Tag Archive for AWSA

Using Twitter for 24/7 Professional Development

Recently I shared the following article in our state administrators association monthly newsletter and thought it would be great to cross-post here. Maybe this will help you get started or you can pass it on to your principal if he/she is not on twitter.

“What is twitter?” “Isn’t twitter for celebrities?” “I don’t have time for twitter.” “There’s no place for social media in the school.”

These are all comments I have heard before and I, too, thought twitter was ridiculous and a waste of time, even after I first signed up and tried it.

Twitter is an extraordinarily powerful way to connect with inspired, innovative educators who have a wealth of resources and information to share. It’s easy to develop a network in a short amount of time with this tool, and it’s very easy to share ideas and resources. I have made connections with other principals and teachers on twitter that have allowed me to ask questions to improve my practice and share resources with my teachers.

You know that feeling you get when you attend a conference? That feeling of inspiration or affirmation of the work you’re doing and the excitement to get back into your building to do great work? That’s how I feel each day when I check my twitter feed.

As an instructional leader of a school, it is essential that you are continuing to learn and model learning for your staff. This is why “twitter time” is valuable to my professional learning and growth. I have developed my own personal Professional Learning Network (PLN) through twitter. I continue my learning every day by reading blog posts, news articles or new research that other professionals “tweet” each day. I can tweet a question and get replies from other administrators almost instantly. Someone recently tweeted the quote “great leaders learn from their mistakes, brilliant leaders learn from other mistakes.” The only way to learn from others is if you are connected.

I have had the pleasure of sharing the power of twitter along with fellow principals Curt Rees (Onalaska) and Jay Posick (Merton) at the AWSA convention and SLATE conference. It has been amazing to see the Wisconsin PLN expand on twitter. Chad Harnisch (Principal in Rice Lake) sent out a tweet that is a perfect example of discovering the benefits of twitter: “27 hours after my indoctrination, I’m left to wonder what took me so long…Twitter is changing my brain. Great way to find the good stuff.”

So, are you ready to get started? http://bit.ly/AWSA2011.

Here’s a helpful checklist of things to do once you’re on twitter:http://bit.ly/twitterchecklist

Some great principals to start following:

@AWSALeaders1 (AWSA)

@PrincipalJ (myself)











Leading the Way with Staff Memos

Just over a year ago I heard Todd Whitaker speak to many principals at the annual AWSA (Association of Wisconsin School Administrators) convention. As always, I left with many great tips to continue leading my school, but the biggest tool I learned about was providing my staff with a weekly memo. Whitaker called it a “Friday Flash” or “Friday Focus” and is used to share best practices with staff, along with upcoming events and anything that can be shared in a memo and not waste staff meeting time (that could be better spent on learning/discussion).

I have since found a few other principal blogs used to share weekly memos with staff that I continue to follow for ideas, so I thought it was only fair that I share what I’m doing here for others.
I immediately began implementing this tool last year as a “Monday Memo” to staff. Whitaker says that this should be given to staff on brightly colored paper in their mailboxes, but I kept mine to email since I am also trying to lead staff using technology. This year I have expanded this practice to include:
*Monday Memo that includes “Great Things I Noticed Last Week,” “Upcoming Events,” “Nuts & Bolts Notes,” and “Tech Tips”
*Friday Focus that shares my professional reflections with staff on something I am reading or learning with staff
*Created a blog that includes these posts, the staff google calendar, occassional staff polls, my shelfari widget (so staff can see what I’m reading), and other resources
Since refining this practice, I have really come to see the benefit of sharing “Great Things I Noticed” because I have observed the same practices be implemented in other classrooms after posting them. Some of the Friday Focus messages I have posted have encouraged discussions that I have overheard in the hallways or had staff mention their reflections to me. Since starting this I have also had a couple of staff ask about how to get started with blogging, how to get started on twitter (since I often share things I learn from people on twitter), and ask to borrow books I’ve read.
I have previously shared a cross-post of one of my Friday Focus posts HERE.
Here’s an example of one of my Monday Memo posts from December:

Great Things I Noticed Last Week:
*While sitting in a 5K mini-lesson on setting a student excitedly said, “I just made a connection to another book we read!”
*In another 5K classroom students were practicing their Jolly Phonics with the SMARTBoard program and were able to read the following words: coast, grain, punch, and chimpanzee using their sounds. I bet the 1st grade teachers love to hear this!
*After 5th grade student presentations, the class was asked to give 3 positive comments and 3 things to improve on. I was amazed to hear the feedback given to students by students and surprised how much Daily 5/Cafe language carried over into the feedback for science presentations.
*5th grade started keeping track of “Writing Non-Negotiables” as writing skills are taught in mini-lessons. You can see the list from one class in the picture on the right. Mrs. B says that this list has really cut down on the time spent conferring with students for writing revising/editing–she does NOT help revise if they have a mistake that is on the non-negotiable list. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a list of expectations like this at each grade level?

