Connected Principals Posts

The weeks of summer are a good time to revisit some original Principal Matters content. This week is an encore episode of the very first episode of Principal Matters Podcast. Listen in for reminders on 3 essential to-do’s for providing a great school year for your students and teachers. For the original blog post accompanying […]

Read More PMP: Encore 01 Three C’s For a Great School Year

Leaving a school can be tough.  Switching positions within the same school can also be a challenge. There are many educators who are leaving one school for another this year,…

Read More New Beginnings, New Opportunities



About 10 years ago, I was principal at a small rural school in Southwest Missouri, and somehow found myself as both principal and head girls basketball coach…at the same time. I would tell you I drove a bus route and mowed the grass, too. But that wouldn’t be true. But I did coach girls basketball and was the principal for grades 7-12!



I had coached for several years prior to becoming a principal, so this whole coaching thing was not new to me. And we were pretty good, too. It didn’t hurt that one of our players averaged about 40 points a game and would go on to be the all-time leading scorer in Missouri history.



We were in a very important tournament and facing one of the best teams in the state from a class larger than us. I knew they were going to be tough to beat. So for my pregame speech I decided to take a big risk. I was going to do something so crazy and unexpected that it would, hopefully, motivate the team and take away some of their nerves.



I went into my speech about our opponent and how they were pretty good, and we were going to have to play our best game to beat them. And that there would probably be times we would want to give up, but we had to be the ones who didn’t flinch. We couldn’t let them get the best of us.



I had brought along a large bucket that I prepared upon arrival at the gym by filling it with water. It was sitting on a small table in front of me as I delivered the opening to my speech. I’m sure the players wondered why it was there.



And then I explained, “I’m going to show you what it means to push through even when things get tough. I’m going to stick my head in this bucket of water and hold my breath for as long as I possibly can. And the whole time, I’m going to think about why I started. I’m going to focus on how bad I want to do my best, to stretch myself, to test my limits.”



Now I realize there is a distinct difference between weird and whimsy. And right now, you may be thinking I’m weird. But that’s okay. Stay with me.



The girls on the team stared in utter disbelief at what they were seeing. But they definitely weren’t bored. Engagement was high at this point in the lesson!



And then my head went under. And I stayed under. And I stayed under some more. Until I couldn’t take it any more. 



I came up gasping for air, paused to regain my senses, and then, with my arms flailing wildly, exclaimed, “Now go out there and play your best game yet.” We all put our hands together in the huddle. You could see the electricity in their eyes. Some were grinning, maybe even giggling a little, but they were ready to play, and I knew it had worked.



We went on to win by the narrowest of margins. It was probably our best win of the entire season, and we won 25 games that year.



Too often in our classrooms we have lost a sense of whimsy about learning. It should be fun and exciting. It should challenge us to reach higher and do more. It helps our fears melt away. It helps us believe in our possibilities. It should never be mundane or boring or predictable.



Now you may be thinking that life doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes we have to just do boring stuff, and kids need to learn to do stuff that isn’t always exciting. You may be thinking that you’re not an entertainer, you’re a teacher, right? I’ve heard this before, “Kids nowadays want to be entertained all the time. They want instant gratification.”



But I don’t think life has to be mundane and boring. My wife and I are traveling and staying in a hotel as I write this. This morning at breakfast one of the guys working there was joking around with us and having a good time. You could tell he was really enjoying his job. He was making it fun. He could just as easily be putting in his time and hating life. But instead he was busy putting a smile on our faces. 



The people who really make life better for all of us know how to take even the mundane and boring parts of life and make them wonderful. It’s not about being an entertainer. Some of us aren’t entertainers. But we can all look for the whimsy in what we do. We can ask our students to partner with us in making learning fun. Ask them to help you.



We ultimately want exactly the same things our students want. It’s two things. We want community (fun, whimsy) in the classroom. And, we want learning (curiosity, creativity) in the classroom. Yes, your students may not always act like they want either, but they do. You just have to help them get past all the defenses they’ve built to self-protect. School (and life) hasn’t always felt safe to all of them.



Here are some questions to consider related to bringing whimsy to your classroom:



1. Would you want to be a student in your own classroom?

2. If your students didn’t have to be there, would you be teaching to an empty room?

3. Do you ask your students about how things are going in your classroom, from their perspective? Not to find out if you’re a good teacher or not. But out of curiosity of how they feel and how that information might help you make better decisions for them.

4. What are ways you can bring more whimsy into your classroom? In my example, I was doing something completely crazy that might be totally out of character for you. I would still challenge you to do it anyway. But there are also things related to how you design your lessons that can be whimsical and awe-inspiring. 



