Tag Archive for Twitter

Breaking Out of Isolation

Being a principal is my passion; a role that I am grateful to have and enjoy *almost* every day.  While their are many positives to school administration, one of the pitfalls is the isolation that comes with being an administrator. I have previously written and shared in presentations (along with Curt Rees, Jay Posick and Matt Renwick) that is like being on Admin Island. Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 9.34.11 PM


I have to honestly say, that I don’t know how I could do this job without being a connected educator.  I learn so much everyday from other educators across the world on Twitter, Voxer, Blogs, and Pintrest everyday. I am certain that if I were to go back into the classroom, I would be a far more effective teacher today than before I was connected.

One of my greatest connections has been with Spike Cook and Theresa Stager through creating the #principalpln podcast, a weekly (ok, almost weekly) podcast focused on providing current and aspiring school leaders with advice, support and ideas. About a year ago we embarked on an exciting journey to write about how getting connected can help break out of isolation, but also address how being connected can also lead to isolation (quite a pardox!)

Breaking Out of Isolation Cover

Getting connected is one thing, and many educators are taking the plunge to become connected. Once connected, how does the leader avoid the isolation inherent in leadership? We have learned from conversations with others that many educators need help balancing their connected journey, and working with their peers. We wrote this book to ensure that the leadership wheels do not fall off.

In this book we help the readers understand the importance of being connected to benefit individual professional learning, mindfulness, and avoiding the traps of isolation . We use vignettes of leaders to give a picture of what the connected leader looks like. We also address the common challenges that come with being connected, such as criticism, isolation and battling mindset.

Pre-orders are available by visiting the Corwin site.

I am excited to announce that this book is now off to the printers and should be out by the end of this month!

A 21st Century Souvenir for the NAESP NDPs

naesp ndp

This week I am humbled to have the opportunity to go to Washington DC for the NAESP National Distinguished Principals program.  This is a result of the amazing work that our school staff do each and every day to make our school the best place for our students!

One part of this event is the opportunity to bring back a momento/souvenir from every attendee’s state.  Since Tony Sinanis will also be attending as a NDP representative from New York, we decided to work together on a 21st Century Souvenir that we hope will continue long after this week’s event so we can continue learning from each other.  While I know that we should wait to share until the big day, we want to help get people connected now (and I was always the child that secretly snuck peaks at my presents before Christmas and nothing has changed!)

We will be bringing these postcards:

postcard to print.001

You can watch our video here:

Special thanks to Jay Posick, Joe Sanfelippo, Matt Renwick,  Eric Sheninger, Don Gately, and Vicki Day for helping us promote the power of Twitter!

Principal 2.0 Resources for #IPANewAdmin14

I’m excited to join forces again with Amber Teamann on July 25 as we spend a day with the new administrators in Illinois for #IPANewAdmin14.  Amber and I will be presenting:

Principal 2.0.png

Within this full day workshop we will share the power of social media for school communication, social media for personal learning and web 2.0 tools to keep up with all the work!

You can find our slides HERE and all of other links of resources HERE.

And please help us welcome these administrators to the Twitter PLN as we get them connected while we use the #IPANewAdmin14 hashtag!

Principal 2.0: The Connected Administrator

Yesterday Amber Teamann and I joined the great principals in Indiana for the Indiana Principal Leadership Institute (#IPLI) to share with them how Social Media can be a useful tool for school communication and for their personal ongoing professional learning.

A big bonus for us on this? Joining the great Todd Whitaker!


As promised to all those in attendance, here are our presentations/handouts/video clips:

3, 2, 1…Blast Off (Prezi on School Communication)

Social Media and Leadership…Where do I Start?

Podcasts for Principals

Twitter Island (I must give credit to Curt Rees for the Gilligan images!)

Getting Started with Twitter Checklist

Getting Started with Feedly to Follow Blogs

The Principal Meltdown video clip

Girl’s First Ski Jump – Remember, Social Media is just like this ski jump. It seems scary at first, but once you get going it will be GREAT!

You Know You’re a Connected Educator When…

Here is a cross-post from a post that I wrote for Edsurge. While I’ve written many posts about being a Connected Educator, this was a fun list to write! You can find the original post at Edsurge HERE.

