You might be surprised to find out I have been tweeting since 2007. My first tweet from November, 2007:
I know, pretty profound, right? As I write this post, I have tweeted 15,369 times. Most of them have been about school or education is some fashion. A few have been personal about family or sports…etc. I have also been on Instragram, Flickr, Google +, and Facebook for quite some time. My point in addressing this with you is not to get you to follow me or read what I have put on social media. Rather it is to address your posting on social media. I do not purposely try to find what our students are putting on social media, but from time to time what students put on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even in text messages gets brought to my attention because of what was said or pictured. Schools have an interest when what is said in cyberspace ends up disrupting the school day or makes someone feel unsafe or shamed at school. I have to be honest. Some of the stuff that has been posted shocks me! People often post things on Twitter as though they are having a private conversation yet it is in full public view and can be found with almost any search engine. It is not my intention to punish students for what they post, although sometimes discipline is doled out when rules are broken. It is my intention though, to try to show you that what you put on social media can have consequences outside of school. If your applying for school or for a job, you may want to consider what you have posted. Read how tweets may keep you out of your school of choice or may get you fired. You may have heard of the concept of a digital footprint, or a history of your interactions on the Internet. What would people find if they followed your digital footsteps? Would you want your future boss (or spouse) to read what you have written? Once you put it out there it really never goes away, even if you delete it. People can save, screenshot, archive, printout…etc, all the things you put out there. Even if you have your Facebook (or Twitter) “locked down” so only friends can see what you post, they might not be your friend forever. Former friends might just share those postings when you thought they were private. Same with snapchat. You think those pictures go up in smoke after ten seconds….. Avoiding embarrassment or worse is really pretty easy though. Answer this question before you post: Do I want everyone to read what I am posting? If the answer is no, then why are you posting it in a public place? If you have made posts that could cause you problems in the future, go back and delete them. Delete profiles on services that could cause you issues in the future. Build a positive reputation online and do your best to post responsibly. Social media is fun. It allows us to stay connected to those most important to us. Be careful to use it in a positive manner and follow the Golden Rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated.
But…..you had better take into account the WHOLE PICTURE!
This past week a had an opportunity to travel to the Effingham, IL to take in the All Apollo Conference Band Concert. What a wonderful evening of splendid music. Eighty of the best musicians from local high schools brought together for an all-day clinic under the direction of Dr. Melissa Gustafson-Hinds from O’Fallon High School. The event made for awesome learning experience and a very memorable evening of concert sounds. As students were motioned to stand to be recognized for their solo efforts at the end of every song, the warm applause from the audience of parents and other family members had the students bursting with pride. It was definitely an experience that allowed me to acknowledge to myself that there are so many things right with what we do in public education. The value that is provided to our students and communities is so much greater than the achievement that is measured on one day of the school year. I want our school, all public schools for that matter, to be held accountable for these types of student learning opportunities. If we truly want to measure the value that public educators bring to the table then let’s find a way to measure:
The glow of pride a student radiates upon receiving a standing ovation from the patrons at an honor band concert
The feeling of accomplishment when a student earns a best of show in a regional art show
The effort of a teacher that, because of the time invested, uses an established relationship to talk a student out of dropping out.
The accomplishment when a student earns a presidential scholarship to a prestigious secondary education institution.
The value of programs that allow students to experience connections that has them see the relationships of learning and hard work beyond test scores and grades.
A student’s ability to create a handcrafted object that represents a challenge met. A challenge that allowed the student to grow and understand the interconnectivity of knowledge disciplines and to go beyond the mere manipulation and recollection of facts.
The ingenuity of teachers who work together to do something new for their students. Teachers who collaborate to make multidisciplinary experiences for students that make subjects engaging and lifelike.
The lifetime effort of a teacher who dedicated hours to building relationships with students and pushing kids to do things they never thought they could do. A coach who taught the value of respect, effort, and sportsmanship in victory as well as defeat.
By all means, hold us accountable! Test scores need to scrutinized, attendance rates measured, drop out rates included, but you had better add to the metric the true value of the programs we provide! (add your own example in the comments….please!)
So my friend Patrick Larkin tagged me in a chain-blogging task which obligates me to share 11 random facts about myself and then to answer 11 questions that Patrick has asked. I have been suffering from blog writer’s block. So this gives me the opportunity to kick start myself.