I challenge you to bring more whimsy to your classroom. If you are in your off-season (summer break) right now, what a great time to plan some new possibilities for this next school year. Set a tone from the start that your classroom is going to be filled with whimsy and excitement. 



If you need some more inspiration, I would highly suggest you read, Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. It’s an outstanding book that will undoubtedly inspire you!



Question: How are you bringing whimsy and surprise to your classroom? Is that important to you? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More The Power of Whimsy in the Classroom



About 10 years ago, I was principal at a small rural school in Southwest Missouri, and somehow found myself as both principal and head girls basketball coach…at the same time. I would tell you I drove a bus route and mowed the grass, too. But that wouldn’t be true. But I did coach girls basketball and was the principal for grades 7-12!



I had coached for several years prior to becoming a principal, so this whole coaching thing was not new to me. And we were pretty good, too. It didn’t hurt that one of our players averaged about 40 points a game and would go on to be the all-time leading scorer in Missouri history.



We were in a very important tournament and facing one of the best teams in the state from a class larger than us. I knew they were going to be tough to beat. So for my pregame speech I decided to take a big risk. I was going to do something so crazy and unexpected that it would, hopefully, motivate the team and take away some of their nerves.



I went into my speech about our opponent and how they were pretty good, and we were going to have to play our best game to beat them. And that there would probably be times we would want to give up, but we had to be the ones who didn’t flinch. We couldn’t let them get the best of us.



I had brought along a large bucket that I prepared upon arrival at the gym by filling it with water. It was sitting on a small table in front of me as I delivered the opening to my speech. I’m sure the players wondered why it was there.



And then I explained, “I’m going to show you what it means to push through even when things get tough. I’m going to stick my head in this bucket of water and hold my breath for as long as I possibly can. And the whole time, I’m going to think about why I started. I’m going to focus on how bad I want to do my best, to stretch myself, to test my limits.”



Now I realize there is a distinct difference between weird and whimsy. And right now, you may be thinking I’m weird. But that’s okay. Stay with me.



The girls on the team stared in utter disbelief at what they were seeing. But they definitely weren’t bored. Engagement was high at this point in the lesson!



And then my head went under. And I stayed under. And I stayed under some more. Until I couldn’t take it any more. 



I came up gasping for air, paused to regain my senses, and then, with my arms flailing wildly, exclaimed, “Now go out there and play your best game yet.” We all put our hands together in the huddle. You could see the electricity in their eyes. Some were grinning, maybe even giggling a little, but they were ready to play, and I knew it had worked.



We went on to win by the narrowest of margins. It was probably our best win of the entire season, and we won 25 games that year.



Too often in our classrooms we have lost a sense of whimsy about learning. It should be fun and exciting. It should challenge us to reach higher and do more. It helps our fears melt away. It helps us believe in our possibilities. It should never be mundane or boring or predictable.



Now you may be thinking that life doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes we have to just do boring stuff, and kids need to learn to do stuff that isn’t always exciting. You may be thinking that you’re not an entertainer, you’re a teacher, right? I’ve heard this before, “Kids nowadays want to be entertained all the time. They want instant gratification.”



But I don’t think life has to be mundane and boring. My wife and I are traveling and staying in a hotel as I write this. This morning at breakfast one of the guys working there was joking around with us and having a good time. You could tell he was really enjoying his job. He was making it fun. He could just as easily be putting in his time and hating life. But instead he was busy putting a smile on our faces. 



The people who really make life better for all of us know how to take even the mundane and boring parts of life and make them wonderful. It’s not about being an entertainer. Some of us aren’t entertainers. But we can all look for the whimsy in what we do. We can ask our students to partner with us in making learning fun. Ask them to help you.



We ultimately want exactly the same things our students want. It’s two things. We want community (fun, whimsy) in the classroom. And, we want learning (curiosity, creativity) in the classroom. Yes, your students may not always act like they want either, but they do. You just have to help them get past all the defenses they’ve built to self-protect. School (and life) hasn’t always felt safe to all of them.



Here are some questions to consider related to bringing whimsy to your classroom:



1. Would you want to be a student in your own classroom?

2. If your students didn’t have to be there, would you be teaching to an empty room?

3. Do you ask your students about how things are going in your classroom, from their perspective? Not to find out if you’re a good teacher or not. But out of curiosity of how they feel and how that information might help you make better decisions for them.

4. What are ways you can bring more whimsy into your classroom? In my example, I was doing something completely crazy that might be totally out of character for you. I would still challenge you to do it anyway. But there are also things related to how you design your lessons that can be whimsical and awe-inspiring. 



