Generation Wite Out vs. Generation Ctrl + Z

Recently I received a phone call from my mom asking me if she could ask me some questions about her new iPhone.  (Background Info – My mom is a member of the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation. My wife and I had added her and my dad to our cell phone plan.)  I told my mom that I would be glad to help her and we arranged that I would come over the next day after work to help her.  When I arrived my mom took out a spiral notebook that had a page full of questions about her phone that she needed me to answer.  I have had an iPhone for several years, so many of the ‘issues’ were easily answered.  However there were some that I wasn’t sure about, so I ‘Googled’ a few of them to find the answer20_questions_1954.  For others I just started ‘trying stuff’ to see if I could figure it out.  I asked her several times if she tried this potential solution or that potential solution, to which every time she said “No, I was afraid that I would wreck it.”  I responded, a little frustrated or impatiently, “Mom, there is nothing on this phone or what we are doing that is doing to ‘wreck it’ and if what we try doesn’t work, we can just change it back.”  Through this process of trail and error, we were able to ‘solve’ all of her questions.

As I was driving home, I was reflecting upon the situation and my disbelief that my mom had all of these questions and couldn’t resolve them by herself.  Then on top of that, when I got home my 1st grade daughter was fully operating my iPad and she certainly hasn’t asked dad for all the ‘answers’ on how to play the Hair Salon 2 app or the BrainPop Jr. app.  It then occurred to me why this was all happening…my mom is part of the ‘Wite Out Generation‘, while I am a part of the ‘Ctrl + Z Generation‘. My mom was brought up in a generation where there are ‘experts’ on things that you had to go to for answers.  A generation where things can ‘break’ if they were handled by novices.  A generation that learned by listening to ‘experts’ talk.  A generation that isn’t used to, and is somewhat afraid of, technology.  A generation who, if they made a mistake, had to use laborious products like ‘Wite Out’ to try to fix their mistakes (and even Wite Out didn’t fully erase their mistake).  I am from a generation where knowledge and expertise no longer is only in the hands of ‘experts’.  A generation who can have self-directed access to this expertise 24/7.  A generation, especially related to technology, that is used to and therefore not afraid of technology and actually using it.  A generation who knows that we always have the option to just do a ‘Ctrl + Z’ to undo any mistakes we made.   Wite Out

So if we view these generations through this lens of ‘Wite Out Generation‘ vs. ‘Ctrl + Z Generation‘, what are the implications for schools, our teachers, our students and all of our ‘generational’ needs?  If you are a school administrator or leader, what accommodations or adjustments are you making to support and engage your ‘Wite Out Generation‘ teachers? How could this perspective on this generation of teachers impact your view of these teachers and their current roles as leaders and learners within your school?  If you are a ‘Wite Out Generation‘ teacher what must you acknowledge about yourself, your teaching and learning styles given that you are a part of this generation?  How do you need to change/update yourself and your perspective to continue to learn, grow, and stay relevant and effective in a largely ‘Ctrl + Z‘ world?

ctrl_zConversely if you are a member of the ‘Ctrl + Z Generation‘, what does this mean for you?  What advantages and disadvantages does having this generational membership give you?  How does this affect/change your ability to work effectively with your colleagues, specifically those from a ‘Wite Out’ time? What learning styles/approaches are best for you? What do you need and want from your school administrator or leader?  If you are a school administrator or leader, what accommodations or adjustments are you making to support and engage your ‘Ctrl + Z Generation‘ teachers?

But the most important thing to consider, as a school leader, teacher, member of the ‘Wite Out Generation‘ or the ‘Ctrl + Z Generation‘ is what does all of this mean for our students?  For how they learn? For what they learn? For who teaches them? For what their future needs will be?, etc.? What does the generational trend away from ‘Wite Out’ and more to ‘Ctrl + Z’ mindset mean? How does this affect our perspectives of learning, teaching, education, schools, experts, curiosity and failure?  If we don’t consider the background of our teachers and leaders and if we don’t consider the preferences, needs and future of our students’ of this generation…I don’t care if you have the jumbo size bottle of Wite Out or if you are an expert in using the keyboard short cut to ‘undo’…our mistakes will be inerasable.

