Sunday, December 2, 2012


Additional Reading:

"Fifty Things a Teacher Should Never Post"
"9 Things to Tell Your Teachers About Social Media"
"Develop a PLN"
"Connectedness as the Standard"
"Social Media, Tear Down That Wall ..."
"Why Educators Should Spend 15 Minutes A Day On Social Media"

Monday, November 26, 2012

Edublogs Nominations

I've have only one nomination this year - For 'Best New Blog' I'd like to nominate "Evolving Educators" by Scott Rocco.

Voting hasn't been announced yet but when it opens I'm sure Scott would appreciate a vote his way.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

50 Things Teachers Should Never Post

Another re-run as I continue to prepare for VSTE12  ... Are there any that I missed?  Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

I've always recommended that teachers should separate their personal and school social media personas. However, if you chose not to heed this advice, here are the top 50 things you should never post on any SM page to which your students have access.

1. Pictures of yourself in a bathing suit.
2. Pictures of your significant other in a bathing suit.
3. Anything that starts with the word 'Party.'
4. Pictures of you holding a mixed drink.
5. Pictues of you holding a 40.
6. Pictures of you two fisting your drink.
7. Boyfriend drama.
9. Family drama.
10. Work drama.
11. Results of your pregnancy test.
12. Results of your wife's pregnancy test.
13. Results of you lab work.
15. Your weight loss.
16. Your weight gain.
17. Your Vegas trip.
18. Your Miami trip.
19. Stories about you in high school.
20. Stories about you in college.
21. Frat stories.
22. Sorority stories.
25. First date stories.
26. Last date stories.
27. New boyfriend stories.
28. New girlfriend stories.
29. Old boyfriend stories.
30. Old  girlfriend stories.
31. Your review of 50 Shades of Gray. Get your copy >>>>>>>>>
32. Your review of Showgirls.
33. Your blackjack strategy.
34. Your craps strategy.
35. Your Lottery numbers.
36. Your bank account balance.
37. Your marriage problems.
38. Your kid's problems.
39. Your love life.
40. Your lack of a love life.
41. Your wedding pictures.
42. Your divorce pictures.
43. Boxers or briefs.
44. Bikini or thong.
45. Your cycle.
46. Negative comments about students.
47. Negative comments about your neighborhood.
48. Negative comments about your principal.
49. Negative comments about your colleagues.
50. Your personal contact information.

Flickr photo credit - Urs Steiner - stoneysteiner (CC)

Friday, November 2, 2012

#NJED Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

The Virginia Coast was largely spared from the effects of hurricane Sandy.  Our colleagues up north, however, were not so lucky and much of the New York / New Jersey shore is devastated.  TeacherCast has started a relief effort and asked others to spread the word.  If you're able, click through to find ways to help.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Do You Have The Guts To Stop The Grinding?

Dance floor hidden behind a reveal by county marquees, on Flickr
Empty Dance Floor

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  county marquees 

Today, I'm sending out a cyber pat-on-the-back to Middleton (RI) High School Principal Gail Abromitis and her staff for having the guts to do the right thing in the face of 400 angry students.

According to the Providence Journal, Abromitis shut down the homecoming dance after students refused to adhere to a 'no grinding' dance policy.  For those of you who have not seen a high school dance lately let me just tell you that they can be a torrid affair.  Here's a rather mild 'how to grind' video I found on YouTube.  Imagine a dance floor full of teenagers doing the same thing (only with more enthusiasm - if I can use that as a euphemism for nastier). Walking through a dance floor trying to separate individuals and groups (yes they do this as a group) from dancing like this always left me feeling a bit dirty and longing for the the 80s kickstep that was in vogue when I was dancing to Tears for Fears and The Alarm.

The school announced a ban on this type of dancing prior to the dance. When the students refused to comply, the principal stopped the music to remind students of the rule.  She even enlisted the help of the senior class president to calm things down.  Unfortunately, things turned from nasty to dangerous.  The Journal reports that a mob mentality developed among the students who began spewing profanities at the principal.  At this, Abromitis activated the emergency call system and sent students home.