I challenge you to bring more whimsy to your classroom. If you are in your off-season (summer break) right now, what a great time to plan some new possibilities for this next school year. Set a tone from the start that your classroom is going to be filled with whimsy and excitement. 



If you need some more inspiration, I would highly suggest you read, Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. It’s an outstanding book that will undoubtedly inspire you!



Question: How are you bringing whimsy and surprise to your classroom? Is that important to you? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More The Power of Whimsy in the Classroom

This summer I find myself able to actually THINK ahead…something last summer didn’t allow, as I had NO idea what I was supposed to even be thinking about! I’m a planning nerd, which is surprising considering how much is always happening in this role. Someone shared via Twitter recently, ” The principal’s day is spent […]

Read More Tips & tricks to planning as a principal, part 1

When I was a teenager, I was splitting logs for our woodpile when I couldn’t find the familiar wedge I normally used. Looking around I spotted an old axe head and decided it would have to do. Placing it into a good crack in the end of a large log, I knocked the axe head […]

Read More Confronting the Brutal Facts

This week’s episode is a reminder of four reasons why your time away from school can help you better serve your school. Regardless of whether someone is an educator or not, or whether your vacation time is long or short, taking time away from work is healthy for a number of reasons. Also, if you […]

Read More PMP:028 Why Vacation Matters



A few years ago our school went through a very difficult time with technology. Nothing worked. Nothing. At least that’s how everyone felt. I knew it was bad when students were hammering on stone tablets in classrooms!?!



There were several factors that created the problems we experienced, and even though I’m sort of a techie principal, I felt helpless to address all of the issues we faced. Our network was a mess. Computer labs didn’t work properly. It was impossible to print anything. Our limited tech support staff was overwhelmed.




Image retrieved: http://leadkrabi.com/services/computer-consulting/

Thankfully, we are far past those days now. Just this past school year, we made a significant digital conversion by placing Chromebooks in the hands of each of our 800+ students. Although there were a few issues, overall our network is strong and most of the time the Chromebooks worked great. Teachers were singing the Hallelujah Chorus.


And for good reason. 



Technology failure can be one of the most frustrating things a teacher can face in the classroom. It can leave you feeling helpless and embarrassed. In fact, the fear of a technology fail is one of the main reasons teachers are hesitant to try new things with technology. What if it doesn’t work? What if something goes wrong? What then?


It doesn’t help that in far too many schools, technology is not adequately supported. Computers are old. Networks are slow. Students don’t have much access to a device except when a teacher schedules a trip to a computer lab. And just showing a video or having students comment on a blog post can be almost impossible as a result of the blocks and filters that are in place. It seems there can be so many barriers to using tech in the classroom. 


Another reason some teachers don’t use technology is they are afraid they will do something wrong. Technology can seem impossible and scary. Some aren’t sure if they have the skills to succeed. Or they believe they will mess it up. And when your confidence is wavering and you don’t feel successful, it’s really hard to take risks and learn more. By the way, educators should always remember some students probably feel this way about learning reading, math, or grammar. But that’s a topic for a different blog post.


Instead of seeing technology failure as failing, what if we embraced technology failure as an opportunity to learn? It’s great when students see teachers modeling perseverance, flexibility, and problem-solving. All of these qualities can be on full display when something goes wrong with technology in the classroom. It’s a great opportunity for the teacher to take on the role of learner. I believe we need more examples of teachers learning right alongside their students.


I mentioned earlier that our Chromebook launch this year was successful. It was definitely not a tech fail. However, I promise you there were more technology failures than ever before in our building, because students and teachers were using technology more than ever before. But what a great opportunity to teach problem-solving and perseverance. I often write about how important it is to be adaptable as a future-ready skill. Being adaptable with technology is extremely valuable in a world where technology is changing so fast and is such an essential part of how things get done.


So how do we handle the inevitable technology failures we are bound to experience? Should we just play it safe and only use technology in ways we feel most confident? Or just copy another stack worksheets instead? Absolutely not. Embrace failure. Expect it. Nothing works right all the time. Don’t let problems with tech keep you from using it in your classroom.






If you get frustrated every time you have a problem with technology, you’re either going to be frustrated all the time, or you’ll just give up. It would be a shame if you didn’t use technology because of your personal fears or preferences. It’s so important for our students to have experiences using technology as a learning tool. So make up your mind before you start that technology failure is possible and prepare for how you will respond when it doesn’t work right. Even though technology itself won’t make your class great, it can contribute to a more relevant and effective learning environment. Ultimately, technology is awesome in the classroom where there is also an awesome teacher, like you!