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Ready…Set…Hut…Hut…SCHOOL!!!

largeimgresLate August in Wisconsin means two important things are happening — school is about to begin and the Green Bay Packers season has officially begun.  This year as I was thinking of these two important starts, something occurred to me…could you imagine if the NFL adopted a school’s calendar for their players and schools adopted the Packers’ schedule for their teachers?  What a difference that would be?!?!?

imgresImagine if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the NFL decided that their off season schedule had gotten too long, that all Organized Team Activities (OTAs), rookie camps, training camps, off-season workout programs, mini-camps, and even pre-season games would be eliminated.  Instead all teams in the NFL would only be allowed to bring in all of their players (rookies, new free agents, and veterans) and coaches back for 2 DAYS prior to the start of their regular season.  During these two days all of the new players would have to be orientated to the NFL, their team, their teammates, their playbook, their offense/defense, etc.  Returning players would have two days to learn their new teammates, understand updates to their playbooks, get their lockers set up, etc.; all players would need to get in shape, all practices would be held, all team meetings would take place, etc.  Also during the off season only the head coach, and maybe one or two top assistants, would be ‘in the team office’, but as for the rest of the coaching staff, they would only be allowed to return during these same two days.  Can you imagine the chaos?  Can you imagine the lack of proper preparation?  Can you imagine how bad these teams and the game of football overall would be?  This is almost so unimaginable…this is just silly!

However, it isn’t silly…in fact its sad…when you consider that it is under very similar circumstances and time frames that all teachers in my district (virtually all teachers/districts of our state) operate like this at the start of the new year, every year.  As an administrator, I am one of the ‘coaches’ that is in the office, but with ‘no players’ or opportunities to work together with them or times to implement and practice what we are going to be working on for our upcoming season.  This situation is woefully ineffective and incomplete.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming the ‘players’ (a.k.a. teachers)  I am blaming the system/current practices, as this is no way to operate a team, nor a profession.  I know that my ‘players’ work during the off season and get better individually, etc.  The challenge for me, as a coach, however is that they are doing this individually and we, as a team, do not get the chance to come together prior to ‘our season’ starting (or even after it has ended for that matter).

The NFL would never go for this and nor should our schools.  This model, of having teachers basically leave the day after the last day of school and return 2 or 3 days before the start of the new school year (our ‘season’) starts, is grossly inadequate AND we need to do better. This model was based in a different time, a time when rapid change and advancement was not as prevalent; a time when the stakes were not as high; a time when teachers were allowed to be/encouraged to be professional
‘islands’ – working on their own knowledge, skills, curriculum and classroom; a time when teachers were seen as passive professionals who could be taught everything they needed from their administrators.  Now I don’t want to go back and debate the merits of any of these past beliefs, however I will say with 100% certainty that NONE of these mindsets or beliefs have any business in schools today.  Our teachers need to want to and be involved beyond their ‘season’.  They need to be present during the ‘off season’ to work together, to be involved in collective improvement, to learn new approaches to tpeg-teachers-collaborating-2teaching, to learn about the latest educational technologies, to grow their content area knowledge, to learn about new mental health needs and treatments, to review effective practices, to be directly involved in policy creation and decision making, to review performance data, to work on their curriculums…to improve…to grow professionally…to be involved…to be collaborators…to be leaders.  And if any of our ‘players’ do want to be a part of this type of team/situation, because they don’t want to be involved, don’t want to improve, don’t understand this would improve our schools/our profession, don’t see that this would be best for our students, then they should be cut from our rosters.

Put all teachers on 210-day contracts and pay them accordingly.  Give them the week after school ends off, have the come back for two weeks to debrief the school year, to work on new learnings and improvement for next year.  Give them all of July and the first week in August off because as anyone who is/knows a teacher, they put in enough time during the school year that they need time off and away from their work.  Then bring them back two or three weeks before school starts to again work together, to further grow and learn, to prepare for the upcoming school year, etc.  All of these things (before and after the school year) that cannot effectively happen during the school year.  A lot of people talk about ‘failing schools’ and they propose all kinds of ‘solutions’ (e.g. standardized testing, teacher accountability, charter schools, etc.) to improve our schools, however one easy, surefire step toward improvement is adopting a more NFL-like schedule for our teachers.

Flip Staff Meetings – Great Advice to Give AND Follow

“You should try to make your classroom more student-centered & interactive – Don’t lecture/talk at your students so much.”
“Do you think you could integrate the concepts of the flipped classroom to optimize student learning time?”
“How much input do you give you students in choosing what, where, and how they learn?” 
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As a school administrator have you ever said something like this to a teacher? My guess would be that the answer to my question is YES.  And if that is true, let me ask you why then do you, as a school leader, not practice what you preach when it comes to your own staff meetings and professional learning?  Look back to the above questions again and replace the word student(s) with teacher(s)?  If your evaluator asked you these same questions as ‘teachers’ as the subject, would these same criticism apply to you as the teacher of your teachers?  Does the idiom “Do I Say, Not as I Do” fit?