Sometimes sitting at the big desk means making unpopular decisions.  Kudos to Abromitis for doing the right thing.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Parent to Parent Rant - Close the Party House

Alcohol Bottles by Canadian Veggie, on Flickr

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Canadian Veggie 

If you've been a high school teacher or administrator for any length of time you know that kids party.  You hear the talk in the halls and in your classroom; you know they drink to excess and do stupid stuff.  You also wish you could convince them to do otherwise but hold on to the memories of the stupid stuff you did in high school and the fact that your teachers couldn't tell you anything either.

When I listened to students recount their weekends one thing that always burned me up was stories of 'party houses.' You know those houses where the parents would look the other way or worse, join in, while the kids partied the night away.

Rather than rant myself I thought I'd share a post written by a concerned parent to the party house parent.  While it's easy to envision the party house parent as being covered with tattoos, piercings, and whatnot and the ranting parent being a 50s knock off mom, that happens not to be the case.  In this case, the exact opposite is true.  The parents writing the post own a local tattoo shop and the parent being ranted at is a poster-child for the all American family.

I while I don't agree 100% with the writer, I think its worth a read so check out the following excerpt and click through at the end to read the rest ...

Last night our son made a choice and that choice has consequences.  You see…we believe in holding our kids accountable for their actions but it seems that is rare with parents these days. Welcome to “GENERATION E”  The generation of ENTITLEMENT.
Some of our friends and family may not agree with the public humiliation of our son by posting the picture of him covered in vomit, hugging a trash can, but we would hope it will serve as a purpose.
  1. Do not put yourself in situations that people can take pictures of your dumb ass in vulnerable, self depreciating positions
  1. Notifying the rest of our friends who have teenage children what they have to look forward to.
  1. The long-lasting memories of that one bad choice that will be forever floating in cyberspace (and potentially framed on our living room wall)
However, there are more disturbing issues at hand.  My husband and I do not have unrealistic expectations of teenagers and what they do when parents are not around. Here is the kicker…a parent WAS around.  So that tells me a few things:
  1. The teenage host of the party knows that her parents will buckle under the pressure to give her what she wants.
  1. The parent is fearful of losing their daughter’s love and acceptance, so they enable bad behavior in an effort to promote their daughter’s social status instead of saying no.
  1. You can hold yourself above others based on your bank account, career and outward appearance, but your actions to overlook what happens in your home is what makes you common.
Click here to read the rest of the article ... Feel free to share your reactions below.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Quick BYOD Tip

Out To Lunch by Kaptain Kobold, on Flickr

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Kaptain Kobold 

Yesterday I was discussing my Division's new BYOD policy with a principal and asked him how implementation was going.  He shared that it was going a bit slow (only natural since we've just gone from a we-see-it-you-loose-it-and-go-to-ISS to a you-can-now-use-it-for-academics school system). But he offered a great idea that his school is trying to get the students adjusted to appropriate BYOD use.

In the cafeteria they have set up a BYOD table -  reminders about acceptable use are posted on the table to keep students from going astray and they don't allow food at the table (not sure why) - as a place where students can use their own technology to complete academic assignments.

Not the perfect solution but a good step in what is really a major culture shift.

How are you making the shift to BYOD? I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Teacher Suspended Over Facebook Post

Pages and pages of text

Gaston County (NC) High School English teacher Shanna Sigmon-Moore was suspended with pay for allegedly posting and commenting about student's work on Facebook.  According to Education Week, Sigmon-Moore took photos of three students' papers, highlighted their spelling a grammatical errors and posted them to the site.  When others commented on the papers she responded, "See what I go through everyday?"

I bet her principal had the same thought.

The post wasn't public but was posted to a select group of friends one of whom, I'm guessing, didn't like what she read and turned Sigmon-Moore in to the administration.

How many times do I have to say it?

Teachers need to be extremely careful about what they post online.  This teacher not only violated the trust of her students and the community but may have violated FERPA laws as well.  The division was correct in suspending her during the investigation (as of this writing there was no update on Sigmon-Moore's employment status).

