Connected Principals Posts

You have heard the jokes about the “Red M&Ms” when referring to people with outrageous demands or acting like divas.  This story had been so convoluted, that many people (including myself) had thought that at some point, a rock band, had asked for only red M&Ms, but in fact, this story was wrong.  Listening to a podcast … [Read more…]

Read More Education and Brown M&Ms

Thank you for signing up for “The Innovator’s Mindset” MOOC, happening over a six week period.  We will begin on September 17, 2016 and finish at the end of October (although the learning will continue long after that).  Currently, we are planning some YouTube Live sessions that will happen on the weekends (either Friday, Saturday, … [Read more…]

Read More The #InnovatorsMindset MOOC Starting Soon! #IMMOOC





Recently I participated in an outstanding Twitter chat (#satchat) about advocating for students. It’s such an important topic. Almost every teacher is successful with the top tier students. The top students seem to learn almost in spite of the teachergood, bad, or indifferent. But to reach students who have significant struggles, at school or home or both, requires a teacher who is willing to be an advocate.


Educators have the opportunity to influence and support students who need a helping hand. We can lend them our strength for a time and help them find the strength within themselves to carry forward.


This excerpt from Katy Ridnouer’s book Everyday Engagement summarizes what it means to be an advocate as an educator:

An advocate is a person who supports or promotes the interests of another, and that is what a teacher is doing when he or she works to engage students and their parents as partners in a positive, learning-focused classroom community. An advocate is also one who promotes a cause, and I believe every teacher must be an advocate for student and parent engagement in learning, and for learning in general. They must promote it actively; they must embed these efforts into their classroom practice on an everyday basis. 

So based on these thoughts and reflection from the recent Twitter chat, I am suggesting 7 steps to be a better advocate for students.



1. Be Present



Every student needs to know you will be there for them and move closer to their messy situations and not push them away. Students need our unconditional love.



2. Ask



Get to know your students. Connect with them. Know them well enough to see when something’s not right. Make the person in front of you feel more important than the content you teach. Ask how things are going and how you can help.



3. Listen



Take the time to really listen. You don’t need all the answers. And you don’t need a degree in school counseling to hear what your students are saying.



4. Understand



Listen to understand. Try to see things from the student’s perspective. You can’t be an effective advocate if you don’t really try to feel what they’re feeling and see it like they are seeing it. 



5. Speak Up



Be the voice for the one who is overlooked, underserved, or mistreated. Don’t just look the other way. Say something.



6. Take Action



Words are powerful but actions speak louder. Do something to show your support. Reach out. Every action you take to help a child builds bridges to a better future.



7. Always Encourage



Some situations may feel hopeless. We can’t fix every problem. But we can always provide encouragement. We can say something positive. We can show how much we care. The kind words of a teacher can restore hope to a kid who is feeling lost and all alone.



When we become wise and caring advocates for students, we are developing young people who someday will be able to better advocate for themselves.



Question: How are you advocating for your students? I want to hear from you. Share your ideas by leaving a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More 7 Steps to Be a Better Advocate for Your Students





Recently I participated in an outstanding Twitter chat (#satchat) about advocating for students. It’s such an important topic. Almost every teacher is successful with the top tier students. The top students seem to learn almost in spite of the teachergood, bad, or indifferent. But to reach students who have significant struggles, at school or home or both, requires a teacher who is willing to be an advocate.


Educators have the opportunity to influence and support students who need a helping hand. We can lend them our strength for a time and help them find the strength within themselves to carry forward.


This excerpt from Katy Ridnouer’s book Everyday Engagement summarizes what it means to be an advocate as an educator:

An advocate is a person who supports or promotes the interests of another, and that is what a teacher is doing when he or she works to engage students and their parents as partners in a positive, learning-focused classroom community. An advocate is also one who promotes a cause, and I believe every teacher must be an advocate for student and parent engagement in learning, and for learning in general. They must promote it actively; they must embed these efforts into their classroom practice on an everyday basis. 

So based on these thoughts and reflection from the recent Twitter chat, I am suggesting 7 steps to be a better advocate for students.



1. Be Present



Every student needs to know you will be there for them and move closer to their messy situations and not push them away. Students need our unconditional love.



2. Ask



Get to know your students. Connect with them. Know them well enough to see when something’s not right. Make the person in front of you feel more important than the content you teach. Ask how things are going and how you can help.



3. Listen



Take the time to really listen. You don’t need all the answers. And you don’t need a degree in school counseling to hear what your students are saying.



4. Understand



Listen to understand. Try to see things from the student’s perspective. You can’t be an effective advocate if you don’t really try to feel what they’re feeling and see it like they are seeing it. 



