Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category

#SAVMP 2016-2017

Moving ever onward out of my comfort zone in the name of professional growth, I signed up to participate in SAVMP for the 2016-2017 school year. SAVMP is the School Administrator Virtual Mentoring Program, and I volunteered to serve as a mentor to aspiring and novice administrators.

I know I’m only just beginning my third year, but in my experience, being in a position such as mentor or student teacher supervisor has helped me to clarify and codify my own thinking on any number of topics, situations, or challenges.  I’ve spent the last two years learning by the side of some excellent mentors in my own district, and while I’ve also tried to pay it forward to my admin colleagues who joined the district after me, I’d like to think I also have something to offer a fledgling administrator elsewhere in the Twittersphere.

Back in the heady days of 2007-2009, edu-Twitter seemed to me to be more about connecting with and learning from one another (it’s felt more like a self-promotion engine/mutual admiration society to me for the last few years, but that’s another post for another day).  The teachers we interviewed for The End of Isolation called out the networking and professional collaboration aspect of Twitter specifically as a primary benefit of the service.  Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s something else, but when I heard about the call for mentors, I thought this would be some small positive step I could take to help someone out as I’ve been helped as I transitioned to this new professional role.

An additional benefit (for me) is that apparently there will be blogging prompts.  I look forward to those, as I’ve been lacking for structure and focus for blogging of late.  I anticipate this will be a mutually beneficial project for both my mentee and me.

If you’re interested in seeing what this is all about, check out the hashtag #SAVMP on Twitter.

Self-Care

If blogging for the last 8+ years has taught me anything, it’s that writer’s block is usually temporary, and that sometimes all I need to knock the cobwebs off is to push out a quickie post like this one, almost as a statement of purpose or resolve or something – even as a pseudo-cognitive-behavioral approach to getting back into the writing groove. I don’t know why it works, just that it usually does. So here’s hoping this is sufficient to get me going again.

Heh. Well.

In the 2+ months since I wrote those prophetic words, I’ve been doing pretty much everything BUT blogging:

  • Grad school: I did a Rodney Dangerfield and went back to school to take two additional graduate courses in curriculum development this year.  Exhausting but beneficial… glad I did it but glad it’s over.
  • Dissertation reviews: I’ve started a nice little side gig reviewing doctoral dissertations for APA format for my doc program alma mater.  Profitable, and it’s taken a serious chunk out of my student loan balance… but since I do it in the evenings and weekends, also very tiring and time-consuming.
  • Work: Now that I’m past the first year of “what the hell am I doing” in my position, I’ve gotten down to the nitty-gritty work of program evaluation and development.  I’m excited about the work my staff and I have been doing this year and into next, which includes expanding course offerings at the high school in the Music, Family & Consumer Science, and Business departments.

It’s really the grad school and dissertation review work that has taken the wind out of my blogging sails, so now that the grad work is over and there is going to be a lull in dissertation work until probably mid to late summer, I finally have some time to breathe.   Never one to look a gift pause in the mouth, I finally have a chance to focus on the near future; namely, my plans for the summer.

At the risk of beating the “lifelong learner” trope to death, I’m excited to be able to set aside some time for my own learning this summer.  I’m not sure if/how they will make me better at my job, or a better husband/dad/person, but I don’t see a damn thing wrong with learning for learning’s sake.

  • Guitar: I got my first bass guitar 25 years ago for 8th grade graduation, and I picked up guitar about two years later.  While I was an avid performer in my younger days and coordinated (and performed in) rock shows with my students as a teacher, my Tele has taken a backseat in recent years to caring for infants/toddlers and two rounds of grad school in 12 years.  Life circumstances prevent me from committing to guitar lessons (my first preference), but I am committing to getting my gear in good shape and woodshedding with the help of YouTube tutorials and Android apps.  I’m trying to spend at least 30 minutes a day with guitar in hand for the remainder of the school year, hopefully more once summer hits.
  • Programming: This goal is not particularly well-defined yet, but with the anticipated addition of programming courses at our high school over the next two years, I want to get a better understanding of coding principles and some experience in Java and/or Python. My Comp Sci-major floormate Lee taught me some basic HTML my freshman year of college in 1995 so I have the most basic of understandings on which to build, but that’s about it. I haven’t explored this in any depth yet, but I hear good things about Codecademy.

If you have any suggestions to help me with either goal, I’m all ears; please leave me your thoughts in the comments.

October #Edcamp: Teacher LeaderCamp @WilmU

I’m thrilled to announce a very special Edcamp event for educators in the vicinity of the state of Delaware: Teacher LeaderCamp @WilmU.

While most Edcamps cover a vast array of edu-themes, the overarching focus of Teacher LeaderCamp is teacher leadership.  Our host and sponsor, Wilmington University, indicated an interest in holding this event in order to foster teacher leadership in Delaware, and since teacher leadership constituted a huge part of my dissertation research, of course I was interested in helping organize the event.

Teacher LeaderCamp will be held on Saturday, October 25th from 9am-3pm.  The event will be held at two sites simultaneously in order to maximize the number of Delaware-area educators we can bring into the conversation: the campuses of Wilmington University at Dover and Wilson Graduate Center in New Castle.

As is the case with all Edcamps, the specific schedule of events will be set on the morning of the event, by the participants.  If there’s a topic you want to discuss, pick a time, pick a room, and put it on the master board – that’s all there is to it!

Of course, registration is FREE, but we do need you to register in advance – click here to reserve your free tickets for Dover; click here to reserve tickets for the Wilson Graduate Center in New Castle.  After you get your tickets, don’t forget to Like us on Facebook for updates and info as we get closer to the event.