If you find yourself involved in a similar situation there are several steps you can take to mitigate the impact on instruction and restore community trust -

  1. Document the questionable post by printing the entire page with footers enabled.  In Explorer the footer will note the web address and the date printed.   I also like to take a screen shot of the post and save it electronically.  
  2. Ask the teacher to remove the post and explain why you are doing so ... "Mr. Teacher, this post violates student privacy and has eroded the trust your students and parents have in you; I am asking you to remove the post so that we can begin to restore that trust.  Additionally, the post is in violation of division policy and while there is a possibility that this may effect your employment, removing the post could help to lessen those effects later."
  3. Seek permission from senior leadership to remove the teacher from the classroom during the investigation.
  4. Let the parents of the students know what is going on - better they find out from you then to read about it themselves on Facebook.
  5. Follow division policies for employment action.  Depending on the severity of the offence termination may be appropriate - in this case, I would likely recommend a written reprimand or disciplinary probation depending on her past employment record.  If student names were disclosed, which I don't think they were in this case, I would recommend termination. 

You may also be thinking that a revision of division social media policies would be needed after an incident like this  - however, as long as teachers understand that all division policies apply to online postings and behaviors you should be covered policy-wise.

Here are some resources to help your teachers along:

Photo Credit - (CC) ilovebutter (no real name given)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Month in Review

september 9+9

Here are the top posts everyone's talking about - Did you miss any?

An Interview with Todd Whitaker

In this interview, also my first podcast, Todd talks about his book, Shifting the Monkey: The Art of Protecting Good People From Liars, Criers, and Other Slackers.  Well worth a listen.

Great App for Conducting Teacher Observations

Are you adapting apps to make your work as an administrator easier? Here I talk about using the iPad app inClass for conducting teacher observations.

The #1 Twitter Tip for Teachers, Administrators and Other Educators

Short version - you're not in any videos.

Are We Missing the Mark? Three Ways to Get Beyond BYOD Fears

Districts are adopting BYOD policies but are devices being used in classrooms?

Sometimes You're the Jackass

'Nough said.  
Photo Credit: rosmary

Monday, September 24, 2012

HR For Principals - The Americans With Disabilities Act

my wheelchair at stowe pool

For a while now I have been planing to write about the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) to give principals an overview of the Act and potential impact on managing the workplace.  The ADAAA can be highly technical and writing a good synopsis was a tough task - the post never really got out of the planning stage.

Fortunately, the Emily Douglas over at Education Week recently posted a guide for K12 talent mangers.  The post begins:

Most Americans have heard about the Americans with Disabilities Act and the importance of being ADA compliant. But, what does that mean for employees and organizations, and how does the law impact school districts? Following is information about the ADA that all K-12 talent managers should know. 

The post is well worth your time - click through to read more.

Photo credit: Rachel Groves

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sometimes You're the Jackass

KKyMason County Roundup & Jackass Race

The other night I was driving down a two lane, tree covered road.  No streetlights, no moon, it was dark.  Because there was occasional traffic coming from the other direction I kept switching between my high and low beams. 

Someone comes around a sharp bend and blinds me with his high beams.  You’ve been there – completely blinded by the light (I hear a song there) trying to navigate the turn at 45 MPH. 

Jackass! Alone in the car, I direct the name toward my window knowing full-well that he can’t hear me but the utterance makes me feel better.  As I continue on down the road, I switch the high beams back on … or so I thought.

Turns out I had my high beams on the entire time.  I realize that I was the jackass. 

It happens.

Happens on the road, happens at home, and happens at work.

Can’t do anything about when it happens on the road but at home or at work I can admit my ‘jackassedness,’ apologize, and attempt to do better in the future.

Photo credit- Kyle Martin

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Embrace the Remix

We are not self-made. We are dependent on one another. Admitting this to ourselves isn't an embrace of mediocrity and derivativeness, it's a liberation from our misconceptions.” (Kirby Ferguson)

Embrace the Remix

Nothing is new.

Everything is a copy.

Our creativity comes from without not from within.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An Interview with Todd Whitaker

Today I am pleased to post a recent talk I had with Todd Whitaker about his book, Shifting the Monkey: The Art of Protecting Good People From Liars, Criers, and Other Slackers.  Here, Todd talks candidly about his book, gearing his responses and applications to school leaders.  I think you'll find the talk extremely helpful as you apply the strategies of Shifting in your situation.

Podcast Powered By Podbean

(Update: The embedable player is not working in all browesers - if you're having trouble click this link to go to the host page.)

Click here to find this interview on iTunes.

If you missed my review of Shifting the Monkey click here.

If you haven't read Shifting and would like to purchase a copy or any of the books Todd mentions in his talk, click the links below.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Are We Missing The Mark? 3 Ways to Get Beyond BYOD Fears

Gadgets (past and present)
Is your thinking on BYOD as dated as the tech in this picture?

