Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Imperative of the Growth Mindset #SAVMP

photo by Dennis Flood
There is a great deal on the line with having or not having a mindset of growth that has a tremendous impact and potential for our community, both in the now and in the future.  In writing this post (which took a considerable amount of time...lots to think about here) I may have just stumbled across some new focus points for this new year.  Being challenged to dig a little deeper into the growth mind and how to promote that within my realm of influence, I've hit a couple key learnings as well as the summer read for our staff at Eagle Ridge!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Blogging Advice from a 4 Month Veteran

It has happened to me.  I knew it would, but the "when" was the only question.  That time when I think,"what do I write about?"  That great idea and thought to keep a list of thoughts as soon as I have them (which still works) is wonderful, but the problem is that pool is drying (-ied) up.

What's changed?  Reflecting over the last four months or so there are some things that are different.  Situations always change, but we know as leaders, we must be prepared, flexible and persistent in the things that are most important in our growth and work.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Your School's Story: A Bigger Purpose

It's interesting that the business branding and marketing scene is finally catching up with having a purpose bigger than a product or service.  We in education have had a lock on this as there are few greater purposes than educating and preparing young people for the future!  However, we have just done a really poor job of marketing it.  This is understandable as sharing what we do does not get the same priority as the doing what we do (it's quite a bit of work if you didn't know), but no longer in the world in which we live.  It is vital for a successful school to let their families and community know, see, share and tell the story of the great things happening at school!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Engaging Your Sweet Spot #SAVMP

In my experience, I have found that 99% of the principals that I have worked with and for, have been  and are outstanding teachers (I've been quite blessed!).  The days of coaching (not that that is a bad thing, but you know what I mean) being the pipeline to administration are over.  For most districts and schools (especially those that are pushing the lines of innovation and challenging the status quo of education), the characteristics that George outlines in the post we are working through are musts!  This is a great thing for our schools, communities, parents and students,  but those are tall orders for a single individual.  When it comes to the instructional leadership portion, especially where we doing the teaching on campus, it is important we know our sweet spot!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Your School's Story: Created with Intention

Back in high school, I was not a fan of the English classes.  Diagramming sentences, old &moldy literature (although, I do remember thoroughly enjoying Lord of the Flies my freshman year) and writing papers on who knows what did not hold my attention and interest.  The literature bothered me more than anything, especially when we talked of satire, foreshadowing, symbolism, etc. because that indicated design and an intentionality in the writing and I didn't believe that anything the likes of Jane Eyre was planned.  For whatever reason, I was operating under the delusion that all those great literary devices happened by chance!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Your School's Story

Why do we tell stories?  Story telling has been a practice for generations throughout history.  Sharing, teaching, entertaining.   We sit around the dinner table with family at Thanksgiving and reminisce stories of the past.  When buddies from college get together we retell stories and share the new life stories that have come.  With Veteran's Day having just past, I always enjoy listening to veterans share their stories and experiences.   They are often thrilling and scary, but make me more thankful in the telling!  In many cases, the is how history was passed down, via the spoken or written story!  Christ spent his ministry telling stories that gave examples, clarified understanding and challenged thinking.  Among other things, His stories are what brought people to him because it was understandable and relateable.  In every one of these examples, at the very heart of the act of story telling is opportunity and desire to connect!

The purpose of stories is to bring people into connection and community.  That is what we should desire for our school's story to be and/or become.  The fact of the matter is that we don't have a story to tell unless our students and families are not apart of what we do.  We're not learning, sharing, growing, etc.  That is the nature of our business.  The story we tell must be one that inspires our students and families to become a part of and take part in the telling!

What are the elements of your school's story that draw people into community and help them find connection?

Happy telling!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Your School's Story: Rooted in Truth

I love the word "story".  Over the next few weeks I'd like to explore the idea of story and story telling based on this Bernadette Jiwa post entitled The Characteristics of Great Brand Stories.  I want to take her insights and place them in the context of schools and what it means for us as we share and develop our own school stories that ring true to the identity we wish to create!

