Connected Principals Posts

A couple of weeks ago, Nathan wrote about his secret stash in his top desk drawer. http://nextgeneduleaders.blogspot.com/2010/06/secret-stash-in-top-desk-drawer.html Right away I thought about advice I got from Ralph Watson, my last…

Read More Written Praise

As I reflect on my continuous evolution as an educational leader I am constantly amazed at how things have changed over the course of a year and a half.  It…

Read More Why a Blog?

My opening remarks to the St. Gregory student body, the morning of the first day of school.

Welcome to 2010-11!

A popular saying urges us to remember that there are only two things we really need to flourish in life: roots and wings.

I like the saying;   it provides a lovely metaphor simplifying the many strands of what what flourishing requires into two simple metaphors:   Roots and wings, a sense of connectedness to our community,and a sense of freedom and empowerment to go out confidently into the world and accomplish our goals.

I worry about false dichotomies—I resist people trying to trap me into making choices I don’t want to have to make.    There is a book I love that calls upon parents and schools to ensure children and students spend more time in nature and argues that kids are so much healthier when they spend more time outside and in direct contact with the earth, the sky, the water.   Get dirty and be happier and healthier. It surprises some people when I say I love and endorse this notion, because sometimes they think I only want kids to spend more time on computers.   I don’t.  I do think computers are great for learning and growing,  but I also believe fervently that it is so important for us all, kids and adults, to spend more time outside.

We must resist the narrowing effects of Either/Or Thinking, and embrace the Both/And.

And so it is with Wings AND Roots.  I think people sometimes think that because I want to see more computers in learning, they are believing I want less face to face time, less interaction among peers and between students and teachers.  But I want both, and I don’t want to be cornered into a false dichotomy.

Fittingly, and charmingly, Wings and Roots correspond precisely to the two big changes we are making this year, laptops and advisory—because we all need stronger wings and deeper roots. Read More Wings and Roots: Our school’s 2 major ed. initiatives for the year

Name: Penultimate (iTunes Link) Publisher: Cocoa Box Design Price: $2.99 Platform: iPad My quest for today was to find a tool that would allow me to blend in with my…

Read More Scribble Scrabble

On Facebook I asked my friends what they thought made a good teacher.  Here are some of the comments: a good teacher is one who knows what is REALLY going…

Read More Teachers are a Work of Art

I return to open my school office in 3 days and my teachers will follow.   It is important  to me that they feel welcomed back, supported and energized for the…

Read More Welcome Back Teachers

One of the most positive aspects of interacting with other educators via social media, whether it be Twitter, Ning communities, or a meeting of the minds such as the Reform Symposium,…

Read More It’s People, Not Programs

As a teacher, I sat through endless staff meetings where information was relayed and the same teachers commented and gave their donated ‘air time’.  As a principal, one of my main…

Read More Making Meetings Meaningful

Recently, I read an article by Simon Sinek (I love his blog and this video) talking about how advertisers are failing more to focus on the needs of their customer.…

Read More Best Advertising For Schools?

Will students be using their laptops primarily for taking notes in lecture?


Above is a common question I hear these days as we unfold our new 1:1 laptop program.   No, not primarily, I explain, and then launch into a slightly too-elaborated explanation of empowering our students with the digital tools they need to best implement Aristotle’s advice (yes, 4th century BCE Aristotle) of learning by doing– learning to create, to communicate, to collaborate in the most modern ways by doing all these things digitally and on-line.

I think we have a problem in education, that of the misunderstanding of the potential uses and value of digitally integrated learning, and I think the solution lies at least in part in rallying around the concept, and incredible power, of the Web 2.0.

Naming things is significant; a name might be simple, might be short, might be seen as jargon, but with a name something becomes referable, deployable, scalable that much easier.   Web 2.0 is this term, and offers this power.

Over the past few years I have had heard the term;  it was zinging around out there on the periphery of much of my very much developing thinking.  But lately it has meaningfully converged– this is the term, so simple and short a term, to capture a concept that has become so very significant to me.

And yet, I fear that still only few educators know the term and understand its implications for teaching and learning.   Eric Sheninger, who is an excellent New Jersey principal and blogger/tweeter, recently tweeted that he interviewed four different Science teaching candidates, and not a one knew what web 2.0 meant.  I think this needs to change.

The concept of Web 2.0 has been becoming more compelling to me as I think about how to frame and artic Read More Web 2.0: the key concept for organizing

First posted by Janet Avery in March, 2010 Last week our edchat topic was concerning teacher morale. There was great discussion as to how it may or may not affect…

Read More Morale is a Team Effort

  HBOs Silicon Valley Calls Out the Tech Industrys Thin Skin Fortune – 2016-06-05 … announces hes ready to get back into the dating world now that Hendricks has ……

Read More Creating The Future

I recently finished reading Milton Chen’s latest book, Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in Our Schools. The whole premise behind Chen’s book is that the United States can…

Read More Making Innovation a Reality in Schools

A ship in the harbor is safe – but that’s not what ships are for.- John A. Shedd (yes he is going nautical again!) My poor staff has to endure…

Read More The Voyage of Learning

My contribution to Leadership Day, 2010:

I have had the incredibly good fortune (for which I am so grateful) to be an educational leader for 13 years now, but only in the past several years have I sought to be come an educational leader– and it’s been a great ride, one I wish all my school leadership colleagues will take!  Here is a smattering of thoughts on techniques for 21st century ed leadership, with one most important message: today more than ever, leadership is about learning, and those of us who aim to lead learning must be ourselves Chief Learners in order to be Chiefs of Learning.

Focus on yourself.   You must become the change you wish to see in your schools.  Unfortunately, this can be hard if we are, as I think I was, trapped in a fixed mindset.  Carol Dweck’s book Mindset was critical to me; she explains how there are only two mindsets, fixed and growth, and many of us, students and even more so adults, are trapped in a fixed mindset.  In this, we think we are what we have been, and cannot become something different.  We think that to seek to grow, to learn, to change will demonstrate weakness, flaws, or failings.  We think that if we have not been, in our past, digitally savvy, then we cannot change ourselves.  But if we take Dweck and adopt a growth mindset, there is nothing we cannot become.

Having adopted a growth mindset and made the pledge to learn and grow, start and don’t stop learning.  Reframe your own self-image as Principal, Head or Superintendent; you are not just Chief of Learning but you are Chief Learner, you are Learner-in-Chief. Read More Learner-in-Chief: Leading in 21st century education