Open house.

I wonder how many administrators have trouble attending open house as a parent.  I know I do.  It's hard to turn off the urge to evaluate and coach while listening to the teachers' presentations.  Am I supposed to be scripting?  Should I point out the typo on the class expectations sheet?  Are you really going to enforce that policy?

I try to look at the big picture and for the most part my children have had wonderful teachers.  My kids do well in school. They work hard, they play sports, they stay involved.  There are two areas, however, where my children's teachers (and others?) are missing the mark.

Today I explore one area.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

As a self proclaimed tech geek I was excited when our district adopted a BYOD policy this year.  The old policy on tech was "if you use it or we see it - you loose it" and included progressive, mandatory discipline for each infraction.  To illustrate how 'big a deal' BYOD was in my house, my wife and I bought the kids new smartphones because of the policy.  Imagine my dissappointment when I attended open house at the middle school (I have 3 middle schoolers in the same grade, same core) and the teachers announced, "Even though the district has said your kids can bring their own devices to class, we decided that they need to be kept in their lockers during the school day."  

Are you kidding me?

Fantastic opportunity wasted.  The math teacher even said they could download a four-function calculator to use - on their homework!  I'm sure my kid's teachers are not the only who fear BYOD.   But fear should not keep us (the collective educators us) from using these powerful tools.  Here's three things you can do to help your teachers adjust to a new BYOD policy.

1) Teach etiquette. Students are used to hiding devices and sneaking looks while the teacher's attention is directed elsewhere.  Teach kids that there is a right time and a right way to use tech in an academic setting.  Texting during Cornel notes is not ok; using an app to take notes is.

2) Carry portable tech and use it productively yourself.  Let teachers and students know you are using it and what you are using it for.  Find a lost student in-between classes?  Instead of using the walkie to radio the office to get the kid's schedule, use your mobile device to access the network and find the information immediately.  Students and teachers will make the connection.

3) Offer to demonstrate ways to use tech in the classroom.  Showcase tools like PollEverywhere or PollDaddy.  Get instant student feedback and interactions with TodaysMeet.  Start with simple tools like the ones listed  then delve into deeper tech usage like blogs, wikkis, and online assessments.

I've offered just three suggestions to keep the starting point simple - I know it's easy to get overwhelmed with the number of apps and tech choices out there.  If you have other suggestions for helping teachers adapt to BYOD policies I'd love to hear from you.  Just leave a comment below.

Up next is part two of Are We Missing the Mark? where I'll look at formative and summative assessments.

Photo credit:    JasonLangheine

Friday, August 31, 2012

Month in Review


Can you believe summer is over?

Here are the hottest (see that summer pun there?) articles that everyone was reading this month.  Did you miss any?

Should Principals Have Facebook Friends at Work?

A Bit O' Change Leadership to Start Your Year

On Your Mark, Get Set, Interview Guest Post by Scott Rocco

5 Takeaways From the Colleps Sex Scandal

Educators, Technology, and the Olympics Guest Post by Jessie Voigts

Remember, I am available to answer you school related HR or admin type questions - just shoot me an email or fill out the form located here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tattoo Confessions

I am a tattoo enthusiast.

Most people at work don't know that about me.  I work to project a professional demeanor and image so while I'm working my tattoos are generally covered.  Over the summer I got some new ink on my forearm (nice little 'new school' sacred heart shown above) that I had placed just a little too far down. Now when I reach my sleeve creeps up and it pokes out.

My boss caught a glimpse of it during a meeting last week and was floored.  Professional image shattered.

But only for a moment.

Once we got back on topic the tattoo was completely forgotten.  I know my job, I am a professional.  My actions and performance speak with greater intensity than a little bit of ink.

Over the years I've had principals who have declared things like, "All men must wear ties." "Women must wear hose." I've always thought, "What does it matter?"

Todd Whitaker once wrote, "Teachers will dress three levels down from the principal." (butchered paraphrase)  I say as long as its within reason, let them.  Focus your observations on what the teacher does rather than on what they wear.  

Pedagogy, instruction, content knowledge, classroom management, differentiation, collaboration, community, assessment - these things speak much louder about a teacher's professionalism than a tie or a tat. 

