Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Wired Principals - Why + how we're leading our schools this way for the 21st Century!

This is a combined post from @awelcome and @mrsfadeji about being Wired Principals in 2013!

(Adam Welcome) @awelcome - John Swett Elementary School

Thinking back to my first 'wired' moment(s) as an educator goes back six years and my time as an upper elementary teacher. I approached my districts technology department about moving forward with Google Apps for Education.......and the idea fell on deaf ears. So, I 'bypassed' a little and set up local accounts based around our school website rather than district wide. Change would be an understatement when describing the effect GAFE had on my classroom, then school and then finally district wide.

Fast forward six years and being a 'Wired Principal' is VERY important to me and setting the tone on campus is what I believe pushes our work and thinking on a daily basis.

Why do I lead this way?
  • At John Swett Elementary (@jseroadrunners) we're all members of 'Team Kid' (Translation) We do what's best for kids on a daily basis, our entire staff being wired is a huge part of that!
  • Wired is the new foreign language and preparing kids for a much different economy and work environment so they're successful is our purpose.
  • Wired = Mobile.....Not being tied to a specific learning environment (ie - classroom/desk) models for Ts + Ss!
  • Wired engages kids, teachers, parents and community in ways not previously possible!
  • Sharing with the world is so much more fun and meaningful than just with those that can read your newsletter. 
  • Being the example for Ts + Ss 'Sets the Tone' - Leading from the front shows people where you want them to go, not just talking about where you want to go.
  • Twitter connects classrooms at my school, across town, across counties and across the world! Get your staff on Twitter, we are!
  • The Principal is way more learner than manager, show your Ts + Ss how to connect and be connected. 
  • I want kids to produce knowledge/content, not just consume what someone else has produced!

How do I lead this way?
  • Having a school blog shows digital writing in action and sets the tone for student blogging!
  • Tweeting your school shares all the greatness that's going on, open those classroom doors for the world, it will inspire your Ts + Ss!
  • Wired Wednesday's started the progression at John Swett, 15 minute Professional Development sessions once/twice a month start the conversation, in a major way!
  • Ts will start presenting the Wired Wednesday's, now that's POWERFUL!
  • Ditch the Dell desktop in your office, get a laptop (I prefer this), iPhone and iPad to run your school, it can be done! Come to SVCUE on Saturday, March 8th to hear US talk about how if you're interested!
  • Talk about all of this! With PTA, Site Council, Ts, Ss, district about it, Tweet about it, spread the word. Don't keep the message a secret, people won't know what you believe in unless you share! 
  • Show evidence of other schools/leaders that are already leading this way. Look to Twitter, Edutopia and the plethora of educational blogs out their to provide support.
  • Stay strong and believe in your ideas/mission, even when people look at you like an alien!
  • Spend LOTS of time in classrooms, this is where schools 'make their money.' Visibility Visibility Visibility
  • Being part of the #SAVMP (School Admin Virtual Mentor Program) with @PeterMDeWitt and @gcouros

(Amy Fadeji) @mrsfadeji - Penngrove Elementary School

- Wire It Up!

Although it's fairly common to ask someone, "What do you do?" I'm personally not one who is big into titles.  As a principal, I hear parents constantly saying, "I don't want my child to be labeled" and I totally get that.  However, whether we like it or not, those around us are constantly labeling us, making observations, and drawing conclusions about us that may or may not be totally accurate.  A principal friend of mine, Adam Welcome (@awelcome), recently referred to me as a "wired principal."  I have to admit that I did a quick Google search on "wired principal" and ended up without any concrete evidence of what or why anyone would consider themselves a wired principal. 

What I can share with you is that I find myself constantly plugged in for the sake of my students and staff. On campus, you'll rarely catch me without my phone. (P.S. I just got a new iPhone 5s yesterday and it's beautiful! I'm such a sucker for black Friday shopping. #embarrassing)  In between stepping into classrooms to share in the goodness of all the learning taking place on campus, I am easily guilty of responding to a few emails, checking in with our office manager, tweeting classroom happenings, texting a teacher or two and re-scheduling appointments.  However, it is in the classroom, where I really feel wired!  Wired about the risks our teachers are taking, wired about the ownership our students are taking with their learning, and wired about the contagious momentum spreading like wildfire across our campus. #forestfire

