The Two Worlds of Education


If you are in the education field but don’t read Tom Whitby, start.

Originally posted on My Island View:

Being connected as an educator offers a unique perspective. It is almost as if there are two different world’s in education, and a connected educator must travel within both. Technology in our computer-driven society has enabled collaboration to occur at a level and pace never before available in the 19th and 20th century versions of education. For the modern educators who have embraced the idea of connectedness, the world of education looks very different from it has been in previous centuries.

Regardless of technology, many educators express a curiosity about what it would be like to talk to and engage people from history. How often have we heard the expression “ I wish I could pick his/her brain for ten minutes”? The whole idea would be to collaborate with individuals who in some way have made a mark on history or education. We could all benefit from discussing…

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The power of #stuvoice – an interview

In this interview Jay Eitner, Chief School Administrator for the Lower Alloways Creek School District in New Jersey, discusses how to leverage social media to connect and learn from other teachers, top twitter conversations he recommends, getting started as a new teachers, and more. Continue their conversation on Twitter by tweeting @iSuperEit and @theyearofcody. They look forward to hearing from you!

Leaders Need to Learn Too


Nailed it.

Originally posted on Evolving Educators:

On Monday, August 4, 2014 educational leaders from around the United States will come together in Philadelphia for Edcamp Leadership (#edcampldr). It’s a wonderful opportunity for educational leaders to connect, collaborate and learn. Too often educational leaders preach to those in their charge about the value of professional development and the need for others to engage in it but they themselves do not do so. The opposite is true with Edcamp Leadership. Those who will attend are committed to the professional development of all educators, including themselves.

Here are 5 things all educational leaders should commit to when it comes to their own professional learning:

1. Be a role model with your own learn for those you lead. It is vital for all educators to stay current with professional development training. As educational leaders we can not promote its value if we don’t engage in the learning ourselves. By committing…

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The Beatdown & The Phoenix

On July 1, I officially finished my first year as a Superintendent. 

It was awesome.  It was amazing.  It was the beat-down of a lifetime.

To say that I got my butt kicked this year is putting it lightly. While I heavily relied on my teaching, Assistant Principal, and K-12 Supervisor experiences (and of course all of that schooling stuff), it was still a dim lit path with no answers being in stone.  

Now that we are in summer, I’ve taken some time to reflect on my year.  Here’s what I thought: I was doing great until state testing arrived.  After state testing, I made my mistake.  A big one.  I pushed. Hard.  Really hard.

Why is this a mistake? In my case, I pushed my teachers so hard this past year, and they went with it.  Most realized they were way behind the curve and saw a need for change.  They adapted, they worked so hard, and they tried.  After state testing, many were tired.  I saw it as an additional 24 days of school and saw some starting to slide and shut off.  Instead of targeting individuals, I went mass emails and tried to rally the troops and lead the charge.  It completely backfired, and I ended up having a semi-mutiny on my hands.  Even worse, those that were doing a modicum of work and were so lost to begin with began to stir the pot even more… and they went for the jugular.  If I wore the wrong shoes, I heard about it.  If I blinked the wrong way, I heard about it.  Granted, the completely useless just focus all of their energy on finding fault and deflecting people about looking at them, but I gave them free ammo.  Not cool.

So, the year ended, and I took two weeks off. BEST. IDEA. EVER.   I played video games. I watched awful TV. I got back to the gym.  I went for check-ups that I put off forever.  I played golf. I played with my puppy.  I lived like a normal human being.  It was needed.

Coming back refreshed, I had the time to digest and process all of the decision making, pitfalls, and pros that I went through.

The summer vibe in a school setting is a wonderful one.  It’s nice to reflect, recharge, and reorganize your thoughts for the following school year.  It’s a time for the educational phoenix to rise again and prepare for whatever come sour way.  I have grown, I have learned, and now it’s time to move onward. 

Twitter Chats 2.0


#Satchat 2.0 has arrived.

Originally posted on Evolving Educators:

An example of a Voxer Conversation  between the #satchat moderators.

