November 14, 2019

Why 5 Things...


Some people may wonder why I share these 5 Things each week. It is simple, I saw some others do it and I really do like to share.

I first saw it from Tim Ferriss (someone who I recommend following), author of many books (Tools of Titans, 4 Hour Workweek), when he started sharing things every Friday. I thought to myself that is pretty cool! I realized that I spent a great deal of time looking at those links and being entertained and educated.

Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist, also does something similar where he shares out 10 things each week to explore. I always find at least 2 or 3 things that grasp my attention.

So, I guess you could say I am copying them but I do not think they would mind. You see, sometimes the internet and social media can be overwhelming (that may be an understatement). If I can help each week to navigate the craziness called the internet, that is the least I can do.

This process for me started several years ago, when I was much more consistent with my blog. I stopped for awhile but my boss encouraged us to pursue some professional and personal goals this year. Not only did we write them down and share them, we are also presenting evidence that we are accomplishing those goals. And for that I am thankful.

One of my goals was to focus not only on my professional and personal development but to help others find a place to assist in theirs too. So...I started my 5 Things back up and now consistently share weekly (sometimes not on the same day, still working on that).

So, if you want to see where my mind is going each week and share in those cool things I might pick off the internet, feel free to subscribe and be a part of the "cool" crowd...ok, maybe that is reaching a little but you get the idea.


Enjoy!
MS

September 23, 2019

So you want to try Twitter...


I get it...not ONE MORE THING!

But, what if I told you this could help your professional life...get any better??

Many people get on Twitter but do not stay on it because...

1. Don't have time
2. Don't want to have another social media account
3. Don't get it

Sound familiar? I have been there before. The first time I started with Twitter, I did not get it. The second time, it made more sense.

Here is why I like it.


  • Everything is written succinctly and to the point. Simply put, you cannot really ramble on Twitter. You have to make up your mind and sometimes eliminate words and characters to say what you need to say.
  • You can easily connect with people in your profession. I have connected with people all of the world, some I have met, others I have not. The cool thing...if I have a question about something in education, technology or leadership...I can ask someone in my Professional Learning Network (PLN) and THEY ANSWER!
  • You are literally connected to people you previously were not connected to. For example, my son Colin is an aspiring filmmaker. He has reached out to several filmmakers for advice. And yes...they answered him! He even spoke to a couple of them on the phone afterwards. Think about in the past, if you wanted to connect with celebrities or "experts in the field", it was near impossible. Now it is a possibility. 
  • You can participate in specific Twitter Chats. There are chats on education, leadership, gardening, comic books...you name it. You can literally get professional learning while watching your favorite show on Netflix. I recommend Mindhunter by the way...but you probably want to pay attention while watching it. 

How do you get started?

It is easy.
1. Create an account (I just used my name but there are not many Mick Shurans around)
2. Personalize your account...yes, add some kind of image so people know who you are and that it is a real account.
3. Start following people...celebrities, sport stars, people in your profession...ME.
4. Sit back and watch for awhile...retweet other people's posts you like and then start posting things you might want to say. I promise, you do have something to share.
5. Find a Twitter chat to follow and participate. For education, I recommend #TNEDCHAT

One last thing...you can get caught up in the craze of funny videos, gifs and memes too. So, be careful, it is addictive.

Enjoy!
MS

July 11, 2019

Summer Series...5 Things YOU can do to get ready for school



Like most people, I love lists. Who does not have a legal pad by their desk with lists of things to be marked off. Mine rarely get marked off but it is a fun exercise right??

This list is different. It is actionable and if you are in the world of education, or even if you are not, this list is for you.

Summer for educators (even those who have 12 month contracts) is a time for rejuvenation and preparation for the upcoming year. There are some specific things YOU can do to help this cause.

Here are five that I am sharing...


