It ain’t about Twitter. And the power of the #LeadLAP edchat.

“Oh Jeff loves twitter.  He’s the twitter guy.  It must be nice to have all that time to be on twitter.”

Screen Shot 2018-09-24 at 7.49.55 AM.pngI hear this sometimes.  It bothers me.  Or it did until I figured out two things.  Well I figured out one thing and reminded myself of another thing.

The thing I figured out was….it’s not about twitter.  Just like when we introduce Chromebooks into the classroom.  It’s not about the device.  It’s about what kids and teachers do with them.  They’re just Chromebooks.  Twitter is the same. It’s not about twitter for me.

Here’s what it’s about. It’s about how I choose to connect myself to ongoing, personal, professional learning.  And twitter makes it so easy.  So easy.  Twitter isn’t the point.  The learning and growth is the point.  So when I’m sharing what I’ve learned, I’m not sharing twitter.  I’m sharing the learning.  And I hope I’m encouraging others to find ways to continue to grow and learn, twitter or not.

I did not know about this when I was a teacher or a principal.  I figured it out when I moved to a leadership role that, by its definition and title, is focused on Teaching-Learning-Innovation.

Which brings me to the reminder part.  The ever present comment about time.  The most common answer/excuse for not doing something in the history of education.  It’s not about time!  It’s about what we choose to do with the time we have.  I have blogged about this idea a lot.

If we decide that to continue to grown and learn is important, we’ll find the time and the vehicle to make it happen.  If we don’t decide it’s important to continue to grow and learn, we will say we don’t have time.

Last Saturday I joined in an edchat with colleagues around the world, using the hashtag #LeadLAP.  Lead Like a Pirate.  I try to hit this edchat every weekend if I can.  It kicks off at 7:30 a.m., each Saturday, hosted by different educational leaders.

This weekend’s chat was hosted by Dr. Lynell Powell.  The topic was focused on supporting students with challenging behavior.  Here’s her first question:

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This question reminded me of a recent flurry of activity we had been doing in our district around post-its.  Specifically, a post-it around kids making the ‘choice’ to misbehave.  So responded to Dr. Powell’s first question thusly:

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This response led to another response by a new colleague to my PLN:

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And this graphic, from George Aversano, was the hammer of the entire chat to me.  What a great graphic.  What a great reminder!  Don’t judge a student’s story by the chapter you walk in on.  Be a submarine, not a boat.  Look below the surface.

He’s not giving me a hard time.  He’s having a hard time.

Continuing to grow and learn is a professional, moral imperative.  It’s important and deserves our time.

Thank you Dr. Powell for the great edchat.  Thank you Shelley and Beth for Lead Like a Pirate.

See you all on Saturday!

What’s on your post-it?

What’s on the post-it on your monitor?  Do you have a post-it on your monitor?  Do you want to add one?  The one below has been on my monitor through 15 years as a building administrator and now in my 4th year in the district office.  Same message, updated post-it as the older ones became bedraggled.  Just a reminder to me to thank people for doing a great job.  This was a good reminder when I was a principal, for example,  after our teachers killed it with an arena conference or our kids were fantastic at a Veteran’s Day assembly.



The idea for a blog about Post-its came from this post-it:

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One of our gifted principals, Mark Beddes, captures images every week from his school, and this message was in his latest edition to his staff. What a fantastic reminder for this teacher every day!  Kids all have stories.  Reminds me of the great quote,

“Don’t judge a student’s story

by the chapter you walk in on.”

I was also reminded me of this great post-it:

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This reminder came after a teacher, Andre Sasser, wrote a tweet about how she was going to abandon the usual question to her students, “Do you have any questions?”  Instead, she made the subtle change in language to, “What questions do you have?”  This turned out to be a MONSTER change in her classroom.  I’m guessing every educator can easily see the power of that shift in language!  Instead of the usual silence that followed the former question, questions erupted following the latter!  Then she further honed the question to be, “Ask me two questions.”  By the way, that one tweet currently has 338,000 likes, has been retweeted 62,000 times, with over 1100 comments.  Wow!

