Thursday, July 23, 2015

#periScopeOut: Educators Sharing their Spaces and Stories

Almost two weeks ago I was talking with Jeff Herb on Voxer and he mentioned that he would love to see my new school sometime. While traditionally that would mean a trip from Illinois to Texas (which still isn’t out of the question), a new tool has emerged that has enabled video broadcasting to anyone interested in watching. I suggested that we Periscope our buildings sometime and after about 15 minutes of rapid fire ideas, the periScopeOut was born.

We want educators to share their stories. Whether that means touring their building or talking specifically about avenues to student learning, the power of diverse ideas is what will continue revolutionizing our profession.

There is great wealth in having the opportunity to ‘scope out’ the ways in which others are doing what you’re doing (or looking to do).

What the heck is Periscope?

Periscope is an app that allows users to broadcast a live video stream. People can watch the stream via the Periscope app or simply by clicking on the link that gets shared via Twitter.

So what is #periScopeOut?

It is a day full of Periscope broadcasts that are specific to a certain topic or idea. You schedule a 15/20 minute time slot to periScopeOut your space so everyone can view and learn.

When is the next periScopeOut?

The next (and first ever) periScopeOut is August 6th starting at 8am Central. The theme is simply, "Building Tours"! See 24 different buildings from across the world in the course of one day.

How do I tell my story?

Anyone can sign up to share your story or space. Sign up here. The upcoming periScopeOut has 24 time slots available.

How do I spectate?

Check out this site for the details. Follow the @periScopeOut Twitter account and #periScopeOut hashtag.

Wait, what is happening?

Still have questions? Read this page and if you still have questions reach out to @jeffherb or @techninjatodd and we’ll help!

How can I help?

Tweet this out and spread the word!

Educators are getting ready to share their story on Aug 6th via @periScopeOut! Find out more here: and join us! #periScopeOut

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

10 Leaders Worth Following

Over the last couple of weeks, I've had a unique experience.  I've been able to attend several conferences where the audience was primarily education/school leaders.  Now before I go any further, let me make sure to state that I feel every single person on a school campus is a leader in one capacity or another.

I've been able to come in contact, many for the first time, with people I have looked up to for a while.  People who I've learned from, who've challenged me, who encouraged me, who have inspired me.  After meeting some of these people face to face, I was even more blown away.  And getting to sit down and just talk with them, has created an even bigger respect.

So since I blog about things all the time, I figured, why not share with you some leaders I think that are worth following!  This list is by no means all inclusive.  I could list 100 leaders that I enjoy learning from.  These are just a FEW of the ones I've been able to spend some time with lately and be blown away by.

Theresa Stager is in Michigan. She is incredibly passionate and at the same time extremely funny and witty.  I loved so much getting to sit and talk and laugh with Theresa and really see what a huge heart she has for kids.  Theresa also had a unique ability to make me feel comfortable from the moment I met her!

Adam Welcome is in California.  I have admired the work Adam does for a while, and loved that when the opportunity came for me to meet him face to face, I was not disappointed.  Adam has such a strong sense of his views and is so dead set on always doing what is best for kids.  It's so clear how passionate he is.  I mean, I was so impressed by Adam I started Kids Deserve It with him!

Brandon Blom is in California.  Brandon and I connected pretty quickly when we met at NAESP.  Brandon is, like me, a fairly new administrator.  But in his short time he's done some pretty amazing things.  I was so impressed with Brandon's honesty and willingness to connect and share.  Brandon has such a huge heart for kids and it shines through.

Nathan Lang is in Tennessee.  I "met" Nathan online a few weeks ago, and was finally able to meet him face to face just this week.  What I love about Nathan is that the passion he exudes online is the same as in person.  Nathan is a ball of energy and someone who seeks to have deep conversations about education and not just keep it on the surface.  Nathan is one of those people you are drawn to because of his dynamic personality and incredibly quick wit.  I have learned an incredible amount, in a very short amount of time, from Nathan and truly value his opinions and ideas.

