Connected Principals Posts

A lot of times when working with educators, I try to give relevant examples of ideas that can be implemented into learning but get very specific to either a class or grade level.  My focus is not adding something to the plate of an educator but replacing something they currently do with something new and better … [Read more…]

Read More The Inspiration in Front of Your Eyes





In writing my new book Future Driven, I shared many of the great things I see educators doing that are changing education for the better and helping to prepare students for the world they are facing. And we all know it’s a challenging, complex world out there. 



In spite of the immense challenges, I remain very hopeful for the future. And I believe educators are making a huge difference every day to help kids be ready to thrive. But of course, there is plenty more work to be done. In this post, I share a list of things that are themes from my book. If you share these ideals, you’re likely a future driven educator.



1. You are not satisfied with the status quo.



You want to take action now to help create a better future. You believe the choices you make today are helping to create a better tomorrow for you and your students. You want to make a difference and add value to others.






2. You believe in the power of building strong relationships.



You know everything rises and falls on the quality of relationships in your classroom in school. You seek to lift up others, bring people together, and connect in authentic, meaningful ways. And no matter how great you believe your relationships are, you are always striving to make them better.



3. Your methods are less important to you than your mission.



You are passionate about kids and learning. Your mission is bold and daring. You want to be a change maker. You want to make learning irresistible for kids. You don’t hang on to practices because they work best for you. You explore new practices because they might work best for kids.






4. You want your students to learn more than content.



You don’t just develop great lessons. You develop great experiences. You want students to think deeply and develop perseverance, empathy, creativity, and curiosity. You want learning to connect to students’ lives in authentic, meaningful ways.



5. You want your students to love learning more than they fear mistakes.



You are willing to take risks and learn from mistakes and you encourage your students to do the same. You know learning is messy. Mistakes are part of the process, and perfectionism is often the enemy of progress. 



6. You are mindful of changes in the world.




We are in an era of accelerating change. The world in a complex, uncertain place. You know it’s important for you to be aware of how these changes will impact your students’ futures. You chart the course for learning with the new realities of the world in mind. 



7. Your students know you believe in them.



When your students know you believe in them, it brings out the best in them. Your encouragement makes all the difference. The person who influences you the most is the person who believes in you. They will rise to your expectations. You see them for who they are becoming and not just who they are right now. You see a bright future for your students.






8. You have a long term perspective.



You do what’s best for your students in the long run. You see your work as an investment in a brighter future and a better tomorrow. Some people hold onto the past and the good ole days. Others are only concerned with the pressing matters of today. But you see out into what could be and want to help make it happen. 



9. You believe students should be more excited about learning tomorrow than they are today.



When students develop passion for learning, it doesn’t just impact the here and now. A passionate, skilled learner is able to handle just about anything life throws at them. 



10. You believe learning is for life and not just the next grade level.



Being a student is temporary, but learning is for life. We are just getting students ready for a test, or college, or a career. We are preparing them for anything they might face. 






11. You are always striving to grow and learn.



You aren’t waiting around for your school to ‘develop’ you. You take ownership for your own personal and professional growth. You want to keep getting better so your students can be better too. You know when teachers are growing, that’s the best school improvement plan ever.

12. You want to inspire your students to create a brighter future and a better world.



Your students aren’t just ready for the future, they are ready to make a difference in the future. Pursuing truth, justice, and equality are essentials for you. You are helping to create the future by inspiring your students to be world changers.



13. You believe your attitude sets the tone.



You model the attitude and mindset you want to see in others. You are positive even when things are tough. You give of yourself to others without expecting anything in return.






14. You want to connect with other educators.



We are each other’s best resources. We must be collectively awesome. You want to partner with others and work together to create better schools and unstoppable learning. Nothing’s more powerful than a group of committed educators who believe they can solve any problem together.



15. You see yourself as a leader.



When you see something that could be better or a need that could be met, you are willing to step forward and lead. You are the type of person others want to follow, not because you have a position or title, but because of the strength of your character.



16. You see yourself as a digital leader.



You know that our world is increasingly digital and that seismic shifts are happening as a result of technological innovation. You want your students to know how to leverage their skills using digital tools. You want to model digital learning.






17. You value better thinking, not just right answers.



You start with questions and look to push thinking deeper. You want your students to be adaptable learners and skilled critical thinkers. It’s not just about getting a right answer. It’s about learning to solve problems and create knowledge.



What else is important to you as a future driven educator? Your voice matters. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 17 Signs You’re a Future Driven Educator





In writing my new book Future Driven, I shared many of the great things I see educators doing that are changing education for the better and helping to prepare students for the world they are facing. And we all know it’s a challenging, complex world out there. 



