Sunday, February 12, 2017

Why #Edtech People Are #StickerJunkies & You Want To Be One Too

Recently on Twitter, something fun and interesting happened. It had nothing to do with president Trump. I said “fun”.

It had to do with stickers.

Automatically, that last sentence should make this blog post more interesting. If you’re in education, you like stickers. It’s a genetic predisposition in educators. If you’re in education and you don’t like stickers, your alien masters need to add that to your programming.

But Edtech People Especially REALLY Like Stickers

I mean we really like them. Most of us collect them, put them on our laptops, and some of us even put them on our phones.
IMG_0205.JPG Edtechspec phone.jpg

But most of the time as a practice in the edtech sub-culture none of us think about it. All the cool kids are doing it, and we’re teachers--so we already like them, and we end up doing it without question.

Not too long ago, my friend and fellow #edtech coach/integrationist/TOSA/presenter, Ryan O'Donne
ll (@creativeedtech), had a few tweets on the #StickerJunkies hashtag inviting us to post pics of our laptops. I, like so many of my fellow #edtech nerds, responded with sharing out the stickers we have plastered all over our computers--mainly MacBooks. It was fun, and there were quite a few rounds of “You have a(n) _____ sticker! I WANT!”
This lead me to a discussion with the edtech friends I see in real life on a regular basis. Here was the question: Why do so many of us who work in edtech, especially those of us who attend and work what I call the circuit--the series of edtech and other education conferences, summits, workshops and other events--plaster our machines with stickers? Does it have value other than fun and aesthetic, and if so, can we use that for some educational purpose. What follows is some explanation, reflection and my 2-cents on a very prevalent practice in my professional subculture.
Let’s talk about the why. As I noted, most of us have MacBooks, which are beautiful machines for our purposes, but, unlike PCs or Chromebooks, which have multiple manufacturers, and therefore multiple looks, MacBooks more or less all look the same. I think this is why so many of us start by putting cases on a kind of laptop that arguably has the least actual need for it--it helps you pick your own out when they’re all closed on the table. But cases, are pretty plain. people like to express themselves and/or show off what they know and/or what they believe in. And here is where the stickers come in. 

IMG_0900.JPG IMG_1445.JPG IMG_1448.JPG IMG_1447.JPG
In edtech, laptop stickers are a visual, graphic kind of slang or cipher. For those of us who know how to read them, they tell each other a lot about our respective experiences, achievements, passions, and values.

For instance, with the right eyes, you can look at all 4 of this laptops in the picture above, which belong to educators in three different school districts (Salinas, Fresno, and Lake Tahoe), and know the following:
  • They’re all pretty Google-y
  • All of them know or have been to a session with Susan Stewart (@TechCoachSusan)
    • So they’re interested in or value K-2 edtech learning and teaching
    • But only 2 of them went to her #K2CanToo conference
  • All of them know or have been to a session with me, Josh Harris (@EdTechSpec)
    • His sessions focuses on presentations, so their interested in that
    • Also, he tends to focus on mastery at an intermediate or above level
  • They all participate in the #TOSAChat twitter chat
    • So they likely are or were Teachers On Special Assignment, and see value in instructional coaching
  • They’re all regular twitter users
  • They probably also know (or are) at least one of the 4 regular moderators of #TOSAChat
  • Even though all 4 have have Alisal Edtech stickers, only two of them work there...can you tell which two?
  • One of them is clearly an edtech administrator based on one of the vendor stickers prominently displayed on the laptop.

A friend and fantastic teacher and instructional coach, Ann Kozma (@AnnKozma723), said it like this:
“sticker swag helps tell the story of where I've been, what I've done, what I'm passionate about. I enjoy seeing my stickers and remember connections I've made to others who share the same passions and interests that I do. Plus, they're a great conversation starter.”

