Smile…It’s the First Day Of School

Today was our first day with scholars back on the campus.  A super four days of inservice with colleagues led up to this day with students…and it was great.  I’m completely exhausted as I know the staff and probably the students are as well.  It felt so good to have such a positive day to start the year.  One of my thousand goals this year is to maintain that sense of positivity and pace that was set forth today.

The Importance of Honoring New Staff #cpchat

It’s the beginning of the school year and new staff are walking into our learning communities with questions, ideas and new energy.  This can be scary or exciting, difficult or easy.  It depends largely on how we (school communities and administration) structure that experience.  In the past I’ve been guilty of making assumptions about what new staff know and don’t know.  This year I’ve made special considerations to remove those assumptions and feel soooo good about that.  It’s important.  This year our district put together a video of our new teaching staff and just asked them each to share a bit about their values within education.  Very simple thing to do, big impact to the community as a whole.

@TCRWP Institute Not Just About Writing and Reading #tcrwp

I just spent a week at Teacher’s College of Columbia University for a Writer’s Workshop institute.  There were multiple tracks to this experience. The educational aspects of writer’s workshop, administrative planning, our own writing practices, and the list goes on.

When I was packing prior to the institute I was pretty certain I would experience aspects of the above tracks.  For whatever reason I didn’t really calculate the power of the connections I would encounter, even though I experience it everyday with my PLN.

I’m truly grateful for the experiences that presented themselves during this week.  Each one has changed my thinking, learning and writing in more ways than expected. I’ll be sharing another post later this week about writing, learning and being a writing principal and what it all means, but for now I just want to appreciate the connections, trying new things, taking risks, meeting new people and reaching out to keep connections alive. Thank you.

I consider this man a mentor to me.  @TonySinanis has been teaching me about life and learning for a long time now and believe it or not, we've never met in person until this past week.

I consider this man a mentor to me. @TonySinanis has been teaching me about life and learning for a long time now and believe it or not, we’ve never met in person until this past week.

Meeting Cornelius Minor (@MisterMinor) was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  His words led to sooo many connections within my own work and thinking.  I was able to connect with him via Twitter after our session and continue to learn from his experiences and knowledge.

Meeting Cornelius Minor (@MisterMinor) was one of the highlights of the trip for me. His words led to sooo many connections within my own work and thinking. I was able to connect with him via Twitter after our session and continue to learn from his experiences and knowledge.

I draw a great deal of inspiration from the work of @caseyneistat and couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit his studio...well, the door to his studio.  Still a cool moment.

I draw a great deal of inspiration from the work of @caseyneistat and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit his studio…well, the door to his studio. Still a cool moment.

I met many principals and educators while at the institute, but meeting @FelixRGil stood out as a highlight!  His energy and investment in education is amazing.  Follow him!

I met many principals and educators while at the institute, but meeting @FelixRGil stood out as a highlight! His energy and investment in education is amazing. Follow him!

Ran into my good friend Nick.  We were in each other's weddings and haven't seen each other in ten years.  Talked about life, learning and even writing.

Ran into my good friend Nick. We were in each other’s weddings and haven’t seen each other in ten years. Talked about life, learning and even writing.

@colleen_cruz added so much energy and humor to the week that I left each session laughing and feverishly trying to write everything down!  She's awesome and tweets great stuff!

@colleen_cruz added so much energy and humor to the week that I left each session laughing and feverishly trying to write everything down! She’s awesome and tweets great stuff!

Author @lester_laminack was so powerful in each of his presentations that at least have my writer's notebook is dedicated to his words, wisdom and humor.

Author @lester_laminack was so powerful in each of his presentations that at least half my writer’s notebook from that week is dedicated to his words, wisdom and humor.

@vickigraf2 has always been a mentor to me as a learner and leader.  We spent our time discussing all the greatness from the institute and how we were going to change our own practices in the future.  We visited @littleBits, explored the city and talked about writing as leaders.

@vickigraf2 has always been a mentor to me as a learner and leader. We spent our time discussing all the greatness from the institute and how we were going to change our own practices in the future. We visited @littleBits, explored the city and talked about writing as leaders.

@tndnvt, @teachvt, @vickigraf2 and I visited the 9/11 memorial one evening.  Powerful...real...amazing.  A feeling I'll never forget.