CC by 2.0 Mike Licht

CC by 2.0 Mike Licht

1. The first words out of your mouth each day at school are usually, “Last night on Twitter…”

With Twitter it is easy to get sucked into conversations you never expected to have and to find ideas and resources that you didn’t even know you were looking for. Maybe you were just checking your twitter feed, maybe you joined in on a great discussion in a scheduled chat like #edchat, #educoach, #atplc (all things PLC), or your state’s educator chat. After being involved in a great sharing discussion on Twitter, it’s hard to “shut it off” and you just want to share what you’ve learned with others at school. I share the great ideas I find on Twitter by “Retweeting” them and sharing with my staff in my weekly memo.

2. Whenever a staff member in your building asks a question you can find many possible solutions on Twitter.

“Do you know of an iPad app for keyboarding?” “Can we look at other examples of standards based report cards?” “How do we get started with Battle of the Books?” “I’m struggling with ____ do you know any teachers that have been using this for a while?”

As a principal, I hear questions like this on a daily basis. Just because I don’t always know the answers, doesn’t mean I don’t have them. Prior to being connected on Twitter, I would have just sent out an email to the handful of principals that I know in nearby school districts. Now I turn to Twitter. I ask thousands of educators my question and find someone who’s an expert.

3. Need to meet up outside your building? You can turn to Skype, Google Hangout and Voxer.

Twitter is great to find ideas and get connected with others, but sometimes 140 characters just won’t do. To have more in-depth conversations I turn to Skype or Google Hangout. Voxer is great when you want to leave voicemails or walkie talkie back and forth with a group of principals/educators, allowing us to continue to have an ongoing audio discussion that all four of us can hear. Educators (both principals and teachers) are so busy, that it’s nearly impossible to find a large chunk of time for an extended conversation. Voxer allows you to leave each other messages (for one individual or for a group of people on Voxer) and pick up with the conversation whenever you have time to check in.

4. You read numerous blogs from other educators/administrators.

There are so many great educators sharing what works and what doesn’t. It can save you time from making the same mistakes. When I first discovered great blogs to read I would check each individual website weekly, wondering if there was a new post…but no one has time for that! Now I use the tool Feedly which allows me to subscribe to blogs. All I have to do is check Feedly when I have time to read the latest blog posts…no more wasting my time going to each individual site.

5. You look forward to attending conferences even more.

You probably enjoyed learning at conferences prior to being a Connected Educator, but conferences take on a new level of learning when you already know several of your “tweeps” (people you’re connected with on Twitter) will be there. Instead of just attending, taking notes on what you’re learning and thinking about it, you have others to discuss with and continue the conversation afterwards on Twitter. If there are many Connected Educators at the conference, then it’s likely that you’ll also get to socialize with them at a “Tweet Up” at the end of the day. It is very common for someone attending the conference to set a time/location for a “Tweet Up” (usually at a place for some choice beverages) and starting tweeting out the details with the conference hashtag so that anyone on Twitter attending the conference can meet up (thus the phrase “Tweet Up”) together to meet all their “Tweeps.”

6. Even if you don’t have time to blog/tweet, you do so in your head.

Blogging and tweeting can be such a great tool reflection. As stated in #4, blogging is not bragging; it is great to share your reflections online and get feedback from others in the comments to offer further suggestions or challenge your thinking. I only make the time to write a new blog post a couple times a month, but often find myself “blogging in my head” as I’m reflecting on something at school. Even though I don’t get to writing that blog post, the reflection process has been helpful for me.

7. You’re guilty of pulling out your phone to check Twitter while you’re in the bathroom.

I know I’m not alone. It only takes a minute to check Twitter. Find that minute waiting in line at the grocery store, muting TV commercials or yes, even in the bathroom.

8. You have learned more from Twitter than your Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees combined.

I always intended to attain my doctorate in education. However, I have learned so much from being a Connected Educator that now I don’t feel a need to pursue higher education anymore. All this learning is at my fingertips for free. There is a wealth of free online learning opportunities; following the tweets of a conference hashtag as others tweet from it, joining in on free webinars that educators on Twitter organize, or joining MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses) that you learn about from Twitter.