My 11 Random Facts
2. My first job, other than a paper route, was a car washer at the local Ford dealership.
3. I actually made a few bucks as a cowboy while attending college.
5. My idea of spring break when I was in college was to attend the Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament. (three years in a row!)
6. I have completed the Indianapolis Half Marathon four times.
7. I make Christmas sugar cookies
8. I am an avid fantasy baseball nut!
9. I am not sure what I want to be when I grow up.
11.I have a wonderful wife, two great kids, and three dogs.
My responses to Patrick’s Questions
- Have you ever been to Massachusetts? No, but I would love to visit someday!
- What is your favorite sports team (college or pro)? Denver Broncos
- Besides you, name a blogger that you would recommend to others. Ira Socal
- When you were little, what did you dream of becoming? A pro football player
- How far away do you live from where you grew up? 1100 miles
- What is your favorite meal? Blackened grouper
- If you were offered a free trip to anywhere in the world, where would you go? Hawaii
- Do you prefer Macs or PC’s? PC
- Other than the birth of your children and/or the day you were married or met your soulmate, what was the best day of your life? The day I went to my first pro football game at Mile High Stadium.
- What is the best movie you’ve seen in the last year? The Hobbit
- What is the last live concert that you’ve attended? Jimmy Buffet
Now for the fun part. I have to find 11 more bloggers to keep this thing going and ask them 11 questions (hoping they have not been tagged previously).
- Gary Doughan
- Nathan Ogle
- Jeremy Larson
- Pam Moran
- Josh Stumpenhorst
- Curt Rees
- Colin Wikan
- Tom Altepeter
- Mike Smith
- Ira Socal
- Any other blogger that would like to join in.
Here are your questions
1. If you could solve any one problem permanently, what would it be?
2. What would you do over if you had a chance?
3. What is your favorite desert?
4. When did you know you wanted to be involved in education?
5. If you had a whole day to do just what you wanted to do, what would that be?
6. If you could meet anyone, at any time in history, who would it be?
7. What do you want to learn how to do?
8. What is your favorite beverage?
9. Who is your favorite artist/actor/performer?
10. What was your best subject in school?
11. What is your favorite season of the year?
The Guidelines for your Homework…
- Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
- Share 11 random facts about yourself.
- Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
- List 11 bloggers.
- Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
- Post back here (in the comment section) with a link to your finished assignment. Go on, you have homework to do.
It seems impossible that this is the day before we take a well deserved break for the Thanksgiving holiday. This year I do not have to look far to see and feel inspiration for the coming holiday. I am so lucky and thankful to work with such a wonderful group of caring professionals and students. In all of my twenty five years working here, I have never been so “touched” by the kindness and caring of both our staff and our students. Your understanding and compassion during these past couple of months has been nothing short of amazing! Even though it was very scary to watch and hold Molly (my sophomore daughter) during one of her spells, I never felt more comforted by that fact that I knew that both students and staff “had her back”. I will never forget that her “drama family” worked so hard to make sure she was able play her role in the fall play. They planned right down to the details of what they would do to make the show go on if she were to have an episode during a performance. I WAS COMPLETELY AMAZED at the lengths they went to. WOW! I am sure that each of you in your own way did your part to make her feel comfortable enough to continue to come to school despite seizing several times a day. When you say “I see you, I got you, I love you,” you really do mean it! What a phenomenal place to work and send my children everyday! Again, words cannot express my thanks to you all. I think we have a handle on the cause of her issues now and she seems to be on the road to recovery!
This weeks stuff I read is short. http://tinyurl.com/la4xzal
I am intrigued at using MOOC’s (you will have to read to understand what they are) to enhance student course offerings here at PHS. Heather Seaton won the contest to get her article included in the “paper” She correctly used the #phsread hash tag when she “tweeted” the link to her article about differentiation. I will provide a special prize for her homeroom before Christmas break. Please feel free to share interesting articles you find while browsing by using the #phsread hashtag on Twitter. By the way, I still think Twitter is a great place to find and learn stuff…..
Yesterday I shared a lot of data with you via your Google Drive. The 5Essentials data from the survey we took last spring is available for you to view there. We will have a staff meeting on Monday, December 2, right after school and our main topic will be the surveys.
Thanks for all you do!