Another good example of the value the edtech community place on these symbols, these badges, is something that also comes from Ann Kozma. Her laptop died and the thing she tweeted about was not the lost data--it’s 2017, Ann works in the cloud like a normal non-amish person. What she tweeted was how much losing the stickers was a wrench:

The edtech community responded in mass. I am planning on sending mine to her in the next few days. But by far the one that made some of us jump was a response tweet from Roland Aichele (@EdTechMinded)
IMG_1457.PNG, at least 2 of us covet the Android in the Google Classroom T-shirt, visible at the top of the pile. It’s a cool sticker, yes, but we also happen to be passionate about Google Classroom and its ability to make edtech integration and edtech based instruction more accessible and easy for teacher and students. We think that tool is one in the toolbox of 21st century pedagogy, and that's a thing we care deeply about.  It's not just about a neat sticker.

How The Edtech Sticker Fetish Can Lead to Greater Connectedness In A District.

Okay, that’s all fun and neat, maybe even interesting, but so what?Well if you talk to some folks in the EduBadging set, Cate Tolnai (@CateTolnai) and Rich Dixon (@RichEdTech) Spring to mind, They’ll tell you this kind of visible display of achievement and experience is the future of grading, the future of assessment, maybe even the future of professional licensure.

For me, it's a little closer to home...and work.
Personally, I have a sticker addiction. On my office wall is the lid to a previous laptop case that I kept and hung, because of the stickers. There’s a ton of memories there. My personal MacBook has a layer of stickers right on the aluminum shell of the laptop and then I bought a translucent case, so I could put on more stickers.
If you look closely, you can see them through the red case.IMG_1454.JPG

My team (half-) jokingly talks about staging a #StickerVention.

I even order stickers for my job. These are some of the stickers (and magnets) I have had designed and bought (out of pocket) for my team and district. Shout out to StickerMule, they do excellent work and their product is awesome #recommended.
IMG_1453.JPG  FullSizeRender 4.jpg  IMG_0853.JPG
The two hashtag stickers have generated a lot of excitement in our school district. At this point, I can honestly say that all of our principals, most of the asst. Principals, all of the Ed Services directors, and the Assoc. Superintendents of Ed Services and HR, and (I think) the Superintendent himself have put these stickers on their laptops. The simplicity of the message of the hastag really appeals to the mission of our district. Clerical and other DO folks have started asking for (and getting) them too.

When we go to our County Office, or any other function, even if it’s just our laptops, you can always spot the Alisal Table now. That gives us a feeling of team and pride. People who don’t work with us sometimes ask for one, or get one as a small token. The TOSAs on my team Ben Cogswell (@cogswell_ben), George Lopez (@NewImpulse) and I have been handing them out like candy, or posting the stickers and magnets in conspicuous places all over the district.

And here’s the thing we’re excited about. We’re trying guerilla marketing in our own district. We’re going to try to get more of our site leaders and teacher leaders to be more connected to the edu Community online, and for us twitter is the gateway drug to that. First, step, the rest of the year we’ll be giving these out, putting them up in classrooms and staffrooms, front offices and anywhere else we’re allowed to place them.

Starting next year we’ll start posting flyers and posters drawing attention to the stickers and magnets to generate attention and interest. Then as a department, we’re planning twitter challenges for everyone. Some will be about teachers, some about administrators; some will be whole district, some will be school-by-school, some might even be school-vs-school. We’re trying to gamify self-driven being a connected educator and online professional development.

The point, our goal is threefold:
  • Get our teachers and admin to actively use a social media channel for professional learning
  • Telling our own stories from the classroom, front office, and DO
  • Exposing our folks to people and connections beyond our their school site.
We’ll see how well it goes and what we learn from our attempts. I’ll keep you posted.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Can We Be Done With "Creepy" Now?

Remember “random”? You know that few years when you heard, “...that’s so random!” all the time? And I think this was not only folks common for who worked with kids. “Random” was everywhere, and mostly what people meant was "coincidental" or "unexpected."  But, like most slang, it died. In my experience, and I have nothing but anecdotal data to prove this, slang dies for one of two main reasons: Condition 1-adults (or advertisers) pick it up and make it uncool, and/or, Condition 2-it gets used so commonly and ubiquitously that it loses it’s meaning. I submit that with "creepy" we are almost at Condition 1 and we are definitely at Condition 2.

There’s an educational point to this...and I promise I will get there.

Can we please be done with "Creepy" as a thing now?

