Friday, April 29, 2016

Who Are You?

I see so many hashtags, I see so many people being tagged
I am going to rant as a nothing more than a newspaper rag

If I rhyme and bring it to that level, will you be able to respond?
You are white, promoting white, don't you feel a responsibility to humankind?

If you have a page where people go to seek you to speak
I find that incredibly weak

Who are you? are you a principal or talking tower
I can't stand it when I am out of the building an hour

What I see sometimes is a single voice promoting a brand
And on top of that none of them even understand

I am going to be honest and blunt
If I was a football coach, I would never punt

I spent the end of my day in an ESL class with Sarah
She has 13 kids without a para

They were watching green screen videos they sent to youtube
Their voice on video to tell us and show their attitude

Why do "white" principals like you, only sometimes promote "your" brand?
I see so many that don't involve their staff or common ground

How can you only promote on twitter and not respond to teachers?
Are they not a part of your vision, your a global chief fake cheater

I call out all admins that only promote invented and global hashtags
what are you "doing" with "our kids" you are going to the dance stag

I am so tired and angry of the nonsense I see on social media
Go ahead and argue with me

I am not scared, not tired, I wake almost every day at 4 am
I am what I am.

I want to change minds and plead you to invole your staff
I am hear to help, I am hear to aide
For so many admins I see only promote their own self
What is wrong with you, where did go and drink your own koolaid?

Stop the automation, stop the quotes!
You need to start taking notes

I don't like you, I call you out
But none of you will respond or seek me out

I want to take the power back
I want to empower my staff

They are the ones that do the work
And every once in a while we might twerk

Be the voice, champion, but don't be a voice no one local hears
Those are the minds and the influence you need between the ears

Stop the global hashtags of this and that
Do what is right for your room, school, that is the attack

I think I am done with this rant
Please understand, I won't stop, I can't



Thursday, April 28, 2016

As You Ponder Leadership

As you ponder leadership with your time and think about all your lists
I wonder if all the wonder and worry is worth the risk

To drive yourself crazy about crossing every T and dotting every I
I am reading a new book about Winston Churchill and that Abraham Lincoln guy

The book would lead you to believe that leadership styles are changing everywhere
That leaders need to be the head of the boat like Washington crossing the Delaware

I am only 10 pages in and already have started to think and ponder
Are leaders just people who can speak and wonder?

It goes on to say that the leader who once held all the knowledge and skills
Are now being replaced by talking heads, that are able to bring great thrills

It further points to the fact that great heads of companies fit this mold
I am not totally sure I am totally sold

I am conflicted as this book came highly recommended
Churchill and Lincoln should be able to teach me if it can be comprehended

So 10 pages in I am going to keep reading
Many thoughts I have begun to have as I am breathing

To be able to speak and stand tall
Is that really all?

Or should I also be able to roll up my sleeves and work
And ever so often be called a jerk?

Is being both soft and firm an important trait?
Do you have to be the first out of the gate?

So read on I will, a few hundred more pages to go
If nothing else, maybe it will help me grow




Wednesday, April 20, 2016

#GoOpen or #GoClosed... That is the question

So I borrowed this saying, modified it to fit my needs and now am using it to title my blog...

What if you could do that with educational resources?  I don't want to take someone else's stuff, and plug in play all the time.  At times that might work, but usually I feel like tweaks might need to be made or wholesale modifications.  In either case, I want to be able to do that without feeling like I am either breaking copyright or just being morally indifferent to others' work.

#GoOpen to me means, giving credit to good ideas, if I share on social media or more internal networks, but also being able to take another's ideas and make them better or fit my needs.

This has been going on forever in education, why not make it scaleable and/or regular.  Let's change the mindset from "needing" or "paying" for credit, to... "putting it out there for the world for others to steal, take, borrow, modify, tweak, whatever"

I feel when you accept the moral contract to be an educator, you accept that you are going to share your ideas with others without needing credit or payment.  Like a doctor takes an oath to help all those around them in physical distress, you accept that, acknowledge it, for the betterment of others.  That should be inherent the first day you take your first class and begin to educate them.

I have been fortunate enough to BETA test @amazoneducation new platform and have uploaded a few things and downloaded a few things I liked.  I have also asked for and taken hundreds of ideas, forms, letters, etc. from others and used them as my own.  When possible I give them credit, but I will admit I sometimes forget or don't even realize who the original source was...

