A couple years back, some colleagues and I decided that we wanted to push our upper tier by showcasing the possibilities of technology and instant instructional feedback. This was when we truly started dabbling with Google Forms along with mobile devices. At that time, we were still moving slow to go fast but nonetheless we were making forward progress. With iPhones in the hands of all administrators, we felt it was our time to jump.
With this movement, we knew we’d have some resistors but also felt with some guidance and hand-holding, along with real-time Q&A and application, we could help with this shift in the walkthrough process.
We did create an issuu publication and had the pleasure of presenting a session at the 41st Annual CASE Conference in Breckenridge, CO. It wasn’t until recently, when this publication came to the surface again, via twitter, that I felt compelled to share here, in my “work in progress” blog. Again, although we understand that we are not pioneers of Google Forms/Docs when it comes to the classroom walkthrough, we felt driven to create an instructional guide for those that have not been exposed as well as those who might be looking for an alternative digital platform. Please share and enjoy!
There is a certain routine that occurs in most peoples’ day-to-day lives – a Bill Murray “Ground Hog Day” effect, if you will. We wake up, check our phone, get dressed, check our phone, eat breakfast, fast-track to work, check our phone, watch the clock, punch-out, fast-track home, dinner, down-time and off to bed…..Am I close? A day-to-day that runs fairly smooth, with little worry, confusion or heartache.
BUT, for some of our kiddos at the elementary level, the “Ground Hog Day” effect can take on different molds. Waking up might be by big brother who needs to get the household up in order to get himself off to high school because mom works swings and was out of the house before the sun came up. Getting dressed may consist of yesterday’s clothes lying on a floor, wondering where that other sock went. Breakfast could vary from Doritos and donuts to soda and cookies. AND the trek to school may consist of limited options – including brother’s beat-up ’89 Honda Civic, with phone books for booster-seats and only a short commute or the real mile walk, up the steep hill in the snow before the school bell rings.
BUT, once they enter through the school’s doors, a theme music overtakes the blurred morning prep and offers an over-arching feeling of comfort, caring and learning. This is the moment that we as education turn-styles create the best part of their days. Routine that allows for fluid movement in a variety of directions. An environment that revolves around them and the forward progress we shape. It allows for the relationships we build and develop over a span of grades. It gives the hugs and high-fives that bring smiles to their faces and a sense of love and belonging to their hearts.
Have you hugged or high-fived one of your students today?
It’s been 3 weeks since school started and the beginning of my new position as a K-5 Assistant Principal. I’m questioned all the time by my friends and family as to how my new gig is going and whether it’s what I expected. Honestly, I’m absolutely fired up on my new leadership journey. Although there are times I feel that I’m breathing through a straw right below the surface of the water, at least I know I’m breathing.
As I sat on my mower this afternoon, I was continually running through my week ahead. Trying to picture a Google Calendar mentally while riding a mower across an uneven yard is challenging but doable. I began to run through my upcoming meetings both administrative and committee, wondering current direction and future course. I began to think about my teams: RTI, Data, Leadership and again, began to think about what students and staff I’ll be affecting. Is this what’s best for kids? Is this going to put him/her in a place to be successful? Is data truly driving our decisions? As my mind wonders – simultaneously riding my mower as if on auto-pilot – I’m realizing that I’m thinking only about my week that involves my work and career.
Yesterday was the Imogene Pass Run (17.1 miles, 13,100ft mountain pass, 6000ft vertical ascent and a 5000ft decent – BURLY) and for the last 10 years I have volunteered and run an aide station. This station sits at tree line, approximately 11,200ft above sea level – which makes for a great sunrise. Once tables are set up, gatorade and snacks placed out, my 5yr old son and I, with our down jackets and beanies on, take in our surroundings. I breathe in and out several times to completely relax and take in what lies before us. This is where I belong right here, right now. As runners begin to ascend up to us, I find myself doing what I love best, yelling and cheering for these elite athletes. Yelling such things as “Good Morning”, “Welcome to the San Juans”, temperatures and wind speeds but along with all of my greetings, I found myself reminding these runners to stop and look up at where they are, “Don’t forget to smell the roses because you know what your shoes look like”..
The smell of gas and fresh cut grass bring my subconscious back to reality and yet refocuses my thoughts about the upcoming week. I began to think about my 5 year old and his first year in Kindergarten. Is he enjoying it? Has he made any new friends? I began to think about our 3 year old and how she makes me laugh throughout my day (in her presence or not) with her 3 year old antics. And, then there’s my 10 month old, who is on the verge of crawling, saying my name (Da, Da) and cutting two new lower teeth. Will he be racing around the house by the time I get home Monday? Then there’s my partner, my best friend and the rock of our family – my wife. A kindergarten teacher herself who seems to have it all dialed in and enough energy to light the sun. Where is her head this week? What can I help her with, without asking? When’s our next date night?
Then I began to think about me. Who’s taking care of me – both mentally and physically? I find that although I’ve chosen a path both in family and career that creates chaos at times and peace in others, I need to make sure I’m giving myself some attention. A run, bike ride, or my new found religion Crossfit has to find a fit into my day. But where? When? With everything and everybody else in my day, when do I have the time, focus and or energy?
breathe…and realize how balance must be your center and all good will flow towards it
I hope whoever is reading this post can say the same and realize that there are enough hours in the day.