Using Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn
Here are 11 tips for dealing with tech failure in your classroom.


1. Plan for it. Don’t be surprised when tech fails. Expect it.


2. Think in advance about what could go wrong. This can help prevent some problems in the first place. It’s great to test the technology in advance if possible to make sure it works. 


3. Talk with your students up front about how technology sometimes fails. Explain what will happen in your class when something doesn’t work. Teach students in advance the mindset you want them to have. Let them know we will find a workaround and press on. It doesn’t mean the lesson is over or learning stops.


4. Enlist students to help solve the problem. The smartest person in the room is the room. Alone we may be smart, but together we are brilliant. Your students can be a great resource to help correct a tech fail.


5. Build your own technology skills so you have more knowledge to draw on. Try to overcome your fear of technology. No one really taught me how to use tech. I just click on stuff to figure out what happens. You can do this too.


6. Send for support. You may have a technology coach or technician in your building who can offer a helping hand.


7. Use Google, or YouTube, to search for answers. When I’m faced with a technology problem, I can almost always find a solution online. 



8. Don’t allow the limitations of technology in your school keep you from doing what you can. I mentioned how bad technology was for a while in our school. Many of our teachers still found ways to use technology as best they could. We have to do our very best to create an up-to-date classroom even if our tech isn’t up-to-date.



9. Model risk-taking and problem-solving for your students. “We’re going to try this to see if it works. If that doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. We’re going to figure this out!”



10. Always have a Plan B for your lesson. If the tech doesn’t work and troubleshooting doesn’t result in a quick fix, it may be time to move forward with the lesson in a different way. Be adaptable. Thank anyone who tried to help fix the problem and then give clear directions about what will happen next.



11. Don’t apologize. Usually tech failures just happen and aren’t anyone’s fault. It’s Murphy’s Law, right? If it’s not your fault, don’t apologize to your students for the problem. If you feel you must apologize when you see those sad eyes staring at you, only do it once. And then move forward.






One thing we are doing in our school to help address tech failures is empowering students. We created a student tech team to support all things related to digital learning in our school. They call themselves the SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology). The group was organized last school year, and they’ve already provided PD to teachers on Chrome apps/extensions, held a tech night for parents to showcase how digital tools are being used in the classroom, and visited our middle school to share about our high school 1:1 program. Our goal is for this group to take on a greater role in sharing Chromebook knowledge and responding to tech failures when they occur.  



Question: What’s your worst technology fail? How do you respond when technology fails in your classroom or school? Are you open to taking risks and trying new technology? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More Seeing Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn



A few years ago our school went through a very difficult time with technology. Nothing worked. Nothing. At least that’s how everyone felt. I knew it was bad when students were hammering on stone tablets in classrooms!?!



There were several factors that created the problems we experienced, and even though I’m sort of a techie principal, I felt helpless to address all of the issues we faced. Our network was a mess. Computer labs didn’t work properly. It was impossible to print anything. Our limited tech support staff was overwhelmed.




Image retrieved: http://leadkrabi.com/services/computer-consulting/

Thankfully, we are far past those days now. Just this past school year, we made a significant digital conversion by placing Chromebooks in the hands of each of our 800+ students. Although there were a few issues, overall our network is strong and most of the time the Chromebooks worked great. Teachers were singing the Hallelujah Chorus.


And for good reason. 



Technology failure can be one of the most frustrating things a teacher can face in the classroom. It can leave you feeling helpless and embarrassed. In fact, the fear of a technology fail is one of the main reasons teachers are hesitant to try new things with technology. What if it doesn’t work? What if something goes wrong? What then?


It doesn’t help that in far too many schools, technology is not adequately supported. Computers are old. Networks are slow. Students don’t have much access to a device except when a teacher schedules a trip to a computer lab. And just showing a video or having students comment on a blog post can be almost impossible as a result of the blocks and filters that are in place. It seems there can be so many barriers to using tech in the classroom. 


Another reason some teachers don’t use technology is they are afraid they will do something wrong. Technology can seem impossible and scary. Some aren’t sure if they have the skills to succeed. Or they believe they will mess it up. And when your confidence is wavering and you don’t feel successful, it’s really hard to take risks and learn more. By the way, educators should always remember some students probably feel this way about learning reading, math, or grammar. But that’s a topic for a different blog post.


Instead of seeing technology failure as failing, what if we embraced technology failure as an opportunity to learn? It’s great when students see teachers modeling perseverance, flexibility, and problem-solving. All of these qualities can be on full display when something goes wrong with technology in the classroom. It’s a great opportunity for the teacher to take on the role of learner. I believe we need more examples of teachers learning right alongside their students.