After hearing about the incredible work that Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams were doing with ‘the flipped classroom’ in their chemistry classes at Woodland Park High School and our school’s increasing struggles with not having enough time to provide effective professional development (PD) for our staff in light of our district’s 1:1 program implementation.  Our school’s leadership team; Steve Meyers – Principal; Amy Arbogash – Technology Integration Specialist; and myself decided if we are going to truly transform the way our teachers teach and our students learn we need to change how we provided PD for our staff…or put another way we would have to practice what we preached – to do as we said AND as we did.

Our school’s staff meeting and PD schedule is fairly standard – we have a staff meeting on every 3rd Wednesday of the month for 90 minutes and during the school year we have two ‘early release’ PD days – students are dismissed at 12:30 pm, so we have 120 minutes in the afternoon of PD timsaid no teacher evere.  So in the course of a school year we have about 1,500 minutes or 25 hours of professional meeting time.  We had been using these 25 hours in a traditional ‘meeting format’ – i.e. they were completely administratively led; admins picked the topics, created the agenda, ran the meeting, etc.  These ‘sit and get’ meetings were information, one-sided presentation meetings.  And to put it nicely these weren’t times that our staff ran to the location of the meetings and eagerly awaited their beginning.  And rightfully so, when your ‘learner’ has no input on the topics, gets talked to the entire time, and doesn’t necessarily get any tangible/applicable new knowledge or skills for their job from the meeting – its no surprise they didn’t like them.

However by simply looking at these 25 hours differently and pledging to integrate the practice of ‘flipping’ to create authentic, effective, and learner-centered opportunities – our issues of ineffective meetings AND our need for more PD time suddenly both were answered.  We began the practice of flipping our staff meetings.  Our flipped staff meetings included 6 key elements:

  1. We started to creating a monthly screencast called BVIP (Bay View Information and Primers), which we would send out at least a week prior to the staff meeting.  These screencasts would include Information (announcements and reminders) that used to be covered at staff meetings and the staff needed to hear/know.  We believe that while these informational pieces were important for the functioning of our school, they didn’t need to be covered when we were all together – essentially our time together was too valuable to be ‘wasted’ on announcements.  So they were easily flipped into these screencasts.  The Primers included in the screencasts would help set up the upcoming staff meeting.  These Primers would ensure all staff were prepared and on the same page for the staff meeting – further optimizing the time we had together.  These could include directions for the activity we were doing at the staff meeting, could be an overview of the topic we were going to be covering, a professional article or video they needed to watch prior to the meeting, directions for signing up for a program/app/service we were going to use at the staff meeting, etc.
  2. We have fully dedicated our staff meetings as teacher-centered (and driven, see key element #3 below) professional development opportunities.  Gone are the days of ‘sit and get’ or using that precious time for anything other than productive, professional collaboration and growth.  We faced a lot of challenges in making this shift absolutely, even from pressures within our district structure, however we have not gone back at all since making the conversion.
  3. We directly solicited our staff to find out what topics, activities, learnings they wanted and needed for their classrooms/professional growth.  By asking for and acting upon topics/needs directly from our staff, not only did they feel ‘listened to’, but the topics we explored were topics the staff wanted – resulting in greater staff engagement and satisfaction.  We have also worked to include more choice of topics to meet the individual needs of each and every staff member.  Each staff member is at different points in their learning, so by providing more choice we have further improved the PD we have offered.
  4. Integrating more site-based professional development activities within our staff meetings/early release times shifted a lot of work and burden to our school and leadership team.  However we believe that just because we are the administrators or ‘leaders’ of the school, we don’t have to be the only facilitator and/or expert of all of the topics/areas we work on.  Staff posses strengths, expertise, and interests in a variety of areas and they want to share it with their colleagues.  These opportunities help to further engage those staff members leading the PD and it created greater buy in from the rest of the staff because they were learning from their colleagues on topics they were really interested in.
  5. A common condition our staff felt in the past was the feeling of working alone.  By flipping our staff meeting and maximizing the time we had together has allowed us to provide more opportunities for our staff to learn from each other and work together.  This increased amount of collaboration time has helped all of us learn more, grow more – together.  People are working outside of their Houses (teams), outside of their departments, outside of their grade levels, outside of their friend groups; this has helped to create a wider and stronger bond throughout our entire staff.
  6. Do as I Say AND as I Do.  Flipping staff meetings has allowed our leadership team to shake the label of being hypocrites as we are practicing what we preach.  Not only does this modeling help the staff feel better about taking risks and trying new teaching/classroom practices, but it also allows us to experience all of the issues and challenges that our teachers will experience when they try to integrate the flipping classroom model or personalized learning, etc.  This has allowed us to become advocates for our staff and the initiatives we are implementing in our school.  This has also gone a long way to increase staff engagement in our meetings and in our school.

