support growth. We can’t always get so tied up in the minutia of the standardized movement. Excitement for reading is exactly what we need!

Do we need to be more like coaches? (295:365)

source: www.philly.com

source: www.philly.com

In the world of sports, coaches play an integral role in their teams efforts. I do realize that education and sports have some similarities and many differences. Based on that, if we look at the similarities we may be able to learn from the coaches.

What are the similarities? (Coaches and Principals)

  • Constantly learning – The effective coach sees the evolution of the game, they know it is not stagnant
  • High Expectations – Everyone wants the best from their players
  • Everyone has a role – Teams, no matter what, need everyone to play a role
  • Take chances – It takes a lot of courage to get out on the field, and there are times when you have to go for the big one


Why are some coaches more effective then others? (this can also be applied to principals)

  • They understand their players, and know what motivates them
  • They are reflective – Implement, reflective, repeat
  • They have a system and everyone buys in
  • The team is everything


So the next time you are watching a sporting event, and you look over to the sidelines, take notice of the coaches. Think about their role (not just on game day) but also in the preparation and reflection.

An interesting dilemma (294:365)

source: www.shutterstock.com

source: www.shutterstock.com

I attended a conference recently and I noticed an interesting dilemma…. With all of the preparation for the PARCC, districts have been increasing their devices (mostly Chrome books). So, now, armed with these devices, the questions are piling up. What do we do with the devices in the classroom?


Fortunately, besides the test prep, administrators and teachers are seeking ways to help students use these devices. They want to know how to tell their story (classroom, school and district), they want to know why to blog, and what applications can assist students with 21st century skills. This is exciting!


What to do? Where to start?

I would recommend that folks begin with a few of the resources listed below:

How to get connected? Corwin Connected Educators Series is designed to help the un-connected become connected. Each of the books are designed for a specific area including teachers, administrators, families, etc.


How to get started with Twitter? Check out this quick and informative video by Erin Klein, on using Twitter to connect with the world!



Forget the office, the desk, it’s all on your phone (293:365)

source: www.ifixit.com

source: www.ifixit.com

In a recent PrincipalPLN interview, Adam Welcome discussed his leadership philosophy. For Adam, it is very simple: get out of your office and lead but don’t forget your phone.


I have heard of ‘no office days’ and portable desks, but this takes it to the next level. Yet, as Adam explains, your phone can provide so much such as access to tweets, email, calls, Google Docs, pictures, video conferencing, videos and a whole host of other apps. When you think about it… what else do you need?



Want to learn more about this? Check out the PrincipalPLN podcast:

Do you follow your followers? (292:365)

source: get-followers.yolasite.com

source: get-followers.yolasite.com

Remember when you first got on twitter? You would find some people to follow and scroll through your feed as they posted, and you would get so much information. It was all simple, right? Well, what changed? Quite a few things…


When was the last time you scrolled through your feed?




With the growing popularity of hashtags, most people on twitter tend to follow a few hashtags on TweetDeck, or Hootsuite. People may be exposed to your tweets even though they are not necessarily following you.



People only have so much time. So an hour on a chat may impact the time they can spend following their followers. Chats are a great way to engage with other educators as the dialogue is the main component of the learning.



Developing a list of people helps you take a large numbers of followers and scales it down to manage easier. People develop lists of other twitter users that may interest them or their area.



Many people include mentions on their tweets to attract the attention of someone. Since it will show up in their mentions feed (which everyone checks), it will more likely be read. It is not a guarantee of interaction though because even the most “connected” educators will not reply, re-tweet or mention you. It’s all good. If you don’t get any interaction…. just move on…. there are plenty of fish in the sea.


Do you need to follow people anymore?

I think you do need to follow other educators because it is a crucial aspect of the PLN. When you follow someone, you are acknowledging their valuable contributions. You know that you won’t be able to read everything they post and that is OK.


Does it matter how many followers you have?

Most people, when asked this question, will say no. Chances are, they are not being completely honest. Gaining more followers, as stated before, is a validation of their efforts. In a sense, though, followers don’t matter because of the increase use of hastags, twitter chats, and lists your influence could be spread into places you never imagined.


Engagement is the key

No matter what, it is very crucial to acknowledge your followers, mentions, re-tweets, and favorites. A simple “thank you” or a “favorite” for something someone said or did in acknowledging you can go a long way! There are so many opportunities for engagement.