I mentioned earlier that our Chromebook launch this year was successful. It was definitely not a tech fail. However, I promise you there were more technology failures than ever before in our building, because students and teachers were using technology more than ever before. But what a great opportunity to teach problem-solving and perseverance. I often write about how important it is to be adaptable as a future-ready skill. Being adaptable with technology is extremely valuable in a world where technology is changing so fast and is such an essential part of how things get done.


So how do we handle the inevitable technology failures we are bound to experience? Should we just play it safe and only use technology in ways we feel most confident? Or just copy another stack worksheets instead? Absolutely not. Embrace failure. Expect it. Nothing works right all the time. Don’t let problems with tech keep you from using it in your classroom.






If you get frustrated every time you have a problem with technology, you’re either going to be frustrated all the time, or you’ll just give up. It would be a shame if you didn’t use technology because of your personal fears or preferences. It’s so important for our students to have experiences using technology as a learning tool. So make up your mind before you start that technology failure is possible and prepare for how you will respond when it doesn’t work right. Even though technology itself won’t make your class great, it can contribute to a more relevant and effective learning environment. Ultimately, technology is awesome in the classroom where there is also an awesome teacher, like you!


Using Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn
Here are 11 tips for dealing with tech failure in your classroom.


1. Plan for it. Don’t be surprised when tech fails. Expect it.


2. Think in advance about what could go wrong. This can help prevent some problems in the first place. It’s great to test the technology in advance if possible to make sure it works. 


3. Talk with your students up front about how technology sometimes fails. Explain what will happen in your class when something doesn’t work. Teach students in advance the mindset you want them to have. Let them know we will find a workaround and press on. It doesn’t mean the lesson is over or learning stops.


4. Enlist students to help solve the problem. The smartest person in the room is the room. Alone we may be smart, but together we are brilliant. Your students can be a great resource to help correct a tech fail.


5. Build your own technology skills so you have more knowledge to draw on. Try to overcome your fear of technology. No one really taught me how to use tech. I just click on stuff to figure out what happens. You can do this too.


6. Send for support. You may have a technology coach or technician in your building who can offer a helping hand.


7. Use Google, or YouTube, to search for answers. When I’m faced with a technology problem, I can almost always find a solution online. 



8. Don’t allow the limitations of technology in your school keep you from doing what you can. I mentioned how bad technology was for a while in our school. Many of our teachers still found ways to use technology as best they could. We have to do our very best to create an up-to-date classroom even if our tech isn’t up-to-date.



9. Model risk-taking and problem-solving for your students. “We’re going to try this to see if it works. If that doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. We’re going to figure this out!”



10. Always have a Plan B for your lesson. If the tech doesn’t work and troubleshooting doesn’t result in a quick fix, it may be time to move forward with the lesson in a different way. Be adaptable. Thank anyone who tried to help fix the problem and then give clear directions about what will happen next.



11. Don’t apologize. Usually tech failures just happen and aren’t anyone’s fault. It’s Murphy’s Law, right? If it’s not your fault, don’t apologize to your students for the problem. If you feel you must apologize when you see those sad eyes staring at you, only do it once. And then move forward.






One thing we are doing in our school to help address tech failures is empowering students. We created a student tech team to support all things related to digital learning in our school. They call themselves the SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology). The group was organized last school year, and they’ve already provided PD to teachers on Chrome apps/extensions, held a tech night for parents to showcase how digital tools are being used in the classroom, and visited our middle school to share about our high school 1:1 program. Our goal is for this group to take on a greater role in sharing Chromebook knowledge and responding to tech failures when they occur.  



Question: What’s your worst technology fail? How do you respond when technology fails in your classroom or school? Are you open to taking risks and trying new technology? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More Seeing Tech Failure as an Opportunity to Learn

One thing is for sure, social media is here to stay. Never before have people been able to connect, share, and learn from one another as we do now. I can only imagine what might be next! As a result, our students need skills to win at life in a digital world. The ability to use social media to support life goals and possibilities can be a game-changer. I know it has been very powerful for me in my professional life.



But one story is truly remarkable. I stumbled across Marc Guberti on Twitter and was immediately interested to learn more about this young man. His bio describes him as an 18-year-old entrepreneur and social media expert. He now has over 290,000 Twitter followers and over 250,000 annual visits to his blog. No doubt he has created a powerful presence online. But he also shared this part of his mission:

“This isn’t just about being successful and having financial flexibility. This is about creating a movement. I want to prove to other teens that it is possible to become successful at a young age. In a world where teens are increasingly going to drugs and drinking as a way to make themselves feel good and student debt keeps on rising, there are resources available that can allow any person of any age to become a leader and create a tribe of people that matter.”