1. READ

I read all of the time and my books vary from educational, leadership, fitness, history or anything else that catches my eye. My collection is diverse and sometimes eclectic. For instance, I am reading Simon Sinek's Start with Why which really puts in to perspective on how we should go about our goals and plans. However, I also just finished reading the Butchering Art. This is a fascinating book on 19th century surgery and how one doctor pioneered the concept of germs and the use of antiseptic. I am also reading a book about a U.S. Marine squad and their experiences in Ramadi during the Iraq War called Joker One...I would say that book collection is pretty diverse.

The point is, I read because I enjoy it. I do not know many educators who do not like to read something, even if it is a sports magazine or a comic book. No matter what, reading is great for the mind. Sure you can read things that specifically prepare you for the upcoming year but you can also read for the satisfaction of reading. Do not read that book if it is not enjoyable or you do not feel like it is beneficial. I used to trudge through every book with a feeling of guilt if I had to put it down. That is the opposite effect you want. It is OK to put it down. That does not mean you cannot pick it up later. Who knows, in a different setting it might be what you need.

2. Goals

You can make goals for the entire year but that is not necessarily what I am getting at. Think about this week. Get a little Field Notes journal or a legal pad for that matter and jot down some things YOU want to complete this week.

This is similar to the list making I mentioned earlier but focus on things you want to do, not have to do.

For example:
Week of July 14th
-Work on concrete table top
-Make hot sauce with fresh peppers

...you get the idea

You can even use technology, like Google Keep. Here is a screenshot of one of my goal lists for the week.


Sure you can start listing some goals for the upcoming year, that is probably a good idea. But, do not overwhelm yourself with those goals. Keep it to about three specific ones that you would like to do in the first few weeks and do it. Oh, it also helps if you share it with your significant other, kids, dog or whomever else who might help hold you accountable. If you are not into goals then just write or journal about what you are doing. Jot down those things you have accomplished or things you have learned. You might even want to start a blog so other people can see what you are thinking.

3. Exercise

This is a good one and a difficult one for many. In reality, it is one of the most important things you can do. Sometimes I have to force myself but when I do, I always feel better. Jocko Willink, one of my favorite motivators, talks about how discipline equals freedom. He gets up every day at 4:30 and works out. I am not suggesting that but hey, if you can, go for it. If you are on Twitter, I recommend following #FitLeaders as well as Ryan Jackson. He does a great job of motivating and emphasizing the importance of taking care of you. It does not have to be weights or running marathons. Go for a walk, a swim or even go out in the driveway and shoot some hoops...whatever it takes. While we are on self care...get some sleep too. Even though it is summer, you still need those Zzzz'z.

4. and 5. - RELAX

Yes, I put 4 and 5 together because it is the most important and probably most neglected. YOU do not have to go to your classroom or your building. I know you will but do not put that on yourself all of the time. I find that soaking in the pool or hanging out in my hammock with a good book (see number 1) can be the best relaxation for me. If I get a chance a little beach therapy is also good but it is not a requirement. There are plenty of things that lead to relaxation.



Have you ever set up chairs in your driveway and rolled a TV (or a bed sheet and projector) and watched a movie with family and friends?? Sure sitting in your recliner can have a similar impact but there is something about that camaraderie and fellowship, along with some popcorn, your favorite beverage and a bunch of people, that can put you in a deep state of relaxation.




If you struggle with any ideas on how to relax, send me a tweet and I will be happy to brainstorm with you.

I know, I know...this is nothing you did not already know. But, I bet it did get you thinking about those things and some of those activities that will contribute to your summer preparation and rejuvenation.

I got a great idea...send me a Tweet @mickshuran and let me know what YOU are doing to prepare and rejuvenate.

Enjoy your summer!
MS

Go check out my previous Summer Series Posts...Why We Do What We Do and Do Not Be Afraid.

June 25, 2019

Summer Series...Do Not Be Afraid




Over the years I have presented at many conferences and workshops. Many have been technology related and others have leaned more towards leadership. The theme has ALWAYS been the same...there is a real barrier to integrating technology into life...a mindset.

I have mentioned before my summer class on technology from a couple of years ago. I aptly named it "Not So Scary World of Technology." I realized quickly that to my students, that was opposite of the truth.