For me, it was a word that came up when I opened Timberview Middle with Carrie Jackson in 2010.  It was a rough road, as most openings tend to be, but this was different.  As I shared in this post, we sat in our leadership meeting with some district folks and we came to the conclusion that there was a group of passionate people out there that were telling our story and we had no voice in it.  We had begun a journey to transform teaching and learning, but that disruption to the norm was not taken well and there was a very negative and one-sided story being shared.  We needed to be more involved and it needed to be rooted in truth.  We knew we had to tell a story that was about the great things happening on campus and it had to be authentic and bring people on board!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Why Are We Paying for Voxer!? #SAVMP

I'm super cheap.  Paying for things that I can get for free or less is a "no, no" in my family of penny pinchers and Freddy frugals. I am especially this way when it comes to apps.  In most cases I can work with the free version of apps and if I purchase a "pro" version or a "full" version of an app, that is saying quite a bit about the app (or I got it free...).

I have not purchased the "pro" version of Voxer.  In all honesty, I only talk to Tom Whitford (@twhitford) on it semi-regularly because it is part of the #SAVMP cohort I'm a part of, and I've enjoyed that greatly so far!  But I don't need to pay extra for real walkie-talkie (that's what I though push talk kinda was), larger chats, never miss a vox, message forwarding, etc.  For the record, I will say the "pro" price seems pretty reasonable.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Feelings & Trust

Branding is not merely of differentiating products; it's about striking an emotional chord with consumers.  It is about cultivating identity, attachment and trust to inspire customer loyalty.   - Nirmalya Kumar
There is quite a bit to unpack here!  Maybe it is my nonbusiness brain, but I remember branding being a logo.  A graphic that identified who you are, creating an association between a symbol and what you do or sell.  Truly taking that ranching practice and making it work for whatever industry.  This quote as well as the writings of other marketing gurus makes branding almost necessary for schools.  Branding has moved quite a ways from the ranching practice to something very afftective in nature (which the cow would probably much prefer).

Friday, October 31, 2014

Your Must Reads?

Sure, we all have things that we read regularly.  There are so many amazing tools to help bring us the articles and posts we want and expose us to new and different things.  Two tools I use are Feedly and Zite. Feedly is my RSS reader and brings together the blogs and authors I want to come back to.  It displays them in a pleasing manner and also notifies me when posts are available (probably my favorite part).  Zite is a bit different.  This is my exposure tool.  This amazing tool aggregates reading by topic and then interests.  It is like a Pandora for reading.  It continually learns as you "like" posts and brings similar reading all together in your main feed.  You still have specific topic feeds that you can scroll through.  There are amazing things here.  If you haven't tried either of those tools, you should!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Social Media & Schools: Why?

So why should we be part of social media?  We could look at one of a number of areas and have a great reason to jump in and each one is worthy!  Let's make a quick list:
  • As an additional communication platform - get your message out in every way possible!
  • Because you were told - hopefully this means you have a boss or administration that values innovation and using current and relevant tools!
  • To connect with parents and/or students where they interact - the saying is "build it and they will come".  Well, in this case, it is already built, people are there and we need to go meet them there!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

12 Ideas to Stay Connected #SAVMP

It is difficult in our business sometimes to say one thing is more important than another!  When it comes to working with kids, it is all important.  I often tell staff and parents that tasks or situations are a priority, there is not a "THE" priority.  Unfortunately we don't have that luxury to just have one!

Being Connected Educators month, I have read so many posts about ways that we should be globally  and digitally connected and it is wonderful and important!  I am also glad I have had the opportunity to really reflect upon being face-to-face connected with those individuals closest to me, right in my own building and community!  I have a tendency to over think things which sometimes leads to the dismissal of work done or time spent (I may have done that with the ideas below...).  Here some pretty reasonable ways to keep connected with your community.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Reader's Survey

I haven't been at this blogging deal too long, but I'd like to know a few things about you, the folks that come by and read and those that maybe interested in reading.  I'd also like to know what you may want to get out of your visits here.  I've written before, my ultimate purpose is sharing thoughts and impact, but also want to grow the reach of the message and I believe that this short survey will help in that venture!  I'm going to leave it open for about two weeks then make some decisions moving forward!

Please take a few moments to complete this survey.  Your input is much appreciated!

Thank you for reading!


