Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December Book - 'One' by Kathryn Otoshi #savmp

Last year is when I started reading to classes on a consistent basis and I've absolutely fallen in love with the practice. It allows me really great face time with our kids and they're always excited for me to come in. 

This month I'm reading 'One' by Kathryn Otoshi and we've had amazing conversation about the story. I've been telling classes before I read that it's a simple story, with a really deep message. 

Teachers have been Tweeting about the book, students have been blogging with follow up activities, we read the book at our Site Council meeting, parents have told me their child was talking about 'One' at home and it's an overall great story to read with Kindergarten through 5th graders!

I even was telling some teachers that we could read at a staff gathering and have deep conversation. If you're a Principal, reading to classes on a consistent basis is the best. You now have something in common with ALL your students and can spread the same message to everyone! I'm already hyping up my January book to kids and they're all trying to guess what it is, got to wait until next month!

Favorite page from the book....."Everyone counts!"

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What's Your Story? #savmp

Here's the script.....

"I don't have time!"
"We can't get wi-fi on campus."
"We don't really have anything to share."
"There are SO many meetings during the day."
"That's totally your thing Adam, what is that called again?"

We've heard all the's 'called' sharing! Sharing all the #eduawesome that's happening at your school. In the business world the term is marketing and companies spend lots of time and money doing this. 

WHY do we wait, for that one day each year called Open House to share the amazing work that's happening at school? (separate post on this idea later) The more your parent community knows what's going on and feels connected, the more supportive and engaged they'll be.

The NY Times doesn't publish a paper once a year, they publish everyday with updates throughout. You can get NASDAQ updates with all your stock quotes daily, from your phone! Schools need to be doing the same, and it starts with the Principal!

Saying you have nothing to share, reminds me of a book I just read. Ralph Tells A Story is an awesome read aloud book (it's my December choice for John Swett) and jumpstart for those Principals that feel they have nothing to share. 

Here's the dust jacket description for the book......

"Nothing ever happens to Ralph. So every day when it's time to write stories, Ralph thinks really hard. He stares at his paper. He stares at the ceiling.

But he has no stories!

With the help of his classmates, Ralph realizes that a great story can be about something very small....and that maybe he really does have some stories to tell."

We're not even talking about entire stories to share, daily nuggets/snippets into the life of your school is enough.

How do we share our story? Twitter and Remind are the two favored apps for John Swett Elementary, with many other supporting apps rounding out our workflow!

What should the Principal (and teachers) be sharing?

- Writers Workshop anchor posters to help parents continue the conversation at home! (Use Remind for this also, great way to instantly tap into your parent community with their attach feature.)
- Students collaborating on their mobile devices
Screenshots of student work in Google Drive
- Tweet of the weeks authored by students
- Photos of our garden
- Book recommendations from kids
- Project Based Learning in action
- Students blogging
Number Talks on the SMART board
- All the Donors Choose grants your staff has posted! We have almost $70,000 in grants funded in just over two years, thank you Twitter!

Below is our first JSE Tweet, little over two years ago! @jseroadrunners

As of this morning, 8,200 and going ENTIRE teaching staff Tweets! 

Principals shouldn't just be curriculum and technology experts, we need to be the Chief Marketing Officer as well. It's not enough to just create a Twitter or Remind account, you need to actively promote. Tell your families, make banners, put on your website, and of course create your own school hashtag. Ours is #teamkid and makes it mush easier for everyone to follow our story. 

We have banners ( on our fence, inside the cafeteria and on the marque. Promote promote promote!

What's Your Story?!?!?!?!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Where's Your Thinking Place #savmp

Each month I read a different book to our classes at John Swett Elementary, it's a great way for me to connect with our students. This month I'm reading 'On A Beam of Light' by Jennifer Berne, which is about Albert Einstein and takes us through his childhood to adult life as an inventor. There are some great simple messages in the book and one page in particular really has me thinking and also discussing with our kids. 

Jennifer writes about Albert having a 'thinking place' somewhere he would go to let his mind wander to access the creativity in his brain. Years ago I discovered where my 'thinking place' was and always return when I need inspiration or to clear my head for a reset.

We've had some great turn-n-talk discussions in class with our students about their 'thinking place' and they may not know where that place is just yet. They may not be able to find that place, it may need to find them and that can take time and discovery.