They were scared.

Generational thinking does have something to do with it. Folks older than me talk about the days of pushing a button or typing something in and completely ruining their computer. I get that. But, that world has changed dramatically. Don't get me wrong, those pieces of equipment still exist. But with the availability of user-friendly technology, one can easily avoid that pitfall.

Still, the fear exists.

One of the common statements I heard was, "I did not have technology growing up." Or, "this wasn't around for me to learn on when I was younger." I always agreed but responded readily with the statement..."neither did I!"

My first TV was black and white. I had a TRS-80 computer that, other than games and little programming book we had, did absolutely nothing. We didn't even hook it up all of the time. I had rotary phones and even had to rent a VCR one time...yeah, you could rent a VCR! My first email account was a free one that you got when you signed up at Blockbuster Video (remember that place??). And...I did not have a cell phone or internet until college.

So...I did not grow up with the type of technology that we are seeing today either.

I will be honest though, technology is growing so fast that some of it does scare me as well. It could be those darn Terminator movies I watched when I did not have internet. I really do have a healthy fear that SkyNet could take over the world at anytime.



What does save me though...I am not afraid to explore. I have a mindset that allows me to tinker and problem-solve and learn these "new-fangled thingies." The good news, you can have this too!

Sugata Mitra conducted experiments in India in the early 2000s. Long story short, he set up computers in places he knew kids had not be exposed. Guess what...in short time they figured those suckers out. He replicated this experiment over and over with similar results.

Watch this Ted Talk for more detail about his experiments.




Interestingly enough, he said the kids would slow down or stop when the adults showed up...why is that?

Is it because the adults do not speak their language?

Is it because the adults do not have the same curiosity?

Probably a little of both.

At some point in our lives that curiosity starts to fade. It could have something to do with careers, families or a combination of many things. But, it is true. A vast majority of us lose that love of learning and that no fear mindset of trying new things as we get older. We need to GET THAT BACK!

How does that happen?

If you are a leader, you should rethink the things you or your culture may be doing to stifle creativity. Ever heard of the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule?? This could be helpful in prioritizing your workload and life.

If you are in the trenches, are you afraid because of your culture? If you are a leader are you contributing to that culture?

The fact is, the world is changing...FAST! The way we educate (both kids and adults) has to change as well. We talk a great deal about personalized learning for students but what about adults too. Personally, it is imperative that our focus on our education be something that is directly related to what we need to learn. The result of that, preparing young learners to also personalize and be responsible for his or her learning as well.

So, a call to action...find something that intrigues you in the world of technology integration and get better at it. Do not try to master everything that comes across your blog feed or Twitter account, you will end up not mastering anything. Choose what is important, what is going to make the biggest impact in your learning and GO WITH IT!

Happy Tinkering!

MS

Would you like to see more of this blog? How about a weekly e-newsletter about tips, strategies and other cool things?

June 19, 2019

Summer Series...Why we do what we do...


passion for students


Most of the people who read this are teachers. But, even if you are not one I am sure you can search your soul for why you do what you do. If by chance you never get these reminders, then maybe you need to rethink what you are doing. Not to be critical, but this life is way too short to not be doing things you are passionate about.

Back to the reminders...I received one the other day in the form of a private message on Twitter.

college signing
I am sure this guy won't mind me sharing because as excited as I was for him, I know he was even more excited. You see, Ty has decided to attend college and play football and invited me to his signing/recognition. I literally got chills when I saw that message and immediately made plans to be there.

Flashback about 12 years when I was his principal at Jack T. Farrar Elementary School. I will admit, Ty and I had our ups and downs and I was hard on him. But, I never gave up on him and he knew that. Oh yeah, I also followed him to middle school too. Same drill...Ty acts goofy, Mick is hard on him. His mom even asked if I was going to follow him to high school. I told her that I think Ty is ready to have school without me.