If you believe that John Dewey was right when he said “If we teach toScreen Shot 2015-07-09 at 8.47.08 PMday’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”  Wouldn’t you also believe Dewey’s same sentiment being applied to teachers?  “If we teach today’s teachers as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of teaching tomorrow’s youth”?  Our schools, our staff, our students and our future require us to be innovative, to change, to evolve, to improve.  By simply flipping our staff meetings we have created 25 hours or 3 full work days of time for our staff to work together, to learn from one another, to improve, to help us succeed in these transformative times.

We Keep Getting the R’s Wrong

3rsWe all have heard about the Three R’s in schools.  Whether when we were students or now as educators, the Three R’s seems as foundational as apple pie is to America.  The Three R’s describe the foundations of a basic skills-orientated education program.   The Three R’s, of course, stand for Reading, (w)Riting, and (a)Rithmetic.  A problem with this concept…is quite obvious…they call them the Three R’s, yet only Reading starts with the letter R.  So maybe instead of calling it the Three R’s, maybe it should have been R.W.A. or maybe more memorable, Writing, Arithmetic, and Reading…W.A.R., because it some times feels that way, doesn’t it?!?!? 🙂  So we gotten the ‘R’s’ wrong from the beginning.

However, in schools today the original R’s seem to have been replaced by another R’s saying.  The good news is this new ‘R’s concept’ is actually grammatically correct because both terms at least start with R – Rigor and Relevance.  According to the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE), academrr-frameworkic Rigor refers to learning in which students demonstrate a thorough in-depth mastery of challenging tasks to develop cognitive skills through reflective thought, anaylsis, problems solving, evaluation or creativity. Relevance refers to learning in which students apply core knowledge, concepts, or skills to solve real-world problems; learning that is interdisciplinary and contextual.  (Source: http://goo.gl/zzg0dG)

The bad news about the new R’s concept however, is I believe we have got it wrong again.  While I don’t think rigor or relevance are wrong or are concepts/values we shouldn’t have in schools.  My issue with this concept is two-fold.  First of all, the order and emphasis that comes with the model.  These concepts are always listed in the same order – Rigor and Relevance – which emphasizes Rigor first and then Relevance.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe emphasizing academic rigor and challenge is important – after all I am former Advanced Placement (AP) teacher.  I get it. However the reality is Rigor alone, cannot be the lead, it needs other elements to make it…well…Relevant.  So obviously Relevance is an important and complimentary concept to Rigor.  Rigor needs to be grounded in Relevance so that Rigor makes connections to the learner, their experiences, their world, and their future.

The problem, my second issue with the Rigor and Relevance concept, is you cannot create Relevance without truly knowing and connecting with the learner.  Essentially you cannot have Rigor without Relevance – however you cannot have Relevance without…the third R…the R we are leaving out – RELATIONSHIPS.  How can a teacher create Relevant Rigorous learning without having a strong and effective Relationship with and understanding of their learners?  The answer is…you can’t.  As Teddy Roosevelt believed, students need to know and connect with their teacher and vice versa for them to trulyQuotation-Theodore-Roosevelt-empathy-wisdom-Meetville-Quotes-190517 engage and care about their own learning.  Furthermore, when an effective relationship is established between a teacher and a learner, the teacher can then, and only then, truly make the learning Relevant for the learner and then by being able to make it Relevant, Rigor can truly be achieved.  A teacher with a relationship established can understand what interests their learners, how they learn most effectively, what their strengths and weaknesses are, what their background has been, where they need to go next, what will challenge their learners, and what will engage them.  Make no mistakes this is not a ‘soft approach’ to learning, it is merely a smart and real approach.  If you try to determine what is Rigorous without an established Relationship to make the learning Relevant then the determination of Rigor is solely based in the mind and perspective of the teacher – NOT the learner.