In spite of the immense challenges, I remain very hopeful for the future. And I believe educators are making a huge difference every day to help kids be ready to thrive. But of course, there is plenty more work to be done. In this post, I share a list of things that are themes from my book. If you share these ideals, you’re likely a future driven educator.



1. You are not satisfied with the status quo.



You want to take action now to help create a better future. You believe the choices you make today are helping to create a better tomorrow for you and your students. You want to make a difference and add value to others.






2. You believe in the power of building strong relationships.



You know everything rises and falls on the quality of relationships in your classroom in school. You seek to lift up others, bring people together, and connect in authentic, meaningful ways. And no matter how great you believe your relationships are, you are always striving to make them better.



3. Your methods are less important to you than your mission.



You are passionate about kids and learning. Your mission is bold and daring. You want to be a change maker. You want to make learning irresistible for kids. You don’t hang on to practices because they work best for you. You explore new practices because they might work best for kids.






4. You want your students to learn more than content.



You don’t just develop great lessons. You develop great experiences. You want students to think deeply and develop perseverance, empathy, creativity, and curiosity. You want learning to connect to students’ lives in authentic, meaningful ways.



5. You want your students to love learning more than they fear mistakes.



You are willing to take risks and learn from mistakes and you encourage your students to do the same. You know learning is messy. Mistakes are part of the process, and perfectionism is often the enemy of progress. 



6. You are mindful of changes in the world.




We are in an era of accelerating change. The world in a complex, uncertain place. You know it’s important for you to be aware of how these changes will impact your students’ futures. You chart the course for learning with the new realities of the world in mind. 



7. Your students know you believe in them.



When your students know you believe in them, it brings out the best in them. Your encouragement makes all the difference. The person who influences you the most is the person who believes in you. They will rise to your expectations. You see them for who they are becoming and not just who they are right now. You see a bright future for your students.






8. You have a long term perspective.



You do what’s best for your students in the long run. You see your work as an investment in a brighter future and a better tomorrow. Some people hold onto the past and the good ole days. Others are only concerned with the pressing matters of today. But you see out into what could be and want to help make it happen. 



9. You believe students should be more excited about learning tomorrow than they are today.



When students develop passion for learning, it doesn’t just impact the here and now. A passionate, skilled learner is able to handle just about anything life throws at them. 



10. You believe learning is for life and not just the next grade level.



Being a student is temporary, but learning is for life. We are just getting students ready for a test, or college, or a career. We are preparing them for anything they might face. 






11. You are always striving to grow and learn.



You aren’t waiting around for your school to ‘develop’ you. You take ownership for your own personal and professional growth. You want to keep getting better so your students can be better too. You know when teachers are growing, that’s the best school improvement plan ever.

12. You want to inspire your students to create a brighter future and a better world.



Your students aren’t just ready for the future, they are ready to make a difference in the future. Pursuing truth, justice, and equality are essentials for you. You are helping to create the future by inspiring your students to be world changers.



13. You believe your attitude sets the tone.



You model the attitude and mindset you want to see in others. You are positive even when things are tough. You give of yourself to others without expecting anything in return.






14. You want to connect with other educators.



We are each other’s best resources. We must be collectively awesome. You want to partner with others and work together to create better schools and unstoppable learning. Nothing’s more powerful than a group of committed educators who believe they can solve any problem together.



15. You see yourself as a leader.



When you see something that could be better or a need that could be met, you are willing to step forward and lead. You are the type of person others want to follow, not because you have a position or title, but because of the strength of your character.



16. You see yourself as a digital leader.



You know that our world is increasingly digital and that seismic shifts are happening as a result of technological innovation. You want your students to know how to leverage their skills using digital tools. You want to model digital learning.






17. You value better thinking, not just right answers.



You start with questions and look to push thinking deeper. You want your students to be adaptable learners and skilled critical thinkers. It’s not just about getting a right answer. It’s about learning to solve problems and create knowledge.



What else is important to you as a future driven educator? Your voice matters. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 17 Signs You’re a Future Driven Educator

My good friend, AJ Juliani, is someone who I respect, admire, and appreciate. His constant push of himself to try new and different things is inspiring, and his attitude toward…

Read More Incremental Innovations #IMMOOC

My good friend, AJ Juliani, is someone who I respect, admire, and appreciate. His constant push of himself to try new and different things is inspiring, and his attitude toward his work and personal life is one of the reasons that I love being connected with him. He is not afraid to try new things, … [Read more…]

Read More Incremental Innovations #IMMOOC





We are only born into this world with two natural fears. 



Any guesses on what those might be?



Death?



Taxes?