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Crowdsourcing: Teacher Evaluation

Crowd Surfing

I am doing research  for an upcoming piece on teacher evaluations as a tool to develop, support, and coach teachers and would appreciate your input.  To participate simply add your answer to the document linked below.  Please included your name, position, and contact information just incase I need clarification or have a followup question.  

If I use your idea in the piece I will quote and credit you directly.  If you have question please contact me at  

Question: How do you use the teacher evaluation process to develop, support, and coach your teachers?

Click Here to Add Your Answer:

Monday, August 20, 2012

5 Takeaways From the Colleps Sex Scandal

The principal and administrative staff at Kennedale High School are having a tough week.  Their school is in the news which, in this case, is not a good thing.

Former KHS teacher Brittni Colleps was convicted this week of having sex with four students while a teacher at the school.  All of the students were over 18 at the time of the incident so she was convicted under a Texas law that criminalizes sex between students and teachers regardless of age.  Colleps, who apparently had a broad definition of group work, was identified by her tattoo in a cell phone video made by one of the boys.  The video was played in court.

Our culture tends to minimize this type of behavior when boys are involved.  The teacher gets called a few names, the boys get a wink and a pat on the back.  Let's be clear, teachers engaged in sex with students is wrong at any age, on any level.  We know that and can applaud the judge who did the right thing by sentencing Colleps to five years in prison.  

But that's not what I want to talk about today.  Today I want to talk about what you should if you find your school embroiled in a sex scandal.

  1. Don't panic.  A sex scandal at your school is a terrible, terrible thing.  You're going to get bad press.  People are likely going to lose their jobs.  You'll feel guilty, duped, and angry.  Panic will only cause you to make bad decisions and a bad situation will become worse.  Stay calm.
  2. Resist the urge to investigate.  I know you want to know what's going on.  I know you want to start protecting you school's reputation.  Stop.  This needs to be investigated by the police and/or child protective services.  An investigation conducted by the school may taint evidence or witness statements.  You may be a part of a joint school-police-CPS investigation but for now wait for direction from other agencies.  
  3. Provide for the safety and care of students.  Remove the teacher from contact with students.  If school is in session, send a substitute to the room and have the teacher sit in the conference room.  Support students but again resist the urge to question students until authorities arrive.
  4. Develop a communication plan.  Your statement will likely be something like, "That's a personnel matter so I can't discuss things in detail but please know that we have taken steps to keep children safe" but eventually you'll have to tell the community something.  
  5. Begin to pick up the pieces and rebuild.  The healing process will be slow and painful especially for the students involved.  Make sure they are taken care of.  Keep your notes and memory fresh as the case moves through the court system.  

Photo credit:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Bit O' Change Leadership to Start Your Year


I just started reading Change Leadership A Practical Guide to Transforming Our Schools by Tony Wagner and Robert Kegan.  (Yeah, yeah I'm about six years behind the times - if you're even further behind then me there's an Amazon link at the end of the post.) I heard Wagner speak at an event in late July and was intrigued enough to pick up a copy.

Luckily for me, the guy who had this office before me left a copy on the shelf - can you say, "freebie!"

In chapter 2 Wagner outlines what he calls The 7 Disciplines for Strengthening Instruction.  While there is value in all 7 of the disciplines I found myself reflecting on two as I assist principals in gearing up for the start of the school year. For context, here are the 7 Disciplines:

  1. Urgency for instructional improvement using real data
  2. Shared vision of good teaching
  3. Meetings about the work
  4. A shared vision of student results
  5. Effective Supervision
  6. Professional development
  7. Diagnostic data with accountable collaboration

I'm sure I'll write more about this (and other) works by Wagner in the future, but for start of the year here are the two that struck me as apropos.

Meetings About the Work

In my district teachers return to work a week ahead of the students. On paper this means that teachers have 5 full days to plan and prepare instruction. In practice these five days are largely encumbered by mandatory meetings and orientations.  Teachers are lucky to get 2 days of planning time. I have been guilty of planning days where teachers rotate between administrators as we each droned on for hour-long sessions about our respective areas of expertise.

What a waste!

Here's what Wagner has to say about meetings, "Ideally, under this discipline, all adult meetings are about instruction and model good teaching.  Yet in most school and district meetings, the craft of teaching is rarely a subject of discussion. Regardless of their frequency, meetings most often address announcements and operations - the administration of the work - rather than the work itself -instruction."