ANALOGY – Imagine that you are a physical trainer and you are setting up a treadmill workout.  Would you define a run for 30 minutes continuously at a fast pace, a Rigorous workout?

The answer to theimgres question is…it depends on who is running on the treadmill.  Right?!?!?  If the person on the treadmill is overweight and is extremely out of shape, then a 30 minute continuos, fast paced run is absolutely Rigorous.  However if the person on the treadmill is a marathon runner, then the run would be easy, more of a warm up run.  So if you are a trainer (teacher) and you are going to be establishing the workout routine (learning), is it important that you understand your client (student), their current physical condition (what they know), exercise history (what they have learned in the past), reasons for working out (motivations) and goal (future learning path)?  Additionally if you are the trainer and your client is the out of shape runner, then what is going to motivate them to stick to your workout program, especially when it is difficult?  The answer is of course, if they feel a connection to you, they know that you have their best treadmills-for-saleinterests in mind, you are knowledgable about physical health, and the program you have planned for them is challenging, yet something they can accomplish – i.e. A RELATIONSHIP has been established.

Why should our learning priorities in school be any different?  If we truly want to challenge and grow our students, to provide them with Rigor; we have to be able to make the learning Relevant; and the ONLY way to do that is to ensure there is a RELATIONSHIP.  So I challenge all of you to consider and embrace the concept of the New Three R’s (in this order) – Relationships, Relevance, and Rigor.

Leader-Leader: A Mindset Needed to Transform PD

imgresCurrently I am reading a book entitled “Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders”by L. David Marquet.  Marquet is a former nuclear submarine captain in the U.S. Navy and this book tells his evolutionary journey and views on leadership.  His general premiss is in an older era the leadership model of “Leader-Follower” worked because the style of work that was needed, emphasized compliance and simple production.  Furthermore, it is because of this success over multiple generations that we still see the “Leader-Follower” so pervasively in workplaces around the world.  However, Marquet opines, that our ‘times’ have changed and the type of work that is needed has dramatically shifted and therefore the traditional leadership model of “Leader-Follower” too must change.  That in an era of innovation and rapid change we need to adopt a “Leader-Leader” model.  “Image a work place where everyone engages and contributes to their full intellectual capacity.  A place where people are healthier and happier because they have more control over their work – a place where everyone is a leader.”  (Check out his TEDx Talk on this topic – How Great Leaders Serve Others)

This blog post isn’t about this book, although I am enjoying it very much and would recommend it to others, this blog post is about leadership and the need for us in education to look at our leadership model differently.  Specifically, I want to frame this issue through our school’s approach to professional development (PD).  Over the past three years our school (Bay View Middle School) has ‘flipped’ staff meetings and PD.  Gone are the days of staff meetings being largely informational in nature and exclusively are both led and driven by the ‘leaders’ (e.g. administration).  Also gone are the days of PD opportunities only being twice a year, where the ‘students’ (e.g. teachers) go through a ‘sit and get’, lecture style approach by the ‘teacher’ (e.g. administrators) on topics selected by the ‘teacher’ (e.g. administrators) without any/to little input by the ‘students’ (e.g. teachers).  Now the informational parts of these meetings are done through screencasts where teachers can watch on their own time, because we believe the time we are together is too scarce and too valuable for approach. That the time we have together should be maximized working together, learning together, growing together on topics that we all need, led by each other. Leader-Leader.

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While I could go on and on about us ‘flipping staff meetings’, which I will blog about in the future, right now I want to frame the importance and effectiveness of the “Leader-Leader” approach we have been taking with our staff meetings and PD.  At our monthly staff meeting tonight, we had ‘flipped’ all of the informational stuff to our staff a week prior to the staff meeting, so that we could take the 90 minutes we had together to learn, grow from and with one another.  We called tonight’s staff meeting “Edu Fest”.  Earlier in the year we surveyed teachers on topics/areas of professional development they wanted/were interested in, as well as topics/areas they felt they could teach their colleagues about.  Based on that learner-centered input, we developed “Edu Fest”, an un-conference, where teachers signed up for sessions (like at a professional conference) they were interested in.  These sessions were led by their colleagues and were designed with our school, our students, our initiatives, our staff, our direction, and real-life application specifically in mind.  Attendees got to learn about various topics – ranging from technology programs like EduPuzzle and Actively Learn, to pedagogical approaches like Problem-Based Learning, to classroom community/culture building like Tribes and STRIDE activities.  All that were taught in a manner that could be used in their own classrooms right away.