5. Speak Up



Be the voice for the one who is overlooked, underserved, or mistreated. Don’t just look the other way. Say something.



6. Take Action



Words are powerful but actions speak louder. Do something to show your support. Reach out. Every action you take to help a child builds bridges to a better future.



7. Always Encourage



Some situations may feel hopeless. We can’t fix every problem. But we can always provide encouragement. We can say something positive. We can show how much we care. The kind words of a teacher can restore hope to a kid who is feeling lost and all alone.



When we become wise and caring advocates for students, we are developing young people who someday will be able to better advocate for themselves.



Question: How are you advocating for your students? I want to hear from you. Share your ideas by leaving a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More 7 Steps to Be a Better Advocate for Your Students

Where did summer go? I guess it’s still hanging on just a bit longer. It’s certainly hot out today in Missouri. The temps are in the mid-90’s. But here is a look back at some of the popular posts from the blog over the past couple of months. As always, thanks for reading and responding to ideas I share. I really appreciate your support, and the way you push me to think deeper and give more. Thank you for leading and serving in your classroom and school! You are amazing!





Read More Hottest Posts Everyone’s Reading This Summer

Where did summer go? I guess it’s still hanging on just a bit longer. It’s certainly hot out today in Missouri. The temps are in the mid-90’s. But here is a look back at some of the popular posts from the blog over the past couple of months. As always, thanks for reading and responding to ideas I share. I really appreciate your support, and the way you push me to think deeper and give more. Thank you for leading and serving in your classroom and school! You are amazing!





Read More Hottest Posts Everyone’s Reading This Summer

I remember when my daughter began taking clarinet lessons from a private tutor in junior high. When I picked her up from her first session, she said, “I have been playing for three years, but I learned today that I wasn’t putting the mouth piece in far enough. That one tip has helped me hit […]

Read More PMP:035 Are You Growing? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

This picture was shared on Facebook and I thought it was extremely powerful:                                       To be honest, I have no idea the validity of the post or if it is from where it says it is from. … [Read more…]

Read More Developing AND Finding Intelligence

I saw a post on Twitter talking about removing the word “teaching” and simply replacing it with “learning”. I have to admit, I cringed at the thought.  That being said,…

Read More #AGreatTeacherIs…

I saw a post on Twitter talking about removing the word “teaching” and simply replacing it with “learning”. I have to admit, I cringed at the thought.  That being said, I do believe a great teacher starts from the view point of a learner, not the teacher.  This is something that is a needed shift … [Read more…]

Read More #AGreatTeacherIs…

If you’ve been on the fence about using Twitter to support your professional learning, this list might help. If you exhibit the following signs, it’s probably a good idea to just forget about Twitter.



1. You don’t understand Twitter and aren’t willing to learn.


2. You don’t need any more personal or professional support. You have all the friends you’ll ever need.


3. You have perfected your craft. Every kid is learning every day. You have no room for improvement.


4. You’ve never had a good idea someone else might benefit from.


5. You’re not interested in your voice being part of a larger conversation about education.


6. You only collaborate with colleagues in your school because they have cornered the market on how to teach well.


7. You don’t have time to do something that could be a game-changer for you and your students.
8. You’re afraid you might change your mind about something. You hold onto your beliefs about kids and learning like a security blanket. You wouldn’t want that disturbed. What if your flawed assumptions were challenged and didn’t hold up under scrutiny? Ouch!


9. You can’t believe amazing professional learning could be free and convenient and totally self-directed!?! But it is.


10. You’re so passionate about education and kids, you are afraid you will get addicted and have to go to therapy (warning: this could happen).



If this list doesn’t describe you, you might be a great candidate to use Twitter to grow your PLN (personal learning network). Twitter may seem a little difficult at first, but it’s a great way to challenge your thinking, find new resources, connect with educators across the globe, and consider new ideas that can help your professional practice.



Best of all, it’s free and can be done at your convenience, any time of day all from the comfort of wherever you are. There are really no wrong ways to use Twitter for professional learning as long as you feel it’s supporting your goals. For me, it’s been the most powerful professional learning possible. It’s been a game-changer.






Question: Is Twitter your thing? Or are you still on the sidelines? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook…or Twitter. 🙂

Read More 10 Signs Twitter PD Might Not Be Your Thing

If you’ve been on the fence about using Twitter to support your professional learning, this list might help. If you exhibit the following signs, it’s probably a good idea to just forget about Twitter.