While every student may not want to build a social media empire like Marc, everyone wants to be part of a tribe of people that matter. And as educators, we want every student to have the opportunity to reach the maximum of their potential. In today’s world, the ability to connect productively with others through social media can increase opportunities for college admissions, job opportunities, entrepreneurship ideas, and more. 



I believe helping students use social media effectively starts with educators and schools modeling the use of social media and inviting students to use social media as part of their education. When students see ways social media can be used for learning and professionally, that is a powerful message. We should also model and discuss the safe and appropriate use of social media to help our students avoid situations that could be damaging to themselves or others.



So here are 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School. Feel free to download the infographic below to print or share as you wish. I hope this information helps your school or team.



1. Engage Parents and Community

Social media is a great way to connect with parents and community. Every classroom and school has a story to tell. Social media allows educators the opportunity to make visible the great things that are happening.

2. Share Student Work

Sharing student work on social media instantly creates an authentic audience. It’s possible to share examples of digital products, projects, artwork, writing, and just about anything else.

3. Teach Digital Citizenship



There is so much to know to be a safe, responsible user of social media. We must teach digital citizenship. When we regularly use social media in the classroom, it provides more opportunities for learning about safe and responsible use.

4. Make Global Connections

Give students a sense of learning beyond classroom walls. Social media allows connections across the globe, perhaps with another classroom. These connections help students to see different perspectives and cultures.

5. Prepare Kids for the Future



Social media continues to grow and is now an excellent way to learn, build a professional network, and even get a job. Our students will be better prepared for future opportunities if they have experiences with social media that are for learning and professional reasons.

6. Promote Positive Messages

There are so many negatives on social media. That’s one reason some educators have been reluctant to engage. However, schools have an opportunity to lead to create a positive presence and help students create a positive presence. Make the positives so loud it drowns out the negative aspects of social media.

7. Connect with Experts




We don’t have to be dependent on textbooks anymore for information. It’s possible to connect with experts in every discipline. Classrooms are interacting with authors, scientists, astronauts, activists, and entrepreneurs. These connections are inspiring and authentic.




CLICK ON THE INFOGRAPHIC TO SHARE THIS ON TWITTER.

      

Read More 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School (INFOGRAPHIC)

One thing is for sure, social media is here to stay. Never before have people been able to connect, share, and learn from one another as we do now. I can only imagine what might be next! As a result, our students need skills to win at life in a digital world. The ability to use social media to support life goals and possibilities can be a game-changer. I know it has been very powerful for me in my professional life.



But one story is truly remarkable. I stumbled across Marc Guberti on Twitter and was immediately interested to learn more about this young man. His bio describes him as an 18-year-old entrepreneur and social media expert. He now has over 290,000 Twitter followers and over 250,000 annual visits to his blog. No doubt he has created a powerful presence online. But he also shared this part of his mission:

“This isn’t just about being successful and having financial flexibility. This is about creating a movement. I want to prove to other teens that it is possible to become successful at a young age. In a world where teens are increasingly going to drugs and drinking as a way to make themselves feel good and student debt keeps on rising, there are resources available that can allow any person of any age to become a leader and create a tribe of people that matter.”

While every student may not want to build a social media empire like Marc, everyone wants to be part of a tribe of people that matter. And as educators, we want every student to have the opportunity to reach the maximum of their potential. In today’s world, the ability to connect productively with others through social media can increase opportunities for college admissions, job opportunities, entrepreneurship ideas, and more. 



I believe helping students use social media effectively starts with educators and schools modeling the use of social media and inviting students to use social media as part of their education. When students see ways social media can be used for learning and professionally, that is a powerful message. We should also model and discuss the safe and appropriate use of social media to help our students avoid situations that could be damaging to themselves or others.



So here are 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School. Feel free to download the infographic below to print or share as you wish. I hope this information helps your school or team.



1. Engage Parents and Community

Social media is a great way to connect with parents and community. Every classroom and school has a story to tell. Social media allows educators the opportunity to make visible the great things that are happening.

2. Share Student Work

Sharing student work on social media instantly creates an authentic audience. It’s possible to share examples of digital products, projects, artwork, writing, and just about anything else.

3. Teach Digital Citizenship



There is so much to know to be a safe, responsible user of social media. We must teach digital citizenship. When we regularly use social media in the classroom, it provides more opportunities for learning about safe and responsible use.

