Tuesday, December 31, 2013

ALL Principals + Teachers Should Read - 'Wonder'

'Wonder' by R. J. Palacio is a MUST read for ALL Teachers, Principals, District Office Admins and anyone who works with kids. Two of my 5th grade teachers @mrsrochejse and @ckolb01 from @jseroadrunners introduced the book to me and we ordered 60 copies for our students to read (this is happening starting January).

I read the book while in Lake Tahoe this week and have SO many thoughts about all those students who don't feel supported/accepted by other kids or adults in school. There are of course students on my radar that we're working with in different capacities, but how about those we don't know about for whatever reason?

Some takeaways.....

- we need to connect with EVERY student in our school on a personal level, everyone has a story and needs some type of support, some more than others.
- kids cannot learn/grow if they don't feel comfortable/confident, school work can sometimes take a backseat to social/emotional health and confidence building.
- we ALL need to be members of Team Kid #teamkid
- Growing up in my dads 2nd grade classroom from the time I could walk, there was always a poster on his door, "Only Kind Words Allowed!" Take this mantra and spread!

What else, any other takeaways from people who have read 'Wonder?'

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Making That Connection #teamkid

There's no secret I'm a HUGE proponent of using voice in education, especially with my favorite tool, audioBoo.fm! Whenever we record a podcast I always tell the student I'm going to 'make them famous!'

Lately at John Swett we've had these two 3rd graders caroling around campus, it's totally awesome. They carry their sheet music with them and will seriously sing to ANYONE they see throughout the day. Last week they appeared in the front office during recess and I happened to be in my office so I popped out.

They started to sing and I told them to STOP. Then I asked them......"Can I make you famous?" They seriously looked at each other with so much excitement and said, "Okay Mr. Welcome!"

Because audioBoo is on the cloud and I'm a #wiredprincipal my iPhone is my recording device of choice. I pulled out my iPhone, tapped the audioBoo app and started to record, listen below.....as of this blog post they have almost 700 plays on their recording!


This wasn't the end of it......a few days later I was talking with one of our teachers and the boys caroling came into the conversation. The teacher was commenting on how POWERFUL this had been for the boys and they'd already seen a change in these two students with behavior, attitude and overall presence in school. "Voice in education really works Adam, this is so awesome!"

I rest my case, #voiceineducation!

Make It Happen! Team Kid!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Directory vs Twitter - #wiredprincipal #savmp

I woke up at 3am this morning with MANY different thoughts in my brain........

A few weeks ago @HKorbey and I connected on Twitter about music in education and a recent study from Finland which you can read here.  We connected and then spoke on the phone about our music program @jseroadrunners and how we have a credentialed music teacher @tbonebusch who does AMAZING work with our kids. You can read the KQED Mind/Shift article here...... thanks again for connecting Holly and the article, very exciting!

The 3am moment was this, NONE of this would have happened (not just the music article) if we only had the paper based school directory that the county provides for each Principal. You know what I'm talking about Principal's......the nicely bound directory that lists each school in the county, phone number, Principal's name, etc.

@HKorbey and I wouldn't have connected, @jkloczko contacted me last night to come visit JSE, ALL the Principals, teachers, Directors, educational learners across the world would not be connected if we only relied on the directory. Maybe the 2014-15 directory can have Principal Twitter handles included? #goodidea

Twitter my friends, Twitter........if by some chance you are not on Twitter, you are missing out big time! If you have colleagues that are not on Twitter, make that a goal for the new year, get them connected. Sit them down and set up an account with them, they will thank you in six months.

- it makes us better educators
- it makes us constant learners/students
- it broadens our scope
- it opens our eyes.
- it allows for great things to happen
- it pushes our thinking

Thank you to all my Tweeps, love learning from you!


Mr. Buschiazzo with some 5th graders integrating 1:1 laptops into his class!

More of the same!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

#wiredprincipal This week, what's going on? #savmp

- Some really great Tweets coming from the @jseroadrunners staff this week, check out the feed for all the latest.

- @mrsfadeji and myself are currently 22nd for the 'Best School Admin or Principal Blog 2013 - Edublog Awards. Very honored to be a part of this group and you can read that post here.

- Met with some really cool guys this week at school. @babarbaig is an app developer from Denmark and Write to Read is the TOP app currently in Denmark and they're gaining some traction in the US. Thanks for the promo codes Babar, we're looking forward to testing it out!