Melinda Miller is in Missouri.  Melinda is a wealth of knowledge and experience.  But even more than that, she's always willing to share at the drop of hat.  She doesn't hoard or keep all her ideas to herself.  I can vividly remember Melinda sitting with me for over 45 minutes and answering my hundreds of questions and sending me resource after resource that she had tucked away.  I am still amazed by her humor and kindness.

Jeff Herb is in Illinois.  I finally got to meet Jeff this week at EdCampLDR.  I have followed Jeff for some time through his blog and twitter.  It was great to finally put a face with a voice and to see how genuine and honest Jeff was.  Jeff is also full of great ideas and deeply concerned with doing what's best for kids.  Laughing with Jeff was one of my favorite parts of EdCampLDR.

Tony Sinanis is in New York.  Tony is such a fun and caring guy.  He is honest, he shares his successes as well as his failures.  He is also always trying to push the boundaries of what's expected in education.  But what stands out the most to me is just how encouraging Tony is.  How much he makes sure that those around them are reminded of their worth.  Plus he's super funny!

Jessica Johnson is in Wisconsin.  I was so thrilled to finally meet Jessica face to face this past week.  I have loved learning from her for years.  I loved how accepting and kind Jessica was from the start, but also how quickly she made me feel like I belonged and had me laughing hysterically.  Jessica has such a wealth of knowledge and such a big heart for kids.

I can't write about "Leaders Worth Following" without mentioning two men who've had a tremendous impact on the leader I am today.  Brad Gustafson (from Minnesota) and Ben Gilpin (from Michigan) are two of the most passionate guys I know.  But more than that they've become like family to me.  They are who I go to to vent, get advice, celebrate, and more.  I made it through my first year, in big part, to the support of Brad and Ben.  And every single time I get even 5 minutes to spend with these two, I leave a better person.

Like I said before, I could continue this list for days.  I could tell you about Principal El, Derek McCoy, Eric Sheninger, Jimmy Casas, Tom Whitford, Leah Whitford, Curt Rees, Dan Butler, Amy Fadeji, Amber Teamann, Erin Klein, Joe Mazza, Jeff Zoul, Kathy Melton, Joe Sanfelippo, Tom Murray, Daisy Dyer Duerr, and so many more people that have impacted me both personally and professionally.

But what I love most about this, as I read back through this post, is that me, a little guy in Texas, has been able to connect with others from all over the country (and world) through social media.  It blows my mind when I stop and think about the power that lies with putting yourself out there and connecting.  I still don't understand why I wasn't doing it sooner!

So I write this post to encourage you to connect with some people I've meet over the last few weeks and hopefully grow your circle of learning as well!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Give More #KidsDeserveIt

Just the other day this video come across my Facebook feed.  I was so emotionally impacted by the message and the powerful story, I couldn’t help but think about the parallels that exists in education.

This is such a powerful video. Without saying much, it says a lot. I had to share.
Posted by Frankie J on Monday, August 18, 2014

Sometimes we can become very hardened by the experiences we’ve had in our lives or in education.  We close our doors, we keep to ourselves.

Sometimes our classrooms are filled with amazing adventures, creative experiences, laughter, and more!  We do great things, and love our students, but we stay within our four walled classroom.

But even more so, when you have all the great things going on, or you’ve got exactly what you need, we forget. We forget about that struggling teacher down the hall.  We forget about that hungry child in the grade below the one we teach.  Our focus becomes us, and our classrooms.

This video caused a sort of mind shift for me.  It was powerful to see those with food and money choose not to share, for whatever reason.  But yet when a homeless person was shown kindness, they immediately passed it along.  Is this always the case?  Of course not.  But a lot of the time it is.

Each one of us at one point or another has had someone believe in us. Help us. Teach us.  Share with us.  Each one of us now has the opportunity to pay it forward to someone else who needs a hug, high five, a kind word, or a helping hand.