Make your back to school week about learning and instruction. If you have information and announcements to get out, and I know you do, write a blog, memo, video, or tweet - have your time with teachers be about the work.

Effective Supervision

How many times have you let the business of your school day keep you out of the classroom?  It happened to me and I'll lay 5 to 1 that it's happened to you. To be about the 'work' you need to be in classrooms. You need to be focused on improving instruction.

Resolve that this year will be different.

Many states, mine included, have revamped their teacher evaluation systems which makes this a perfect time to change your behavior. Work the new system. Visit classrooms early and often. According to Wagner, "...[effective] supervision is frequent, rigorous, and entirely focused on the improvement of instruction. Skip the "annual, perfunctory visit" and instead focus on "the level of rigor in the classroom or whether the students are learning what the teacher is trying to teach."  After each visit provide teachers with accurate, constructive feedback of their performance. Look for ways to help your struggling teachers and  to stretch your best teachers.


If you haven't read Wagner's book yet I highly recommend that you pick up a copy for you and each member of your leadership team. Click the link below to purchase from Amazon.

Photo Credit - (CC) Kayla Johnson

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Educators, Technology and the Olympics

I'm spending some quality time with my wife on Hilton Head Island this week (yes, it is appropriate to be jealous). Please enjoy this guest post while I'm away.

Olympic stadium and The Orbit during London Olympics opening ceremony (2012-07-27)

What Educators can learn from Technology and the Olympics

Educators can learn quite a bit from the technology used during the Olympics. The Olympics – similar to a classroom? How can this be?  Here are 4 ways that educators can look at the way technology is used in the Olympics – and apply it to their classrooms.
1.       Social Media. The London Olympics has been billed as the first Social Media Olympics. While some can view this as a spoiler (i.e., fans tweeting and facebooking results), NBC has joined in the Social Media extravaganza and will cover the Olympic Games in real time with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on other social media sites.  What can educators take from this? Social Media is omnipresent. Educators can embrace social media, and work it into their classrooms. Follow current events on Twitter. Use Facebook to do research. Create assignments that include social media in the research methods.  It won’t replace traditional research and learning, but rather, enhance it.
2.       Instant Results. No longer do people have to wait for news about the Olympics – technology means we know the results instantly. This world we live in is so interconnected that we can learn things almost as soon as they happen.  Utilize this and follow current events – elections, sporting events, chess tournaments, funerals, arts events, festivals, concerts; or connect with global classrooms to learn together.  By keeping your finger on the pulse of the world, you also teach that globally, everyone and everything is important. Teach global awareness and global citizenship by learning about things happening around the world – and their impact on locals.
3.       Stories. In the Olympics, each person has a story. We see amazing stories from around the world, of hardship, challenge, hard work, and perseverance. In real life, each person also has a story. Listen to each student, to their stories. Incorporate stories – your students’ stories, as well as everyone they come into contact with – into your classroom, assignments, and ways of teaching. When students learn the personal, they are more interested in the topic. A history assignment could include video interviews with people that have lived through it, or re-enactors. A language assignment could include finding people – and them telling their stories – in their native language.
4.       Practice. Every single person in the Olympics has spent an inordinate amount of time practicing their sport. But technology also plays a part in winning – from the technology used for keeping times and scoring, to new technology in the things athletes need to succeed (the shark suit for swimmers, shoes, gear). With limited budgets in many school districts nowadays, the latest technology isn’t always available. But you can make sure that your students have the basics of using technology – teaching them how and why to utilize the internet, videos, podcasting, etc. – and giving them the skills (writing, critical thinking, languages) for success.
Watch the Olympics with an eye to how technology allows for new ways of viewing, interacting with, and teaching about the world. Your students will thank you!

Jessie Voigts has a PhD in International Education, and is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, especially with kids (it’s never too young to start!). She has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. Jessie is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world. She founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association, and the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She’s published two books about travel and intercultural learning, with a third on the way. You can usually find her family by water – anywhere in the world.

Links if you need them:
Founder, Family Travel Bloggers Association

Photo credit (CC) Alexander Kachkaev

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On Your Mark, Get Set, Interview

I'm spending some quality time with my wife on Hilton Head Island this week (yes it is appropriate to be jealous).  Please enjoy these guest posts while I'm away.  

