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 ūüôā

What day is it? (327:365)



My math wasn’t adding up. I even had to double check on Google. I found the site Epoch Converter which confirmed my dilemma… I was a day off.


In doing the blog 365 project I have been blogging every day. I keep track of the progress in the title of each of the posts. So I decided to go back through the posts, and I found where I messed up on the numbering. It was back in October and I used the same number twice. No big deal.


Instead of going back and re-numbering all of the posts I just decided to add another post. Day 327 of 365. I only have 38 more blog posts to write to complete my goal.


How is your New Year’s Resolution going???

Tinkering around with @geekyteach! (325:365)

IMG_2794 I went to EdcampNJ, and attended the Maker Fair set up in the gym. Meredith Martin, an awesome educator and innovator, set up a few opportunities for people to make stuff. When I asked her about the cost of setting up a Makerspace, she said that most of the materials are available at Dollar Stores or in a desk, or storage area. So basically, there is not a lot of money required to start one.


Meredith encouraged visitors to either follow directions she set up or just follow their inner inventor! She uses Makerspaces in her school to give students time to tinker, invent, or improve. I can really see a Makerspace complementing the Genius Hour at our school.



Here are a few pictures of the MakerSpace:


A catapult made from rubber bands, spoons and Popsicle sticks


@SPSantilli and @Glennr1809 tinkering around

Want to start your own MakerSpace? Here are some resources:

Makerspace Playbook 

Meredith’s Pinterest Page¬†

Create a Makerspace in 3 simple steps 

Speak! (324:365)

Mr. Cooper, regional director with the Toastmasters

Mr. Cooper, regional director with the Toastmasters

Our school is fortunate because we have parents who are dedicated to assisting students with whatever they need. One of our new parents, Mr. Bruce Cooper, proposed a public speaking group for our students. As a Toastmaster Mr. Cooper has competed at the highest levels of public speaking. As a regional director, he had the idea that we could create a similar experience for our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders to grow future leaders.


In fact, after some research, we found that there is no public speaking group focused on students this young. We are also planning on having a culminating, TED-like talk this spring featuring the students who participate in the group. It will be epic!


In our first meeting we had 20 students and 3 parents attend. The students were excited (and a bit nervous) about having to speak in front of people. We are following a process and we realize that the students are only beginning. Just by showing up, though, they showed an amazing courage. If they stay focused, and dedicated they will be on center stage in the spring of 2015!


Want to learn more about the Toastmasters? Checkout this video:


Leading the learning at staff meetings (323:365)



Here is the deal… if you are not modeling life-long learning as a leader in your organization, than how can you expect your teachers to learn? Adult learning is the key to improvement, and lets face it, the staff meeting is your time to lead or it is your time to lose. The choice is yours… ¬† How can you lead the learning….

Questions to ponder:

  • Organization – Do you send out agendas ahead of time? Does your meeting have a purpose? Are there time limits? Areas for input? Do you allow suggestions for further improvement? Do you have a note taker?
  • Instruction – Are your staff meetings displaying the type of instruction you want to see from your staff? Do you use a combination of collaborative, whole group, pairs, and individual learning opportunities? Do you use higher order activities that require them to apply, analyze, evaluate or create?
  • Technology – Do you model use of online formative assessments such as Kahoot, Plickers, or Google Forms to gain insight? Do you use videos to allow for a deeper connection or to flip the instruction? Do you encourage a back channel on Twitter, Today’s Meet or Poll Everywhere? Do you blog about your organization? Do you have a PLN?
  • Follow up – Do you send the notes out in a timely fashion? Do you include resources?

How do you lead the learning in your organization?

If you have been on a walk… (322:365)

If you have been on a walk….then you have stepped on somebody’s toes. As leaders we make decisions all the time, and without even know it, we step on people’s toes. The difference that great leaders make is they know the difference between stepping and stomping on toes.


I know this is short today, but what do you think? Do you realize you step on toes? Do you realize if you stomp on toes?


If you never stepped on anybody’s toes, you have never been for a walk ~ Elaine McEwan

“Action or inaction are both forms of leadership” (321:365)



I was reading Seth Godin’s blog today and he was talking about when things ‘blow over’ in organizations. The last line of his post especially caught my attention, “Action or inaction are both forms of leadership and standard setting.” He has written about this before, and I think it bears repeating that leaders send messages to their staff by what they allow or don’t allow. Every decision has an impact on the organization.

How do you send messages to your staff?

What do you take action on?

What do you take no action on?



Leading Leadership Teams (320:365)



As we are planning for an upcoming PrincipalPLN podcast, we got on the subject of School Leadership teams. We put the idea into our voxer chat and it elicited a lively discussion.


There are some schools with a a large leadership team and other schools with a small leadership team. No matter what size the team is, it is important to understand a few things about the team first.


Here are a few things I gleaned from the conversation and preparation for our upcoming show:

  • What are the long term goals of your leadership team? For instance, if you are a teacher-leader, coach, or perhaps a guidance counselor, do you plan to stay in that role or are you seeking experience for further advancement? As a leader, how can you help others improve the school and at the same time set them up for future career advancement?
  • Do you have the opportunity to have structured meetings that encourage collaboration, questioning and open discussion
  • Establish norms – how are you going to participate in the meetings on school improvement?
  • Establishing two types of teams – 1 team could be for the administrative and immediate needs of the teaching staff and the 2nd could be for a school based team to tackle issues in the building and prepare for the future.

As a leader, I feel that is important to model the expectations, and there may be times where people need to be honest and open with criticism. In that same scenario, the leader needs to also be able to have the important conversations about expectations and improving the team (no matter what type of leadership team).

What would you add?



Make it count twice! #eddies14 (319:365)

I am a huge supporter of Edublogs. They are really great people with a mission to provide opportunities for learners to share their knowledge with others. Since 2005 they have supported over 2,775,000 bloggers world wide!

We believe in the power that blogging can have to transform the educational experience of students and have seen first hand how Edublogs have increased ownership of learning, engaged students, and become a source of pride in the classroom. ~Edublogs


Each year the Edublogs Awards presents an opportunity to recognize the dedicated educators who are blogging, tweeting, podcasting, and just plain making things better for us!


Here are my #eddies14 recommendations!

Edublog Awards Nomations
Best Individual Blog (Kelly Tenkley)
Best Group Blog (Edutopia)
Best New Blog (Brian Costello)
Best Class Blog (3rd Grade RM Bacon)
Best Ed Tech / Research Sharing Blog (Richard Byrne)
Best Administrator Blog (Brad Gustafson)
Best Individual Tweeter (Craig Yen)
Best Hashtag / Twitter Chat (#SATCHAT) #satchat
Best Open PD / Unconference / Webinar
Lifetime Achievement Eric Sheninger