Yesterday I was very fortunate to be joined by two terrific fellow school-leaders, Josie Holford and Michael Ebeling, to discuss blogging as Heads at the NAIS Annual Conference; our session was excellently moderated by Sarah Hanawald, Dean of Academics at Cannon School (NC).
Jason Ramsden was kind enough to live-blog the panel, which I provide below.
One additional valuable link for school-heads and principals interested in blogging: check out Connected Principals.
Friday February 25, 2011
7:56
Raventech:

Welcome to the start of day three here at NAIS’ 2011 Annual Conference. This morning we kick start the day in Blogging Heads: Three Heads Discuss Why and How They Blog.

Michael Ebeling, Peak Experience blog (Summit School, NC)
Josie Holford Compass Point blog (Poughkeepsie Day School, NY)
Jonathan Martin (St. Gregory College Prep, AZ)

7:56
Raventech:

We’re about 4 mins from the start of this session and the room is beginning to fill.

(more…)

The edu-blog awards prompted a spirited debate on twitter in recent weeks, with many arguing that those of us in education who oppose awards in our schools should oppose the edu-blog awards.  One of my favorite tweets in that conversation argued that instead of awards, we in the blogging community should instead write a list of our favorite blogs.   I was inspired.

As an aside, I do not oppose supporting my students in seeking external awards: I love to see them compete and triumph outside my school community, and I like to celebrate their successes in doing so.   What I worry about, though, is that internal awards, where our students’ teachers select “favorites” among them, is potentially damaging to the strength of our school community. So with that as my standard, I don’t see such a conflict in bloggers who oppose in-school awards celebrating their edu-blogger award nominations.

The problem with any list is once you start it is hard to know how to stop.    There will inevitably be many fine blogs left off a list like this, so I offer my apologies to any potential exclusions in advance.  This list is is no particular order whatsoever.

1. Peter Papas is a former public school educator, now consultant, who blogs at Copy/Paste: Dedicated to Relinquishing Responsibility for Learning to the Students.   The sub-title alone represents its point of view compellingly; this is a great blog.  Peter seems to publish 5-10 times a month, and he is unafraid to write lengthy, thoughtful, academic posts which really inform as they inspire.   Copy-Paste has great themes which resonate closely with my own writing, but with sharper analysis and more thorough elucidation.     Some excellent recent posts include

2. David Truss is the independent school (international independent, in Dalian, China) administrator whose blog I currently most admire; he writes at Pair-a-Dimes for Your Thoughts. He posts 2-5 times a month; he writes about his school-work and his educational philosophy interchangeably;  and he uses images powerfully.  He is also unafraid to write at length.     Some recent posts I admired include:

3. George Couros, a Canadian public school principal,  is a great inspiration to me, both for his work as architect and soul of Connected Principals and for his individual blog, The Principal of Change.   (more…)

2010 has been a great year blogging for me; this is my third year blogging, and each year gets better.   Blogging is a craft that could be called asymptotatic, as Dan Pink describes in Drive; there is no ceiling to bump into, no limit, and provides a stimulating challenge for the ongoing pursuit of mastery. Pink: “You can approach it.  You can home in on it.  You can get really, really close to it.  But you can never touch it…. Mastery attracts precisely because mastery eludes.”

In 2010 I posted over 150 times here at 21k12; over at Connected Principals, which was launched in August by the terrific blogger George Couros, I posted over twenty times (in many cases, those posts were re-posted from here at 21k12).

Readers of my blog don’t have the same perspective about the “success” or relative significance of posts that I do, because they don’t see the stats the way I do about visits.  But once a year it seems wise to share the dozen or so posts which seemed to strike a chord with readers.

What is nice to me about this list is that it corresponds very closely to my own view of my favorite posts, the ones of which I am proudest.  Below this list I add another half dozen that I wish had received as much attention as this list.

1.  Reverse Instruction: Dan Pink and Karl’s “Fisch Flip”.  190 views here, 2001 views at CP.   Over 2000 views in a period of less than two months is certainly a personal record for my blogging.  One of my favorite aspects of this successful post is that its content was entirely the result of my learning as a blogger.  I had previously posted about Khan Academy, and spoke about the concept of inverting instruction there, but then John Sowash commented on that post about reverse instruction, and this new post was born from that dialogue on Connected Principals.  I should also thank here the attention given to this post by Stephen Valentine in the November Klingbrief and Shelly Wright who blogged about it here.

2.  Engaging, not Distracting, the Digital Generation: Responding to the Times’ Wired piece.  327 here, 890 at CP.     Like many others in my corner of the blogosphere, I was inflamed by the Times piece, and spent Thanksgiving week furiously thinking how to respond, and then poured my passionate indignation into this post.  I am so happy it struck a chord for others too; it was my most “retweeted” post, 121 times at CP. (more…)

Good evening:

Thank you for attending this session, and thank you everyone at NYSAIS, especially arvind, Alex, and Barbara for inviting me.   I want to open with a quote:

In this day and age, many schools incorrectly view successful education as an extremely complex process, but
the formula for a really first rate education is relatively simple: put highly qualified, caring faculty, and eager, bright youth together in a personalized setting with a robust curriculum – and let things happen.

There are plenty of sentimental reasons to appreciate this quote.   Some truths about excellence in learning are timeless, and I think we can still learn enormously from Socrates and Aristotle.   But my suggestion is that if you accept this idea whole-heartedly, you are welcome to head over to the bar early– go ahead and get yourself a drink.

I believe the world is not just flat, the world is spinning: faster and faster, and that schooling can not rely on the simple formulas of the past:

  • because what our students need to learn is changing,
  • because our understanding of how learning works is changing,
  • because the technology which enhances learning is changing. (more…)

To learn. Like many others, I read books and articles, attend conferences, workshops and trainings, and visit other schools in order to learn more about best practices and innovative new approaches.    But I know about myself that I will retain much more, and be much better able to draw upon and use that information in the future, if I write while I am learning, if I record the main ideas I am learning in writing, and if I reflect upon them.   So I write to learn, and if I am writing about these ideas anyway, I figure, why not share these writings.

To model learning. I think that educational leaders should publicly demonstrate that we too are learning and we too love learning: chiefs of learnings need to be chief learners.   Blogging is a great way to display the ways in which I too, like our students, am trying regularly to learn.

To share. Like all principals and school heads, I often speak (separately) to students, teachers, and parents, and sometimes it seems that what I say might be of interest to other constituencies or those who could not attend.   My blog is a great way of making these remarks available for everyone.

To showcase my school. There are so many things about my school I am proud of and which I want others to know more about so they will more strongly appreciate and admire my school (and perhaps choose to attend it).  My blog is a way to share great things happening here at school.  I can re-post the syllabus for a cool new class, write up what is said by teachers about their courses at Curriculum Night, or publish fine student work. (more…)