Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Dr. Will Show - A Peek into PeekaPak

On today's episode, I chat with Ami Shah from Peekapak.

Ami Shah is a Co-Founder & CEO of Peekapak. Ami has earned a MBA from INSEAD, and has gained extensive marketing experience through roles at Procter & Gamble, and most recently, as Director of Retail Marketing at a consumer products start-ups. Ami is passionate about improving youth education, and has previously advised, volunteered and taught children at education-related non-profit organizations.

Feel free to contact Ami via email and/or Twitter: @peekapak @amishahdotca

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Dr. Will Show - Leading School Culture with Dr. Liz Johnson and Dr. Leighangela Brady

On today's episode I chat with Dr. Liz Johnson and Dr. Leighangela Brady about leadership's role in transforming school culture.

Lisbeth Johnson, Ed.D. was born in North Carolina and raised in Harlem, New York City . She moved to California in her teens and attended schools in Southern California. She received her doctorate degree in education in 2002 from the University of La Verne and completed her dissertation on the topic of Integrating Instruction with Technology. She has worked in educational settings for forty years  in Pre-Schools, Kindergarten and K-12,  through Post- Secondary institutions. She has been a teacher, reading resource support instructor, a Principal, Director and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction and a Superintendent.

With a passion for on-going learning, Lisbeth is inspired to coach schools that are attempting to instruct students in the digital and twenty-first century environment. She recently received a Leading Edge Certification  for Online Learning and Teaching, adding new learning and expertise to her repertoire on the value of using Web 2.0 tools for student learning. In her retirement Lisbeth continues to teach at a University, and enjoys in her off-time the support of travel to far-away places with a loving family. 

Born and raised in New England, Leighangela Brady received both her B.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of Connecticut. Now living in San Diego, she earned her Ed.D. in educational leadership from San Diego State University. Dr. Brady has taught in various teaching assignments from kindergarten through fifth grade. Later she served as an academic literacy coach for teachers. This position ignited an already sparked passion for curriculum and instruction and helped to further develop her strength as a curriculum leader.

Dr. Brady is a former principal of a K-6 elementary school. As a site administrator, educational consultant, and instructional leader, Dr. Brady is passionate about quality education and effective leadership. She is a current Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services working to transform the schools in her own district. She is an author of Test Less, Assess More: A K-8 Guide to Formative Assessmentand presents annually at national and international conferences. Leighangela is a wife and mother, and plans to retire one day at her home in the Fiji Islands.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

#beyouEDU - Finding Your Swagger with Shana White

To me swagger is a word with a negative connotation, bringing to mind other words like self-seeking, cocky, shallow, and selfish. While swagger means those things to me and maybe not to others, I would rather first it examine source of personal swagger which is identity. Our identities are shaped by our faith, our experiences, our relationships, and our perceptions. That identity is what we educators project to our administrators, colleagues, students and even parents. In turn, the identity we project has a huge impact on our school’s culture including a lasting impact on our students.

The identity we project daily will dictate how we are perceived by students, fellow teachers, and administration. Perceptions formed will determine respect levels, how we are treated and in some cases be an indicator of our effectiveness as an educator. You, like me, have probably worked with the entire gamut of educator identities including: Negative Nancy, Passionate Paul, Boastful Bob, Conscientious Cathy, and Lazy Lucy just to name a few. A collection of educator identities creates a school environment that can be the Garden of Eden, a dungeon torture chamber or somewhere inbetween. Until educators actively break the cycle of projecting a negative identity we will continue to have more dungeon torture chamber schools and ultimately hurt our students.

So how do we combat the negative identities in our buildings? Servant-leadership.  

Servant-leadership requires one to be selfless, humble, thoughtful, and promote others. Rafranz Davis, an educational leader who I respect, tweeted this recently and I thought it was a great definition of what servant-leadership is.

Servant leadership is such a positive and powerful force that is desperately needed in all classrooms, schools, and districts. By empowering those individuals around you, educators can reshape the identities of students, teachers, and administrators ultimately altering an entire school’s culture. I truly believe once we have a large number of educators thinking less about “me” and more about “we” that the direction our schools are going will drastically change.