Is this a problem?  I say no!  I say I took a moral contract and accepted it when I became an educator that I was going to share anything and everything because it is "what is best for kids."  I will say RIGHT NOW that you can take any idea I have or share and never give me credit.  I don't care, because, "I do what is best for kids!" P.S. I don't like that saying, at all...




  • So who are you? 
  • What is your role in education?
  • How are you going to share?
  • Share with limits or share openly?  I say share openly!  Knowing that your work may never make you millions, but it may help someone "do what is best for kids!"
Don't put your stuff out there to look for accolades or awards!  The only recognition you should need is knowing that you have pushed the thinking of someone else, gave them ideas without strings, and been self-actualized in the idea that you are okay with that. If not, I feel you have not accepted the moral obligation that comes with being an educator.

We are in this together, we have many that oppose us and think we are not professionals... Let's be #GoOpen to show them, that in no other industry other than education can we be this open.  We grow together to be better.  Be better with me, or build those walls... The Choice Is Yours! 


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

#edubabble has got a hold on me!



Talk, Talk, Talk, Talk, Talk
Life was easier when we used chalk

Here is my pet peeve with what I hear
To my breaking point I am near

An era of common core
Looking at standardized scores


Research based best practices in classes
You use to engage the masses

Maslowe and Bloom’s and pushing thinking
And sticking to the script with no tinkering

Data driven instruction, RTI, small groupings
Pacing guides, activating strategies, aren’t you looping?

Multiple attempts and teaching to the test
Growth mindset and the power of aren’t you tired yet?

Vertically aligned curriculum to maximize spiraling
Teach the whole child to keep them smiling

SBAC, PARC, UBD, IEP, PLC, to name a few
In #edubabble we have more acronyms than you

Customize, personalize within learning styles
FAIL, persevere, develop grit within a child

Kinesthetic, auditory, and visual learning preferences
Same stuff at all the conferences

Independent, guided, and gradual release
You must know every strategy there’s no excuse


Formative, summative, checks to understanding
It’s enough for me to want a ticket to exit all this rambling

Integrate tech, one v. one, where’s your pencil
I am at the point it’s making me mental

Manage up, trickle down, create movement
Have you ever heard someone say, “it is all about the students”


Email inbox is in an absolute infinite state
Why is there no time, place, path, or pace 

Connections, collaborate, feedback galore
Just leave me alone, it is all a blur

Blog, Periscope, babble, skype, hangout
tweet, vox, Google+, Facebook, what am I leaving out

If I hear rigor, cognitive, or pathways any more
I am going to shake you till your common sore

Edubabble has officially gotten to me
I write this as a joke for all to see
As I remind myself that I need to breathe


So to my PLN headed to the DOK tabernacle
Meet me there to grapple with #edubabble

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Eating my Humble Pie! and loving it! #GoOpen #OER vetting process for me...

For those looking for a lesson, I will post when I am done, this is the process I went through to get my lesson vetted to publish with creative common license for all to take and use, modify, remix, whatever.  It addresses standard RI4.6 and dives well into both Smarter Balanced performance standards as well as Depths Of Knowledge...  Or it will when it is done.  One of the biggest quesitons asked of #OER is "how is it vetted for quality?"  I went straight to my district instructional coaches to make sure this was quality?  What are you going to do?


Here is the current lesson, but will not be completed until April 17th, 2016.  It is about 50% done right now and very unfinished product, but I wanted to blog about the vetting process today as it is fresh in my mind.   


Background:  Over spring break I decided I wanted to create a lesson from scratch with no help, call it a blended lesson, start with a standard, have an assessment, check points, try to incorporate time, place, path, and pace as much as possible, yada, yada, yada!

So I did, spent 6-8 hours working on it. Probably another 2 hours figuring out how to use a Google Site to house it (which I had never used) and here is what I came up with.  Here's my original blog post with the explanation of how I created the lesson.  I like to give concrete examples, as too much on Social Media is just the same regurgitation of stuff you have already seen.  Passing messages without example does not allow for feedback or vetting.  It only allows for pats on the back... So I chose and choose, examples and real stories over "realistic fiction" or what "might happen" approach to explaining things.

I did this not because I had to do it, but because I was starting to feel morally obligated by the fact that I ask my staff to do this every day, and yet I have never, from a standard, created a lesson start to finish on my own in a blended way.  I did wait about a year and a half to do this, for which I am somewhat ashamed.

I have issues with authenticity, and I really feel a need to do what I ask others to do.  If I don't it eats at me, and eats at me, and then I can't sleep at night.  My motto, I don't want to talk about what I have not done.  So I did it, it was, in my opinion not a terrible lesson, but honestly probably not what I had envisioned when I set out to create something "super special".