9. Your daily routine includes listening to educational podcasts.

Podcasts are a great way to continue your learning while walking the dog, cleaning your house or on your daily commute. I have first learned about the many choices out there via Twitter. Some of them include: Techlandia, TeacherCast, Choice Literacy, and any broadcast from the EdReach network. I love learning about best practices and new ideas from the tech/literacy/building level leaders that record these. Can’t find one that speaks to your topic? Then start your own! Just recently a couple other principals and I started the Principalcast Podcast since we couldn’t find anything specifically for principals.

10. You can easily recover from the isolation of your busy school day.

I like to refer to the isolation of busy educators as “Gilligan Syndrome,” which sets in when you get “stranded” and don’t know how to reach out to others for help. This is common for administrators, lone subject teachers or even busy teachers who don’t get to converse with their colleagues often. Utilizing the connections you make on Twitter is a great way to get yourself “unstuck;” you always have other educators to turn to when times get rough. To make the best of Twitter, figure out the strengths of the people you are following. You can always tweet out a question for everyone to see, but when you have a specific question it is great to know someone who is an expert on that topic to send a direct message to so you can talk to in a Google Hangout for further help.

*Gilligan Syndrome is a term that Curt Rees, Jay Posick, Matt Renwick and I have come up with as we present to educators in Wisconsin about becoming connected educators.

Introducing the PrincipalCast Podcast


Podcasts have been a great tool for my personal professional learning, because it’s so easy to download and just listen while I’m getting ready in the morning, cleaning the house, walking the dog or in the car. I share with you several of the podcasts that I listen to on my Podcasts Page. For several years I enjoyed listening to the Practical Principals podcast, was sad that it discontinued and that I couldn’t really find any other podcast with principals that filled that void.

Principal Theresa Stager invited me to help her start a Principals Podcast, which we also invited Principal Dr. Spike Cook in on. Our first live podcast was quite interesting with many tech glitches, so Jeff Bradbury at TeacherCast.net offered to pick us up under his broadcasting network.

You can now find the #PrincipalCast Podcast live every Sunday night at 8:30 PM CST on teachercast.tv. You can join in the discussion on the chat box of that site or tweet using #principalcast in your tweet.

Each week we will be using the following format for our agenda:

  • What’s been happening?
  • Question from the newbie (new principal) or a hot topic for principals.
  • Something awesome
  • Keeping Current
  • Principals to Follow on Twitter

You can find the #Principalcast Podcast at principalcast.com Other ways to follow/connect with the podcast:

  • Email info@principalcast.com
  • Use the hashtag #principalcast on Twitter
  • Follow @PrincipalCast on Twitter

Getting Acquainted – the People, the Place, the Culture

While getting ready to lead a couple of sessions for New Elementary Building Administrators I turned to my PLN and tweeted out asking for people to share some words of wisdom on the People, the Place and the Culture.  By creating a google doc for everyone to add their advice to, I also wanted to show the power of being connected on Twitter and how easy it was to get great ideas from others just by tweeting out a question.

Since I’m connected with outstanding folks on Twitter, the google doc quickly filled and I then organized them into 10 categories, adding my own thoughts (that were originally given to me as a first year principal to think about).  So, if you’re a new building administrator or know someone who is, here you go:

Getting Acquainted: the People, the Place, the Culture

A Post for the Principals New to Twitter


I have previously written about how powerful Twitter in several different posts: My #1 Recommended Resource, Expanding my PLN on Twitter, Is Social Media Taking Away from Personalization and Relationships, and The #WIAmigos are at it Again) Anyone who knows me knows that I always promote the power of building your PLN (Professional Learning Network) through Twitter.  Principals have a lonely job being the only one in their position in their building, but by connecting with others on twitter, you are not alone!

I recently read a post by Tom Whitby, To Whom Should I Connect?, and was also having guilt about not recommending people on #FF (#FF is for “Follow Friday” when people tweet out recommendations of people to follow).  Twitter is great, because I find something new every time I check the feed, however, what’s even better is knowing the strengths of each person I follow so that I know specifically who I should go to with a question in that area.  I do follow over 3,000 people so I must say I don’t know the strengths of all of them.  In the past month I’ve started getting quite a few principals started on twitter so I wanted to share a page of recommendations of who to start following and why (some is copied again from this post).

