Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cameo Appearance #savmp

The video below from Brad Gustafson @GustafsonBrad is an amazing example of collaboration! Excited to make two cameo appearances with @MissHullJSE and @MrsRocheJSE thanks for having us on Brad!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Donors Choose + Chevron = Amazing Support for Teachers! #savmp #teamkid

Donors Choose by itself is amazing!

Promoting Donors Choose with your Remind class is even better!

Tweeting all your teacher grants really gets the word out and helps to fund your grants in ways that were not previously available. 

Donors Choose in October is the ABSOLUTE best, thanks to Chevron and their Fuel Your Schools promotion. 

Principals and MUST promote, you MUST advertise, you MUST Tweet, you must Remind, you MUST market all of this if you want big support.

Screenshot taken this morning from our JSE Donors Choose page, this is in just over two years!

Got Tweeted by Chevron yesterday, that was fun! 

Last Tuesday night at our PTA meeting I Tweeted out a grant that was super close to being funded. About thirty minutes later, boom.....fully funded, THANK YOU Twitter!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Running the Mile #savmp

Raise your hand if you enjoyed running the mile in PE as a kid......I'm sure not too many hands went up. For years I've seen kids slog through the mile run, there's always a handful that enjoy running, but most do not.

This really got me thinking about how I can support those students who don't enjoy running, or for that matter don't really run well. We do a really great job of supporting students in the classroom with learning, how can we support them with running?

Last year I started running with our classes in PE, hoping to motivate some and to really push some others. I also decided to strap on a GoPro camera and record the whole thing. That time of the year has come again, I have my running shoes on today and am hoping to inspire/push/motivate our kids to life-long fitness!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What We Love About Voxer #savmp

The other day on one of my Voxer chats we started talking about 'What We Love About Voxer' and I thought this would be a fun post. This is only a snippet of what we all really love about Voxer, and a few 'ideas' for new tools as well. 

Thanks to everyone for their contribution!

Jason Markey - Principal 


- Voxer is deepening and personalizing connections that were more surface level via other social media outlets. Asynchronous conversation allows for both reflection and convenience.

Anna Schaefer-Salinas - Assistant Principal

- Being able to hear voices and get the inflections and tone adds depth to the already amazing conversations. The asynchronous aspect allows for more "PD when you want/need it". Which is, for me, at the heart of why I use social media as my PD "go-to".

Emily Dunnagan - Principal

- What I love about Voxer is I can learn from all of you while I sit in the vet's office waiting. It is always there for me when I have a moment.

Eric Saibel - Assistant Principal

- Voxer is a communal podcast that I get to contribute to. It's company on the pre-dawn dog walks and it lightens my mood after a challenging day at work. It's the cheapest PD imaginable, and really accelerates the speed at which we share and adopt new ideas and approaches.

Tom Whitford - Principal


- Voxer allows me to catch up on conversations over a weekend, can do on my own time. Love making the group large and that it's professional, appreciate the learning!

Jennifer Kloczko - Principal


- Love the chirp notification, I'll be in the cafeteria or busy on the yard and the chirp alerts me, especially when teachers need me. Inspiration explosion for me, use to attend conferences couple times a year, I learn EVERYDAY now from Voxer. Has changed my commute, my ride goes so quickly and I'm learning at the same time.

Adam Welcome - Prinicipal


- The learning/connecting with school administrators from around the country for me has been amazing of course! However, what I've enjoyed most is adding my local friends to different Voxer chats and hearing their learning/connecting take off. 

What We Want - 

- Favorite button so we can archive our favorite Vox's. Would make it easier than trying to scroll through the hundreds of messages each day!

- Suggested chats that someone may want to be invited to join.

- Opportunity to record our bio's for each chat so new/current members know who's who in the group.

- We have more ideas as well, stand by!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Our Entire Staff Uses Remind, and It's Awesome! #remindlove #savmp

Our journey with Remind started last year as I looked for a streamlined communication tool to implement @jseroadrunners with our parent community! Feedback was spectacular, especially with a first year implementation, year two has been AMAZING!

We had sign-up codes all over the place at back to school registration and parents were signing-up on the spot. I could hear parents chatting to each other, “The Principal is really going to text us messages about school, that’s super cool!” Yes it is and we have 95% parent participation with our school wide Remind class.

Teachers have really hopped on board this year and our entire staff uses Remind with parents in their class. I of course subscribe to all their classes, which has added an additional layer to our communication web at John Swett Elementary! Being even tighter in the communication loop from teachers to parents has given me an even deeper connection to our school. With being in classes everyday and having our entire staff on Twitter, this Principal is super connected, and I love it!