This is a great conversation with kids, to help them access the genius they have inside. The conversation is also SUPER important to have with adults. 

- Where is your 'thinking place?' 
- How do you find inspiration to innovate?
- Do you have a 'place' or someone to converse with that pushing your thinking?

It's very early in the morning and I'm off to my 'thinking place' - going for a run in the dark to clear my brain and access some inspiration! 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Make ALL Kids Feel Special #savmp #teamkid

Showing videos at our staff gatherings each month has always been a practice of mine, and something I know our staff enjoys. The vast majority of the videos really have nothing to do with education, but there of course is always a hidden message.

I read the NY Times daily and there was an awesome video in their food section a few weeks back that I knew I had to share! Watch the video below, enjoy and think about how you make the students in your school feel special, it's SUPER IMPORTANT!

Of course I always try to make our staff feel special too, It's-It for everyone at our staff gathering yesterday, my teachers were Tweeting about it of course!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Donors Choose, Chevron and Fuel Your Schools! #savmp #teamkid

Donors Choose by itself is an amazing organization! Pair up Donors Choose + Chevron + Fuel Your Schools and it's an EDU-AMAZING organization, let me explain.

Donors Choose and Chevron hook up for their Fuel Your Schools campaign during the month of October. It's really simple, Chevron funds Donors Choose grants for teachers based on the zip code where gas is purchased. So of course we promote the three Chevron stations in our town with the community and the results this year have been outstanding.

$11,000+ in grants from Chevron, thank you so much from the John Swett Elementary staff! #teamkid 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Schools Are A Business #savmp

I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately and throughout my administrative career have heard different viewpoints of course. On the surface schools are not a business, I agree. However, I feel school leaders should run their campuses with a business savvy mind and thought process.

Schools are in the business of kids!

- Kids are the bottom line
- Kids are our profit
- Kids are our stock quote
- Classrooms are the pulse of your school
- Parent involvement is your customer satisfaction survey
- Behavior referrals are the gauge for student engagement in classrooms

How can/why leaders have this mindset?

- Businesses (especially start-ups) tend to have open conversations/discussions that can change their path on a weekly basis. Schools should adapt this type of thinking, change is constant and being slow to change makes it that much harder to do so.
- Utilize Donors Choose as a way to crowdsource funding for classrooms. Don't just write a grant and let it sit, share share share through social media to garner community funding support! At John Swett Elementary we've had almost $70,000 in grants funded in just over two years, thanks to Twitter for helping with our outreach!
- Reach out to the companies you use to run your school. We've built great relationships with RemindVoxerGoogle and Donors Choose. Talking with employees from outside of the education space opens my mind to different ideas and how to run our school. Educators can learn a ton from non-educators, adapt those practices for your school.

- How do you run your school like a business, would love to hear ideas!

It's all about the kids, they are our business!

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?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Along For a Ride #savmp

Connecting with families is one of the most important aspects of my day. Getting to know the student, meeting parents, having conversations and developing those relationships are what makes John Swett Elementary the school we are! 

We have a new SDC class this year and the majority of our students take the bus to school. Our students are awesome and I really enjoy my time with them throughout the day, twice a week we have 'Story Time w/Mr. Welcome' which is something I definitely look forward to! 

There have been a few occasions when I've been able to meet families and interact, but not seeing their parents each day at drop-off and pick-up has really been on my mind. So for me the only obvious way to strengthen our relationship was to ride the bus in the morning and help get all our students to school! 

I started chatting with Bonnie our bus driver about riding along one morning and I can tell she was pretty surprised at my request. She needed to get permission from her boss and would 'get back to me' with what he said! The very next day she found me on campus and said it was a go, let her know when I wanted to ride and that she left the bus depot at 530am to start the morning run. 

This past Wednesday was the day, I had that jittery excitement along with uncertainty at something I'd never before done. Bonnie was meticulous in getting the bus ready at the depot, all the safety checks and making sure we were ready for the kids. 

Our first pick-up was 600am and our students for the morning were from Elementary, Middle and High School, we'd have the full range! Something that struck me right away and that continued throughout our entire morning......Bonnie 100% cares about these kids. You can hear it in her voice, see it in her actions and notice it with everything she does, we're so lucky to have her on our team!

The highlight of my ride was of course seeing all our Roadrunners in the morning at their homes. They were all SUPER surprised to see me and their parents equally as so. Being able to start the day with them and build a closer connection to their families was exciting in many ways. Thank you of course to Bonnie for all she does, #teamkid!

