Check out “The House of #Edtech” podcast

I had the opportunity to be on Chris Nesi’s show “The House of #Edtech” this past week.  It was a super conversation about technology, leadership, and life.  Certainly worth a listen to.

Keep tweeting, they ARE listening!

Still combing blogs and lurking on twitter? Still think there’s just a bunch of goofballs ranting and raving and their message is falling on deaf ears or is purposely being ignored?  You can keep thinking that, but before you dig your feet into the sand, allow me to share with you a brief clip of a conference that was held on April 3 with over 400 attendees that featured members of NJASCD and the NJDOE.

OK, the NJDOE and NJASCD work together all of the time.  You got me.  What’s the catch?

This conference (which I wasn’t at, but received most of the resources and pretty much virtually there through the tweets on #NJCCLS) had one message that was consistent from top NJDOE officials (including Tracey Severns, Bari Erlichson, and Pete Schulman): we are here and we are listening.

Yeah yeah, how was today different?

Bari Erlichson (@BariErlichson), Assistant Commissioner at the NJDOE, presented on feedback form PARCC over the past few weeks.  Not just any feedback, but tweets exclusively from the #NJED chat that took place on Tuesday evening.  The New Jersey Educators Chat (#NJED)  had Bari on as a guest moderator where she took on a gauntlet of questions, comments, and concerns.  Bari answered just about everything that was asked, and if she didn’t answer it in the chat, Bari assured she would get back to you with the correct information.

The chat covered everything from positives & pitfalls to what educators have done to help other navigate through testing.  Matt Mingle (@mmingle1) was a champion of tweeting out during the actual testing to PARCC (@PARCCplace); his feedback (two-sided feedback, which is commendable) was discussed as critical and helped out others when they started.  Natalie Franzi (@NatalieFranzi) took the 100+ page PARCC testing manual and chopped it down to around 10 meaningful pages to help those administering it get what they really need during the test. It was shared on the chat.  Tim Charleston (@MrCsays) spoke about various devices he was going to use this week for the testing, and how everyone giving all of this feedback has helped him prepare for his district. Based on everyone’s dialogue, I was asking an array of questions (since I didn’t get to pilot), and an array of ‘tweeps’ answered my questions, putting some concerns to rest.

Bari took several of these tweets and incorporated them into her presentation today.  She addressed several questions, comments, and concerns that arose in the chat and delivered it to an audience of over 400 dedicated movers-and-shakers in the NJ education field, many of which have not fully embraced the digital PLN yet. The twitter followers in the room lit up with delight (their phones and computers did too, giving shout-outs to everyone who was mentioned).

If seeing the Assistant Commissioner of Education embed tweets into her presentation to an audience does not change your opinion, I don’t know what will.  Until then, keep tweeting… they ARE listening.  Onward!

5 ways I’m using Google Glass in my schools to enhance education


OK, glass.  Change my school for the better.

In January, I got one of the best emails I ever received.  I got an email from Google Glass asking if I was interested to pilot their new project.  I was beyond excited.  My mind was running in every direction possible (and for those that know me personally, you know my mind runs all over as is); this email had me running like after a triple espresso.

I had to purchase the glasses frames as well, as my sight, well, is awful. After successful setting of frames, I was off and running.  Well, I think it took me  a few hours just to turn them on. Then comes your toggling, eye movement, using your fingers, and training your eye to look..

Naturally I read some articles of etiquette. There was nothing in Marie Post’s book, but CNN had a great article on how not to be a “Glasshole”.

Anyway, from my use thus far, here’s what I’ve been able to successfully do with my Glass in schools, that have help me be a better chief lead learner:

1. Recording teacher observations. In another school, when I got an iPad for the first time, a groups of teachers called it the “Spy Pad” when I was doing “Drive-by” observations. So, when I told my staff we got a pair, and what I was looking to do, the grumbles and moans carried through the school. At first, I was just wearing them and letting everyone try them on.  I also insisted that this was not the “Gotcha” camera.  This took great trust and a good leap of faith, but we did it. While in observations, I have recorded samples of students working, teachers teaching, and even some disciplinary issues.  The results?  Awesome.  I have played the video clips back to the Staff; they are fans.  The videos stay on my personal drive, and are not shared with the masses; not even the teacher.