Friday, October 17, 2014

Plan vs. Design

Below is a post from 2012 (just a few edits).  Probably one of the final posts from my previous site that I will pull to the new one.  Still relevant and a challenge we all should accept!

"When I look at nature I see design & patterns everywhere & know that designs don't happen by accident. There is a Designer." - Jon Gordon

If you don't follow Jon Gordon on Twitter, you should. Not only is the man a great writer and motivator, but he strikes me as a person that is just good to know. Maybe I'll get to know him one day. The tweet above was posted yesterday is just really struck a sweet chord with me on a number of different levels. On one level, it is difficult to look around and not see a beautiful design in action. The exquisiteness of creation is just too intricate to be random and by chance!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Social Media & Schools: Goals & Measurement

So what do you want out of this whole social media thing?  More than likely you have gotten into social media for your campus to share information and keep your families informed of things happening at school.  That is a worthy cause!  More often than not an informed community is a happy community!  Taking a little bit of time to plan some strategy to the use of social media is a wise investment to ensure you are getting out of the tool, time you are putting in.

Stepping into the social media scene at Eagle Ridge, we looking to do the following:
  • take advantage of an opportunity to communicate
  • provide a window into school/classroom
  • tell the Eagle Ridge story

Friday, October 10, 2014

Are We Close or Are We Close? #SAVMP

The first SAVMP topic is about connecting with school community and after reading this recent Bernedette Jiwa post,  Close, Closer, Closest, the idea of the neighborhood school came to mind along with the following contrasts: are we close or are we close?  Are we a neighborhood school or are we a school in the neighborhood?

As a school community, we should evaluate whether we are near each other or are we connected.  Are we connected simply by the streets we live on or the subdivision where are house  or is there more?  The difference between the these contrasts is all about relationship.  The "more" comes with the opportunity to and intentional effort to connect, come together and understand one another.

How we address these contrast may be well informed by how we answer these questions: What are some the ways that you are close with your school community?  What are the ways that your campus is a neighborhood school?  Leave a comment!!



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The Hashtag

From the outside looking in, the idea of the hashtag is a pretty silly thing, but has become almost a staple of pop culture.  At some point in time, down the road, we will all have some pretty interestesting conversations about our recolllections of the hashtag.

Here is what Twitter has to say about the hashtag:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Blogging Advice from a 9 Week Veteran

So I've continued to learn some things as I've continued on this blogging journey! That's a good thing!  I posted a number of weeks back on some things that I'd picked up along the way and still find that they are valuable  key learnings and 6 weeks later.  Again, I'll say I'm not the end all, be all when it comes to this practice, but here are a few more things that might be useful in your on own blogging venture!

  • Share something everyday! - I post new content 2-3 times per week, but on those in between days I have been tweeting posts from previous days and weeks. My purpose is to share ideas, it's OK to share them more than just a single time. If your twitter feed looks anything like mine, you're going to catch new folks each time you post.  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

5 Ways to Mobilize Your Silent Majority

A couple weeks back I posted about mobilizing your silent majority as part of ensuring that the school brand and identity is being portrayed accurately and developed positively.  I shared a middle school story in that post, but at Eagle Ridge we had a related experience as well just his past year with our end of year district survey.  Out of an 800 student campus we had less than 80 responses on our survey.  While we thought communication was a strength due to amount and variety, this was indicated as a weakness!  We could analyze all day, but this was feedback we had to work with and it was valuable because for those that responded, this was their frame of reference.  I am positive you probably have a similar story or at least a relatable experience as well!

In ensuring that I am never "that guy" that pontificates on a topic then stops short of at least an idea to get the party started, here are 5 ways that you can grow your community's voice!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The Engagement Post

I will certainly not say that the best or most important post type has been saved for last, but the final post type does take the most guts, for sure.  The engagement post is where a measure of control of the social media and storytelling reins is released to the folks that truly have the power to make it move and make it something amazing that we could never make it on our own.

The engagement post is just that, a post aiming to elicit a response from the community and open up the opportunity for conversation and a perspective outside of the school perspective.  It is a true test of the norms and digital citizenship of the community.  It is imperative that norms have been developed and shared prior to attempting the engagement post.