1. You don’t understand Twitter and aren’t willing to learn.


2. You don’t need any more personal or professional support. You have all the friends you’ll ever need.


3. You have perfected your craft. Every kid is learning every day. You have no room for improvement.


4. You’ve never had a good idea someone else might benefit from.


5. You’re not interested in your voice being part of a larger conversation about education.


6. You only collaborate with colleagues in your school because they have cornered the market on how to teach well.


7. You don’t have time to do something that could be a game-changer for you and your students.
8. You’re afraid you might change your mind about something. You hold onto your beliefs about kids and learning like a security blanket. You wouldn’t want that disturbed. What if your flawed assumptions were challenged and didn’t hold up under scrutiny? Ouch!


9. You can’t believe amazing professional learning could be free and convenient and totally self-directed!?! But it is.


10. You’re so passionate about education and kids, you are afraid you will get addicted and have to go to therapy (warning: this could happen).



If this list doesn’t describe you, you might be a great candidate to use Twitter to grow your PLN (personal learning network). Twitter may seem a little difficult at first, but it’s a great way to challenge your thinking, find new resources, connect with educators across the globe, and consider new ideas that can help your professional practice.



Best of all, it’s free and can be done at your convenience, any time of day all from the comfort of wherever you are. There are really no wrong ways to use Twitter for professional learning as long as you feel it’s supporting your goals. For me, it’s been the most powerful professional learning possible. It’s been a game-changer.






Question: Is Twitter your thing? Or are you still on the sidelines? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook…or Twitter. 🙂

Read More 10 Signs Twitter PD Might Not Be Your Thing

        So we’re two weeks into the new school year and I feel really good. The first couple of weeks sets the tone for the year in so many…

Read More 5 Things I Love…



We’ve started a series of weekly discussions in our building about life in our increasingly digital world. I guess you could call it Digital Citizenship. I prefer to call it Digital Leadership. We have a half-hour academic support time built into our schedule four days a week. This past Thursday during that time we had our first lesson. We provided teachers with a couple of choices for activities that were pretty easy to implement. We showed a video of interview clips with our own students sharing some thoughts about how their digital life impacts their overall life. And then we discussed the upsides and downsides to technology, for us personally, for our relationships, and even for our nation. 



In my visits to classrooms, there were lively discussions during this time. These are relevant issues that kids really want to discuss. They want to hear different ideas, share their experience, and wrestle with how to successfully navigate this complex world. 



But there were also some challenges to making this happen. Our teachers and students are accustomed to having this academic support time for tutoring, making up missed work, and other important tasks. There were some legitimate concerns where the loss of the time was going to impact the academics of students. They really needed to retake that quiz or there was a study session for a test the next day. And so, I let the teachers decide. If you feel the academic need is pressing, then skip the Digital Leadership lesson this time.



Even my daughter, Maddie, was disappointed she wasn’t able to use that time for academics. She is playing tennis and has missed a ton of school for matches and tournaments. She’s working hard to get caught up and values Liberator Time to get stuff done. She was concerned about the loss of that time.



As I’ve thought about how this has all played out, my biggest question concerns our priorities. Are we really paying attention to our students’ needs? There is no question that preparing students academically is important. But if we aren’t preparing students for life in a world that is rapidly changing, will the academic knowledge really be that helpful?



Each year, I hear stories from heartbroken parents and see shattered lives because of decisions that were made online. I see the impact of all sorts of digital miscues, small and large. Besides the tragic circumstances that arise, there are also less obvious consequences of failure to navigate a digital world successfully. Who is helping kids figure this stuff out? 



One teacher commented that parents should be doing more to monitor and support their own children. I don’t disagree with this. I think parents can do more to be aware and help meet these challenges. That’s why we’ve hosted parent workshops and provided information in our newsletters to help parents in this area.



But what I don’t agree with is the idea that it’s completely the parents job to address these issues. Our school does not exist in a vacuum. We MUST address the relevant issues of our time and partner with parents to help students be successful. Our school motto is, “Learning for Life.” That points to the need for learning that really matters, that will help students be successful, not just on a test, but in living a healthy, balanced, fulfilling life.



In our school, every student must have a device for learning. They can use a school issued Chromebook or they can bring their own device. But using a device is not optional. I think this ups the ante for us in our level of responsibility on these issues. It’s important no matter what. But when our school is so digitally infused, we must work to educate our students about the challenges they will face. And we must educate them about the opportunities that digital can provide, too.



We are so focused on our curriculum and meeting standards I think we can forget to pay attention to our students and their needs. We aren’t thinking deeply about what is most useful to them now and in the future. We see them as just students. It’s all about academics. We are completely focused on making sure they are learning science, history, math, literature, etc. Are they college and career ready? Did they pass the state assessment? 