Get off the couch and breathe…
Never forget 9/11/01 and our freedom
What a day! Started out with some of my middle school teachers using polleverywhere for the first time - very exciting seeing the integration of mobile devices in the classroom. It then moved on to a jing introduction with a screencast follow up creating CSAP (our state assessment) proctor video tutorials. Which then moved on to an online meeting involving a few from my PLN discussing open source options for at-risk teens and how we may be able to create more online hybrid courses that meet the individual needs of the student.
Then enters several text messages from my amazing wife (a teacher too and who happens to be on her final month at home - FMLA - with our third child and my 2.5 year old) indicating that Matti (our two month old) is not into much of a routine today. Hmmm, well, you'd think by the time you've had your third child that the learning curve has been mastered and that this "kid" thing is a piece of cake - not today anyway. "Matti just seems to be off today - I feel that I've tried all my bag of tricks (in a motherly way) to comfort him but nothing seems to be working". Of course, I'm floating between buildings trying to troubleshoot (between texts and phone calls) like any good
technologist husband dad would do - but I'm coming up with nothing. To myself, repeatedly - What's going on?? Are you kidding me? We've got this! He's two months old AND we've done this two times already....but again, nothing.
I finally make it home and of course I'm greeted by my two year old with a Curious George DVD and my four year old is ready for our nightly hide and seek round and from around the corner I see my wife, smiling (in an I'm happy your home kind of way) - baby held like a running back - fast asleep. She greets me with a kiss (ahhh) and begins to just thank me for being there for her today. Of course, my immediate response is no worries as well as reassuring her that that although Matti is our third we still need to switch it up from time to time to best meet our kiddos individual needs (an all too familiar theme in education).
As I hold my boy tonight (Matti), I begin to think that we as (in my case, aspiring) leaders need to understand that all of the children, parents and teachers we come into contact with have individual needs - perhaps unmet needs that we must dissect in order to understand. Not all children come out of the box ready to move forward. Not all parents are perfect and certainly not all teachers can handle every situation. AND knowing that sometimes we need to adapt, improvise and overcome what is thrown at us on a daily, if not hourly basis is a must. Because "switchin it up" has to be one highlighted bullet on our resumes - it is on mine...how about yours?
Lately, I’ve been approached by K12 teachers across my district in search of a better way to not only organize media but filter it. “YouTube is too difficult to show because I never know what is going to present itself during my instruction.” “I feel between Discovery Education, Youtube, watchknow etc.. that I have too many choices with too little time”. So, as part of my gig, I love giving my staff resources and feel between my RSS feeds, PLN and random publications I have created a multitude of options where my teachers and students can retrieve, view and learn from instructional videos. BUT, never in a way to truly tag, organize and view in one place. Enter VuSafe in beta.
Now an essential online medium, video is a useful way for teachers to supplement classroom learning and engage students in content they can’t access on field trips or through books alone. However, finding and sharing videos can be a challenge due to safety and compliance concerns. That’s why M86 Security created VuSafe—the secure, simple way to share Internet videos.
Through VuSafe, teachers can easily manage and share approved videos and other streaming content, while safeguarding students from inappropriate advertising, comments, links and other content present on sites such as YouTube and beyond.
For weeks now, between having started this blog (which I'm actually patting myself on the back for - slowly but surely), the sleepless nights (from our newest addition - kiddo #3 for which we are blessed), driving the shift in my district and of course looking ahead, I'm again beginning.....
Floating is a simple post revolving around the talented, inspirational and outstanding people we follow! When I first began diving into the blogoshpere about a year ago, I jumped into the deep-end. BUT, even with floaties, my head still dipped below the surface at times, where of course, I swallowed water - lots of water. RSS feeds that never seemed to get caught up on, overflowing email folders, tweets that never stopped and 1000s of bookmarks - what are tags? Regardless, I have since learned that taking in a little water is OK, for it focuses you up when you begin to feel that you have it all covered - just like education. And remember, floaties are cool!
I have recently read the "Top 100 Administrator Blogs" and I'm happy to say that I follow some of them but I'm looking forward to exploring more. Some have now become lifelong online friends and "colleagues". They are men and women who have an amazing passion for what we do and are happy to leave their doors open. Take a look and follow but remember, don't just be a lurker, get out there and jump into the deep-end, just don't forget your flotation device.
As my friend Sean Grainger would put it, from a recent post, “Its time to get in the game”. I’ve been following and admiring those in my PLN for some time. Tweeting here and there to those that would listen but I’m sensing an internal drive to push me off the fence and sink my feet into the earth. With 13 years in education, grad school now behind me (1 month) and the birth of my third child (2 weeks), I’m ready for a new arena. One that not only opens doors to awesome people but environments that allow me to learn, share and explore from. As Jim Collins would put it, I’ll certainly be moving slow to go fast but please understand that it’s those that pop in from time to time that will keep this flywheel moving. So, again, thanks to everyone who has influenced me and supported me towards walking down this path.
AND of course I have to post the video that motivated me to at least begin the first post – thanks again Sean!