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Posted by on in Education Leadership

I recently participated in a seminar on “student engagement” with new and experienced teachers, principals, vice-principals, and district-level educational leaders. We started with a basic icebreaker activity. We were asked to introduce ourselves by giving our names and sharing one word that reflects a central aspect of our educational philosophy.

My chosen word led to a lot of blank stares and more than a few confused looks.

“Hi, I’m Gillian Judson. My word is perfinker.”

Most people nodded hesitantly, taking on a quizzical look that said …Rrrriiight. And that means? One person I met looked at me skeptically and said, “That’s not a real word, Gillian.”

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

How do you normally feel after attending an all day conference or summit? Exhausted both mentally and physically? Sluggish? Overwhelmed? Funny thing happened to myself and two of my colleagues after attending a recent all day summit at Google in Pittsburgh called "Be Internet Awesome." We weren't exhausted mentally or physically. We weren't sluggish. And we weren't overwhelmed. In fact, it was the quite the opposite. We felt refreshed, energized, and full of thought and discussion. 

So how did Google do this? How did they create an all day summit that was just right and left the attendees leaving refreshed, energized, full of thought and discussion? I have been wondering this since the summit and how to take Google's format back to future faculty meetings, in-services, and other conferences/summits. 

Here are my thoughts about how the Google Summit on Digital Safety & Citizenship left those in attendance feeling anything but exhausted:

Comfort

Right from the start, our hosts were concerned with our comfort. This sent a clear message right away that they cared about us. Our Google hosts also invited us to get up and move around any time we needed to. We were told we could sit in back on couches or on floor against wall if we wanted. The choice was ours. Food was in the back we were welcome to any time we wanted, as well. In addition to food, they had music playing in the background that provided an upbeat feel. Finally, everyone, including our Google hosts were dressed comfortably. 

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Since January 23, 2017 up until now, I have been busier than I ever have before. New job beginning on January 23, 2017 (interim elementary principal), my wife and I celebrating the birth of our third child on January 24, 2017, back to my old job on March 13, 2017 (6th grade teacher), back to my old-new job on June 2, 2017 (being an interim elementary principal), becoming a Google for Education Certified Trainer in July 2017, starting my new-new job on January 22, 2018 (instructional technology coach), and becoming an Instant Pot believer after many failed attempts in February 2018. 

Along the way I did try to keep up on my blogging, as I had several different drafts going, but I never made time to finish a lot of them. So below are my unfinished drafts, starting with the oldest to the most recent, that I feel I just need to "post" so I can start fresh and keep moving forward. At the end of each, I have added what I was trying to get across in the post. 

"You're not the teacher you were before."

"You are not the same teacher you were before." How would you feel if you were told that? Would you feel upset, or would feel proud? Would you consider it disrepctful or a compliment?

A few weeks ago, my principal told me that statement, and that statement has been ringing in my head ever since. The more I have thought about that statement, the more and more a consider it one of the highest compliments a teacher can receive. Why? Because that means one is a teacher that is actively seeking out change to improve one's practice and learning experience for one's students. It means one is not opening up last year's lesson planner, erasing, and changing the dates. If a teacher is not willing to change to from year to year, then how can a teacher expect their students to be engaged in their learning if there is little thought to lesson design with the students' personalities in mind?

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

My son's 7th grade basketball season finished last week.  I had a great season cheering him on along with the other parents.  There's an excitement being part of the crowd recognizing our players for amazing shots or passes.  In our enthusiasm and having watched enough basketball games in our tenure, we parents also become sideline coaches and referees to make the game even more engaging!

During a game, it's not unusual for us to shout out plays or point out to the referee mistakes he called.  In addition to providing encouragement to our players, we also feel the need to provide direction to them on who's open for a pass, the positive affirmation to shoot the ball, or reminding the players to rebound the ball.  One call that brings laughter to the crowd is when two players on the same team come down from the hoop fighting for the ball.  At that moment, we are screaming to the players, "Same Team! Same Team!".  It's frustrating when two players on the same team are fighting for the same ball.  Not only is a lot of time and energy wasted, but there's also potential for an unnecessary foul or injury to take place.   

 b2ap3_thumbnail_unknown1007.jpg

In a school, there's a similar sense of danger when two leaders on the same team, going for the same goal, end up fighting with each other.  As educational leaders, it's important for us to recognize and call out ourselves when we are doing this.  And, it's also important to know how to effectively work together for success.  For high performing teams, it's not a question whether "if" it's going to happen, but "when".  Similar to two basketball players getting caught fighting for the same ball, here are Three Ways Leaders Can Succeed on the "Same Team":

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

There are lots of problems in education, big systemic problems, governance problems, structural problems that seem unsolvable sometimes because they’re so deeply rooted in the way things have always be done.  And then there are problems that are so darn easy to fix, it’s a wonder they haven’t already been solved.

One of those easy problems is the tall poppy problem (or syndrome).  If you’re not familiar with that expression, it’s one of those fabulously apt British turns of phrase (also popular in Australia).  Wikipedia defines it as describing “aspects of a culture where people of high status are resented, attacked, cut down and/or criticised simply because they have been classified as superior to their peers.”  While I’m not keen on the term “superior” in their definition, I’m sadly all too familiar with the problem itself; virtually every teacher I know who has moved into a leadership role, whether in their school or in their system has experienced it.  When a poppy gets too tall, we cut it down to size.

“Wow, the superintendent is coming to your class again?!?”

“You’re sure out of the school a lot.”

“Why does she get to go to so many conferences?!?”

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