Public speaking?



Cheese?



Nope. It’s not any of those. Most people have some fear of each of those, except for maybe cheese. A friend of mine is a clinical psychologist, and he had a client who was actually terrified of cheese. A life without cheese? Is that really any kind of life to live? Fortunately, he was able to help this poor soul overcome this fear.



The two natural fears we are actually born with are the fear of heights and the fear of loud sounds. That’s it. All of the other fears we experience are later developments and not hard-wired into our DNA. In other words, fear is a choice. It is a function of the thoughts we choose. Sometimes (rarely) it is a helpful choice. But more often, it is a crippling choice.



The last couple of weeks all of our teachers have been working on developing personal goals and growth plans for this year. At times, I sense some people are reluctant to really commit to their own growth. Others are more willing to go out on a limb and take a risk.



I have to wonder if fear is a factor in the reluctance to be bold and audacious about our own growth and goals. Who wants to be mediocre? I don’t think anyone really wants that. So why settle for something safe and small. Fear perhaps?



What are some fears that might hold us back? Adam Smith lists 10 fears in his book, The Bravest You: 



Fear of inadequacy

Fear of failure

Fear of uncertainty

Fear of failure

Fear of rejection

Fear of missing out

Fear of change

Fear of losing control

Fear of being judged

Fear of something bad happening



Fear has no favorites. We all have to face it. However, we don’t have to submit to its crippling influence. In the video below, the words from the late Steve Jobs really bring perspective to fear and making the most of the time we have. The following phrases really jumped out at me.



“If you knew you were going to die today.”



“Avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”



“You are already naked.”



“There is no reason not to follow your heart.”







So consider this question, “If you had no fear what would you do?”



We all have the opportunity either run from our fears or to run toward our dreams. You have the opportunity for greatness. We all do. We are not intended to shrink away in this life and in the words of the poet Dylan Thomas “go gently into that good night.”



Are you running from your fears? Or, are you running toward your dreams?



Be bold. Take risks.



You deserve it. And your kids deserve it too. 



At the end of the day, you will most likely regret the risks you didn’t take and not the ones you did.



What risks are you taking this school year? How are you being bold in the pursuit of your dreams? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear from you.

Read More Is Fear Holding You Back?





We are only born into this world with two natural fears. 



Any guesses on what those might be?



Death?



Taxes?



Public speaking?



Cheese?



Nope. It’s not any of those. Most people have some fear of each of those, except for maybe cheese. A friend of mine is a clinical psychologist, and he had a client who was actually terrified of cheese. A life without cheese? Is that really any kind of life to live? Fortunately, he was able to help this poor soul overcome this fear.



The two natural fears we are actually born with are the fear of heights and the fear of loud sounds. That’s it. All of the other fears we experience are later developments and not hard-wired into our DNA. In other words, fear is a choice. It is a function of the thoughts we choose. Sometimes (rarely) it is a helpful choice. But more often, it is a crippling choice.



The last couple of weeks all of our teachers have been working on developing personal goals and growth plans for this year. At times, I sense some people are reluctant to really commit to their own growth. Others are more willing to go out on a limb and take a risk.



I have to wonder if fear is a factor in the reluctance to be bold and audacious about our own growth and goals. Who wants to be mediocre? I don’t think anyone really wants that. So why settle for something safe and small. Fear perhaps?



What are some fears that might hold us back? Adam Smith lists 10 fears in his book, The Bravest You: 



Fear of inadequacy

Fear of failure

Fear of uncertainty

Fear of failure

Fear of rejection

Fear of missing out

Fear of change

Fear of losing control

Fear of being judged

Fear of something bad happening



Fear has no favorites. We all have to face it. However, we don’t have to submit to its crippling influence. In the video below, the words from the late Steve Jobs really bring perspective to fear and making the most of the time we have. The following phrases really jumped out at me.



“If you knew you were going to die today.”



“Avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”



“You are already naked.”



“There is no reason not to follow your heart.”







So consider this question, “If you had no fear what would you do?”



We all have the opportunity either run from our fears or to run toward our dreams. You have the opportunity for greatness. We all do. We are not intended to shrink away in this life and in the words of the poet Dylan Thomas “go gently into that good night.”



Are you running from your fears? Or, are you running toward your dreams?



Be bold. Take risks.



You deserve it. And your kids deserve it too. 



At the end of the day, you will most likely regret the risks you didn’t take and not the ones you did.



What risks are you taking this school year? How are you being bold in the pursuit of your dreams? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear from you.

Read More Is Fear Holding You Back?

My heart was filled this week, working with a few amazing school districts who are really pushing the boundaries of learning, and more importantly, pushing themselves to get better.  Educators…

Read More When will you know you are “there”?

