Monday, November 30, 2015

#SAVMP Week 1

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I am so happy to be heading up the #SAVMP program this year! The School Administrator Virtual Mentor Program was started 2 years ago by George Couros. Amber Teamann headed it up last year and I am proud to take the reigns this year. If you have never heard of #SAVMP, be sure to check out the blog at Weekly posts are available by searching the #SAVMP hashtag on Twitter. Be sure to read along with what our mentors and mentees are sharing, and please comment and join in the conversation. We learn from each other!

Friday, July 3, 2015

My Reflections on #NAESP15

I have spent the last 24 hours or so trying to digest the last week in Long Beach, CA with the NAESP15 crew. It is difficult to put into words just how important these conferences are, not just because of what you are learning but because of who you are meeting.

I do not enjoy meeting new people. I will just put that out there. I have a very high level of social anxiety, and meeting new people is a very, very difficult thing for me. Even being reunited with old friends can be very uncomfortable. Lucky for me, I've managed to find a great group of people in my learning network that make life just a little easier for me.

My husband and I arrived in California on Friday prior to the conference so we could enjoy some relaxing time in a state which I had never visited. We had a great time (received an immense sunburn!) and were easily on West Coast time when the conference came around.

Our small (but mighty!) group found a home on Voxer and in the Innovations Lab where the techies and want-to-be-techies were all made to feel at home. Dr. Joe Mazza and the MCDPEL staff have created an incredible place where conference attendees can network, learn, find help and find support. This group of people made the conference for me. It was an exciting subset of the conference and I am so proud to have been even a small part of it.

6 of us presented on a National Panel on Innovation and Connection. Ben Gilpin, Brad Gustafson, Amy Fadeji, Joe Mazza, Todd Nesloney and myself had over 100 educators in our room playing games and discussing some very deep concepts on getting ourselves and our students connected. Amy - and her mighty selfie stick - took a picture of the entire audience, and it was amazing. I am pretty sure they are still dusting off the peanut debris from the tablecloths.

I was able to meet in person some of the many people who have helped me on my journey. Melinda Miller, Lisa Dabbs, Adam Welcome, Joe Mazza, Rosa Isaiah, and so many more. Every one of them as beautiful in person as they are online, and I could not be more blessed to know them.

When I leave a conference, I find I need a "buffer" day. One in which everyone leaves in small bits as opposed to all at once. I feel that it makes the emotional part of leaving a large group you have spent every waking moment with *just* a little bit easier. This time was no exception. We had an extra day to say goodbye to our amazing group little by litte, and know that many of them we will see again in Chicago at EdCampLeader in just 10 days.

I cannot stress enough what I think many people miss about these large conferences. It IS important to attend the sessions, read the materials, visit the exhibit hall - take in everything that is being offered. But most importantly - create the relationships. These are the people who will continue the learning with you when you return home. Share ideas, share opinions, share the struggles. It is the easiest way to get through this job, and definitely the most enjoyable.

So, to Todd, Brad, Ben, Amy, Catina, Melinda, Kathy, Brandon, Adam, Jeremiah, Rosa, Lisa, Joe, Dan and everyone else I was fortunate enough to connect with....thank you. Thank you for helping me connect, keeping me connected, and giving me a LOT of laughs along the way.

Friday, May 1, 2015

"Send Last Location" with Find My iPhone

Apple added an awesome new feature to it's "Find My iPhone" security. "Send Last Location" is an option you can enable which will automatically send the location of the device to you when the battery is critically low. For a long time, the "Find My iPhone" feature was really only helpful as long as your battery was not dead. Now, you'll at least know it's ready to turn off and where it is at that point!

Go into Settings --> iCloud --> Find My iPhone --> Send Last Location

I have gone back through my school devices and turned this on for each of them. It is going to be a great help!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

#EduVoxer Tutorial - UPenn MCDPEL

This is a really great resource put together by Joe Mazza and his team over at UPenn's MCDPEL - be sure to check it out if you have any questions regarding Voxer or it's uses!