- @frontrowceo Jens Holstebro came with Babar and we're going to get a FrontRow Juno to demo at John Swett which is exciting, stand by for more info on that.

- Also submitted applications to present @svcue March 8th, waiting to hear back and it will for sure be a great Saturday!

- It's been tentatively/hopefully planned to have an #edcampmartinez for Summer 2014.....stand by for more details.

Have a great rest of the week!

Friday, December 6, 2013

This Week from #wiredprincipals

Quick story ---

We have a substitute para educator in our Learning Center and last week she was telling our RSP that her iPhone was out on the table because she was expecting a phone call from the doctor.

- Our RSP tells her...."The entire staff at John Swett Elementary has their phones out all day, it's totally ok."
- Sub para....."Really, does the Principal care?"
- RSP....."Not at all, we all Tweet, use Evernote, ClassDojo, Google Drive and tons of other digital resources, it's just how we are at John Swett!!!!!"

As Renee (our RSP) is saying this, I walk by the classroom (she tells me this later) with of course, my iPhone in my hand (I was probably Tweeting) and she says.....

- RSP....."That's our Principal right there, he's probably Tweeting something he saw in a classroom!"
- Sub para......"That's your Principal, what's his name?"
- RSP......"Adam"
- Sub para......"Adam?"
- RSP......"Adam Welcome, but he wants everyone to call him Adam, it's how we are at JSE!"
- Principal....."I say this is success and just how we are at John Swett!"

#wiredprincipal + #wiredteachers = #wiredschool

Monday, December 2, 2013

Instructional Leadership #savmp #wiredprincipals

A short list.....

  • knowing the grade level curriculum helps when working with staff on developing PBL, Units of Study, and classroom environments
  • spending LOTS of time in classrooms, helps when having conversations about differentiating
  • reading LOTS of blogs and educational publications brings new ideas from other educators around the world
  • providing release time during the day for staff to plan, work, talk, not feel pressured by end of the day.....time is SO powerful
  • visiting other classrooms and schools provides hands-on opportunities to push the curriculum
  • Twitter of course!

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 office......blog 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!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I Saw Common Core in Action Yesterday! #savmp

Common Core Common Core Common Core....it's what we talk about at every staff meeting, every district office meeting, principal meeting and throughout the day. As I blogged about yesterday, our staff is totally pushing the envelope and rocking with technology and moving their classrooms forward!

Yesterday about mid-morning I saw yet another example of this in action. @MrsRocheJSE class went to @tbonebusch class for Music and brought their laptops (they're 1:1) with them. Mr. B was going to work on Tongue Twisters in music and had the students collaborating with him on a Google Doc (we're a Google Apps district as well!) they could all work on together.

The kids are always engaged during music.....hands down.....but yesterday absolutely blew my mind with how focused they were and the level of multi-tasking and Common Core that was going on. The teacher was using his SMART Board to project the Google Doc and the kids were collaborating and brainstorming in real-time with him. Obviously the power of Google Docs allows the students to continue their work back in class or at home. The teacher then recorded the students (increased fluency) with their Tongue Twisters (archived assessment) and can build upon those next time.

I have a principal coach that meets with me twice a month and Robert was actually with me yesterday during this class. I turned to him and said....."This is so fun and so Common Core!" There was a big smile across his face and he was nodding incessantly! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

True Power of Connecting #savmp #edcampmarin #northbaycue

The True Power of Connecting has been so evident for me lately and I wanted to blog/share! Taking over John Swett Elementary (@jseroadrunners - jseroadrunners.com) as Principal last year (where I was a student) has been such a rewarding experience in so many different aspects. Coming into a California Distinguished School and then moving the school forward seemed daunting and exciting all in one!

Last year was definitely a foundation building year with Educational Technology development, equipment acquisition and training for staff! We hit the ground running with 'Wired Wednesdays' for staff and really pushed the envelope across campus with Professional Development and injecting new ideas at any opening and showing the true power of Rigorous and Relevant learning!

Then, I attended @EdcampMarin #edcampmarin with @MrsRocheJSE and @CKolb01 for an amazing day of learning/connecting in Ross! We still talk about that day and the springboard that it launched in so many different aspects.

I met @mrsfadeji + @ecsaibel + @awesomecoachv + @kfostertweet and many more EduAwesomeAdmins that we continue to connect with on a daily basis.

