August 25, 2016

4 Digitals and an Analog...

I was thinking about the tools I use most each day and realized that I could narrow it down to a few.
That was extremely difficult at first but after much thought, 4 digitals and an analog came to mind.

When people ask me "what does a typical day" look like as a principal, I laugh. Because we all know, there is no such thing! However, the tools I use on a regular basis are pretty consistent and I figured I would share some of those. Granted, I use many, many more but these are the ones I rely on most.

4 Digitals and an you go.

Digital #1 - Twitter
This one I use EVERY day. Whether it is to check relevant articles or participate in a twitter chat (my favorites are #tntechchat, #principallife, #tlap...there are plenty of others), I rely on my daily dose of Twitter.  I do not think people realize how powerful a tool Twitter can be. In one hour of a twitter chat, I can connect with tons of educators from ALL over the world.

By the way, you can follow me @mickshuran

Digital #2 - Google Apps for Education (GAFE) 
I could not pick just ONE! There is no way! I use these apps and extensions on a regular basis and could do a list just on GAFE.  However, I can break it down to what I use the most. First of all, Gmail and Google...obviously. But, I also use Drive, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Classroom, Photos, Hangouts, Calendar...oh and Blogger. This list can go on forever but I really do use this a great deal. 
I also LOVE helping others figure out these tools. As a Google Certified Educator, I am supposed to enjoy this!

Each day I find myself bouncing ideas off of others on how to use the Google Apps for efficiently and to the benefit of the kids and the school. 

Digital Tool #3 - Pocket
I cannot live without my pocket! This extension allows you to save articles and sites in an easy to find location. In addition, you can tag those articles with common themes so that they are easier to locate when looking at specific projects or collecting articles for entertainment.

I highly recommend Pocket! I have a great short video describing how to use Pocket on my videos page, check it out!

Digital Tool #4 - Podcast App
Like them or not, so far Podcasts have stood the test of time. I see them as almost like interactive audio books. You can find a podcast on ANYTHING. The ones I like the best are the shorter ones...mainly because of my attention span. But some of the lengthier ones do still grasp my attention such as Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History and Serial. They are like good books or good get HOOKED!

Here are some others that I listen to on a regular basis:

Leadership Technology and Learning - Yes, this is mine, but give it a shot, it is good stuff.
The House of EdTech - Twitter PLN member Chris Nesi puts on a great 30 or so minute on education.
The RobCast - good for the spiritual soul.
EduRoad Trip - great ideas, cool links to places around the world.
Hack Learning - A new one I just started following but well worth the time.
On the Vendor Floor - Melissa Emler takes the time to check out new products and tools.

Not every podcast is for you. Find one you like then follow it. As you get more adept, then find those specific episodes that relate to you and get ready to learn.

The Analog Tool

I am a Journal Junkie. There, I have admitted it. Sometimes I use them but sometimes I get them because they look cool and one day, I plan on using them. There is something rewarding about actually writing something down or drawing a picture. I like to keep one near me at all times in case an idea pops up.

I am also a pen junkie. I like Uniball and Pilot Gels (yes I accept gifts) mostly but I am still on the search for the perfect pen and journal combo...that one may go on forever.

Understand this, I love my digital tools but...

Do not under-estimate the power of writing something down. Sometimes in life analog is exactly what we need.


August 11, 2016

Getting into the trenches...

Let it be know that on August 11th, 2016, I started my very first "Coaching Day." 

The coaching day was an idea I "stole" from Amy Fadeji (@mrsfadeji), a elementary school principal from Sonoma, California. She was even kind enough to do a Google Hangout with me this past summer to help me formulate my plan. 

Day one was a success!!

Let me share with you what this looks like...

First of all I sent an email to all of my folks at West Middle School. I also shared a link to a video (Click that to watch it) explaining how this process works. Basically, if the teachers need me on any Thursday of the school year, they simply sign up using a Google Form that I have created. I told them I would wash tables, hang signs, teach creative and I would attempt it. At first I do not think anyone believed me so it took awhile for folks to sign up all of the FUN.

The tipping point came when a teacher of mine was trying to figure out how they could leave early to make it to the first Vols football game. I simply said, "It's on a Thursday, sign me up for something!" And now, I will be teaching a lesson on the history of the Tullahoma High School Fight Song...should be interesting.

Today I...

talked about motivation
played volleyball
finished in the top 5 of kahoot in 7th grade math
taught students how to use Google Keep
discussed transportation in social studies.
I even won some Smarties

 The biggest question...Why??

Here is a lesson from a veteran principal (yes I am a veteran). It is IMPORTANT to get out of your office and experience what the students and teachers are doing. It does not have to look like this, it can really be anything. As long as it gets you out of your office and in the trenches.

That is why I did it. I needed to get away from the day to day office work that can CONSUME me. We have all been there. We have all checked our emails and seen 500 in the inbox and been overwhelmed.

My solution...coaching days. One day a week, where I am not consumed. One day a week where I am experiencing what goes on outside of my office. We all know that some of the office work is necessary but I believe so is getting in the trenches. This is my solution and does not have to be the same for you.

I encourage you to step outside of our comfort zone, try something new and different. Reach out to other folks and pick their brains, much like I did. Try it, if it doesn't work, try something else. The biggest reward is not getting away from you office for a day but seeing the awesome things happening first hand.

Who knows, you may even win some Smarties...


August 5, 2016

The "Principal" of Fitness...

When I moved to West Middle I was in the best shape of my "old" adult life. My weight was down, my aches were down. I felt pretty good!

Since that time, my weight, aches, etc have fluctuated on a non-predictable basis. It is possible that my job helps to create that but I realize it is NOT AN EXCUSE.

Since starting at WMS four years ago, I have competed in several 5K's, a couple of sprint triathlons as well as becoming an avid bowler (more strenuous than you think). However, I have also spent time in physical therapy (back issues), changed pants size, and consumed food and beverages probably at a record rate.  In fact, this time a year ago, I competed in my second sprint triathlon. And believe it or not, I am in better shape now than I was then. The difference...I was working out regularly last year but my diet was AWFUL. My LONG swims (only long by my standards), 20 mile bike rides and several mile runs were only taking care of the extra stuff I was eating and drinking.

My mind and my body struggled.

Fast forward to today. My workouts still need to increase. But, my wife and I have committed to better eating and exercising more together.

My mind and my body are improving.

I still have a ways to go.

What does this have to do with my life as an educator?? The answer...EVERYTHING!

If my mind and body are failing, the kids, the teachers, the adults, the community KNOW IT.

Understand, I am still not where I want to be. I still need more exercise daily. My eating and drinking habits need to be tweaked. But I have been inspired to do so.

Here are some who have helped me along the way (whether you realize it or not)...

Jerred Moon (@EO3Fit), Founder of End of Three Fitness - This guy is all about building better humans...and I like that! He has so much to share, both free and paid and I think it is definitely worth some time to examine.

Some Twitter connections - #whyiexercise and #fitleaders
Just found these recently. Dr. Ryan Jackson (@RyanBJackson1) and Josh Bracamontes (@JABracamontes) had a recent dialog on Twitter that had me intrigued and they used those above hashtags. Both are educators in Tennessee, so that really hit close to home. One thing that was said about #fitleaders..."makes it public and highly motivating..." That is maybe what we all need.

I truly value these new connections and makes me realize that my PLN goes far beyond just education.

So as you think about this school you think about testing and you think about observations, evaluations, differentiated instruction, project-based get the idea...

Consider also your health...your mind and body.