Connected Principals Posts

I was inspired to write this post after reading Kelly Christopherson’s blog post on his first days of school with his staff.  This is a really important day to set…

Read More Our First Days; The Gift of Time

This is a post inspired by blogging friend and colleague Josie Holford, who did a great post last month on the topic Advice for New Teachers. (Josie belongs here on Connected Principals).    Let me quote a couple of my favorite of her points before adding my own.

  1. Assume that your older colleagues want to be helpful and see you succeed. This includes administrators. Invite them to your classroom. Ask their opinion. Ask to see them teach – or whatever it is they do. See if you can find a project of theirs in which you can participate.
  2. Sign on to Twitter. Follow the smartest people you can find in your areas of interest. Build a great PLN – personal learning network – of the wisest and most helpful people you can find. Follow people with whom you agree and those who challenge your assumptions.  Follow people like you; follow people not like you. One place to start looking: Twitter for Teachers wiki.
  3. Take advantage of the opportunity to work with students outside the classroom – clubs, teams, school trips.
  4. Learn from failure, learn from practice, learn from collaboration with colleagues, learn from theory. Most of all – stay a learner.  [One of your chief roles in the classroom is as Chief Learner, not just Chief of Learning] And here is Cybrary Man’s website of resources for new teachers. He is Jerry Blumengarten and twitters @cybraryman1 .

Thanks Josie: And now some of my own to add (readers, please add your own by using the comment box).

1. This can be counter-intuitive and counter to how you were taught, but try this:  Problems first.  Invert the normal paradigm where we used to deliver the content, information, and skills first, and then ask the questions. Ask the questions, pose the problems at the outset, and then envision yourself a mountain climbing guide roped in with your students as you facilitate them in climbing up the mountain that is the challenge.  (See Ted McCain’s Teaching for Tomorrow for a fuller discussion of this). Read More Advice for New Teachers

I’m pleased and honored to be writing my first post as a contributor to Connected Principals.  I’ve been blogging about educational issues at KARE Givers since last December, but as…

Read More Helping write student’s stories…

Walkthrough observations take many forms in the elementary, middle, and secondary levels. This practice typically involves the principal or other supervisor spending a few minutes observing a classroom to take…

Read More Leading with Walkthroughs

Rigor, Relevance and Relationships……The three R’s of a successful high school, or so goes the latest in reform talk about high schools in general. Rigor, being challenging, able to move…

Read More We Need to Make Better Connections

As a staff, we were very fortunate to have parents attend and help to guide us in the process of education planning for the 2010-2011 school year. Using feedback that…

Read More Parents and Education Planning

A couple of weeks ago, Nathan wrote about his secret stash in his top desk drawer. 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