On Monday, November 11th, Our nation will recognize those men and women who have served our country in the military. One of the things that makes me very proud of our school is how we mark this holiday with a school assembly to honor those who have made it possible for our nation to provide so many wonderful opportunities for us. We have several veterans on our staff here at PHS and it is so good to see our student body honor them! I posted the following on Veterans Day several years ago. The day that I have written about in this post will be forever etched in my memory.
I can remember school assemblies when I was in grade school about Veterans Day. They were really special because every year we were able to see the same veterans and they told us intriguing stories about their experiences. One of the veterans that came to speak to us year after year was a very old gentleman that was a veteran of WWI. I can distinctively remember the gleam in his eye and the way he whistled, snapped his feet and fingers as he came to attention. To a kid of eight years of age he seemed really cool and very “with it” for an octogenarian. Sadly, he died shortly before Veterans Day when I was in the fifth grade. That year we got to hear the real story behind his service during WWI. With tears in his eyes and breaks in his voice, the post commander told us of the old vet’s experience in the Argonne Forest in 1918. I do not remember all of the detail of the stories he told us that day, but I do remember watching a grown man in uniform cry before an entire school of children. After that Veterans Day I think I was better able to relate to sense of loss that many Americans deal with every day because of either their service to the country or someone close to them sacrificed their life serving this great country of ours. I had an uncle that I never met who died in the Korean War. The family had a hard time dealing with the loss of their brother. His loss created a wound that left a large visible scar. He and another brother, Bill, were both in Korea when Bob was killed in action. My Uncle Bill escorted Bob’s coffin home from Korea. As a non veteran, I have no way of knowing the true sacrifice made by those who have served this country both in wartime and in peace. I do know this; I am thankful and know that there is no way for me to individually pay back all those I owe a debt of gratitude to. I am determined to “pay forward” and try my best to do all I can to honor todays veterans as well as do what I can to make America a better place. I implore our students to talk to their families about their history of serving this nation in the armed forces. You may find out things you never knew about your family and make connections that were never there before. You will also get a chance to say thank you!
What does Veterans Day mean to you?
Sometimes I get an idea in my head that will not go away. Not all of these ideas are good ones but they make me feel like Richard Dreyfuss’ character in the Close Encounters of the Third Kind, (most of you will have to Google it), where he had to keep trying to shape things into Devil’s Tower. The following idea is one that continues to take shape in my mind and I am not sure where it is going (and like the linked clip, folks are probably looking at me kind of funny). Using some funds from our vending machines, I bought a college pennant for every member of our staff. The pennant represents either where the staff member went to school themselves or where their children attended college. People are usually proud of their alma mater and are proud to talk about it. I bought pennants with the idea that they would be talking points for teachers and students alike as the discuss education, both in the future tense and in the past tense. A few weeks after the pennants showed up I got the idea about each faculty member telling their story in a short video. This idea crystallized during a meeting I attended about community mentoring in schools. We were discussing how hard it was to get people to come in during the school day and I mentioned the video idea to the group. How adults could share their stories via video with the local students and they could connect using social media. The idea morphed as I talked about it. It came to me as I was speaking, that since the goal was to get students to contemplate their future, why not have students also make videos about their plans for the future and the action steps they need to do to get there. The adult videos will be grouped into a genre called the “Road Followed” and the students’ work will be grouped together in a collection called “The Road Forward”. Not sure if I know where this is going yet? Or if I even am sure I want to pursue it? But, in order to get others to think about the possibilities, I made a sample video about my “Road Followed” The challenge was to try to make it informative yet short. It may seem self serving, (and maybe it is) but I want to know if my idea has any merit….so, here is the video. Any thoughts, ideas, or criticisms would be appreciated in the comments section! If the video does not work, follow this link: http://youtu.be/zxyDf7U2wkg