Events This Week:
*Monday – Mentors meeting at 3:05 in Media Center
*Tuesday – I will be gone all day at the SLATE conference (School Leaders Advancing Technology in Education) in Wisconsin Dells.
*Thursday – No Office Day–I’ll be spending my day in 3-5th grade classrooms
K/2/4 Music Concert (including 5th grade band) at 6:30 PM
*Friday – Just a reminder to show your school spirit and wear your school shirt (please help remind your students too)

“Nuts & Bolts” Notes:
*Just a reminder that next week is already mid-quarter (I had to triple check the calendar to be sure!) so make sure you’re ready to send home a progress report for each of your students.
* We’ve added another Tech Tuesday to the calendar for December 20th. I know that’s a busy week, but there’s quite a few teachers excited about using Pinterest or wanting to learn how before break so Jean and Bethany will be teaching us how that day.

Tech Tip:
*I’ve seen some great websites being used on the SMARTBoards and in the computer lab that I’m sure students would continue to use at home if they have internet access. You can show them how to access the site from the student resources on the district webpage (if it’s there) or include the web address in your newsletter, which can be quite lengthy and difficult to type at times. If you want to learn how to make a shortened web address to share with students/parents for home and for easy access in the computer lab you just need to go to http://bitly.com and sign up for an account. Here’s a screencast I made to show you how to use this tool. Let me know if you need any help getting started on this.

<br><br><br><br>Let <br>

Expanding my PLN on Twitter

My twitter journey began in February 2009 during my first year as a principal. Like most, I was reluctant to sign up after hearing about it, but finally signed up after my 2 favorite principals on the Practical Principals podcast mentioned it in a couple of their podcasts. In the beginning I only followed about 10 other principals and built some strong connections with those that I followed. I couldn’t believe how much I could learn from others online in just 140 characters. I can recall one night when I spent hours searching who each of them were following so that I could follow as many principals as I could find.
For probably a year (possibly longer) I only followed principals on twitter and had my account set to secure/private. This changed after I realized how many other great people I found to follow because someone else retweeted one of their tweets. I can recall trying to retweet a great tweet with a link, but couldn’t because they were set to private and realized that I was preventing myself from gaining other great followers to connect with if I was set to private. I also started finding great blog posts and other resources to share with my staff so I began expanding my PLN (Professional/Personal Learning Network) even further by following as many great teachers as I could.
I talk about the great things I learn from twitter as much as possible. I cannot tell you how many times I have shared something with a teacher/colleague and was asked, “where did you learn that?” My reply always is, “I learned it from someone on twitter.”
Within the past year I have made it my personal mission to spread the word about twitter to as many as I can, because it means I can expand my PLN and learn from even more great educators/administrators. I have written about it for a colleague’s grad class which I also posted here.I taught teachers about it last summer at the Regional Summer Teacher Academy (co-founded by @MrAaronOlson and myself), which I also recorded screencasts of here. This week I had the pleasure of sharing twitter with my administrative colleagues at the AWSA (Association of Wisconsin School Administrators) Convention along with @WiscPrincipal and @PosickJ, 2 amazing admin colleagues that I met on twitter. Here is the presentation we shared (it wasn’t just “sit and get,” we gave a lot of time for hands-on experience and help getting started using twitter):

I was excited by how many of our session attendees started using twitter that evening and even more excited to see this tweet today:

Even though many think I’m crazy when I say, “I learned that from twitter” I’m not going to stop, because once they get started they are also reaping the benefits of my PLN!

This December we will be sharing again at the SLATE Convention (School Leaders Advancing Technology in Education). So, if you’re in Wisconsin reading this and know others that don’t know the power of Twitter yet, please tell them about it and encourage them to go to SLATE if they have the opportunity as well.