August 17, 2018

The New Gig...

I got a new gig.

I was not unhappy with my old gig. In fact, I will always be a part of my old gig and of course all of my people were extremely supportive when I left.

I had an opportunity, an opportunity to grow and be a part of something really cool. A new journey for me and a new journey for them as well.

This summer I started my new role as the Director of Instruction at Manchester City Schools in Manchester, Tennessee (Ever hear of Bonnaroo??). I am excited for me but I am also excited for MCS (not bragging, I promise), not because I am this great leader who knows colleagues can vouch for that for sure. Manchester City Schools is getting an exciting, energetic school leader who sees all of the great things happening at MCS as well as the huge potential that it has to offer.

So far, I am learning my role(s) and meeting as many people as possible. My plan is to visit ALL of the schools as often as possible. I get excited when I think about observing great teachers and seeing the positive things that are happening. Here are some of the cool things I have seen so far...

As my journey continues, here are the things I want to focus on.

1. Making sure I follow and share the vision of the superintendent of schools and the school system. This is extremely important to me. I know I will have ideas to share but I also need to respect the current culture and get to know the people and the stories first. There is a HUGE benefit in simply observing.

2. I need to be visible. I want the teachers, staff and kids to know who I am and feel that I am approachable. I want to learn names and visit classrooms. When I see kids, I want to them to recognize me instead of saying, "Who is that tall, bald guy?"

3. Helping to market Manchester City Schools is also important to me. Too often schools and school systems sit back and let other people tell their stories. Unfortunately those stories do not usually align with what we want told. So, we have to take control and be the chief storytellers of our district. I want to be a storyteller for Manchester City Schools. I want to help spread the positive and innovative things happening in our district.

Oh, by the way, you can follow #MCSUnited on any of our social media platforms. can follow me HERE.

4. I want to share as much as possible. Despite what my preschool teacher said (my preschool teacher was my mom), I really do like to share with others. When I see something innovative I share it. When I see something that can benefit kids, teachers or other admins, I share it. When I see something that grasps my attention (which is sometimes difficult) I share it in case it might grasp someone else's attention. So, I plan on sharing whether that is through blogging, social media or even face-to-face presentations.

As you might be able to tell, the new gig is going great! My transition could not have been smoother and I have been welcomed with open arms. Sure, I miss my Tullahoma City Schools folks, but it is always great to become part another community, especially this one.

What an opportunity!


By the way, if you want to start reading my series on personalized learning, click here. 

August 8, 2018

My Thoughts on Personalized Learning...the Adult Learner

Here is a thought...

We talk about personalized learning or differentiation for our students, what about the adults?

How many times have you sat in a training and thought to yourself, "I'm not sure this applies to me?"

Several years ago I attended a Future Ready Summit in St. Louis. The experience was great! I made some connections, learned some cool stuff and even revisited Twitter (which I now love).

The Future Ready Pledge is pretty specific and asks schools districts to really focus on key components to make sure they are future ready and are producing future ready students. The one component that stuck with me most was the concept of personalized professional learning opportunities.

I copied this straight from the Future Ready website:

"...Access to professional learning experiences that are personal and authentic." That simple statement says a great deal. Personal and authentic, what does that mean?

To me, it is pretty simple. If an educator feels the need to increase his or her knowledge in the areas of blended learning, using Google tools in the classroom or teaching fluency to elementary students, then that educator should be able to get those opportunities. Some may need guidance in getting those opportunities but others may end up finding them on their own. Either way is ok, as long as the educators are constantly improving themselves. The administrator's role in this is to help the educators find their needs and then the find the resources to make it happen. 

The administrator needs to be doing this as well. Personalized learning opportunities are not limited to the teachers. 

Personal and Authentic...

Just the other day, Kyle Hamstra sent out this tweet...

As you can see, the same idea comes out of his thoughts as well.

Personal and Authentic...

So, the question is What do I do next?

Whether through a needs assessment, some kind of inventory, your past year's evaluation or even you gut...find one or two areas you want to improve on and get after it. Talk to your colleagues or administrator, find someone who is doing something you want to get better at or simply Google what you are looking for. 

That's it.

If you are lucky enough to be in a district that tailors PD around the needs of the individual, then you will not need to go far. Just ask around for resources and get better at those areas you want to strengthen. 

If you are part of a "sit and get" culture and want to create professional learning opportunities that are personal and authentic, a good place to start is Twitter. Build a connection with people and just look. The FREE professional learning is there and it will be both personal and authentic. Like it was said above, you do not have to wait around for someone to find that PD for you. 

One of my most valuable professional learning tools is my Professional Learning Network (PLN). I cannot tell you how many hours of FREE PD I have received just by interacting with my people on Twitter. You can be a part of a structured Twitter Chat or simply lurk to see what is going on in the world. You can gain from both but beware, lurking can lead to know, funny cat or dog videos. 

Also understand it does not have to be Twitter and it may ultimately be a different platform but right now, that is what works. There plenty of other platforms and methods. Find what works for YOU. If you think you want to try Twitter,  follow ME and you can get an idea of what it looks like.

Word of warning, do not try to do too much at once. Focus on one or two areas, get good at it and then you can try new things. If you try too many things at once you may become mediocre at a bunch of different things. Instead, you really want to be GREAT at a couple.

Should you avoid whole-group PD? No, or course not! Do not get me wrong, whole-group PD can be beneficial, just like whole group lessons with students. But, do not rely on that as your only source of learning. Spend some time finding out what you are passionate about or what you want to get better at (or both) and come up with a plan to make your professional learning...

Personal and Authentic.

Let me know if you get stuck, I will lead you in the right direction.


By the way, if you missed the previous posts on My Thoughts on Personalized Learning, just click HERE.