Posted by: principalsintraining | August 22, 2016

Initial Inhalation (The Year’s First, Indelible Moments)

Day One is a rock concert; sound check complete thanks to Kit. 

DNA for Day One of school as a community gathering comes from my years as A.P. at Sir Francis Drake High School. Everyone is all stressed out on the first day – so why not change the rules for how we gather for the first time?

Okay so the playbook might read (just curious though: what were people feeling the day before?):

Take note of daybreak. Pause, breathe, stand still. Many months of thinking are coming to a close today…boom or bust!

What is the energy in the hallways? Pause, smile, laugh, photobomb. Read More…

Posted by: principalsintraining | July 5, 2016

Erupting Into a New State of Being (the Creative Pressure of Complaint)

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What forces contributed to create this particular vista? To your own perception and understanding of it all?

When is the last time your life erupted? Your perception of the world? Your school?

Eruption is often associated with violent destruction (They erupted in anger). Vesuvius erupting wasn’t a good outcome for the citizens of Pompeii. Something hidden has welled up beneath the surface (of a mountain, a person, a society) and the act of releasing it is powerfully cataclysmic – something that can cause permanent change to the landscape (permanent, at least, in our somewhat limited scope of time).

Eruption, seen from a purely geologic viewpoint, is a force that adds material to the earth’s surface (above water or below). The dusty pumice at Haleakala’s ten thousand foot summit got there after many thousands of years of inexorable pushing from beneath. Eruptions create landscapes that people subsequently populate and cultivate, walk upon and dream about; they are a canvas for human experience and expression.

(I was going to say “patient” instead of inexorable – however the Earth is not “patient.” Read More…

Posted by: principalsintraining | May 16, 2016

Building A Yearly Culture Calendar (Sowing the 50-year Memory)

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So what ONE image would you share to define the essence of your school? 

When I visit other schools or talk to people from other schools (kids, parents, teachers, admin…) the first thing I want to know is what their school is like (you know, that all-encompassing term that asks for something between broad generalization and granular microscopic rendering). I want to know how it feels to teach and learn there, the experience of being a parent there. I want to know that je ne sais quoi that makes that place singular amongst all the many tens of thousands of schools the world ’round.

We generally think of a school calendar in terms of dates (first day of school, grading periods, holidays, PD) and events (orientation, Back to School Night, assemblies, state testing, graduation). It’s all good stuff and a necessary part of moving a student body and community through a school year; for high school there is a particular weight to these different pieces as many of them determine what our students will be doing after their departure from compulsory education.

So what about the experiences that are unique to YOUR school Read More…

Posted by: principalsintraining | April 14, 2016

The Way We Talk About Children (and Their Delightful Savagery)

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From the moment we emerge into the world, people begin speaking about us, and for us. Eventually we get to a place where we can take over the storytelling, yet despite this independence we can (with some digging, some gentle brushing away of the dusty layers covering what’s hidden) feel the vestiges and remnants of all the said things about us (for us, to us) when we talk about ourselves. Those underlying architectures inform our own sense of self (our innate value, or lack thereof; our potential for doing great things, or lack thereof); they quietly (often invisibly) permeate our interactions with others and serve as a filter for how we experience the world.

We enter formal schooling as small children, and leave as (young, still forming/fomenting) adults. Problematically, many of the ways that the people and apparatus of education speak and relate to students remain consistent throughout those 13 years; students receiving direction, input, guidance, feedback, critique, consequences, rewards, recognitions – yet, conversely, students rarely having the opportunity to give feedback of their own (why open Pandora’s Box?) or to provide direction to teachers and school leaders. Children follow set pathways from birth, yet often I notice how we as adults perseverate on the moments they don’t – and on the relatively few young individuals who do not comfortably conform to the many limits and boundaries our structures (and attitudes) impose.

IMG_4460Was Socrates perhaps being a bit tongue-in-cheek?

Read More…

Posted by: principalsintraining | March 16, 2016

Unforgetting Our 2nd Language (the Innateness of Making Images)

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We see drawing as normal for a kid, but unproductive for adults (unless it makes you money). C’mon now!!

When is the last time you drew something? Perhaps it’s been awhile. Virtually all of us drew lots when we were children; scribbles, suns, letters strewn together (letters are images, writing is a form of drawing), faces, blobs of color. After language, drawing is perhaps the most essential and universal form of human communication.

