A Principal's Reflections

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A Pedagogical Shift Needed for Digital Success

A Principal's Reflections

In a previous post I discussed in detail strategies to help ensure the effective use of technology to improve learning outcomes. You don’t have to be a fan of technology, but you do need to understand that it’s a catalyst for some exciting pedagogical changes. These are all outcomes that any educator would (or should) openly embrace. Just using it to access information is also not a sound use.

Learning is the Reward

A Principal's Reflections

Let’s face it, school, as we know it is driven by grades as the main reflection of what students do, or do not, know. What has resulted is a rat race of sorts where many kids and parents alike have their eye on the prize. Micro-credentials, although a step in a better direction as a means to make feedback more personal, can also perpetuate this problem. The issues with grading are not new.

Is Technology Being Integrated Effectively?

A Principal's Reflections

In many cases, there seems to be a tendency to water down expectations when it comes to integrating technology. During a recent presentation on digital pedagogy for deeper learning I asked attendees to discuss then share out on TodaysMeet how they were effectively integrating technology in their classroom, school, or district. Others confessed that they weren’t sure what effective use constituted.

Preparation for the New World of Work

A Principal's Reflections

A great deal has been written about the future and the importance of preparing students with the skills, mindset, and attributes necessary for success in a rapidly evolving world. Truth be told, this is quite the harrowing task and one that should compel us all to pause and critically reflect on not only where schools are, but more importantly where our students need them to be. Speaking of change.

5 Costly Inventory Management Mistakes Schools Should Avoid

If your school is like most, inventory and/or asset management plays a critical role in daily operations.

Improving Instruction in a Digital World

A Principal's Reflections

The Rigor and Relevance Framework —an action ­oriented continuum that describes putting knowledge to use—gives teachers and administrators a way to develop both instruction and assessment while providing students with a way a way to project learning goals. Grounded in rigor and relevance, instruction and learning with digital tools are limitless. This is the foundation of uncommon learning.

Learning is Not Linear

A Principal's Reflections

I think, for the most part, everyone strives for success. We want to be successful in our professional as well as our personal lives. I strived to be the best possible principal for my students, staff, and community. Whether I was successful is a matter of perspective. My evaluations seemed to support the fact that I might have been. In the eyes of many this is success. Are you with me?

Stop the Homework Insanity and Let Kids Be Kids

A Principal's Reflections

I have so many fond memories of my childhood. Growing up in a relatively rural area of Northwestern New Jersey sure had its benefits. As we returned home from school each day, my brothers and I would jump off the bus and diligently make our way about a half-mile back to our house. Life sure was good and relatively stress free. Things changed a bit once Atari and Nintendo took hold.

Why Every Leader Needs a PLN

A Principal's Reflections

The concept of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) has been around for a couple of years now. Educators who have embraced this concept have experienced firsthand the positive impact on professional practice that being a connected educator brings. The premise is relatively simple. Carve out a little time each day (15 – 30 minutes) and use one of many available free tools to learn. Boy was I wrong.

Join SETDA: Affiliate Memberships Now Accepted

SETDA's Affiliate program connects non-profit education membership organizations with state leaders. SETDA's mission is to build the capacity of education leaders to improve learning through technology policy & practice. Benefits include: SETDA conferences, webinars and news feeds.

Relationships Are Everything

A Principal's Reflections

I recently had the honor of being a guest on Dr. Will Deyamport’s podcast called the Dr. Will Show. You can view the Google Hangout video HERE. We had a vibrant conversation on the topic of Digital Leadership with a focus on school culture, embracing change, strategic use of social media, the Model Schools Conference , and innovation. Image credit https://behappy.me

Keys for a Successful Digital Transformation

A Principal's Reflections

Nobody likes change, but the fact is that change is at our doorstep. Changes in technology are quickly beginning to force the hands of schools and districts across the world. This poses some good news for students, as transformation efforts are under way to provide authentic learning experiences that provide relevance, value, and tangible skills in an unpredictable world.

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The Process of Change

A Principal's Reflections

There is always a great deal of discussion about change in education in order to better prepare students for success. The stakes have become higher as changes in a globally connected world are far outpacing those in our schools. The proliferation of technology in the world is making it much more difficult to engage our students. The good news in all of this is that they are not insurmountable.