I know I can coach, assist, contribute, and have a vision of what a really good blended lesson should and does look like.
  • But is that really enough?  
  • Should I not at least once struggle through the process of planning this out start to finish by myself?
Don't I owe it to my staff and myself to experience the struggles of finding content, making links work, problems with videos not recording correctly, messing up, etc.?  I think so, and then it was late night...

I must not have been thinking properly because I tweeted out my blog with the links to my lesson to my district ELA instructional coaches and supervisor.  I also followed up with an email, really wanting to engage in a conversation around what I had come up with.  And they responded! It was awesome! Well, my initial thought was $^#&^@@! "Oh Boy"

Now I really put my large foot in my mouth!  But I really did want to talk it out and get some more insight.  I love giving feedback and have grown to almost love getting it.  Here is blog on feedback.

I went into this lesson so excited, I just knew because of what I have observed from my staff, meetings I had been in, things I had read, people I had met, that I was going to be able to create the greatest lesson ever!

As soon as I hit publish and especially after I tweeted, emailed, and reviewed it again, I realized I had not created the greatest lesson ever!  It was not horrible, but, on a unofficial (Doug Timm) scale of quality it was like a 5.  I have seen 10's and I have seen 1's, so I felt my self reflection was pretty accurate.

Here is why:  My analogy warning: I started to make my humble pie.  I had gathered the ingredients, mixed it together, put it in the oven, waited, brought it out, tested it, and was about to serve it to my company.  Knowing full well I was missing some very important ingredients.  I thought, maybe some of the greatest "taste testers" in the business might not notice... WELL I WAS WRONG!!! HAHA  They knew right away that I was missing an egg, some sugar, proper crust, and few other things.  

So today, we sat for an hour and a half, probably could have been easily three hours as we only got through half of it, and I have homework!  We used the basis of the lesson, but added so much more, deleted so much, and really came up with something that is not only a lesson that I am super proud of now (at least 50% of it at the current moment) but it is fun, engaging, and to some extent allows the learner (student) to live the standard and experience it, which was the one thing I was going to make sure to include.  It includes a really creative way to use emojis with a first hand account of the moon landing from Neil Armstrong's perspective, is that not enticing enough for you to want to see it...?

Once it is done I will blog the whole thing with links, but I needed to spit out my humble pie, throw the rest of the mess away, and acknowledge that @pam_pdnolte and @rbautman came, met with me as I requested and brought their A game!  I knew they would, and I gotta say, I was rubbing my head, breathing heavy, and was mentally exhausted at 10:30 am this morning.  At the same time I was excited, enlightened, and felt really good about the feedback and direction of "my lesson".

Analogy warning:  This was my baby and I put "him" out there.  There was a slight cringe at the site of "him" at first, probably all my mix matched color schemes, and that fake guitar tattoo I put on his wrist, but we redressed him and rubbed the tattoo off.  Then we gave him some boots (with metal toes, just in case) and pretty soon, he is going to face the world. He is only a few weeks old, but he will be ready to take more hits and get feedback.  He is #GoOpen (R.I 4.6)

So to wrap it up I want to thank Pam Nolte, Rachel Autman, Jess Hoban, and Steph Jones for giving me feedback.  Not being scared to be honest, telling me things did not work, and helping me see the "light" of content in the process of addressing standards.

One thing I forgot.  This lesson also flipped Bloom's on it's head!  There was definitely students experiencing, reflecting, creating feelings about the standard before they every read a first or second hand account of the same event and were asked to compare them (that is basics of standard RI 4.6).  The students are actually writing and reflecting about it before they ever read anything.  I am mostly proud and happy to be able to keep that as part of what will be the finished product.

So for any Principal that thinks creating a lesson plan is not "their" work, I urge you to rethink.  You don't and can't create lessons every day like a teacher, as that is not our job.  Just do it once, find some people that are knowledgeable and not afraid to give feedback to hash it out.  I will be honest, I had some "feelings" when we met today, but that is good!  I love my "baby" and my "humble pie", but I also know that if this lesson is ever given to students it will be good (I hope).  More importantly for me, I am better for "our kids" after going through this.  You should do the same.... There is no reason not too!  What is the downside, pride, effort, time spent planning something you will never use?  The process start to finish is something you can not fake or replicate. Just saying... I really want to finish it and get feedback and then do it again... Just not right away!!! haha