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4 y.o. (Drawn, cut, pasted on another paper)

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3 y.o. (Amorphous blobs that begin to look portrait-like)

It is as if the modern human soul awakened here.” – Werner Herzog, director

If you choose to set aside this post and draw for the next 30 minutes Read More…

Posted by: principalsintraining | February 10, 2016

Life In A Glass House (Light Filtering In Through Many Prisms)

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One moment standing on a gray shore; how do different filters alter the landscape?

There’s a great scene in Sex and The City: Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) meets the famous artist Aleksandr Petrovsky (Mikhail Baryshnikov) at a gallery; a performance artist is in the midst of a 16-day piece in which she lives in a three-walled space (the fourth wall nonexistent to allow the viewing public in). The exhibit is about the intricacies (and drab minutiae) of quotidian life; in this three-walled prison, is there a possibility of transformation? Parker, ever the pragmatist, quips: “At 3:00 am, when no one’s looking, I’ll bet she goes around the corner for a Big Mac.” Baryshnikov: “You are a comic?”

If pressed for time, fast forward to the 2:46 mark. 

Carrie Bradshaw sees an overly wrought exercise in self-exposure and deprivation; Petrovsky sees a serious (“significant”) undertaking of a noble endeavor: self-exposure and deprivation. Perhaps why this scene sticks with me more than any other is because it unmasks something fundamental about the human experience: Read More…

Posted by: principalsintraining | February 6, 2016

177,508 Reasons To Feel Playful: #GSPD2016

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Usually my posts are long and a bit rambling – rather than a long preamble to my experiences and feelings surrounding the second annual Global School Play Day, I will summarize what the day means to me through the lens of two tweets, shared from two locations 13,193 kilometers (8197 miles) apart:

Read More…

Posted by: principalsintraining | December 11, 2015

2016: The Year of Supporting Your School Administrator

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Begin each day with a good breakfast, a bit of exercise and a driving question.

2014 was the year of being Transparent.

2015 has been the year of moving beyond agreement and friendship to something deeper.

In 2016, educational culture initiates its next tentative step forward when school communities take site and district administrators under their wing. At first glance this might seem like an attempt at being cheeky. Usually I do not pass up a good opportunity to be cheeky – however, in this case, I am not being cheeky at all. Don’t get me wrong – this premise does sound funny; in our industry parlance we support kids and we support teachers. We don’t view school administrators (site, district) as people that need support; they are the ones that provide it. That is why they exist.

This kind of thinking dehumanizes the administrator, and, paradoxically, I believe it contributes to a leadership mindset that teachers and community members often complain about in administrators: Read More…

Posted by: principalsintraining | November 24, 2015

Chasing Light and Shadow (Readymade Agenda for Museum PD)

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I chaperoned my daughter’s field trip to the de Young Museum last week. I’ve always loved art museums; I studied fine art in college, I still paint when I’m able, and I’m really into the idea of public/organizational spaces being galleries of human creativity. But even better is to see what a group of eight year-olds does when let loose inside (and outside) the hallowed spaces of a major bastion of contemporary visual culture.

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Posted by: principalsintraining | October 26, 2015

Amplify Your Idea (From Seedling to Sprout): #FallCUE 2015

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The toughest part about getting your ideas out there might be picking which one to share (eat?).

How does an idea go from seedling to sprout?

Katy Foster and I discussed a similar idea exactly one year ago at Fall CUE. Here are the resources to “How Good Ideas Spread” and a summary post on our talk (eek – including the video).

A lot has happened in a year. In late fall I started connecting with teacher/podcaster Scott Bedley to talk about homework. Then I mentioned that Curt Rees had told me about the keynote speaker at IntegratED 2014, Dr. Peter Gray, who discussed ideas from his TED talk on the decline of play. So then Scott tells his brother Tim, and a lava-hot idea goes off in his head and basically Global School Play Day (#GSPD) popped into the world like so much bread from an overly-wound toaster. Hey, even closing keynoter David Theriault gave it a mention as an example of channeling the spirit of Steve Zissou: #thisisanadventure.

All of that took about one month. The only person I’ve met in person is Curt, for about two hours. A good example of #ideaspread! Read More…

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