During @EdcampMarin we learned about @NorthBayCUE and their upcoming event in Larkspur! I put this out to my staff and six teachers joined me for a great day of learning + sharing + collaborating that we still talk about today!

The connections made that day are still being felt and the learning that took place. @CAshleywilliams + @MrsFountain1 + @jenny_derby + @mbessonette and many more as well, love all your podcasting goodness on @audioboo it's so powerful and engaging for kids!

Keep up the learning, growing, sharing, blogging, tweeting and making it all exciting for kids!

Just an FYI about ALL our amazing John Swett teachers who are on Twitter and Tweeting......the ENTIRE STAFF, you can see their handles below!

TK -
Ms. Neely - @DNeely2590
Ms. Ficher - @MsFischerJSE

Kindergarten -
Ms. Hoy - @jsemisshoy
Ms. Wheeler - @s_wheeler1
Ms. Hull - @MissHullJSE

1st -
Mrs. Briscoe - @BriscoeJSE
Mrs. Djajaksuma - @MRSDJ_JSE
Ms. Williams - @MsKyWilliams

2nd -
Mrs. Lastrico - @mlastrico
Mrs. Alderman - @lilmissfish
Mrs. Gargaro - @AmieGargaro

3rd -
Mrs. Stephenson - @MStephensonJSE
Mrs. Navarro - @BNavarro_101

4th -
Mrs. DeWeerdt - @JenniferDeWeerd
Mrs. Wood - @Sarahwood712
Ms. Leonard - @MsLeonardJSE

5th -
Mrs. Roche - @MrsRocheJSE
Mrs. Kolb - @CKolb01

PE -
Mr. Crane - @jsepeguy

Music -
Mr. B - @tbonebusch

Learning Center -
Mrs. Lopez - @TeamJSE_LC

Principal -
Mr. Welcome - @jseroadrunners

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Time Management #savmp

Time Management is huge for a site administrator, here's my list in no particular order!
  • Make your phone your computer during the day, must be mobile.
  • Utilize Evernote for as much as you can, makes you more mobile.
  • Be visible everywhere and as much as you can. You'll save time with discipline issues, answering teacher questions and interacting with students.
  • Build a great relationship with your Office Manager and then trust them 100%! Put them in charge of all Purchase Orders, your schedule, etc. 
  • If it's not something from district or have a deadline, and it's not linked to student engagement or pushing your school forward.....it can wait. Focus on what directly impacts the kids/teachers in the classroom, that's where a school makes their money!
  • Get to school early and before anyone else arrives. Walk your campus first and then take care of all the 'office' stuff that needs attention, then you can be visible during the day and more mobile without being 'stuck' in your office.
  • Keep your desk clear of clutter/paper, if it's not in front of you it's not super important.
  • Have fun, we work with kids!

Monday, October 7, 2013

This Week With Jake

Communicating + Building Community #savmp

"How is school, how are things?"........"BUSY!" For all my Principal friends this is a common conversation at any point in the year, but it seems more so lately. The transition to Common Core is huge for everyone right now and then add everything else and it makes for a BUSY recipe.

The SAVMP program has definitely encouraged me to stay connected (with Peter DeWitt my mentor @PeterMDeWitt) and blog about the school year and how to grow as an educator. One of the biggest contributors to my increased communication as a Principal has been utilizing Twitter throughout the day. I started tweeting last year for our school (@jseroadrunners) and have really ramped it up this year and the increased level of communication with my teachers and parent community has been outstanding.

Thirteen of our twenty teachers are on Twitter and active users throughout the week. What's really struck me lately is they're not only communicating with the families in their class, but with each other throughout the day. 

- Taking photos and tweeting a fun science experiment or writing activity!
- Giving each other shout-outs or a RT on something fun!
- And of course I'm tweeting all their greatness throughout the day which is lots of fun and engages them and the parent community in a whole new way! (One of our 1st grade teachers said it very well in a tweet last week @KyreeW6) 

It's also so important to remember that the face to face communication cannot/should not be replaced (said very well by Peter DeWitt here!) This past weekend was the Martinez Education Fund 5K/10K race for Education. My wife and kids came with me to the Saturday night pasta feed and it was great to see families outside of school and be able to communicate in a different way. Yesterday morning was the race and it still amazes me how excited kids get to see their Principal/teachers outside of school and doing normal activities! 