Friday, September 26, 2014

One Word

As part of our beginning of the year kick off for school this year my principal challenged us to select and display one word that would describe our goal for the year, something that described us, or would tell a little bit about the journey that we were on at this point in time.  I took a little time to peruse Jon Gordon's book One Word to get a better feel for what exactly was a good thought process in selecting a word that carried this much weight and importance.  All the while, I was pretty sure I new what my word was:

I have blogged about thoughts from the book Difference numerous times already.  The book as made a pretty significant impact on the kind of instructional and organizational leader that I desire to be.  I've pulled out a couple key things that really struck me from  the book.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The Learning Post

If we truly want to be learning communities, learning cannot be exclusively for those at school.  Students, of course, are expected to learn. We measure that and give feedback often!  School faculty are expected to be continuous learners.  Campuses and districts provide learning opportunities and we encourage the learning to take place in a personal manner as well, just as we do with students.  Most professions have this same expectation, but as "experts" in our field we really have an obligation to be feeding our communities with opportunities to grow!  The learning post allows the opportunity for the learning to take place outside our buildings and classrooms by people other than students, bringing a focus to growing a community of learners.

Think, for a moment, about the question that is often asked in parent conferences and RtI, 504 and ARD meetings?  For me, I often hear: "What can I be doing to best support my student at home?"  This is a perfect place to start.  The learning post gives our parents he opportunity to have access to better support their students.  At Eagle Ridge we began this area with posts regarding how parents can help and support at home with math & literacy parent/teacher connection.  Here are a couple sample posts:
Our campus is a great learning resources as well.  We have tried to feed that resource with not only school related resources, but true community resources.  Below is one of my favorites as it includes district posts and information as well links provided by our local state representative.
Other opportunities for learning posts can be learning about campus initiatives and understanding how schools work!

The one thing that did concern us regarding the learning post was the perception of preaching.  We never wanted our community to feel as if we were preaching at them on a specific topic or that we were calling them out.  This school year we got ourselves over that and explicitly pitched our purpose in share articles, blog posts, etc. which was to feed the community and share things that made us think.  We specifically emphasized that many of the things we shared would be related to empowering parents to best help their kiddos and understand what school was all about!  With those things in mind, it is important to not post things filled with lingo that will not be easily accessible to our families we are trying to reach.

The act of exposing ourselves as educators and our learners comes pretty naturally just due to the nature of what we do.  Reaching our families takes something a little more intentional.  The learning post, like the C&I post, is, most likely, a departure from an area of comfort with social media where our campus is concerned.  But, if we wish to be a community of learners and continue our journey in that respect, it is a great step forward!

Happy posting


Friday, September 19, 2014

I'm Sorry

I believe that there are divine signs and leading.  As  I was working on a separate post, a notification from Seth Godin's blog popped up.  Go ahead and click on it and read it.  It will take you 1 minute...I'll wait.

I had this idea sitting in my post page waiting for the right time.  That notification and quick read told me it was time to complete this thought.  Now, add to that my image search, I come across the image to the right and  this post.  Click on that and read.  It's another 2-3 minute read...I'll wait.

I won't hide from it, this post, like others, comes from a recent experience from which I'm still learning and reflecting.  In our work and in life in general, there are times when "I'm sorry" is hard and there are times when "I'm sorry" is a little less hard.  Mr. Patterson covers the nature of apologies very well in his post and Mr. Godin has got the great thoughts on the anatomy of an apology.  I want to focus on the some vocabulary.

I've heard my fair share of apologies, whether on the giving end, receiving end or otherwise, and my greatest observation is the words that come across directly after.

  • Too many times, and it makes me sad, I hear "I'm sorry you...".  If I can be so bold to say, this is not an apology at all and a manipulation of the situation.  Yes, "I'm sorry" is in there, but just in the structure of the language, the focus is no longer on you and what you are sorry for, but the focus is now on the action of another.  This is a defense mechanism and a clear indication that you're not ready to make the apology, because there is no ownership in the language.
  • In work with students in discipline situation on the restorative end is the language I teach is "I'm sorry for...".  Then there comes those lovely times when I (& we as adults) get to decide to heed my own teaching.  "I'm sorry for..." indicates acknowledgement of the situation and the desire to mend relationship.
I may have a stubborn streak in me, so apologies never come easy (do they for anyone?).  But if we prioritize relationship, as we should, as a key factor in student success, we must become better at apologies.  The word comfortable was the first word that came to mind, but I'm not sure that apologies are anything we may ever get more comfortable with, but we sure can get better at them.  The good of our school community requires and deserves relationships that can be mended for the good of our students!