Being a wired principal isn't just a feeling or a mindset. To me, being a wired principal is about being fully connected to everything and everyone in a variety of ways. As with many aspects of this profession, being a wired principal looks different on any given day.  In the month of November, here are just a few of my favorite wired moments:
  • Recording an Audioboo with some 2nd graders about what we are thankful for.
  • Joining in on a GHO (Google Hangout) with one of my 5th grade classes as they tried to guess the location of another 5th grade class in California.
  • Writing a couple of reflective blog posts from a local coffee shop and hearing that our 4th graders are starting to blog now too!
  • Meeting up with fellow admins on five different occasions to collaborate just for fun and learning.
  • Visiting JSE Roadrunners with another principal friend and meeting tons of energized teachers who are now connected with our awesome Penngrove teachers.
  • Brainstorming and collecting feedback from some students about our implementation of Google Docs.
  • Video recording students as they visit our "Say Something Nice" stand during recess and lunch.
  • Constantly making heroes out of students and staff members via our school Twitter account @pennpanthers.
  • Facilitating a "Third Thursday PD" with @lorideen after she successfully convinced our Superintendent to join Twitter. 
  • Getting a lesson on Animoto at a #brewcue hosted by @NorthBayCUE in St. Helena.
  • Celebrating the fact that two of my teachers will be presenting at the Google Education Napa Valley 1:1 Institute after their submission was accepted! 
If being a "wired principal" was just another label or title, quite honestly, I wouldn't be that interested.  However, when I look at the list above, and I think about the incredibly talented people who I get to share these experiences with, I can't help but claim this title with excitement!  Let's wire it up! 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Learning - Teaching - School = Alan November "Setting the Tone" #cccoenov

Along with 50+ other educators, I had the opportunity to spend the day with Alan November @globalearner courtesy of CCCOE who has organized a three part series over the next six months. To be completely honest, I wasn't 100% sure what to expect from the day, just excited to meet Alan!

It was surprising at first, then refreshing that Alan did not have a 'presentation' prepared that was meticulously followed throughout the day. His ideas, along with audience conversation somewhat dictated where he/we went, what was discussed and his humor along the way kept it all light and relaxed.

It still amazes me there are educators out there who 'argue' and/or are confused about the integration of technology (aka- relevant learning practices) like...... WolframAlpha, Twitter, blogging, digital portfolios, Diigo, coding in school, and whatever else may just be relevant to today's learners.

My humble opinion is Principals MUST be the ones beating the drum and setting the tone on campus. A starter list of what administrators should do to get started now!

1. Make Twitter a natural part of your day as you visit classrooms and talk with kids. I've actually contemplated wearing a GoPro camera for one day to capture 'the life of a Principal' but I really think Twitter is a more efficient way to chronicle each day! Take photos of student work and summarize a relevant lesson/project to share with the community. Engage multiple classrooms by tagging teachers to start a conversation and connect their learning, this will only grow over time and become even more powerful.

2. Blog blog blog - I have read so many countless articles about blogging in school and the positiveness this has on student learning. KidBlog is the best elementary platform out there and an entire class can be set up in minutes. Also, Principals must have a school blog, please set the example!

3. Be mobile now! Get rid of the old Dell desktop in your office and mobilize with a laptop and/or tablet. Set the example for anywhere learning/teaching across your campus......set the tone!

4. Voice Voice Voice - Video is super powerful, but so is voice and it's much easier/faster to get started. Instead of publishing your weekly newsletter, record it on audioBoo and track the analytics, guaranteed more people will be engaged. Also guaranteed teachers will start podcasting also, you just set the tone!

5. "Connect your school locally and then globally!" - Alan November
This can be done is so many different ways. Twitter, Google Docs, digital portfolios, voice pals (ditch the pen and record student messages to share with other global classrooms)

Just some ideas rolling around after Friday, thank you again Alan (and for the follow!) and excited to learn again in 2014, safe travels!

Thanks again also for all the new Tweeps I 'met' on Friday!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

What is school for? #savmp

I'm a big 'seed planter' with new ideas or paths to follow and then seeing where staff takes those seeds and how they grow!

Last year I shared an article about making positive phone calls home before a staff meeting, that was it, I emailed the article, mentioned it in our staff meeting and nothing else. Two weeks ago, I gave every teacher an index card and had them write a students name that could really benefit from a positive phone call home. Then I collected those cards and went directly to my office and I called those twenty-two parents with the positive news. Administrators, if you don't or haven't done this, the dividends that will be paid back to you, your staff and those children are immense!

The Common Core really calls for writing across ALL content areas. I remember a random seed about this and how about writing in PE and music, blam, see the photo below. 5th grade 1:1 with laptops in Music Specialist, writing from their Google Drive about melodies and tongue twisters, yes....writing in Music!

This would be a great writing activity or Google Form with teachers before a staff meeting and then share the results, looking ahead to our December meeting and a fun/meaningful activity.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

We took 'connecting' to a whole new level yesterday! #savmp

Long story short, I met @mrsfadeji last summer at @EdcampMarin we connected in person and through Twitter. We both have had 'Twitter gatherings' with our teachers on site, but thought it would be fun to bring our teachers together through a GHO (Google Hang Out) 

Our ENTIRE staff at JSE is on Twitter which is SO exciting for me as the Principal. Amy told me she was going to GHO with her entire staff, so I invited mine and we had twelve teachers in my office (and one at her home connected through GHO) and had such a fun + engaging + learning + motivating conversation with the staff of Penngrove Elementary! What we shared and learned.....

- Genius hour was discussed and some Ts have already hooked up to talk about next steps and more collaboration! 
- Tweet of the day or Tweeter of the Day - Have a student craft a tweet to share!
- Open House all year long, share the great activities going on in class!
- Lots of PD ideas, learn learn learn.
- What did I miss?

John Swett and Penngrove collaboration!

A few Tweets to share from yesterday!