Putting someone else first is a hard thing for any individual to live out, right? I struggle with it at times also, but the fruits of servant leadership are so rewarding and long lasting than any pat on the back I have received. Servant-leader Shana is my educator identity, it is how I roll.  

Why not be the change in your classroom, school, and even district? Why not focus on humbly empowering others to personal greatness? Instead of it being about you, help students, teachers, and administrators find their swagger. Transform your building by empowering the individuals in it. You’ll be glad you did.

About the author: Follower of Christ. Mother of 2. Certified Health and Physical Education Teacher; taught in private, public, and online classrooms during 11 year teaching career. Currently, serving as a Middle School Technology Coordinator in Gwinnet County Public Schools (metro Atlanta).

The Dr. Will Show - Getting Connected with Pernille Ripp

On today's episode of The Dr. Will Show, I talk to Pernille Rip about getting connected.

Mass consumer of incredible books, Pernille Ripp, helps students discover their superpower as a former 5th grade teacher, but now 7th grade teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin.  She opens up her educational pracitices and beliefs to the world on her blog  and is also the creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, a global literacy iniative that since 2010 has connected more than 600,000 students.  Her first book will be republished this fall by Routledge titled "Passionate Learners - How to Engage and Empower Your Students." Her second book “Empowered Schools, Empowered Students” was published in September, 2014.  Her work has been featured by Edutopia, School Library Journal, MiddleWeb, Learning & Leading magazine, as well as in many podcasts and interviews.  She is a Skype Master Teacher, as well as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert for 2015.  She is the WEMTA Making IT Happen award recipient for 2015, as well as the 2015 ISTE Award for Innovation in Global Collaboration Award recipient.   She teaches others how to give the classroom back to students through speaking and professional development, as well as to anyone who walks into her classroom.  Follow her on Twitter @pernilleripp.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

#beyouEDU - Finding Your Swagger with Kerry Gallagher

When I walk into a new situation, I strive to bring with me a certain swagger. It is my way of smiling as new faces approach, making eye contact that is warm and not intimidating, or walking through a room with both purpose and openness. 

At least this is the way I hope fellow educators perceive me at various conferences, like ISTE 2015 last week, and professional development opportunities this summer. It is also the way I hope my students perceive me as we start a new year together. At the same time, I’m bit nervous going into these situations. Will I live up to their expectations based on the interactions we’ve had via social media, or based on any of my writing they may have read, or even based on my reputation in the school?  Maybe I’m projecting these nerves instead of the warm open educator I think I am.

This summer, educators have an opportunity to reflect on the impact their swagger can have on their students and colleagues before the school year begins.

The Impact of Swagger on Students
Children will enter our classrooms wide-eyed bundles of nerves in August and September. Their little pupils will beam eagerly at us for both guidance and approval. Teachers tend to enter the classroom with one of these types of swagger:

  • Teacher starts by confidently introducing herself, with an emphasis on her credentials. Talks at length about the academic rigor and high expectations of the class.

  • Teacher is quiet. Says almost nothing. Hands out a packet filled with assignment, behavior, and other expectations. Reads through it as students read along.

  • Teacher smiles and greets students. She asks them questions about how they are feeling, what they are expecting, and how they might be hoping the class experience will be.

Which teacher swagger would you want to experience as a student on that first day?

Now the tough question: Which teacher swagger description is closest to how you have opened your school year in the past?

The Impact of Swagger on Colleagues
Similarly, it is our duty to simultaneously be ourselves and be what our colleagues need. Being true to ourselves will allow us to be the best teacher for each child that walks through the school’s doors. But being in tune with both the joys and frustrations of fellow colleagues will make the school as a whole a more unified place. Share the wonder of a classroom success by walking into meetings beaming with your swagger of victory. But spend more time celebrating the successes of your colleagues than your own.  

Conversely, remember to listen intently when a colleague is faced with a challenging student, lesson, or parent. Avoid being a problem-solver. Help them find their own way back to their swagger by asking questions rather than trying to provide answers.

The thing about swagger is that it ebbs and flows over the course of a day, week, school year, or even a career. There are times when it is lost and we stumble, struggling to find it again. There are times when it is unmistakable, rhythmic, and solid. As long as educators know that our duty is to help our students find their swagger, our steps won’t fail us.

#beyouEDU - Finding Your Swagger