I’ve been feeling this way for a while, largely because of how it gets used by students for things that are really innocuous but are also new/different/unusual/unexpected. And then I saw this on Twitter:

I am not attacking anyone, not Engadget, nor Rick King, but this slang term...I’m ready for it to go, especially when our kids use it as ubiquitously and randonly (see what I did there?) as they are.

This is linguistic and vocabulary laziness that is indicative of intellectual laziness and I’m ready to be done with it; we call it lazy writing instructionally. On some level, aren’t we all ready to be done with lazy thinking?

This drone is not coming-on to the water recipient in a sexually aggressive way, nor is it stalking him with malicious intent. It’s trying to bring him some water...which, as it’s a “delivery, he asked for in the first place. Can someone explain exactly what is creepy here? Is it new? Sure. Unorthodox? Definitely. A thing we’ve never seen before? Potentially, but in no way is that “creepy”

Let’s define terms. Language and communication only work when we all agree that the words we use mean the same things to all of us; word definition is not the best place for personal interpretation. defines creepy thusly:
Slang. of, relating to, or characteristic of a person who is a creep; obnoxious; weird. (

Not good.  Let's click on creep in that definition.  When you then click on “creep” you see this:

So, they’re all negative connotations.

If you want to see what they say synonyms are, click here, but I assure you they’re not pleasant.

So here is the edtech tie-in, and in part, adults and school officials who approach edtech and specifically the internet from ONLY a harm-avoidance/reduction model are responsible for the student mindset I am about to explain. If you paint something as only dangerous, that's what the perception of it will become. But also our current linguistic over-reliance on this word when what we mean is “new”, or “not used to it” is becoming a problem in least in my view.

One of the teachers I support has had a few students (and then a few more) in her middle and high school classes, where she is a frequent Google Classroom user, copy the assignment into a new doc and do the work there, specifically so she cannot open it up and see what they are doing. And here’ the thing, they’re not doing anything inappropriate, they’re working. She’s not doing anything inappropriate, she’s working. In fact, she’s utilizing the thing that so many of us love about Google Apps for Education (GAFE), namely: live document collaboration. When we asked the students why they were doing it, they responded with some version of, “it’s creepy just having my teacher in there [the doc] whenever.” When we asked what was “creepy” about it, in true middle and high school fashion, either “I dunno” or “it just is.”

No. I’m sorry. Not sufficient. When you accuse a teacher of being “creepy” you’d better have some damn thought behind it. Not everyone takes that word so lightly. We think in language.  Words indicate thought--words mean something important.

Was the teacher doing anything out of order here? Absolutely not.

Does the word “creepy" have a negative, sexually aggressive, stalker-like connotation? Absolutely yes. And before you tell me I am overreacting or over-thinking this, Let’s try a little 2nd grade empathy. How would you like it if a kid told you (and then each other) your teaching practice, especially one that you saw as progressive, revolutionary, and “how the new generation learns,” was “creepy. For those of us who pride ourselves on being responsive to students, that’s not a good day. Then add an anti-edtech parent into the mix….not good.

Language works because we all agree words have the same meaning for all of us. Slang is a purposeful attempt to subvert that commonality to create exclusive use by a group of people. I get that. Further, I get why kids do that, and I have no problem with that as a concept. I don’t think students, and now more and more adults, are specifically trying to paint each other with this particular brush, but we are. And we increasingly do it because something is basically unfamiliar.

Is that really the mindset we want our kids walking into the wide and diverse world full of amazing, different and unusual new things, that all those things are “creepy”?

Yeah, me neither. So how about we all knock it off and use our bigger words. And while we’re at it, how about we call it out in our kids, and use it as a teachable moment?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Choose Your Crater: Deciding Your Leadership Role

Before I really delve into this blog, I am going to ask you to participate in a brief thought exercise.
If you have said or thought either of these things…

  • “Good principals are rare, I hope I get to work with one some day.”
  • “I can’t become an administrator, that would be going over to the ‘dark side’,” OR “I doubt I’d be a good administrator, I’m too __________.”

...then ask yourself if you even allow for the idea of a good principal in your thinking.