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The C&I Post

If you have kids, you have tackled the age old conversation:

        You: "How was school today?" 
        Child: "Fine."
        You: "What did you do?"
        Child: "Oh, nothing."
        And scene...

This conversation happens often in your families' homes and while for a vast majority the conversation rarely ends there and many vary their questioning strategies (we posted a great article on this a couple days ago) to tease out what REALLY happened that day at school.  Left unchecked, though, this conversation can begin to erode our families' view of  our

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mobilize Your Silent Majority

When most of us think about the squeaky wheel, it is not usually a super positive thing.  While not necessarily and explicitly negative, the squeaky wheel is a means to an end for some person or group.  Car maintenance is an appropriate metaphor for how school often goes.  When things are good/great, it is quiet and you roll with it!  When things break you start to get those noises, warning lights and error messages on that nifty screen that front and center.  That's how the machine works, right?

What if our machine worked differently?   What if our notification console gave us green lights and thumbs up instead of those alarming and anxiety creating red and orange lights (those things give the amazing color of red a bad name...).  Below is a great nugget from the Blunt Educator:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The Celebration Post

There are few things that people, in general, enjoy more than a good celebration!  Celebrations evoke so many positive feelings & emotions and have the effect of bringing people together!  We have so many things to celebrate and be excited about in schools!  Whether it be learning, social, or milestone, celebrations are a huge part of the story we tell and we should be proactive to ensure that our families have the opportunity to take part in these because these are the events and happenings that can have the greatest effect on our family engagement and brand building experience!

Folks like myself, Tony Sinanis & Joe Sanfelippo, as well as my own district's superintendent, speak regularly about taking control of the narrative being told in regards to school.  The celebration post on your campus and/or classroom social media pages should be an important part of what is being shared!  These celebration posts speak directly to all of the wonderful and positive things that happen at school daily and should highlight individuals, groups, clubs, events, learning, service to name a few!  All that said, the celebration post was a very natural progression after beginning with the information posts!  Here are some great places to find celebrations on your campus.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The Information Post

The next few posts regarding social media will dig into five (5) post types I have identified after meticulously sifting through a year's worth of posts (yup, that's how I spend my time :))!  Time consuming yes, but I believe there is value in knowing how we use the tool of social media so that we can use it more efficiently to build the level of engagement with families and brand that we desire!

The first post type that we'll tackle is probably the one that most got into the social media scene to use and probably why you chose to start a social media page for your campus or classroom.  The information post is pretty self explanatory.  Information posts can be:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I Don't Want to be a Special Guest

I don't want to be a special guest.  Not at school or in a classroom, at least.

This past Thursday, I was out and about visiting classrooms, walking through, checking things out.  Nothing super official yet, but really trying to work on being present where the learning happens.  I ended up hanging out a little longer in a 4th grade classroom where an interactive read aloud was taking place (a shared book will always catch my attention).  As the teacher read, then made her calculated stops to ask questions, driving the objective of point of view, she asked the question, "what do you think the point of view of our special guest will be?"  A number of the students who had noticed me come in turned to look at me.

Friday, September 5, 2014

More to the Story

I am knee deep into the idea of branding.  I think I would really enjoy a 21st century marketing course!  Social media has changed the game in how marketing takes place and organizations are able to interact with people and vice versa.  It has also, in a dramatic fashion, leveled the playing field and allowed a new level of competition for the "little guy" if the right tools are used correctly and you are passionate about your product and/or service!  Branding is also a current hot topic for schools and reading about branding in business has become a favorite pass time (and blog topic) as I think about the school I want to lead.  I read this article The Power of Branding a couple days ago and enjoyed it finding myself nodding along with everything it had to say.  I also found that I had a number of points and elements included in my upcoming presentation.  I won't lie, it's nice to see others seeing and coming to similar conclusions!  The article really focused on the power of telling and getting the narrative of schools out their in all of the various ways that we communicate.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The Platforms

When jumping into the social media scene it the choices and options can be overwhelming.  Starting in, I would recommend selecting one that you feel is going to make the greatest impact with families.  All provide options for passing information as well as the ability to connect and interact with your community.  Here are some quick points on the platforms that we use at Eagle Ridge.

