A Fresh Start

One of the many things I love about my job and the cycle of the school year is that every year is a fresh start. Hopefully, we have learned from mistakes, gotten better at what we do and apply those lessons in the new year. As educators, we have the chance to take a breath during the summer months, reflect on what we have accomplished in the past year, and focus on those areas where we feel that we came up short. I have been doing a lot of thinking over the past few weeks about how the year went for me personally, and I have come to some definite conclusions. The biggest take away? I didn’t do a very good job last year. Don’t get me wrong. No one was fired, our standardized scores were fantastic, our teachers and parents are happy (well, MOST parents are happy), and by most measures, it was a great year. But I didn’t feel that way. When I started thinking back on the 2016-17 school year, I really felt that I had not given my best. Now, I am old. I have 32 years in now. I realize that I am no longer a spring chicken. I can’t participate in the student-faculty basketball games the way I used to. It takes me a little longer to recover after a week of four night events (which is pretty much every other week). But I cannot use that as an excuse. On my daily walk this morning, I decided that I need to have some specific goals to improve my performance for the upcoming year. Again, not that I was terrible or just counting days, but I felt like I was not in the moment each day. We all have days like that, but I really believe that I got caught up in the minutiae…too much time at my desk, too much focus on paperwork, you know the feeling. So, I have decided to make some promises for next year. In no particular order…

I promise to find some joy every day in my students, what they are learning, how the are feeling, how they can contribute to our school.

I promise to strengthen the relationships with my staff, to look for ways every day that I can make their work less complicated, to search for connections, to be there for them.

I promise to live in each moment, each concert, each game, each special event. To really be there for it.

I promise to spend less time in the office on the daily stuff, and more time interacting with the school, with students, with staff.

I promise to make a difference every day for someone in need in the school.

As you prepare for the new school year, what are your promises?

Posted in Leadership, Life lessons, Personal Growth, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Lessons Learned as an ISTE17 Rookie


I returned from San Antonio and my very first ISTE conference about a week ago. What a trip! I did some research and talked to some of my PLN about the conference before I left, but there was no way to prepare for what was in store for me. You can find a few of my thoughts by searching for #ISTERookie on Twitter, but I thought I would give you a rundown on what I learned from my first experience at ISTE.

Do Your Homework

The ISTE app was a great tool. It came out a few weeks before the conference. It is a tremendous resource. You can review the sessions and select which ones you want to attend. You can build a schedule that syncs with your calendar so that you have easy access to all of the information. Pay close attention to the sponsors of the sessions. Presentations “hosted” by some of the major players (Google, Apple) tend to fill up quickly, and once they have reached capacity they close the doors. I had to get in line about 45 minutes ahead of the session to get into some of the more popular ones. If there is a session you just can’t miss, get there earlier. Some of the hosts gave out tickets that got you admittance to the sessions.

Vendors Too

The Exposition Hall is gigantic. I am not going to lie, I actually got lost in there the first day. It took me 20 minutes to find an exit. Do you homework on the vendors as well. Make notes of those that interest you and those that you feel you must visit. Then get out the map (this would have helped me BEFORE I got lost). Plot out where the vendors are located. Keep in mind that there are tons and tons of giveaways and prizes. These really aren’t my thing, but if they are important to you, print off about 100 labels with your information on them (school name, address, e-mail, etc). Rather than filling out a thousand forms, just plop a label on it. Also, it really helps if you know in advance what you are looking for. Looking for a new student information system? Check. Tardy monitoring software? Yep. Cases? Uh huh. There is really nothing you can’t find there, but if you know what you are looking for it helps.

Visit the Playgrounds

The convention center was massive as well. There were several enormous (sensing a theme here?) foyers outside of the meeting rooms and ballrooms. ISTE had something called “playgrounds” set up here. These were about 15-20 tables set up in the foyer area. Each one had a different topic, and volunteers who manned the tables. They presented on more topics than I can possibly mention here. These were smaller, more intimate and more informal presentations. You could walk around and stop where you wanted to for as long as you wanted to. I made connections with authors and other great educators at some of the other tables I visited. When I go back to ISTE, I am planning on spending more time at these areas, simply because of the one on one connections you can make.