Image by Cynthia Nixon:

We Are Asteroids in the Education Cosmos

I am finishing my second full year as an instructional coach.  The learning curve has been steep in so many areas that sometimes it is difficult to unpack it all.  Despite that, I have done a lot of reflection during this time, and it helps me when I get questions from my fellow teachers and fellow instructional coaches.  Recently in the #TOSAChat Voxer group, there was a discussion about being a coach and how we impact our school communities, and the possibility of going into administration and leadership.

Many in the discussion voiced the, “oh, I could never go into admin…” sentiment,   followed by one of several typical reasons.  They speculated that they are either too introverted/shy/fragile/emotional/reactive/opinionated to be a principal, which is always amusing to me.  Do these teachers think their principals don’t have emotions and  opinions, or aren’t subject to the harder parts of human interactions? We all know administrators aren’t robots, right?  I think this point of view goes hand-in-glove with the jokes that teachers make and hear about “going to the dark side” when one of our colleagues talks about going into administration.  If the people who make those kinds of jokes also claim to be openly collaborative, I tend to  treat that claim with a bit of skepticism.

The other main reason I hear for not wanting to be a coach or administrator is that they would “miss the kids too much.”  Indeed, this was the sibling sentiment to a question I was asked what felt like constantly for the first 6 months of being a TOSA, “Don't you miss the kids?”  Please note the word “the,” not “your.”  Implicit in the thinking behind that question is the assumption that I was no longer working with students.  It is difficult to explain how incorrect that assumption is and how much it says about the person who asks it without the explanation sounding like a rebuke.  Because here’s the thing, and there’s no denying it--I was in classrooms with kids all the time, often several classrooms per day.  I was getting to meet kids in four different and new (to me) schools at grade levels I never would have encountered in my middle school classroom position, to say nothing of the dozens upon dozens of talented teachers I was now getting to work with.

And the truth was, my feelings were complicated on the topic.  I was hired mid-year from my middle school classroom, and some of the kids I left behind were fantastic humans and I missed them terribly; the ones I’d had for 7th and 8th were amongst my favorites.  But as classroom teachers we have to say goodbye to our students every year (or every few years if you get to loop with your kids), so this was nothing new.  On the other hand, I felt like I became the educational equivalent of a grandparent in my role as a TOSA.  Every time I came into their classroom students got excited.  It meant we were going to do something new with fun toys (edtech devices), we were going to do it long enough for them to get really enthusiastic about it, and then I would hand them back to their educational parent--the classroom teacher.  It was the first time that I understood why my mom wanted to be a grandparent.  In any case, I myself was still having a direct impact on kids, and an indirect impact through their teachers.  The difference was that my impact was broader, affecting a greater number of students; it was just not as deep or personal.

Another new aspect to my job was working with site and district leadership in a way I hadn’t had the chance to before, and again on a scale that wouldn’t have been possible as a classroom teacher.  About the work of site administrators as it pertains to this topic, I would say two things.  First, whether it’s in the office, while monitoring lunch or recess, or during classroom visits, administrators generally spend at least a portion of their day with students.  They don’t like doing discipline any better than you do, but interacting with students is a highlight of the day for most of the ones I have worked with.  So, while it’s generally true that they don’t know each student as well as their classroom teachers, site admin generally know more of them by name...and not just “those kids.”  Again, impact that is broader and less direct.  But you cannot dispute the fact that site-based and central office administrators have an impact on students, often through their teachers.  They have an impact on school culture, district culture, spending and budgets, and site and district priorities, to name a few.

Now certainly, these are not the same kinds of impacts that classroom teachers have, and are probably not as fun.  However, I think we’d all be hard-pressed to claim that these items have no impact on students.  And I cannot think of a classroom teacher, or even a TOSA, who has not been frustrated by or disagreed with a decision that has been made above them, and known with every fiber of their being that the decision should have gone in another direction.

So, if this frustration is universal, it seems the best way to abate it is for people who have strong educational points of view or visions to go into leadership.  Become the principal you wish you had.  How many of you had a favorite teacher that you tried (or still try) to emulate in the classroom?  What about non-examples--do you remember a teacher you make sure not to mimic?  Well, why shouldn’t that be true for site and district leadership? Never really had a great mentor?  Why not go become the coach you always wanted?  Meeting the new challenge of working with fellow Teachers is very rewarding, and you’ll find that good teaching is always good teaching, regardless of the student’s age.  And here’s where all this talk of impact comes in.  You have to choose your crater; what kind of asteroid will you be?