Educators in Wisconson (we like to refer to ourselves as #WIAmigos)…

@CurtRees (Curt) – for RTI questions, because his school is a model school for RTI and has presented at a couple of conferences.  He is also a tech guru, currently getting his Doctorate with an emphasis in Technology Leadership and is one of the Techlandia Podcast crew.  As a principal he also does a great job of keeping his parents/community well informed through his school facebook and youtube channel.  He’s also been a principal far more years than I have so I call on him for general advice as well (along with his knowledge of random songs/movies from the 80′s).

@PosickJ (Jay) – his school was one of few that went 1:1 with chromebooks for their 4-8th graders and has some great tech gurus in his district.  He doesn’t tweet much other than how far he runs everyday (which also is motivating for me), but he hasn’t ignored my direct messages or emails.

@ReadbyExample (Matt)  is an awesome elementary principal focused on literacy and is a grant-writing guru.  His blog is filled with incredible information and often writes posts for the Stenhouse blog.

@Joesanfelippofc (Joe) is a Superintendent doing some incredible work in his district and leading his staff to be connected learners. I’m always amazed how many teachers I see from Fall Creek joining in on the #educoach chat each week. You can find out even more about Joe in this post.

@twhitford (Tom) a fellow elementary principal with great ideas and is constantly learning with others on twitter. I’m not sure if there’s a chat he doesn’t join in on, but he loves to talk PLC.

@Leah_Whit (Leah) another fellow elementary principal who also happens to be Tom’s wife. She is constantly reading, learning and sharing on twitter. She just recently started blogging and I look forward to what she has to share.

@ChadHarnisch-is a connected High School principal with a great deal of experience and lot of wisdom to share. He recently presented at a conference about how all of his teachers were teaching literacy in the high school…not just the English teachers.

@chadkafka (Chad) who is my go-to guy for anything google, because he is the google guru! He is also an Apple Distinguished Educator.  He used to lead the MobileReach podcast to share all kinds of great apps and advice for integrating mobile devices in education, but now has the Teacher Tech Talk Podcast.

@Taml17 (Tammy) who joins Chad on the Teacher Tech Talk podcast and shares awesome tech tools/tips. I love following her website to see what she’s presenting on.

@pernilleripp (Pernille) who started the Global Read Aloud project and is so reflective on teaching in her blog.  She is so sincerely honest about her practice and giving the classroom back to the students.

@gunnellAP (John) a middle school principal who took our #WIAmigos connections to the next level by starting the Sunday night (at 8PM) #wischat.

@jgulan (Jeff) I connected with Jeff at a conference to hear about how his High School went 1:1.  We have remained connected since then as our school embarks on this journey.  He has even volunteered his time to skype with our tech committee to talk more about their experience and answer any questions that we have had along the way.

I’ve met almost all of these colleagues in person at conferences.  If I hadn’t known them from twitter, I never would have sought them out at the conference to chat with them…I would have just attended sessions by myself.

Educators out of Wisconsin…

@mmiller7571 (Melinda) a principal from Missouri who started a podcast years ago that I found by chance and enjoyed learning anything I could about being a principal.  It was her podcast that led me to learn about twitter and online, 24/7 PD opportunities.  She also has far more years of experience than me so I’ve called on her for help with a variety of admin questions.

@shiraleibowitz (Shira) and @KathyPerret (Kathy) who both co-moderate the #Educoach chat with me every Wednesday night.  Shira is a Rabbi/Head of School in New York with a wealth of knowledge (how else would I connect with a Rabbi?) on coaching teachers versus just evaluating them.  Kathy is a very well trained Instructional Coach in Iowa, also with a wealth of knowledge.

@NMHS_Principal (Eric)  who is very well known of across the country for having his New Jersey high school utilize social media. He was recognized by NASSP as a Digital Principal Award Winner.  I’ve seen video clips, news articles and blog posts about him and his awesome school.  This past year I got to meet him in his person and hear him speak at the ASCD Conference (wrote about here). He has a new book, Leadership 3.0 that will be coming out in February I believe and I highly encourage all principals to get it when it’s out!

@patrickmlarkin (Patrick) was the principal of a Massachusetts high school has been in national headlines for going 1:1 with huge success (now he’s an Assistant Superintendent). He’s also known for being the 2012 NASSP Digital Principal Award Winner.  I’ve podcasted with him on the EdAdmin show and enjoy learning from his experience.

