Education/Educational Technology/School Leadership

Increase Your Circle!

Please allow me to share with you a bit in my simple world.  Growing up on a farm, we did not have every tool or implement needed.  Opportunities would always pop up in which we would tap our neighbor and borrow such items.  This was often followed with a quote , if you can’t use your neighbor, what good are they for (chuckle)?

The world has gotten much smaller and every person has a neighbor on their keyboard.  The key is to connect and celebrate this relationship.  With October being Connected Educator Month, I would like to celebrate a bit of this process of reaching out to others.

Being connected has become a daily need. Each morning, I find myself utlizing Twitter as a means to acquire news, sports, weather and the current conversation in education.  Most delightful is the fact that I choose the provider of said information.  I don’t have to listen to news that I do not wish to hear while I await the pertinent information to me.

Think of Collaboration more in the sense of partnering and supporting.  Educational Leaders can quickly feel isolated on an island full of dilemas.  This is never so in a connected world.  You have resources and support at your finger tips!

Where do I start?  What should I do?  Please take a test drive on this Prezi. Dan Layton, my partner in crime and assistant prinicipal and I have been collaborating together on opportunities to increase our circle of sharing with other.  This has led us to presenting at multiple conferences and schools.  Dan and I collaborate using Prezi with multiple editors as well as Google Docs and Touchcast.  Touchcast has proven to be wonderful tool to share with our school morning announcements.  This Prezi below is one of our productions.


Please visit Dan’s blog for more presentations at:  You can also follow him on twitter @Danlayton2.

We will be presenting as the upcoming CELL conference (University of Indianapolis) as well as the Indiana Association of School Principals and Assistant Principal Conference.  While it feels good to be invited to speak at a conference or share in front of others, we aknowledge these are just tools that are out there for everyone to use.  We have stolen ideas from other people to increase out own toolbox and make life more efficient.  Please feel free to steal from us!

In closing, if you are an advanced tweeter, don’t stop learning!  Check out this cool tool:

Keep on learning!



The Power of One Student–Tweeting!



A Sincere Compliment (click here)

Jeremiah has got it down. This idea is contagious!

He Died This Summer

He is not returning to school because he died this summer. The words still echo in some hollow chamber of my mind. I remember a lump in my throat and stiffness in my body as the news moved from reality to surreal. “Yep, seems he hot wired a truck and drove to Texas. The report said he traded off driving with a buddy who feel asleep. They hit a cement barrier and …..”

This was the news that hit me as I returned back to school over a decade ago. We will call his name Mike. Mike was a project of mine, someone who I always tried to look after and make smile each day. He had no dad and multiple siblings. Mom worked three jobs and seemed to give it her all.

Mike danced in and out of trouble as the hot seat always followed him around the school campus. He never truly crossed the line of being a “bad kid” but simply a fellow lacking guidance. There were times when he would be reported tardy to class and I would find him in the Lifeskills room reading to the kids in class or pushing them around in wheelchairs.

Mike was a project that I never got to finish. A life that ended way too soon. As you return to the routine of school, please carry this story of Mike with you as you hit the wall or look for energy to tackle the extra mile. You are in a very special business and it is life changing and life making. Also, please carry a sense of urgency. Tomorrow is unpromised to all and we need to give everything today. You probably have a “Mike” and he is in school. So for Mike’s sake, keep up the fight and follow your calling to help shape each life such as this.

Thanks for taking time to read my blog!

Why I Lead

It was a typical school day and I was a happy third grader. My principal had called me into his office. It was a place that no student wanted to go. His polyester brown suit merged with John Wayne cowboy boots in packaged figure that seemed to be a cross between the old Marlboro man and a traveling shoe salesman. I sat across his desk and he told me I was going to be an elementary principal some day.  I thought I was in trouble….!

Not sure why, but the story above is true. Today, I am just that, an elementary principal. As I pen this note, I find myself setting resolutions as tomorrow is our first day of school. Educators are truly blessed with two days to start new resolutions, New Year’s Eve and the First Day of School Eve–but I regress!

Leadership has always been a part of my inner core. I honestly dislike the word a bit because it sounds of arrogance–I will lead you. In fact, I find it essential to be just the opposite, I will serve you. Art Athens, fantastic leader from the US Naval Academy ethics department, states it best as the most significant determinant of leadership success is humility. And in the battlefield, an ego can cost lives. Every day I humble myself by reflection on just how lucky I am to be able to be called a leader.

Growing up, I always found myself a bit separate from the masses and peers. I was not necessarily on the outside looking in but rather more of an old soul. In recess, I would often use sticks and rocks and draw up plays in basketball that my peers would run. Growing up on a farm, I built a herd of sows (mother pigs) based on strong genetic pedigrees and my age 15 had over herd of over 40. I always found a great deal of compassion for the kid who never had a friend. I just could not stand the “loner” and still can’t today. And, I love people. I learn something from every soul I encounter.

Leadership kind of found me because of my passions in life. There is no greater feeling in knowing that you made someone’s life a little better. Typically, I get more out of helping that the receiver!

I would like to give a special shout out and thanks to George Couros for setting up the Virtual Mentor program. I met George this summer at an E Learning conference and know he has led great work for youth. Thanks George, you are a great Canadian friend!!

Also, thank you to the mentees that I am paired with! Guys, I have been busy getting school started this week. I am greatly excited about learning together in the near future.

