Thursday, December 26, 2013

Old Pair of Jeans

This morning I decided to do some winter/post-Christmas cleaning and I started with my jeans. My jeans are basically broken into two categories - the ones that fit and the ones that don't fit anymore. Well, I decided the easiest way to go about cleaning out this drawer was trying them all on because that would simplify things - the ones that don't fit could be tossed. Well, much to my surprise more of them fit than I expected (I guess the stress of trying to balance family life while writing a dissertation and working full-time could impact more than my sleep) so I had to weed them out using different parameters - too short, too long, jeans my dad would wear, etc. Finally, I got to the bottom of the drawer and I rediscovered my most favorite pair of jeans - they are the perfect color, length and they used to fit. But, they were also frayed, worn out and there were holes in random places. I decided to try them on and they actually still fit but was that reason enough to keep them? Things that make you go hmmmmm....

2013 was the year where I learned that pushing myself out of my comfort zone, becoming physically uncomfortable at times and stretching my thinking have led me to learning experiences and opportunities that I never would have imagined a year ago. A year ago I would have naively said it was all because of Twitter. Well, here I am a year later and I can honestly say Twitter is an awesome platform that facilitates learning but for me, it is about the connections. The human connections. The human connections with educators from around the world. The relationships that I have established with the many amazing and dedicated educators who willingly share their knowledge, ideas, perspectives and passion. I have grown as a father, educator and person because of the connections I have established and nurtured on Twitter. 

What have I learned you ask? 

I have learned about different resources that can enhance learning in our classrooms. 

I have learned about how to best integrate iPads into the classroom when it isn't a 1:1 situation. 

I have learned about how to develop a level of transparency with the community so we can flatten the walls of our school and let the community see exactly what is happening in our school and why it is happening (thank you Eric). 

I have learned about the differences between being a Lead Learner and an administrator (thank you Joe). 

I have learned about the power of mentoring through the #SAVMP experience (I have learned so much from my mentees and from George Couros & Amber Teamann). 

I have learned about some amazing apps - Touchcast, Voxer and Storify just to name a few - that have impacted my ability to lead efficiently (thank you to my #WIAmigos)! 

I was introduced to the world of podcasts and have even had an opportunity to participate in a few of them - LOVE these resources. 

I have learned about the importance of branding our schools and telling our story, which has led to an exciting new project - the BrandED podcast on Bam Radio with my brother from another mother Dr. Joe Sanfelippo. 

I have learned how to co-moderate a chat (thank you to my fellow #NYedchat crew - Bill, Vicki, Carol, Blanca & Starr). 

I have learned about the power of blogging and using it as a platform to push myself and potentially others (thank you Peter DeWitt). 

I have learned so much from all the amazing educators in my cohort at Penn - a bunch of whom are on Twitter!

The list could go on and on because I have learned so much this year through these amazing human connections! I have grown so much thanks to these human connections. I have been pushed beyond where I thought I could be pushed because of these connections. In fact, I am so far out of my comfort zone on most days that it is a little scary but I am ok with it because I know I am a better me today than I was a year ago as a result of these connections! In the end, I have learned this year that it isn't so much about Twitter (I have even stopped preaching about it somewhat) but instead, it is about the connections.

So, what happened to those old jeans you ask? I decided to throw them out. I didn't need them anymore. Instead, I was going to push myself out of my comfort zone and go out and buy a new pair of jeans - I am a little nervous but super excited!     

Saturday, December 21, 2013

PLN Blogging Challenge

Truth be told, I have been avoiding this blogging challenge over the last several weeks... not because I didn't want to do it but because I didn't know if I had anything really interesting to share. First Seth Berg challenged me; then Michele Corbat threw the challenge my way; next Lyn Hilt challenged me but the whole time, I tried to hide from those challenges! Well, finally Andrew Sharos challenged me yesterday and even though I wanted to run and hide from him too, I couldn't do it! You see, Andrew and I were connected as a result of the #SAVMP program (thanks George & Amber) so how I could I say no to my mentee?? And, I also lost a blogging challenge a few weeks ago so it was time to pay up! So, Andrew, this post is for you my friend - thank you for helping me grow and learn over the last year - honored to be connected with you!

Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
Share 11 random facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
List 11 bloggers.  They should be bloggers you believe deserve a little recognition and a little blogging love!
Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated.  (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.) 

11 Random Facts About Me...
1) I was almost on Real World London
2) I was on the Golf Team in HS
3) I had my own radio show in college where we played Freestyle music (Cynthia, Johnny O, George LaMond, etc.)
4) I am scared of dogs
5) I am allergic to many fruits and almost all seafood
6) I was put on academic probation after my semester in college (I did really poorly)
7) I was on this dance show years ago called The Grind on MTV
8) I love blasting the music with the windows down when I am alone in my car
9) I am going to be 40 in 2014... that one is scary
10) I am a first generation American - my parents came here from Greece in the 50's
11) My first job was pumping gas

Answers to Andrew's Questions...
1) My favorite education quote: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world - Mandela
2) I am most passionate about being the best dad possible for my son; he has taught everything I need to know about what matters in life! 
3) I like having students work in groups of 2 to 4 - I think 4 is a pretty good spot for balance, deliberation and discussion!
4) My favorite Sunday activity is hanging with my family (and watching football)
5) My favorite twitter chat is #NYedchat because I get to connect with people in my own state (yes, I am one of the moderators...)
6) My son inspires me the most in my world; his strength, courage and sense of humor keep me centered!
7) For anyone going on a job interview, I would say, be honest, be yourself and show them (without being cocky) that you are the best person for them! 
8) I am hoping classrooms will be different in 20 years... hopefully less high stakes testing and more personalized learning!
9) I watched Johan Santana pitch the first no-hitter for the Mets - I cried!
10) I was honored earlier this year by the Bammy's as the Elementary Principal of the Year - humbled!
11) Best concert was Bon Jovi at Giants Stadium - they played for HOURS!

The 11 Bloggers I would like to challenge...
Peter DeWitt
Vicki Day
Bill Brennan
Lisa Meade
George Couros 
Jessica Johnson
Curt Rees
Tom Whitford
Leah Whitford
Amber Teamann
Don Gately

11 Questions for my Blogging Friends...
1) What is your favorite TV show?
2) What is one app or resource you've learned about on Twitter that has been a game changer for you at work?
3) In one sentence, share your vision for your school or district.
4) What does being a connected educator mean to you?
5) What was the most amazing lesson you ever facilitated or observed?
6) What is one thing about your school or work place that you are most proud of?
7) How has your PLN impacted you?
8) What motivates you each day to be an educator?
9) What is your favorite device or gadget?
10) In one sentence explain to a "disconnected" educator why they should consider getting connected!
11) What makes you happy?

Thank you all for taking this challenge and thank you Andrew for giving me that final push!  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

EduBlog Award Nominees 2013

For the first time I ever, I excited to offer my nominations for the EduBlog Awards for 2013. I was honored to have one of my posts nominated last year but I am even more excited to spotlight some of the work that inspires me each and every day through my PLN connections. So, here are my nominations for the 2013 EduBlog Awards...

Best Individual Blog - Finding Common Ground - Peter DeWitt

Best Group Blog - Parent School Partners - Lisa Davis & Gwen Pescatore 

Best New Blog - Lisa Meade - Reflections

Best Class Blog - Grade 5 Alites - Cantiague Elementary 

Best Student Blog - StuVoice Blog - #StuVoice

Best Ed Tech Blog - Edudemic 

Best Teacher Blog - Blogging Through The 4th Dimension - Pernille Ripp 

Best Librarian Blog - Van Meter Library Voice - Shannon Miller 

Best Administrator Blog -  The Principal of Change - George Couros 

Most Influential Blog Post of the Year - Little Things - George Couros 

Best Individual Tweeter - Eric Sheninger

Best Twitter Hashtag - #Satchat

Best Free Web Tool - Twitter

Best Podcast - Techlandia

Best PD - EdCampNJ

Best Mobile App - Touchcast

Lifetime Achievement Award - Todd Whitaker