2. Sending live updates of school happenings to social media to show all of the positives that are happening at the school. We all know the power of social media and how getting quick, simplistic information is beneficial to all.  With glass, I can take pictures and share them on our school twitter feed (@LACSchool), our Facebook page, and even attach images or videos to emails.  I have spent lots of time promoting and guiding our stakeholders to our website / social media avenues.  It’s been very successful, and this just adds more fuel to this educational fire.

3. Observe special education students at their best and worst, and providing footage to both Parents and the Child Study Teams. Sometimes certain students have certain needs that we can’t immediately identify or even explain properly.  Having the ability to record a student with Autism when they have a “melt-down”, and immediately sending that to the screen of the Child Study Team is paramount for our success.  It allows us to immediately assess, document, and begin to figure out to combat the situation.  It also has allowed me to show parents who are in denial. It has opened eyes, and in turn, allowed parents to make better decisions.

4. Get Email on the fly.  As A Superintendent, my email in-box is insane. Instead of being dangerous and reading email on my phone, I can see when email comes in on my screen and have google glass read it orally to me. I can then dictate a message back, save it, or delete it. It’s not used all of the time, but if I have a drive, I can weed out quite a bit.

5. Report concerns immediately to maintenance. I often walk the halls, and I’ll see something that needs cleaning, is in disrepair, or looks fantastic. I can take a picture and email it to grounds supervisor right on the spot.  No more trying to recall what hall, where, and when.

As Glass rolls out more apps, and as I (and the staff) get more comfortable with their use, I can see this being a permanent fixture in a school.

Glass is is helping us grow, learn, and move onward.

Why un-conferences are amazing: ‘a tale of a 4th grade nothing’


If you were in 4th grade over the last 20 or so years, you probably read Tales of the 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.  If you were in New Jersey, you studied the state and made all kinds of fun projects.  You learned about math, language, science, and other things too.  Did you ever think you’d be able to thank your 4th grade teacher almost 20 years later? I sure didn’t, and once again, I was proven wrong.

This past Saturday, I had the privilege of presenting at WeTech14 – a conference held in the West Essex Regional School District.  During my second session, I went around the room and wanted to hear about what everybody does and where everybody works.  A woman in the front said she taught in the same District I went to.  We continued to talk, she taught in the same elementary school.  I started to name all of my teachers I had and when I got to 4th grade, I was interrupted. The interruption?  “I had Miss Angelino in 4th grade…” “I’m Miss Angelino!”


  I was in shock.  A dead freeze.  I’ve never been thrown off in my presentations. It was one of the coolest things to happen to me yet at an ed-camp.  My 4th grade teacher, sitting in my presentation, learning something from me.  I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. We ended up having a great conversation about curriculum, technology, teaching, and life. The attendees in the workshop were just as shocked as I was. You never know what can happen at an un-conference. EVER!

We ended up catching up more at lunch, and even attended a session on Twitter together afterwards.  And I have a new follower now on Twitter. My 4th grade teacher. WiId.

The Un-Conference: A time to connect,  A time to learn, A time to re-connect!


How NOT to get a job


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As a Superintendent, I get emails. Scads upon scads of emails. Of those emails, I often get applicants who mass email their resume & credentials in hopes that a few of the +/- 600 Superintendents will peruse the email.

Being that the applicant was a social studies teacher, and I too was once and recall the frustrations of job hunting, I answered back with a piece of advice. I told the applicant that he should really take the time to personalize his emails and materials. I wasn’t replying to be a jerk; I replied because I know that social studies teachers REALLY have to stand out in the job market today.

He replied. The response:

Dear Jay,


I am saddened to learn that my email has aggravated you.  One of the responsibilities of a superintendent, as I understand the position, is making hiring decisions for your district.  You are aware that there are 603 school districts in the state of New Jersey.  Some districts want applicants to post their resumes on AppliTrack, a task both tedious and time-consuming.  Every district posts job openings on their own district website.  Some advertise in the local newspaper.  Others post openings on websites. All districts advertise internally, which serves district employees, their friends and their families.  

 </My time is as precious to me as your time is to you.  I do not have the luxury nor the patience to craft a personal greeting to each of 603 recipients.  Furthermore, if I wanted your advice, I would you ask for it.




I was shocked. I didn’t know if this is frustration, stupidity, anger, or him trying to stand out showing that he’s got guts; maybe it was a combination.

I wrote him back, reiterating that I was just trying to help, and to really focus on the details.

It’s always about the details. Taking the time to write a name and a thing or two about a district shows me that you actually are interested and you’re not just blanketing.

I tried to explain that if he thought applitrak was ‘time consuming’ – what did he think the actual job would be?!?

