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!