On Your Mark, Get Set, Interview
How do you identify the best candidates from a bunch of paper? As an assistant superintendent in charge of personnel, I review and process hundreds of resumes and applications each year, yet one of the biggest challenges I face is determining how the applicant’s paperwork compares to the person. Making this determination becomes essential when interviewing for administrative vacancies because often the interview process involves a stakeholder committee as part of the process and candidates that get to that level must be of the highest quality.
My experience with administrative interviews involved a paper screening of resume, cover letter, references, certifications, and application. Those who make it through the paper screening go on to the committee round with stakeholders, and ultimately finalists go to the last round with the assistant superintendents and superintendent. The key is to get high quality candidates into the committee round so this group can effectively and efficiently identify those candidates qualified to move on through the process. The problem is the “paper view” of a candidate can sometimes be dramatically different than the in person interview. 
To deal with this issue my district has instituted a speed round of interviews between the paper screening and committee interviews. Candidates identified as qualified through paper screening are invited to this new round of interviews. The speed round includes:
  1. Each candidate is scheduled in 5 to 10 minute intervals with a 5 minute break periodically built into the schedule as a catch up period. Candidates are specifically told the structure and purpose of these interviews so that they are ready for the process. 
  2. Up to 20 candidates to be interviewed. You can increase or decrease depending on the number of people that meet your paper screening qualifications.
  3. Each candidate is scheduled to interview with two assistant superintendents and the superintendent separately. Every five to ten minutes the candidate moves on to the next administrator.
  4. Each of the three interviewers asks questions in his/her area of responsibility. The same questions are asked to all of the candidates.
  5. Each candidate completes 15 to 30 minutes of interview time by the end of the process.
What has been so beneficial in this process is the ability of the interview team to interview more candidates than has been traditionally possible in the old model of going from a paper screening to a committee interview. The speed round opens the door to about 20 candidates, which if interviewed at a committee level would take approximately 4 days to complete. It also clearly identifies how the candidate’s qualifications match with their interview abilities. This is vital when the next round of interviews is at a committee level and you want to assure high quality candidates at that level. But most importantly, it hyper-focuses the interviewer and interviewee during the process. This focus keeps the attention on aligning the candidates paper qualifications with his/her interview responses. As a result the interviewers are able to identify the highest quality candidates to move forward.
Scott Rocco is an Assistant Superintendent for Personnel in  a large suburban school district in New Jersey, adjunct professor at The College of New Jersey, instructor in the NJEXCEL program, presenter, and co-founder/co-moderator of #Satchat on Twitter. Scott presents on the use of social media for educators, school safety, marketing yourself, and various leadership topics. He is dedicated to positively and productively engaging educators in a dialogue that improves student learning, enhances instruction, and creates effective learning environments for all who attend and work in schools. Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottRRocco or contact him at

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Should Principals Have Facebook Friends at Work; The Results


A few weeks ago I posted the question, "Should principals have Facebook friends at work?" and asked readers to responded via School HR's first interactive poll.  Today, in a totally non-scientific, non-cite-able manner the results are announced.

The Results

Respondents were about evenly split on the question between "No" (44.07%) and "Maybe" (42.37%) (way to take a stand there people!).  Interestingly, only 10.17% of respondents said "Yes, friend everyone."  Here's a nice pie chart of the results.

There were two comments left under "other" 

      "No, it reeks of favoritism."
      " Yes. Set security/privacy settings are important, and be professional."

Other comments received included one from a principal who didn't want to know what his teacher were doing on Facebook because then he'd have to deal with their inappropriateness come the next work day.  And another from a respondent who likened "friending" to the practice of hiring relatives.  Where I come from we call that "institutional incest." 


It looks like the jury is still out on this one - though it looks like we're leaning toward "No" when it comes to friending people at work.

IMHO it is NOT a good idea for principals to friend subordinates at work.  Quite frankly, I don't want to see Mrs. Jones in her bathing suit two fisting tequila in Cabo inappropriate personal pictures posted by staff.  There needs to be some professional separation.

I am a BIG fan of using social media to connect with teachers, students, and parents.  On Facebook I suggest using a page rather than a profile to communicate professionally.  Though attached to your profile for logging on, a page is separate and distinct from your profile.  Pages allow for easy, frequent updating, pictures, events, and the like.  Rather than friend the page owner, people subscribe to the page by pressing the like button.  Both parties get the benefit of communication with out being able to view the other's  profile. If you'd like to see a page this link will take you to mine (feel free to press like while you're there).