It was a blast to run the race and of course I was tweeting before/after! (My wife won the 10K, I won my age group in the 10K and we were first in the double jogger category as well :)

Start line....

The Welcome family feeling good, two miles to go....

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Team Kid #savmp

This mornings post began about PD and the Week 8 assignment.......then I began multi-tasking with my Twitter feed, the NY Times (government shutdown), school email, Audioboo, Feedly and other principal related duties that never sleep and everything shifted course.

I then checked the Patagonia Tumblr page for all their outdoor goodness and had a slight epiphany.

Is/was life easier before all this cool technology, ways to communicate, being available 24 hours a day, the nonstop emails, paperwork that doesn't go away or go anywhere, incessant questions about traffic and parking and other non-educational related topics?

I then go back to our motto at John Swett Elementary....... 'Team Kid!' This is our focus, this must be our focus, this is where our energy needs to go, to the kids.

What are you doing for Team Kid at your school? Wish the U.S. and California Department of Education would adopt this slogan, the kids would all be better off and more adequately funded.

This banner is from last year and we're in the process of updating with our new slogan for the year. 'Make It Happen on Team Kid....coming soon!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Session 3 - #nbcuemarin

Blogging has enhanced my classroom(s)/school in so many ways. Engaging families across the curriculum, opening doors that were formerly closed and motivating learning throughout the day.

- I blog for my staff!
- I blog for my students to have voice!
- I blog for college and career
- I blog for the Common Core and Arne Duncan
- I blog to learn from colleagues!

What else?

Podcast Mashup from @nbcuemarin #nbcuemarin

Empowering Student Voice - Week 8 #savmp

Podcasting is one of the most amazing ways I feel we can empower student voice on so many different levels. With so many different platforms available, I've had the most success with audioboo.fm! I was first exposed to Garage Band which I've always thought was not user friendly and I always struggled with 'what' to do with the podcast once it was finished.

We wanted to share the 'voice' with our classmates/parents/teachers/world and the whole 'export' process was cumbersome. This is when we found audioboo.fm, the audiboo app and our student voice took off!

Podcast with your class! Podcast to your parents! Podcast your message rather than over the school intercom! Podcast to your pen-pals rather than having them actually write!

What else, what else?

Check out our JSERoadrunners channel for some school wide examples!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Discover and Promote #savmp

'Discover and promote' has been my administrative mantra for building teacher leaders. I had my administrative credential for three years (while still a teacher) and my first principal didn't do anything with me. A new principal came on board and I was an Elementary Assistant Principal in one year, wow! Thanks to Jenise for 'discovering and promoting' me!

The only way to 'discover' is by being visible in classrooms and talking with kids about what they're doing in class. I'm not talking about the thirty second walk through at the end of each day, but spending fifteen to twenty minutes in a classroom learning with the students and 'discovering' their talents.

Then, you're able to 'promote' those skills on a school wide or district wide basis. We started something called Wired Wednesday's last year where we teach the staff a new concept around integrating technology into the classroom twice a month. After the first few sessions, I promoted a few teachers to present and the results were outstanding.

Very excited for the start of this year and so many of our teachers on Twitter!


Taking staff to professional development is also so powerful. Thanks to @EdcampMarin #edcampmarin for all the great ideas and building our PLN!

'Making It Happen on Team Kid'

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The rock, with moss, in the river #leadershipday13

Time and again whenever I meet with Principals they always ask, how do you spread the usage of technology across your campus, so fast and with so much depth? Unfortunately there isn't a formula for all admins to follow and then reach their desired outcome. My analogy has always been about the rock, with moss, in the river! I believe in absorption and those around you (teachers) soaking up the goodness that you feed throughout the school day. 

- Don't tell your teachers they should blog with their class, the principal should start a blog for the school and be the author. 

- Don't tell your teachers they should Tweet, the principal should Tweet to parents and all the great learning that is going on in your school. Marketing + marketing + marketing!

- Don't tell your teachers to use voice (Podcasting) with their students, the principal should make announcements, interview students, pump up the school spirit across campus.

Then, after a couple of months.....the rock, with moss, in the river starts to digest all the goodness that is around them. Teachers start asking questions and you start a Wired Wednesday PD time after school for just fifteen minutes twice a month to show teachers how to set up their own blog/Twitter/AudioBoo account. Teachers start teaching each other and the excitement grows exponentially. And finally, a teacher approaches you about doing ALL of these things with their kids and they want your permission. Permission? Success!



