Connected Principals Posts

In 2015, I wrote the following article entitled, “3 Things Students Should Have Before They Leave High School“. Here are the “3 Things” that I suggested: As I was speaking at a school in North Broward Preparatory School in Coconut Creek, Florida, and was talking about this, one of the teachers, Jason Shaffer, said, “We … [Read more…]

Read More Helping Students Develop Their Online Identity

When I was in high school and college, my brothers and I worked part-time diving for mussel shells in the Kentucky Lake area. We would sell them by the pound at local markets, and those shells would in turn be sold to Japanese markets. Apparently, the pearly-white cuts from those shells are unique implants for […]

Read More PMP 053: 3 Tips for Responding Under Pressure

I had the honour to be able to keynote the “Arts Integration Conference“, an online conference focusing on the importance of arts in education (hint…it’s very important).  I was asked to prepare an online keynote discussing “The Innovator’s Mindset“, and wanted to share it below. I focus on the importance of “innovating inside of the … [Read more…]

Read More Developing “The Innovator’s Mindset” (Video)

Technology is playing a bigger role in classrooms and schools in this country and around the world. Here are a few thoughts to keep technology in perspective. Share them with your team and discuss how to best implement technology in your learning culture. I hope these ideas help guide you to more effective use of digital tools with your students. 

1. Your learning goals should drive your tech goals, and not the other way around.



Just because you have access to iPads, Chromebooks, or some other device in your classroom doesn’t mean they must be the center of learning in your classroom. Not every lesson can be made better with technology. Allow your goals for learning to lead you to the most powerful ways for tech to further support those learning goals. Keep your students at the center of learning, not a device.








2. It’s not enough to think tech is important for students. You must be willing to learn it yourself.



To deny that tech will be important to students’ futures seems unthinkable. But it’s not enough to recognize students will need tech to be successful. Your students also need to see you as a willing learner of technology. They need to see you as a learner period. And it’s a shame if you aren’t leveraging your skills as a teacher because you aren’t willing to learn technology. All of your teacher skills are priceless, but they can be even more relevant and powerful if you know how to effectively use technology for learning, too.



3. Tech can make kids want to learn more, but more importantly, it creates opportunities for more learning.



Lots of kids like to use technology. But using tech because it is engaging isn’t as important as using it because your students are engaged. If your students are curious and motivated learners, they will have questions that need answers. They will want to create and share new knowledge. You know your students. You inspire them as learners and that relationship will ultimately lead to more learning. Technology can then create unlimited opportunities to create, learn, and share.








4. Being an effective learner in the modern world also means you are an effective digital learner.



Readers of my blog know I believe adaptable learners will own the future. The ability to learn, to be creative, to see possibilities, to make something new, will be a huge advantage for future success. But in today’s hyper-connected, digital world, being an effective learner also means you are effective in using digital tools for learning, solving problems, and creating knowledge. 



5. If you change the technology but don’t change your lesson, nothing really changes.



Adding technology to the same old lessons doesn’t automatically make them better lessons. Work to create a better lesson first—one that is meaningful and authentic and causes deeper thinking and greater understandingthen consider how technology can make it even better. Technology won’t improve learning if that worksheet is now in digital format. It won’t inspire learning if students are just looking up answers online instead of in the textbook. Your lesson design is always more important than your digital tool.








6. For students who don’t know how to use social media appropriately and effectively, who knows what opportunities they might miss?



If you want to be successful, do what successful people do. And some of the most successful people in our world are using social media and blogging as a platform to network, share their message, and improve their work. How many kids have the chance to practice these skills in school? As digital footprints replace traditional resumes, will your students have anything to show for their work? Even worse, will their digital record disqualify them to employers?



7. Google doesn’t have answers; it has information.



Learning and inquiry involves more than searching for right answers. Students make meaning of information through good thinking. The most interesting questions don’t have one right answer and require students to think in ways that lead to understanding. Access to a web-connected device is a powerful tool for learning. It creates agency, empowers learning, and puts students in the driver’s seat, but only if we allow it, support it, and facilitate it.








8. Tech should make us more human, not less.



It’s not hard to see ways technology is both a blessing and a burden. So we need to be thoughtful about how we use technology for good and limit the negatives. We’ve heard a lot about how social skills are deteriorating as a result of attachment to mobile tech and addiction to device notifications and so forth. But technology can help us connect, do more good, and be more human, not less. In the classroom, technology should lead to more conversations, not less. Students are going to use technology. We need to help them use it in ways that are healthy and productive.