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10 Tips to Make Learning REAL

A Principal's Reflections

Another Christmas has passed and I am continually amazed by the technologies that kids now have access to. For example, my son received a drone from my mother-in-law and has been playing with it non-stop for days now. At first, he was focused on just the basics of flying the device. After having mastered take off, landing, and balance, his focus now is on using the camera to take photos and video.

Agency: Important for Students and Educators

A Principal's Reflections

There is a great deal of talk and focus on the need to improve student agency in our schools and rightfully so (see my post on this topic HERE ). Empowerment and ownership need and should be associated with learning to increase relevancy, value, meaning, and outcomes. For sustainable change and innovative practices to take hold let’s evaluate the level of educator agency in our schools.

Get the Good News Out

A Principal's Reflections

Let’s face it – great things occur in all schools on a daily basis. We see the fruits of our labor through our students as they show growth in learning over time. There is nothing more gratifying as a servant of education then when our passion translates into helping students of various ability levels accomplish tasks that they themselves never thought possible. Check out an example HERE.

Ideas and Tools to Give Everyone a Voice

A Principal's Reflections

Whether during a class, meeting, presentation, or workshop it can be at times extremely difficult to give everyone a voice. I remember as a teacher many years ago asking my students to raise their hands to respond to a question and even during Jeopardy-style review games had groups collaborate on their response. Undoubtedly this left many students out of the formative process.

10 Strategies to Improve Instructional Leadership

A Principal's Reflections

I still vividly remember my early years as an assistant principal and principal. Instructional leadership was a routine part of the job along with the budget, master schedule, curriculum development, meetings, email, phone calls, and many other duties. With the evolution of social media yet another responsibility was added to my plate in the form of digital leadership. There is no perfect lesson.

The Need for More Play in School

A Principal's Reflections

As I kid I loved play. Countless hours were spent building forts in the woods, creating sand castles at the beach, riding bikes, playing Atari (then Nintendo, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, etc.) or just running around for no apparent reason. Kids love play and it is a central component of their social and emotional development. They love walking the neighborhood engaged in Pokemon Go. Why you ask?

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Leadership Transformed

A Principal's Reflections

For every education professional, adversity is a constant reality: lack of time, not enough resources, outdated facilities, resistant staff, and a slew of mandates/directives, to name a few. It can be difficult at times to envision and implement progressive change when you feel buried by these challenges. The human brain is wired to keep us safe, and as a result we often become averse to change.

How an #EdTech Lens Can Improve a Learning Culture

A Principal's Reflections

I remember the days when I was not a very big believer in educational technology. For one, I saw the use of tools just as a means to become more efficient at delivering instruction. Man, could I rock a PowerPoint lecture. As Chris Lehmann says, “You deliver pizzas, not instruction.” Boy, did I have it all wrong. To say I had a fixed mindset would be a gross understatement.

The Challenge of Change is Not You

A Principal's Reflections

“The hardest challenge you will face is not changing yourself, but convincing or empowering your colleagues to embrace change.” – Eric Sheninger If you are reading this blog, trying out new ideas, implementing innovative strategies, or attending meaningful professional learning opportunities then chances are you embrace change. Change is hard. Tackle fears head on to alleviate concerns. Be patient.

5 Tips to Strengthen Your School’s Identity

A Principal's Reflections

There are many lessons we can learn from the business world and adapt in ways that align with education. Take the concept of branding. Since the advent of media organizations across the globe have worked tirelessly to build a positive brand presence that resonates with potential consumers. If this goal is met the likelihood increases that a consumer will purchase their product.

Making is a Process

A Principal's Reflections

“ No two makerspaces should be exactly alike, because no two school communities are exactly alike. Properly planning your makerspace will ensure that you uncover themes that are unique and meaningful to your school. In a time where wood shop, metal shop, and agriculture were cut for the mere reason that the content was deemed non-essential or could not be tested something had to change. PARCC).

Educators are the True Rockstars

A Principal's Reflections

" To recruit the brightest and best, teaching needs to be a high status occupation " - Lord Adonis It is interesting how our culture works, especially here in the United States. We idolize those who entertain us such as actors, actresses, rockstars, and professional athletes to name a few. These people bring joy, and sometimes heartbreak, into our lives.

Against the Flow Leadership

A Principal's Reflections

Change is uncomfortable for virtually everyone. I am the first person who will say that the process is not easy or absent of difficult challenges. The challenge of change becomes even more difficult when the main adversary is always right in front of us – our mindset. Our complex brains often work against our best intentions at times. This is Maslow’s hierarchy at play in a nutshell.