Wilmington University has generously offered us all the essentials for an Edcamp: meeting space, bandwidth, and plenty of food – all that’s missing is you!  Hope to see you and your colleagues on October 25th.

Edcamp Leadership 2014

This post originally appeared on the Edcamp Leadership blog on 21 July 2014:

Monday, August 4th will see the third annual appearance of Edcamp Leadership, the unconference targeted specifically to educational leaders.  Having been a part of the organizing teams for the first two Edcamp Leadership events, this particular Edcamp series holds a special place in my heart.  It’s even more special to me this year since this is the first year I will be attending while employed in an official leadership position.

With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about what session I would like to facilitate this year.  After a very well-received session on flipping the faculty meeting in 2012, I had to leave the 2013 event early and so didn’t run one.  Since I can’t imagine I’ll be the only rookie in the house this time, I’m thinking of holding a New Leaders Roundtable, specifically for people in the first few years of their leadership positions.

I will obviously have more questions than answers, given that I haven’t even started the job yet, but my hope is that we can get a group of folks in their first three or four years of their leadership role to sit down and share experiences, problems, solutions, and just contribute whatever else we think is crucial to the general body of knowledge in the room.

My preference is for these discussions to be truly organic and participant-driven, but as the facilitator I do feel it’s my responsibility to come in with some general overarching questions.  Here’s what I’m thinking so far:

  • What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started?
  • What have been your best- (or worst!) received efforts in supporting teachers?
  • How do you balance managerial responsibilities with those of an instructional leader?
  • What are your best strategies for remaining connected to the needs and concerns of the student body as you moved away from your teaching position?
  • How have you built trust and relationships among and with your staff?

In the spirit of collaboration, I’m asking you, dear reader, to add to this list with any suggestions you have, either as a newbie administrator or as a vet who knows better questions to ask.  Tweet them to me at @damian613 and tag them #edcampldr and I’ll be sure to include them in the conversation on August 4.  Of course, while the session will likely be of interest to mostly new/emerging leaders, anyone is welcome to attend and contribute to the aggregate wisdom in the room.

If you’re coming, I hope you’ll consider facilitating a session, especially if it’s your first time at an Edcamp.  As I demonstrated above, you don’t have to walk in with an hour-long Powerpoint (in fact, we don’t want that).  All you need is a topic, some questions, and the willingness to ask, listen, and learn.

Even if you can’t attend the day in person, we hope you’ll follow the proceedings on Twitter via the hashtag #edcampldr.

Summer Unconferences

Update: This post originally focused on only three unconferences; I was alerted to two more in the area and so updated the post accordingly.

If you’re in the general vicinity of New Jersey and Pennsylvania this summer, please keep your busy social calendar open enough to attend at least one of these summer unconferences happening in the region:

Techstock is the first official crack at the unconference format for the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), the largest public employees’ union in the state.  The overarching theme of this unconference is technology integration, so BYOD (bring your own device) to Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Galloway, NJ on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 and join 250 educators from around the state in constructing your own learning experience.  Registration fee is $35, refundable through June 27.  Read more about Techstock and register here; follow NJEA on Twitter at @NJEA.

Edcamp Leadership 2014 is the third such unconference event designed specifically for educational leaders.  Of course, this includes supervisors, principals, superintendents, and directors, but as we know, job titles do not necessarily leaders make; teachers, parents, and students can all be leaders.  After stints at NJPSA and Kean University in previous years, Edcamp Leadership 2014 will be at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education in Philadelphia, PA on Monday, August 4, 2014.  Registration is FREE, as it is for all Edcamps.  Read more about Edcamp Leadership and register here; follow Edcamp Leadership on Twitter at @edcampldr.

Edcamp STEAM takes the unconference format and focuses on science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.  Edcamp STEAM will be at Linwood Middle School in North Brunswick, NJ on Tuesday, August 5, 2014.  Registration is FREE.  Read more about Edcamp STEAM and register here; follow Edcamp STEAM on Twitter at @EdcampSTEAM.

Padcamp is a technology unconference with a very specific focus on the use of tablets and mobile devices in K-12 education.  Padcamp takes place at Galloway Township Middle School in Galloway, NJ on Thursday, August 7, 2014.  Registration is FREE.  Read more about Padcamp and register here; follow Padcamp on Twitter at @padcamp.

TeachMeetNJ sounds like it will be very similar to Techstock in both form and function, with technology as the overarching theme.  TeachMeetNJ will also take place at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Galloway, NJ on Monday, August 18, 2014.  I’ve never attended a TeachMeet before, but it seems to me a bit more pre-planned than an Edcamp; while Edcamp participants determine their schedule on the day, it seems you need to sign up to present at TeachMeetNJ in advance.  Registration is FREE.  Read more about TeachMeetNJ and register here; follow TeachMeetNJ on Twitter at @TeachMeetNJ.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I am a (soon-to-be former) professional development consultant for the NJEA, as well as a past organizer for Edcamp Leadership (2012 and 2013 editions).

Whether you attend an unconference, an Edcamp, or a TeachMeet (or all three), I highly recommend you go to at least one (barring unforeseen circumstances, I’ll be at Techstock and Edcamp Leadership).  Whether you lead a session or not, all five events promise to be highly participatory, and it’s as true for us as it is for our students – these types of events tend to be far more valuable for our thinking and learning than the traditional “sit & git” model.

Hope to see you this summer!