Monday, April 27, 2015

#EmpowerED Institute

I will be presenting at the Corwin Press EmpowerEd Institute in Boston on August 6-7, 2015. Spike Cook and I will be presenting on Overcoming Isolation in Leadership and I will be presenting on Leading Your School from Your Mobile Device. It will be held at Grafton High School in Grafton, MA and should be an amazing event. I am looking forward to this as my first Corwin Institute! Corwin describes the event in this way:

"Cultivate empowered, adaptable, and self-directed learners through best practices in the use of educational technology and 21st Century pedagogy. Sessions at this two-day institute will focus on emerging trends and research-based strategies in leadership, implementation, professional development, and instruction."

Be sure to visit the registration page to sign up - you will not want to miss this event! Follow the hashtag #empower15 for up-to-date information and discussion.

Monday, April 6, 2015


Joe Mazza has done it again. He has created yet another amazing and educational resource for @MCDPEL as well as sharing it with the masses. #B@CKCH@NNELedu can be found on iTunes or on the website.

#B@CKCH@NNELedu is a "scenario-based" podcast running about 25 minutes an episode, and it uses real scenarios from real principals. It is based on the idea of Serial, the insanely popular podcast from WBEZ Chicago. After listening to the episode, follow the backchannel on Twitter at #backchanneledu. At the beginning of each subsequent podcast, the principal of the previous scenario comes back, discusses what happened in the actual scenario, things that were discussed on Twitter and other backchannels, and then the new episode begins. It is really quite interesting, very fun to hear familiar names and voices, and especially to know that we aren't alone in this.

Be sure to check it out - you will not be disappointed.

Monday, March 23, 2015


One of my absolute favorite things about conferences (besides the knowledge and new ideas of course!) is meeting up with my Tweeps (Twitter friends) in person. It sounds crazy, I know ;)

This past week, I was able to meet up with Brad Gustafson, Ben Gilpin, Bob Dillon, Tom Murray, Erin Klein, George Couros and a whole bunch of others for a great few days of learning and sharing. Kudos to the #MACUL team for all of their hard work and effort. It really is an amazingly well-run conference and we thank you for all that you do!

One of the best parts of the conference was the Makerspace set up in Cobo Hall. This Makerspace included circuits, a giant scrabble board, playing cards, a 3D printer, and a life-sized Jenga game (which of course we had to play!). Brad and I had a great time in the Makerspace and it was one of my favorite things I brought home with me.

My Kindergarten teacher was collecting objects one day for her students to create with. I thought this was the perfect time to introduce a Makerspace! It was not as technological as most, but they had a great time! Check out some of their awesome projects!

If you aren't signed up for a conference anytime soon, you really must find one. It is so worth the time and cost.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Creating a Mobile App for Your School - Yea or Nay?

Once your website is published, you want as much information at the hands of your families as possible. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2015 "nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners, and for many these devices are a key entry point to the online world." So, do you create a mobile app or not?

In my last article, I mentioned that I utilize for my websites. They have a really great mobile site that could, for all intents and purposes, replace the need for an app. If you have other things you want to add to it, or really like the simple look of a screen with icons on it, you may want to look into building an app.
I have used iBuildApp in the past, and currently use Infinite Monkeys. I switched purely because of the pricing structure. I really liked the simplicity of iBuildApp and would highly suggest it for a starter app. As mentioned in my last article - be sure to take advantage of embedding things - it will make updating the app that much easier!

If you have more questions on app building or what it can be used for, be sure to reach out!


Image Credit: Tsahi Levent-Levi

Monday, February 2, 2015

Keeping Up Appearances...on your Website

Your website is one of the very first places people look to find more information about you. They may look to Twitter or Facebook, but chances are your website is where they will end up. Be it professional or your school it MUST be up to date! It can be daunting to try and keep it up-to-date all of the time, and that is not helpful for those who are busy already!

Here are a few tips on how to keep it up-to-date without losing your mind.

1. Make sure your website is easy to use. I have which was a little cumbersome to set up but is extremely easy to update.

2. Put information in a Google Calendar and embed it. Then you're adding it in the calendar and automatically updating the website.

3. Pictures, pictures, pictures! Of yourself, your school, whatever. People LOVE photos, and you don't have to continuously update them. Put them in a slideshow and let it go!

4. Embed, embed, embed! (See the theme?!) If you chose to use Vimeo, Youtube, Google Calendar, etc. - embed it. There is no use in updating multiple things if you don't have to.

Of course, mobile apps are also fun, but I'll cover those in another article.

What are your tips for easy website upkeep?