9. Anyone who wants to be a leader needs to be a digital leader too.



We are past the days where leaders could just count on the tech department or that one teacher to take the lead on technology. Every person who aspires to lead should expect to be a digital leader too. Leaders don’t have to have better digital skills than anyone else, but they do need to model the use of technology and constantly be willing to learn. Working to stay informed, learning new tools, and being future-driven are critical to digital leadership. And every leader should strive to be a digital leader too.



Question: What essential #EdTech idea would you add to this list? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 9 Essential #EdTech Ideas to Share With Your Team

Technology is playing a bigger role in classrooms and schools in this country and around the world. Here are a few thoughts to keep technology in perspective. Share them with your team and discuss how to best implement technology in your learning culture. I hope these ideas help guide you to more effective use of digital tools with your students. 

1. Your learning goals should drive your tech goals, and not the other way around.



Just because you have access to iPads, Chromebooks, or some other device in your classroom doesn’t mean they must be the center of learning in your classroom. Not every lesson can be made better with technology. Allow your goals for learning to lead you to the most powerful ways for tech to further support those learning goals. Keep your students at the center of learning, not a device.








2. It’s not enough to think tech is important for students. You must be willing to learn it yourself.



To deny that tech will be important to students’ futures seems unthinkable. But it’s not enough to recognize students will need tech to be successful. Your students also need to see you as a willing learner of technology. They need to see you as a learner period. And it’s a shame if you aren’t leveraging your skills as a teacher because you aren’t willing to learn technology. All of your teacher skills are priceless, but they can be even more relevant and powerful if you know how to effectively use technology for learning, too.



3. Tech can make kids want to learn more, but more importantly, it creates opportunities for more learning.



Lots of kids like to use technology. But using tech because it is engaging isn’t as important as using it because your students are engaged. If your students are curious and motivated learners, they will have questions that need answers. They will want to create and share new knowledge. You know your students. You inspire them as learners and that relationship will ultimately lead to more learning. Technology can then create unlimited opportunities to create, learn, and share.








4. Being an effective learner in the modern world also means you are an effective digital learner.



Readers of my blog know I believe adaptable learners will own the future. The ability to learn, to be creative, to see possibilities, to make something new, will be a huge advantage for future success. But in today’s hyper-connected, digital world, being an effective learner also means you are effective in using digital tools for learning, solving problems, and creating knowledge. 



5. If you change the technology but don’t change your lesson, nothing really changes.



Adding technology to the same old lessons doesn’t automatically make them better lessons. Work to create a better lesson first—one that is meaningful and authentic and causes deeper thinking and greater understandingthen consider how technology can make it even better. Technology won’t improve learning if that worksheet is now in digital format. It won’t inspire learning if students are just looking up answers online instead of in the textbook. Your lesson design is always more important than your digital tool.








6. For students who don’t know how to use social media appropriately and effectively, who knows what opportunities they might miss?



If you want to be successful, do what successful people do. And some of the most successful people in our world are using social media and blogging as a platform to network, share their message, and improve their work. How many kids have the chance to practice these skills in school? As digital footprints replace traditional resumes, will your students have anything to show for their work? Even worse, will their digital record disqualify them to employers?



7. Google doesn’t have answers; it has information.



Learning and inquiry involves more than searching for right answers. Students make meaning of information through good thinking. The most interesting questions don’t have one right answer and require students to think in ways that lead to understanding. Access to a web-connected device is a powerful tool for learning. It creates agency, empowers learning, and puts students in the driver’s seat, but only if we allow it, support it, and facilitate it.








8. Tech should make us more human, not less.



It’s not hard to see ways technology is both a blessing and a burden. So we need to be thoughtful about how we use technology for good and limit the negatives. We’ve heard a lot about how social skills are deteriorating as a result of attachment to mobile tech and addiction to device notifications and so forth. But technology can help us connect, do more good, and be more human, not less. In the classroom, technology should lead to more conversations, not less. Students are going to use technology. We need to help them use it in ways that are healthy and productive.



9. Anyone who wants to be a leader needs to be a digital leader too.



We are past the days where leaders could just count on the tech department or that one teacher to take the lead on technology. Every person who aspires to lead should expect to be a digital leader too. Leaders don’t have to have better digital skills than anyone else, but they do need to model the use of technology and constantly be willing to learn. Working to stay informed, learning new tools, and being future-driven are critical to digital leadership. And every leader should strive to be a digital leader too.