So, here we were at Ty's high school waiting on the obligatory photos that go with committing to a certain college. I was able to tell Ty I was proud of him...again. And I wasn't the only one. There were other teachers there, his family, coaches and a bunch of his fellow teammates. Ty had garnered a slew of support over the years. The best compliment of the day came from his football coach when he explained to everyone the progression of Ty. He came in struggling but became a leader. He became the type of player a coach wants. No one outworked him, he helped the younger guys and he got his stuff together (grade-wise).

The reason I am telling this story is because it is not about me. The reality, it is about all of us who are in careers where sometimes it seems like endless cycle of disappointment or frustration. We have all been there. It is a reminder like the one I experienced recently that reminds me why I do what I do.

Here is to your journey as well. Look for those stories that help make sense of your crazy world. The stories are there, sometimes you have to be patient.

MS

March 3, 2019

A Great Day of Learning...

A couple of weeks ago, our district did something we have not done in a while...joined forces in an effort to provide professional learning to all of the teachers and staff.

This started early in the year as an idea that would grow into one of my favorite days in my career. This professional learning opportunity did not happen without a great deal of work and collaboration but it did happen.

The event kicked off with a awesome opening by our superintendent. He spoke to the importance of learning but also the importance of learning together. This was a pivotal moment for our school district on the path to being the best!



Here is what it looked like logistically:

After the opening remarks each teacher moved to an array of classrooms where a topic of their choice was offered. The learning did not stop there because we rotated two more times to other classrooms based on topics the teachers chose. Oh and by the way, those offerings were facilitated by none other than the teachers and administrators of our district.

Teachers teaching teachers...

Teachers learning things that THEY felt would benefit them on a day-to-day basis...

Here are a few of the moments captured.




The key to this training that made it successful...CHOICE. Teachers were able to choose sessions that fit what they wanted to learn more about. I know you are wondering, how many sessions could they possible choose from? Well, to be exact...24. Yep, there were 24 total sessions ranging from dyslexia to integrating technology and anywhere between. There was even a physical education session where teachers could let loose and play games that their students were participating in.

I heard comments like...
"best PD ever!"
"I loved the fact that we had a choice."
"I just liked seeing people from other schools.

The day itself flowed so nicely that it seems that setting it up was a simple task. Don't get me wrong, there was a GREAT DEAL of work put into this. Teachers were surveyed as to what they needed and presenters were asked to leave their comfort zone and share what they know with their colleagues. Logistically, we wanted everything to flow so that the focus that day would be on the content. The future looks bright for this event!

So what is next?

Well, we plan on replicating this activity for the future. We will continue to do some small learning opportunities but we are thinking big for next year, hopefully half of our early dismissal days will look similar to this one. This is a GREAT way to provide personalized learning opportunities for teachers but definitely not the only way. My hope, I continue to reach out to my PLN as well as ongoing collaboration with the instructional coaches to come up with even better ways to help teachers learn.

By the way, if you have an interest in seeing the specific structure of our day, feel free to shoot me an email or find me on Twitter.

Good luck!



January 11, 2019

5 Tools I used TODAY

People ask me all of the time..."What tools do you use regularly to help increase your efficiency?" I guess the word efficient could be debatable, but I do think certain tools make my life easier and more enjoyable. That counts for something right??

I always have a couple of those tools on the tip of my tongue but today I was intentional on paying attention to what I used. I wanted to share those tools today so that you can get an idea of what could potentially help you in your day. So, here you go.

These are the 5 tools I used TODAY (in no particular order):

Image result for pocket

There is not a day that goes by that I do NOT save something to my Pocket. This is a great site and extension where with a click of a button, you can save an article, video, link etc to one location that can be easily found. Also, once it is saved to Pocket, you can "tag" them into specific categories to make finding them even easier. Two cool things...YOU can use Google to log in AND you can use it on any device. Simply meaning if you are on your phone which happens to be an Iphone or on your computer which happens to be a Chromebook. You can save on either and they can be found on both...make sense?? In fact, any where I log into my Pocket, I will find my stored information.  I LOVE IT!