Holly Berry (TX), Kyle Moore (WI), Edward Gallegos (TX),  Lauren Carter (GA), Michelle Meracis (AUS), Mandy Vasek (TX)


Twitter Chats-Growth, PD and harnessing the power

Tonight is the launch of #USedchat. This is an exciting opportunity to further strengthen the links between educational leaders.  Frequent users of Twitter are increasing their ability to leverage knowledge.  This current day and age is powerful if we choose to utilize the tools before us.  Twitter is quickly becoming a voice; we see it in every facet of life. As a matter of fact, I would go so far to say it is helping to reshape parts of our culture. During this time of rapid educational reform, leaders are connecting and becoming a common voice can help to reshape and possibly place guard rails on this journey. As educational leaders, we find each other in deep reflection but no longer living on a lonely island (thank you PLN!).

The build up to this launch demonstrates once again a movement occurring on twitter.  As you are reading this blog, you are probably one of those educational leads using twitter.  Thank you!  May I charge you to continue and bring others along the way!

Forbes recently ran an article on the power of twitter chats to impact business in monumental ways.  I love the image from the article.   Check it out here:

Keep this discussion going!  Thank you for taking a minute and I will see you on twitter!

I Wonder?

Please, come with me on a slow ramble of educational wonders…..
I wonder,…..I wonder if a student who receives an A the first quarter and an A the last quarter ever learned anything or maybe they were just simply proficient and never challenged?
I wonder, if the fast pace change speed of technology will ever hit a quiet pause?
I wonder, if the the most significant problem in the United States is consumer debt with a great majority of it tied to credit card overuse. Are we teaching our elementary students anything by having them pay for lunch with a PIN number or swipe card. What a teachable moment missed in the schoolhouse of learning for efficienty to feed. I wonder!
I wonder, if the university will ever listen to the school on the best way served to prepare future teachers.
I wonder, if the medical world will form a marriage with the educational world to appropriately prepare educators for the prereferal world of early learning disabilities and diagnostics.
I wonder, as we find discovery and change in a time of great educational reform we can relish that more passion is dedicated to the conversation of education and this is a good thing.
I wonder, how a seasoned veteran teacher can be the most savvy in technology and best practice and yet another season veteran teacher can see this as something the newbies should be good at?
I wonder, if someone who believes you don’t need a license to teach has ever taught.
I wonder, if the great public school schools of our day can compete when the market is creating hurdles that are higher and higher to jump in an unfairly marked race.
I wonder, if Clayton Christenson is correct when he says half of all universities will be bankrupt in 15 years.
I wonder, if we are preparing a current kindergartener correctly for the post high school world of 2025.
I wonder…if you wonder….

No Stress Please!

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: ”How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!

-Article shared with me by a great school counselor—author unknown–

The Madness of Spring

The Madness of Spring

Where is Puxatony Phil?  We need to have him up on fraud charges!  Here in Indiana, as I pen this note, we have officially welcomed the crisp renewal of spring with yet the unescapable grips of more snow! Yes, cold temps and snow!
March Madness kicks off today with the NCAA tournament. This energizing time brings back connected memories for me as principal.  As I reflect, please realize I grew up on a farm.  And, as the old saying goes, you can never take the farm out of the boy.
This time of year always brings about a newness.  We are approaching the “planning” season in which we get a chance to listen to the voice of the stakeholders and tend our garden.  What will we plant and what will we pull for next season?  What will the new expected harvest become?
I hope you are like me and can celebrate a great year of school.  But at the same time, I always strive to do my best, be my best.  Reflective pause will lead to note taking, blogging, tweeting, researching and reading.  This in turn will lead to first steps for the “old R and D” to see what roots take hold.
So in closing, welcome March Madness, welcome spring..get on out of here winter..and welcome planning season!

Lessons Learned From the Mouse

The greatest place on earth, Walt Disney World, sees millions come and visit yearly.  The parks in Orlando are a melting pot of culture, smiles and schedules every day.  I was fortuante enought to be a cast member in 1995-1998.  Driving the monorail, giving tours through the land in Epcot and serving as a lead in Guest Relations yielded many life expereiences.

The average interaction with a guest is 3-5 seconds.  Think how this works with the average time an administrator has to interact with all students on a daily basis.  Is it 3-5 seconds?  As one waves at bus duty, greets and says hello, walks through the cafe, and strolls through the hallway the time with each interaction has to hover around 3-5 seconds.   3-5 seconds is not much time, but enought to make someone’s day or give a smile that can say..You Are Important.

On the same note, different tune, think how quick a  dream can be smothered.  Maybe 3-5 seconds??  A family may save for 5 years for a Disney trip and can have it ruined in a simple, poor cast member interaction.  3-5 seconds is a very valuable time and one that is most precious!

A common Disney philosophy is to always exceed guest expectations.  If you ask for more water from your waiter, he or she may not fill your glass but rather bring your a new glass and take away your old one.   This striving to always stay one step up on guest expectations  has become a reputation that Disney is proud of.  How you can channel this same philosphy to serve your student, staff or families?

Thank you for taking a minute to read my blog and have a Disney Day at your school!


Ears back at the Derby Post

In schools, the months of March, April and May can feel much like a horse at the Kentucky Derby, perched and ready to sprint down the track.  The end of year programs come quickly along with culminating projects by students.  Educators can get rather reflective, especially in those last few days of school.

As administrators, we find our time spent swimming in the pool of end of activities while tipping our toes into next year’s planning.  It is crucial to along the end of year reflective to occur in much needed conversations with teachers so as we can appropriately implement much needed changes for the next year. May the months of March, April, May feel more like a celebration of learning and planning rather than a sprint down the track!  My best to you!