Question: What essential #EdTech idea would you add to this list? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 9 Essential #EdTech Ideas to Share With Your Team

On a Saturday afternoon, on a whim, I went to see “La La Land“. When the previews first came out, I was excited, but the more I heard about it,…

Read More Stuck in Your Head and Heart

On a Saturday afternoon, on a whim, I went to see “La La Land“. When the previews first came out, I was excited, but the more I heard about it, the less I actually wanted to go. As the movie started, I thought the beginning was okay, but all of a sudden, I was swept … [Read more…]

Read More Stuck in Your Head and Heart

Although I grew up in West Tennessee, I was born in San Diego, California when my dad was stationed there in the Navy. Some of my earliest toddler memories include playing on the beach while my dad and older brothers swam in the waves. Even though I was three or four years old, I still […]

Read More PMP 052: Starting a Movement of Kindness

I tweeted this article from Tina Seelig, “Teaching — It’s about Inspiration, Not Information“, and asked the following question on Twitter: Curious what you think about this quote from Tina Seelig? Some would be on the exact opposite side of this spectrum: Finally, never tell students what they need to do to get an “A” in the … [Read more…]

Read More Creating “Purposeful Conflict”

I tweeted this article from Tina Seelig, “Teaching — It’s about Inspiration, Not Information“, and asked the following question on Twitter: Curious what you think about this quote from Tina Seelig? Some…

Read More Creating “Purposeful Conflict”





Your legacy is one of your most valuable possessions. It is a treasure. It is your gift to the world. For every person you come in contact with, your influence—good and badgoes with them to some extent. Your legacy is how you are remembered.

Who Has Inspired You?



There are a number of educators, and other mentors, who have had a profound impact on my life. They influence me even when they are not present, even if I have not seen or spoken with them in years. Just thinking about the type of person they are inspires me even now to learn more, dream more, do more, and become more.



These people lift me up and make me stronger. They have a strong legacy in my life.



How Will You Inspire Others?



I want to have a strong legacy too. Not only because I want to be remembered fondly. Of course, I do. But more importantly, I want to make a difference. I want my life to count for something bigger than me. I want to be that legacy person for someone else. I want to help others.



I was recently listening to a podcast by Andy Stanley. He shared an exercise he said changed his life many years ago. He was reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. 



In 7 Habits, Covey challenges his readers with an exercise that is profound. You might find it unsettling or even slightly grim. But I urge you to read it carefully and thoughtfully. As you read the excerpt, consider how reflecting on this passage might be life changing for you too.

In your mind’s eye, see yourself going to the funeral of a loved one. Picture yourself driving to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking the car, and getting out. As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers, the soft organ music. You see the faces of friends and family you pass along the way. You feel the shared sorrow of losing, the joy of having known, that radiates from the hearts of the people there.

As you walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from today. All these people have come to honor you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.

As you take a seat and wait for the services to begin, you look at the program in your hand. There are to be four speakers. The first is from your family, immediate and also extended —children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents who have come from all over the country to attend. The second speaker is one of your friends, someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person. The third speaker is from your work or profession. And the fourth is from your church or some community organization where you’ve been involved in service.

Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life? What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would like their words to reflect? What kind of son or daughter or cousin? What kind of friend? What kind of working associate?

What character would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?

Stanley shared how he spent several days reflecting, in writing, on the questions set forth in the passage.



The 3-year timeline until your death is an important detail in the exercise. It creates a stronger sense of urgency. As educators, we should always have a sense of urgency too. We may be our students’ best hope. But we only have so much time. We may not have the same opportunity to influence them next year. They will likely move on to a new classroom with a different teacher.



Educators Leave a Lasting Legacy



Although the funeral exercise is great reflection for living a meaningful life, how might it be slightly modified to narrow the reflection for you as a teacher/educator? In a similar instance, what might your students say about you as their teacher? What would their parents say? How about the community you where you work? What is your legacy in that?



As I reflect on those questions, I am reminded of what’s most important to me. And I am also reminded of things that might distract me from the most important things. The most valuable thing is how I treat people, all of them. People come first. I want to be the kind of person who is always learning, who lifts others up, and who treats people with kindness, care, and consideration.



It’s easy to get distracted from the most important things. I am a person who also wants progress, who has goals, who is driven. If fact, in the past, there were times I was too focused on achieving and not tuned in to the people around me. I am working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore.



I am convinced that reaching goals, making progress, and achieving success will be more likely to happen—mostly inevitable—if the first priority is people. If we treat people with all the care and concern we possibly can, we will see progress and success like never before. 



I respect every person who works hard and gets stuff done. There is value in working hard and earning a living to support yourself and your loved ones. But teaching provides the opportunity to do far more than just earning a paycheck. It’s more than a job. When teaching is your life’s work, you have the opportunity to make a lasting difference. You have the opportunity to make an important contribution. Your legacy counts!

So think about it…

What really matters?

What keeps you up at night?

What makes you want to be a better teacher, principal, parent or friend?