4. Make Global Connections

Give students a sense of learning beyond classroom walls. Social media allows connections across the globe, perhaps with another classroom. These connections help students to see different perspectives and cultures.

5. Prepare Kids for the Future



Social media continues to grow and is now an excellent way to learn, build a professional network, and even get a job. Our students will be better prepared for future opportunities if they have experiences with social media that are for learning and professional reasons.

6. Promote Positive Messages

There are so many negatives on social media. That’s one reason some educators have been reluctant to engage. However, schools have an opportunity to lead to create a positive presence and help students create a positive presence. Make the positives so loud it drowns out the negative aspects of social media.

7. Connect with Experts




We don’t have to be dependent on textbooks anymore for information. It’s possible to connect with experts in every discipline. Classrooms are interacting with authors, scientists, astronauts, activists, and entrepreneurs. These connections are inspiring and authentic.




CLICK ON THE INFOGRAPHIC TO SHARE THIS ON TWITTER.

      

Read More 7 Reasons To Use Social Media In Your School (INFOGRAPHIC)





“Is there really a difference in student performance with technology compared to without technology? My students seem to be doing just fine without it.”



I guess that depends on how you define student performance and success. If success is measured only by a test score or by mastery of content, then perhaps students are successful without technology.



“My classes are always engaged and seem to do just fine without technology.”



I guess that depends on how you define engaged. I think it’s important for students to do things that reflect the world we live in, not the world we grew up in.



“I want to see the proof that technology improves learning before we purchase any new tech.”



Whether technology improves learning or not isn’t about the technology itself, but how teachers and students use the technology to improve learning. 



I hear many stories about failed technology initiatives in schools. The technology was not used to the fullest, or worse it was not used at all. The narrative is all too familiar. Little was done to gather input or get buy-in from stakeholders up front, and little was done to support the implementation after the fact. How many smartboards in this country are being used as glorified projector screens? Almost always, these types of failures are avoidable with proper planning and ongoing support. 



But is it really worth it to invest thousands for technology in schools. Is it reasonable to provide a connected device to every student? For years, I’ve asked my graduate students to think about technology purchases in their own schools. Did it really pay off to buy the technology? Did the technology allow something to be done that couldn’t be done before? Was the total cost of ownership considered? 



After all, most studies I’ve encountered don’t really support the idea that technology raises student achievement. Of course, student achievement in these studies is usually narrowly defined by test scores. One study I read concluded that technology even widens the achievement gap. It found that more privileged students tend to use the devices more often for learning, while less privileged students tend to use the devices for entertainment. 



In spite of these discouraging reports, I believe we need to look further before concluding that technology isn’t worth it. As schools consider spending for new technology, there needs to be a clear vision of what success will look like. We need to really explore why we are doing what we’re doing. In addition to the questions mentioned before, I would also suggest the following as food for thought.



1. Can we afford NOT to place up-to-date technology in the hands of our students?



Technology is how things get done in our modern world. We aren’t preparing students for the world we grew up in. We aren’t even preparing students to be successful in the world they grew up in. Our world is changing so fast, our students are going to have to be prepared for anything. That requires adaptability. And it will certainly also include adaptability with the use of technology. Those skills aren’t measured on standardized tests. They are measured in authentic situations where real work is being done. 



2. Is technology being used in ways that give students greater ownership of learning? Does technology result in a shift in agency to the learner?





It’s wise to think of technology in terms of value added. How does technology allow us to do something better than before? And, how is it allowing us to do something we couldn’t do before? There are many ways tech improves things we do or allows for new things. But some uses of technology take learning to the next level. These uses are game-changers.



I would like to see technology being used to create big shifts in learning. One of the biggest shifts is to create more authentic, student-driven learning experiences. Technology is a game changer when it is used to shift agency to the learner. It’s a game-changer when students take greater ownership of their learning.



So let’s consider interactive white boards. They have some possibilities for student agency I guess, but they are probably used more often for direct instruction, led by the teacher. That doesn’t mean we should stop using these tools altogether, but I do think we should strive for technology to be used in more authentic ways, where students are given voice and choice and are creating and solving problems.



The most powerful potential for a shift in agency is for students to have access to a connected device in a BYOD or 1:1 scenario. But access is not enough. Just like there are lots of interactive white boards being used as glorified projector screens, there are also lots of laptops being used as overpriced word processors.



To use technology to the fullest, we need leaders in our classrooms and schools who can facilitate a pedagogy that creates greater student ownership of learning. How we use the technology is the critical issue that determines whether the investment pays off or not. So whether you invest in iPads or Chromebooks or some other device, the key question to remember is how will this technology improve student learning?



