Let’s eat Grandpa!

Like to gamble?  I have a safe bet for you.  Chances are if you’re reading this on Labor Day you’re NOT a New Jersey educator… or you’re and educator from NJ who can’t fall asleep.

Why?

Labor Day is far from a day of relaxation for most. It’s a day filled with anxiety, last minute errands, and what-if’s — ranging from what to wear to see everyone again to what will the suits drone about this year.  From experience as a teacher Assistant Principal, Supervisor, and now Superintendent, we ALL think the same things.

We all also try to set goals for the upcoming school year.  One goal I am going to really try working on – my proofreading.I have always made the argument that I can’t proofread my own work because I wrote it.  And the mistakes piled up as a teacher.  To the point where one f my coworkers said “Jay, you really need to proofread your stuff.” Fast forward to today… she still proofreads my stuff.

When I became an Assistant Principal, I told myself that my secretary would do my proofreading.  Two weeks later, I got an email form my boss basically saying “Jay: proofread your emails… OR… people will start talking about you.”

I had typos on forms, emails, and even parent letters as a Supervisor.  I was ashamed.

As if all of those things should have warranted a wake-up call; it didn’t.  What did?  My posting as the Superintendent in a school yearbook.  I found over five errors. While I insisted that I submitted a revised draft, it still was printed. Not cool.

So, yes, this year, my back to school goal is to proofread much more.  I really don’t want to eat Grandpa, but I could go for some synonym rolls…

 

#FutureReady

Future Ready District Pledge

I, Jason Eitner, Superintendent of The Lower Alloways Creek School District, do hereby affirm the commitment of this district to work with students, educators, families, and members of our community to become Future Ready by engaging in a wide range of activities such as:

Fostering and Leading a Culture of Digital Learning Within Our Schools.
Future Ready district leadership teams work collaboratively to transform teaching and learning using the power of technology to help drive continuous improvement. We work together to protect student privacy and to teach students to become responsible, engaged, and contributing digital citizens.
Helping Schools and Families Transition to High-speed Connectivity.
Future Ready districts conduct comprehensive diagnostic assessments of the district’s technology infrastructure and develop a sustainable plan to ensure broadband classroom connectivity and wireless access. Future Ready districts work with community partners to leverage local, state, and federal resources to support home Internet access outside of traditional school hours.
Empowering Educators With Professional Learning Opportunities.
Future Ready districts strive to provide everyone with access to personalized learning opportunities and instructional experts that give teachers and leaders the individual support they need, when they need it. Future Ready districts provide tools to help teachers effectively leverage learning data to make better instructional decisions.
Accelerating Progress Toward Universal Access for All Students to Quality Devices.
Future Ready districts work with necessary stakeholders to ensure that all students and educators across the district have regular access to devices for learning. Future Ready districts develop tools to support a robust infrastructure for managing and optimizing safe and effective use of technology, so students have opportunities to be active learners, creating and sharing content, not just consuming it.
Providing Access to Quality Digital Content.
Future Ready districts align, curate, create, and consistently improve digital materials and apps used in the support of learning. Future Ready districts use carefully selected high quality digital content that is aligned to college and career ready standards as an essential part of daily teaching and learning. Teachers are able to share, discover, and adapt openly-licensed materials and teaching plans.
Offering Digital Tools to Help Students And Families #ReachHigher.
Future Ready districts make digital resources available that help access expanded college, career, and citizenship opportunities. Future Ready districts promote ways to leverage technology to expand equity through digital activities such as completion of the FAFSA online, virtual counseling services, college scholarship search tools, and online advising access, all of which help to return America to the nation in the world with the highest college completion rate by 2020.
Mentoring Other Districts and Helping Them Transition to Digital Learning.
Future Ready districts work to design, implement, and share their technology plans. Future Ready districts join regional summits, participate in an online Connected Superintendents’ community of practice, and publish their Future Ready technology plan on our website.
Never have I been more happy to sign such a pledge. Find more all about it at http://tech.ed.gov/pledge/ 

I’m looking forward to making this the best school year ever.

The Two Worlds of Education

iSuperEit:

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

iSuperEit:

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

iSuperEit:

#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

iSuperEit:

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

Image

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:

PROS:

  • 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.

 

PITFALLS:

  • 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?