530am, meeting at the bus depot ready to leave for the morning run!

Bonnie at the helm, she 100% cares about the kids!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Better Together - If We're Connected! #savmp

My post today is inspired from Ben Gilpin's (@benjamingilpin'Together We're Better' post from his blog on August 6th!

Being 'connected' undoubtedly looks different depending on who you are, your position in education, how long you've been 'connected' and how much time/energy you put into that connectedness. I honestly can't image not being a connected Principal! What do non-connected educators do?

There have been SO many instances when I've learned from my Twitter PLN, asked them questions, 
looked for guidance or suggestions, or just simply shared stories with other Principals doing the same work I am.

About two months ago I started playing around with Voxer and have really enjoyed the amazing conversations and ideas that have come to fruition with this free and simple to use app. Our group started small, a few Assistant Principals and Principals from the Bay Area. The original plan was a book group (Leadership Lessons of the Navy Seals) with a non-educational title, and we have yet to actually talk about the book, hopefully someday we will!

Of course one of the best parts of being connected is connecting with educators who live farther away. Knowing how schools operate and how Principals conduct business outside of our face to face PLN is so valuable. The current chatter has been around Back to School Night and what's done at our different sites, and all I can think about is how much I want ours to CHANGE! 

All of the connected educators out there have a duty, get those Principals around you that aren't connected onto the bus. The bus will be more fun, engaging, exciting, better for kids and better for you if we're all connected! 

Some of the farther away educators who we Voxer with, thank you for all the knowledge and connectedness, we're Better Together!

Let's Voxer, connect with me!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Where's Your Creative Space #savmp

I'm three weeks in to my eleventh year in public education and my fifth as a school administrator. It wouldn't be totally accurate to say that I became a teacher/administrator by chance. My father was a public school teacher for 35+ years which had a huge influence on my current career path. I've also almost left public education many times over the years, thinking I wanted to pursue a different challenge. 

Those thoughts have come to a head very recently in an excellent book I just finished. Biz Stone who is one of the co-founders of Twitter wrote a great memoir of sorts, following his path from being in debt with no job, working for Google, Odeo, and then helping to create Twitter! 

I really enjoy being an Elementary School Principal, being around kids all day is really awesome! I really enjoy working with teachers to push their academic program, implement new innovative lessons and ideas that are relevant to our students in 2014. I really enjoy getting to know our parent community, while working together on Team Kid to create an awesome learning space for their children. 

But, I'm jealous. Biz and people who work in tech companies or startups are given amazing creative space to 'hack' away at new ideas, break current systems to improve them and then make them better, work/talk/strategize with other really smart and creative people to become even more creative. I was honestly reading Biz's book and creative ideas around education are developing in my head and I wasn't even around another Principal. 

How can educators find a creative space in their immediate lives? (not via Twitter, Voxer, etc) How can we then implement those ideas given the parameters we have? My school has 520 students, with 400+ mobile devices for students, with another 50+ student computers. Yet, we still receive thousands of pounds worth of text/workbooks each year. We still have Back To School Night and Open House even though my ENTIRE staff is on Twitter and shares their classroom on a daily basis. This is not a Jerry McGuire type rant, just wishing we could change education. #faster #better #rightaway 

Just because we've always done something, does NOT mean we need to continue doing it that way.

Thank you for the inspirational creativity Biz, check out his book, it's WELL worth the read!

Friday, August 15, 2014

What Are You Doing In Your Office? #leadershipday14

I can remember thinking after my first six months of teaching (12 years ago) that my Principal had only come into my class one time that year so far. And that I'd only seen him at recess a few times and come to think of it, he was nine times out of ten always in his office when I would walk by. 

"What are you doing in your office" is what I always thought? Why aren't you in classrooms getting to know kids? Why aren't you at recess playing kickball and connecting with your school? Why aren't you talking with teachers about curriculum and projects to inspire them?

In all fairness, that was twelve years ago and he was a veteran Principal who'd been on the job for many many years. I always told myself if I was ever a Principal, I would do it different, much different. 

Being a digital leader means we have to be mobile leaders so we can be visible and move our schools forward. For the past four years I've been really working on having the capacity/ability to NOT be in my office at all from 8:15am-2:35pm each day. It all starts with the iPhone.......

