A lightning storm and a busy bee hive: summer brain

Warning: many words, little sense

The feeling of so many ideas, desires, goals, hopes…. A cacophony of thought. Too jumbled to work with. Too much to bring to order. Too many big dreams for a single mind to rein in.

It’s mid-July and I’m abuzz about the start of the 15-16 school year. New everything: site, staff, students, community. And the pressure to start of on the right foot.

Don’t we talk about failing forward? Acronyms for F.A.I.L. abound. So what’s going on here?

Summer brain, too much reading, lots of uninterrupted think time… Should be a good thing. But now, mid-July, I need the bees to calm, the lightening to dim and my jumbled thoughts to coalesce into something useful.

Positive intent has always been a pillar of truth for me. Even the cruelest words should have a glimmer of positive intent behind them. They usually do. If my intentions stay positive, my motives student-centered, my words kind and clear… I should be able to fail forward.

It might be time for a good ole brain dump to get it all out.

As I watched a distant lightening storm approach the house two nights ago, I kept waiting for the thunder. It never reached my ears. Just bolt after bolt after bolt of lightening.  I could relate to that storm.

My gut tells me this overflowing of ideas is a good problem. My type-A side wants order, a plan, a flow chart. Oohhh… A flow chart would be awesome. And then my creative side is good with the jumble. Random notes on bits of paper, willy nilly voice memos to myself.
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So it’s mid-July. I’ve got time, positive intent and myriad ideas to start the year. Summer brain. The opposite of what one might think.

Don’t ignore it. Another #naesp15 snippet

Another simple but profound…..

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Adam (@awelcome) and I captured two sides of the same comment during the kick off session of NAESP this year with Joe Mazza (@Joe_Mazza). Hardly a comment but major underpinning of all Joe shared subsequently.

First, if you aren’t at least dipping your toe into social media as an educational leader, you are choosing to ignore it. He was being generous, I think, with the dipping your toe part. Social media is all around you: parents friending you on Facebook, hashtags littering your TV screen, What are kids doing on their phones anyway?, and certainly at all edu-anything conferences. As an unconnected ed leader of 2015, it’s a conscious, you-can’t-make-me, I-don’t-get-it, not-for-me choice you’re constantly making.

What’s holding you back? Any of these statements?  Not a good excuse.

Let’s look at it from the other side, benefits.

Your community benefits. Information flowing from school straight to a phone keeps parents and families in the loop. Use Twitter or better still, use Remind (it sends a text so you don’t even need a smart phone).  Send out the details on an upcoming PTA meeting.  Send out the title of a story a 1st grader read to you. Send out a welcome to your newest staff member so everyone knows his name and says hello.

You are out of your office. Being a connected leader means talking up your school. No way to do that from your office! Get out with the kids, be the morning greeter, play a game of foursquare, eat lunch with some students.

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Gotta be out & about to capture this!

Spin it positive and all about kids! Our local paper was like a dog on a bone for the union negotiation challenges in our district. We are in the midst of rolling out 1:1 devices and updating every learning space for EVERY STUDENT. Not a peep in the newspaper. We can generate the news of our school, provide a balance to the community buzz and build positive goodwill as ambassadors of learning, play and student-centric schools.

It’s fun! Students, parents and staff know that when my phone is out or I’m capturing a pic, it’s to brag about the work we do. Kids doing heavy lifting during math. Really grappling with a problem. The focused work as an owl pellet is dissected and the bits sorted. Fun with the parachute on a gloriously sunny day. I want our school to be about all of this.

And what about the second tweet from my intro? Admin island? It’s lonely, isolated and ultimately, bad for kids. We need colleagues who think like we do. We need colleagues who think different. Already have this in your district? You need geographic diversity as well. Breathing our own air is stale work. And let’s clarify: I work with a STELLAR bunch! Seven (soon to be nine) extraordinary elementary leaders who share and support at every turn. They are my local PLN. But they can’t give me a global perspective or share more than the handful of experiences we’ve amassed together. A social media based PLN does that. Pick your platform: Google +, Twitter, Voxer. Even Facebook can open up your edu world with pages like Edutopia, Buck Institute, and the many edcamp pages.

Next steps? Find a friend and make an account together. It’s easier with someone by your side. Then jump in! No more ignoring.

Oh but wait! If you’ve read this you are connected! Then you be the one to bring another leader along. Don’t let a colleague live on admin island. And don’t let them ignore connectedness any longer. You know the benefit! Share it!