An example of a Voxer Conversation between the #satchat moderators.

Since April 2012 #satchat has engaged educators from all over the world in a positive and progressive educational conversation on Saturday mornings. As one of many educational chats on Twitter, we try to make the hour of educational conversation engaging, practical and something that educators can use in their classroom or school office the next school day. But one of the issues that people have with Twitter chats is the limited characters available for a message. I addressed this concern in a February 2013 blog post called The Great 140 Character Debate. But there is some truth to this issue.

Many Twitter chats have so much information being provided, in such a short time, that educators want to look back at the conversation well after it has ended. #satchat archives the conversation and then tweets out the link to…

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How hungry are you for a job?

Last night, the Board of Education hired an ELA teacher to focus on writing for my middle school program.  After the meeting, I called her, formally offering her the job. Hearing tears in her voice, she was beyond excited; while we were chatting about being hired, she spoke about how each step in my interviewing was more serious and intense.  She spoke about being more invested in each round, and how more effort and energy was brought forth in each phase.  It had me thinking on my ride home… was my process that difficult? Was it that  stressful? After each thought… it came down to one simple thought – just how hungry are people to get a job that you want?

My hiring process is five steps: 

  • You apply
  • A series of essay questions via google form
  • An interview
  • A Demo Lesson
  • A meet-n-greet with the BOE Personnel Committee, with the BOE voting on a candidate at the regular meeting

Sure, I could jut meet you and I can hire you.  But why do that?  At this time of year, I have a fresh amount of college graduates along with other teachers looking to switch districts. I’ll get scads upon scads of applications, many of which are generic and have no investment in the District (those immediately head to the circular file).  

After you apply (electronic only), I collect all email addresses and send out a google form with a series of questions pertaining to the subject they want to teach.  If you’re hungry, you’ll answer the questions.  If you’re not that hungry, you’ll pass.  This is one of my favorite parts of the application process; it naturally weeds out applications because folks simply don’t want to put in the time.

Based on your responses, I call in about a half dozen for interviews with a committee.  The committee is composed of Administrators and Teachers.  I listen mostly to the teacher feedback and look for the dynamics of the interview.  My job is to be there for resources and help when needed, and other than that, I’m out of the way.  

Based on the committee responses, I recommend two or three for the finalist panel on the Board of Education personnel committee.  The committee also asks questions and wants to get to know who they may potentially hire.  We conference together and select a candidate.

Lastly, The candidate gets approved at the Board Meeting.

It’s certainly an investment for the candidate, but again I ask, how hungry are you?



Authentic Writing Across the Curriculum


Great for Reading / Writing / ELA Teachers for summer projects… or to jump out f the gate in September!

Originally posted on Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care:

By Brad Currie

Students using Chromebooks and Google Drive in class

Students using Chromebooks and Google Drive in class

Black River Middle School in Chester, New Jersey, takes great pride in the wide range of innovative learning experiences that students are exposed to on a daily basis. Focusing on digital literacy and building digital capacity are important aspects that we incorporate on a daily basis. Teachers and students take challenging risks utilizing various web based tools and mobile learning devices in order to better understand a particular concept. Digital literacy permeates the school setting and provides students with a relevant and engaging learning experience. The examples included in this blog post provide a glimpse of just a few best practices related to writing.

Performing Arts: Collaborative Script Writing

Script writing via Google Docs is an important unit of study in Mrs. Vespignani’s Performing Arts Class. Students work in groups to create a play and write a script using…

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PD + GHO = Awesome


Recently, LAC School did a first. The school partook in a professional development workshop on co-teaching.  While that type of workshop was a first, we also did the entire workshop through google hangout.  I contacted Danielle Schwartz (@teacherschwartz) a superb teacher with years of co-teaching experience from northern NJ. I told her I wanted to try something new with our technology, and she obliged with no qualms, We mapped out a plan, tried GHO a few times, and were ready to go.  On the day of the  In GHO, we had four teams in four different parts of the building.  Materials (worksheets and a team building activity) were given out in advance.  Teachers reported to their respective classrooms, and for the most part, partook in a wonderful dialogue of what co-teaching is and the various models of it.  Like all things done for the first time, we had some missteps.  Here’s the breakdown below:


  • Easily accessible.  We gave teachers the link; they clicked.
  • Easy for the presenter. Danielle did not have to drive two hours to get here.
  • Easy to understand and operate.  GHO can be a bit tricky, but after a few clicks, you can easily follow along.