All Craters Are Evidence of Impact

In education, no one’s crater is deeper than the classroom teacher’s crater.  Their impact is profound and personal.  They get to spend the most time with their students and witness and influence a child’s growth most carefully.  Without doubt, a great teacher can have a lifetime impact on their students--your school memories prove this.   But, this is always going to be contained and confined to the students in that teacher’s class.  So while deep, a teacher’s crater is narrow.

A principal has a different impact and a different crater.  Principals obviously have an effect on the entire school, so their crater is broader than the classroom teachers’ are, but it’s not nearly as direct or personal.  That said, I have seen some amazing principals make some very real and personal changes in students’ lives.

TOSAs, or instructional coaches, have yet another kind of crater.  Their impact, depending on their assignment, is broad, possibly broader than a site principal’s (if they work with multiple sites), and generally more indirect than direct.  They interact with students through other teachers and, in my case, help principals make decisions that impact teachers and students.  So again--broader, but less deep; and yet, still important.

In the model of this analogy, the higher you go in school and district leadership, the broader, yet shallower your impact on the lives and learning of students is.  So your job delineates what kind of asteroid you are.  There are no better or worse asteroids, they’re just different, and they have different kinds of impact.

And Now, the Ask 

Consider the possibility that your career in education may not end in the classroom.

Acknowledge that you are a skilled and intelligent educational practitioner.  Accept that there is a difference between not wanting to and not being able to do certain jobs. Recognize that the person who can best implement your ideas about education, how to support teachers and schools, and what’s best for kids, is you.  And know that if you choose to be a different kind of asteroid, you’ll still be you, you’ll still get to fly through the cosmos, and you’ll still have an impact.  But you have to give yourself a chance to choose.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Challenge Accepted, & With My Usual Verbose Aplomb

Kristen Witt, the principal of Fairfield High School,  who was also the last principal I worked for before I left the classroom, is one of those people who, when you're dreaming about starting an Ideal school and you can hand-pick the people you want to work with, is right at the top of your list.  In addition to being one of my favorite Educators, and one of my favorite leaders, she's one of my favorite human beings on the planet.  She has issued this 1-2-3-4-5 Blog Challenge to me.  I think it's a good chance for reflection and consideration.  Plus, I never back down from a Kristen Witt challenge, they’re always a good idea and usually pretty fun.

1. What has been your ONE biggest struggle during this school year? 

My biggest struggle this year has been maintaining realistic expectations of myself and others.  I am an Educational Technology Specialist, a teacher-coach.  Like every coach, I expect my team to improve and have a more winning record than they did last year.  The problem with that  expectation, for me, is keeping it based in reality.  The last two years in this position, working with some amazing teachers, I feel like we have all made some great strides in terms of our Edtech integration.  But, I have a goal in mind.  I have an idea of where I want to go, where I would like to see my teachers’ practice and comfort level, and what kind of edtech-facilitated student learning and creativity I’d like to see.  At the beginning of this professional journey I knew that we weren't going to get there in 3 years, or even in 5...I’ve heard it takes 7 years minimum to change organizational culture.  Intellectually, I understand all this.

But I am a goal-oriented person and I push myself, and sometimes I let the vision of achieving that goal get ahead of reality.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit disappointed in where “we”  were in relation to the vision in my head.  However, that would completely fail to take into account the growth that all the teachers I work with and I have made professionally.  And make no mistake, the growth is real.  My struggle has been to maintain patience with myself, and then respectively with my client-teachers, on achieving what I see as important for their practice and student learning.  It's not really okay to disregard progress and growth simply because it doesn't match the chart you have in your head and the end result you’ve decided you want to see.  We spend a lot of time talking about how students learn and grow in different ways and at different rates and how we need to be okay with that as educators.  Yet, as professionals, we seldom afford ourselves or our colleagues the same consideration and acknowledgement of variety, diversity, and human differences.  Patience is, as it has been, a struggle for me.