  • Primary social media platform and where we started - getting everybody who is has admin rights to our pages on Hootsuite hasn't risen to the top of the priority list, so Facebook even for posting is the "go to" location to post.
  • Most visited and posted - We are currently sitting at 620+ likes which is a little more than 75% of our student population
  • Great combination of visual & communication purposes - The limit on post size is pretty high and you can easily include a visual with links so including extra details.  Other platforms provide the options to post to Facebook so integration is pretty easy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lead Like a Pirate!

If teachers or administrators had a choice, would they follow you? That question popped into my mind as I prepared for a meeting this past week.  The wonderful Dave Burgess came to mind in connection and I couldn't help but think about that challenge question he included in Teach Like a Pirate: If students had the choice, would they come to your class?  Shouldn't the same question apply to our leadership?   As I thought more and more about that question, I was, first and foremost, encouraged by my own response (not answering in  arrogance, but answering in self reflection) and then, second, it reestablished that point that true leadership is not a position or a job held.  Here is a visual a I had retweeted awhile back that will help frame my ideas.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Social Media & Schools: Norms

This post takes me back to the summer of 2010 as a group of instructional coaches and administrators from the yet to be opened Timberview Middle School sat in an Alan November session at the Texas ASCD Technology Conference.  Honestly, the topic I cannot recall, but in our think tank there towards the back of the ballroom we decided that a Facebook fan page would be a brilliant idea as a platform to connect with our people.  Of course we all had our own experiences with social media.  Most of us were on the Facebook so we had an awareness of the various behaviors that occurred, so we didn't step into this social media adventure completely naive.  Our bold and brilliant leader,Carrie Jackson, sat down and developed some norms for interaction and use so that page became the positive platform we wanted it to become!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Social Media & Schools: The Series

Social media has been a powerful tool for us at Eagle Ridge to share the learning and experiences of our staff and students!  I believe in its ability to help us connect with our families and community! Over the coming weeks, I want to share my learning and experiences in using social media to share the unique narrative of learning organizations!  I hope you'll join me in the journey!

Keep posting!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Thoughts on the Old Box

One of my summer reads I made some headway on was Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader.  I am, for sure, a Potterhead.  I'd say something about it in my twitter bio, but there is just not space and thinking about it now, I probably need to go adjust my bio page to note this (shame on me).  I've read that series all the way through at least a half dozen times and I'm slowly working my way through the John Granger books looking at the literary values the Harry Potter series contain.  If these books were around when I was in high school, I probably would have enjoyed those classes a whole lot more.  Of course this is all my own interest and purely for the fun of it, but then I read this quote and I couldn't help but stop and think:

Monday, August 25, 2014

It's a School Again!

Meet the teacher and the first day of school are always some of my favorite days!  It is energizing and motivating to see the kids' excitement, the smiles, the shared stories of summer adventures and imagine the possibilities that are the school year to come.  More than that, when students and parents walk through that door, with whatever expectations or experiences, our building becomes a school once more.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Blogging Advice from a 3 Week Veteran

Of course after three weeks, I should be giving advice because I know so much!  Ha!  Probably not, but there have been some key things that I've picked up plus I want to encourage those thinking about it or are just a few short weeks in like me.
  • Have multiple posts drafted - One of the things that I was most worried about when starting this journey was if I would have enough content to make it worth while to even blog.  I'm happy to say that 3 weeks in that it has not been an issue which has built confidence to continue!  At the time I am writing this, I have nine (9) drafted posts ranging from ready to publish to notes jotted on the fly.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Marketing Education 3.0

We did not jump lightly back into our professional learning activities when teachers came back last Thursday.  We went straight to work on revisiting our campus mission statement.  It was developed 7 years ago when the campus opened, but it was time for a revisit .  Many things had changed in the seven years since Eagle Ridge opened it's doors and what we found both from staff and community, is while a large majority were pleased with the campus, they had zero awareness of what the campus mission was.  Of course we shared the same purpose, but no reflection of the unique identity and values of the campus.  The coolest part of the experiences is that my principal and I took a PBL approach to the learning including challenge briefs, developing research questions, hosting workshops, developing DIY's, in addition to the final task of drafting a mission statement.  Part of the initial experience was watching this video.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Digital Leadership Day - A Call