Don’t miss your opportunity.  And don’t wait for those people to come to you to ask for help.  Seek them out.  Our Kids Deserve It.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Be Brave - Take a Risk #KidsDeserveIt

Kids Deserve It.png

While driving today I heard this song, and the lyrics rang so incredibly true to where I am right now.  It’s a song called “Brave” by Nichole Nordeman.

The gate is wide, the road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You're safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been

I've never known a fire that didn't begin with a flame
And every storm will start with just a drop of rain

So long status quo, I think I just let go
You make me wanna be brave, I wanna be brave
The way it always was is no longer good enough
You make me wanna be brave

As educators we can quickly, and often without noticing, get swept away in the everyday things.  We get caught up in what’s directly in front of us, that often times we miss the big picture.

This week I had the pleasure of getting to really get to know a member of my PLN, Adam Welcome.  I had interacted with Adam through Twitter and Voxer, but never face to face, until this week at NAESP.  For whatever reason Adam and I hit it off immediately.

After many conversations stemming around pushing ourselves and others outside of our comfort zones and really driving ourselves to do what’s best for kids, an idea was born.

That idea is, Kids Deserve It.  Adam and I are veering off into new and uncharted territory for each of us.  We launched our Twitter on Saturday, and will be officially launching our new blog on Tuesday (July 7th).

This in no way is replacing our current individual blogs.  But through countless conversations, Adam and I just felt like we had been given a mission to complete.  An adventure to travel on together.

We can’t wait to see where the Kids Deserve It adventure takes us, but we believe in being brave, stepping out on a limb, and trying something new that we’re really passionate about.  We hope that you’ll join us for the ride.  We’ll be blogging, tweeting, voxing, pushing boundaries, creating challenges, and so much more.

Along the way we’ll also be seeking out YOUR voice as well and asking for help, opinions, and thoughts from all of our PLN.

So we hope you join us on this new journey we’re taking.  For no other reason than the Kids Deserve It.

Follow us on Twitter at: @KidsDeserveIt
Our New Blog:
Like us on Facebook: Kids Deserve It
Use the Hashtag: #KidsDeserveIt


Friday, July 3, 2015

Obvious to You, Amazing to Others

As I sit on the flight back home to Houston, after spending an incredible week in Long Beach for NAESP, I keep having the same thoughts I do after most conferences or interactions with my peers.

I need to do better.

For years I've connected, traveled, and learned from others from all over the world.  I've heard about incredible initiatives, classroom experiences, community opportunities, and more.  I've seen the great work so many of my colleagues are doing, and I begin to feel like my ideas are inadequate.

Just this week, I was sitting at a table surrounded by Elementary Administrators I admire, and the conversation, like it often does, turned to what each of them were doing at their campuses.  I was so enamored with the ideas and experiences they were providing for their communities.  I sat there in silence.  Feeling like some of the ideas I had this year were....ordinary.  Expected even.

I even got to speak on a National Panel with 5 other inspiring administrators.  Even in the midst of sitting on the panel I thought "how dare I think I should be the one up here.  Someone else surely has something more profound to say than me."

And you see, I think many of us do that.  We compare ourselves so heavily to others and then in turn begin to doubt the amazing things each of us bring to the table.

I know that for myself I do that often.  I often doubt the impact I have.  Doubt the capability I possess.  It's a character flaw that I continually work on.

And then just last week my good friend, Felix Jacomino, showed me this video.  It's called "Obvious to You, Amazing to Others" by Derek Sivers.

The video hit me like a ton of bricks.  And it's a video I now go back to and view when I begin to doubt my ideas.

I also remember what Angela Maiers always tells me and what I so heavily preach to everyone I know.

Each of us holds value. Each of us has importance. Each of us matters.

We have to stop comparing ourselves and our ideas to what others are doing.  All we can truly do is give the best that we can and know that tomorrow we get another opportunity to do it better.