Even when I have a pool of applicants, I now set up a google form with ten additional questions on there. If you want a job, you’re going to do the form. It’s that simple. If you don’t, well thank you for not doing the form; you saved us both ‘precious time’.

The moral of the story? Two things: 1) don’t send emails like that… 2) put the time and effort in on an application. It will pay off; most likely when you least expect it.

School Choice: Not for Students with Disabilities

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Charter schools and voucher schools –unless they are one of the few created specifically for students with disabilities–are noted for excluding them.

A Gulen charter in Minneapolis took over a public school and immediately kicked out 40 autistic students.

In this article, the parents of students with special needs in Wisconsin explain how their children are cheated by voucher schools and lose the rights guaranteed to them by law.

They write:

“Because of the activism of parents before us, our children attend school with their neighborhood peers. Across the country, students with disabilities have the right to a free and appropriate public education, with legally enforceable protections, through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

“Unfortunately, the rights and protections of the IDEA do not apply in private voucher schools such as LifeSkills Academy, and special needs vouchers would not change that. Private voucher schools are not required to…

View original 251 more words

Let them mourn.

The following piece is from Erika Johnson, a school psychologist in Connecticut.   I thought this was a fantastic post, and this is something you always need to have on hand should something happen.
Sadly, at some point, a school will have to deal with death.  It could be a student, a faculty member, family members of all of those, or sometimes even both at the same time.
 Each person and school reacts differently.  If it is more frequent, you should be staying consistent with the school response, unless the family has specifically requested that activities not be had to draw attention to the situation.
If that’s not the case…. let the building heal!
It amazes me and frightens me when “leadership” turns a blind eye and does not really understand what’s going on when something of this magnitude happens. When you see cold and callous responses coming from administration, it’s evident that the administration has no true connection to the school.
 Bottom line: you’re the person who is assigned to lead the building; quit hiding behind your office, get out of your ring of wanna-be administrators and kool-aid drinkers, and LEAD again. Quit being the talk of the town and the butt of all jokes. Wake up, and let those who need to grieve (appropriately) do so. I’m not advocating a school shut down and hours of dedication services be had. However, I am saying that not allowing anything to happen, when teachers are hurting and students are asking lots of questions, is downright stupid.
Schools aren’t just about academics; we are a people business. Tend to their needs.

Supporting Students in Grief

It is with a heavy heart that I compiled a list of resources for working with students dealing with loss. My school community has experienced two losses in a very short amount of time. As we prepared for the return of two students following the loss of a parent, I was asked to compile resources to share with the staff and others who needed guidance. Additionally, we have a few students who we consider at-risk as they have experienced a significant loss recently and would need additional support.

Thankfully, I had the resources of the National Association of School Psychologists at my fingertips. It is an incredible resource and worth every penny spent on a membership. They have handouts, position statements, and information available on a wide range of topics at the click of the mouse.
I hope that some of these resources are helpful in the case that you also have to support students during a time of loss and grief.
Until next thyme,

As Long As I Got My Suit & Tie

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I’ll get right to the point – I’ve always been a fashion bug when it came to dressing up.

I’m a fan of the suit.  And not just any old suit from a chain store.  I like a good wool suit.  I’ve even had a few custom made.  I like my shirts custom made, with monogramming and cufflinks.  I feel undressed without a pocket-square. I have 174 pairs of cufflinks.  I can’t even begin to count the number of ties of have. Socks?  All color and funky. And yes, I have eight pairs of glasses, in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Shoes? Yea, I got them too.

Given my role as a Superintendent now, I’ve toned down my couture. Back when I was teaching… I don’t think I knew was ‘reserved’ meant.  Purple corduroys, yellow sport jackets, and all sorts of crazy stuff.  Why?  I taught 8th graders – and they needed stimulation.  On days where I knew the topic was rather dull, I wore even louder attire.  I needed to keep them engaged.

So, once again, the essential question:  where am I going with this?

Through observations, walking through buildings, and seeing many in the office, it appears that teachers have been dressing down… and Im not talking about casual Fridays.

By no means I am advocating you drop a whole paycheck on attire.  I am, however advocating that you help fulfill your role model duties and dress to the job. Gentlemen:  Match a good shirt and tie. Try out a pair of cufflinks.  Be daring and buy (and wear) a funky pair of socks.  Go bold.  People will notice… in a good way.  And the last time I checked, good attention never hurt anyone.