2. Share TWO accomplishments you are proud of from this school year.

Before I answer this question I have to get on a soapbox that I am usually on with teachers. And here it is, as a profession we are terrible at singing our own praises and recognizing our own achievements and accomplishments. That has to stop. If you are not telling your story, someone else is. Part of being able to tell your story effectively is, yes, talk about the achievements of your students, but also to be able to talk about your own accomplishments. Teachers should reflect on this question more often, increased self-awareness and recognition of your own accomplishments is never a bad thing. It doesn't mean you're not humble, and it doesn't mean you're a braggart.

I would say the first accomplishment that I'm proud of  is an ongoing collaborative project with Stacie Ryan, a 3rd grade teacher at Anna Kyle Elementary.  Last year Stacie began blogging with her students. If you know anything about blogging you know that what makes it really engaging for students is having an actual audience and receiving genuine comments.  And 3rd graders, as I imagine all of us would, get bored receiving comments from the same audience members (in their class) over and over.  She was looking for a way to connect her students with other blogging students.  There was a service called Quadblogging known in edtech circles, but that service, which connected teachers and students to a regular audience for their students’ blogs, appears to be defunct. So Stacie approached me about planning a way to simplify the process for teachers to find other students to comment on her students’ blogs.  The solution we came up with was, from a technical standpoint, fairly simple.  Instead of spending any time as a service matching up teachers, we simply let them all deposit there pertinent information into a Google form and let them find their own partners, because we believe in autonomy.  The next part, what could be termed as the heavy lifting, was for the two of us to leverage our personal learning networks, and social media to get the word out to teachers all over. At this point we have empowered, over 50 teachers from all over the United States (& Canada and Dubai) to connect with other teachers and their students for mutual blogging an audience connection.

 The second accomplishment that I'm proud of is the FSUSD Google Educator Cadre.  There are several levels of Google Apps for Education (GAFE) certification.  Google Educator level 1 can be done on your own using the training center materials, but I had a different idea.  I thought it might be useful to teachers to get them together in a space where they could work at their own pace in peer groups for mutual support, learning, and collaboration.   The idea of self-pacing and collaborative learning was intrinsic to my plan.  Letting teachers who wanted to take the time and initiative see that, when given the support of like-minded peers, they are capable of achieving this certification was important in my view.

When I put out the email to the district teachers explaining what the program was, that it would involve 3 Saturdays, I expected to get no more than 20 applicants.  I got over 60.  I enlisted the help of another Ed Tech Specialist, Dawn Kasperson, and we were able give 28 teachers three  Saturdays of self-paced, collaborative, study-group style learning with our support.  So many expressed gratitude at the format of the Cadre; they seemed to really appreciate not having to march to a presenter’s drum.  Another goal I had was to get teachers out of their sight-based silos to make connections with their grade-level peers at other schools.

Overall, regardless of what metric you use, whether it's number of teachers achieving the certification, or connections between teachers at different schools formed, or people who felt like they're learning and comfort in the GAFE Suite was increased, I would definitely say there was some success, and this program has room for improvement.  But, I am not afraid of reflection and refinement.

The reason I am proud of our Google Educator Cadre is that it was something brand-new to the district, and an undertaking I had never done before.  In those senses, I feel like that it happened at all and that the response we got was generally positive, and people are still expressing interest, are enough to make me feel that it is a program worth improving; I’ll take that as a win.

3. What are THREE things you wish to accomplish before the end of the school year?

  1. At the start of this year, Dawn Kasperson and I, who are the main GAFE trainers in our district, set out on an ambitious plan to more-than-double the number of professional development topics we offered in our GAFE tools cycle.  We picked these topics based on teacher requests and what we saw as emerging needs.  We offered 8 topics in 2014-15 and designed 18 topics in 2015-16.  I am not sure I realized how much more difficult these higher level PDs would be to develop.  I would like to finish creating the last of the new topics and be able to offer each twice before this school years ends.
  2. For the last 2 years Warren Herrera, Dawn Kasperson and I have run a week long PD camp for district clerical staff which we call “The Classified GAFE Cycle.”  In the past we have done this in the 3rd week of June. Based on attendee feedback, we’ve moved it to the 3rd week of July, and will be revising and hopefully improving the materials.  I am hoping we can get this done before we leave for the summer.
  3. I am a Google for Education Certified Trainer, but it has always been a goal of mine to be what is now called a Google for Education Certified Innovator, commonly called a Google Certified Innovator, previously known as a Google Certified Teacher.  To achieve this, one must be accepted to a Google for Education Innovation Academy.  I suspect the application will open again before the close of the school year.  I  would like to finally get my application together and submitted.