My heart was filled this week, working with a few amazing school districts who are really pushing the boundaries of learning, and more importantly, pushing themselves to get better.  Educators have always been learners, but lately, I have noticed an acceleration in what is happening in classrooms. I truly believe that the changes I have … [Read more…]

Read More When will you know you are “there”?

The short answer to the title of the post is “no”, you can’t be both “Child-Driven”and “Data-Driven”. Here is the long answer. When you have two focuses on what you are driven by, there will be times where one situation comes into conflict with the other. For example, when we “teach to the test” and not “to the child”, … [Read more…]

Read More Child-Driven and Data-Driven; Can you be both?

Sketchnote by @woodard_julie



I recently had a conversation with someone who was preparing some remarks for an event where he was receiving an award. I was asking him about his speech, and he said he was aiming to inform, inspire, and entertain. I thought that was spot on. He laughed and said he heard that somewhere, and just thought it was really true about a good speech.



It made me think of school and learning. Teachers really must try to do those things also. In my first year in the classroom, I taught 7th grade social studies, but the next year I moved to the high school to teach English. When I was interviewing for the high school position, the principal asked me how my approach would be different working with older students. 



I said I didn’t think I would have to entertain them as much. The principal objected. She said you need to be just as creative and engaging with the older students. It was really good advice.



Some teachers really hate the idea of entertaining. Not everyone feels like they are cut out for that. And some don’t feel like they should have to do that. 



But I think all three are important, including an element of entertainment. It’s probably more true today than ever. In fact, edutainment is actually a thing. Look at TED talks. They are extremely popular because they inform, inspire, and entertain. The most popular ones do this extraordinarily well.



Sometimes, I think we get in a pattern of only informing or delivering instruction but don’t focus on how we are going to inspire or entertain. All three of these are needed to really make learning irresistible. 



We need to inform to increase understanding and make meaning.



We need to inspire to infuse learning with a sense of meaning and purpose.



We need to entertain to ignite the wonder, awe, and whimsy of learning.



I challenge you to think about your classroom. How are you seeking to not only inform, but to also inspire and entertain? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear your thoughts to take the conversation deeper.

Read More Does Your Classroom Inform, Inspire, and Entertain?

Sketchnote by @woodard_julie



I recently had a conversation with someone who was preparing some remarks for an event where he was receiving an award. I was asking him about his speech, and he said he was aiming to inform, inspire, and entertain. I thought that was spot on. He laughed and said he heard that somewhere, and just thought it was really true about a good speech.



It made me think of school and learning. Teachers really must try to do those things also. In my first year in the classroom, I taught 7th grade social studies, but the next year I moved to the high school to teach English. When I was interviewing for the high school position, the principal asked me how my approach would be different working with older students. 



I said I didn’t think I would have to entertain them as much. The principal objected. She said you need to be just as creative and engaging with the older students. It was really good advice.



Some teachers really hate the idea of entertaining. Not everyone feels like they are cut out for that. And some don’t feel like they should have to do that. 



But I think all three are important, including an element of entertainment. It’s probably more true today than ever. In fact, edutainment is actually a thing. Look at TED talks. They are extremely popular because they inform, inspire, and entertain. The most popular ones do this extraordinarily well.



Sometimes, I think we get in a pattern of only informing or delivering instruction but don’t focus on how we are going to inspire or entertain. All three of these are needed to really make learning irresistible. 



We need to inform to increase understanding and make meaning.



We need to inspire to infuse learning with a sense of meaning and purpose.



We need to entertain to ignite the wonder, awe, and whimsy of learning.



I challenge you to think about your classroom. How are you seeking to not only inform, but to also inspire and entertain? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear your thoughts to take the conversation deeper.

Read More Does Your Classroom Inform, Inspire, and Entertain?

This past weekend, NASA broadcasted the final transmission of the spacecraft, Cassini, as it plunged into the atmosphere of the planet Saturn that it had orbited and monitored for the past 13 years. Cassini’s mission actually began in 1997. It took six years for it to reach Saturn, an its exploratory orbiting mission began. The […]

Read More PMP:082 How Can You Accomplish a Mission?

I try very hard to push myself to get into better shape, and I will have to admit, the struggle is real.  Getting older, slowing metabolism and a lack of…

Read More Small Change, Big Difference

I try very hard to push myself to get into better shape, and I will have to admit, the struggle is real.  Getting older, slowing metabolism and a lack of routine in my life from being on the road has thrown me off a healthy regimen. Not excuses, but the reality I face and that … [Read more…]

Read More Small Change, Big Difference