Your thoughts

The use of Social Media in educational settings is evolving and I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Leave a comment below and be part of the conversation.

Photo credit (CC) West McGowan

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Month in Review

July 4th 2008 in BaltimoreHard to believe that summer is almost over.  Colleagues that aren't in a state with a "King's Dominion" law on the books are only days or weeks away from the start of a school year.  Let me know if you have any lingering HR 'issues' that you need tackled before the start of the year.

Here were the most viewed posts on School HR for the month of July:

Should Principals Have Facebook Friends at Work?

HR for Principals: The Gag Reel

HR for Principals: Interviewing and Hiring, The Post Script

The Principal's Golden Rules

HR for Principals: Interviewing and Hiring Part II

Thanks again for reading, sharing and being a part of my PLN.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Last Minute Guest Post Opportunity

Guest House MotelMy wife, Lisa, and I are taking a well-deserved but last minute vacation next week.  Rather than let the blog sit dormant or re-post old articles I thought I'd open the blog up to fast writing guest posts.  Generally, I write on HR and employee related issues for school administrators but I occasionally dabble in ed tech and general ed related issues so the topics I'll accept for publication are pretty broad.

Articles should be 300 - 1000 words in length and include an author's bio and contact info.  Pictures, if included, should be owned by the writer, copyright free, or under a creative commons license.

Send me a brief proposal ( and I'll reply with additional instructions.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Principal's Golden Rules

gold cast bar

  • Student learning comes first.
  • Make every decision as if it will be challenged; in most cases it will.
  • Never miss a deadline.
  • Don't mess with the money.
  • We are team and will function as such.
  • Take time for yourself.
  • When you err, err on the side of children.
Did I miss any? I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, July 20, 2012

HR for Principals: The Gag Reel - 5 Questions Not to Ask


Okay, after today I promise I'm done with interviewing and hiring!

In this series we've looked at the process of interviewing and hiring teachers.  I've given you some tips and some things to watch out for.  Do it right and you'll have a building full of bright, energetic, committed teachers and classrooms full of students who are learning and doing exceptional things.  Do it wrong and you'll wind up responding to an EEOC complaint, a law suit, or worse - you'll have teachers who aren't bright, energetic, or committed and your students will suffer.

Today being Friday here's a tongue-in-cheek look at five questions you should never ask during an interview.

1) (Directed to an obviously pregnant candidate) Congratulations on the baby ... do you think its fair to leave your students without a teacher for half the year while you're giving birth?

2) In my experience, no one over the age of 40 knows a thing about ed-tech ... give me 3 reasons why I shouldn't go with a younger candidate?

3) You know, I really need a male teacher to coach defense on the football team but since you're here already why don't I have just a quick look at your portfolio?

4) Says here you already retired once.  Aren't you a bit old to be starting over?

5) Why don't we discuss this opportunity over dinner?

Photo Credit (CC) Tim Ellis

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

HR for Principals: Interviewing and Hiring - The Postscript

True Diversity Dinner

I know, I know.  I said that Interviewing and Hiring Part III was the final installment in the series but sometimes something so important comes up that you just have to write.

Today's installment is the postscript.  The part of the letter that comes to you after all the really important stuff is on the table but that absolutely must be included.

PS - A Word of Caution

I can't give you the back story on this post - confidentiality and all - but let's just say your staff knows your hiring patterns.  Have a proclivity to hire "eye candy?" Your staff knows.  Favor younger applicants over older applicants? Your staff knows. Think only men should teach 5th grade? They know.  Favor one race? Believe me, they know.

And guess what else ... they're talking about it.

Take Aways

  • Look for patterns in your hiring. The easiest way to do this is to pull your hires for the last 5 years and look for commonalities. 
  • Sometimes we have associations based on things like race, age, gender that we're not fully aware of (or don't fully acknowledge).  Go to a site like Project Implicit to test your own perceptions about race.  
  • Make sure your interview panel is diverse in terms of age, race, and gender.  If you have to override a decision made by the panel, be able to articulate sound reasons for doing so.
  • And if you find that you have engaged in some sort of pattern hiring - have the maturity as a leader to change it!
Photo credit (cc) - Mel Green


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...