Well all of these things caused me to wonder what other educators might have on their post-its.  Daily affirmations?  Quotes? Reminders?

I have another one on my monitor.  In case my scrawl is indecipherable, it’s an on-demand professional learning activity.  I ask forgiveness from the author, as I can’t remember from where I borrowed this idea.

It has 3 steps and is focused on 21st century skills.

  1.  What are the 2 or 3 biggest changes in our society in the last 25-30 years?
  2. What 2-3 skills do students need to address these changes?
  3. How intentional is your school district in helping students develop these skills?



Wow!  This activity is ready to roll at a moment’s notice at any professional learning I lead.  It can easily be adapted to the building or classroom level, ready for teachers or kids.

I’m going to throw this blog online and wonder if other educators will be willing to share their post-its with each other.

What’s on your post-it?

Aspiration as a noun.




a hope or ambition of achieving something.

synonyms:desire, hope, dream, wish, longing, yearning, aimambitionexpectationgoaltarget

We had our first Teaching-Learning-Innovation (TLI) department meeting this morning.  We went around the table and shared what we are reading, either a book or a blog post.  Great ideas and conversation ensued.

Then our great assistant director of TLI, Elaine Smith, had us write an aspiration for the 2018-2019 school year.  She shared the definition above.  This challenge was a good one.  Something about the word ‘aspiration’ makes it sound loftied than ‘goal’.  The synonyms probably explain why.  Words like ‘hope’, ‘dream’, ‘wish’, and ‘longing’.  Much more emotionally based than a goal.

I took this challenge to heart and really pondered my aspiration for this year.  Here’s what I decided to commit to print.

Jeff’s Aspiration for 18-19

Through modeling and encouragement, help leaders see the learning and growth possibilities available to them via the act of writing.

I thought about several quotes and ideas as I contemplated this aspiration.  First, “We don’t learn from experience.  We learn from reflecting on experience.” -John Dewey

Then second, from Jay Billy, as I started reading his excellent book Lead With Culture, I hit this monster idea, “If you don’t believe amazing things can happen when you try something different, if you aren’t willing to take that leap of faith, you are destined to mediocrity—and your students are too.” Wow!

Third, Jay Billy shares the next quote, from Brad Currie, “Students take risks when they see teachers take risks. Teachers take risks when they see school leaders take risks.”

Brad’s quote ends there. With our TLI staff, I added the next line, germane to our roles, “School leaders take risks when they see district leaders take risks.”

So one of our risks will be to write.  We have an enormous wealth of experience in the classroom, as the building level, and in our district.  We need to be willing to share our thinking and experience.  In fact, more than willing.  It’s our job.  It’s our responsibility.

And through that modeling…we will reflect on our experience.  And we will continue to grow and learn.

The night before the first day of school.

Moving from elementary school to junior high, when I was a kid, was the peak of nervousness before school started.  Would I know anybody in my classes?  Who were going to be my friends?  Would my teachers be nice?  What would happen at lunchtime?  These questions and whole bunch of others, made for a very long night.  I remember that the transition from junior high to high school didn’t cause nearly the same amount of angst.

Then I became a teacher.

I don’t know about other teachers, but the night before the first day of school for me was also a long night. And actually it never got easier.  Even after 16 years in the classroom.  Maybe it does after 20 or 30, I don’t know. But I eventually just knew that it was going to be a restless night.  I couldn’t wait to get into the classroom, around my colleagues, and with students, then I calmed down.

Looking back now, I wish I had thought more the kids and about the questions that they were asking themselves on the night before the first day of school.

Will I get lost?  Will my teachers like me?  Will I make friends?  Who will sit with me at lunch?  Will I be safe?

Because, as a teacher, I had the great opportunity to answer those questions.  I could make sure a kid didn’t get lost, that she/he would know that I like her/him.  I could create opportunities for kids, especially new kids, to meet new people and become friends.  I could work with our administrators to create safe social lunches.  And I could make my classroom a safe place.

If I had focused on the kids, their questions, and the answers under my control, I believe I would have slept like a baby.  Because the first day of school wasn’t about me.

It was about the kids.  And it still is.