We use Remind @jseroadrunners to help families with events around campus, dismissal times for school, but most importantly we’re integrating Common Core. Many of our teachers are sending open ended questions directly related to what kids are learning in class. This helps parents engage in conversation with the child that probably wouldn’t have happened before.  

Here are a few examples!
  • Encourage your child to formulate questions while they read to you. Asking Qs is our current reading strategy! (Use the attach feature to send pictures of anchor charts home)


  • Tomorrow I will be checking in with students on Science Project ideas. Please have your child write their idea down and be ready to chat!

  • Coffee with the Principal is at 8:30 tomorrow morning, please stop by coffee, pastries and discussion on the CCSS. (This came from our Middle School Principal, I happened to be on campus and stopped by)

  • We learned a new sentence frame to describe cause and effect relationships: Due to the fact that ----, ----. Ask your child to write one!

  • No math HW tonight! Instead, ask your child about the ex current event we did today & talk about the current assignment due Tuesday.

  • 2nd gr. use pics, #s and words to explain our thinking. Give your child a word problem and see if they can do all 3!

  • Hope to see you all down there, it’s the largest fundraiser for all of Martinez schools! (This fundraiser brought in $65,000+ and the schedule feature in Remind allowed us to plan ahead with our messages, it’s so easy)


We highly recommend using Remind school wide, you’ll develop stronger relationships, keep everyone in the communication loop and all stay connected together! You can also grab a widget through your account and post all your sent messages on a website, it’s another great way to get the message out!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Voxer #savmp

If you're on Twitter, I'm sure you've heard of Voxer. If you've heard of Voxer, are you Voxing with anyone? If you don't know what Voxer is, I so highly recommend you download the free app and find some job-a-like colleagues to Vox with!

- Voxer is a lifeline, especially if you're an Administrator and all by yourself at a school site. Reach out to other Principals, even from around the country.

- Set up a focus group to share ideas about a certain topic. A group we started discusses implementation ideas for a service many educators are using to communicate with families. There's Principals, consultants, teachers, and even the CEO of the company on the chat! #wow

- You don't really need anyone's phone number, just send them a direct Vox and you're talking!

- I'm currently working on getting my Elementary Principal colleagues up and running. The phone in my office is useless, since I'm never in my office, but my iPhone stays with me all day.

- My wife works in Emergency Medicine and I'm trying to get the colleagues in her medical group all signed up. They rarely see each other but could still be connected through voice to help support each other when needed.

- I've shared my Voxer username with my entire school community, just another way to connect with families and communicate with parents during the day!

- Book clubs/groups are great, but it's hard to find meeting times that work with everyone's schedule. Throw out a title, read when you can, comment/reply when you can and have fun with your book group!

Warnings -
I'd recommend setting some type of ground rules potentially for your different groups?
- No messages over two minutes
- If your group is nation wide please consider the West Coast when leaving early messages
- I believe if you're in the group you need to participate on some level
- There is a text feature with Voxer, but it's REALLY a voice app, less text and more talk

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Who Do You Learn From #savmp

Dr. Spike Cook asked me this question Saturday morning during a @PrincipalPLN Podcast which has continued to roll around in my brain.

"Who do you learn from?"

During our GHO I named a few off the top of my head and as it's been 'rolling' around I've really tried to hone down who I really have takeaways from that impact my work. My short list is below.....

Educators -
- Benjamin Gilpin writes very thoughtful and thought provoking blog posts that have changed my practice as a Principal, he's also a runner which we have in common.

- Brad Gustafson is a pretty recent addition to my Twitter/Voxer PLN but I've already learned a ton from this guy. His energy parallels mine which is hard to find and something I really appreciate!

- Jennifer Kloczko contacted me last year after she read an article about my school on the KQED Mind/Shift blog and we've been connected ever since. One of the few Principals I've met face to face, and a great Twitter/Voxer/Blogger friend, follow her!

- Peter DeWitt was my SAVMP mentor last year, a prolific blogger and relentless advocate for kids!

Business/Other -
- Harvard Business Review is an amazing resource with thought provoking articles that I find extremely relevant to leadership and education!

- Patrick Lencioni has written some wonderful books about leadership within organizations that are extremely funny and will give you powerful ideas/tools to make positive change.

 - Fast Company has long been a 'go to' for me when reading non-educational leadership writing. Great business perspective, leadership ideas and out of the box thinking!