And the one overarching question, the elephant in the roomare you teaching content or are you teaching kids? Cause there’s a difference. The best teachers are always ready to teach the life-changing lesson. They understand that’s the stuff that really makes a lasting impact. Students will forget the foreign language they took in HS, they probably won’t ever use the quadratic formula in real life, and reading Victorian literature isn’t likely to spark a passion. 



I hope you get my point.



We can’t afford to not make time for Digital Citizenship, or just plain citizenship. 



Question: How is your school addressing the relevant issues of our time? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Do We Really Have Time for Digital Citizenship?



We’ve started a series of weekly discussions in our building about life in our increasingly digital world. I guess you could call it Digital Citizenship. I prefer to call it Digital Leadership. We have a half-hour academic support time built into our schedule four days a week. This past Thursday during that time we had our first lesson. We provided teachers with a couple of choices for activities that were pretty easy to implement. We showed a video of interview clips with our own students sharing some thoughts about how their digital life impacts their overall life. And then we discussed the upsides and downsides to technology, for us personally, for our relationships, and even for our nation. 



In my visits to classrooms, there were lively discussions during this time. These are relevant issues that kids really want to discuss. They want to hear different ideas, share their experience, and wrestle with how to successfully navigate this complex world. 



But there were also some challenges to making this happen. Our teachers and students are accustomed to having this academic support time for tutoring, making up missed work, and other important tasks. There were some legitimate concerns where the loss of the time was going to impact the academics of students. They really needed to retake that quiz or there was a study session for a test the next day. And so, I let the teachers decide. If you feel the academic need is pressing, then skip the Digital Leadership lesson this time.



Even my daughter, Maddie, was disappointed she wasn’t able to use that time for academics. She is playing tennis and has missed a ton of school for matches and tournaments. She’s working hard to get caught up and values Liberator Time to get stuff done. She was concerned about the loss of that time.



As I’ve thought about how this has all played out, my biggest question concerns our priorities. Are we really paying attention to our students’ needs? There is no question that preparing students academically is important. But if we aren’t preparing students for life in a world that is rapidly changing, will the academic knowledge really be that helpful?



Each year, I hear stories from heartbroken parents and see shattered lives because of decisions that were made online. I see the impact of all sorts of digital miscues, small and large. Besides the tragic circumstances that arise, there are also less obvious consequences of failure to navigate a digital world successfully. Who is helping kids figure this stuff out? 



One teacher commented that parents should be doing more to monitor and support their own children. I don’t disagree with this. I think parents can do more to be aware and help meet these challenges. That’s why we’ve hosted parent workshops and provided information in our newsletters to help parents in this area.



But what I don’t agree with is the idea that it’s completely the parents job to address these issues. Our school does not exist in a vacuum. We MUST address the relevant issues of our time and partner with parents to help students be successful. Our school motto is, “Learning for Life.” That points to the need for learning that really matters, that will help students be successful, not just on a test, but in living a healthy, balanced, fulfilling life.



In our school, every student must have a device for learning. They can use a school issued Chromebook or they can bring their own device. But using a device is not optional. I think this ups the ante for us in our level of responsibility on these issues. It’s important no matter what. But when our school is so digitally infused, we must work to educate our students about the challenges they will face. And we must educate them about the opportunities that digital can provide, too.



We are so focused on our curriculum and meeting standards I think we can forget to pay attention to our students and their needs. We aren’t thinking deeply about what is most useful to them now and in the future. We see them as just students. It’s all about academics. We are completely focused on making sure they are learning science, history, math, literature, etc. Are they college and career ready? Did they pass the state assessment? 



And the one overarching question, the elephant in the roomare you teaching content or are you teaching kids? Cause there’s a difference. The best teachers are always ready to teach the life-changing lesson. They understand that’s the stuff that really makes a lasting impact. Students will forget the foreign language they took in HS, they probably won’t ever use the quadratic formula in real life, and reading Victorian literature isn’t likely to spark a passion. 



I hope you get my point.



We can’t afford to not make time for Digital Citizenship, or just plain citizenship. 



Question: How is your school addressing the relevant issues of our time? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Do We Really Have Time for Digital Citizenship?

It was an interesting day for me.  I spoke in the same district that I did my first keynote in by myself, and it was an amazing experience to reconnect and think about my journey over the last few years.  The person that asked me to speak over six years ago was still there, and … [Read more…]

Read More 3 Obvious Ways Twitter Promotes Literacy

Thinking through writing… A question I always receive in workshops regarding the use of technology in the classroom is regarding the notion of “screen time”; what amount is too much…

Read More Screen time; Quality versus Quantity