Question: How do you know technology use is successful in your school? Is it worth the cost? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More Making Technology Pay





“Is there really a difference in student performance with technology compared to without technology? My students seem to be doing just fine without it.”



I guess that depends on how you define student performance and success. If success is measured only by a test score or by mastery of content, then perhaps students are successful without technology.



“My classes are always engaged and seem to do just fine without technology.”



I guess that depends on how you define engaged. I think it’s important for students to do things that reflect the world we live in, not the world we grew up in.



“I want to see the proof that technology improves learning before we purchase any new tech.”



Whether technology improves learning or not isn’t about the technology itself, but how teachers and students use the technology to improve learning. 



I hear many stories about failed technology initiatives in schools. The technology was not used to the fullest, or worse it was not used at all. The narrative is all too familiar. Little was done to gather input or get buy-in from stakeholders up front, and little was done to support the implementation after the fact. How many smartboards in this country are being used as glorified projector screens? Almost always, these types of failures are avoidable with proper planning and ongoing support. 



But is it really worth it to invest thousands for technology in schools. Is it reasonable to provide a connected device to every student? For years, I’ve asked my graduate students to think about technology purchases in their own schools. Did it really pay off to buy the technology? Did the technology allow something to be done that couldn’t be done before? Was the total cost of ownership considered? 



After all, most studies I’ve encountered don’t really support the idea that technology raises student achievement. Of course, student achievement in these studies is usually narrowly defined by test scores. One study I read concluded that technology even widens the achievement gap. It found that more privileged students tend to use the devices more often for learning, while less privileged students tend to use the devices for entertainment. 



In spite of these discouraging reports, I believe we need to look further before concluding that technology isn’t worth it. As schools consider spending for new technology, there needs to be a clear vision of what success will look like. We need to really explore why we are doing what we’re doing. In addition to the questions mentioned before, I would also suggest the following as food for thought.



1. Can we afford NOT to place up-to-date technology in the hands of our students?



Technology is how things get done in our modern world. We aren’t preparing students for the world we grew up in. We aren’t even preparing students to be successful in the world they grew up in. Our world is changing so fast, our students are going to have to be prepared for anything. That requires adaptability. And it will certainly also include adaptability with the use of technology. Those skills aren’t measured on standardized tests. They are measured in authentic situations where real work is being done. 



2. Is technology being used in ways that give students greater ownership of learning? Does technology result in a shift in agency to the learner?





It’s wise to think of technology in terms of value added. How does technology allow us to do something better than before? And, how is it allowing us to do something we couldn’t do before? There are many ways tech improves things we do or allows for new things. But some uses of technology take learning to the next level. These uses are game-changers.



I would like to see technology being used to create big shifts in learning. One of the biggest shifts is to create more authentic, student-driven learning experiences. Technology is a game changer when it is used to shift agency to the learner. It’s a game-changer when students take greater ownership of their learning.



So let’s consider interactive white boards. They have some possibilities for student agency I guess, but they are probably used more often for direct instruction, led by the teacher. That doesn’t mean we should stop using these tools altogether, but I do think we should strive for technology to be used in more authentic ways, where students are given voice and choice and are creating and solving problems.



The most powerful potential for a shift in agency is for students to have access to a connected device in a BYOD or 1:1 scenario. But access is not enough. Just like there are lots of interactive white boards being used as glorified projector screens, there are also lots of laptops being used as overpriced word processors.



To use technology to the fullest, we need leaders in our classrooms and schools who can facilitate a pedagogy that creates greater student ownership of learning. How we use the technology is the critical issue that determines whether the investment pays off or not. So whether you invest in iPads or Chromebooks or some other device, the key question to remember is how will this technology improve student learning?



Question: How do you know technology use is successful in your school? Is it worth the cost? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More Making Technology Pay

When I was a boy, one day my dad walked me to the back pasture of our farm.

Image source: seattlefoodshed.com
Image source: seattlefoodshed.com

At the end of long rows of corn, he had set aside an area that he had tilled and planted with potato cuttings. The plants had grown and died. In this patch, I couldn’t see any sign of life.

“Get down on your hands and knees,” he said, as he squatted on all fours. So I followed suit.

“Now start digging down below the top layer of soil until you feel something,” he told me as he began moving dirt.

Soon I felt the warm topsoil give way to the cool, rich dirt below. And before long I was digging up dozens of new, red potatoes. We made piles of them, loaded them up and carried them home to clean. Read More Cultivating a Culture of Growth