Wednesday, September 30, 2015

To Ed.D or Not to Ed.D? That is thy question...

During my 21 year career in public education, there seems to be a recent increase in the number of peers striving for their doctoral degrees.  I've always been an advocate for higher (and lifelong) education.
I've met a lot of people in my day with the Ed.D after their title, but none like my mentor at Carlmont High School who truly put into practice the training, techniques, and methodologies learned in his Ed.D. program from the University of LaVerne.  His leadership was transformational; collaboration and staff morale was at an all-time high.  Students bought into the programs we were running.  Decisions were made based on site goals, not on the whim.  The leadership and guidance he modeled were inspirational.

Thinking back to the work I did for my Masters in Education from San Francisco State University, I am proud to say that much of what I learned was put to practice.  I think the challenge we have when pursuing higher degrees, certifications, or just advancing our education and expertise, is bringing it back to our department, school, and/or district, and attempting to change culture for the better.  Each district and school has its own culture.  Many leaders have vision while others have insecurities.  My mentor (mentioned above) was the most secure leader.  We worked cooperatively, not competitively, and that made all of the difference.

So, back to the title of my blog post.  To Ed.D or not to Ed.D?  Is it a financial decision?  Yes.  It is a life-changing decision?  Yes.  Will it make a difference?  If the person pursuing it is doing this for the right reason.  As public educators, we have the unique opportunity and ability to positively shape the lives of our peers and more importantly, our students.

There's a fork in that road ahead.... where does each subsequent road lead?  Focus, determination, planning, and persistence = SUCCESS.  Bring it on.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My CUE Rockstar Transformation

As I stated in an earlier post, I had the privilege of being in the inaugural cohort for CUE Rockstar Administrators last weekend.  My transformation / Hero's Journey presentation is posted below.

It was a fun ride.  I look forward to putting to practice the many, many techniques I learned throughout the workshop.  I am also looking forward to more professional development opportunities via CUE and other quality organizations.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Tech Support

The featured article in the most recent CTA publication California Educator focuses on tech support.  The information in the article is interesting - I truly believe a lot of it is perception data.

While every district appears to be rolling out technology resources and devices in their own, unique way, one staple / constant remains:  Professional Development needs to be rebooted.

Teachers and other staff members need to be provided quick, ready-to-use staff development opportunities.  I remember when the read / write web emerged and we wanted to get up there and show teachers everything - and we usually lost them in the process.  After the professional development opportunities I have exposed myself to, I strongly feel that the very best are those where hands-on, real-classroom examples are used.

Some elements in the CTA article sadden me, but don't really surprise me.  A CTA survey asked "Does your staff offer quality professional development for staff to become tech savvy?" A member from Chatom Union answered, "The district probably thinks so, but the reality is NO.  I was given a cart with 36 ASUS T100 tablets at the end of last year and no training and expected to begin using them..  Luckily I am fairly tech-savvy."   This seems to be a trend.   I worked with a former assistant superintendent who called me in one day and said, "I want you to order 2,000 tablets - one for every freshman in the district."  I politely said, "Can we discuss this?  What is our end goal in providing this resource to students, what is our roll-out plan, and how can we provide meaningful professional development so they are used effectively in instruction?"  I also said, "Where is the data that suggests this is a demand?  Is our infrastructure ready?"  Note:  This was before our district migrated to Google Apps for Education.

Looking back and looking ahead.... while I enjoyed the CTA article, the same theme pattern exists - districts are STILL separating technology from instruction.  Let's look at our school and district goals, plan our professional development, and incorporate the technology resources we have available as we roll out the professional development.  Technology cannot be viewed as stand-alone or "the other thing you can do."

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Brain Dump.... Inclusive Leadership

CUE Rockstar Admin.... Day 3.  Eric Saibel's session on Inclusive Leadership.  What does it look like?  How do we involve all stakeholders?  How often do we send that email to inform yet realize shortly after that person "x" was left off the message?

As a leader, I know one of my jobs is to continue to push for continuous improvement and help everybody realize and meet their potential.  I HATE the status quo.  I think we are doing great things, but we can push the envelope and do things others didn't think were possible.

I truly believe that an enormous piece of inclusive leadership is to continually remind myself and others that we are here for students.  Our goals should be aligned to student success and every decision we make must be aligned to these goals.

To quote Richard Diebenkorn:
"Attempt what is not certain.  Certainty may or may not come later.  It may then be a valuable delusion."
"Mistakes can't be erased but they move you from your present position."
#bethechange / #leadwild

CUE Rockstar Admin - Gearing up for Day 3!

I'm fired up for the final day of CUE Rockstar Admin.  As always, CUE has provided timely, meaningful, and relevant professional development and networking.  The first two days were full of excitement, engagement, and energy.  All of our sessions went OVER 90 minutes because the engagement and learning was so high!  This inaugural class is rocking it!