Implementing Mobile Devices With a Focus on Learning

A Principal's Reflections

The following post is a modified excerpt from Uncommon Learning. Mobile learning provides enhanced collaboration among learners, access to information, and a deeper contextualization of learning. Koole (2009) No one will deny the impact that mobile is having on the world. Over the years I have written extensively on the topic, including a chapter in my new book Uncommon Learning. Cristol, D., &

Inspiring Students: Bringing Awe Back to Learning

A Principal's Reflections

Awe might seem like just another three-letter word, but it is so much more. A recent New York Times article detailed how humans can get goose bumps when we experience awe, that often-positive feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world. It is a catalyst that can motivate people to do more good. The power of awe cannot be overstated.

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The Value of School

A Principal's Reflections

For all intents and purposes I had a great K-12 education. I got relatively good grades, stayed out of trouble, and participated in a wide range of sports and extracurricular activities. Best of all though were some of the amazing teachers and administrators I had during those years who consistently showed they cared. The system worked the way it was designed. It worked for me, or so I thought.

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Pay Attention to Your Digital Footprint

A Principal's Reflections

“ Your digital footprint paints a portrait of who you are as an educator, leader, school, or district. Make sure it conveys your true values and work.” – Eric Sheninger In the age where billions of people have taken both their personal and professional lives online you better be cognizant of your digital footprint. you are leaving a trail that can be seen, searched, or tracked. Wrong!

Be Wary of Putting the Cart Before the Horse

A Principal's Reflections

" Unless you get instructional design right, technology can only increase the speed and certainty of failure " - William Horton As budgets expand or money becomes available at the end of a school year, the knee jerk reaction of many schools is to go all in and spend it as quickly as possible. Now don't get me wrong, I am all for schools increasing student and staff access to quality technology.

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The Will and Courage to Lead

A Principal's Reflections

Over the past couple of weeks I have been either keynoting conferences or facilitating workshops focusing on digital leadership and learning. I relish the fact of being able to talk about creating schools that work for kids and leadership in the digital age. The main goal is to inspire current and future leaders to reflect on professional practice in order to become more effective and efficient.

Design Empowers Learning

A Principal's Reflections

All one has to do is look around and see the amazing changes that are taking place in workspaces across the world. I have always been enamored with what Google and Pixar have done to improve working conditions for their employees. Make sure you check out some of the other amazing designs that are featured in that Honkiat post. What we are seeing are some exciting changes by organizations. Zhang, J.

Free Resources to Support Your Makerspace

A Principal's Reflections

The embracement of the maker movement is being seen in K-12 schools and districts across the world. As a result, makerspaces are being instituted to allow students to tinker, invent, create, and make to learn. A makerspace can best be defined as a physical place where students can create real-world products/projects using real-world tools in a shared work space.

The Need For Digital Literacy

A Principal's Reflections

The following post is cross-posted at edu@scholastic. With 1:1 technology initiatives and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programs increasingly being implemented in schools across the globe, the need for digital literacy education has become more important than ever. Although technology enables students to access more information in much less time, it does not always foster learning.

Student Agency: Moving From Talk to Action

A Principal's Reflections

When I reflect back on what we were able to accomplish at New Milford High School, I am overtaken by a great sense of pride. We were able to transform the learning culture of a traditional school and in the process got results while becoming an example that others emulated. This was achieved during a time of tumultuous change as the education reform movement was just gaining steam.

Leading With Video

A Principal's Reflections

There is no denying the power of video in society. In a 2014 Forbes article , Richard Tiland makes some significant points when it comes to video and leadership. For example: The use of video is so ubiquitous in our everyday lives; it has become part of our subconscious. We don’t even realize how much we know and learn from video—news, commercials, documentaries, even YouTube.

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The Growing Potential of Micro-Credentials

A Principal's Reflections

There is a great deal of talk these days about micro-credentials and digital badging as a means to acknowledge professional learning of educators. While many organizations are trying to seize an opportunity to monetize this space for their own benefit, a pioneer in micro-credentials created a free platform for any educator to use over three years ago. Fleming felt she could make a big impact there.

Make Change Stick

A Principal's Reflections

“ When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.” – Zig Zigler Change in any organization is an arduous task at some point, especially during the initial implementation stage. One must realize that change is really hard and a commitment to see the process through is vital if the end goal is cultural transformation that sticks.