Image result for google keep
Keep

As a list guy and a checkbox guy, I love the fact that I can do both on Google Keep. One guy I met said that he did not quite understand the appeal to Google Keep just yet. I explained to him, that it really is a personal preference, there are others but for my use, Google Keep is the best. Once a list is created, it can be shared, it can be colored, it can be pinned to easily find. The user can also take regular notes, save images or even draw and write within the app. Oh, by the way...it can also be used on any platform, any device. 



Image result for twitter
Twitter

I have been preaching this one for years. Twitter could potentially be one of my best professional development tools in my tool box. "Wait!" say most people. "How can a social media too be used for PD?" Very simple, I have made connections with people all over the world who may have answers to questions I am seeking. Also, if there is a topic that interests me, if I need to learn more about something, there is most likely a chat that coincides with that topic. A simple hour long Q and A can sometimes be more beneficial than a 3 day conference at a big hotel...and A LOT cheaper. Are you still unsure?? Sign up for an account, follow me and start asking questions. I will fill you in and show you how Twitter benefits me. 


Image result for g suite
Slides/Docs/Forms

I really could not choose just one of these because I literally almost use everyone one of these tools daily. Probably my favorite out of this group would be Google Slides because of the ability to do so many things. They are all good but Google Slides has a special place in my Googly Heart. So, I guess I did just choose one. But, I think you should give them all a try. I use Gmail, Calendar, and Docs multiple times a day. There are so many tools to choose from!



Image result for google podcast
Podcast App

I listen to music occasionally, but my go to activity while on the road (or doing dishes) is listening to a podcast. I have favorites and not all are education-related but all are equally important to my sanity. You see, I can listen to stories, jokes, series, interviews and so on. And all of those play a role in my daily life. And yes, podcasts can also be used for professional development. In fact, I used to co-host a podcast that could be found on multiple streaming apps. There is a rumor that podcast may be reborn...stay tuned.  While you wait, here are some of my favorites:


There you have it. I promise, I have used ALL of those tools TODAY and yesterday and the day before...

There are others but these I use regularly. 

What do you use??

MS




January 3, 2019

Mick's Top Blog Posts of 2018


Yep, I stole this idea from Julie Davis (check out her post here...). Even if you do not read the rest of this one, you can click on Julie's and I promise it will be worthwhile.

So, I always feel better when I blog, it helps me reflect over topics, trends, ideas etc. Even if people never read it, I feel it can be of benefit...and I have encouraged others to do the same. I really WANT to be more consistent and I know that is my problem and not any one else's but here is my attempt at consistency...the first Thursday of the new year. Here is to the rest of the Thursdays.

Back to the post...I have seen several folks share their most popular blog posts of the year and I felt I should join in the fun. What a great way to start 2019! Feel free to share and steal, that is exactly what I do.

So here you go!

All about Mick

First things first, I did not just randomly write a blog post about myself. Yes, it is a blog post about myself but it there is a reason. After 18 years in one school system, I moved to a neighboring system. I shared this one so people could get an idea of the Mysterious Mick from that "rival" school system. It is actually pretty cool, more of a hyperlinked Google Slide that tells a little about me.

So you want to be an admin - The Directors Perspective and So you want to be an admin - the aspiring leader

Interesting that two of my most popular posts were written by other people, maybe I should just host other people's thoughts on my blog?? Anyways, this was a series of several blog posts on becoming an administrator. The whole series was actually pretty popular, might be worth a read.

My thoughts on personalized learning - 5 Tips and My thoughts on personalized learning - Part 1

Again, another several part series that focused on the idea of personalized learning both for students and adults. If you have a link to education (which is everyone) then pay attention to this. Learn how we (and you) can personalize learning. This goes for all fields. If you are in a career, does it not make sense to select your learning based on what YOU need?? You can and should have some control over your learning. That goes for kids too!

The New Gig

I mentioned earlier the changing of schools systems. I also devoted a blog post to that transition. Although it did not gather as many hits as the ones above, it was still one of my favorites of 2018.

So, there you have it...my top blog posts of 2018. Hopefully I will have many more in 2019! Now it is your turn, share what you know.

MS