So what, I'm a day or two late!  For Digital Leadership Day, I thought I'd review and tweak of thoughts from July of last year when I shared thoughts about difference between transformation and improvement. Thinking about digital leadership, it is a model of transformative learning and practices versus a focus on improvement.  In a time where transformation is necessary, being a leader is not enough.  The most effective leader is one who can most effectively wield the best tools to motivate, inform and model the transformation they desire to inspire in others.

I suppose I first came across the idea of transformation versus improvement during a reading of Why School by Will Richardson (@willrich45).  For me, this is a game changing book. No professional book I

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Reframing the Favorite

I'm curious to know your thoughts regarding the use of the "Favorite" on Twitter and hope I'm writing today to revolutionize its use!  I've been on Twitter for over three years now and my overall observation is that the Twitter "Favorite" is used in the same vain as the "Like" on Facebook: if you like like/agree with a post (whatever the type) you click that star and move on.  Here is what Twitter has to say about the Favorite:

I contend to you today, the last portion of this definition makes it a powerful tool!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Creating Difference

Lately I have found it fascinating to read about the rise and success of brands like Apple, Google, Southwest, etc. and the experiences they create and the way they engage their communities.  The difference they make versus others is that they have created an experience!  Bernadette Jiwa says it this way::
"the meaning we attach to stuff —the experiences we create around it and the stories we tell ourselves about it— has exponential value."

Jiwa, Bernadette (2014-02-03). Difference: The one-page method for reimagining your business and reinventing your marketing (Kindle Locations 420-421). The Story Of Telling Press. Kindle Edition. 

While she is specifically speaking to business and product, I would contend that there is applicability to schools here.  School and learning should be an impactful experience!  The time spent and invested in schools should leave a positive and indelible mark on our students and their families. There should be a healthy focus on the affective areas: experience and feeling created versus the product itself (not that that isn't important). I am certainly not saying school should be Disneyland or the "experience" should be at the expense of quality instruction (fluff), but the school experience should be just as special!  The experience and relationship are what make our product (learners and learning) just that much more meaningful!

Right now at Eagle Ridge, we are looking closely at who we are, what we believe, what are the unique traditions, what are unique needs of our campus (both instructionally and affectively).  What is it that makes Eagle Ridge, Eagle Ridge?  We don't want to be a campus that does things just to do them or goes through the motions, no matter how well we do them.  We want to "create difference" for the benefit of our students!
"It isn't the person with the best idea who wins; it’s the person who has the greatest understanding of what really matters to people."
Jiwa, Bernadette (2014-02-03). Difference: The one-page method for reimagining your business and reinventing your marketing (Kindle Locations 147-148). The Story Of Telling Press. Kindle Edition. 
I want to explore and refine this idea as part of this site.  I hope in the coming weeks to develop the idea in my head of "The EDentiy Interviews"! I want to pick brains of school leaders and great teachers about what makes their schools and classrooms so special!  What were important stepping stones and processes they went through on the way to greatness?

What would you ask or want to know of these folks?

Happy Learning


Monday, August 11, 2014

D of L Diaries - Hard Conversations & PPDs

I'd like this to be a regularly revisited segment of my site/blog.  Last year we had a new Director of Leadership overseeing my boss and our campus.  One of his priorities was to change the view of his position so he made great efforts to make regular visits to our campus and others.  The culture what it was, this caused higher levels of anxiety, but in the interest of shifting culture he persisted, to his credit.  I always find value and learning from his visits, so I'd like to share that!

This week (8/5/14 to be exact), I took the opportunity to make an appointment and sit and chat with him for a bit.  It was a beneficial visit and many things we talked about I'm still marinating on, but here are a couple key points I walked away with:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Morning Power Walks

Here is an updated post from January of 2013.  In reflecting on the practice, everything I wrote back then still holds absolutely true and it remains one of my favorite parts of the day, along with morning duty!!