- Biz Stone is a new addition to my 'learn from' list and his book (Things A Little Bird Told Me) has boosted my creative scope and a must read for pretty much anyone, HIGHLY recommended!

- I've developed a REALLY great relationship with the Remind team and talk with at least one of their employees about once a week. If you're not using Remind you of course should be, and thanks for all your inspiration and creativity, you push my thinking! (Natalie, Clara, Meenal, Christine, Rachel)

- I've always gravitated towards military leadership books and I'm currently in a Voxer group that is discussing 'Leadership Lessons of the Navy Seals.' Great takeaways about planning, organization, creating leaders and supporting your team. If you don't have time for a book right now, here's a great article to get you started.

Thank you to my entire PLN, it would be much different without you!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

SAVMP - Year Two! #savmp

I'm super excited about SAVMP this year and have been selected to serve as a mentor! Connecting with another administrator from outside of California is going to push my thinking and also allow me to analyze my work as a Principal.

Something I've done for years is always show a movie clip at each of our monthly staff meetings. I'm going to be sharing them this year if anyone is interested! The three videos below were played at our October meeting last week.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Along For A Ride - Part II #savmp

Wanted to share a quick update from my 'Along For A Ride' post last week.

My initial intention for riding the morning bus route was to connect with our students and families in a new way. An unintended bonus that came of my ride was a drastic change in one of our students morning schedule.

After seeing the morning route in it's entirety, talking to the parent (through a translator no less) the bus driver and a few other people involved, we were able to make a ninety minute ride in the morning, turn into TEN minutes for one student! Thanks to everyone involved for the great collaboration and problem solving to make this happen!

Visibility is the number one priority for a Principal, even on the bus. Get out there, get involved, get dirty and you'll see things differently and have opportunity to make great changes/impact for kids!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

I Would Miss the Kids? #savmp

I've heard this from many teachers over the years when I've had the....'You should think about Administration conversation.' Once you become a Principal you can still teach, I do it all the time!

Yesterday I started teaching a 5th grade math group on Wednesday afternoon and it was the best thirty minutes of my week. Working with ten 5th graders on the exact same concepts I would struggle with when I was ten, gave me a huge sense of gratification. Seeing the lightbulb go off, especially after some pretty challenging word problems was awesome! 

The ten kids in my group came into the room somewhat quiet and solemn. They honestly left super upbeat and chatty, I think they enjoyed their math time with Mr. Welcome!

Little did I know that @mlastrico was cruising by. When your entire staff Tweets, they sometimes catch you and of course share with everyone, thanks Marisa! #teamkid 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Relevant 5th Grade Classroom #savmp

It's been my subtle mission of sorts to really get away from saying, '21st Century Classroom' and '21st Century Teaching.' We're almost to 2015 and the amount of change around education continues to be accelerated, shouldn't we simply be striving for 'relevant' classrooms?

I see 'relevant' classroom teaching/learning everyday as I visit my teachers @jseroadrunners but yesterday was a golden moment. A Principal colleague of mine was over for a visit and we were walking around chatting, checking out Writers Workshop, Number Talks and of course talking about technology integration! 

We walked in to @JenniferDeWeerd room and it was absolutely controlled chaos going on! There was a buzz in the air with Jennifer 'facilitating' probably 5-6 different activities all at once. We're 1:1 with laptops in 5th grade which is essential to a relevant classroom, allowing students to be working on multiple platforms in a flexible learning environment. 

- Jennifer had students taking math assessments with our new online math book from Pearson.

- Others were working in Google Docs (see Tweet below) on various projects.

- One student had zero technology in front of him and was reading a book, they're also participating in the #40bookchallenge this year and he was reading away!

- #geniushour projects are coming up as well and I saw students brainstorming different ideas.

Must haves.....

- Teachers MUST be mobile! We prefer MacBook Airs which is essential to being a 'facilitator' and not always simply 'teaching' your class!

- Kids must be 1:1, if you're not, write a @donorschoose grant, Chromebooks are affordable. 

- Principals - Model for your teachers what you want to see, and PLEASE give them flexibility and freedom, it's imperative!

- Tweet tweet tweet and tweet some more. All our teachers (see handles here) at John Swett Elementary Tweet which has been pivotal in our sharing/learning/facilitating and risk taking culture! 

From our feed yesterday -  @jseroadrunners facilitator in chief!

From our feed yesterday- @jseroadrunners amazing student workflow!

A 'relevant' classroom is a busy classroom, with that buzz of learning/facilitating/collaborating going on, what does your classroom look/sound like?