I learned so much from the sessions I attended. But if you want to really maximize your connections with people, volunteer to assist with the conference. I worked in one of the playground areas for a few hours. I was able to meet new people who were also working the table with me, and interact with a few dozen people when they stopped at our table. Volunteering is a great way to help ISTE and share your expertise.

Use the Technology/App

I mentioned the app earlier, but there is more to it than just a conference planner. They had a scanning app built in as well. This allowed you to scan the QR code on someone’s name badge and collect their profile information in one location. It also allows you to save resources from your favorite sessions and find your way around the exhibit hall (another feature I could have used).

ISTE was a great conference. I plan on attending again in the near future, but this time without as many rookie mistakes. I hope this post will convince you to attend, and make it easier for you as well.

Posted in Educational Technology, Technology | Leave a comment

Weekly Education Links (weekly)

Happy Fourth of July everyone! I have returned from ISTE and am taking a weeks vacation. I am working on a post about my experiences at the conference so stay tuned! Meanwhile, here are my weekly Diigo posts for the week. Enjoy!


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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ISTE17 Here I Come!

After many years of wanting to attend ISTE, I am finally on my way. I am heading to San Antonio for ISTE17, and I can’t wait. I have been to numerous VSTE state technology conferences, but this is different. This is the big time. I left Richmond, VA, at 5:25AM today, and I am currently sitting in Charlotte airport awaiting my flight to San Antonio.

I tried to prepare as best I could. I have taken the time to join several ISTE communities, which I highly recommend for anyone. I have read as much as I can about how to make the most of the conference, but there is one word that comes up time and time again…overwhelming. I am hoping, as an ISTE Rookie, to avoid this as much as I can. We shall see. I am also looking forward to meeting several of my PLN members face to face, some to renew friendships, and some to start new friendships.

If you are going to ISTE let me know. If you have any tips for me, please leave a comment. I have a feeling I will need all the help I can get! You can follow all my adventures at ISTE by following #ISTERookie!

Keep fighting the good fight.

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Summer Time is Here! Now What?

Please don’t get me wrong. I love my job. I love working with kids, parents and teachers. But come late May and early June, they have to go. I need some slow time to recharge and refresh. I am sure many of you are in the same boat. So, now that summer is here, what do you do?

I decided to try something new this summer. Every year, I promise I am going to read more, blog more, and generally get my self better prepared. But something happens. I am not sure if it is too slow, I am too exhausted (at least at teh beginning of summer), or I just lose my mojo. Whatever the case, I find myself looking back on summer months with some “I wish I had done ________”. Not this summer. I decided that I needed some structure, some dedication and some extra organization.

We work four days a week during the summer months. Each day is ten hours. It certainly a different pace than the hustle of a school day. So I decided to maximize my time. Each day I set aside a block of time specifically for a certain task. I set aside 30 minutes for some professional reading. Right before lunch, 30 minutes to exercise (we have a fabulous fitness room in our school). As the afternoon winds down, 30 minutes to blog. The idea is that if I set aside time to do these things, I will have fewer “I wish I would have” moments come September. And, I am hoping that the momentum will carry over into the next school year.

In case you were wondering, by the time August gets here I am really bored and can’t wait for kids and teachers to be back in the building…until the next May!

Keep fighting the good fight.

Posted in Personal Growth, Professional Development, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Weekly Education Links (weekly)

Here are my latest Diigo posts for the week of June 5, 2017. I have set a goal for the summer to write every weekday. I am committed to follow through. Look for a lot of posts starting next week. I hope everyone has a smooth ending to their school year!

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Weekly Education Links (weekly)

Happy Memorial Day! We should all take a few minutes to remember those who have sacrificed so much for country. I hope everyone is having a smooth and uneventful closing of the school year.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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