4. Give FOUR reasons why you remain in education in today's rough culture.

  1. Because I believe, as King George VI of the UK said, “The highest of distinctions is service to others.”  And further, I believe, the highest kind of service to others is the education of our children.
  2. Because I firmly believe that the best way to improve everything in education is high quality, well-planned, thoughtfully made, and considerately delivered professional development, and I have discovered a deep ardor for making and delivering that professional development.
  3. Because school was my safe place growing up and I must do everything to make sure that this is still true for children today.
  4. Because I love teaching and learning with both children and adults.  I cannot imagine another career where this is possible.

5. Which FIVE people do you hope will take the challenge of answering these questions?

There are a lot of people who could be on this list.  lucky for them, I am restricted to 5.  Each of the individuals is someone I consider a friend, a colleague, and a peer.  Every single one of them is on my short-list of folks who I want to come with me when I start my Ideal School.  As far as I am concerned, the people below are a “Seal Team Six” of public education.
  1. Dr. Melissa Farrar Ed.D. - Melissa is my current boss.  She has been and continues to be an outstanding mentor.  I feel like she has personified servant leadership, and Tina Fey’s thought on being a leader in her book Bossy Pants, “In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.”  She has taught and teaches me as much about professional self-awareness as she has leadership.  She continues to be my role model in the area of calm, and, “Yes and...”
  2. Ariana Flewelling - EdTechAri is a friend, colleague, and creative in-putter whose acquaintance I made over twitter and through a #GAFESummit and whose friendship I was able to foster over Voxer.  She is 1 of 2 people on this list that are testaments to the amazing power of a Personal Learning Network.  Ari is an edtech coach in Riverside Unified School District, and a Google Certified Trainer and recently became a Google Certified Innovator.
  3. Susan Stewart - Susan is another person who started as a person in my PLN and has now grown to be a full-on, real-life friend.  Susan’s cheerful voice and verbal “smirk” have made her one of my go-to humans on Voxer.  She is also a Google Certified Trainer and has a Leading Edge Certification. Yeah, she’s totes legit! Susan is also an Edtech Coach and is a specialist in an area that perplexes me--primary.  Check out her website.
  4. Gayle Horsma - Gayle is a teammate of mine in FSUSD.  Like me she is an Edtech Specialist , but different to me, Gayle has a specialized focus.  In addition to being a Level 1 Google Educator and SeeSaw Ambassador, she is our Kinder-Code Specialist in our Title I kindergartens.  When I met her, she was one of my client-teachers and has quickly grown to be a trusted and amazing teammate. I feel fortunate to have her to collaborate with.
  5. Dr. Stacie Ryan Ed.D. - Stacie Ryan is a teacher in my district and has been a friend of mine for a few years.  We initially met through our local teacher’s association.  She was one of those people you meet and, although you’ve just met them you think, “I bet she’s a good teacher,” but you never get to see them teach.  Then when I became her Edtech coach and got to see her work, my thought was, “Wow! I had no idea it was going to be this amazing.”  Stacie is a dynamo, who never stops learning and is constantly trying to grow her practice and become the best teacher…anywhere, ever.  She is currently in the middle of National Board Certification. I am lucky to get to work with her.

Just found #GoogleSheets #addon: Essay Metrics. Haven't tested it, but looks awesome. #GAFE

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March 10, 2016 at 03:26PM

@TheGoogleGooru: 3 updates to Google Classroom you should try out today #GAFE

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March 10, 2016 at 12:33PM

@edtechteam: #EdChatME #edchatma #ctedchat Prepare for Level 2 #GAFE certification at our #gafebootcamp -

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March 10, 2016 at 10:11AM