So for those of you who are like me.  For those of you who see "amazing" from others and wonder what you have to offer.  Remember the YouTube video from above and the simple fact that what you view as your "ordinary" ideas could be the ideas that are going to be AMAZING to others.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Relationships Matter Most - Be Real #naesp15

This is co-written by Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney and cross-posted on both of their blogs.

Relationships for Principals have always and will continue to be of utter importance, it's the catalyst of our work! This week at NAESP (#naesp15) has brought so many different ideas to the forefront, especially after our opening keynote from @ErikWahl

Erik spoke a ton about trust, making all kids feel special, bringing back our artistic mojo which leads to more creativity! Ideas like, think differently about what you do as a Principal, have teachers use crayons to write down ideas at a staff meeting, this will get them to smile.

Research shows that just the smell of Crayola crayons can lower stress levels! Make school fun, teachers and students will reach new heights when they’re relaxed and know you care!

Trust can only be built when strong relationships are at the forefront of what you do each and every day on campus. Relationships with all stakeholders; kids, staff, and parents will fuel your school culture so it burns bright for everyone.

Adam and I have talked a lot about relationships this week and what it means for a school. The video clip below from Jerry Maguire came up and is a great example of what a strong relationship can be, and what the complete opposite looks like as well.

How did Jerry and Rod build their strong relationship?
What actions happened previous to their embrace in the locker room?
How can you as a Principal build strong relationships with all stakeholders?
Or do you want to stand on the sidelines and fake it?

Kids can smell fake - Teachers can smell fake - Parents can smell fake - Be real!

Some of our favorite ways to build, foster, and grow relationships are:

  • We talk about kids, all the time.
  • Know every student’s name, this is first and foremost!
  • Only make decisions that are good for them!
  • Celebrate small moments
  • Talk to kids like they’re a person, they’ll respect you more if you do
  • Recognize genius
  • Give high-fives, fist bumps, hugs
  • Say yes
  • Create a school motto that lets everyone know what you’re all about - we like #TeamKid
  • Call home for celebrations on a weekly basis
  • Believe that everyone can achieve greatness
  • Send notes to staff members families recognizing the hard work the staff member does
  • Eat lunch with kids/staff
  • Play at recess, kids/teachers/parents love to see the Principal engaged in different ways
  • Talk about what you believe in and stand for, people want to follow someone with a solid plan
  • Be present
  • Servant’s heart
  • Tweet for your school to showcase all the #eduawesome going on
  • Make sure every student sees you each and every day, build those connections

How do YOU build relationships?

Thank you Erik for reawakening our genius, pushing us to UNthink, rediscover and focus on what matters most!

Connect with Erik!
(and check out Erik's book "UNthink")

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Learning Through Conversations

I've had the awesome experience of traveling to Long Beach, California this week to attend NAESP (National Association of Elementary School Principals). #NAESP15

I love traveling and attending different conferences.  Not necessarily for the sessions, but more so for the connections.

This week especially I was reminded of the importance of having those conversations with others.

So many of us attend different PD and learning opportunities and we sit there and listen to the presenter/trainer and then we leave.  Hopefully taking back a few new tools to try on our campus or in our classroom.

But for me this week was a glaring reminder at just how important (if not more important) the conversations are.

I've been able to talk with administrators from all over the country and just sit and share stories, philosophies, ideas, and more.

And what makes this even greater is the fact that I had already begun these conversations before I even got here.  Through Twitter, Google Hangouts, Voxer, Facebook, and more I feel like I already "knew" these people.

And what's better?  They're my kind of people.  People who are passionate and seek to do what's best for kids.  People who are pushing the status quo and stepping outside of their comfort zones.

So I challenge you.  Step outside of your comfort zone.  Reach out to those in your field.  Because we truly learn more when we invest in the conversations and put ourselves out there.  It's time we shared more and worked together.  Begin today!