Today we will create our Hero's Journey.  What was my call to adventure?  I will share when I am completed.

The next step is going back to work and putting these ideas, methodologies, and proven practices into action.  A very interesting, and somewhat discouraging thing I read yesterday was a summary of a BrightBytes survey from another district.  The narrative read, "District wide, 60% of teachers say that they spend no time in Non­-School Informal Professional Development."  How do we change this?  How do we provide resources, such as blogging and providing articles to read and engage educators, to explore and expand their horizons.  Please don't get me wrong, I realize time is valuable and the majority of teachers are working very hard around the clock..... but how do we provide them the outlets to make things more seamless and easier?  We have to remember that the only constant is change.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Staying the Same is Ultimately Falling Behind

I just read a great article by George Couros (@gcouros) on the Connected Principals website, titled Staying the Same is Ultimately Falling Behind.  Couros argues that consistency in organizations is important, but if we truly want to grow as educators, we need leadership to continue to push us to become better.

Couros quotes John C. Maxwell, "Change is inevitable.  Growth is optional."  How true.  It is important that we don't just throw money at challenges.  It is important that we use data and research as we plan and make crucial decisions and grow together.

One of my mentors always told me "The only thing constant is change."  It's time that we embrace change and collaborate to find best practices and procedures.  We have the ability to personalize instruction for all students in ways that were unthinkable 20 years ago.  If we do stay the same, we will fall behind.  And it's our students' futures who we are hurting.  Remember to ask your respective leader(s) the five important questions.

Off She Goes...

Last week I dropped my daughter off at college.  She is now a Banana Slug at University of California, Santa Cruz.  We spent a lot of time last year looking at many colleges - ranging from UC Irvine to Santa Barbara, to Davis, and more.  I remember having one thought:  why can't I hit the rewind button and do this again!  We live and learn.

Many people warned me of the emotions I would feel as I left the campus.  It was weird.  Moving her items in, all I felt was excitement - darn, this is cool!  This is going to be great.  What a beautiful campus, so many opportunities.

So, after a few hours, we walked to my Ford Explorer... hopped in, drove up to the student union, hugged, said our "I love you's," and off she went.  I watched her walk towards the campus bookstore and had flashbacks in my mind of the little girl being born, taking her first breath, getting those shots.... taking her first steps (on her knees), the first days of school, dance classes, performances.  Where did the time go?  Did I tear up?  Not really.  I was overcome with excitement - I want her to capitalize on every opportunity that comes her way.  Chances to study abroad, intern in Washington DC (she is a Politics major)... do it all while you can and don't look back with regrets.

Classes started yesterday and she already sounds like a different, grown-up, confident woman.  What else could I ask for in life?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Is Social Media Making Us Anti-Social?

Nearly all of us are guilty of it.... always being connected to our phones / personal devices.  They have become an extension of us.  I've been in a social setting and for some reason unknown to me I grab my iPhone 6 out of my pocket and check my e-mail, the SF Giants score, or respond to a text message.  Always connected.  Why the urgency?  What has it done to my ability to socialize?  To dry safely?  This is getting crazy!  And I am sure it's annoying the heck out of my wife.

I was watching the season premiere of The Big Bang Theory this past Monday with my youngest daughter who is almost 13.  As the show began, I realized she wasn't watching.  Instead, she was checking out Buzz Feed on her iPhone 5s.  I said, "Honey, don't you want to watch this with me?"  Her reply, "I am watching dad."  Yeah, right.  But I'm guilty of the same thing!

My mother-in-law recently got an iPhone 6+; then she got her own Facebook account.  Same theme.  So many of us are burying our faces in our mobile device and letting life pass us by.  Is all of this connectedness and social media making us anti-social?  Below is one of the best video's I've seen addressing this topic.

Celebrating 2014-2015

Celebrating 2014-2015

This is a sample post I worked on for the CUE Rockstar Admin workshop.

The 2014-2015 school year saw the emergence of Google Apps for Education in the Sequoia Union High School District.  After spending nearly 19 years with our legacy system, GroupWise, we did our homework and moved forward.
10 reasons for GAFE
Migrating to Google Apps for Education has provided far more opportunities for collaboration and creation without special software needing to be installed, without sending copies of files back and forth (and losing track of what is most recent); information can be updated in documents, sheets, and presentations and there is no need to email the most “recent” version.  Additionally, resources are available anywhere with an internet connection with the same look and feel (interface.)

The 2014-2015 school year also started off with the most successful professional learning opportunity our district has ever seen - we put on our very own Google Apps for Education Summit - given for SUHSD teachers BY SUHSD teachers.