- Google Calendar needs to be synched, your Office Manager has to have control as well to make appointments and schedule.

- We use a ton for recording messages throughout the day, download the app so you don't have to be tethered to your office. You can embed a player on your website so all podcasts automatically show up to be played and there's also a Tweet button to share with your community. @jseroadrunners

- Evernote has saved me SO many times and your account can be linked to all your devices. I actually do recommend the upgraded account for Admins, has a few key features and it's a cheap yearly payment.

- Remind has changed my life with communication! Being able to send text messages from my phone 
to my entire parent community is absolutely amazing and of course allows me to be mobile throughout the day. I love scheduling a message ahead of time and not having to worry about hitting send later on when the day gets busy.

- Twitter Twitter Twitter! My entire staff @jseroadrunners is on Twitter and it's hands-down changed the atmosphere of our school. Teachers/parents know what's going on in classrooms, they share differently, collaborate differently, it's #eduamazing!

- Was just 'hanging' out on Hangouts with @kfostertweet yesterday and her entire staff, but we were in different counties. Being able to connect fact to face with people from your phone throughout the day has saved so many meeting times and gives us the opportunity to learn from colleagues we didn't even know existed a few years ago.

- Google Drive allows me to access ALL my files, at anytime, from my iPhone. If I'm playing kickball with some 3rd graders and our Assistant Superintendent calls/texts with a question about something, I can look up the document from my phone, no need to visit the office! I can't tell you how many times I've told students to share their work with my through Google Drive. Then, I'll see their parents on campus and pull up their writing on my phone to brag about them, of course parents love this! 

- Voxer is fairly new to me and we've just started a book club with some fellow admins that has already been tons of fun! Texting is great, but hearing someones voice on the other end is really cool, especially to listen for their inflection and energy about leadership.

So, Principals.....what are you doing in your office? You should be connecting with kids, seeing first hand what teachers are doing and what they need to move forward, taking care of discipline right when it happens on the yard, being visible, answering emails from your phone, Tweeting all the goodness you see throughout the day, modeling for your teachers what is possible and of course having fun! 

Have a great #leadership14 day and a great school year! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Setting the Tone #savmp

When I was hired as Principal of @jseroadrunners my first thought was to my childhood, Roger Craig and the SF Giants at Candlestick Park! We were huge SF Giants fans growing up and would go to 20+ games a year, my dad was a 2nd grade teacher so we had the entire summer to play! I can vividly remember Roger Craig and all the 'slogans' he had throughout his tenure as manager. His most memorable was 'Humm Baby' which carried the team to a NL Western Division title in 1987. Roger would say 'Humm Baby' in interviews all the time, it use to give me chills as a little kid. 

The Giants put 'Humm Baby' on t-shirts, hats, cups, license plate frames and even the rain tarp cover! Roger Craig and the SF Giants were Setting the Tone for the players, front office and of course the fans. 'Humm Baby' could be heard/seen throughout the stadium, it was an amazing motivator for anyone connected to the team! 

I'll be starting my fifth year as a Site Administrator (third as Principal, spent two as an AP) and we've had a 'slogan' that has Set the Tone for John Swett Elementary the last two years.

I wanted something we could put on banners, t-shirts, a hashtag and most importantly something that drove each decision we made about kids. If our educational decision didn't jive with our motto/slogan, it probably wasn't pro student and we needed to have more conversation.

Our first motto/slogan started with a video I showed staff the day before school three years ago. 'Finding Greatness' would be our motto for the 12/13 school year. We also decided that 'Team Kid' would ALWAYS be our motto/slogan at John Swett Elementary.

Last year we watched this video and our motto became 'Make It Happen on Team Kid.' (Whatever It Takes was a close second)

I can't tell you how many thousands of times I've heard staff, parents and kids say 'Make It Happen' or 'Team Kid' throughout the school day. Our Superintendent repeats them as well, now that is success!

The past two years we've decided on the slogan as a staff. I've already thrown out some ideas for the 14/15 school year and the new motto/slogan has seemed to fit, #rasiethebar. We're also at an amazing place as a school/staff which is driving Raise the Bar as well. In 14/15 we'll be Raise the Bar on Team Kid for John Swett Elementary, I can't wait!

Also, I'm not comparing being a Principal to a Drill Instructor in the Marine Corps, but this is a good article about setting the tone at MCRD!