And then the next plan comes together.

Spent a delightful afternoon in the USA and evening in the UK speaking with my friend Ian Rockey.  We believe we ran across each other during an edchat.  Probably #Leadlap or #TLAP.

Ian is a learning leader at his school, in his community, and around the world.  He was gracious enough to speak with me across the world today via Skype. I have been in awe of his podcasts, which inspired me to try podcasting. As I’ve written in previous blogposts, we wanted to ask learning leaders around the world…and right here at home 3 questions about their own learning.

So here are two experienced teachers, chatting with technology about technology that didn’t exist when each started teaching decades ago.  More excited about the possibilities for learning and growing for kids and teachers than ever.

Thank you Ian, you made my day.  Cheers!


A plan comes together.

So we just completed our very first Podcast Interview with a learning leader!  Thank you to Mark Beddes, our principal at Surprise Lake Middle School…and his willingness to throw his learning out there for one and all to consider.  It’s a pleasure learning and leading along side of him.

We’d welcome feedback on this podcast!

One of our goals, is to ask the same 3 questions of learning leaders around the USA and beyond.  We first need to figure out how to record an interview on the phone, but that’s a neat learning opportunity.  If anyone has experience or a suggestion along those lines, please fire away!


Speaking of simple ideas…

We have started doing TLI podcasts now.  3 podcasts officially qualify us as grizzled podcasters with a listening audience of at least 5.  But everything must start somewhere.  And as with blogging…the learning comes in the doing.  We’re simultaneously learning how to do a podcast, flaws, mistakes, and all….and thinking out loud.  Both pretty good exercises.

Our latest idea for podcasting is a series of brief interviews with learning leaders in our district.  We will ask the following questions, and record the answers.  Should be pretty cool to hear what people have to say.  We want to interview a whole bunch of people to get a wide range of ideas and thinking.

Stay tuned!

Here are the questions!

Podcast Questions for Learning Leaders in Fife

  1. Introduce yourself, background, time in our district.

  2. How do you continue to grow and learn professionally?  How do you model your growth and learning?

  3. What excites you most about being involved in education at this time?

  4. What is a book or resource you’d recommend to other learning leaders?  Why?


Sometimes the simplest ideas…

Caught this gem on twitter this morning!

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 7.23.24 AM.png

Holy.  Cow!  The simplest ideas have layers and layers.  Promote and model learning to kids and teachers…and anybody walking by.  Yowzers.  And…bet that anybody walking by will want to know more about Culturize, which is an excellent book by the way!

Thanks Evan, Jimmy, and Dave!

And this is why twitter continues to be my best source of professional learning.

Oh by the way:

Mr. Nelson is currently reading:

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 7.26.46 AM.png

Great book by Paul Solarz!



Lead Like a Pirate. Please.

Two recent developments here at TLI (Teaching-Learning-Innovation) headquarters.  One, I read Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf.  Safe to say the book had a huge impact on me.  In fact, we bought 25 copies and are using it as the basis of our building leadership retreat this summer.  And two, the following quote rang so true to me, I decided I better think about it for awhile and see if it kept ringing.  It did.  Time to write about it some.

“A seismic shift seems to occur when moving from the classroom into a position of educational leadership. People look at you differently. They treat you differently. They think you have sold out. They no longer see you as an educator, but as a paper-pushing “administrator.” They believe you have crossed over to the dark side and have become one of “them” instead of one of “us,” and oftentimes they see you as no longer having the ability to make a life-changing impact on the lives of kids.”


I’m sure most people that have taught and then made the move into administration will recognize the quote.  And probably have heard comments, joking or otherwise, along the lines of, “Well you got out of education.”  “You wanted the big bucks.”  “When was the last time you were actually in a classroom?”  “He sure has lots of great ideas for us.  I wonder if he’d do any of them.”  And so on.

Let’s address those comments, shall we?

My strong suspicion is that very few, if any administrators feel they ‘got out of education.’ Speaking for myself, I am more aware of the great possibilities afforded kids via great teachers and great education than ever.  I had to leave the classroom to get a broader and deeper view of the possibilities, then figure out how to use my new principal role,  then district office role to make as many possibilities for kids and teachers come to life.  I had/have hands on better levers to make those moves.

The big bucks?  Nah.  They’re bigger, sure.  But not that much bigger for all the stuff that principals get to deal with.  My good friends would walk by my office on one of ‘those days’ that all principals know, and just shake their heads.  They wouldn’t touch the job, for any amount of money, on one of ‘those days’.  Psst….what they don’t realize is that once you run one of ‘those days’ successfully….they’re kind of a rush, especially if you haven’t goofed anything up and still hold all the cards.

Good principals are in the classrooms as often as possible.  And great principals don’t need to walk into a classroom to know when good stuff is happening.  They know because they stand outside the door and listen and watch.  They talk to kids.  They talk to parents.  They talk to teachers.  Being in the classroom confirms and offers opportunity for richer and deeper conversations.  And frankly, the way I judge people who have left the classroom is…do I think they can still walk into a classroom and knock kids on their fannies?  Can I tell they have not lost their teacher chops?  It’s not that hard to figure out.

And the last one, most importantly.  Good leaders, once they leave the classroom, find a bigger classroom, be it a school or a district, and MODEL what they are learning, failure, warts, mess ups and all.

Each job I’ve had in education has been my favorite.  Including the one I have now.  But it is only fun because of the rich experiences and reflection I’ve done along the way.

On we go.