What do you think?

Take a hike! (291:365)


Cat and Hen taking a break on an a rock

I have been trying to hike with my kids every Sunday. For the most part, we have been doing it for the past month. Every Sunday we go somewhere different. This is great time for me to spend with them (and to let my wife get her work done). It also requires me to disconnect for a few hours, and enjoy the crisp, fall air here in NJ.


Today we extended our touring/hiking a bit. We went to Valley Forge, PA home of the Revolutionary War. It was a fantastic day. We hiked around the area and saw a lot of really cool things. My kids had a blast. We could have spent a lot more time there. The park is humongous and it was helpful to drive. They enjoyed the history and the adventure!




Here are a few pics from the day….


It’s not everyday he finds someone with his name

IMG_2571 (1)

Great image under the Arch looking at the US Flag


The Arch


They thought this was funny!


Learn from mistakes (290:365)

imagesI found this awesome video on YouTube that highlights the many people who have overcome adversity in their life to become successful. We must never forget to learn from mistakes, and always seek to improve!

Learn to take risks

Don’t take no for an answer

Challenge yourself

Never quit

Fail forward

Learn from mistakes


Enjoy this video. Maybe your story will be featured!


Why F2F conferences are still relevant (289:365)

source: dowboy.wordpress.com

source: dowboy.wordpress.com

As a connected educator I know that with the click of a mouse, I can connect with educators around the world 24/7. So why do I need to grow professionally at conferences? Isn’t it easier to just attend PD sessions on twitter in my pajamas? Well, yes and no.


Conferences are still relevant to me because I get the chance to meet up with people who share similar ideas with me. In fact, being a connected educator actually makes conferences more fun because I get to meet up F2F with those awesome people in my PLN. In addition to meeting up F2F, I usually try to attend their sessions to help support, learn or to validate the direction of my school.


Conferences also require you to travel, and explore the world. I love staying in new places, trying new restaurants and meeting new people. It is so refreshing, and inspires me to work harder as a leader.


You know that cliche, “Its not what you know, it is who you know”? I think that is one of the reasons conferences are still relevant.

Connected Educator Month: 5 hashtags That Matter (288:365)

source: exactmedia.wordpress.com

source: exactmedia.wordpress.com

I have written extensively about the power of the PLN on this blog.

One of the most important aspect about being a connected educator is the people you learn with…. from…. and just because!


So here are 5 hashtags that matter… to me, and hopefully to you!


5 Hashtags That Matter … to me!

  • SAT Chat – Start your Saturday morning’s out with a bang! Join educators from around the world as they discuss meaningful, relevant topics!
  • EdTechChat – Every Monday evening, these educators connect to talk about how technology not only enhances teaching and learning, but also how it provides opportunity for growth!
  • cpchat – Although there are no regularly scheduled chats, this hashtag allows principals, and aspiring administrators an opportunity to share resources and ask questions
  • Edchat – Sometimes referred to as the grand-daddy of the them all, this hashtag has a weekly chat and serves as a go to for many educators across the globe.
  • njed – As a New Jersey Educator, I follow this hashtag to connect with the educators in my state. There is also a chat on Tuesdays that allow NJ tweeps the opportunity to discuss issues relevant to the Garden State and beyond!


As I said earlier, these chats matter to me. Let me know which matter to you! Want an extensive list of everything out there? Check out Cybraryman’s list of chats and hastags.

Continuous learning and improvement (287:365)

source: www.barrett.com.au

source: www.barrett.com.au

Although I am not a big fan of standardized assessments and robbing children of their childhood (see my past few posts), I am a big fan of continuous learning and improvement. What does this really mean?


Educators, with some exceptions, are life long learners. They are constantly seeking to grow and understand their learners each year. This is not easy, but with the help of their peers, administrators, researchers and other practitioners the system is set up to keep improving. For instance, in my pre-conferences with teachers I often ask them what they want me to see so they can improve. At the elementary level that could mean a whole host of subjects or specific concepts. The trust that we build together allows them the opportunity to attempt to improve in an area. Quite often they perform better, and at the post conference have much more of a critique on themselves then I could…. especially if they are of the growth mindset, and focused on improvement.


I see teachers implementing new strategies all of the time. They tend to share their learning with their peers. They want to be better! Sometimes we need to just get out of their way!