Thursday, July 23, 2015

5 Reason to Blog

Recently I was sitting having coffee with Jacki Prati and having a great conversation about our upcoming EdCamp on August 7th. The excitement is building for this amazing day of professional learning as we will be joined by over 200 educators from all over the state of Ohio and beyond. We will come together to talk about all that is great in education. If you are in the area please drop in. (Information can be found at:

As our conversation about camp was wrapping up, the conversation shifted to blogging. Or, as in Jacki's case, the lack there of. Not to worry, those are her words, not mine. She shared the personal and professional disappointment that she had not sat down at they keyboard for almost a year. Jacki went on to say that it was not about the lack of desire. Nor was it the fact that she was "too busy" with work, kids, etc. This was more than that. She had lost her purpose.

As the conversation continued, I began to think about my journey with blogging. This became a perfectly timed reminder for reflecting on MY purpose for why I write. And even more importantly, why I share. Let's be honest, if we simply wanted to write for ourselves, we would keep a journal or a diary. But instead, we blog. Therefore, we share.

With that, I began a list. This would be a condensed list of the reasons I write, and share. When I post to my page, tweet to my colleagues and connect with the #compelledtribe, I believe that I do so with purpose. I share this list with you, and especially Jacki, so that when you write you may discover the reasons for your journey. Here are mine:

1. Parallels in our experiences. My job is unlike any other. The same can be said about yours. However, after we take away the titles we soon realize that there are more things in common than we first realize. We lead and we learn through each others experiences. Sharing those experiences makes us recognize the role of each person in the process. Learning of these parallels makes us better.

2. Recognizing our successes and our failures. There are always going to be moments to celebrate in education. However, there will also be moments of frustration and disappointment. Writing about these highs and lows allows us to connect and relate to the daily global happenings around us. This piece also keeps us grounded and humble.

3. Becoming the student, and the teacher. As educators, this is our goal. Switching up our role as the leader and learner is essential. The writing process is just one avenue to get there. Taking the time to reflect through writing has provided lessons that are irreplaceable. Often times the greatest accomplishments are read and not written.

4. Compassion and understanding. Reading about another educators journey can be inspiring and heartbreaking all in the same breath. Knowing what we each go through can be motivational and empowering. There are events and circumstances out of our control. Being aware of the greater picture keeps us grounded and focused.

5. Pride and joy. Each day we greet our students and teachers with smiles and laughter. We became educators to make a difference. Seeing the "light bulb" each day is where we get our greatest satisfaction in what we do. Discovery of emotions such as pride and joy keep us motivated to teach and lead day in and day out. Writing is an avenue to get there and assist others along the way.

In the end, find your purpose for blogging. If you are like Jacki and have lost your way, create a list and set some goals for yourself. Additionally, for tips on getting back to writing and suggestions on how to share your thoughts and ideas, check out Gretchen Rubin's article "Having Troubles Getting Yourself To Write? 9 Tips." Thanks to Jennifer Hogan for sharing this article with me. And, for being my inspiration and motivation in so much of what I do when it comes to blogging, leading and learning.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Five Essentials (to Effective Leadership)


Learning is truly a journey. Each day I look forward to what lies ahead. Getting better is expected. As I venture into another year in education, my fifteenth as a building administrator, there are some "essentials" that I will continue to refine. Following these will be just the beginning of my own leadership journey. Please, feel free to add your own thoughts, and suggestions, in the comment section below. Let's grow the list together.

1. Be ready to listen
. The greatest of ideas can come from the most unexpected places. We often are so eager to lead that we take for granted the art of an open ear. Encourage your colleagues to "bend it". Open the door to communication and sit back and hear what is needed be said. Not everything that is shared will be something that is implemented or applied, but you'll be better off to have heard than not heard at all.

2. Strengthen relationships. Every educator that I have met understands the value of knowing who the work with. The great leaders, those that stand apart from their peers, know that the deeper the relationships, the greater the outcomes of success of the organization. While you are listening, make sure to take note of what each member of  your team brings to the table. The more you know who they are, the more likely you are to get them to follow your lead. Relationships matter most.

3. Step aside. As an administrator we have the distinct responsibility to lead our buildings into academic success. Student achievement is our goal. Being the instructional leader is our charge and for the safety and well being of our community, we are the operators of our institutions. Knowing when to lead, and when to step aside allow others to lead, is a craft that only some posses. Sharing the role of who is at the helm builds strength within your walls of your school. Teachers aspire to lead, leaders aspire to create opportunities for them. Give them the support to take the reigns. Build capacity.

4. Model it.
From your demeanor, to your disposition, to how you lead, to how you learn and especially how you interact with your staff, students and parents, model at all times. If we expect it of others, expect it of yourself. Always in a constant state of change and an ever growing use of technology in our profession, educators (like any other career) must stay with the times. Model the leading, learning and work that you do. What we do is observed by all. Make it count.

5. Get (and stay) connected. Whether with the people you serve each day or the ones you meet through conferences, conversations or social networking, one of our greatest professional tools is getting connected with others in our work and learning through those interactions. Using platforms such as Twitter, Voxer, Instagram or the constantly evolving world of social media, it is those connections that will grow you as a leader and a learner. If you are not connected, you are not keeping up.

Challenge yourself to work on these five essentials as you begin to think about students, staff and your community entering your halls in the coming weeks. Create for yourself a blueprint for what it is you hope to accomplish this year in each of these areas. Where you find a strength, tweak it. Engage with others to help you discover which is an area that could use more attention, your weakness. Surround yourself with people that inspire you and motivate you. Don't sell yourself short. We each have the ability, and the positions, to lead like never before.