One of the most rewarding activities that Anne (my principal) and myself have dedicated ourselves to is the morning power walk.  Each morning, following our announcements, we visit every classroom in the building as well as our cafeteria kitchen, personally greeting the great students and staff at Eagle Ridge (@EagleRidgeKISD).  In every moment spent, it has had the greatest return on investment of any of the important practices and duties that we have throughout the day and we have heard nothing but positive feedback from faculty and parents regarding the practice.  I'd like to share some of the benefits that we have seen from this first half of the year (in no particular order).
  • The morning power walk  has allowed us to keep a close check on the pulse of the campus.  Although focus may be to give students a quick personal greeting, we will often have the chance to talk to teachers and staff and hear the joys, celebrations, concerns and issues that are on the forefront of teacher's minds, both business and personal.  Many times during our senior leadership team meetings we will discuss and tackle issues that were brought to our attention during these brief interactions.  We also have the opportunity to follow up on those for some anecdotal improvement data as well!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

5 Ways to Create Better Content for Your School Sites

I enjoyed this article.  In the great adventure to lead and build a learning community and establishing a school identity, I found these thoughts wonderful in helping to create some connections with our school community and bringing them along in the journey!  The link is below but, here are the ways shared to create build better content and brand with some school connections!

How To Create Better Content For Your Personal Brand  
  1. Write better content.  It seems that is the key to success with any blog or social media venture and it is the #1 preached point for those wishing to establish a platform.  We haven't gotten into a great deal of depth as far as creating content (although Touchcast is hopefully going to help us with this!), but we do put out things on our webpage and social media iin which our community will be interested.  More when we hit number five!
  2. Put community first.  This is probably an area where we need to improve.  We often post and share important information as well as content we feel our community needs, but have yet to really seek out what THEY want and need  as far as content goes!  If I were to give feedback on this article, I might say that this should be #1 as putting community first is going to help in the writing/sharing of better content!  We desire to continue to build relationship so we can better do #1 better!
  3. Know where to share your content.  Meet people where they are! My thought here is to provide a variety of opportunities and let your community make a choice (the spice of life, right!?).  We keep up a webpage, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts as well as meeting those that desire something physical in hand.  It seems like a ton of work, but with the right tools and a great team, we make it work to the benefit of our school community!
  4. Curate relevant content your network will value.  We talked about creating content in number one.  This is about bringing together resources.  Specific needs of our community we learn about in surveys and conversation.  Right now I curate a called the Parent intERESt that attempts to address the most common question we get: "How can I help my kiddo at home?".  We desire to provided learning opportunities for our parents and community so they can better support their kiddos!  We can't do this work alone!
  5. Create a variety of content.  After a year of consistent (pretty) and dedicated social media use at Eagle Ridge (@EagleRidgeKISD), we found, after some analyzing, that our posts broke down in to five (5) types: information, celebration, learning, curriculum & instruction and engagement posts (I plan to post more on these later).  I believe that these help to create variety that is important to keep our parent and community coming back to check out our sites.  We are also very careful that variety doesn't become bombardment!  Over posting can be just as dangerous as not posting enough!
What are some ways that you are creating some great content for your parents and community?



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

No Other Choice Now

I've got no other choice now!

I've spent the last few mornings reworking my Blogger site I haven't touched in years. I've played with the layout, transferred content from the Weebly page. While I'm sure I could spend many more hours tweaking and adjusting, I've pretty much hit the point where I must do something that people may want to visit.
I've read dozens of articles and posts as well as great books by Michael Hyatt and Bernadette Jiwa regarding blogging, branding, etc. and 100% preach that you have to post content worth reading.  That is a pretty scary prospect for me as I am apt to downplay the value of my thoughts, knowledge and expertise. But, I'm going to fight through that fear and post/share things I'm interested in and passionate about (see graphic)and hope you'll join me along the way!

So here's is post #1!

As stated in my intro, "I'll focus on topics of (in no particular order) school culture, vision, branding, instructional leadership and focus, social media, community and maybe a few others as they are appropriate and applicable." I believe that these areas are paramount in building a school/district that has a clear sense of identity and experience in which the community clamors to positively engage.  Identity is the main idea I want to explore and engage with you! 

So here's to quality content worth sharing!