You might be thinking well that’s nothing too revolutionary, right? This approach is analogous to good, effective teaching.  We all know passive, lecture style teaching, where students have no voice, no choice in what and how they learn is woefully disengaging and ineffective.  And yet, for far too long it is THIS VERY approach that we have been using in staff meeting/professional learning in education.

Instead of approaching staff meetings and professional development in the ‘old model’, our professional development at Edu Fest was fully leader-leader.  All staff members had “more control over their work” because they got to pick the topics they wanted to learn more about.  This format allowed a place “where everyone engages and contributes to their full intellectual capacity” – whether as session teachers or as actively engaged session participants.  Ultimately because of this leader-leader approach our teachers get better and more impactful professional development.

WHY?

  1. Our teachers are experts in all kinds of areas.  Embrace and empower them.
  2. Teachers want to be recognized for their leadership and expertise.
  3. Teachers often know more and will be more effective in understanding and teaching certain technologies, approaches, and philosophies about teaching/classroom areas than any administrator ever will.
  4. Teachers will be more engaged when its about something they care about, they need, and they can apply to their jobs right away.
  5. Teachers will be more engaged and receptive to new concepts that are presented by their colleagues – rather than their bosses.
  6. Learning, growth and change is infectious…if your staff meetings/PD are places of real, quality learning, the need for and openness toward more learning spreads.
  7. Empowerment is infectious…other teachers will also want to step up to take on leadership opportunities.
  8. Teachers who are given leadership opportunities are more engaged in all areas of their work.

Put simply, the leader-leader approach, especially given the rapidly changing times we are operating in, is a better, more effective approach to leadership.  We saw in action tonight at our Edu Fest and we are seeing it in the change that our building has undergone over the past three years.

Our staff meeting (Edu Fest) ended tonight at 4:15.  I walked around the school after that and the majority of the sessions were still going.  With our staff still working, still discussing, still learning…when does that ever happen at a staff meeting/professional learning time?!?!?!?  I’ll tell you when…when you have a staff of outstanding, passionate, dedicated professionals, who are empowered, supported, challenged, recognized and are operating in a leader-leader environment.

Why am I blogging?

“I don’t have anything to say…”

“I’m not a writer…”

“No one will read, nor care what I write…”

“I don’t have time to blog…”

Yup…I had all of these thoughts and reservations about starting my own blog.  However I was challenged by others around me and I challenged myself to rise above these trepidations and TRY.  I realized that my efforts to blog should not be motivated or impeded by these hesitations, rather my reasons for starting a blog should be driven by my own belief in the importance of professional self-reflection, driven by my belief in the importance of professional dialogue, and driven by my belief that I always want to be a part of the solution, than part of the problem.  So I’m going to take a chance and try something new.  Paul Hermes, father, husband, administrator, teacher, learner…blogger? Why not?!?!  🙂

My intent is have my blog be a platform where I can engage myself and others in a dialogue about things I have dedicated my life to – education, change, leadership, solutions, and our future.  I have set a goal to myself to submit a new blog post at least once a month.  And as a ‘theme’, you will notice the use of analogies.  I have developed a bit of a reputation, both as a teacher and as an administrator, around using analogies to explain a point.  I find them to be a creative and effective way to connect ideas and situations that may be complicated, ‘loaded’ and/or new to others.  So I have titled my blog “Analogies from an Administrator.”

So I finish my first blog, which means I can say that I am an veteran blogger, who now is in a position to give advice and can criticize all those who are not blogging 🙂 – I challenge others to join in this process.  To read my and others’ blogs, to start your own blog, to share your ideas and the ideas of others, to get connected, to get ENGAGED.  Unfortunately my profession, public education, has a long history of being controlled and driven by others, outsiders, non-educators.  As much I blame these ‘others’ and criticize their motives and decisions, we have to be honest with ourselves, WE have allowed this to happen and, in some cases, we have earned this condition.  However we NOW have an opportunity – emboldened by the platform of technology and social media (e.g. Blogging, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.), to begin to change the public discourse and view of what we do and why we are important.  Ultimately with the hope that for the first time our profession will be led by the proper professionals – US!  However for this to happen we all have work to do.  We have to get engaged, we have to effort, we have to add to the conversation, demonstrate expertise, leadership, ownership for our profession and as Ghandi said “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I am nervous, guarded, curious, determined, excited, optimistic…and nervous about my blog and what’s next.  But I’m looking forward to the journey…I hope you will join me.