I hope these questions are helpful as you think about your legacy and what’s most important to you. Reflecting on what you really value is one of the best things you can do to find purpose and meaning in your life and work.

Questions? What do you want your legacy to be? Are you focused on the right things? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What Do You Want Your Legacy to Be?





Your legacy is one of your most valuable possessions. It is a treasure. It is your gift to the world. For every person you come in contact with, your influence—good and badgoes with them to some extent. Your legacy is how you are remembered.

Who Has Inspired You?



There are a number of educators, and other mentors, who have had a profound impact on my life. They influence me even when they are not present, even if I have not seen or spoken with them in years. Just thinking about the type of person they are inspires me even now to learn more, dream more, do more, and become more.



These people lift me up and make me stronger. They have a strong legacy in my life.



How Will You Inspire Others?



I want to have a strong legacy too. Not only because I want to be remembered fondly. Of course, I do. But more importantly, I want to make a difference. I want my life to count for something bigger than me. I want to be that legacy person for someone else. I want to help others.



I was recently listening to a podcast by Andy Stanley. He shared an exercise he said changed his life many years ago. He was reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. 



In 7 Habits, Covey challenges his readers with an exercise that is profound. You might find it unsettling or even slightly grim. But I urge you to read it carefully and thoughtfully. As you read the excerpt, consider how reflecting on this passage might be life changing for you too.

In your mind’s eye, see yourself going to the funeral of a loved one. Picture yourself driving to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking the car, and getting out. As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers, the soft organ music. You see the faces of friends and family you pass along the way. You feel the shared sorrow of losing, the joy of having known, that radiates from the hearts of the people there.

As you walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from today. All these people have come to honor you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.

As you take a seat and wait for the services to begin, you look at the program in your hand. There are to be four speakers. The first is from your family, immediate and also extended —children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents who have come from all over the country to attend. The second speaker is one of your friends, someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person. The third speaker is from your work or profession. And the fourth is from your church or some community organization where you’ve been involved in service.

Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life? What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would like their words to reflect? What kind of son or daughter or cousin? What kind of friend? What kind of working associate?

What character would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?

Stanley shared how he spent several days reflecting, in writing, on the questions set forth in the passage.



The 3-year timeline until your death is an important detail in the exercise. It creates a stronger sense of urgency. As educators, we should always have a sense of urgency too. We may be our students’ best hope. But we only have so much time. We may not have the same opportunity to influence them next year. They will likely move on to a new classroom with a different teacher.



Educators Leave a Lasting Legacy



Although the funeral exercise is great reflection for living a meaningful life, how might it be slightly modified to narrow the reflection for you as a teacher/educator? In a similar instance, what might your students say about you as their teacher? What would their parents say? How about the community you where you work? What is your legacy in that?



As I reflect on those questions, I am reminded of what’s most important to me. And I am also reminded of things that might distract me from the most important things. The most valuable thing is how I treat people, all of them. People come first. I want to be the kind of person who is always learning, who lifts others up, and who treats people with kindness, care, and consideration.



It’s easy to get distracted from the most important things. I am a person who also wants progress, who has goals, who is driven. If fact, in the past, there were times I was too focused on achieving and not tuned in to the people around me. I am working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore.



I am convinced that reaching goals, making progress, and achieving success will be more likely to happen—mostly inevitable—if the first priority is people. If we treat people with all the care and concern we possibly can, we will see progress and success like never before. 



I respect every person who works hard and gets stuff done. There is value in working hard and earning a living to support yourself and your loved ones. But teaching provides the opportunity to do far more than just earning a paycheck. It’s more than a job. When teaching is your life’s work, you have the opportunity to make a lasting difference. You have the opportunity to make an important contribution. Your legacy counts!

So think about it…

What really matters?

What keeps you up at night?

What makes you want to be a better teacher, principal, parent or friend?

I hope these questions are helpful as you think about your legacy and what’s most important to you. Reflecting on what you really value is one of the best things you can do to find purpose and meaning in your life and work.

Questions? What do you want your legacy to be? Are you focused on the right things? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What Do You Want Your Legacy to Be?

Currently, I am reading “The Growth Mindset Coach“, and was struck by this passage and corresponding table: (Carol) Dweck identified five key areas in which the actions of people of opposing mindsets often diverge: challenges, obstacles, effort, criticism, and success of others. In the fixed mindset, a response to any of the five situations typically … [Read more…]

Read More A World that is Asking for Continuous Creation

When I was going to graduate school for my Master’s Degree in Education Leadership, I decided to conduct my own informal research. Over a number of weeks, I talked to current and retired principals about what they considered to be the lessons they had learned from their years in school leadership. I remember one man […]

Read More PMP 051: The Shocking Truth About Your Decision-Making