Last year we created a late work policy for our freshman class. We asked teachers to let them have two weeks past the due date to turn work in, and if they did so, as long as the work was satisfactory, the work would receive a passing grade. The idea was not to allow these students to take an F on an assignment. If a student had missing work, the assistant principal would literally hunt them down….well call them in, and design a plan to for them to get the work finished. This plan usually included a call home and assignment to stay after school and attend our teacher led study tables. This did not cure all of our freshmen, but it made a very big impact on a group of these students. It did make some more work for the staff, and I commend each and every one of those teachers for taking the extra time to make sure that students had their missing work and for grading those assignments. There are students who literally owe those staff members and Mr. Cox, our assistant principal, a huge debt of gratitude for saving them credits and possibly giving them a chance to graduate with their class. Okay. So that is the story about last year. It was semi-successful. So what should we do about it? We (admin team) decided that we should expand it school-wide. All students should be given extra time to complete work for passing credit. No student should be allowed to simply take a zero and not turn things in. I asked my staff what it is we are measuring? Are we measuring the behavior of turning things in on time? Or, are we measuring growth and learning? If we allow students to take zeros, we are saying that the learning is not important…..in my opinion. If assessing progress on a particular skill is important enough to assess it and make it a part of a student’s grade, then we should make sure they do it right? If we don’t, how do we know they can do it? How do we know if we successfully taught the skill or concept? Some of my staff and I do not see eye to eye on this and that is alright. What is not alright though is to continue to do things the way they have always been done and expect different results. I am malleable on this issue. If someone has a better idea than me, so be it. Last week I caught part of a chat on Twitter that was exploring about late policies and exchanged in a dialogue with a fellow administrator:
I think Reed has some good reasoning in the linked policy above. What do you think? I realize that I may have made this top down decision without making all the considerations I should have. Maybe I should have spent more time with staff thinking about it out loud and addressing their concerns. In my mind, education is a practice much like medicine. Sometimes we find out what we have been doing was the exact opposite what we should have been doing. We (I) need to be smart enough to assess what we are doing, gather the evidence, do a little research, and try things to address the “what do I do to get kids to turn things in” question. I want your thoughts and opinions here! To be continued…..(are we just putting a band aid on a symptom here? Is the real issue the fact that we are asking our students to do things that are completely irrelevant to them? Tune in next week…..)
Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Watson’s photostream on Flickr
I started this blog seven years ago as a means of refection and communicating with my school community. Sometimes I have written to clarify my thinking, other times I have written with the sole purpose of being read. I have struggled lately to write here, to contribute to the discussions and resource sharing happening on Twitter, and I have struggled to reflect productively. I could blame it on the fact that I serve as principal/superintendent for a school that is building a new building and considering consolidation all at the same time. I could blame it on the fact that I have two teenage children who vie for my time. I could blame it on the fact that I was born under the Chinese Sign of the Horse and this just is not my year…… Those are all just excuses. I have time. I need motivation. I will admit that I have been somewhat disillusioned because my purpose for writing here was not always about improving myself or my school, sometimes it has been more about how many folks react to my posts or how many “hits” I could generate. For me, in order to make my participation in the “connected” world of educators valuable, there has to be a benefit to my building. Somewhere, somehow, I had lost awareness at just how much I have changed, and how much the school where I work has changed in the last seven years. After receiving a gentle nudge, and realizing that I have not been doing my part to mentor some fellow administrators, I took some time to think about reflecting publicly and leading in a transparent manner. After reading some of my post from the last seven years, I have become determined to double down on my efforts to reflect on my practice in a public way and most important of all, engage with other practitioners who lead in education. It is the only way I will grow….. To be continued……
(about the photo: My dog Chloe. I put that photo in because this is my blog and I wanted to)
How many chances do you get to make a difference? What is truly memorable? Is what you are doing today going to make a difference tomorrow? Things change. Let get on with it!
Wish I had this as an option when I went to school…..and I liked History!
Easy to define. Not so easy to achieve. Trust is built over many interactions and sometimes is lost instantaneously with one bad choice. Without trust a leader has little ability to build relationships or to motivate staff. A leader must realize that trust is not about being right. Trust is about being real. It is about being able to admit mistakes and say you are sorry. It is about listening and caring about other’s points of view. It is about seeking input and making real considerations of the input received. Ultimately, building trust is based on trusting others. My sixteen years of building leadership have humbled my pride and taught me that I what do not know greatly exceeds what I do know. I have to know my strengths, but even more important, I need to know my weaknesses and to be able reach for help when I need it. Trust requires transparency and open reflection. I must admit that I am not as good at building trust as I should be. I know experience has helped me grow, but I am not done growing yet. If fact, the moment I am done growing, it will be time for me to let someone else lead, because if I am unable to demonstrate my own growth, how can I expect staff and students to grow? If I do not have their trust, why would they accept my challenge in the first place?
Photo courtesy of elycefeliz’s Flickr Photostream