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Being Together Before Needing to Be Together #SAVMP

The 'before kids arrive' time of year is so much more fun and exciting than the 'when kids are gone' time after the last day of a school year for me as a Principal. Teachers are always on campus and around before the first Professional Development Day/Work Day, but having 'all' staff together is very rare.

For two straight days our ENTIRE staff was together for an optional Writing Strategies workshop that produced amazing feedback, team building, excitement to be back and we were all together before needing to be together! I'm excited about this time with staff because it puts us ahead of the game with seeing each other again, telling stories about summer, planning curriculum with colleagues and of course team building with each other.

Thank you Roadrunners for all your hard work and dedication! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Educational Hymn of a Tiger Principal?

I read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua about a year ago and just got the book back for a friend who was borrowing. There were MANY parts of the book that I really enjoyed and agreed with, and many ideas from the author that I would not utilize with my own children or students at school. (The return of the book has gotten me thinking again)

With that being said we're two weeks away from starting school and (my fourth year as a site administrator) I'm constantly thinking about Rigor in our school. If you've read the book you understand the level of Rigor the author employed with her own children, and the results they achieved as well!

Many thoughts are circulating as we plan for the year.

  • What will be the long term impact of Common Core?
  • Are we anywhere near the level of Rigor that is needed for todays world?
  • What projects/skills are being used in school that are not Rigorous or Relevant?
  • How much Rigor is too much, so important to find the balance. 
It's actually a great read and will make you mad and laugh and question what you're doing. Recommended reading to all Principals trying to move their school forward, will change your mindset and arouse many questions!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My Vision + Philosophy of Education #SAVMP

My vision is for EVERY Roadrunner at John Swett is to be connected, constantly thinking about thought provoking questions, developing a deeper appreciation for the natural setting of our campus, teachers bringing their classes outside to learn with their devices and parents continuing to support the school and their child!

I want to be collaborating with 4th/5th graders on their own Google Documents, and visiting their own Google Sites where they present their digital projects. I want teachers to be comfortable with 'letting' go of their classrooms, and asking students for technology help if needed and appropriate!

I want learning to happen anywhere anytime and for my colleagues and teachers to start talking about ideas that garner funny looks. (Usually I'm the 'radical' thinker and get the 'alien' look from people) The world has/is changed/changing and our schools for the most part have not. 

When I became an Assistant Principal my goal was to be the Un-Assistant Principal. Same thing happened with my Principalship, I strive to be the Un-Principal.....not doing the job like it 'has' been done or like everyone else is doing was/is always the goal. Our world is different, we want teachers to be different, students to be different, the leader MUST be different, way too much status quo.

Innovation innovation innovation!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Why Do I Lead #SAVMP

Elementary school has always been a part of my life since I 'went' to school with my dad at an early age. My father taught 2nd and 3rd grade for just under forty years and it was always such a treat to go with him and hang out with the big kids. Seeing the excitement my dad had for teaching and learning always stayed with me as I grew up and thought about a career.

The conversations with my dad as I got older stayed with me as well, especially when I was fortunate enough to have my 'own' classroom of 5th graders at the age of twenty-four.

  • "Only kind words allowed"
  • "Work hard and be nice to people"
  • "Talk to kids like they're people, not like their kids"
  • "Ask lots of questions"
  • "Make sure you smile and have fun Adam"
  • "Be creative and try new things, even if people look at you funny"
As my career progressed and thoughts about administration came around, my dad was still teaching and his former principals folded into the conversation. 
  • What makes a 'good' principal?
  • What type of leaders did my dad have throughout his career?
  • How come dad never looked to administration?
Then, the opportunity came.....I was fortunate to become an Elementary Assistant Principal and my dad surely gave me input on what type of leader I should be, and that he knew I could be. I wanted to be that administrator/leader that my dad never had during his teaching career. 
  • Always supportive of teachers.
  • Spoke with kids like they're people, not kids.
  • Be visible in classrooms .
  • Have fun and show people you're having fun!
Then dad lost his long battle with cancer and I lost my mentor/friend/father. Then a very short time later, I was fortunate to get my first Principalship and I truly believe I'm making my dad proud! 

I lead for many reasons, and the biggest influence on my leadership was/is my dad!

Thank you to @gcouros for starting this #SAVMP program! Already excited about the leadership reflection that has happened, and for all the learning to come!