@Joe_Mazza (Joe) is an elementary principal well known for using social media to strengthen home-school partnerships.

@8Amber8 (Amber) is an elementary assistant principal in Texas who is constantly sharing great ideas for integrating technology.  If you’re getting tired of learning about technology, then she can talk fashion or Tory Aikman 😉

@L_Hilt (Lyn) was an elementary school principal in Pennsylvania and is now an Instructional Tech Coach. She is an incredible leader on integrating technology.

@Eduleadership (Justin)  A former principal, now director of The Principal Center. He has taught me so many organizational/time management tips to keep up with the crazy amount of workload a principal has.

@Cantiague_Lead (Tony) Principal of an Elementary School that has been awarded the National Blue Ribbon Award. I connect with Tony frequently on all things leadership and literacy.

@DrSpikeCook (Spike) another Elementary Principal that I don’t think ever sleeps!  He is always sharing his great ideas and I recently had the chance to hear him and some of his teachers speak at ASCD as his school was featured in ASCD/MCREL’s new video series on Classroom Instruction that Works.

@LeaderandReader (Mindy) Another elementary principal that I love to learn from. She is a true lead learner, constantly sharing her ideas on leadership, leading a literacy school, and Daily 5.

@casas_jimmy (Jimmy) A High School Principal full of energy, great ideas and known for being a HS Principal of the Year in Iowa. He started the #IAEdchat to connect the Iowa educators on Sunday nights at 8PM.

@plugusin (Bill) I recently heard Bill speak at a PLC Institute and learned so much that I attended two of his sessions. Bill is a middle school teacher that has written several books and is what I consider a PLC guru, yet he’s a “real live bonefied active teacher” (not an administrator).

@rondmac (Ron) a  principal that has a lot to share in regards to school leadership.

@hopeleaders (Raul) who I actually had the pleasure of working with during my 1st year as an assistant principal in Arizona. He was an awesome principal that taught me almost everything I know.  He’s now a principal coach in his district.  Even though I moved across the country, I can still keep learning from him via twitter.

@TeacherCast (Jeff) who started TeacherCast in New Jersey, which provides great podcasts to learn from, along with many other great resources for teachers/educational leaders.

@akevy613 (Akevy) another Rabbi/Principal with many years of leadership experience that I enjoy learning from.

Educational Gurus…
How else could I continue learning from my favorite Educational Authors or even ask 1:1 questions of Todd Whitaker“The Sisters”Jim Knight, and Donalyn Miller.

My Twitter Video

I just discovered a neat new Twitter tool this week thanks to others in my Twitter PLN.  It’s just for fun, check it out:

Click HERE to watch it

Connecting with great educators at #ASCD13

This is the first of several posts I’ll be writing to share about my awesome learning at the #ASCD13 conference in Chicago.  Of all the conferences I have ever attended, ASCD was definitely the best for 2 reasons:
1. I met almost all of my favorite “Tweeps” from my Twitter PLN in real life, which allowed me to have awesome conversations all day long.
2. There is such a huge variety of learning sessions to attend (over 400) that include top notch educators from around the country (i.e. Will Richardson, Regie Routman, Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, Eric Sheninger, Jay McTighe, Jane Pollock, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, the list go on…).
In fact my only complaint at #ASCD13 is that there are too many awesome sessions to choose from that I had some really difficult decisions to make each hour of the day!!

I have previously written numerous posts on the power of Twitter, like:
ASCD: Building a Professional Learning Network to Save you from Admin Island
Is Social Media Taking Away from Personalization and Relationships?
Using Twitter for 24/7 Professional Development

I felt sorry for some of the educators I saw at #ASCD13 that attended alone and sat by themselves in sessions and break times. I also drove there alone, however, was surrounded by educators that I connect with everyday on Twitter. I feel so connected to them that it was like connecting with old friends at my high school reunion and then continuing to have great conversations all day long no matter which session I attended.  My day started out by having breakfast with Eric Sheninger in the Press room and the day continued to get better!

I was pleased to hear Twitter recommended as a powerful tool by almost every speaker of the day, as a source for great learning. My favorite tweets on this topic:

So now, I just have to share pictures of meeting my PLN in person. Can you guess the Tweep? (for those of you not on Twitter, Tweep is the term for a connected “friend” on Twitter).