  • Hard to gage if participants are truly engaging. Not having the person in the room may detract some from paying attention.
  • Tech savviness. I should have know that running GHO on your computers requires a few installs when it happens for the first time.  We had to do installs of all computers used.  It slowed us down by about 15 minutes.  Not killer, but it;s good to know for the next time.
  • Consistency. While everyone was getting the same content, some were on the document, some were watching the videos, and some were at the end of the presentation.  In workshops, I like to deliver the same message to all at the same time.

So many great lessons were learned from this workshop.  When’s the next one?

NJASA presentation: Effective, Educational, and FREE Apps & websites

If you attended the NJASA Spring Conference and are looking for the presentation that was used this afternoon, see below.

Effective, Educational, and Free Apps & Websites Jay Eitner Natalie Franzi @iSuperEit@NatalieFranzi – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

When the Captain sinks the ship

School leaders are often related to boat Captains.  They are charged with navigating the waves of education and dealing with the trade-winds of change. While there will be a mix of rough and calm seas, the Captain typically ends up running a tight ship.

There are all kinds of Captains. There are the Captain Phillips’ and the Captain Quinn’s sailing around the educational seas. It always saddens me when I see a Captain Quinn.

In a matter of years, I’ve watched a Captain go from a Phillips to a Quinn in no time.  The Captain hit a rogue wave and was never able to recover.  After the wave, he tried to put on a new face, laugh things off, and surround himself with a superficial crew.  Epic Fail.  After a series of attempts to try to steer back and gain control, it just got worse and worse.  So sad.  How can central office stand behind such a failure? How can one go form ‘hero’ to ‘zero’ in just a couple of years?

Why? Simple.  Cloaking yourself in the shroud of “Old Boys Club” combined with a group of people a majority of the ship don’t like because of their clique / bully like attitudes and actions leads complete breaking of trust and respect.  The ship is still floating, but you have a crew and passengers that are there just to play school, and the leadership thinking all is OK because the inner circle keeps telling them it’s OK. Oh, and then there’s that whole tenure thing…

Tenure has served as the life preserver to keep those who sink their ship afloat.   So, time old question arises… what does one do with a Captain who sinks their ship? Moreover, what does one do with the crew and the passengers? How long can someone just sit there and let creativity perish?


I really feel bad for you when your school leader is completely out of touch, doesn’t even know your name, and you even know who he / she is (like you thought they were a sub or something).  The power rests with you; start with a simple petition expressing your concerns.  See the White House website… you can even register one there! Democracy has worked in magical ways…it’s to put what you learned in social studies class to the test. Speak with mom or dad too… they may be just as intrigued about your concerns and may launch actions of their own.  Let’s be clear here…you’re not going into Boston Tea Party mode and causing violence or damage. The pen is truly mightier than the sword.


The best bet is to start by attending local BOE meetings and expressing concern. While the Superintendent will guard his / her own, getting on the official record and partaking in democracy is best.  Speaking to the press would not hurt, as long as you’re cool calm and collect. It is not recommended to go vigilante mode and start writing off-the-cuff comments online or submitting anything to press that would be “slanderous” – facts are facts.  Leave the opinions out; people will form them on their own. If the Captain is failing, state it, you don’t have to lace your opinions in there… everyone will see it.


You show leadership, and you keep doing your job, for two reasons: 1) you’re there for your students, and 2) you’re filling the void of true leadership, so an educator takes it on their shoulders.

Low and behold, the school will still stand regardless of who runs it.  BUT… since everyone knows the Captain is flawed and is useless the teachers, counselors, parents, and students take charge of their learning and move onward.

But hey, I’m just a Superintendent, what do I know?