My Education Heroes: #sunshine #edblogs2013

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Part of my PLN

I received THREE blogging assignments over the winter break, and didn’t complete one.  The first is from hyper-active educator and blogger Eric Saibel who is collecting 2013’s best blogs via #edublogs2013.  Next, I was given the #sunshine challenge by two of my favorite Bay Area Educators, amazing coach Sergio Villegas and Principal Amy Fadeji, maybe the youngest principal ever.

I’m blaming the drought for not completing any of those assignments – I was too busy outdoors to get any real writing and reflection done.  I have decided to catch up now, however (I hope that time is the variable here and that my late work will be judged on it’s merit, not it’s tardiness).  I’m not going to write three posts – but here is my combo post – the best #edublogs of 2013, my #sunshine superstars, and why I love my PLN.

I guess I should give props to Eric (@ecsaibel) first.  His writings on his blog Principals in Training are reflective and thought-provoking, and it reminds me of why I got a lot from working at the same school with him for three years.  I like all of his posts, but here I will highlight The Art of Coaching: Or, Disrupting the Echo Chamber.  As an administrator it is important to remember how to be a coach first – how to nurture the potential in all teachers.  Eric highlights some amazing coaches and what makes them successful.

Also on my list this year are new PLN colleagues and friends, Amy Fadeji (@mrsfadeji) and Adam Welcome (@awelcome), both Bay Area elementary school principals.  They are the dynamic duo of local leadership – they met each other at the first #edcampmarin and have not looked back.  I enjoy both of their blogs on their own merits (Adam’s here and Amy’s here), but one of my favorite posts of theirs this year was one they wrote together – Wire it Up – about being leaders in a digital age.  They are both amazing examples of leading by doing and I hang close, hoping their energy and enthusiasm will wear off on me.

One of the coaches highlighted in Eric’s piece is Sergio Villegas (@coach_sv), the second funniest tweeter, and a person who has so much energy and enthusiasm for awesome teaching and learning experiences that it is hard to keep up.  Here I’ll highlight his post What’s your filter? A case for CUE as your Instant PLN, both because the introduction is a perfect summary of the type of “let’s do it” person Sergio is, and because it highlights the amazing things that can happen for educators and their students when we connect with each other.

Rounding out my #teamnorthbay PLN is principal Catina Haugen (@chaugen).  I love the elementary connections I’m making as my focus has been on high schools.  Catina is another of those who lead by doing, and one of my favorite posts from her this year is from the #gafesummit in Napa in early January.  If it’s not working, change gears. #growthmindset highlights some of the tools Catina learned at the summit, but more importantly (to me, anyway) highlights her own attitude toward learning.  “It’s exciting to work through a problem…and come out the other side a more flexible thinker.”  Sounds about right to me.

Another new PLN member is the amazing and talented teacher David Theriault (@DavidTedu) who writes an all-time best blog :The Readiness is All.  There are so many gems on this blog about all sorts of topics including good PD, making Twitter chats better, and how to make a winning short video.  One of the things that captivated me the most, however, is the section called Cool Pictures to Use.  Here, David shares images and offers ideas about how to use them with students.  In fact, that is what I love about David’s blog – it is ALL about how to make student learning experiences in school better.  Head to the blog only if you have a few hours – it is hard to leave.

District Superintendent Jennie Snyder (@POUSDSupt) is another local hero and blogger.  Her short but sweet posts show that she is the ultimate learning leader – reflecting on her learning and on education in general.  One of my favorite posts from her this year is Growing a Culture of Innovation.  In addition to being about the meeting where I first met Jennie face-to-face, the post is a great example of a leader taking some important and inspirational work and applying it directly to her own District.

If you want a quick inspiration, check out #edcamp maven Kristen Swanson (@kristenswanson).  Her blog Teachers as Technology Trailblazers is awash with inspiration and ideas for making education the best it can be.  Can Education Save the Middle Class? makes this #sunshine list because it highlights the importance of amazing education in a thriving global democracy.  Follow Kristen if you can keep up…

OK – I think I’ll end this now.  The idea of this post has been my excuse for not blogging – I HAD to do this post before I could move on with the year.  There are so many other inspirational people in my PLN that I think I’ll have to consider other ways to highlight their work.

#twitterrocks

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of working with my friend and colleague, Eric Saibel, to give a workshop to teachers and administrators from Marin County about how to use Twitter.  This made me think about my journey with Twitter, and consider the turning point when I went from skeptic to believer.

I signed up with Twitter early on – back when many of us were completely unsure of how it was going to be used.  I Tweeted a couple of times – things like “I love ice cream” and “My kids are driving me crazy.”  I never could figure it out and abandoned it in favor of other Social Media – mostly Facebook.  When I went back to school, my professor assigned the creation of a Twitter account as a class requirement, although even then I stepped in meekly.  Here are some of my first Tweets:

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What turned the corner for me was the ASCD conference that came to my neck of the woods in March, 2011.  That was my first experience with the hashtag that allowed me to follow the whole conference no matter what session I choose, and I experienced the in-session back channel for the first time as well.

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Needless to say, I was hooked.

The next exponential growth that occurred was this fall at #edcampmarin, where I met some folks face-to-face, and connected with many others digitally.  Through this extended network I have been able to push my thinking and learning beyond the boundaries of my own small district.  I am now networking with local educators who I am able to actually see face to face once in a while, and whose work is close to home, literally, as well as educators from across the globe.

Click here for a great resource for getting started with Twitter.  And find me here: @kfostertweet  See you in the Twittersphere.