@tndnvt, @teachvt, @vickigraf2 and I visited the 9/11 memorial one evening. Powerful…real…amazing. A feeling I’ll never forget.

To hear Lucy Calkins speak is to be reminded of what it means to know the life around you.  She reminded me of the stories that sit waiting to be told.

To hear Lucy Calkins speak is to be reminded of what it means to know the life around you. She reminded me of the stories that sit waiting to be told.

#LTSMCohort1 Was Some of the Best Learning I’ve Experienced!

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This past week I had the opportunity to work with twenty-eight education leaders around social media, sharing our stories as educators and managing communication effectively.  This was a new experience for me, leading discussions around this work…but to say I was leading the conversations and learning would be misleading.  I was learning right alongside everyone in the room!  I can’t completely describe the power of hearing the stories of all these different schools, communities, leaders and educators.  I had the chance to see people discover the power of the “little” moments that we experience everyday and how important it is to celebrate those.  Or seeing someone realize that they do have a powerful story to share…amazing.  This was a highlight of my summer and now I have a whole new group of people to add to my PLN, to learn from and to continue to connect and amaze!  Please follow these amazing folks on Twitter:

@JayStetzel
@denise-goodnow
@ANWSU_VT
@hpesreilly
@VermontPLN1
@Educate4ward
@LAPDA9
@CVEDCESA
@EssexSupt
@faystonedleader
@duanempierson
@abdemarist
@AmortVT
@wjcobb
@pafarrell
@cdinapoli
@ydfvt
@smgruendling
@TBPSVT
@bloomyvt
@seekampterry
@chelseaRsmiley
@toryriley4
@gwencarmolli
@breynolds376
@vergennesUHS

A Look at PLP’s #edchat #vted

During a recent podcast I was able to visit with our Agency of Education and some of our local education leaders about Personalized Learning Plans.  It was interesting to investigate and think about from an elementary perspective as most of the action of implementation is happening at the middle and high school level.  While I was discussing and looking at the whole picture I was considering what work we can do at an elementary level to prepare for and support this work for our students, families and colleagues.

 

5 Day Vlogging Challenge for Principals #cpchat

I don’t know why it occurred to me that I should try a five day vlogging challenge the last week of school, but it did…so I did.  My goals were simple…just try vlogging and see what I experience…share my experience overall at the end of five days.  That’s it.  I have other reasons which I mention in the videos, but here are some:

  • Accountability and transparency – The more effort I make around transparency and communication the more I see the extreme benefits.  There’s no doubt that people can’t support what they don’t know.
  • Credibility – We are all asking our educators to take risks, innovate…take leaps…but are we doing that ourselves?  Are we modeling the use of new technologies…the open communication that we want to see from our educators?
  • Reflection – As with other things like podcasts, classroom videos, etc. I wanted to see if I could catalog and reflect on my own experiences through a vlog

So what did I learn about vlogging that I didn’t know or suspect before?

  • It’s not as time consuming as I thought…let me explain.  Once you get in the habit(s) of vlogging you can collect video pretty easily along the way.  There are actually some great apps that make it easy to do from your phone, or if you are obsessive about video editing as I am, you can save clips for processing at the end of the day.
  • Just like everything else it’s more powerful if it’s a part of the work you are already doing.  I take a lot of pictures, video and audio during the school day.  Weaving vlogging in with that makes it a more cohesive story and something I can reflect upon.
  • It’s just another way of telling our story!  Casey Neistat had a great vlog about vlogging and what I got from that more than anything was making sure that you are centering in on a story. I think my first couple of attempts were just video journals of the day…that’s great if that’s your purpose, but storytelling is powerful when done this way…so moving forward that’s a big shift I would incorporate…picking one story for the day to center the vlog on and go from there.
  • If you are using your phone for vlogging turn off your bluetooth connections…trust me…it gets weird quick.
  • Be prepared for strange looks…it’s just part of it.  But once you tell people what you are doing you’ll find that they are amazingly supportive and interested.
  • I would keep it all in my work day.  The first couple vlogs I tried to include some home stories too…and that’s fun and great, and I really see value in bridging home life and school life, but it goes back to the purpose and telling the story and connecting with other leaders, educators and community.

I think this is a great challenge for any educator, but particularly school leaders…five days…give it a try.

Vlogs below: